It’s August 23rd. As I type this it’s August 22nd but by time you are reading it, it is August 23rd. As a Padres fan, the date is inconsequential. The season, insomuch as “the season” can be defined as having a legitimate shot at making the playoffs, is over. Yesterday Avenging Jack Murphy posted a brilliant piece of writing that was Camus like. About nothing and everything. Such is the mind of a fan whose team is knee deep in the dog days with nothing to play for. It has been difficult to keep my concentration of late as well. I didn’t realize the Padres had a day game on Wednesday until I got into my car to head home from work. Really, at this point I’m just waiting on September 1st for Minor League call-ups and September 21st so I can grab one of those scarves.
In a season of extraordinary peaks and valleys we’ve leveled off. This is no way for a baseball fan to feel. That’s what today’s post is about. Because, with the Padres out of it, it’s time to align yourselves with another for the next two months. Fandom infidelity? Perhaps. I like to think of it as a Gentlemen’s Intermission.
But who? Who out there is worthy of your half-hearted rooting interest? Let’s break it down Pro and Con style. We’ll be using teams that are either currently in a playoff position or within 5 games of a playoff spot and keeping it to the National League for now (AL to come!). So, let’s round up the usual suspects.
1) Los Angeles Dodgers (1st in NL West, 9.5 games up)
Pro: If you carry any state pride this is one of two options you have. If you have particular Southern California pride you have only one option. This one. Maybe you are a fan of Vin Scully and like the idea of him calling one more World Series. Perhaps you’ve been swept up in Puig mania and can’t wait to see how it performs under October pressure. Maybe blue is just your color. If any of these things are true, this is your team.
Con: THEY’RE THE DODGERS! Yankees of the West! Literally no team makes my blood boil simply by showing up more than the Dodgers. All things being equal I root for NL West teams. But with the Dodgers things are decidedly unequal. Need more cons? Adrian Gonzalez. A billion dollar pitching rotation. Puig’s antics. Zack Greinke.
1) Pittsburgh Pirates (1st in NL Central, 1 game up)
Pro: The last time this team even finished above .500, Aladdin was the top grossing movie, Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” was number one on the radio and Kurt Cobain was alive. I guess what I’m saying is it’s been awhile. This is one of the few teams that are in this thing that can classify themselves as a “small market team.” They’re the underdog team whose day may finally have come. And a playoff run will introduce Andrew McCutchen to a larger audience which he certainly deserves.
Con: You may be getting set-up for heartbreak. Having not been a winning team in two decades this team seems most likley to fade down the stretch. This is in part due to the two teams behind them and in part because it feels like we’ve been down this road before with Pittsburgh. Wondering where Felix Pie‘s been? He’s here.
2) St. Louis Cardinals (2nd in NL Central, 1 GB)
Pro: Get rid of Pujols? No problem. Widely considered one of the great baseball cities so you’d lump yourself in with the “best fans in baseball” allegedly. Organization is clearly well run as they’ve been in the playoffs for what feels like my entire life.
Con: The Padres post-season nemesis in the 2000’s. Consistently were the team the Padres ran into in the playoffs to end the Padres season. The Cardinals have also won the World Series recently (2011, 2006). And, do they REALLY have the best fans in baseball?
3) Cincinnati Reds (3rd in NL Central, 2 GB)
Pro: You haven’t let go of Mat Latos. Or maybe you just like him and root for him still. With the Reds in the playoffs you could get a showdown between Chapman and Puig which, frankly, would be must watch television. Joey Votto is having a severely underrated season (career?) that would get the attention it deserves.
Con: You are not a fan of Mat Latos. The more the Reds win the more the Dusty Baker managerial style is confirmed. A lot of Bronson Arroyo on your primetime television. Buster Posey grand slam highlights galore.
1) Atlanta Braves (1st in NL East, 14.5 games up)
Pro: The team just suffered a brutal blow to Heyward. You can now root for Justin Upton guilt free being out of Arizona. You also get to root for brothers! Bro-BI opportunities! Craig Kimbrel is as sure a thing as there is and shortens every Braves game to 8 innings. Freddie Freeman kept Puig out of the All-Star Game. They have the chance to make amends for their Wild Card loss (infield fly?) from a year ago. Haven’t won a playoff series since 2001.
Con: That God awful (and racist) tomahawk chop. You are still burned out by the Braves (they went to the playoffs for 15 seasons in a row!)
Playing bandwagon matchmaker every Friday while impatiently waiting for new Breaking Bad. You can follow me on Twitter @LeftCoastBias or leave a comment below. Are you simply switching to football come Labor Day? Or hoping for a Diamondbacks run? Let me know!