The Rockies have played their last game of the 2016 season (and, rest assured, we’ll have plenty to say about the season in the coming weeks). But for now there is still baseball to be played. The 2016 MLB postseason officially begins on Tuesday with the American League Wild Card game in Toronto. And the intrepid Rockies fan, facing the prospect of a long, cold, baseball-less offseason, surely is looking to devote his/her rooting interest to a new team for the month of October.
We’ll take this list in order from the teams least worthy of a Rockies fan’s allegiance to the most. This assumes that a Rockies fan is just that, a Rockies fan: no secondary teams, no familial ties to another city or franchise, none of it. The ranking is based on rivalries, past histories with the team, and are otherwise 100 percent objective and unassailable.
Disclaimer: if this guide leads you to pick a team that gets knocked out early, well then you probably should’ve picked a winner and that’s on you.
10) San Francisco Giants
(Editor’s Note: you have to expand on that)
Okay, fine. The Giants were the best team in baseball at the All-Star Break, and they have been the worst team in baseball since (non-Twins division). They snuck into the playoffs as the second Wild Card team mostly because the St Louis Cardinals, evidently, wanted to get out of Missouri as bad as the Rams did. That means on Wednesday we’re treated to a clash between Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Madison Bumgarner of the Giants.
I don’t have to remind you this is an NL West rival. I don’t have to remind you that this is an even year. I also don’t have to remind you that two years ago the Giants won the second Wild Card and rode Madison Bumgarner throughout October to their third title in five years. I don’t have to remind you of the grumbling of the Giants media whenever they have to play the Rockies in Coors Field, as though their seagull infested park doesn’t suck runs/fun out of baseball enough to balance out what Coors Field provides. You know in your baseball-loving heart that rooting for the Giants this year is like rooting for Brad Pitt to break another beautiful actress’ heart. Just don’t.
If anything, root for Bumgarner to get crushed by the Mets and pulled after two innings and then have to watch Bruce Bochy maneuver the bullpen that makes the Rockies’ (almost) look passable for the rest of the game.
9) Boston Red Sox
The AL East champion Boston Red Sox are back in the playoffs, looking to end a long World Series drought. Did you know that there are toddlers in New England who have been born, learned to walk and talk, maybe have been potty trained, and yet have never seen the BoSox win a World Series? A tragedy.
With the Cubs’ dominance, there’s a narrative circling around this year’s playoffs: “How cool would it be if we got to see the Cubs and Red Sox face off in the World Series? A battle between curses!” These people apparently haven’t paid any attention to baseball since Bartman got blamed for another Cubs collapse and Aaron Boone was given a new middle name in 2003. The Red Sox have won three (3) World Series titles since then—including, and this is the important part, one over the Rockies. Sure, a World Series at Fenway and Wrigley would be historic, but that would mean that the Red Sox would have a 50-50 shot at winning it. A Rockies fan shouldn’t abide by that.
8) Los Angeles Dodgers
The richest team in baseball won the National League West in spite of racking up more injuries than Wile E. Coyote. They were helped by the majestic collapse of the Giants, sure, but it is still pretty impressive that they were able to get this far.
If this were a personal list, I’d have the Dodgers a little higher. Despite their massive wealth, they haven’t been able to get over the hump and to the World Series, let alone win it, so they still have a bit of a “down on their luck” vibe. They have Charlie Culberson, who Rockies fans love (right?), and they have Clayton Kershaw, who is well on his way to claiming the title of Best of All Time.
But, division rivals are division rivals, and that payroll is a little too big to ignore. Don’t root for the Dodgers.
7) New York Mets
Is it too simple to say “They had their chance” and move on? Last year the Mets were a great story: a staff full of fireballing young pitchers like Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob DeGrom, and Stephen Matz with an offense rallying around trade deadline-acquisition Yoenis Cespedes rode all the way to the Fall Classic. This year, though, Matz and Harvey are lost to the disabled list and DeGrom has fallen to merely “very good.” And it took a late surge (and complete ineptitude on the part of other Wild Card contenders) for them to even make it. And I don’t care how many Bartolo Colón’s you have on your team, when the Rockies are paying your starting third baseman $15.8 million dollars to hit a shockingly-adequate .267/.326/.443, there’s no reason to root for you.
6) Baltimore Orioles
Honest question: Does anyone have any real feelings for the Orioles?
On one hand, they straight mash taters, which is awesome. This year’s Orioles hit 253 home runs, which is the most since the 2010 Blue Jays hit 257. And the bullpen, led by Zach Britton and his 0.55 ERA, is pretty spectacular as well. And hey, Denver native Kevin Gausman was pretty good, right? But they also gave 25 starts to Ubaldo Jimenez’s 5.44 ERA because ... they had to, I guess? Their starters had an ERA of 4.74, just barely ahead of the Rockies rotation’s 4.81 ERA. So maybe rooting for the Orioles is like rooting for the blueprint that will lead the Rockies to a World Series title?
