Need a bandwagon to jump on? Here are some ideas

October 1st, 2023

If your team made the postseason, hey, congratulations! You are about to spend every night -- until your team is eliminated or until your team wins the World Series -- screaming at your television, pacing a hole in your floor and losing your ever-loving mind. This is what the baseball postseason is built to do. It’s all-enveloping. This is what you’ve been waiting all year for.

But that is, alas, only for fans of 12 MLB teams. Then there are the rest of us. The rest of us will be licking our wounds all offseason, looking for hope in 2024 and trying to find reasons to feel better about a postseason without our favorite team. The fans of those 18 teams are going to need someone to cheer for: They’re going to need a squad to hop on a bandwagon for.

So allow me to make some recommendations. Maybe they’ve gone a long time without a championship, maybe they’ve had a breakthrough season, maybe they’re just an unusually likable group of guys. These are five teams I’m thinking about.

If you’re a fan of an AL East team that has been beating up on the Orioles for years, I can see how it might be tough to get behind them in the postseason. But think of where the O's are at this specific point of their franchise. They are loaded, loaded, with young talent -- so much so that they don’t have space for all of it … and there's more still coming. (It’s possible the best hitter in their organization, Jackson Holliday, is still in Triple A. Which makes sense: He’s 19.) The Orioles are going to be a force to be reckoned with for many, many years to come. There is a good chance you will be sick of them in a few years. But at the beginning, right now, they’re an electrifying group of young upstarts. They’re the thrilling new face on the scene. They’re the definition of new blood. So get on board with them now, when they’re still new, when they’re still likable. They’ll be the established postseason staples soon. This is when it’s still fun. And that is exactly what this team is: Fun.

There may be no more underrated fanbase than the Milwaukee Brewers. They’re consistently one of the top-drawing teams in baseball even though they’re in one of the smallest markets. They have supported this team despite the fact that they’ve never won a World Series, and haven’t even made one in more than 40 years, when they were in an entirely different league. If they can even break through and win one, every Cheesehead you know will be running wild through the streets for months to come. It’s a team whose fanbase you’ll very much want to be a part of if/when they break through. Plus, if you’re rooting for the Brewers, you’re rooting for Bob Uecker. And who doesn’t love Bob Uecker?

The Twins have felt a little more disappointing than they’ve actually been this year, probably because Carlos Correa -- the big free agent signing of the offseason, the one Minnesota wasn't expecting to be able to re-sign but, after all sorts of plot twists, it finally did -- has had a rather disappointing year. But they still ran away with the unusually weak AL Central, and they’ve got a rotation 1-2 punch in Sonny Gray and Pablo López that gives them a legitimate postseason shot, particularly in a best-of-three Wild Card series. But that’s not why you should get on board with the Twins, or at least not the only reason. The real reason is that not-relevant-to-this-current-roster-but-definitely-relevant-to-fans-of-this-team absurd postseason losing streak: The Twins have lost 18 straight playoff games. 18! That has to end this year, right? Right? Their last postseason win was in a game with Ruben Sierra in it. Minnesota trying to get its first postseason win since 2004 is one of the biggest subplots this October, and I don’t know how you couldn’t root for it.

You’ve got to have sympathy for the Rangers for 2010 and, especially, '11 alone. They made the World Series both of those years -- the only World Series the franchise has reached -- losing to the Giants in six games in '10 and, most famously, coming within one strike twice of beating the Cardinals in '11. Texas hasn't won a postseason series since, which is another reason this year has been so satisfying. The Rangers have got an inner-tier superstar in Corey Seager, and they’ve also shown real resilience in overcoming injuries: After all, this rotation is supposed to have Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer in it. They’re also one of three teams (Rays, Brewers) this postseason who have never won a World Series. And they know just how close you can come, and how long it can take to get back.

The Phillies have a World Series title on their résumé that’s more recent than anyone above them on this list, but the joy in rooting for this team lies in this roster itself and, particularly, how much this notoriously grouchy Phils fanbase seems to love it. The redemption, such as it was, of Trea Turner in the eyes of the faithful has been downright inspiring to watch, and the team is stacked with big personalities, not least of which is Bryce Harper, who is an October bolt of lightning all by himself. You saw how vibrating this fanbase was last October. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that again?