Postseason Thoughts from a Fan Standing on the Outside: Year 2
September 29th, 2011 by slangon

Can I just start things off by saying that last night was one of the best baseball watching nights I’ve had in what seems like forever. My head was spinning trying to keep up with all the craziness that was happening. My television was on a constant loop from ESPN for the Boston/Baltimore game to MSG for the Yankees/Tampa Bay game to ESPN2 for the Phillies/Braves game. All the while my phone was glued to the Brewers game to monitor what Ryan Braun was up to. The Cardinals were the only ones who spoiled the party by playing a crisp, clean ball game and winning by a healthy margin and providing almost zero drama. Way to screw up the curve, St. Louis.

Anyway, now that the postseason field is set, it’s time for me to perform my yearly ritual of picking a post-season contender to root for since my Mets are once again nowhere to be found. As a fan of baseball in general, I always love to watch the post season regardless of whether my team made the cut or not, and I always find it much more fun when I’m actively rooting for someone. Considering my luck with rooting for teams (I’m a Mets fan and a Giants fan and last year I picked the Rangers as my team to root for), I apologize in advance to any real fans of whatever team I pick.

I explained last year when I did this little exercise that although this is not a steadfast rule, I generally shy away from picking N.L. teams. That’s mostly because I find it a little hard to root for a team that has probably beaten up on the Mets at some point in the past season. It is possible that I could latch onto a National League team, but more often than not, it usually ends up being an A.L. team. Let’s get the N.L. contenders out of the way, shall we?

First up, is the representative from the Mets own division, the Philadelphia Phillies.

I don’t think I really need to get into the reasons why I wouldn’t root for the Phils, but I will anyway. Let’s forget for a moment that for the past 5 or so seasons my hatred for the Phillies has grown exponentially, mostly due to their rising fortunes coupled with the Mets fading into obscurity. Let’s forget for a moment that I personally find it hard to root for a team that is so stocked with talent that it takes all the fun out of watching the games. Let’s forget for a moment that every Mets/Phillies game I’ve been to in the last 4 or 5 years has been just about ruined by some encounter with a drunk, obnoxious Phillies fan. Let’s just say that I would never root for a team that encourages the existence of this man:

I think I even rooted against the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic a few years back because he was playing for them.

Moving on, we have the National League Central Champs, the Milwaukee Brewers.

I actually kind of like the Brewers. I mean, how can you not like a team that is named after the men and women responsible for producing the greatest beverage on God’s Green Earth? I also like many of the players on the team. I like Ryan Braun. I like Carlos Gomez. I still like Frankie Rodriguez. Hell, I even like Prince Fielder because he’s awesome at hitting baseballs really far and he’s the World’s Fattest Vegetarian. Part of me though would feel a little funny about rooting for them after all the controversy surrounding the Reyes/Braun batting title race (although Braun himself seems to be one of the few people not bothered by it). Let’s file the Brew Crew under definitely maybe.

Rounding out the N.L. Division Champs is the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I honestly know very little about the D’Backs this season. I know they have Justin Upton, who is pretty awesome. I know they have Chris Young, who I believe is having a bit of a down year this year. I think Micah Owings? He’s good, right? Outside of them, I couldn’t name another Diamondback to save my life. Even looking at their roster, I recognize maybe 3 or 4 more names, but that’s it. They basically beat out the defending World Series Champs with a team of no-names. That in itself kind of makes me like them. Couple that with the fact that their manager is Kirk Gibson and Arizona just shot to the top of the heap in my book.

Rounding out the Senior Circuit teams is the Wild Card representative, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Let me start this by saying that as I was watching the games last night I found myself rooting for all 4 Wild Card possibilities. I thought it would be pretty cool to see not one, but two one game playoffs. It would’ve been like a preview of the proposed 2 Wild Card Team format that they’re supposed to start doing next season. That being said, I guess I can’t complain about the Cardinals winning just because I think they probably have a better shot at beating Philly than they Braves would have. Right now, I’m all about any team that could possibly knock the Phil’s out before they even get to the World Series. That’s about as far as my rooting for the Cardinals goes though.

