I know we don’t usually cover a lot of sports around here (except of course for Lord Castleton’s NFL recaps. But those are such a thing of beauty the subject is almost irrelevant), but we need to talk about the MLB playoffs. Specifically the teams in the playoffs. They are, by and large, not teams that have seen a lot of post season action. The Astros, the Mets, the Triple A Royals, The Blue Jays, The Non-Hockey Playing Rangers, and the
Bad News Bears Cubs have won a combined 6 World Series titles throughout their collective history. None of them have won this century. And with the exception of the Cardinals, a child born just after the most recent World Series win could legally drink at the playoffs now.
It’s been a hell of a dry run.
And I know that there’s plenty to cover in these playoffs about the increasing importance of sabermetrics, the effects of the steroids crack-down, the even larger effects of the crackdown on amphetamines, and how all of those influences created a playoffs with some of the historically least teams in baseball history. Those are all rich veins that I will not be tapping.
See, I’m a White Sox fan. And apart from our brief moment of glory ten years ago, we haven’t had much success in the playoffs, either.
Which puts those of us whose teams did not make it in a weird position: who do you root for now?
The standard rule of Division, Conference, League doesn’t hold up. There are too many inter-division and city-based rivalries to just pick “a” team and go with it. Each individual series requires the weighing of several facts mixed in with some basic gut feelings. And as I have no dog in this fight, I’ll be the perfect person to give you a mostly objective opinion of which team in each series you should root for. Starting with:
Royals vs Astros
Jesus, well, there goes my supposed objectivity. This one is entirely personal and admittedly based in absolutely no facts. I hate both of these teams for very different reasons. The Astros are dead to me because they played the White Sox in the 2005 World Series. Where they got trounced. Which means I shouldn’t hold any ill will towards them, but “Astros” is still a pretty stupid name. And their stadium is jacked on a few different levels. Who puts a hill in center field, Houston?! But the Triple A Royals don’t fare much better. Unlike the Astros, the Royals have been terrible for as long as I can remember. Yet that doesn’t stop them from beating my Sox. Every. Single. Time. They’re like White Sox kryptonite, and it is shameful. Still “royal” is actually a thing.
Root for: The Royals
Blue Jays vs Rangers
This one might as well be called Blue State v Red State. Are you in favor of Texas or Canada? Liberal or Conservative? Peaceful little birds or a military unit? How does this picture make you feel?
Root for: Blue Jays all day
Mets vs Dodgers
At first glance, this could be broken down into a simple East coast vs West Coast debate. In that case, New York clearly wins out (sorry, LA). But you have to remember that they were originally the Brooklyn Dodgers. This isn’t just about current locations. There’s a shared history and a common heritage, but also a current communing over being the overlooked second team in their own cities. These teams are spiritual brothers as well as rivals. This fight could ultimately help close those old wounds, and lead to greater understand. This could be their great reconciliation. But mostly I want Jon Stewart to be happy.
Root for: The Mets
Cubs vs Cardinals
OK, first things first, if you are a White Sox fan, stop whatever you’re doing, gather as much canned food and water as you can, board up your windows, and then sit back.
Yes, yes, yes, I’m aware that some Sox fans have a pretty serious hatred of the Cubs and that the Cross Town Series is still a big deal in some respects. I’m telling you that’s stupid. The Cubs aren’t in our Division or League. Their success in no way impacts the Sox’ standing. And do you guys not remember about the Twins? Or the effing Indians? We’ve got teams that actually impact our record to hate. And sure, Chicago shows unabashed favoritism towards the Cubs. You and I both know goddamn well that’s part of what you love about being a Sox fan. Are you really going to root for the 11 time World Champion Cardinals? Just go ahead and root for the Pats while you’re at it. We root for the underdogs. It’s why we’re Sox fans. Suck it up, and admit you might be willing to live through the Commissioner’s Trophy residing on the Northside. But seriously, the Cubs, if you don’t stop playing both that sanctimonious bullshit and the cancerous earworm that you call team songs, I will Bartman your asses quicker than Quade’s stint as manager. I will be out, and I will take you with me.
Root for: The Cubs