The thrill of October baseball is upon us. We have reached the end of the regular season and begin this playoff season with the two “win or go home” wild card games, one tonight and another tomorrow. With the Phillies once again planning offseason activities that presumably involve lots of sleep and leisure time, fans of the team are left rocking in a chair, drooling all over themselves, staring at the television aimlessly with nary a local nine to root for. You’re alone, scared and helpless. What do you do?
Fear not, kids! Here at The Good Phight, we love telling you what to do. We are here to help you determine the team that you need to be getting behind to will them towards victory using our own Philadelphia grit and determination (because we as Philadelphians know that our cheers/boos are the difference between winners and losers). Let’s give some pros and cons to each team and rank them based on how you should approach their October inclusion. Without further ado, here are the participants.
The “divisional enemy” team
Don’t do it.
Don’t you dare cheer for the Braves.
Don’t cheer for their “oh, they arrived a year early, so let’s not get too excited” attitude toward their playoff run. Don’t cheer for the bad hair Ozzie Albies. Don’t cheer for Freddie Freeman. Don’t cheer for their stupid Tomahawk Chop that will be played incessantly during each home game they play. None of them. You are forbidden from cheering for anything other than a complete and humiliating sweep of them.
Except Ronald Acuna.
He’s really good. You can hope he doesn’t get injured, but that’s as far as I’ll let you go.
The “impossible to cheer for anything about them” teams
Oh man, do I hate these teams. Let’s start with the most obvious reason to hope they fail. Their stance toward domestic violence is perhaps the blueprint for every organization in professional sports in what NOT to do. Bringing in players accused on domestic violence in hopes of capturing an elusive championship? In their eyes, perfectly acceptable. Turning a blind eye toward the victims of domestic abuse because they “don’t have all the facts”? Let he who is without sin, amiright? The fact that both of these organizations have treated their players accused of domestic violence with kid gloves all in hopes of securing another parade in their city is sickening. When the specific allegations against Addison Russell were published by his ex-wife, the Cubs (and MLB) decided that that was the time to act rather than do something based on the evidence they already had on hand. There are articles about this, one of which is here, that goes much further into it than I can here. Joe Maddon and his recent comments about the allegations toward Addison Russell are one of the reasons domestic violence so often goes unreported. Maddon has a chance to publicly condemn the player accused of it and will not do it. Call it ignorance or whatever, but it is baffling why Maddon has chosen this path. Personally, I don’t care how many ex-Phillies populate that roster. Rooting for the Cubs this postseason is just not ok.
It’s almost the same approach with the Astros. They actively decided to bring aboard a player that has already been proven to have committed domestic violence simply because they saw a dip in his market value. Acquiring Robert Osuna by giving back a player that had already burned his bridges with the organization? Sounds great! Actually no! No it isn’t. Let’s not dismiss the fact that the Astros treat their players like emotionless automatons that are there solely to give answers to equations they have developed in their internal studies. But here, their active pursuit of a player, though very good at his job, that is on the record as having committed a crime against his partner simply because no one else wanted him and his public relations baggage is sickening. They won their World Series last year. That’s good enough until.....checks watch....Jeff Luhnow and his philosophies gets fired into the sun.
The “I could see myself hoping they do ok, but I’d hate myself for doing it” teams
The three wealthiest teams in baseball. They are expected to be in the playoffs each year due to their resources they have at their disposal, as well as those they have poured into player evaluation that has made their farm systems good enough to produce underpaid talent. We should all hate them because they have spent on players in free agency, acquired players with bloated salaries for pennies on the dollar simply because their pockets run a little deeper, and utilized prospects to acquire top talent that we wish we had here in Philadelphia. It’s the perfect formula for hatred.
I can’t bring myself to hate them too much because they have been so smart about it. Within the confines of the rules that dictate the game (love them or hate them), they have operated with an almost clinical precision to build deep and talented rosters that don’t show much sign of letting up anytime soon. Waves of prospects are expected to crash on the shores of Los Angeles and New York in the near future that will only keep their window of opportunity open that much longer. While Boston may not have the top tier talent in their farm, their current on field talent is already young enough to have a prime ahead of them still. They can just keep some, if not all, of the guys they want to keep. It stinks that we have to keep watching each superpower continue to dominate the league, but that’s what happens when money goes hand in hand with intellectual prowess. Brian Cashman, for example, assembled a farm team that would make even the San Diego Padres jealous. Did he capitalize on the domestic violence market (I feel dirty just writing that) in much the same way that Houston and Chicago have done? Absolutely and he should be criticized accordingly. But the ability to be able to re-tool this franchise on the fly has been impressive at the least.