You can root for the Orioles, but don’t expect to be rooting for them long; their playoffs could end after nine innings on Tuesday. Rockies fans don’t need more postseason let-downs.
5) Toronto Blue Jays
Did you know that, if you take out the Giants and Red Sox, the most recent World Series title in this year’s postseason field belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays? The team that broke a 21 year playoff drought last year last won the World Series on Joe Carter’s famous home run in 1993. Your mileage may vary, but rooting for teams to break streaks should be high on a neutral fan’s priority list, which bumps the Jays up here. And that’s not even considering human highlight reels José Bautista and invisible-parrot-owner (and potential future Rockie?) Edwin Encarnación.
But really, your reaction to this ranking likely depends on your feelings on one Troy Tulowitzki. Do you still hold a soft spot in your heart for the former Rockies superstar and want to see him successful? Then you’d probably like to see the Jays higher on this list. Are you among the crowd saying Rockies fans need to move on? You might even wish to see them lower. That’s why they land smack dab in the center of this list.
4) Washington Nationals
Each of the remaining teams has quite the history of baseball misery. The city of Washington hasn’t won a playoff series since the 1924 World Series, and part of that longsuffering comes from not having a team for 33 years. The Nationals, however, have been well-poised to turn that around over the past few years, winning the NL East for the third time in four years behind franchise cornerstone Bryce Harper and savvy signings Max Scherzer and the still-good Jayson Werth.
However, star pitcher Stephen Strasburg is unlikely to pitch, and Harper and Daniel Murphy are not 100 percent either, dampening the Nats’ hopes as well as enthusiasm for rooting for them. It’s also hard to muster sentimentality for DC since it will likely remind us of the impending election every time FOX shows a shot of Congress or the White House when coming back from commercial. But a 92-year-long drought means a lot, especially since the window may be closing soon.
3) Chicago Cubs
I know, I know, but hear me out okay?
The Cubs set the template for how the Rockies might someday soon find themselves in a similar position: develop a talented young core of players, supplement the roster with a few key free agent signings, and watch the wins flow in! It’s hard not to like Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, and the piercing blue eyes of Kris Bryant. Even if you don’t like Joe Maddon, on some level every fan wishes their manager was a bit more like him, either in his sabermetric focus or his fun loving nerd chic. And they haven’t won a World Series since 1908, which no team really deserves.
On the other hand, if any team deserves a 108-year World Series drought, it might be the Cubs. Many fans have turned it into an obnoxious, “loveable losers” rallying cry, weakening the power of what should be an own so solid even Connor would recognize it. And it might make some queasy (to put it mildly) thinking about Aroldis Chapman celebrating a championship. And it’s not like Chicago hasn’t had it’s fair share of championships over the years
Americans love their underdogs, though, and nothing says underdog like 108 title-less years. Besides, if they win, we won’t have to listen to “1908” all the time, which is the false humility version “27 RINGS!!!”, and somehow just as annoying. And putting up with a year of Cubs fans going up to 11 on the obnoxious scale might be worth it to not have to listen to that for the rest of time.
2) Cleveland Indians
In some ways, the travails of the Cleveland Indians are more tragic than that of the Cubs. You may say LeBron already redeemed the city’s sports. But that which is not assumed is not redeemed, so true redemption will not be had until the Indians, the source of so much of that heartbreak, win their first title since 1948. The fact that the Indians assembled one of the best squads in history during the mid-90’s and came up empty in two World Series trips still seems unfair.
Need more reasons? How about the second-best team twitter account in baseball? Or their memeable moments, or their unorthodox bullpen usage? Maybe you’re like me and are hoping for a Sad Sack World Series between the Cubs and Indians that would give us one huge winner and one heartbreaking loser. If Cleveland is going to fulfill their half of the bargain, it seems the biggest challenge might be overcoming a depleted staff.
1) Texas Rangers
You know which fan base has never won a World Series? Oh, the Rangers have been tantalizingly close, but have nothing to show for it. Despite owning a top ten farm system for what seems like the past ten years and winning four division titles and two AL pennants in the past seven years, the Rangers remain one of just eight franchises without a championship. If we can’t get a Curse Breaking World Series, maybe we can get a First Ever World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers, né Washington Senators.
For a most of the season the Rangers were winning while defying all reasonable explanations. Then they traded for Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Beltran and ran off with the best record in the American League. Their pitching staff (21st in baseball in ERA) might give one pause, but there is enough talent to carry this team deeper into the postseason than last season (you remember how that run ended, don’t you?).
Also, Adrián Beltré is a national treasure who also happens to be one of the best third basemen of all time. Any beefs you might have with any of their other players are well overcome by a guy who does stuff like this on a regular basis:
Exercise over. Let’s get that guy a World Series.
Of course, what’s now inevitable is a Giants-Red Sox World Series because the baseball gods are capricious and cold. Go Meteor.