DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 16: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during game three of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 16, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
The MLB playoffs are in full swing, and unfortunately for Phillies fans, we don't have the local nine to root for in the quest for the Commissioner's Trophy. So, who do we root for? As I wrote about a couple weeks ago, the ideal candidates are no longer in the playoffs, as the Cincinnati Reds, Oakland Athletics and Baltimore Orioles have all been bounced.
That leaves only the Detroit Tigers, who are currently owning the New York Yankees in the ALCS, and the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants, who are tied at a game apiece in the NLCS.
Sadly, that's not much of a selection, leaving baseball fans without a genuine feel-good story or a team that isn't rife with insufferable or otherwise not-particularly-likeable players.
In the National League, it's a battle of the lesser of two evils. The Cardinals and Giants both took their turns bouncing the Phillies out of the playoffs in the last two years, which pretty much means that you should be rooting for a meteor to crash down upon Busch Stadium when the series moves to St. Louis. And even if you had no quarrel with those teams, could you really bring yourself to root for Hunter Pence, who is the heir apparent to Cody Ross as far as annoying, borderline-talented outfielders go.
And St. Louis? Whoosh. Carlos Beltran is pretty good, and they have some legitimately great relief pitchers, but I can never, ever, root for a team that Matt Holliday plays for, at least not until he touches home plate.
It doesn't get much better in the American League, because you're stuck with either the Yankees – who everyone outside of the 212 hates – or the Tigers – who, admittedly, aren't all that bad. But, they aren't all that good, either. Justin Verlander owns six ways to Sunday, but he's one of the only really likeable guys on that team. Austin Jackson is fun to watch in center, but between Miguel Cabrera and Delmon Young, they have a ton of off-the-field issues that makes them not terribly likeable. And I love Miguel Cabrera.
For that, I find myself just sort of rooting for an enjoyable October. I have some stake in the Detroit Tigers because of Verlander (also, Prince Fielder looks like he'd give great hugs), but other than that, I want to see entertaining games, blown saves, come-from-behind victories, improbable heroes, and game sevens. And you should, too.