Ah, playoff baseball. When you can root for non-Pirate teams and watch good baseball without being accused of abandoning the Piratesr, simply because the Pirates aren't playing anymore and your hatred of certain teams forces you to cheer wildly for others. I'm going to be writing about the playoffs quite a bit over at The Outside Corner, but for now let's take a moment and look at each playoff team and my biases for or against them to figure out who Pirate fans should be rooting for in this year's World Series Hunt. Let's begin in the American League and then move over to the National League. Teams are listed by record.
New York Yankees - Being a Pirate fan that roots for the Yankees is like being a Christian in Ancient Rome that roots for the lions. Next.
Texas Rangers - The Rangers are a smart, well-run team full of likable baseball players. If you can't root for Josh Hamilton, you don't have a heart. The way Nolan Ryan gets/takes credit for their turn-around kind of hacks me off a bit. Also, they're a pretty big market. Also, Texas.
Detroit Tigers - Just watching Justin Verlander is awesome. Same goes for Miguel Cabrera at the plate. They've also got the Jim Leyland factor going, which is a positive. They no longer employ Andy Van Slyke, though, which is worth noting at this site. Also, Tiger fans tend to be Red Wing fans, and I never want Red Wing fans to be happy about anything, ever. Unless their happiness is contingent upon Yankee sadness, which it is in these playoffs.
Tampa Bay Rays- How can Pirate fans not love this team? They're incredibly well-run and they contend on a shoestring budget in a division where the difficulty level is ratcheted up to an extreme. The Rays third playoff trip in four years is proof that it's not impossible for the Pirates. Their pitching is fun to watch, their lineup is deep and full of exciting players, and their manager has stones the size of Everest and he's not afraid to do things differently than every other manager in the game. They're starting a rookie with one career start in Game 1 of the ALDS, because he's incredibly talented and because they're not afraid to do it. I'm practically gushing over here. The Rays just make baseball seem more fun to me.
Philadelphia Phillies - Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee are awesome pitchers that are always fun to watch. The Phillies are from Philadelphia, though, so ... next.
Milwaukee Brewers - I hate their stupid faces. That said, if the Brewers win the World Series, they'd be striking a blow for small market teams everywhere.
Arizona Diamondbacks - I'm kind of ambivalent towards this team. I just don't think about them a lot and I suspect there aren't many people that do. Justin Upton, Daniel Hudson, and Ian Kennedy all make them worth watching, though. Plus Kirk Gibson is their manager and ... Kirk Gibson. Do I even need to say more? I guess I have to root for someone to win the National League, so I suppose it's the Diamondbacks by default.
St. Louis Cardinals - I will, under no circumstances, root for Tony La Russa to win another World Series. End of story with no qualifications.
I'm rooting for the winner of the Tigers/Yankees series from the AL.
Can't root for La Russa, the Brewers, or the Phillies. So... lets go D'Backs!
Arizona and Tampa, maybe Detroit. That's it - of course, I also don't have the hockey fan annoyance that most of you guys do.
I guess I'll go Arizona and Detroit, but only for the former Pirate factor. I still can't bring myself to root for ANY Tampa team, but only because I hate their (lack of) fan base and "bandwagon-ism" (I'm mostly talking about the Lightning here, but it does spill over). How weird is it that Zach Duke is in the post season?!
I'm going to offer you kudos for your all-star break prediction that the Braves aren't as good as people think (or as they look ... it was along those lines).
My Braves fan wife was not pleased by such an assessment, but I had a feeling you were right. You were.
On 29 July we sat in Turner Field and watched our two first-place teams go at it. Two months later, they're both golfing.