As I think I've stated for five years running here, I love the playoffs. I suspect that I would love the playoffs even more should the Pirates ever decide to get involved, but for now the promise of three weeks of Pirate-free baseball is actually not a bad thing. Sometimes over the course of a long, losing season, watching the Pirates and writing about them almost starts to feel like a chore. The bullpen meltdowns and starter shellackings and ugly waves at pitches out of the strike zone pile up and it's easy to watch the Pirates play and forget what a great sport baseball is. I love the Pirates and I'm not trading them in for another team, but they're not always easy to watch.
The playoffs, though, always give me a chance to watch baseball without waiting for that other shoe. To just enjoy baseball for the sport that it is without the added baggage of a rooting interest. Last night's Twins/Tigers playoff was a perfect example; I don't actively dislike the Twins and it's hard not to like Joe Mauer, but then I'm not rooting against Jim Leyland, Andy Van Slyke, and the Pirate coaching staff, either. I sat down to watch a baseball game, and a gem unfolded right in front of everyone watching.
It was baseball at it's finest; a back and forth game that dared non-baseball fans to call it boring. It was a perfect illustration of why baseball shouldn't have a clock; a game that was going to push forward until someone from one of the teams stepped up and won the game. I can't imagine a better game to kick the 2009 playoffs off with. In fact, if we get just one more game like it this year, I think we can all consider ourselves lucky.
My playoff picks are at FanHouse, as always, and given that I picked the Cubs prior to last year's playoffs and again prior to the 2009 season, I decided to shake things up by picking a team that I'd never normally pick for something like this. The real truth is this: I have no idea who's going to win the World Series this year. I'm not even sure I have an idea of who's going to win three of these first round series. That makes me really excited.
Anyways, share your picks and the team's you're rooting for in the comments. You know my picks, my rooting interests this year are the Twins (small market represent!), the Angels (because they're not the Red Sox or Yankees), and whoever wins the Cardinals/Dodgers series in the NL, because as much as I dislike about both of those teams, that's outweighed by a team from Philadelphia and Jim Tracy.