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Root, Root, Root
by alex ciepley
The Cubs' playoff expectations were dashed, but baseball is still being played. The postseason starts today, and it's time to choose sides. Do you root for Athens or Troy? The Hulk or Superman? The tiger or the polar bear?
One man's guide to who he's rooting for, and why:
Dodgers versus Cardinals
Lovin' the Dodgers
This team plays awesome, jaw-dropping defense. They've got a smart GM who stuck the word "chemistry" up the media's tuchus. That goggle-eyed freak is pretty good, too.
Hatin' the Dodgers
Alex Cora and his 256-pitch at-bat. Fans who whine that they've had it bad through the nineties and 'oughts. Cry me a river.
Lovin' the Cardinals
They were, simply, the best team in the National League this year. Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, Walker... this is a fun team to watch at the plate. And it would be good karma to root for Renteria's success; after all, don't we want him in Cubbie blue next year?
Hatin' the Cardinals
Ummm, you're a Cubs fan.
I'm going to risk being torched on a stake, roasted on a spit, and baked in the oven by my fellow fans: I'm rooting for the Cardinals in this series. Both teams enter the series with crappy starting pitching, great bullpens, and fancy defense. The Cards have the edge with their sluggers, and I'd like to see them pound their way to one series win. Inexplicably, I've actually been more annoyed by the Dodgers this year than the Cards. Go ahead, pile on the heat, I'm admittedly freaky about this one.
Astros versus Braves
Lovin' the Astros
As with Renteria, I'm feeling good about cheering for "Now-batting-second-for-the-Cubs" Carlos Beltran, even if the nickname is currently just a pipe dream. And for those into empathy, I guess you can feel for the Astros' fans and their historical postseason "success".
Hatin' the Astros
Bitches. Barf-bags. Buffoons. Butt-holes. I've give you some killer B's. It's irrational, I know, but I've always loathed the goody-two-shoes image of Biggio and Bagwell, and have enjoyed immensely their squirm-worthy incompetence in postseasons past.
Lovin' the Braves
J.D. Drew was traded from the Cardinals and responded with the best season of his career -- I think there's probably a way that a Cubs fan can turn that into a moral victory. Also, I think it would be pretty funny for this year's Braves -- a ramshackle group compared to teams past -- to go all the way with a fearsome rotation of... Jaret Wright, Mike Hampton, and Russ Ortiz?
Hatin' the Braves
The tomahawk chop, performed by the 17 Braves fans in attendance during the postseason, is so, like, 1755.
This one's easy for me. I'd like the Braves to win this series in three games, with scores of 18-1, 27-2, and 50-0. Clemens and Oswalt finish the series with ERAs of 486.00 and 702.00, respectively.
Twins versus Yankees
Lovin' the Twins Batgirl, Gleeman, Stohs, Bonnes, and TFD. For such a small-market, contract-able team, the Twinkies sure do have a lot of good bloggers. In addition, it is election season, and how can you not vote for the party of the people: Santana/Nathan '04?
Hatin' the Twins
I guess their stadium kinda sucks.
Lovin' the Yankees
Ummm, ahh, err...
Hatin' the Yankees
You're not a Yankees fan, so this one is easy. My hatred of the Yankees, over the course of getting to know some great Yank fans this year, has been mellowed to a strong dislike. But that's as far as I'm willing to bend.
Another slam dunk. You and I and the rest of non-Yankee-fan humankind would like to see the Bronxers slowly and systematically dismantled. You would like to see the New York pitchers quivering in the shadow of Mt. Morneau, the hitters recoiling from the Radke changeup, and Joe Torre melting when Ron Gardenhire inserts Augie Ojeda as a defensive replacement. Vive les Twin Cities!
Red Sox versus Angels
Lovin' the Red Sox
If you can't end one curse, you might as well end the other. There is also my suspicion that -- despite what the won-loss records tell us -- the Red Sox are the best team in baseball. And finally, the Red Sox are the Team of the 'Do: Manny, Pedro, Johnny -- their coifs just melt a man's heart!
Hatin' the Red Sox
Rah, Rah, Rah.
About the Sox I cheer and moan.
Ree, Ree, Ree.
Too bad it's in a screechy tone.
Lovin' the Angels
Vlad. In my mind, he's the only reason to watch an otherwise irritating team. If you're a stathead type, it's easy to justify that Vlad was the most valuable player in the AL this year. If you're a traditionalist more interested in voting for a player with some defining moments in a pennant race, then Vlad had a smorgasbord to choose from over the past few weeks.
Hatin' the Angels
Do you know an Angels fan, pre-2002 version? Didn't think so. Watching their fans in the playoffs is like watching a group of kids go to their first birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's. Monkeys? Thunder Sticks? Count me out.
This round at least, advantage East Coast. Both fanbases have their nail-on-chalkboard qualities, and only the Angels have Vlad, but I want to see October baseball continue in a setting that feels like, well, October.