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Who do you root for when your team is eliminated?

Sep 27, 2013, 11:31 AM EDT

Dodgers Fans

I’m going to root for my Barves as long as they’re still playing. Nothing will stop that. Not silly unwritten rules enforcement, not dumb “choptober” hashtags on Twitter, nothing. They’re my team and you root for your team until they’re eliminated. That’s how sports works. Even when they annoy you, they’re your guys.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t transfer allegiances if and when they’re eliminated. Or, if your team didn’t make the playoffs, that you can’t pick a playoff rooting interest. I do this every year to some degree. Indeed, being a Braves fan, changing one’s rooting interests in the middle of the playoffs has become something of a necessity over the years.

This is subject to change depending on what annoying playoff habits/chants/rituals any of these guys get into and drive me crazy, but for the moment my secondary rooting interests break down like this:

National League:

1. Dodgers: I love Kershaw and Greinke. I’m a slave to Puig-mania. I’ve come to respect what Don Mattingly has done this year. I also want Boston people who are convinced that Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford are poison to have to explain how they can play on a World Series winning team. Lots of fun to be had here.

2. Pirates: Good story, Andrew McCutchen is a God. Pittsburgh deserves something to cheer for. My only reservation is that this bandwagon is going to be overflowing if the Pirates advance and I don’t want to be in that crowd.

3. Reds: Pattern here: I tend to like teams whose best player has skills I love to see. Joey Votto has the best batting eye in baseball and while a team full of guys like him make for long, boring games, I like to see him ply his trade. Plus: viva Ohio.

4. Cardinals: Eh, just not gonna happen. I don’t hate them. I don’t think there are any bad guys on this club. I just don’t like watching them for some reason. Maybe it’s a Buck/McCarver thing and the way their commentary gets when the Cardinals are involved. Maybe it’s the Best Fans in Baseball thing. But no, I can’t see myself cheering for the Cardinals at least until the World Series (I’m an NL guy) and maybe not even then.

American League:

1. Athletics: This is basically the “Major League” team here. Their owner is trying to move them and they play in a ballpark that is literally full of crap. I also want to see Bartolo Colon raise the AL Championship trophy while sucking on a BBQ rib bone or something. Plus: I’m covering the World Series again this year and I’d like to return to the Bay Area without being near death’s door due to that plague or whatever it was I had last year in San Francisco.

2. Tigers: Nostalgia. It will make my girlfriend happy and if my girlfriend is happy I’m happy. I’m not anything approaching a Tigers fan anymore, but I’ve met a lot in the past few years and I like them. Plus I know the fun places to go in Detroit now. Shut up, there are fun places in Detroit.

3. Indians: More viva Ohio. More comeuppance for the Boston scribes who thought Terry Francona was a problem (or who let the front office tell that story for a while without pushback). Chief Wahoo makes it hard, but I’ll get over it.

4. Rays: There is still some underdog appeal here and I’m a sucker for good starting pitching, but I feel like Joe Maddon’s Phil Jackson impression has worn thin and I really can’t root for a team that features a rapist, an anti-semite and a homophobe.

5. Red Sox: Eh, it’s been a nice turnaround and there are some likable players here, but non-Sox fans rooting for them is almost as bad as non-Yankees fans rooting for New York. They’re the classic overdog. Plus, they tend to play games that last until 1AM and I just can’t do that every October. The one saving grace is that I’ve never been to Fenway and now I possibly could. But I could also just fly there next summer if I want and not have to endure Sox October baseball.

So that’s how it breaks down for me. Lots of appealing options and a potential Red Sox-Cardinals series that may drive me back into being a football fan.

What’s your view on all of this? If your team tanks or has already been eliminated, who ya got?

115 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. NatsLady - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    I root for the Mesa Solar Sox. Next question.

    • natstowngreg - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      IF the Nats’ prospects are playing for them, of course.

      • NatsLady - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:46 PM

        Of course.

  2. spudchukar - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Don’t know, can’t ever remember that happening.

    • Francisco (FC) - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      So you just swore off baseball after the NLCS last year I gather?

