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Who to root for in the playoffs now

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The Cardinals, the obvious choice, are out, leaving the floor theoretically open to the three remaining teams

2019 NLCS Game 4 - St. Louis Cardinals v. Washington Nationals Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

It’s a bit awkward when you’re heavily invested in the outcome of playoff games only for your team to lose with more games yet to be played and a winner yet to be crowned. You’ve recently went through the gauntlet of emotions, lived and died with every pitch, and occasionally found moments to breathe. And then you watch two teams you don’t care abut play a couple days later. Honestly, watching those games can feel a bit like watching those two teams in the regular season for me - I just can’t muster any strong emotion, much as I try.

And I think this is an experience unique to recently ousted playoff teams, not teams who never made the playoffs. Because you have a direct, specific comparable and there’s just no way watching Yankees-Astros is going to come even close to matching watching your own team play. Not so with fans of teams who miss the playoffs. Obviously if you’re a Cardinal fan, you remember how watching playoff games feel, but if it hasn’t happened for a couple years, you could get more into the games. At least that’s how I feel.

Now, it may be that you enjoy watching games without any emotion towards any of the teams playing, but that’s not really how I watch sports, so I need a team to root for. Like say the Rays. I’d root for the Rays easily. Or a team I’m not rooting for in some cases. Like say the Cubs. I’d root against the Cubs if they played 25 players who took turns each day trying to trip me wherever I walk and stabbed me with toothpicks when I’m not looking. So let’s go through the pros and cons of rooting for each team.

Washington Nationals

Pros

They are the 29th team to make the World Series out of 30 MLB teams (sorry Seattle Mariners), so it probably goes without saying that they haven’t won a World Series ever. I root for that. Max Scherzer is awesome, from STL, and went to my alma mater. Again, super easy to root for that guy.

Anthony Rendon has been a massively under-appreciated player for most of his career, thanks to wrongly being in Nolan Arenado’s shadow and may even get a well-deserved MVP win after this year. Another under-appreciated player? Stephen Strasburg improbably. That guy is somehow underrated. If you want former Cardinals, they have Matt Adams. Ryan Zimmerman is the Adam Wainwright of the Washington Nationals except he hasn’t won anything. The man has paid his dues. Give him his ring.

I’ve always like Brian Dozier despite watching him in probably 10 total games in my life. You can thank fantasy for that. And Sean Doolittle seems like a pretty good guy. Lastly, Fernando Rodney is somehow still pitching at 42-years-old. He’s in his 17th season, in his 11th organization, and has not won a ring in that timeframe. Another guy who has PAID HIS DUES.

Cons

I’m going to word this very carefully, but think about where they’re located, what their location is known for having, and who among that group probably roots for the Nationals. I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want Juan Soto to get a ring not for the reason you think, but because he’s 20-years-old and dammit that’s too young for your first ring. I don’t make the rules. Actually I literally am making the rules right now.

The Baby Shark thing: I’m not a fan. I don’t feel strongly about this, but that’s only due to a lack of exposure. Oh and if you’re into this - I’m not - but some people will root against them because they swept the Cardinals. I don’t hold that against them personally. But it’s a potential con for sure.

Houston Astros

Pros

The Astros were literally the best team in baseball by record, so if you’re a person who believes the best should win - and I know some of you are out there - this is definitely the team to pick. They have Zack Greinke, delightfully awkward interviewer and excellent pitcher who remains ringless. They have Alex Bregman, who I have a soft spot for due to his interactions with Trevor Bauer on Twitter. You can probably guess which one of them ends up looking bad.

Former Cardinal Aledmys Diaz is on this Houston roster. Under-talked about discussion is the Cards just giving this guy away for nothing. He’s not great - but he is better than Yairo Munoz. So maybe there’s some behind-the-scenes stuff here. Anybody who had or picked up Yulieski Gurriel in fantasy is a fan of that guy for his unreal second half (163 wRC+).

Cons

Roberto Osuna will hopefully win nothing and the Astros traded for him after saying they have a zero tolerance policy for domestic abuse only to walk that back because he’s good basically. They came up with a half-assed excuse that they meant the zero tolerance was for people in the organization and he wasn’t in the organization, so listen you guys are buying this right? Just let us have this good player.

If you’re against tanking, you should also root against the Astros, who not only started the trend, they were the most extreme of anyone, basically taking tanking to its absolute logical extreme. They also won the World Series as recently as 2017, and are sure to be in a similar spot next year so no thanks.

New York Yankees

Pros

Cons

They’re the New York Yankees. They have some easy-to-root for players, but oh look there’s Aroldis Chapman just in case they accidentally made themselves likable.

Go Nationals!