The fourth team we submit is my personal spring and summertime band of brothers, the Boston Red Sox.
I reached a critical checkpoint in my life about 15 years ago when I realized being a Cubs fan is sports suicide, so naturally my allegiance landed with a franchise that hadn't won a World Series since 1918.
I didn't know that at the time.
But on Sep. 10, 1999, Pedro Martinez one-hit the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium and I was hooked. Seventeen strikeouts and just a solo home run allowed in arguably the greatest game ever pitched at the old grounds — certainly one of Pedro's all-time dominant performances. From that moment on, everything about the Red Sox was magical to me.
And they're a good fit for your rooting interests, Cyclone Nation.
You know that perpetual roller coaster of emotion you experience as an Iowa State fan? Well since 2011, the Red Sox have finished 3rd, 5th, 1st and 5th, respectively, in the American League East with a World Series sandwiched into 2013 — one of the most all-around talented Red Sox squads in a hundred years.
This season, they'll try their hand at being the first team in MLB history to go "worst to first to worst to first," and with the best preseason odds to capture the AL pennant, all signs point to a stellar year. The Red Sox added former farm system standout Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Rick Porcello, Cuban defector Rusney Castillo, Wade Miley, Ryan Hanigan and welcomed back Justin Masterson for 2015, among others.
But don't take my word for it. Here is some additional "expert" insight to facilitate your decision on Friday:
Pitching Reviews (ESPN): The stat geeks at Baseball Prospectus project Boston will win the division, even without an ace (after losing Jon Lester to the Cubs), and they project all five starters to post a winning record in 2015.
Season Prediction and Betting Odds (International Business Times): Ninety wins, an AL East crown and a legitimate shot at a World Series title.
Preview and Prediction (Athlon Sports): "Two hundred million dollar underdogs." The jury remains out on whether the Red Sox are built to win in October, but they're at least constructed to get there.
Why the Red Sox
I could write a novel for this section, but I'll pare it down to the main arguments.
1. You never know what you're getting. When things are good for the Red Sox, typically, they're really good. And that's a lot of fun. When things are bad, they're really bad. There was the band of misfits in 2004 that finally shook the Curse of the Bambino. There was Bobby Valentine's three-ring circus from hell. There was the dream season in 2013. Every year it seems is a new adventure. For me anyway, there's enjoyment in the uncertainty. It's a loooooong season.
2. The history and tradition. The city of Boston and Fenway Park are both about as historic as they come, and it's impossible not to get completely caught up in it. From the timeless Fenway Frank to the Green Monster, from Yawkey Way to Boylston Street, from "Sweet Caroline" to the chorus of "Let's go Red Sox..." immersing yourself in the atmosphere is intoxicating. I think that's something Iowa State fans can associate with, too.
3. Red Sox Nation. I'll save you some worn out rationale about how their fans are the best anywhere. They'll tell you so. But it's hard to ignore how Boston and Red Sox Nation came together in the wake of the marathon bombings in 2013. Most say #BostonStrong was the fuel that ignited the team's World Series run — an unbreakable bond if there ever was one. And if you're looking for the real spark, look no further than riled-up David Ortiz before Boston's first home game after the tragedy.
4. Fever Pitch is a great movie. No, shut up, it is.
Why Not the Red Sox
1. See item number one above. For as much as pundits are drooling over the roster GM Ben Cherington put together this season, it could all go south in the blink of an eye. Trust me. You can have all the talent in the world, but the dudes have to mesh. See 2012.
2. Watching games is a remarkable time commitment. Since 2002, the Red Sox are responsible for four of the five slowest pace-of-play matchups in baseball — none slower than Red Sox-Yankees, which comes in at 28.1 minutes per game longer than the league average. In terms of pitch pace, starter Clay Buchholz is historically one of baseball's worst offenders.
3. It's not sexy. Everyone is a Red Sox fan, right? Where's the fun in that?
A Hint For Tomorrow
Remember that on Friday we'll create a poll so all of you can vote to see who gets the coverage from your favorite band of hack bloggers.