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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. malmstorm - Oct 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    As a Braves fan now living in Texas, I am rooting for the Giants and Rangers. I’ll just have less passion than I had watching the Braves/Giants series. The bright side of this series being over: my budget won’t include Tums any longer.

  2. Old Gator - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    Tiger, it’s not really the fault of the fans themselves in Feelie. You are what you eat. Poison dart frogs of the genera Philobates, Sammobates and Dendrobates are so poisonous that the natives of the Amazon basin use their skin secretions on their blowgun darts. But take these pretty leetle froggies out of the amazon and feed them the usual diet of pet shop crickets and they become less toxic than an acai soymilk smoothie. Why? Because they don’t generate their poison by themselves; they have to get their toxins from the particular bugs they eat down there. Feelies fans eat those horrible horsemeat and velveeta sandwiches, ingesting so much cholesterol that it clogs not only their arteries but their bile ducts as well. If you took a Feelies fan hostage – even comrade Fiorentino here – and held him in an igloo in Nunavut for a few months and fed him nothing but muktuk, seal balls and the blob of oily meat around the base of the pectoral fins of codfish, he’d be as agreeable as Randle Patrick McMurphy after his lobotomy.

  3. BC - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:02 AM

    The Weather Channel hasn’t really been the same since Sharon Resultan left. All I have left is to watch these little towns in Kansas get MOWED when an F4 cruises through. I miss you Sharon.

  4. (Not That) Tom - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:03 AM

    They probably attacked you because you’re a sociopath that can’t converse at an adult level.

  5. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    I bet a nickel, Gator.

  6. birdmancometh - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:06 AM

    Just enjoy it while you have it. It won’t last long, eventually the Phils will start extending they’re all-time loss record once again. What goes up, must come down, don’t take it for granted my man.

  7. Old Gator - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    What you should say is “”The Phillies are the 2010 World Series champs, so why bother rooting for anyone anyway, mark my words,” and you will find love and acceptance despite your horsemeat and velveeta breath.

  8. Lukehart80 - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Even if Texas wins, Lee and Sabathia wouldn’t pitch against each other, because Lee won’t be ready until Game 3 after having to pitch tonight.

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    OK, thanks for showing me how to “converse at an adult level”. I’ll try to be just like you whenever I post. It will be one line, with a personal attack on the poster. Kinda like this…”Thanks, Tom, for being a juvenile that just comes to a thread and attacks me without adding a single thing to the debate…ya douchenozzle”

  10. ultimatecardinalwarrior - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    You realize that there are like 5 Phillies phans all saying the same things everyday? Just kidding, kind of, but I do like your comments. Gotta keep these boards interesting.

  11. BC - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    I’ll see your nickel and raise you a dime.

  12. Old Gator - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:26 AM

    Sharon was a casualty of some internal politics and budget farce at TWC and NBC. I miss her too, and I can’t help wondering if she ever finally ditched that 1950s hairstyle of hers. I also miss Betty Davis, who inspired the Rod Stewart song “She Has Marty Feldman Eyes.”
    I strongly suspect that they transferred Nicole Mitchell to the graveyard shift because they discovered that folks weren’t paying much attention to the weather when she was on camera. Damn, that is one beautiful woman. However, her incipient Air Force militarism unnerves me, and what a woman who loves flying hurricane hunters might expect from a significant other apres graveyard shift wears me out just thinking about it almost as much as thinking about what it would cost me, should my wildest fantasies come true, to pay the Nieman Marcus charges on my American Express bill. Plus, she’s in law school too. No, that one is strictly a look, don’t touch.
    Every so often, I imagine Kelly Cass fifteen years and twenty pounds ago. But then, like a latterday Rod Taylor, I have to jump back in my time machine and flee the Morlocks of unmet lust. So it goes.
    That brings me to my beloved Stephanie Abrams. I haven’t had a schoolboy crush on a woman remotely this intense since…since…well, since I was a schoolboy. She’s exponentially smarter than any of the other men or women around her, clearly knows her scientific stuff backwards and forwards, is funny as hell, has an acutely fine tuned sense of irony and the presentational elan of Fanny Bryce, and I find her and her slightly crooked and sarcastic smile utterly beautiful albeit in her own very distinctive way. Let the F4s of my soul rip away.

  13. Kelly - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Giants-Rangers/Rays. Because if I have to sit through one more East Coast rivalry that 48 other states don’t care about (and with Joe Buck to boot), then really, I’ll just cruise until February and pretend nothing happened.
    Oh, and Chris has completely ruined Philly for me which is too bad because I think their team is actually quite likable.
    I will, however, not miss a single pitch of a Halladay/Lincecum match-up.

