Because we’ll all be happier if we don’t dwell on the wreckage of the 2012 Mets, I thought I’d expand a tweet about my bandwagon teams. (If you want to wallow in last night’s unpleasantness, post is here.)
This part of August is a funny time: If you root for a good team it’s still early, like terrifyingly early. And if you root for a bad team it’s hideously late. But with the early caveat out of the way, let’s rank some potential bandwagon teams.
Quick standings review: In the AL, the Yankees are up four games over Tampa Bay, the White Sox are up two on Detroit, and Texas is six games ahead of Oakland. Your AL wild cards right now are the Rays and Orioles, with the A’s a half-game out and the Tigers 1.5 back. In the NL, the Nats are up six over Atlanta, Cincy is up 6.5 on the Pirates, and the Giants are half a game ahead of the Dodgers. Your NL wild cards right now are Atlanta and Pittsburgh, with L.A. half a game back and the Cardinals 1.5 back. (The Angels and D-backs are still vaguely in the mix, but we’ll leave them out for now.)
Here, right now, are my bandwagon teams in order of preference, with a bit about why. If you’re game, do the same exercise in the comments.
1) Pirates — If you have to ask why, you apparently have a heart of stone — and it’s not a soft, workable stone but the granite stuff that bends bulldozer blades. Anyone without a rooting interest should be singing some AutoTune’d remix of “We Are Family” at the top of their lungs. No other answer is acceptable. BE HUMAN, YOU!
2) A’s — Downtrodden, kept from a decent home by the selfishness of the Giants and the sluggishness of MLB. Smart and resourceful — Moneyball is still a worthy rallying cry all these years later. Great tradition — have always loved the white elephant.
3) Rays — Moneyball East, the triumph of the thoughtful over the rich. Joe Maddon is hugely entertaining. A Rays win would make Jeffrey Loria look like an even bigger tool and piss off Yankees fans.
4) Nationals — I still love Davey Johnson, and if the man had had the wild card available to him, he’d never have left and David Wright would have had to wear some other number. Bryce Harper is an enormously fun player to watch. Good core they’ve built the right way. The Strasburg drama is fascinating. But if they win, they must immediately restore the Expos’ retired numbers and other heritage. Because for shame, people. Speaking of which, points off for the presence of Jayson Werth.
5) Rangers — A powerhouse, but they’ve never won anything, and five decades in the wilderness is enough. Plus can you imagine having to live through last fall’s heartbreak?
6) White Sox — Fun out-of-nowhere team, and I’d love to see Robin Ventura drenched in champagne as a rookie manager.
7) Braves — CONTROVERSY! To my surprise, I have a soft spot for Chipper in his final go-round. Plus Bobby Cox is gone. Totally understand if your mileage varies dramatically.
8) Orioles — Major points added for a downtrodden fan base, a la the Pirates. Minor points added for the potential to make Yankees fans gloomy. Major points subtracted for the presence of interfering troglodyte Peter Angelos. They wind up in the middle.
9) Tigers — Getting into meh territory, but great team, town and tradition. I love Jim Leyland though I despise Miguel Cabrera.
10) Reds — Another great team and town, and it’s amazing that they’ve stepped on the gas harder without Joey Votto. But I really dislike Dusty Baker. A Reds win would let him destroy young arms and chew toothpicks for another decade. Shudder.
11) Dodgers — Would be a nice comeback story from the horrors of recent years. But their fans are either entitled, ditzy know-nothings or thugs trying to beat people to death in the parking lot. And they now employ both Hanley and Victorino. We’re definitely in “enemy of my enemy” territory now.
12) Giants — Still too drunk on Cinderella memories to be an acceptable bandwagon team. Plus Brian Sabean is a cretin. Still, fabulous park and town.
13) Cardinals — Just won. Tired of the whole “best fans in baseball” wankery. Yadier Molina. On the plus side, Carlos Beltran with a ring would be a nice sight. And at least La Russa is gone.
14) Plague/Famine/A Rain of Asteroids — I don’t have to explain this, do I?