MLB Rooting Interests

By Jason Wojciechowski on October 1, 2008 at 1:35 PM

For the record, here's who I'm rooting for in the MLB playoffs:

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  • Milwaukee over Philly: Milwaukee are the young go-getters, the team with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and Rickie Weeks and JJ Hardy. The team with Yovani Gallardo. Plus, I've always loved CC Sabathia and hoped that someday he'd end up back home, playing in the green and gold. And Philly? They beat out the Mets, who I root for on the principle of "My girlfriend likes them."
  • Cubs over Dodgers: This one is hard. I'm a future Angeleno, and I've always had a place in my heart for the Dodgers because of their history, with players like Jackie Robinson and Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Also, the enemy of my enemy (the Giants) is my friend. But basically, I can't root for Ned Colletti. And rooting for the Dodgers feels like rooting for Bill Plaschke, who won his little crusade against computer nerds everywhere by getting Paul DePodesta fired. So I take the Cubs, because Sweet Lou is still an awesome manager, because Rich Harden finally lived up to the hype, because Derrek Lee is all class, and because, come on, it's the Cubbies!
  • Boston over Anaheim: This one is harder. I hate these teams. I hate the Angels with their stupid celebrating closer and their "we're L.A.!" team name. (I drove past the stadium this summer. There's one thing I can tell you. It's not in L.A.) I hate that they win despite their horrible free agency decisions (Gary Matthews? Torii Hunter when you've already got five outfielders?). I hate John Lackey. (No explanations needed, right?) The Angels are just the epitome of annoying. Maybe I've been reading too much Oakland A's Days, but this is how I feel. Boston, on the other hand, is the new Evil Empire. They have too much money and they're willing to spend it to win. And yet somehow they cultivate this image of Gamey McGamertons: Youkilis and Pedroia, I'm looking at you with your ethnic-white names. The reason I can root for them is that I don't hate their players (outside of Curt Schilling, who didn't play) the way I hate the Angel players. I love that Youkilis gets so angry at himself that his teammates actually get mad at him and think he's selfish. (I mean that unironically. Youk is who I would've been if I had talent.) I like JD Drew, and I wish people would appreciate who he is and what kind of player he is instead of continuing to villify him. I liked Manny, and I like Jason Bay. Ok, I don't like Papelbon, because he's almost as annoying as Goggle Boy on the Angels, but at least he did that stupid Riverdance once -- that was hilarious. And who doesn't like David Ortiz? But most importantly, I like Theo Epstein. Yes, I also hate him because he's young and handsome and successful so there's sort of the requisite jealousy, but you have to like him because he's winning by being smart and by building the farm system and by not throwing all the computers out the window of his office. So anyway, Boston it is. If grudgingly.
  • Tampa over Chicago: This one's easy. Who even likes the White Sox? I'm annoyed they got into the playoffs over Minnesota (who I've always rooted for a little bit, on the "they're like the A's" principle), and Kenny Williams gets my scorn and dislike for the trash he talked about Frank Thomas. I like Ozzie Guillen, against all odds, because it turns out he's actually a manager who doesn't bend a team to his will, but uses his personnel in the ways best suited. He's not just the Go-Go manager he looked like he might be in his first year. Yeah, his constant need for attention is annoying, but maybe those who say it's a ploy to keep the attention of his players so they can go do their jobs is right. But no, Tampa is the choice here for finally breaking through using that home-grown core: BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, and James Shields from purely within the organization; Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir, Dioner Navarro, and Edwin Jackson acquired in savvy trades. I always root for teams built this way over teams built like the Yankees used to be, not because it feels more pure or some nonsense like that, but because I want that model to be the one that's copycatted throughout the league. I think it will make for a better product on the field and thus in my living room. But also, who doesn't root for Baldelli? All those injuries, now the mysterious "mitochondrial abnormalities" -- you never know what's going to happen with him, and he's a wonderful player as well as a guy with a perfect GPA in high school who apparently could have gone to Princeton, an inductee of the Rhode Island Italian-American Hall of Fame. In short, a guy you root for. (But wait, maybe the fact that he's intelligent and successful and athletic makes him an elitist and we should prefer Juan Uribe, that schlub, to him.)

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