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Your team has been eliminated. Now what do you do?

Oct 12, 2010, 9:37 AM EDT

Deciding who to root for once your team has been eliminated is a lot tougher than you might think.

This is not just a question I’m asking myself this morning, it’s a question all sports fans ask themselves at some point. When your team is knocked out of the playoffs, do you search for a new, temporary rooting interest? Do you simply watch objectively for pure entertainment? Do you disengage completely?

I am capable of watching baseball for pure entertainment. I do it most
of the regular season in fact. I’ve never picked a side in a Yankees-Red
Sox game, for example, and never will. I root for good baseball in
those games. I rarely get it, but I still root for it.

Orioles-Jays? Brewers-Astros? I’m able to mine the tiniest bit of
minutiae from almost anything baseball-related, but for any one game —
especially a game with low stakes — it’s usually a bit too much for me
to pick a side. This used to happen to me in the playoffs too, but since
I’ve been writing about baseball it’s been hard for me to go the
Switzerland route for a seven game series. Eventually I start pulling
for someone. But who do you root for?

I’ve done the carpetbagger fan thing before.  In some ways it’s the most natural thing there is. Your team has been sent home, but you’re still watching the games. Events on the field spark something deep and primal within you, and you find yourself rooting for one of the teams that are still alive. Maybe you like Brian Wilson’s beard. Maybe you really want to see Cliff Lee or Evan Longoria stick it to the Yankees. Maybe you don’t want the North Korean World Cup team to be sent to slave labor camps upon their return home.  The point is, you latch onto something on the spur of the moment and ride it for a while.

Or you can go the calculated route. I’m less prone to doing this — I tend to decide who I’m rooting for after I turn the game on — but I’m seriously considering it for the NLCS at the moment. What makes me more angry: the fact that the Giants eliminated the Braves or the fact that the Phillies beat them out for the division title and embarrassed them in two September series? At the same time, what appeals to me more: the fact that Tim Lincecum, my favorite non-Brave is pitching for the Giants or that Charlie Manuel, my favorite non-Bobby Cox manager is in charge of the Phillies?  I haven’t quite figured this out yet.

The last option — total disengagement — is impossible for me because I’m paid to write about baseball, but it’s something some people do. “My team’s gone? Screw it: I’m spending my October evenings catching up on my knitting or else I’m going to go crazy with rage!”  I can’t relate personally to this sort of thing — see last night’s rough-and-tumble Bobby Cox thread for some reasons why — but I sort of understand it.  But only sort of.  If you’re one of those people who is a big enough baseball fan to read this blog but one who nonetheless won’t be watching the rest of the playoffs, please, enlighten the rest of us as to your thought process. Do you simply not care anymore once your rooting interest is gone, or is it too painful to watch the game being played without them?

Anyway. The Rays and Rangers play tonight. I think I’m going to root for the Rangers. My distaste for Jeff Francoeur is outweighed by my admiration of Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson and a handful of other Rangers (and really, if I get loopy enough I could probably took myself into rooting for Frenchie in some ironic way).  The NLCS starts, I dunno, eight weeks from now, and I’m probably going to pull for the Giants. This could change, though — I don’t like Brian Wilson’s beard, after all.  The Yankees are right out no matter who they’re facing. They have been since 1996. They’ll be fine without me, I assume.

No matter how it shakes out, though, I’m rooting for three exciting seven-game series. Followed immediately by the Earth passing through a worm hole and magically transporting us to mid February when pitchers and catchers report.

Go, whoever!

  1. Jonny5 - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Hey man, you have to hold vigil that someone in the NL will win. That’s my motto. Yes I even would root for the Mutts.

  2. Tony A - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Ahh, memories. Many years ago, my boss called me at work to let me know he’d be late because of car trouble. When he finally got to the office, I asked him what had happened, and he announced for all in the office to hear, “Blew a seal.”, to which I replied, “Well, at least it was a mammal.”…didn’t get much work done that day…

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I would root for the Rangers, Tigers, Rays, Red Sox, and any Al team except the Yankers every time over the Braves and Mutts. Otherwise, I agree it’s NL all the way.

