That the Rockies lost the NL Wild Card Game in devastating fashion warrants some sort of distraction. While many Rockies fans have surely sworn off baseball (at least for a few days) for their own mental/physical/emotional health, there will still be a champion crowned in 2017. Here’s a brief guide for Rockies fans to figure out who to hitch their wagons to for the rest of the month. Grant Brisbee offered three reasons to watch each team, but here are the cases, from least to most compelling, for Rockies fans to root for each team left. Of course, if you have some sort of familial tie or some such to one of these teams and that makes you want to root for them, so be it; consider this guide for those with no such ties.
When we did our “Ranking the MLB teams” survey in February, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers finished in the “Utter Hatred” tier. No matter how many Mookie Betts’ smiles you flash this way, the Red Sox are still the team that swept the Rockies out of the playoffs on their way to a mini-dynasty. Baseball’s biggest friend Aaron Judge is fun to watch, and so is Gary Sanchez, but they were signed by the wrong organization and no matter how likeable Didi Gregorious is, they are still the Evil Empire for a reason. The Dodgers play in the NL West; this one should be easy.
Both these teams ended up in the next tier in our rankings but they are also, respectively, the latest team to eliminate the Rockies from the playoffs, and the reigning World Series champions.
Cleveland had it’s heart ripped out last year, coming a rain delay away from completing a World Series Game 7 shutout. Instead, the Cubs prevailed to make the Tribe the most high profile drought in baseball. The team adopted the hashtag #RallyTogether and rally they did, setting the American League record for consecutive wins in a season after their incredible 23-game streak. Francisco Lindor has a smile that could power 1000 light bulbs while playing excellent defense and being the primary catalyst in the lineup; they don’t make superstars quite like this. And the team just seems to legitimately have fun and enjoy being around each other and that is intoxicating to watch and they have an artistic set of mini-baseballs to prove it. And the Indians Twitter account is the American League version of the awesomeness that the Rockies Twitter account.
And again, they came an extra-innings rain delay away from winning perhaps the best World Series game in history one year ago. How great would it be to see them come back and win it all after that?
They barely squeak in ahead of the Indians for one reason: length of drought. They haven’t won a postseason series since they were the Expos. In fact, the city of DC has gone over 80 years without a World Series ring, a stretch that includes three different franchises.
But they also have a legitimately good team. Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg were two former no. 1 overall picks all grown up; Max Scherzer deserves the NL Cy Young award; Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner do everything well and nothing poorly. Their window of contention is closing, though, as free agency will start pricing several of these players out of their price range. They need at least a playoff series win before it’s too late. Oh, and they are playing the Cubs and would face the winner of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers; if it’s NL or bust, this is the bandwagon to join.
Why root for the Astros? Because they have one of the most powerful offenses we’ve seen in decades led by MVP candidate Jose Altuve, who looks like Alexi Amarista but hits like Charlie Blackmon. Because their city was under 20 feet of water earlier this season. Because they have players playing for their adopted home that was devastated by a hurricane and for their actual homeland that was somehow even more devastated by a hurricane. Because Carlos Correa is every bit as charming as Lindor and just might be somehow more talented. Because Carlos Beltran still hasn’t won a World Series despite a career spent inducing fear into playoff pitchers. Because Justin Verlander still hasn’t won a World Series despite a career spent inducing fear into playoff hitters. Because six years ago they began an epic tear down and rebuild, lost 100 games three times, and this year won 100 games.
It’s that last one the should seal it for Rockies fans. Colorado didn’t go to the same lengths in their rebuild as Houston (partially because they didn’t quite have to). They represent hope as a team that finally made it back to the playoffs after a long drought and is now one of the dominant forces in the league; all they need is the World Series ring to complete it. The Rockies are trying to replicate that pattern, just a couple of years behind. Seeing them complete the journey from cellar to penthouse means the Rockies could pull off the same thing.
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That’s the case for each team. Who are you rooting for during the postseason? What makes you root for that team? Let us know below.
Who are you rooting for in the 2017 MLB Playoffs?
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