  14. Simon DelMonte - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Which is why i wanted to see that win Sunday. Alas, we will have to live with Lee vs Price and CC vs CJ or the like.

  15. Bogeyman - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    Is it just me or what? I feel like I am watching an old “rasslin match” or an old
    Sonny Liston boxing match – only they were pretty good actors – baseball players are not very good actors – the best thing I can say about Bobby Cox is the day he announced that he was leaving – I have never seen anything so fake looking in my life

  16. BC - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    I always thought Jeanetta Jones was kind of hot, in a cougarish sort of way. Apparently she almost died in a car accident and hasn’t been on the sir since. Think it was like 2-3 years ago. Bummer. Sorry for the downer.

  17. Mr. Heyward - Oct 12, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    My word: douchenozzle. Expect the civil complaint in the mail.

  18. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    “Oh, and Chris has completely ruined Philly for me which is too bad because I think their team is actually quite likable. ”
    Oh please…give me a freaking break. Wah wah. Cwis wuined wooting for the Phillies for me. Why? Because I think they are going to win the World Series…just like half of the baseball people in America? How pathetic.

  19. Mr. Heyward - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    I think you do offer often opposing views b/c you believe them, not to be a dick. But what I read from last night’s post about Cox was more just being a dick in a post that was meant for a tribute to someone great. Not the right place for it, but of course you have the right to spread your horse-meat breath (check’s in the mail Gator) where ever you like.

  20. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:22 PM

    As I told Craig, that was the first post that had some free space after his bashing of Phillies fans all day and that’s just where I put my ramblings. Not proud of it, but feel it got my point across…did you notice that he didn’t put the obligatory “phillies fan bashing” in his latest blog entry? I think that was some of my doing LOL.

  21. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    I would still try to watch after my team gets eliminated. I have signed off when my team gets beaten, but this only occurs if the elimination was in a particularly painful manner. For example, if I was a Pirates fan in 1992, I would have been physically ill if I had been asked to watch one minute of the World Series following Cabrera’s game-winner. My personal example was the Raiders-Bucs Super Bowl, after the Bucs beat the Iggles in the final game at the Vet. I watched about 30 seconds of the Super Bowl that year, and was sick to my stomach.
    This hasn’t really been an issue for me as a Phillies fan so far, because they weren’t very good for most of my adult life. 2007 ended in a three-game sweep, but the team came back from 7.5 out with 17 to play to beat out the Mets for the first postseason berth in 14 years, so that left a warm feeling. If Carter’s homerun or something similar had occurred in the LCS in 1993 to beat the Phils, I probably would have skipped the World Series.
    When my team’s not in the playoffs, I do what any self-respecting American does — I root against the Yankees. If the Phils lose this year in the LCS to the Giants, it would be pretty painful, but I’d still be able to watch the World Series and root against the Giants, unless they played the Yankees, in which case I’d root for the Giants while fervently hoping the entire Yankee fanbase gets diarrhea.

  22. ThatGuy - Oct 12, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    I agree, now that the Twins are out, i feel myelf slipping into a rage whenever I watch a baseball game. Time to concentrate on the Wild’s mediocre season(Hockey is my first passion anyways) at hand and on Sundays the Vikigns Mediocre season…happy days…

  23. Jonny5 - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:32 PM

    Who killed Chris and replaced him with a weak wristed Lib? Huh? Was it you Craig?? Bastards!!! You killed Chris!!! Pinkies are taking over!!!! Chris?? If you’re still alive and out there? be strong…

  24. Jonny5 - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:37 PM

    what do you do for foreplay Gator. Wait! No, don’t answer that please. I don’t know? Cheesesteak with shrooms? Or, Seal ball fat with a side of cod ass fat? I’m stickin’ with the cheesesteak Gator. You sick sick man. Did you at least give the seal a reacharound? It’s the least you could have done.

  25. Jonny5 - Oct 12, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    Rule of thumb. Root for your league no matter what. If it were the Mets in the WS, and I hate ’em like a fat kid hates rice cakes, I’d root for the Mets. Besides the AL sucking the big one with it’s DH-ness, I just always feel better to be topped by the guys who weren’t topped in the WS. I don’t root AL ever in the WS. And i do root for Texas over TB. And i will root for the Yankees over Texas. Not because I like them better, I like Texas better. But because I want the Phills to have a shot at redemption for last season. if they make it.

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