On Tuesday night the playoffs commence with the Orioles and Blue Jays meeting in the AL Wild Card game. The NL Wild Card game will take place the following night, and just like that the postseason will be off and running. Reds fans might not have the opportunity to cheer on their favorite team in October, but there are still plenty of ways they can enjoy the most exciting time of the baseball year.
Baseball is always more fun when you have a team to root for. Clearly no other team can ever replace that Reds shaped hole in our hearts, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stand up and cheer this month. Below is the definitive guide breaking down how Reds fans should feel about the teams competing for baseball’s biggest prize.
The teams are categorized in three tiers. This moves from the teams that you wouldn’t mind making an early exit to the ones you can safely support.
Teams You Just Can’t Root For
St. Louis Cardinals
Wait...something’s not right here. Let me crunch some numbers really quick.
Oh yeah, I forgot. The St. Louis Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs.
To the outside world this might look like an odd stance to take. How can you root so hard against a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1908? Well, if you watched the Reds play the Cubs this season you know why. Chicago absolutely owned Cincinnati in 2016. The Cubs ran up a 14-4 record against the Reds by a combined score of 136-65. Few moments epitomized this dominance like Chicago’s win on April 22. Jake Arrieta threw a no-hitter and the Cubs won the game 16-0.
There will be a lot of people rooting for the Cubs this postseason. Just not Reds fans.
Boston Red Sox
If I’m being honest there are a number of reasons I’ve enjoyed watching the Boston Red Sox this season. They have a core of young players who are entertaining. David Ortiz’s final season was incredible. So why shouldn’t you give your support to Boston?
Because they’ve won enough in recent years. The Red Sox have three titles since 2004. That’s plenty compared to some other teams in the field. Also, the outfield dancing after a win was fun at first, but by the end of the season it got a little played out (in this author’s opinion).
You can root for these teams, but proceed with caution...
To most fans there wouldn’t be many obvious reasons to root against the Nationals. There will always be a segment of the baseball world that dislikes them because they don’t like the way Bryce Harper plays the game. You can ignore those people. So why should Reds fans be so hesitant to get behind Washington?
Late in the season the Nationals added Mat Latos to their roster. He probably won’t make an appearance for Washington this October, but he’s still on the team. This is the same Mat Latos who took several shots at the Reds on his way out of town. It’s not a major reason for concern, but it could give some fans pause.
I have a feeling whether or not Reds fans root for the Nationals will come down to how they feel about Dusty Baker. The presence of Chris Heisey on this roster is a plus.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Vin Scully farewell tour wrapped up on Sunday, and there is a lot of good will for the Dodgers in the baseball community. From a player perspective, Justin Turner and Yasmani Grandal were both drafted by the Cincinnati Reds so there is some connection. However, neither appeared in a major league game for the Reds so the connection doesn’t run that deep.
Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill are two of the most exciting starting pitchers to watch in all of baseball. That’s definitely worth something.
So why should fans be hesitant about rooting for the Dodgers? Los Angeles currently has the highest payroll in Major League Baseball. As a Reds fans you know the financial constraints that come with playing in a small market. The Dodgers 25-man payroll currently stands at $210.5 million. What’s Cincinnati’s 25-man payroll? $68.9 million. Don’t root for the money.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have one of the strongest player connections to the Reds. Every time a Reds fan watches Edwin Encarnacion mash another home run they wonder what might have been. Cincinnati traded Encarnacion to the Toronto in 2009, and he’s blossomed into one of the best power hitters in baseball. Admittedly, his skills were better used as a DH so it’s hard to be too upset about losing him (plus, Scott Rolen). Is this enough reason for Reds fans to support this club?
There are two marks against rooting for Toronto. First, Francisco Liriano now pitches for the Blue Jays. In 2013 Liriano dominated Cincinnati in the NL Wild Card game. Second, Toronto tried to send us an injured player in a trade for Jay Bruce prior to the 2016 season. That’s cold Toronto.
However, the Blue Jays are in Canada. Canada produced Joey Votto. I’m talking myself in to this one.
San Francisco Giants
A lot of Reds fans will be surprised to see the Giants in this category. Johnny Cueto now pitches for San Francisco, and that will be enough for most Reds fans to throw their support behind the Giants. However, let me give you a few words of warning.
First, the Giants have already won three titles since 2010. Cueto already has a ring as well.
Second, Madison Bumgarner is just the worst. Who wants to root for baseball’s self-appointed fun police?
I could have submitted many more videos for evidence.
Buy a t-shirt and cheer to your heart’s content
There are a few player connections worth mentioning in Baltimore. You might have missed this, but the Orioles claimed Drew Stubbs at the end of August. Name for me one Reds fan who hasn’t desperately wanted Drew Stubbs to get a World Series ring? Paul Janish also players in Baltimore so...that’s pretty cool.
The Reds do have a little bit of history with the Orioles. In 1970 Baltimore won the World Series 4-1 over Cincinnati. Depending on your age you might be willing to overlook that. There’s also the fact that Baltimore got to witness the best season of Frank Robinson’s career (1966).
Shin-Soo Choo only played one season in Cincinnati, but it was a magical time. Most Reds fans feel as if they will have a deep connection with him for the rest of their lives (oh that’s just me...I’ve said too much). Choo missed a lot of time this season with a forearm fracture, but the team is hopeful he can contribute in the postseason.
Also, if there is one player I would love to see get a ring it is Adrian Beltre. He is everything that is right with baseball. He is the anti-Bumgarner. A championship is just about the only thing missing from his Hall of Fame career.
Cincinnati’s rival to the north is seeking its first world championship since 1948. It’s true that every season the Reds and Indians compete for the Ohio Cup (which Cleveland took this season). However, for the next month, there’s no reason Reds fans shouldn’t be able to get behind the AL Central champions.
There aren’t many player connections between the current Cincinnati and Cleveland rosters, but...Cleveland is in Ohio? (I know Cleveland is in Ohio I’m just debating whether or not this is a good reason to root for them). A great reason to root for Cleveland is that they currently employ Francisco Lindor. He’s one of the best young shortstops in baseball, and he’s a player I have an irrational amount of love for.
This is a team ravaged by injuries, and they’ll be heading to the playoffs without Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Yan Gomes, and Michael Brantley. Their starting pitching depth will be an issue in the playoffs, and according to one writer it’s the reason they’ll find themselves back home after the first round.
New York Mets
Why should a Reds fan be willing to cheer for the Mets?
A number of Reds fans that I’ve talked to in the past few days have mentioned Bruce’s presence on the Mets as the determining factor in deciding who to root for this October. It was hard for fans to watch Jay struggle during his brief stint in New York. As Dayn Perry notes, in Bruce’s first 42 games with the Mets he was hitting .174/.252/.285.
However, Bruce has really picked up as of late. In his last eight games he’s hitting .480/.536/1.000 with 4 HR. The hot streak was a needed boost for a Mets team looking to secure a wild card spot, and it’s helped to turn the negative reactions Bruce was garnering from some fans.
Also, Bartolo Colon plays for the Mets. What other reason do you need?
Who will you be rooting for this postseason? Let us know in the comments section.