Well, this is just the worst, isn't it? The playoffs are upon us and the Angels once again are not involved. That gives me a feeling that is full of suck, as I am sure it does you. However, that does not mean we should abandon baseball altogether. The playoffs are still exciting even sans Halos. The only real problem it presents is figuring out who it is we should now root for. That's a challenge any year the Angels don't reach the playoffs, but this year it is quite possibly the most despicable field of playoff qualifiers we've seen in ages, at least in the eyes of the common Angel fan.
I guess you don't have to root for anyone. If you can pull that off, you are a better fan than I. Me, I need someone to pull for. Or, more accurately, I need someone to root against the least. But who will that team be?
Well, we can certainly rule out the Texas Rangers right off the bat. Part of me wants to see them reach the World Series all so they can collapse once more and secure their destiny as the Buffalo Bills of baseball. But that also runs the risk of them actually winning the whole darn thing, so I'm good with them just falling on their face right out of the gate.
Similarly, the Oakland Athletics can sit on it and rotate. In a different dimension, I can see myself getting behind the A's. They are young and scrappy and don't really rely on anyone star player. But this isn't a different dimension. Other dimensions are full of jerks, just ask Buckaroo Bonzai. The Athletics are the annoying group of overachievers and division rivals that stole the Angels' playoff spot. Stupid jerks.
Then there is the New York Yankees. It turns out they are, in fact, still the New York Yankees. Moving on.
Don't even try and sell me on the Detroit Tigers either. Between last year's dust up with Jered Weaver and Carlos Guillen and this year's holy war over the MVP, the Tigers are dead to me. Even without that other stuff, I can't say I much appreciate the whole "we are only in the playoffs because we were lucky enough to play in the worst division in baseball and please don't pay attention to the fact that we have the seventh-best record in the AL" thing.
I guess that means the AL team of choice is the Baltimore Orioles, by default. Default! Default! Default! I can't say I'm terribly happy about that though. I don't like the Orioles one bit. They have succeeded largely due to smoke, mirrors and possibly a deal with the Dark Lord (not that there's anything wrong with that, please don't smite me, Dark Lord). They just shouldn't be good. I reject them totally. OK, maybe not totally. There is a good chance they might be the baseball version of Rasputin. They have risen to power through potentially mystic powers (see their record in one-run games) and general fraud. But they also won't die no matter what people do to them. Poor run differential? Ha! Losing their best starter to injury? 'Tis but a flesh wound. Nick Markakis out for the season? Not even a drop of blood spilled. They just aren't going to die, so maybe I'll reluctantly root for them as the AL representative just so I am not amongst the purgings when they establish their evil reign over the baseball realm.
Moving to the National League, I'd hope for better luck, but I'm not seeing much hope here either.
The St. Louis Cardinals are strictly off limits due to their fatwa against Pujols.
I know it was ten years ago, but the San Francisco Giants still rub me the wrong way simply because they faced the Angels in the World Series. Also, I like it when new teams when the championship and the Giants got there's in 2010. Sorry.
You could argue that the Washington Nationals are the feel-good story of the NL, but that would be a stupid argument to get into. Arguing about what "feels gooder" seems hypocritical, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, I can't root the Nats for the small yet simple reason of Bryce Harper. This really isn't even Harper's fault. It is the fault of the national media who insist on constantly drawing a link between Trout and Harper. They have never even played each other yet they will always get compared to one another because of the coincidence of being super young prospects called up at the same time. So, let me ask you, do you want to spend the off-season reading "Trout may have been better individually, but Harper has ring and really that's all that counts, therefore Harper is better!" articles? Well, do you? Yeah, I didn't think so.
That leaves the Atlanta Braves and the Cincinnati Reds. I can't think of a specific reason to root against either team. Seeing Chipper Jones end his career with a World Series title would be kind of cool, but I also am a big fan of Joey Votto. The only thing I can think of to break the tie is that I predicted the Reds to win the NL pennant before the season and I am seldom one to pass up on a chance to be self-serving. So there you have it. I pick the Reds pretty much to justify my completely meaningless and arbitrary pre-season prediction.
Orioles versus Reds! Adam Jones versus Joey Votto! You can almost hear the Fox TV executives crying over the lost ad revenue now. And, really, any scenario in which Fox and their miserable baseball coverage get punished is more than fine by me.