The playoffs start on Friday, and for the first time since 2006, the Phillies aren't part of it. It's sad, for sure, but that's life, but that still doesn't mean that you can't watch the games. In fact, watching the games is encouraged! But you might ask yourself “Who should I root for?” Well, I've got you covered, with a comprehensive guide of the 2012 Major League Baseball playoffs.
First, the Junior Circuit.
The American League provided us with several entertaining stories, two of which involved both the Oakland Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles, who defied all odds and found themselves smack-dab in the playoff hunt. Meanwhile, the Detroit Tigers won the AL Central, while the New York Yankees (predictably) won the East, although it was not without challenge, as they beat out the O's on the final day of the season in order to do so. And the Texas Rangers, who early on looked like they were going to run away with the AL West, succumbed to the A's on the final day of the season, and instead settled for the second wild card spot.
So, of those five teams, who should you root for?
New York Yankees (AL East Champs): No chance. Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for the house when you're playing Blackjack. It's nothing personal, because I like a lot of their players, but they've got so many rings already, and the last thing we need is a bunch of emboldened New Yorkers.
Baltimore Orioles (AL Wild Card): The Orioles, whose late season surge in 2011 under the watchful eye of Buck Showalter made some wonder if they were a legit force in the American League, are one of the best stories in baseball. They don't have any bona fide stars (although Adam Jones is well on his way), and they aren't flashy. They just win baseball games. Plus, they have Jim Thome, who is without a World Series ring. Can't go wrong rooting for birds. Plus, Baltimore has that aquarium.
Detroit Tigers (AL Central Champs): There is nothing wrong with the Tigers, at all. They have Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera (who shouldn't win the MVP, just so you know) and pitching freak Justin Verlander, plus Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer and a guy who spells his first name “Jhonny.” They are a solid team, through and through, and Detroit has fallen on some hard times lately, although the “Robocop” reboot should be a feather in their cap.
Texas Rangers (AL Wild Card): Boy, has there ever been a 93-win season that can be considered a failure? The Rangers were straight up wrecking teams for most of the season, but a bad second half led to them getting caught by the A's on the last day of the season. I feel bad for them, on account of them losing the last two World Series, and all. I want them to win just so they can stop complaining about it already, you know?
Oakland Athletics (AL West Champs): Ah, the A's, who are once again showing the world that Billy Beane can assemble a team out of spare parts and old pieces of bubble gum. There are no recognizable names on this team. stars here on this team. Literally, I looked at their roster and had no idea who any one was. Seth Smith? Coco Crisp? Are these guys baseball players, or did Beane walk over to the docks one day and say “you there, you're going to play baseball!” Boy, that guy can work some magic, and for that reason, the A's should be the leader in the clubhouse in the American League. Anything to make Brad Pitt look like a genius.
Now, onto the National League, where we unfortunately do not have the beloved Phillies to work for.
San Francisco Giants (NL West Champs): No way, no how. The Giants were an annoying team before they traded for Hunter Pence, and now they are just beyond the pale. Sure, Buster Posey is awesome, and that Matt Cain character is pretty good, but I can't bring myself to root for a team that willingly gives Ryan Theriot over 300 at-bats in a season.
St. Louis Cardinals (NL Wild Card): Boo. Yes, I'm still bitter from 2011.
Washington Nationals (NL East Champs): Intuitively, I should be rooting against the Nats, given that they ousted the Phillies and all, but I have this whole theory that states that if you're team gets beat by another team, and then that other team goes on to win the World Series, then that's something to be happy about. I mean, you got beat by the eventual champs. Also, I don't care what anyone says, Jayson Werth is awesome.
Atlanta Braves (NL Wild Card): I hate the Braves, and I want nothing for them to have the earliest exit possible, but they are playing the Cardinals in the play-in game on Friday, which means that the Cardinals (who I also hate) would move on. There is no good scenario here, so I'm just going to root for a 35 inning game that ends when a portal opens up on the field that takes all the players into some nether-dimension where they are subjected to watching the Braves and Cardinals play for years on end.
Cincinnati Reds (NL Central Champs): Really, there is only one team to root for in the National League, and that's the Reds. Aside from the fact that spelling “Cincinnati” correctly on the first try is darn near impossible, the Reds have world beater Joey Votto, who should pretty much win every award, ever. Also, watching Aroldis Chapman pitch in October should be a constitutionally guaranteed right. Bro-han is just filthy.
So that's it, folks. A's versus Reds in the World Series, which will be a rematch of the 1990 Fall Classic, just minus all the Tony LaRussa.