Nobody has thrown out an "Evil Empire" reference, but after the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray at the trade deadline, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski compared his archenemy to a franchise from another sport.
"Yeah, I think the Golden State Warriors have significantly made some moves,” Dombrowski joked. "I expected it. I would've been surprised if they didn't. I don't know how they'll lose a game right now."
Of course, Dombrowski was also making a veiled jab at Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. After the Red Sox traded for Chris Sale in December, Cashman quipped, "Boston is the Golden State Warriors of baseball now."
Burn! Sure, it's not Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather-level drama, but let’s have fun with this. Which team really is the Golden State Warriors of baseball?
The thing is, maybe it’s not the Red Sox or the Yankees. After all, the Chicago Cubs are the defending champions and the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros have the best records. Or maybe it's the Washington Nationals.
Let’s break down the Warriors and compare them to MLB teams. Each team will receive a maximum of five points in each category.
The superstar addition
The Warriors won the NBA title in 2015, lost in seven games in 2016 (after setting the single-season record for wins) and then brought in Kevin Durant. Talk about the rich getting richer. This is no doubt what Dombrowski was referring to with Gray. Thing is, however, Sonny Gray isn’t exactly Kevin Durant.
Sale is the much better comparison here, bringing in a Cy Young contender to a rotation that already had the 2016 Cy Young winner, plus David Price, who is similar to Durant as well: Big star who had never won it all in the playoffs (although, unlike Durant, Price has performed poorly in the playoffs), then signed as a free agent.
The Los Angeles Dodgers did trade for Yu Darvish, but Darvish peaked in 2013 and has never won a postseason game. Meh. An interesting thing about the Dodgers is they have the highest payroll in the game, but they haven't signed a mega-free agent under Andrew Friedman, preferring to go for depth, which meant letting Zack Greinke walk.
The Washington Nationals won 96 games in 2014 then signed Max Scherzer, so that's a Durant-like move. The Houston Astros don't have a move that compares. The Chicago Cubs followed up their World Series title by signing ... Jon Jay.
Points: Red Sox 5, Nationals 4, Dodgers 2, Yankees 2, Cubs 1, Astros 1
The Warriors are mostly homegrown
Yes, they signed Durant as a free agent, but they also reached two NBA Finals and won one before he joined the team. Look at their other key players:
Stephen Curry: Seventh pick in 2009
Klay Thompson: 11th pick in 2011
Draymond Green: 35th pick in 2012
It's not often a team drafts three All-Stars in a four-year span. In the NBA, even high picks aren't a guarantee. In 2009, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Hasheem Thabeet with the second pick and the Minnesota Timberwolves, drafting fifth and sixth, selected guards Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn just ahead of Curry. Thompson is fourth among 2011 first-rounders in VORP. Green is third among 2012 draftees.
We can calculate homegrown talent simply by looking at homegrown WAR (via seamheads.com). The 2017 rankings through Tuesday:
Red Sox: 14.7
The top four teams rank 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the majors, while the Red Sox rank sixth. Homegrown talent is important.
Points: Astros 5, Dodgers 4, Yankees 4, Nationals 4, Red Sox 3, Cubs 2
The world turns against Stephen Curry
Curry went from overachieving underdog to MVP and fan favorite, but then the backlash started. Charles Barkley criticized his style of play. Too good to be true, some said. His wife tweeted that the NBA was "rigged."
The Nationals get five points for Bryce Harper, who appears to be on his way to a second MVP Award. He received the most All-Star votes this year, but for some reason he still seems to be a player fans love to hate, even though all he does his play hard and put on a great show.
I'm giving four points to the Cubs here for Kris Bryant. He won an MVP. Plus, nobody can have eyes that blue. He's also hitting just .227 with runners in scoring position, which Barkley would most definitely not approve of.
So far, so good with Aaron Judge. Although now that his average has dipped below .300, people are going to start criticizing all the strikeouts.
Clayton Kershaw? He is too good to be true. I mean, he and his wife have a charity focused on improving the quality of life and increasing opportunities for kids in his hometown of Dallas, plus Los Angeles, the Dominican Republic and Zambia. There must be some skeletons in his closet somewhere. We just need his wife to tweet out something nasty about Madison Bumgarner.
Points: Nationals 5, Cubs 4, Yankees 2, Dodgers 2, Astros 1, Red Sox 1
Draymond Green has a bit of a reputation
He even said so! "At a certain point, you kind of get a reputation," he said in November. And that was before he punched James Harden on his injured wrist in April. Then there was the incident during the 2016 NBA Finals, when he was suspended for a game after swatting LeBron James in the groin.
Obviously, the Red Sox earn five points here for several reasons: Price's ridiculous feud with Dennis Eckersley and general cantankerous relationship with the media; Sale, who has led the American League in hit batters the past two seasons and famously cut up the White Sox retro jerseys last year because he didn't like them; and Matt Barnes, for trying to throw at Manny Machado's head earlier this season.
The Yankees get four points because of Aroldis Chapman. The Astros get three points because of Brian McCann's general annoying behavior about "playing the game the McCann way." The Dodgers get three points because of Yasiel Puig, even though he has been on his best behavior this season. The Nationals get two points because of this fight, even if it was Hunter Strickland's idiocy that caused it:
I'm also giving the Cubs three points because everyone thinks of Joe Maddon as this new-school manager who drinks wine and does all the goofy things in the clubhouse, but he's actually secretly old school and will have his guys throw at the other team as much as any manager.
Points: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4, Astros 3, Cubs 3, Dodgers 3, Nationals 2
Steve Kerr: Mr. Nice Guy
The Warriors coach is considered an easygoing player's coach who is good with the media and generally smart enough to stay out of the way. Clearly, he learned to successfully massage a roster with three guys who all need to score their points into a championship team.
Dusty Baker is the best fit here, with one exception: He has been managing since the Ice Age and has yet to win a title. Let's go with four points. Maddon also earns four points since he has won a title, is as good with the media as any manager and is regarded as a player's manager. He seems to love the spotlight a little more than Kerr, however.
Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch both seem to be a Kerr-types on the rise. Joe Girardi? A great manager, but wound tighter than a 16-year-old trying to pass a drivers license test. John Farrell has won a title and is good with the media, although he still seems fairly nondescript.
Points: Nationals 4, Cubs 4, Dodgers 3, Astros 3, Red Sox 3, Yankees 1
OK, nobody cared about the Warriors a few years ago and now all across the country you see Warriors T-shirts or jerseys. Even better, you see "The City" throwback logo everywhere.
The Cubs have always had fans all over the country, but they seemed to pick up legions of new ones last year. Nothing wrong with jumping on the bandwagon. But we give five points here to the Astros because the rainbow jerseys from the 1970s and '80s are suddenly cool now, after two decades of being mocked as the ugliest jerseys ever. Check out Paul Lukas' awesome oral history of the untold story behind those uniforms.
The Yankees and Dodgers? They don't even have throwback jerseys! Although we'll give the Yankees two points for all the Judge jerseys I saw at the All-Star Game.
Points: Astros 5, Cubs 4, Yankees 2, Red Sox 1, Dodgers 1, Nationals 1
The final tally
Nationals: 20 points
Red Sox: 18 points
Astros: 18 points
Cubs: 18 points
Yankees: 15 points
And there you have it. The Nationals are actually MLB's Warriors, not the Red Sox or Yankees.
Well, minus the two titles.