The Red Sox have been out of the playoffs since right after the All Star break, but that doesn’t mean that we’re turning off our TV sets for October. The MLB playoffs look awesome this year, starting with the Wild Card Games this week. Here is my rankings of the order in which we should be rooting for the 10 teams in the playoffs now. As always, I’m trying to be objective… but through the lens of a Boston sports fan. A tiger can’t change its stripes.
10. New York Yankees
Screw the Yankees.
9. St. Louis Cardinals
Much like with the Yankees, I shouldn’t have to analyze why you shouldn’t root for the Cards this postseason. Just make sure that you follow the Twitter account “Baseball’s Best Fans” during the postseason. And remember what you read the next time that you hear a Cardinals fan wonder how anyone can not love the Cardinals and their moral righteousness.
8. Texas Rangers
I have nothing against the Rangers, and there’s a BIG drop off from number 8 to number 9 on this list. The Rangers just aren’t that interesting to me, honestly, and I don’t see them winning it all. It’d be nice to see Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre win it all though, and it’d also be a nice story to see Josh Hamilton win one after all of his personal battles.
The point here is that I’m ok with any of these teams winning except the Yankees or Cardinals. When there are 8 of 10 teams, including 7 of 8 who don’t have to go through a play-in game, who you’re comfortable with winning the World Series, you know it’s gonna be a fun postseason.
7. New York Mets
I like this Mets team, and I love when trade deadline acquisitions work out as well as the Yeonis Cespedes one. Their young pitching is electrifying, and they’d be a great team to have win the World Series. Their fans do deserve one.
But this is still a New York team, and these fans are the same ones who root for either the Giants or Jets, mostly the Jets. And there are few things that bother me more than Jets fans. Have fun getting roasted 52-6 in Week 7, losers.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
I respect greatness. Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the Dodgers’ modern 1-2 punch of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale back in the day, right down to the slightly better one being a lefty and the other a righty. Also, how fun would it be to see Yasiel Puig win a ring and piss off the middle aged, stuck up baseball purists who hate anything about baseball that remotely involves fun? And Adrian Gonzalez deserves a ring.
But this is still a Los Angeles team owned by Magic Johnson, and do you have any idea how insufferable the sports media would become about the Dodgers winning? And maybe more importantly, anything that gives the fairweather LA sports fans a reason to pretend they care about sports isn’t too desirable. Lastly, the Dodgers aren’t as much of a deprived franchise as many of the other teams to come next, which is the biggest reason that they’re in the bottom half of the list.
5. Houston Astros
It kinda hurts that they’re not higher, because the Astros are a really run team to root for and they haven’t had any reason to be happy in forever. But here’s the thing: They’re a young team, and they should have more chances to break through and finally win one. They have a Top 10 farm system right now, so their championship window likely will not close even if the Yankees beat them in the Wild Card game.
That being said, on Tuesday night I’ll be as much of a Dallas Kuechel fan as his own mother is. Screw the Yankees.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Like I said with Cespedes and the Mets, I love when trade acquisitions in July work out, and I love them even more when a team goes all out in one season. The 2011 Brewers were my playoff team after the Red Sox crumbled becasue they decided to use Prince Fielder’s last year as the time to make a run with Zack Greinke and a brand new starting rotation, and the Blue Jays did that and more by getting David Price in his walk year and taking on the injury prone Troy Tulowitzki and the 5 years left on his contract. Gotta respect that. What’s more is that MLB GMs are much more weary to trade at the deadline now because advanced stats show that the value just isn’t there, so we need to root for the exciting trades that clash with the conventional new school thinking. These trades shouldn’t go by the wayside, because no sport is played by robots, even baseball, and what energizes a team for a pennant run than the front office putting their Richard Nixon on the table and going all out until October?
That being said, remember this beef between David Ortiz and David Price? That’s why the Blue Jays aren’t number 1 on this list. Don’t mess with David Ortiz.
3. Kansas City Royals
Gotta say, I loved rooting for the Royals last year in the World Series. Great fans, loud stadium, likable team. They haven’t been good in so long that it’s hard not to root for the underdog, and I’ll be doing that again this year. Given that they’re my last AL team on the list, I’ll be rooting for them to reach the World Series. Remember, they’re playing the Yankees in the ALDS if the Yankees win the play-in game, and if the Yankees beat the Astros, everyone is gonna hate them that much more. You’re telling me that we can gang up with all of America and root for this fun Royals team against the Evil Empire? Sign me up.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
The fact that I don’t rank them as Number 1 is a testament to my objectivity, because I bet the Pirates at 33-1 before the season to win the World Series. (I also have the Dodgers at 4-1 to win the pennant, but that isn’t as impressive.)
There is no reason that I can see to root against the Pirates, and I like the moves that GM Neal Huntington has made. Much like the Royals, they’re just a fun team to root for, and that’s why they’re ranked number 2. And because of my 33-1 bet.
1. Chicago Cubs
I sat here for 3 minutes trying to begin this paragraph analyzing why the Cubs are ranked #1… but is there any chance I have to explain it? Especially if you’re a Red Sox fan, the ability to root for Theo Epstein, Jon Lester, and Anthony Rizzo? Kris Bryant is already awesome to watch, Jake Arrieta is a great story this year, and, oh yeah, they haven’t won since 1908! While Mets fans have already started to get a little bit insufferable through this pennant race, the Cubs fans have been a joy to follow in the sports world. I’d love to see them win it all this season.
An important factor in their position at number 1 is that I don’t hate Joe Maddon as much as other Red Sox fans. I’m not a disciple of his by any means, but I don’t mind him very much. And Jon Lester’s postseason results are much more important to me than Joe Maddon’s. Too bad they play the Pirates in the Wild Card Game, but at least I know that I’ll have a borderline insane rooting interest in whichever team plays the Cardinals in the NLDS.