With all 4 National League teams examined, I’d have to say that the Diamondbacks have a tenuous hold on my affections. Let’s see if that can hold up to the 4 American League choices.

Again, starting in the east, and again, starting with a team that I wouldn’t root for in a billion years, we have the Yankees.

How much do I dislike the Yankees? Consider the 2009 World Series. I’ve already made clear how much I hate the Phillies, right? Well, when the ’09 Series began, I kept telling myself that I would root for the Yankees, just because I couldn’t bear the thought of the Phillies winning back-to-back Championships. The minute I started watching the games, though, I immediately found myself pulling for Chase Utley to get a hit, or Cliff Lee to strike out Mark Teixeira. You see, I am physically incapable of rooting for the Yankees. I think it comes from years of being surrounded by Yankees fans who take every opportunity to berate, belittle and otherwise abuse the Mets and their fans.

Moving westward, we have the A.L. Central Champion Detroit Tigers.

I could see myself rooting for the Tigers. There’s a multitude of reasons for this. First, there’s a bunch of guys on the team that I admire from afar. I’ve always liked Miguel Cabrera from watching him with the Marlins (even though he always seemed to do something to kill the Mets). I like Magglio Ordonez and Victor Martinez. They even have good old Omir Santos as back-up catcher. And let’s not forget Justin Verlander. I turn green with envy every time I watch him pitch or read about what he did the night before. Secondly, I’ve always been a big fan of Ty Cobb, so that puts a little soft spot in my heart for the Tigers. The third reason goes back to the 2006 post season, when the Mets were looking pretty good for making their 5th World Series appearance. I happened to be on vacation in Puerto Rico when the post season started. The bartender at the hotel we were staying at, Mike, was a really awesome dude as well as a native Detroiter who was a rabid Tigers fan. He was also really knowledgeable about baseball so my friends and I spent many an afternoon downing beer and talking baseball with Mike. After the Cardinals knocked the Mets out in such a painful fashion, I don’t think I ever rooted for a team (other than the Mets) like I did for the Tigers during that World Series.

Out west, we have the A.L. West Champs, the Texas Rangers.

As I mentioned above, the Rangers were my eventual pick last year, which unfortunately didn’t work out so well. They still have a lot of guys on that team that I enjoy watching, like Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler. They also have Endy Chavez this year, so that’s a huge plus in my book. The one sour note for me with the Rangers is that pitcher C.J. Wilson apparently did not approve of Jose Reyes’ choice of tactics in winning the batting title. He posted a tweet saying “Seriously people – taking out a star player to preserve his batting average lead…weak! I hope ryan braun goes 5-5 and wins the title now.” Obviously he’s entitled to his opinion and I understand it. It still ticked me off, though. Maybe I’ll root for Texas to win, but whenever Wilson is pitching he gets shellacked.

Lastly, playing the role of the A.L. Wild Card, we have the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays are another team that has a lot going for them in my book. They have a lot of young, exciting players. My wife has family down near St. Petersburg, so whenever we visit them or they come up, we’ll watch some Rays games together. I enjoy it when they beat the Yankees. I rooted hard for them in ’08 when they were facing the Phillies in the World Series. Watching last nights incredible comeback was something to behold. All that really has me leaning towards the Rays as my team of choice for the 2011 Major League Baseball Post-Season. The nail in the coffin, however, is that fact that I just say that the first game they play tomorrow against the Rangers will be started by none other than the aforementioned C.J. Wilson. Let’s Go Rays!

I also just want to add that if the post-season plays out anywhere near as exciting as last nights games did, I’ll have a blast watching no matter what teams are involved.

One Response to “Postseason Thoughts from a Fan Standing on the Outside: Year 2”

  1. I’m pulling for Rays-Brewers, with Rangers-DBacks as my backup.

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