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Rooting guide for the National League playoffs

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The Orioles didn’t make it, so who should you root for?

Milwaukee Brewers v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The playoffs are upon us, and it’s safe to say that the National League pennant race was a bit more exciting than the American League race. Two of the three divisions finished the season tied, which meant two games 163 were played yesterday! The Milwaukee Brewers beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 to take the NL Central, and the Los Angeles Dodgers topped the Colorado Rockies 5-2 to take the NL West.

Tonight at 8 p.m. the Cubs and Rockies will face each other in an elimination game with the winner facing the Brewers beginning on Thursday. And the Braves, who are busy getting plenty of rest, will travel to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers.

Are you undecided on who to vote for in the NL this year? Well then read on, friend, for the pros and cons of rooting for each team.

Chicago Cubs
Last playoff appearance: 2017 (lost NLCS to Dodgers)
Last World Series appearance: 2016
Last World Series win: 2016
Former Orioles: Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop

Pros: The Cubs are a pretty good team, with the second-best run differential in the NL. They have some good young players and have just one World Series win since 1908 and...look, I can’t really think of any good reasons. As an American League person I don’t have strong feelings about the Cubs, but do we really want them to keep winning?

Cons: Now that the Cubs have gotten that monkey off their back by winning the World Series in 2016, is there anything else to really root for when it comes to them? They’re now just another big market team that pushes other teams out of the prime time slots in the playoffs. And what fun is that?

Colorado Rockies
Last playoff appearance: 2017 (lost WC game to D-Backs)
Last World Series appearance: 2007 (lost to Red Sox)
Last World Series win: N/A
Former Orioles: Gerardo Parra

Pros: Admit it, it’s fun to say Rocktober. You love Rocktober! I do, anyway. And they have Nolan Arenado, who is a fantastic player. There is also the small fact that if they didn’t make the playoffs, you’d be looking at the Cardinals in this position instead. And nobody wants that. And while they did get a wild card spot last year as well, they are not one of those teams that is there every year. They have also never won a World Series. My default rooting position is for the team who has never won it all, and here they are.

Cons: This probably sounds rich coming from an Orioles fan, but are the Rockies really even that good? They can’t really hit away from Coors Field, putting up a hitting line of .226/.295/.370 on the road. Which is where they will play the WC game. Woof. It would be really fun if they could win and I will definitely be rooting for them to beat the Cubs, but they probably aren’t long for these playoffs.

Milwaukee Brewers
Last playoff appearance: 2011 (lost NLCS to Cardinals)
Last World Series appearance: 1982 (lost to Cardinals)
Last World Series win: N/A
Former Orioles: Matt Albers, Jonathan Schoop, Wade Miley

Pros: Beloved former Oriole Jonathan Schoop is on the team, which is good enough for me. He hasn’t been as good for them as I know he can be, but maybe he’ll come alive in the playoffs! If you like Wade Miley, he is also there. And there is the small fact that, like the Rockies, the Brewers have never won a World Series. And they have been around quite a bit longer.

Cons: Who even cares about the Brewers? If it weren’t for Schoop, would you even know who these guys were? There is also the small fact of former Orioles’ minor leaguer Josh Hader and his homophobic tweets that were uncovered during the All Star Game, and added to that the standing ovation he got from Brewers fans after the fact. As though he were the one who had been wronged in some way. I mean, ugh.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Last playoff appearance: 2017 (lost WS to Astros)
Last World Series appearance: 2017
Last World Series win: 1988
Former Orioles: Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Rich Hill

Pros: Manny Machado! Our guy is a Dodger now. The best Oriole that some of us have ever seen play is now a Dodger, so that is a pretty good reason if you ask me. I love Manny, so of course I love the Dodgers. They also are now 30 years removed from a World Series victory, which I always take into account.

Cons: These guys are the Yankees of the west, just without the rings. They routinely have a payroll over $200M (though they got under that this year for the first time since 2012. And yes, they don’t have a recent World Series title to their name but they have won their division for six straight years. Although this year it took them 163 games to get there.

Atlanta Braves

Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost NLDS to Dodgers)
Last World Series appearance: 1999 (lost to Yankees)
Last World Series win: 1995
Former Orioles: Nick Markakis, Ryan Flaherty, Kevin Gausman, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day (injured)

Pros: My stepfather grew up as a Cubs fan, and every year around the time of the playoffs he would tell me that if you count the ex-Cubs on each team, the one with the most would never win the World Series. I never followed through on this to see if he was right, I don’t even know where he came up with that. But if that rule were to apply to the 2018 season except with the Orioles, the Braves would be in big trouble.

Of all the former Orioles in the playoffs this year, the Braves have the most of them. And these aren’t one season, blink-and-you-missed-them former Orioles. If you add up the years that Nick Markakis, Ryan Flaherty, Kevin Gausman, and Brad Brach played for the Orioles, you’re looking at 26 seasons worth of Birdland. And that doesn’t even count the injured Darren O’Day, who spent seven seasons in Baltimore.

Bottom line, if you like rooting for former Orioles, the Braves are the team for you. And that’s not even counting all of the young exciting players they have on the team.

Cons: In theory, I have been passively rooting for the Braves this entire season. I’ll always love Markakis, and the throng of former Birds who have joined him this season makes this team very enjoyable to me. But then I turn on the TV and hear the tomahawk chop. I see the crowd in the stands chanting and waving their arms (or, if it’s the day of a stadium giveaway, a foam tomahawk), and my stomach turns. I just hate it. I wish the fans didn’t do it and the stadium didn’t prompt it with accompanying music.

I keep thinking I’ll root for Nick and company and if they do win the whole thing, I will be so happy for our (former) guys. But we’ll see if I can handle the chop when I’m tuning in to watch. Honestly if it weren’t for this one issue they would easily be at the top of my list.

Personal Rooting Ranking

  1. Braves (I think? Check back with me later. They might also be 5)
  2. Brewers
  3. Dodgers
  4. Rockies
  5. Cubs

Whaddya think? Who do you like and why? Who do you hate and why?