Who To Cheer For

As we head into yet another September pennant chase without a Blue Jay team to cheer for, I don't know if you're like me, but I usually try and find another team to sort of root for down the stretch. Last year, I picked the Rays, mostly because that meant it would have knocked at least one of the Yankees or Red Sox out of October. That's not to say that I would cheer for the Rays to win over the Jays (in fact, when Tampa Bay was one of the victims of last season's late 10 game winning streak, I was pretty happy), but when the Jays weren't involved, I was usually pulling for the Rays.

As it turned out, they weren't a bad choice. They won the division (making sure the Yankees would miss the playoffs for the first time since the strike), had a pretty easy go of it in the Division Series, almost choked away the ALCS before holding off Boston in 7 games, but went down pretty easily in the World Series to the Phillies.

I know this isn't for everyone. A lot of fans might just tune out once their favourite team gets knocked out of contention, but not having a horse in the race for going on 16 years now has left me without many choices if I want to make post-season baseball a little more exciting.

Anyway, though, I'll take a look at some choices for who I might be pulling for as the pennant races heat up heading into late August.

New York Yankees

What's to like: Um, the history?

What's not to like: Let's see. They're the fucking Yankees. I know that they've been usurped a bit in terms of hatred by the Red Sox in recent years, but that doesn't mean I have to like them. There's not really any player on the team that I particularly like. I really don't want to see A.J. Burnett win a World Series and I REALLY don't want to see Eric Hinske make a third straight World Series. Besides, them making the playoffs is pretty much a foregone conclusion at this point, so where's the fun in cheering for them? I also don't like hearing about how great the new ballpark is.

Boston Red Sox

What's to like: Fenway's pretty cool, I guess, if you ignore the people at the game.

What's not to like: Massholes. Lot's of douchebag players. The media referring to Jason Bay as 'Canadian Jason Bay' during every BoSox highlight package is really annoying, too. Also, they've really been treating this team as a fantasy team this season. Not so much in how much money they spend, but just the picking up and releasing of players. Like the Adam LaRoche situation. They need a corner infielder, so they pick one up. Oh, a better one is available in Victor Martinez, so they get him and dump off LaRoche on someone else. And Martinez has catcher eligibility as well, sweet! And how many guys have they tried at SS this year?

Tampa Bay Rays

What's to like: Fans aren't known douchebags, yet. Carl Crawford is fun to watch. Joe Maddon seems like a cool guy.

What's not to like: Starting to lose their 'underdog' label. The fact that they've made the Jays the fourth best team in the division is starting to set in and it depresses me. Jeff Niemann might beat out Ricky Romero in the Rookie of the Year voting if the Rays have a strong finish.

Detroit Tigers

What's to like: Not seeing much here. In '06, it was a good story, not so much this year.

What's not to like: The Tigers have scored less runs than the Jays, given up more, and are in first place. As winners of a weak division, they might not have a very good chance to make if out of the ALDS.

Chicago White Sox

What's to like: Maybe you like beating up 1st base coaches.

What's not to like: They're only in the race because of their weak division. They have Alex Rios now, so a lot of Jays fans might not want to see him succeed in Chicago. They don't even have a long championship drought anymore, which might have swayed some people a few years ago.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

What's to like: It would be nice to see Vlad Guerrero win something in his career.

What's not to like: Kinda boring team, not in the style that they play, just that they're always just kinda there, but never seem to do anything since '02.

Texas Rangers

What's to like: I think this is the closest parallel to the Jays this year. Bit of a long playoff drought (since 1999), they haven't really been awful in the past few years, but haven't been great, either. If they win the Wild Card, then they knock out 2 of the other AL East teams out of the playoffs.

What's not to like: Probably not that much better than the Jays, but are having better results. Elvis Andrus might take away some Romero RotY votes if the team finishes strong.

Philadelphia Phillies

What's to like: Maybe Matt Stairs can be a playoff hero again this year.

What's not to like: They're from Philly. They won last year, so what's the fun in picking them again? Tried to steel Doc from us, too.

Florida Marlins

What's to like: It's kinda cool when they fill up Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin/LandShark Stadium up with 65,000+ people for a baseball game. They've also never lost a playoff series, so cheering for them in October has been a pretty safe bet.

What's not to like: Jeffrey Loria is their owner. That's all you need to know. No self-respecting Canadian baseball fan should cheer for anything related to that piece of shit.

Atlanta Braves

What's to like: Bobby Cox is alright, I guess.

What's not to like: A bunch of empty seats during playoff games, the Tomahawk chop, the way they handled the Tom Glavine situation, the fact that they made the playoffs 100 years up until a few years ago.

St. Louis Cardinals

What's to like: Albert Pujols.

What's not to like: THE BEST FANS IN BASEBALL. They won the Series a few years ago with a shitty team.

Chicago Cubs

What's to like: It would be pretty cool if they finally won it this year.

What's not to like: We'd be beaten over the head with Steve Bartman bullshit if they even came close.

Los Angeles Dodgers

What's to like: I guess Orlando Hudson winning would be cool.

What's not to like: The Joe Torre love fest that would ensue if the Dodgers won it all. Not to mention, Ned Colletti's many faults as GM would be glossed over as he's celebrated for putting together a championship team. Oh, and all the media outrage we'd be subjected to if 'Manny Ramirez: ROIDER' won another title.

Colorado Rockies

What's to like: I really got nothing here.

What's not to like: Already had their Cinderella run in '07, let someone else have a chance. We might have to hear more about how the Jays should have drafted Tulowitzki instead of Romero some more.

San Francisco Giants

What's to like: Tim Lincecum is fun to watch.

What's not to like: Eerily similar to the all-pitch, no-hit '08 Jays team. The Jays didn't sniff the playoffs while the Giants are in a pretty good position to win the Wild Card. Not to mention that with every Lincecum start, we'd be wishing that in some alternate reality, the Giants had accepted the Jays trade offer of Alex Rios and Lincecum would be plying his trade in Toronto.

Those are all the teams that have a legitimate shot at making the post-season this year, I think. The Yankees are looking like the only sure thing right now, but the Phillies, Dodgers, Cardinal, and Angels all seem to be becoming safer bets by the day.

To me, I think the team I'll pick this season is the Rangers. They currently have the Wild Card lead (0.5 games ahead of Boston) and are enough of an underdog that I don't really feel like a front runner by mildly cheering for them. And I'm sure they'll give the Jays a shitty loss or two when the teams hook up in Arlington in a few weeks. Or, maybe the Jays will win a few games, just to spite me.

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