Already know who you’re rooting for in the MLB playoffs this year? Or totally lost to the One True Faith? You might as well skip this post. Come back Wednesday–I may have another post this week–or Friday for the cats. The rest of you, gather around.
Sure, you can watch the playoffs without rooting for anyone. But where’s the fun in that? This post aims to help you choose a rooting interest, whether you want to pick a single team to follow throughout the month or pick a new team in each series.
Again, this isn’t about picking a winner. I’ve made those predictions, and I won’t revisit them until November. (As a reminder–Spoilers, Darling!–I picked the Dodgers to win it all. There’s still time to call Vegas.)
If you’re new to this blog, you may be surprised to hear there are rules for choosing a rooting interest. But why should something so important be left to whim and chance?
Rules for Rooting, 2019 edition
- Unless it’s the team you follow during the regular season, you must not root for any team that has been promoted as “America’s Team” or otherwise held up by its owners and/or the media as the ultimate expression of the sport. If you do root for one of these teams, this is a great time to reconsider your life choices.
- You should not root for a team from your own team’s division.
- That said, you should root for somebody from your own league. Crossing the league boundary without a really good excuse is in bad taste.
- Possession of team merchandise with sentimental value OR a history of following a favorite player from team to team trumps Rules Two and Three. It does not override Rule One. Nothing overrides Rule One.
- Teams with a record of recent futility or legitimate “misfit” credentials get bonus points in the decision process. A record of futility means multiple losing seasons or a lengthy stretch without a playoff appearance and/or title. What constitutes legitimate misfittery is up to you. Be honest with yourself.
- All other rules notwithstanding, you are always free to root for the Indians, holders of a seventy season World Series drought.
That said, rooting for the Indians this year would be an exercise in Zen Futility, since they’re not in the playoffs. But I digress.
Since I’m writing as much as possible of this post ahead of time, we’ll start with the National League, where the teams were set by the middle of last week.
The National League playoff teams are Atlanta, Washington, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Los Angeles.
As always, Rule One applies to the Braves, thanks to Ted Turner. It also applies to the Nationals (for obvious reasons) and the Dodgers.
We’ll award a futility point to the Brewers, whose fans have now been waiting for a World Series title for half a century.
Dodgers, Nationals, and Braves followers can take the next couple of days for reflection. Fans of the other NL East and West teams have an obvious pick in the Brewers. And, much as I hate to encourage violation of Rule Two, it’s a lesser offense than breaking Rule One. So those of you who usually cheer for the Cubs, Reds, or Pirates should also be rooting for Milwaukee.
Now, on to the American League, where the playoff teams weren’t settled until Friday. The Junior Circuit has given us New York, Minnesota, Houston, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.
Fortunately for my sanity, there’s only one AL playoff team subject to Rule One–the Yankees, of course.
We’ll give the Athletics and Twins a futility point each, since their World Series droughts are at twenty-nine and twenty-seven years, respectively. (Last year, I gave the As a misfit point, primarily because of Khris Davis’ four-year streak of hitting exactly .247. That string ended this year–he finished at .220–so no misfit point for the As.)
Yankees boosters, go meditate on your media-enabled sins.
Non-playoff affiliated fans, your guidance looks like this: If you’re normally in the AL East or Central, you should looking west to cheer for the Athletics. If you’re from the West Division, the Twins are your crew. Simple, huh?
And, as always, if you don’t normally follow baseball–whether because you’ve lost the True Faith or never been properly entered in the rolls of the Faithful–you can exercise your free will. You can choose your team based on geography, following the guidelines above. Or take the easy way out and root for the As. Or exercise your masochistic side and root for the Indians.
And to reiterate: Even though I’ve predicted the Dodgers to win the Series, you can not root for them unless they were your team through the regular season. Even if you’ve got money down. Rule One is absolute.