      • spudchukar - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        Dude really? You took it seriously?

      • umrguy42 - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        Sounds bad, I suppose, but yeah, once the Cards are out, I mainly stop paying attention.

  3. mc1439 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    I just root for the Rangers to fail in every way and if they make the post season will be on edge until they are eliminated. Just like every year when they make the post season. Thank you Cardinals and Giants!

    • beefytrout - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      stay classy.

  4. icanspeel - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Once you team is eliminated all you can do is look towards next year, so I root for players to establish themselves for next year. I like seeing some of the young talent play to get a feel for how they’d do.

  5. crispybasil - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    Not that anyone really cares, but as a Red Sox fan, my top four rooting interests in the INSANELY unlikely scenario that Boston doesn’t go completely undefeated en route to another World Series victory: Pirates, Athletics, Indians, Rays.

    • knowlegeforyou - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      As a Braves fan I am hoping for Braves vs Indians. But if the Braves lose I will be rooting for the Red Sox, I just love how they did it this year and I love me some David Ortiz

  6. dondada10 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    As a Mets fan, I don’t really know what the playoffs are. When I was younger I would root for the Indians in the playoffs, but that was an exercise in front-running.

    It’s a toss-up between the Rays and the A’s. I’m leaning Rays because I can see myself moving to Tampa in the near future.

    • indaburg - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Come on down, dondada. Smart, funny people are welcome. :-)

  7. dowhatifeellike - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Whoever is playing the Yankees or Red Sox.

  8. El Bravo - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    I’ll be rooting for the Braves, you keep rooting for the Barves.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      No, it’s Barves.

  9. jc4455 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    So much hate. Kozma was settled under that ball. You can chop and throw your garbage til the cows come home, Craig.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:44 PM

      “I don’t hate them or anything” = “so much hate.” Got it.

      • jc4455 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:20 PM

        “I can’t see myself cheering for the Cardinals at least until the World Series (I’m an NL guy) and maybe not even then.”

        Let the hate flow through you Craig.

  10. Francisco (FC) - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    As long as there is baseball to watch I don’t care. It allows me to have perspective on the games without those fan glasses turned on.

    • stex52 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM

      Bingo, FC. I couldn’t have said it better. Of course, when the local team is Houston you have either captured a perspective on the game or you are dead from the stress.

  11. natstowngreg - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I’ll root for the teams that haven’t been there, and small-market teams. And will root against the opposite.

    For — Pirates, Indians*, Athletics, Rays*
    Neutral — Tigers, Cardinals, Reds
    Against — Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves, Rangers*
    *If they make the playoffs.

    (Won’t be able to root against the Yankees or Phillies, which makes me a little sad. But I’ll get over it.)

  12. jaturso - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    I don’t so much root for a team, as against a team(s). I will root for whatever team is playing the Red Sox (grew up in NY and lived in Boston when the ‘pink hat brigade’ was at its most obnoxious) and the Cardinals. Like you, Craig, I don’t have a quantifiable reason for my Cardinals dislike (I’ve been to Busch a couple of times – a GREAT place to see a ballgame), but I just don’t like them. If I had to choose a team to actively root for, it would be the Dodgers, what with Donnie Baseball and the success of Red Sox cast-offs.

  13. rbj1 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

    With the Yankees out, I’m going with the Tigers, as I’m in Toledo. Then the Dodgers (as painful as that is) because of Mattingly. Then anybody but the Sawx.

  14. elmo - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Mostly I just want the games to be close and competitive, and the series to go 7.

  15. savikings - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    You start watching football…

    • stex52 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      Sorry, but no. I can only stoop so low. :-)

    • moogro - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:12 PM

      Football is so 70’s. Get with it.

  16. sgtr0c - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    I think my team was out of the playoffs in July. Watched and rooted for them every game so far, and will keep doing so for the couple of games. But when it is over, you’ll are on your own. I am a fan of my team first and MLB second. Good luck to the teams in the playoffs, but I will be back in the spring.

