Now that the 2014 MLB season is officially over (and no longer just unofficially over as it has been for the Reds for about two months now), it’s time to turn our attention to the postseason. And for those of us whose team isn’t among the one-third of all teams who have earned the right to play beyond Game 162, it’s time to decide which playoff team to throw our considerable support behind.
In the National League, the playoff field is loaded with familiar faces. The NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals and Wild Card Game participant Pittsburgh Pirates all made the postseason last year, whereas the NL East champion Washington Nationals and other Wild Card participant San Francisco Giants both last made the postseason in 2012. So no novelty acts, no droughts being broken, and no scrappy underdogs, therefore no obvious sentimental favorites in the NL. If you’re a fan of patterns that feel like they should mean something but probably don’t, you should root for the Giants to win the World Series, because if they add a 2014 championship to the ones they won in 2010 and 2012, people are going to try to apply reason to that madness, and that’s always entertaining.
Beyond that, as far as rootability is concerned, there aren’t a lot of great options in the senior circuit. I personally like the Dodgers, but I know many Reds fans don’t, and I understand the reasons why. I know the Nationals are a solid, well balanced team and many people’s favorite to represent the National League in the World Series. That would provide some historical interest at least, since that franchise has never played in a World Series (going all the way back to its founding in 1969 as the Montreal Expos) and it would be only the fourth time a team from Washington D.C. played in the fall classic, and the first time as a National League team.
Over in the American League things are a bit more interesting. The Baltimore Orioles won the AL East division for the first time since 1997 (although they appeared in the postseason as a Wild Card in 2012), and the Los Angeles Angels won the AL West, finally living up to the potential they showed when they signed Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The Detroit Tigers won the AL Central for the millionth year in a row, although this time without the services of Prince Fielder or Doug Fister.
The Wild Card Game will feature the two most interesting – and rootable – teams in the American League postseason. The Oakland Athletics are always an easy team to root for, despite they slide they’ve been on since the trade deadline, when they looked like the team to beat in all of baseball. Also, it will be great to see Adam Dunn finally play postseason baseball for the first time in his career. Their opponent, the Kansas City Royals, finally broke their MLB longest active postseason drought and will suit up after the regular season ends for the first time since 1985 (the longest active drought "crown" now falls to the Toronto Blue Jays, who haven’t appeared in the post season since Joe Carter touched ‘em all in 1993). Between that and the fact that their fans hate the Cardinals almost as much as we do, the Royals are my pick for team to support for the duration. Other than that, I’ll be rooting for my second favorite team: whoever’s playing the Cardinals.
You can also make your rooting decisions based on geographical quirks. The possibilities exist for a Los Angeles vs Los Angeles series, a San Francisco vs Oakland series, a St. Louis vs Kansas City series, or a Washignton DC vs Baltimore series. If you’re more interested in reliving history, there are 19 World Series that could potentially be reenacted with the ten teams in the postseason field, the most recent being the 2012 Giants-Tigers World Series, and the earliest being the second World Series ever, the 1905 Giants-Athletics Series, from back when they were both East Coast teams.
Who will you be supporting, and why?