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Who to root for if your team is out of it

We can always use an excuse to watch more baseball
(Tom Forget / MLB.com)
@michaelsclair
September 28, 2020

So, your team isn’t in the postseason. It’s a bummer, I get it. Every year begins with such high hopes and every season ends in bitter disappointment except for one very lucky team. Still, while your favorite team heads out on vacation, you don't want to stop watching baseball. You

So, your team isn’t in the postseason. It’s a bummer, I get it. Every year begins with such high hopes and every season ends in bitter disappointment except for one very lucky team. Still, while your favorite team heads out on vacation, you don't want to stop watching baseball. You obviously want to have someone to root for this October -- some team to stake your entire emotional investment on, giving you another reason to stay up late every night.

Sometimes, the choice is easy: A favorite player is on another team, or you can root for whoever is playing your most hated rival. But sometimes it’s a little harder. With the postseason field at 16 teams this year -- the largest in baseball history -- it can be a little overwhelming.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help. If you don’t know who to root for now that your team has been eliminated, let us guide you.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

ANGELS: Reds

The Angels haven’t been to the postseason since 2014, but it’s not for lack of trying. Just last offseason, the team added superstar Anthony Rendon to a team featuring at least two future Hall of Famers.

While it didn’t work out this year, throw your lot in with another team where it did.

After finishing 12 games under .500 and in fourth place, the Reds added Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Wade Miley and Shogo Akiyama this offseason. Though they struggled at the start of the year, the team got hot down the stretch to snag a postseason spot. And with their rotation -- led by Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer -- they are a legitimate World Series contender.

If that’s still not enough, while the Angels have the GOAT in Mike Trout, the Reds have the GOAT of post-game quotes:

MARINERS: Padres

The Mariners and Padres face off a lot in Interleague Play. But rather than fomenting an intense rivalry, these clubs have become more like siblings to one another -- they even share a Spring Training facility in Peoria, Ariz. Both are located in charming coastal cities on the West Coast. Each has endured long postseason droughts -- briefly broken up when generational talents have filled their respective rosters. And there are no GMs in the sport who love wheeling and dealing as much as Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto and San Diego’s A.J. Preller. The two made multiple deals with each other this Deadline alone.

Plus, the closest thing baseball has had to Ken Griffey Jr.’s charismatic star power is Fernando Tatis Jr. And any excuse to watch Tatis is a good one.

ORIOLES: Marlins

The O’s weren’t supposed to be competitive this year, but after starting the season hot, they gave every Baltimore fan a shot of much-needed optimism. The Marlins entered the season much the same way, but where the O’s fell off, the Marlins just kept on winning.

Lend some Orioles Magic to this year’s great Cinderella team, and then, like a chain letter, wait for it to be returned eightfold when it’s your turn at the top of the standings.

RANGERS: Dodgers

Two teams have absolutely no love lost for the Astros: the Rangers and the Dodgers, who were defeated by Houston in the 2017 World Series. Make the enemy of your enemy your friend, and root for the Dodgers to win the World Series -- which will be played in the Rangers’ home ballpark, by the way.

It doesn't hurt to cheer for Texas native Clayton Kershaw to finally get his first ring, either. (If you want to cheer for the Cubs and Yu Darvish, well, that's also fine.)

RED SOX: Twins

The Red Sox know the pain of facing the Yankees' dreaded "Evil Empire" and coming up empty. Even in a down season, it was a day for celebration when the Red Sox defeated the Yankees for the only time this year in their final matchup.

Well, the Twins know what it’s like to lose to the Yankees, too. They’ve faced the Yankees six times in the postseason -- five Division Series and one Wild Card -- and they’ve lost every time. Support the club that wants to beat the Yankees just as badly as you do.

In another year, this answer could very well be the Dodgers -- how can Red Sox fans not cheer for Mookie Betts? -- but that wound is still a little too fresh.

ROYALS: Astros

Sure, you're rooting for Royals great Zack Greinke to get his World Series ring. But anyone who follows baseball on the internet knows that Royals fans love to be antagonistic. So, if everyone else is rooting for the Astros to lose, well, it seems fitting for K.C. fans to jump on their bandwagon.

But the real answer is whoever is playing St. Louis at any time.

