I live in a Cardinals bubble. I watch very few games that don’t involve the Cardinals throughout the season. Part of this makes sense. The Cardinals play just about everyday. I do not really have time to watch more than one game a day. (Okay, so let’s pretend it’s not 2020 for that previous statement) The few times the Cardinals don’t play, I usually make an excuse to do something else with my time, and that could be as simple as watching a movie I’ve wanted to watch.
During the playoffs, this is... mostly still true. I don’t watch most playoff baseball games. It’s not like I watch no playoff baseball games, but I don’t watch many. Since the Cardinals have been eliminated, I’ve watched a few innings and no more of four different games, and ignored the rest. And three of those games were yesterday! I will get more invested the further into the playoffs, although even that depends on the matchup. I don’t think I’d watch much of the Astros and Yankees if they played.
Still though, I have my rooting interests. And since everyone’s series are still up in the air, I thought I’d explore the different combinations, some of which fill me with dread and some which would be delightful. Let’s attempt to go through the combinations of the potential LCS and later World Series matchups.
This takes no thought at all for me. I dislike the New York Yankees and I strongly dislike the Houston Astros. I would be mighty disappointed if I were to be put in the position to root for the Yankees, so I’m really, really hoping the Rays win since the Astros are currently leading the series 2 games to 1. But, I’m not going to count out the Athletics yet. It would be great if the Astros could blow a 2 games to 0 lead. I want that to happy so badly.
Whoa Gabe, buddy I think you got the exact wrong teams there, you might say. First off, I’m not your buddy, friend. But more importantly, I think I have quite a different hope than most people in this series who aren’t affiliated with any of the four teams. For one thing, I don’t like the Padres all that much. I don’t hate them. But I don’t really like them either. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Manny Machado in fact. On the flip side, I have nothing at all against any Dodgers players, in fact I actually want Clayton Kershaw to win. I think his playoff reputation is unfair and would love to see him win a title.
On the other side of the coin, I can’t help but be a curmudgeon with the Marlins. I’m sorry. I do not want them to win. It’d be one thing if they’ve never won before honestly, even if they were so clearly inferior to everyone else in the playoffs. But they’ve already won twice, and they weren’t even close to the best team either time. They’ve had their fun. Let someone else have a try. Also, I do not, under any circumstances, want to hear anything about Derek Jeter and winning, and you and I both know that’s going to happen and it’s going to suck. I mostly just don’t understand why I’m expected to root for the Marlins?
Worst Case Scenario
ALCS - Yankees versus Astros
The year is 2020. Everything sucks, so I expect nothing less than the absolute worst matchup possible here. But please, please give me a team I want to root for here. I will reluctantly root for the Yankees, but I will be miserable doing it.
NLCS - Empty
Yeah there is no worst case scenario here. There’s no Cubs versus... well there really is no equivalent to the Cubs, but any version of the Cubs being here would be worst case. I will not have trouble picking a winner no matter what two teams end up in the NLCS, and I will not reluctantly do it either.
NLCS - Dodgers versus Marlins; Marlins versus Padres; Padres versus Braves
If you’re interested, I will be rooting for the Dodgers over the Marlins. I know that’s sacrilege but I will repeat I don’t really understand why I’m supposed to be rooting for the Marlins except some obligation to root for the little guy over the big guy. I will be rooting for the Padres over the Marlins. Yes I know how absurd it is that the Marlins are my 4th choice for the NL. I’m a fun hater. I get it. And I’d root for the Padres over the Braves. Still got the Tomahawk Chop. Really, I’d root for the Marlins over the Braves, but I feel like they’re definitely winning it all if they get past the Braves, so that’s why they’re 4th.
ALCS - Yankees versus Athletics; Rays versus Astros
Just give me some hope that the Yankees or Astros will not make the World Series and I’m somewhat satisfied. Hating two teams in a matchup does not make a fun viewing experience and I’d probably just not watch it to be honest. Depends on how close the series gets though.
Ranking the World Series Matchups
1a. Dodgers versus Athletics
1b. Dodgers versus Rays
I actually have no preference between the Rays and Athletics. I have no real attachment to Randy Arozarena and Stephen Piscotty never plays, so the former Cardinal thing doesn’t matter to me. Both are well-run, low payroll organizations that been good long enough that I wouldn’t mind seeing either get a ring. I don’t actually think I’d “root” for the Dodgers in either scenario either. I’d be happy with any result.
3a. Padres versus Athletics
3b. Padres versus Rays
Padres are a clear second place team in the NL for me. I said I don’t particularly like them, but I also hold no animosity towards them either. So fairly easy choice. And I would easily root for the AL team, whether it’s As or Rays.
5a. Braves versus Athletics
5b. Braves versus Rays
5c. Marlins versus Athletics
5d. Marlins versus Rays
You’re probably sensing a trend here. Rays or Athletics being the AL team in the World Series would basically make this a favorable World Series here. And honestly, while I will be rooting for the Braves in the NLDS, when it actually came time to rank these matchups, it’s clear I don’t want the Braves in the World Series as much as the Marlins. So they’re basically on equal ground here.
9. Dodgers versus Yankees
So let’s for a minute ignore that I don’t actually dislike the Dodgers at all. Let’s say the Astros or Yankees make the World Series. Priority A is making sure they lose. Who’s the best team to do that? The Dodgers easily. I’m sure most people agree they’d rather the Dodgers win than either of those two teams.
10. Marlins versus Yankees
I realize I’m contradicting my above point here, but how hilarious would it be if the Marlins beat the Yankees in the World Series again? It’d be worth everything I said above. This has the highest upside play by far even though the Marlins aren’t likely to win, but man it would be so great.
11. Padres versus Yankees
12. Braves versus Yankees
Weirdly, both of those matchups have happened before, and somewhat recently! The Braves-Yankees happened twice in the 90s, the Padres once. Anyway, there’s fairly big gap between 11 and 12 here I’d say.
13. Dodgers versus Astros
Everything I said above for the Yankees is twice as true here. Under no circumstances can the Astros be allowed to win the World Series this year. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES.
14. Padres versus Astros
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES
15. Braves versus Astros
16. Marlins versus Astros
Would it be funny if the Marlins beat the Astros? Yes. But not in the same way as if they beat the Yankees. So they’re lowest because they have the worst shot at beating the Astros and the upside of the Marlins winning is not great enough for me to overcome that fact.
So there you have it. My possibly unconventional rooting interests. I realize it’s somewhat random: I’m rooting for the powerhouse Dodgers but consider the two other powerhouses to be the worst case. I’m also rooting for the low payroll Athletics and Rays, but telling the Marlins to go home please. But hopefully I’ve laid out my reasons well, even if you disagree. And you probably do.
But, and I cannot stress this enough, the important thing is that the Astros do not win. If you gave me two choices: let the playoffs play out and let the chips fall where they may OR the Yankees win, I would pick Yankees win no question. And I hate the Yankees. A lot. That’s how much I don’t want the Astros to win.