Pick A Team For The 2013 MLB Playoffs

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With baseball, everything feels so long ago. As a kid, I listened on my clock radio to the playoff games — sometimes falling asleep before the seventh-inning stretch. The call of Sandy Alomar Jr.’s home run off Mariano Rivera still plays in an archive within my head.

As critical as I am of baseball, it’s hard to let go of the golden Octobers. Here, we see who the heroes are and where the goats truly stand. Ragged arms are flailing towards the finish line, and tired legs are stretching singles into doubles.

The days of old — which baseball will forever attempt to preserve — bring memories back to our minds each autumn. Whichever team takes the crown this year will deserve it the same as those who wore it before them and as much as others who failed down the stretch.

This season, it’s hard to pick one team the non-invested fan should support in the 2013 MLB playoffs. Of the nine remaining teams, each has something to like.

Boston’s club was expected to dwell in the cellar. Instead, the Sox pounded their way through the American League East. Mike Napoli’s power and Dustin Pedroia’s never-ending grittiness helped pave the path. It’s a nice story, but all in all it’s hard to root for the Sox (my Yankees allegiances aside). A town that’s enjoyed the Bruins, the Patriots and recent success on Yawkey Way allows for little empathy.

It’s easy to say the same about St. Louis, although the town’s success is only rooted in the Cardinals. Every summer, the Cards find a way to play better than expected. Somehow, some way, St. Louis is there in the end. The Cards will likely be there in the future as well, so waving their pennant makes little sense.

Detroit hasn’t triumphed in fall since 1984, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. This is a team with all the makings of a champion. Two great pitchers and a few bona fide sluggers give the Tigers more than a puncher’s chance. But, where’s the fun in pulling for a team with such power?

Out west, the Dodgers pulled it together this season. Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig is exciting with a knack for the dramatic. Los Angeles paid out the wazzou for its club, and the Dodgers have reaped the benefits. Aside from those old tried-and-true Brooklyn fans who are still breathing, the Dodgers don’t seem all that heartwarming. Vin Scully calling a final out would stand alone in that category.


There’s plenty of reason to pull for the remaining clubs. Still, if you want to pick a team before the “real” playoffs begin, you might as well pick just one. It will make the games and the series all that more rewarding if your adopted team succeeds.

Atlanta’s presence in the postseason reminds me of my days as a kid. Granted, it was in the 1990s. The Braves took five National League pennants, yet only won the World Series in 1995. That win came against Cleveland — so no one knows if it really counts. Tomahawk chops echo through the 8-year-old in me. I supported the Indians during the loss, too young to know better. Atlanta owns the Southeast’s baseball fans. I’m unsure how much they need your support.

In 2008, Tampa Bay made the World Series and lost to Philadelphia. The Rays struggled to sell out Tropicana Field for the fall classic. They still struggle to sell out Tropicana Field. It’s not fair to judge a team by its fans, but does Tampa’s fan base really deserve a title? There are hungrier fans out there.

Hungry fan bases fill up the final ballots. Pittsburgh hadn’t made the playoffs since 1992 before this season. Oakland took the championship in 1989 and plays in a stadium infested with sewage and/or the Raiders. Cleveland, well, Cleveland is Cleveland.

This is your final three. Somewhere in these three teams is your little pup whining, waiting for you to take it home. There is no wrong answer here, but remember to leave the other two clubs at the shelter.

The Pirates’ well-documented struggles certainly make them a shoe-in for Cinderella. However, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and continue to put two of hockey’s best players on the ice. They will likely win another title in the next few years. On the gridiron, the Steelers own the most Super Bowl titles of any franchise in the NFL. Few outside the Steel City feel bad about the 0-4 start this season, as the black and gold won it all twice in the last eight years.

It’s not fair to the Pirates for you to pick another team solely on the success of their city-mates. However, it’s hard to think Pittsburgh’s residents will die a slow death if the Bucs exit early.

If you really want to show some empathy, Cleveland is your mate. There are far too many things to list in regard to the city’s sports futility. The Tribe — with new manager Tito Francona — has turned things around in a big way this season. The Indians won just 68 games last year.

It’s safe to assume that if the Indians finally win the Series — they came close twice in the 1990s — most baseball fans will be fine with it.

The team I hope wins the title is last on the list. Last October, I witnessed the Oakland Athletics kick in the door and put their feet up while scaring every drop of sweat out of the Tigers. They host Detroit this season in the divisional round.

Simply put, the A’s play in a mausoleum with players you might not recognize nor hear from again. A 40-year-old supposed has-been will take the ball in Game 1. They wear yellow and green and are the only team that can pull it off — don’t forget the white spikes, either. Oakland’s club is fun to watch, as the players enjoy it like we did when we were kids on the diamond.

Normally, no one east of California gives a damn about the Oakland A’s. This fall, I’ll give enough for all of us.

That’s what makes picking a playoff team healthy for the sports fan. When the ball just barely makes it over the right-field fence in a late inning, we look back to the our past moments. Without making enough noise to wake up a household, we yell into our pillows and fall asleep, painting a picture of the play.

“Alomar, with a drive to right …”

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