TIGERS: Blue Jays

If you are a Tigers fan from the ‘80s, you’re probably throwing up in your soup at the mere suggestion of the Jays. But for younger fans, that intense rivalry doesn’t exist. Instead, with Detroit sitting so close to the Canadian border, the two teams seem to have developed a friendly relationship over the years, with plenty of Jays supporters hanging out in the Motor City.

With nearly half the American League postseason field coming from AL Central rivals, this is the year to throw your support in with the Blue Jays. They’re a great underdog story, reaching the playoffs even after moving into their Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo at the start of the season.

We haven't even mentioned everyone's favorite large adult son, Alejandro Kirk, which is reason enough for every fan to root for Toronto.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

D-BACKS: Cardinals

Paul Goldschmidt leads the D-backs in career WAR among position players, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks and is second in home runs.

It’s time to cheer for him to get his World Series trophy. It may hurt for a minute when it happens -- kind of like when you notice an ex recently got married on social media -- but in the end, you’ll be happy that it happened.

GIANTS: Brewers

Had the Brewers won on the season's final day to steal the last NL playoff spot, obviously no Giants fan would be cheering for them. But since the Brewers backed in with a loss -- having never been over .500 for a single day all year -- they'll get a pass.

So, just as the Giants would have been serious underdogs in the postseason, cheer for the other No. 8 seed in NL. Thrill whenever Dan Vogelbach steps to the plate and marvel at Devin Williams' changeup that leaves batters completely befuddled.

METS: White Sox

Things didn’t go right in Queens this year. Despite the Mets roster being loaded with homegrown stars like Jacob deGrom, Michael Conforto and the Polar Bear himself, Pete Alonso, things just didn't work out.

Well, throw in your lot with another team loaded with young stars playing in a big metropolis where things did work out! A preseason breakout pick by many pundits, the White Sox slumped down the stretch, but have the kind of must-watch, don't-look-away-for-a-second talent in players like Luis Robert or Tim Anderson to make anything possible.

NATIONALS: A’s

The Nationals finally broke the curse that had been afflicting the team since they were known as the Expos last season: They won their first ever postseason series en route to a World Series title.

You know who else struggles to win in the postseason? The A's. The team has gone to the postseason nine times since 2001 and has won only one series. They've lost three consecutive Wild Card Games -- the most heartbreaking of all postseason appearances.

Nats fans, you broke your curse last year. Now support the other team who could use it.

PHILLIES: Rays

You may as well add "Trust the Process" to the Philadelphia city flag. That's how much the fans there have embraced the slogan around the then-rebuilding 76ers.

Well, the Rays are the very embodiment of process. They continuously innovate -- only to watch the rest of the league latch onto their ideas. And everyone knows that when the Rays acquire a player, it's because they see something everyone else missed. (See: Charlie Morton, Tyler Glasnow, Yandy Díaz.)

Plus, since the Phillies beat the Rays in the 2008 World Series, you kind of owe it to the city to root for them.

PIRATES: Braves

There may be some Pirates fans who will never be able to cheer for the Braves after Sid Bream slid home in 1992. For those who have moved on, though, there is a lot to enjoy in Atlanta.

They have the always exciting Ronald Acuña Jr. and his best friend Ozzie Albies. There's the incredibly friendly and hug-happy Freddie Freeman, who just may win the NL MVP Award this year. And there's Adam Duvall, who has emerged this year to become one of the games most underrated stars.

Sure, there might be a few Pirates fans who decide to cheer for the Yankees because of Gerrit Cole, but really, after 27 World championships (and a fanbase that makes sure everyone knows that fact), it's pretty hard to recommend the Bombers.

ROCKIES: Indians

It’s hard to pitch in Coors Field. That is nothing new. Rockies fans could be forgiven if they sometimes felt like games in Colorado were a little more like a slowpitch softball game.

So, this October -- sorry, Rocktober -- throw your lot in with a team that can’t help but stumble upon good pitchers. Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are gone? Oh, no worries, Shane Bieber will just become the best pitcher in the league. Trade Mike Clevinger at the Deadline? Totally fine since Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac are ready to step up.

Consider all the low-scoring games you'll be cheering for this October as a little palate cleanser before next season.

Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.