In lieu of a pennant race, I've been taking this magic number thing pretty seriously. I was flipping madly between the Mets-Rockies and Phillies-Nationals games last night as if a lead, not a countdown, was in the balance. When Marlon Anderson dashed home for the winning run, I treated it as if it were 1973 or 1999, not 2006. (The Nationals treated it like any other day and traded Marlon to the Dodgers afterwards.)
So I'm looking in the paper to see who the Phillies are playing tonight, who becomes our second-favorite team for the weekend, who's going to help us roll toward our inevitable clinch.
The Phillies are being visited by the Braves.
Oh yeech! I don't wanna root for the Braves except maybe to fall down a hole. Which I suppose they have this year. Yes, I will favor a victory by them in Interleague play against one particular opponent, but that's an issue of moral clarity. This is expediency. But it's also icky as all get out.
The Braves are still mildly alive for the Wild Card, so I wouldn't want to endorse anything that would aid them for a single, solitary extra second in their fight to remain on life support. Pull the plug! Pull the plug! But I want to clinch this baby as soon as possible and, quite frankly, I don't care for the Phillies one little bit. We just saw them 10 times in August. I have no need to see them four to seven times in October. I plain don't like them.
But I hate the Braves. We all do. Yet to root for them to lose to the Phillies would be self-defeating. While we may be inevitable, math is math and our job is to encourage subtraction. Ernesto may make my dithering moot, but they'll have to play sometime. (After seeing what tropical storms can lead to a year ago, I won't make any flip remarks about hoping both teams are blown away. But, uh, you know…)
What to do? What to do?