  4. Tony A - Oct 12, 2010 at 2:06 PM

    Reds fan, but I don’t watch post season, I’m strictly an individual performance fan/phigure philbert.
    I guess I’m a minority of one in this, but that doesn’t bother me, as that’s my normal state in life. The last time I really did anything was ’93, and I was fortunate enough to watch a truly epic World Series in total. Might have ruined PS for me after watching that classic.

  5. Mr. Heyward - Oct 12, 2010 at 2:15 PM

    I agree with Fiorentino, expect when I disagree with him, otherwise, I agree with Fiorentino all the way. You see Jonny5? You have that type of logic in your fan base and it’s hard not to ridicule.
    Instead of saying, “Jonny5, I agree with you except in X instances,” I’m just gonna go ahead and say I disagree with you. I am an NLer too and hate the DH, but I can’t base my rooting interests on that. There are bigger reasons in my mind to root for an AL team or against an NL team. I’ve discussed why I root against the Phils. I’d root for the AL team if I like them and dislike the NL team they’re playing, which is common and I’m sure you can say you have a list of AL teams you like and NL teams you hate, right? So why root for NL simply b/c they’re NL?

  6. MK - Oct 12, 2010 at 2:43 PM

    You’re a bigger man than I to root for your same-league rivals, because as a Yankee fan, I will never ever ever root for the Red Sox to do anything but lose in the most painful way possible. Even when it makes sense for the Sox to win – like when they were playing Tampa late in the season – I couldn’t cheer for them.
    Even in 2008 when the Yankees missed the playoffs, I watched the postseason cheering on the team playing the Sox. It’s unhealthy, I know, but it is what it is.

  7. sportsdrenched - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    I’m a Royals fan, but baseball is also my favorite sport so I also have to find reasons to root for teams in meaningful baseball games long before the post season. They can be pretty weird and silly, or they can be as well thought as “I watched that guy play college ball so I’ll root for his team.”
    I don’t normally care what league or division a team comes from. I wish one day that the Royals would be good enough that I could hate the other teams in the division, but it hardly seems worth it to spend that much energy on them right now….but I always root against the Yankees, that goes without saying.
    Interestingly, The Rangers-Rays series, my two best freinds in college, one is a Rays ST holder, the other is a Rangers ST holder. But I did live in the Metroplex one summer and went to about 20 Rangers games, so I guess I’ll root for them.

  8. Old Gator - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    No, she wasn’t hurt quite that way – she got T-boned like Chigurh at the end of No Country for Old Men but, luckily, on the passenger side. A few cracked ribs and cuts from glass but the big problem stemmed from a brain bruise that the idiots at the emergency room never bothered to diagnose. She does manage to get around and is now an activist and lecturer for sufferers of chronic brain damage. I don’t know if that means that she joined the Tea Party or anything that extreme, but she can’t do TV anymore. Hot she was – so much so that if I recall correctly she was sometimes confused with some pornstar she slightly resembled – and probably still is plenty hot.
    But me, my heart belongs to Stephanie. Call it my Blue Angel moment.

  9. Old Gator - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    I don’t need foreplay. If I want to, I can have sex with a beautiful woman almost every night. Almost on Monday. Almost, on Tuesday. Almost, on Wednesday. Almost every night….

  10. Utley's hair - Oct 12, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Yikes…Twins, Vikes, Wild and Wolves. My condolences.

  11. ThatGuy - Oct 12, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    I would never watch Basektball…so atleast I have that going for me.

  12. Kelly - Oct 12, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    No, Chris, because on a message board such as this, you represent your fan base to those who are not of that fan base and live nowhere near that fan base. Therefore, when the idea of the post is to state why and how we pick a rooting interest once our teams are eliminated, we draw upon our experiences with fans from other teams and figure out who we would like to be associated with.
    In shortened terms for you: You come across on this particular board as a cocky jackass and therefore, I can’t pull for the Phillies because I would like nothing more than to shut you up and the only way to do that would be for them to lose. Not pathetic, just internet-baseball-board logic.

  13. FrankZappa - Oct 12, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    consider yourself lucky your bums even made the playoffs…anybody paying attention this year knows a healthy Red Sox team would have won the world series, and yet due to ridiculous divisional alignment, didnt even make it

  14. MK - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    Not with Beckett and Lackey, genius.

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