While I can certainly understand people’s hatred of these teams, if they were to win the World Series, I don’t think I’d be all that mad about it.
The “I wish their mascot wasn’t so racist so I could get behind them” team
I’ll admit that I wanted Cleveland to win in 2016. That was probably the best World Series I can remember watching in a long time (save for 2008 of course). I felt really bad for the city that suffered through such bad baseball for so long, that had to watch an expansion team with teal as its base color win in 1997 and had to watch a dynasty disband because they couldn’t afford to keep them together. I really like Terry Francona as a manager and watching him orchestrate that team’s run that year was a sight to behold.
I also understand that many people cannot cheer for them because of their racist logo that they choose to use to gain money as an organization. Regardless of where you fall on the fence of the “is it even racist?” argument, the fact is if it offends someone, it should not be used.
That’s why I really wish that Chief Wahoo didn’t exist so that cheering for the Indians would be that much easier. We could all do it without a shred of guilt. Alas, it remains (for now) and until it’s gone, I just can’t do it.
That being said, if they do go far enough to hoist the trophy, I’ll be ok with it.
The “I’m completely indifferent to them, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” team
Who is even on that team? Nolan Arenado? Yeah, he’s good. Charlie Blackmon? Ok.
Other than them, name me 10 other Rockies. Don’t use Matt Holliday. And no - Todd Helton retired.
<entire hourglass empties>
See what I mean? I don’t even know anyone on that team. If they win, cool (I guess).
and Holliday never touched home.
The “Hey! Isn’t this how a rebuild is supposed to go?” team
Right now, I watch the Brewers and get very jealous. Jealous because their rebuild is exactly what we had hoped the Phillies rebuild would be like. Bottom out, jettison every available player for anything, then use those assets that were acquired to bring in more talent to surround what was available on the farm through great and shrewd drafting. Sprinkle in some reclamation projects that went right. Add a dash of free agents that were brought into supplement the roster. Put it all together and boom - you have a playoff team.
Has this team gotten lucky on a few things? Sure. Christian Yelich has always been a good hitter. He found power this year that many didn’t know he had. He used that power to suddenly turn into an MVP. Lorenzo Cain went to Milwaukee and turned in a 7 WAR season. They’ve ridden a patchwork rotation to a league average finish, but had a dominant bullpen that won them games. Sure, manager Craig Counsell seems like a whiny infant most of the time the camera is on him, but there’s no doubt he has been a good leader since the day the organization put him in charge.
Plus - they beat the Cubs to take the division.
In Wrigley. That’s enough for me to hope they sweep everyone right out of the postseason.
This, to me, is the leader in the clubhouse for our hearts this October.
The “plucky team that we want to destroy two empires in two rounds” team
Remember Veterans Stadium? I do. There are still days when I wish it was still around. It was a horrendous place to play and to watch a game, but there was still something about it that made it charming. Maybe it was the smell? The smell of that place will live with me forever. In a way, Oakland Alameda Coliseum reminds of the Vet. Big, multisport usage, poor drainage issues. It’s long outlived its purpose, but it still stands as home to a team and community that deserve better.
This year’s Athletics team, especially, seems like a young team that deserves to be in front of a bigger crowd. They’ve come out of seemingly nowhere to post some team performances that have far outpaced preseason projections. Individually, they have seen several of their young players take steps forward (Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, Stephen Piscotty), a few veterans performing better than ever (Jed Lowrie), gotten the requisite pitching renaissance (Edwin Jackson), saw a young leader of the staff emerge before succumbing to injury (Sean Manaea), and built a strong, deep bullpen that can help lead them into a very winnable wild card game that doesn’t require the starter to go very long before they can ride in to the rescue.
They’re relatively young, seem to be a lovable fun team and feel like the perfect team to be pulling for (except for Jeurys Familia) this postseason.
So where does that leave us? There are a lot of teams here that we can all cheer for. Some have some warts, some have are almost devoid of anything to like, and then there are the Braves.
Seriously, don’t cheer for the Braves.
All this being said, the official The Good Phight stance is that we wish for the Brewers to be victorious this postseason. There might be some people here that have a different preference, but overall, I can confidently say this is true. The most preferable matchup in the World Series would be the Brewers and the Athletics. The chances of that happening seem slim, especially as it would require the Athletics to go through a 100 win buzzsaw of the Yankees-Red Sox-Astros, but don’t underestimate the Indians either.
There you have it. The official guide to the postseason. Enjoy the last Phillies-less postseason for some time. You’ll need to get used to seeing the red pinstripes back in October baseball, beginning next year. Until then, go Brew Crew!