MLB Playoffs: Reasons to Root for Each Playoff Team
Reasons to Root for Each Playoff Team
The MLB Wildcard games start today, which means for the first time in Major League history, ten of the 30 teams are in contention for the Worlds Series in the playoffs.
In the National League the St. Louis Cardinals traveled to play the Atlanta Braves today and the Cardinals will take on the Washington Nationals Sunday. The Cincinnati Reds play the San Francisco Giants in the bay area on Saturday.
In the American League, the Baltimore Orioles traveled to Arlington to play the reigning AL Champion Texas Rangers. The winner plays the New York Yankees Sunday, either of which would provide an interesting match up. The Orioles fought with the Yankees for the AL East crown the last month, while the Texas Rangers knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs two years ago. The second match up in the AL is between the Oakland Athletics and the Detroit Tigers.
The most compelling thing about the best of one Wild Card Series is how it will change the dynamics of the playoffs. In a winner take all format, teams must put everything on the line for the chance to play on. This should put them at a distinct disadvantage to the division champion as they are at least a day behind with their star pitching.
However, teams have streaked through the playoffs on momentum. If a team switches into a win at all costs mindset, will they have the ability to continue all the way through the post season? A good example is the Colorado Rockies of 2007, who win 20 of 21 games heading into the World Series, including a play-in game against the San Diego Padres. They swept through their first two playoff series despite being the Wild Card.
So while the new format adds new intrigue, the longevity of the playoffs requires some rooting interest. Whether it’s the improbable Baltimore Orioles or the massive bandwagon of the Gaints, here is your reason to root for each playoff team.
St. Louis Cardinals
While the Cardinals are the reigning World Series Champions, they were an underdog heading into the season without manager Tony LaRussa and with the departure of Albert Pujols. Another win this year takes credit out of Pujols’ hands and gives it to the rest of the team as he sits at home with his Los Angeles Angels teammates.
Chipper Jones has had one of the longest and most distinguished careers in recent memory. He is also having one of the best last seasons of any great player on his farewell tour batting .287 with 62 RBIs. A win for the Braves is a storybook ending for Chipper.
The Yankees and Boston Red Sox have kicked around the Orioles for years. A World Series win turns the tables on the bad boys of the AL East and might bring Orioles fans back to the ballpark. Also, as much as we love Cal Ripken junior, the franchise should have something else to talk about.
The Rangers have been so close to winning the World Series the last two years. With uncertainty about Josh Hamilton, who is a free agent, this could be owner Nolan Ryan’s last chance for a long time.
Dusty Bakers health problems are a primary reason that this squad should be your team. Now back with the team after his stroke, the Reds are an overlooked team in the National League.
San Francisco Gaints
The Giants decided not to play Melky Cabrera in the playoffs after his steroids suspension. Their World Series win would therefore most likely be legitimate if you discount the first half of their season. Also a bay series against the Oakland Athletics would be exciting, hopefully without an earthquake.
Money Ball II! Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill could have a happy ending at last in the sequel to the sports movie about a team that didn’t win a championship. More importantly than that, Pitt’s portrayal of Billy Bean made him a sympathetic character that we all want to root for. P.S. Jonah Hill wants a ring since he didn’t win an Academy Award.
The national media largely ignored Miguel Cabrera all season until he won the Triple Crown. Cabrerea is one of the most exciting players to watch in the game and winning the Triple Crown and a World Series would elevate his season to legendary.
Well, they were awful before this year… So they’re definitely the underdog. However, they shut down their best player in Stephen Strasburg. So that’s kind of hard to root for, but that makes them more of the underdog.
New York Yankees
Sometimes its fun to root for the Evil Empire.