MLB Playoffs 2013: Which Team Should New York Yankees Fans Root For?
Which Team Do Yankees Fans Root For?
For the second time in 19 years, the New York Yankees failed to reach the playoffs. Though Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte’s goodbyes provided some incredible moments, it does not change the fact that the Bombers will not be contending for their 28th title in 2013. So which team should their fans root for this October? It’s truly a predicament.
A Yankee-less postseason is something the pinstripe faithful are not used to. I’m sure some are apathetic as to who wins it all and have moved on to other sports like football or hockey. But for die hard baseball fans, it’s impossible not to root for another team – especially if that team is playing the Boston Red Sox.
But which team should Yankees fans choose?
Do you decide based on each team’s historical standing? Of the remaining teams, there are blue bloods and underdogs, teams that dominated their divisions and those that clinched a playoff spot on the last day of the season.
Or perhaps you can go by how they play. There are teams that hit the cover off the ball; some rely on defense; while still others simply try to gain a lead after six innings and pass it on to their bullpen to close the game out.
How the teams were assembled can also be a factor. The Los Angeles Dodgers have the second highest payroll in baseball. The Tampa Bay Rays have the third lowest, yet they’ve made it just as far.
These are the eight remaining playoff teams ranked in the order that Yankees fans should be rooting for them to win the World Series.
8. Boston Red Sox
There are only eight teams in the playoffs, 30 teams in MLB and 122 in the Big Four American Sports. Nevertheless, the Red Sox are firmly in 123rd place on the list. The only thing that may trump my love of baseball is my hatred for the Red Sox. I’d rather see the World Series cancelled due to the government shut down than see those clowns hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.
7. Detroit Tigers
I have a lot of respect for Jim Leyland, but I’m sick of the team. The Tigers are in the same boat the Texas Rangers were in – they’ve had their chances recently and they blew them. It’s time for someone else to have a turn (quick disclaimer: this rule applies to all teams other than the Yankees).
Moreover, Jhonny Peralta has served his 50 game Biogenesis suspension but keeping him on the postseason roster is a disgrace. I understand there needs to be standard game suspensions for PED violations, but there’s something wrong with allowing a guy to play in the postseason during the same year he was caught for PED use. They should have followed the precedent the Giants set last year with Melky Cabrera.
6. St. Louis Cardinals
They’re similar to the Tigers on this list. Having won the World Series in 2006 and 2011, and being in the hunt just about every year in between, it’s the same argument – somebody else should win. But the Cardinals didn’t knock the Yankees out of the playoffs twice like the Tigers did the last two times they've played.
5. Oakland Athletics
Yankees fans shouldn’t have anything against the Oakland Athletics – they’re in a different division and they’ve never beaten the Yankees in the postseason. But like Peralta with the Tigers, Bartolo Colon should not be on the playoff roster; he too was implicated in Biogenesis. If the A’s win it all with Colon as their ace, the title will be tainted.
4. Atlanta Braves
The Yankees beat the Braves twice in the World Series in 1996 and 1999 so there’s no bitterness towards Atlanta within the New York fan base. The Braves haven’t won their division since 2005 so it’s not that annoying to see this team in the postseaon. But the stadium-wide chop is insufferable – I can’t deal with it for three rounds of the playoffs.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
The best argument to root for the Rays is that they’re not the Red Sox. True, they’re a division rival but Joe Maddon’s a great manager. You also have to respect the fact that they’ve won 90 games or more in four of the last five years, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. There are other teams I’d rather see win it all, but I wouldn’t be upset if it’s Tampa’s year.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
Don Mattingly had a borderline Hall of Fame career as a player for the Yankees. Though he was great enough to have his number (23) retired, he never won a championship – he hung up the spikes in 1995, a year before the Yankees won it all. After the dynasty years, he returned to New York as the hitting coach in 2004 and became the bench coach in 2006. But he went with Joe Torre to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 – a year before the Yankees won their most recent title.
Mattingly still hasn’t won a ring but he does deserve one. Many Yankees fans will be rooting for Dodgers just because of Mattingly, but they can’t be No. 1 on the list. I mean, they’re the Dodgers – the rivalry goes back to 1941. It’s impossible for a Yankees fan to truly root for them.
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
Finally, the team every Yankees fan should be rooting for: the Pittsburgh Pirates. They haven’t made the playoffs, let alone had a winning season, for 21 years and they’re players are impossible to root against.
Their closer, Jason Grilli, has had a tumultuous career playing for six different organizations over 13 years. But he’s found a home in Pittsburgh and was named to his first All-Star team this season.
Justin Morneau was one of the best players on the Minnesota Twins – a team that always had the unfortunate luck of running into the Yankees every October. Since being traded to Pittsburgh, he has the opportunity to win what he was always denied in Minnesota.
Francisco Liriano was also a Minnesota Twin and protégé to Johan Santana. But he missed the entire 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and has struggled ever since -- until this year. After a tour with the Chicago White Sox, Liriano joined the Buccos and has been rejuvenated ever since. He is finally reaching the potential that was derailed by injury.
In 2012, Andrew McCutchen signed a long term extension with the Pirates. Rather than testing free agency, which probably would have gotten him a huge deal with a perennial contender, he opted to stay with the team that drafted him out of high school. He believed in a struggling organization and his faith is finally paying off.
The Pirates celebrated their first winning season and playoff appearance in 21 years, but this season could bring so much more for a tortured fan base. The Pirates are finally a contender in 2013.
How could you not root for them?