The National League has more teams that I can see myself rooting for, even though I generally don't enjoy NL-style baseball. I've just got so much hate for the AL teams that these guys are more appealing to me. Except for the Cardinals. Speaking of them, they are the only NL team in postseason who has won a World Series in the last 26 years. That probably means they'll win the whole thing because baseball is cruel.
The NL Wild Card game is tonight at 8 p.m. in Pittsburgh. The Pirateshave the tough task of trying to beat Jake Arrieta of the Cubs in a one-game playoff. The winner will go on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS
2015 Record: 98-64 (Yes, a team that won 98 games is the wild card)
Last Postseason Appearance: 2014 (Lost WC game to the Giants)
Last World Series Win: 1979 (Beat the Orioles in seven games)
Former Orioles: Michael Morse, Pedro Florimon,
Pro: In 2012, the Orioles ended their consecutive losing season streak at 14, and one year later the Pirates ended theirs at 20. Both teams spent the first decade of the 2000s being a laughingstock of baseball, so as Orioles fans we understand how they feel and can commiserate accordingly. 2014 marks the third straight season that the Pirates have gone to the playoffs, though they haven't yet advanced past the LDS. Their fanbase has gone nuclear after so many years of pent up frustration and yet they remain likeable. Baltimore and PIttsburgh as cities have a similar feel to them, and in my ways it's easy to imagine us as kindred spirits. Also, if you've been reading Camden Chat long enough you know that my friend and former Camden Chat writer Andrew Gibson works for the Pirates, and don't we all just want Andrew to be happy?
Con: 1971. 1979. We Are Family. If you are an Orioles fan of a certain age, there will never be any rooting for Pittsburgh Pirates. That's just the way it is. Those guys can suck it, as far as the 50-year-old Orioles fan is concerned. And if you don't care about that, there is always the fact that a lot of Pirates fans are also Steelers fans, and who wants those guys to be happy?
2015 Record: 97-65
Last Postseason Appearance: 2008 (Swept on NLDS by Dodgers)
Last World Series Win: 1908
Former Orioles: Jake Arrieta, Tsuyoshi Wada, Quintin Berry, Jason Hammel, Pedro Strop, Tommy Hunter
Pro: It seems that a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1908 would be easy to root for, and that's generally the case for me. According to this list there are 41 people aged 110+ in America today, and the oldest of them was just nine years old the last time the Cubs won a World Series. Three of those people currently reside in Illinois, so I hope they're Cubs fans. If a generation-plus of World Series futility isn't enough for you, take a look at that list of former Orioles. Tommy Hunter was giving us thrills earlier this season. He, Jason Hammel, Jake Arrieta, and Pedro Strop were all part of that magical 2012 season that saw an end to our long-term suffering.
Con: I personally find it pretty hard to come up with a con list for the rooting for the Cubbies. Of course, if they win the WC game and the division series, we'll have to listen to the hype machine as media slobbers all over them and roots them on even further. And we'll be seeing that hipster doofus Joe Maddon everywhere. And if I have to hear one more story about how the Orioles couldn't develop Jake Arrietta...I mean, it's true. But can I really stand to see another story about it? My only real issue with the Cubs is that in the handful of times I've been to Wrigley Field, it has felt more like people went there to party and a baseball game broke out. It always seemed a little strange to me, although also a very good time. I also have a feeling that if the Cubs manage to win the World Series (which would be amazing), the explosion of the Cubs bandwagon will make the post-2004 Red Sox look like small potatoes.
The NLDS begins Friday with Cardinals hosting the winner of the WC game and the Mets and Dodgers facing off in Los Angeles.
New York Mets
2015 Record: 90-72
Last Postseason Appearance: 2006 (Lost NLCS to Cardinals)
Last World Series Win: 1986
Former Orioles: Kelly Johnson
Pro: They're the Mets! Who can't root for the Mets? You know how much you hate the Yankees? Well, double that for Mets fans. They're constantly taking back seat to a team that can't even win its own division. And even without that angle, the Mets fans have been through enough! Their team has been the butt of jokes for so long, they've suffered from bad ownership and bad press. The Mets need this. They just do.
Con: Some people root against all things New York. If that's you, I get it. Do your thing. Also, some Orioles fans still hold a grudge from when the heavily-favored Orioles were beaten in the 1969 World Series by the Mets. I mean, not me. I was -10 years old then. But if you have held onto that hate in your heart for 46 years, this is your time to shine.
St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Record: 100-62
Last Postseason Appearance: 2014 (Lost NLCS to the Giants)
Last World Series Win: 2011
Former Orioles: Mark Reynolds,
Pro: The Cardinals are, without argument, one of the best run teams in baseball. They develop players through their system, players they sign or trade for thrive, everything they touch turns to gold. And they do it all with a high, but not outrageous payroll. Every fan would be lucky if their team were as successful as the Cardinals.
Con: This team is the worst. They are the Yankees of the National League except that their fans try to hide behind midwestern charm and pretend that everyone loves them. In reality a lot of them are like the horrible humans chronicled in this Twitter account. The Cardinals are in the playoffs pretty much every year, and frankly it's tiring to watch. Oh, and remember when their team hacked into the Astros computers?
Los Angeles Dodgers
2015 Record: 92-70
Last Postseason Appearance: 2014 (Lost NLDS to Cardinals)
Last World Series Win: 1988
Former Orioles: Justin Turner, Jim Johnson (no way he's on the playoff roster)
Pro: The Dodgers have gone over 25 years without a World Series win or even appearance, and that's just too long. Not as long as some teams, but long enough that they make the cut of teams I wouldn't mind seeing win it. Plus they have the best 1-2 punch in baseball with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. I think both are a lot of fun to watch, which makes me root for them a little even when I don't mean to.
Con: This team has the highest payroll in baseball, and it's not even close. Their payroll on Opening Day was over $272 million, which outspent the number two team (the Yankees) by almost $53 million. They have more money than they know what do do with, and they buy everything in sight. They have four players making over $20 million a year, one of whom is Carl Crawford who they took off the Red Sox hands just because. I wouldn't even know how to be a fan of a team like that.
So, who ya got?
The only team that I am 100% not rooting for here is the Cardinals. I hope they go the way of the Yankees and are eliminted in the first round they play. I'll be rooting for the Pirates over the Cubs in the WC game, and then for whichever team wins from there on out.