Over the past week and a half, the Yankees have suffered an excruciating series of nail-in-coffin losses, from an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Red Sox to a two-of-three series defeat against the Blue Jays to a soul-crushing Mariano-day fail against the San Francisco Giants, which have all virtually assured us of a rare sans-Bronx October.
We’ll have all winter to wallow in self-pity and fret about a possibly grim future, but in the meantime, MLB insists on continuing to play games, for some reason, that don’t involve the Yankees. Here’s a quick primer on why or why not to adopt one of the teams remaining for the next month and root them on to a glory that we wish was ours.
My preferred World Series match-up is Dodgers-A's. Who's yours?
The Braves are about as nondescript as it gets for a team that’s on pace to finish with the best record in the National League. Their fans are emotionless, and their stadium is so bland that they feel the need to pump in prerecorded tomahawk chop chants. Besides all that, there’s still a little bit of a hangover effect lingering from the '90s and early 2000s when Atlanta made the playoffs 14 years straight and won just one championship.
But if you enjoy imagining Bud Selig and FOX executives squirming uncomfortably at the thought of basement level World Series TV ratings, the Braves should be your team, at least in the NL. Atlanta in the World Series would definitely get America talking…about football.
There are tons of reasons to root for the Red Sox. Maybe you get some kind of masochistic pleasure from hearing Boston fans gloat. Maybe you think beards are quirky and cool. Maybe you work for ESPN.
The best thing that could come from a Boston championship – it would be their third over the past decade, in which the Yankees have won just one – would be that it just might tick off Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine enough to coerce them to abandon their goal of getting under the luxury tax threshold next year.
My issue with the Reds is that their mascot looks a lot like Mr. Met’s evil mustache-wearing cousin. Mr. Red, as he’s ironically called, is downright creepy. I’m not old enough to still hold a grudge for 1976, but there’s that. Plus the Reds are the only team the Yankees have faced in the World Series multiple times and don’t have a winning record against.
Cincinnati’s been knocking at the door for a couple of years now, though, and I wouldn’t really mind seeing them make a run. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are fun to watch and Aroldis Chapman definitely gets you to the TV.
If you wish the Yankees had held onto Nick Swisher, you can still root for him to improve on his .169/.283/.305 career postseason line, provided the Indians hold on to their slim lead over Texas for the final AL wildcard spot. Swisher was just 21 for 130 in the playoffs as a Yankee, but pretty much the only direction for him to go is up.
Besides Swisher there are other ex-Yankees playing for Cleveland, namely fossilizing DH Jason Giambi and former pitching prospect Zach McAllister.
The Tigers have beaten the Yankees in the playoffs three separate times over the past eight years, and that includes 2012’s embarrassing four-game sweep that may or may not have effectively ended Derek Jeter’s career. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely holding a grudge.
Still, you have to feel a little bad for Tigers fans. We’re going on three decades since their last championship, plus they, you know…live in Detroit. Finally, a deep jaunt into October could keep Miguel Cabrera off the roads for a while, and that can’t be a bad thing.
There are really only three simple words to say here: Donald Arthur Mattingly. It’s not easy to spend eighteen seasons with the Yankees as a player and coach and never reach the World Series, but Donnie somehow managed to do just that. If there’s any figure in baseball that deserves a break…
Besides the Mattingly factor we have to feel at least some kinship with the Dodgers, as Yankee fans. Do we really want to root for underdogs and feel-good stories? Nay…we should be supporting the team that’s trying to win by out-Yankee-ing the Yankees with the highest payroll in baseball history.
It’s hard not to admire the way the A’s constantly bring quality arms through their system and rebuild on the fly with other teams’ castoffs like Brandon Moss, and Bartolo Colon, who definitely did not pitch this way as a Yankee. Besides, wouldn’t "Moneyball 2" make a much better film if it ends with a world title?
The A’s have been close a number of times over the past fifteen years and haven’t made it to the World Series yet in the Billy Beane era. I could stand seeing that happen.
Let’s say you’re a 20-year-old Pittsburgher. That means you’re probably a junior in college and 2013 is not only the first time you’ve ever witnessed the Pirates make the playoffs, but also the first time you’ve seen them post a winning record. That marathon of epic fail alone is a tempting reason to root for baseball’s long-time doormats – they get talked about more every time someone brings up contraction than they do for anything they accomplish on the field.
On the other hand, the idea of watching A.J. Burnett pitch in October…caught by Russell Martin, no less, may be too much for a die-hard Yankee fan to stomach.
If you buy into the baseless media narrative that St. Louis is "the best baseball town in America", you might consider rooting for the Cardinals. Or maybe you’re like me and you throw up in your mouth a little every time you hear that ill-conceived sentiment.
Either way, the Cardinals have played some of baseball’s most thrilling games over the past couple of years, between their ridiculous Game Six win over Texas in the 2011 World Series and last year’s wild card game infield fly debacle. St. Louis could entertain us with more unpredictable hijinks while the Yankees prepare for a winter of discontent.
If you have a problem with teams who employ racists and registered sex offenders, then the Rays probably aren’t for you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, outfielder Luke Scott is a self-admitted birther who refers to his Latin teammates as savages, while reliever Josh Lueke spent 42 days in jail for a 2008 sexual assault.
If that’s not enough, the Rays have been a particular thorn in the Yankees’ side for years now. Going into their final series of 2013 this week at 7-9, New York hasn’t posted a winning season series record against Tampa Bay since 2009.
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- Yankees can play spoiler versus Rays