    Probably not a popular point, but just the way I feel. I have tried in past years to get into it (w/o my team in), but I find I only get juiced when both teams stumble. Fishing is starting to get good now anyhow.

  17. minimoose763 - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:57 AM

    Rooting for the Dodgers is rooting for the new Evil Empire in baseball. Underdog teams all the way: Pirates, Indians, Rays, A’s.

    • kingscourt25 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Grrr, spending money to make your team better is so evil, grrr

      • koufaxmitzvah - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:46 PM

        I guess the Dodgers were really loveable with the Frank and Jamie Freakshow that brought us stadium beatings, seven bought mansions, and plopped Mitt’s kid into a cush job.

        Must have missed that memo…

  18. Jeremy T - Sep 27, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    I’m a Yankee fan, so this is a little weird, but I really enjoy the low-payroll super-genius teams. So for me, it’s A’s #1, Pirates #2, Rays #3, with the Rays being third because of the unlikeable players and being in the same division as the Yanks.

    • Jeremy T - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      Oh, I forgot the Indians. They can be fourth.

  19. jarathen - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    It’s not the same, or even near it, when your team isn’t in it, but failing that, I’m all for teams that have never won or haven’t won in a long time. So a Pirates v. Rays/Indians WS is something I root for.

  20. chiadam - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM


    • jarathen - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      It’s a joke. Welcome to HardballTalk.

  21. Joe - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Red Sox fan here, but after them it would be:

    Pirates (underdog)
    A’s (Moneyball, lots of former Red Sox players, underdog, green-and-gold)
    Indians (Francona)
    Dodgers (former Sox players, plus I liked them for some reason when I was a kid.)
    Reds (Joey Votto. They seem to be doing good things.)
    Tigers (neutral on these guys)
    Braves (ditto)
    Rays (I like Joe Maddon, but I am getting tired of his schtick and occasional passive-aggressive rants. The underdog thing has passed.)
    Cardinals (They win often enough.)

  22. indaburg - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:06 PM


    Dodgers–My dad’s team, first team to integrate, Vin Scully, Puig, and Kershaw. It’s a no-brainer.

    Pirates–Long suffering fanbase and the ones I have met personally are just the sweetest people. Plus Cutch. If it wasn’t for the Dodgers, Pirates all the way.

    The other NL teams, eh, except for the Braves. I am actively rooting against them. Sorry, Calcaterra. You’re my boy, but I don’t like your team. Their logo, the stupid mindless tomahawk chop and now, they’re self-appointed Team America: Baseball Police. I want them gone.

    A’s–I’m a sucker for low budget teams by a bay in lousy stadiums. They’re the Rays’ mirror team.

    Tigers–Also a long suffering fanbase and Detroit is such a depressed city.

    That’s it. I have a personal vendetta against Cleveland. Texas, nope. Boston, hell no.

    • cur68 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      I’m rooting for whomever you tell me to.

      (am I doing this right?)

      • indaburg - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:14 PM


        You root for whomever you like. A little friendly (or not so friendly… grrrr, my boys are sweeping your little blue birds!) rivalry is fun.

      • cur68 - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:41 PM

        uh…go beaver


  23. johnnysoda - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    I predicted the Rays to win the World Series at the start of the year so I guess I’ll pull for them in the AL.

    In the NL, anyone except the Cardinals. And the Reds.

    • indaburg - Sep 27, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      So… how often do your predictions come true?

  24. pauleee - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    The underdog, of course.

    This year it will be the Pirates, which was actually the first team I followed (through the ’70s), as the ’71 Series was the first I saw and Willie Stargell became my childhood idol. I will root but not count myself as a (bandwagon) fan.

    AL – As an Angel fan, anybody but the Sox (who I did root for in ’75, but not in ’86).

    /There’s no need to fear…

  25. baseballici0us - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    I’m both a Red Sox and Braves fan…this could get ugly for me.

    Craig: if you don’t want to go to Fenway and watch baseball, go during one of the summer concerts (they HAVE to be done before 11pm or something close to that…it’s a law).

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