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Giving Home Plate The Business, With Emma Baccellieri

Evan Carter of the Texas Rangers celebrates in the clubhouse after beating the Astros in Game 7 of the ALCS.
Bailey Orr/Texas Rangers/Getty Images

There are always going to be people who complain about the World Series, and every few years there are going to be World Series match-ups that might make a person wonder whether those squeakers have a point. I don't really think that the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers represent one of those match-ups, but it is just random enough—two franchises many years removed from their last stint of real competitiveness, each of which is just two years removed from 100-loss seasons—to make people mad. Not me, of course; I'm normal and calm. But it was with trying to figure out what these teams are about, and what kind of World Series we might be in for, that we invited returning champion and Sports Illustrated staff writer Emma Baccellieri back onto the pod. What are these teams' deals? we asked her, plaintively and not a little desperately. Nice person that she is, she answered.

I mean, I did a lot of answering, too, or at least a lot of talking. Emma and I were more or less aligned on this being a strange enough collection of teams—as we recorded on Tuesday, before Arizona dispensed with Philadelphia in Game 7 of the NLCS, there's some discussion of the vibes-and-dingers Phils as well—to make for an entertaining, if notably chaotic, capstone to this postseason. It's not that either pennant winner didn't earn it, of course, so much as "earning it" means something different than your saltier fans might want it to mean.

It's true that, even after the Diamondbacks thumped the Dodgers and handled the Phillies, and after the Rangers effortlessly snuffed out the Rays and somewhat more effortfully closed out the defending champion Astros, neither is really a convincing candidate for The Best Team In Baseball. It is also true that October baseball is not really built for The Best Team In Baseball to cruise to a World Series win. It's weirder when that happens—the 2018 Boston Red Sox did it, and last year's Astros might have as well—than it is when something like this happens instead.

We talked a bit about that, too, but mostly we talked about this, and what we've got on tap in this World Series. There's kind of a lot there, as it turns out, between these strange teams and the circumstances that produced them, their out-of-nowhere stars and out-of-nowhere seasons, Rangers breakout star Evan Carter's dreams of becoming a periodontist and Drew's dream of Max Scherzer becoming a power reliever and Emma's nightmare of spending multiple innings wearing your street clothes in the pool at a Diamondbacks home game. We assessed this particular dumb, random, postseason and decided that it was cool. I don't imagine that's giving anything away.

I also don't imagine that it will surprise you to learn that the Funbag, once we opened it, was full of powerfully fragrant thought-chunks. Together, we guessed at which products are passed around the most vigorously on the secondary market—cars? Paperbacks? Nubbly 1991-style sweaters? Apartments? We also joined in the futile but bracing attempt to pin down "the Bill Walton of baseball," which did not yield a satisfying answer but did open onto some productive Announcer Chat, and also allowed Drew to do a Harry Caray voice and me to do a Bill Walton voice. Not quite what we expected—well, maybe the "Drew and me doing bad imitations" part—but entertaining enough to work all the same. It's October everywhere.

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