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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. largebill - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    “Chief Wahoo makes it hard, but I’ll get over it.”

    Craig, Sounds like you’re watching the wrong kind of porn.

    • theskinsman - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      Stop the presses,

      “It will make my girlfriend happy and if my girlfriend is happy I’m happy.”
      Swear to God,I thought Craig was only in love with A-Rod.

  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    For the remainder of the regular season, I’ll root for my team to play spoilers, or I’ll root for developing players. I also root for players to remain injury free. Once the playoffs start, I’ll root for underdogs (Indians), or teams that haven’t been to the playoffs in a long time (Pirates). I generally try to stay away from rooting against division rivals as it’s always seemed petty to me, however I will always root against the Yankees and usually the Sox. (Combine division rivals with annoying fans always in my face and my good nature gets overwhelmed with the desire to see them suffer.) But to be completely honest, at this point, my team is out of it and my interest starts to shift towards Football. Sure I’ll keep an eye on the playoffs and watch a few games but the big difference between football and baseball for me is my interest focus’ on one team in baseball, where in football I’m more of a fan of the sport in large, and less about one specific team.

  3. savior72 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    No one

  4. granted42 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    As a Giants’ fan, I’ll be rooting for any team playing the Dodgers. I’ll also be rooting for the A’s. I’d like to see the A’s and Rays playing for the AL Championship. That way we’ll be sure to have at least two games in a crappy stadium.

    The NL teams I would probably most like to see in the Series would be Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. I’m sure Fox Sports will be rooting for a Dodgers vs. Red Sox match up, but I’d prefer small market teams to play in the World Series this year.

  5. bkertz - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    It’s funny you mention how Buck/McCarver telecasts bother you for the Cardinals. As a Cardinal fan I cannot speak for the whole fanbase, but I know there is at least a part of the fanbase (myself included) that can’t stand Buck/McCarver either. IMO, McCarver just spews nonsensical drivel, and I cannot bear listening to him. Buck, on the other hand, just seems to like to hear himself talk, which I don’t care for either. So while you maynot want to root for the Cardinals, I’m with you on Buck/McCarver.

    • paperlions - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:39 PM


    • hustleandflomax - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:20 PM

      Seconded, again.

    • adross47 - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:33 PM

  6. paperlions - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    If the Cardinals are eliminated I’ll root for Pittsburgh (if they are there), but not any of the other NL teams unless they are facing the Red Sox. I can’t stand the Braves “we are the baseball police” attitude, they will be hardest to root for.

    In the AL, it is pretty easy, the Rays have never won, the A’s haven’t won in a generation, the Indians haven’t won in forever….any of those teams (or the Pirates) winning the WS would be cool to watch…even as an NL guy, I would prefer long-suffering fan bases (or the quasi-fan base in Tampa) to get to experience a WS win. I ambivalent about the Tigers.

    I’ll root against the RS every step of the way because I am surrounded by RS fans and they are insufferable when the RS win things…and the RS have won recently…the same reason(s) I expect no one would root for the Cardinals (unless the WS matchup winds up being Boston-StL)

    • fearlessleader - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      I love Maddon and I’m with you on the “long-suffering fan base” thing, but I just can’t root for a team that employs Josh Lueke.

      • paperlions - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        Oof…yeah, forgot about that criminal…that knocks them down a few pegs.

  7. kcfanatic - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    In KC I root for anyone playing the Cards

    • spudchukar - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:58 PM

      Hey, that’s not nice, coming from the 3rd best team in Missouri.

  8. bklynbaseball - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    I’m hoping for Dodgers or Braves, vs Tigers or A’s.

  9. raider015 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Anyone but the Red Sawx – Out in first round, please.

  10. yahmule - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    The overall field is largely inoffensive and I go out of my way to find reasons to hate people.

    1) Dodgers – Love Clayton Kershaw. Love Vin Scully.
    2) Pirates – The ’79 Pirates were so much fun. Their fans deserve that kind of joy again.
    3) A’s – The reigning dynasty when I became a baseball fan. Just a fun quirky team.
    4) Tie: Rays/Indians/Tigers/Reds – Things I like and dislike about each if these franchises. Ultimately, would be happy for the fans.
    8) Cardinals – Starting to get on my nerves a bit, but still a huge Yadier fan. Their farm system is so loaded it really doesn’t matter if they win this year because they have multiple championships on tap regardless.

    Red Sox and Braves can go pound sand.

    • yahmule - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      The Cardinals’ smiley face is really the number 8. I hope that will finally set this matter to rest. All future correspondence will be discarded unread.

  11. moogro - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Great post, Craig.

    My new hometown is Los Angeles (the actual one in Los Angeles county), so it’s strange but exciting adopting this crazy money-laden NL team after a lifetime of Twins. I can ride my bicycle to an amazing park. They are so much cooler than that AL team down in Orange County. That said:

    I’ve always loved the A’s. APBA does great write-ups, they seem to be breaking out in Stanley Cup beards. If Billy Beane turned down the Red Sox like in that movie, he must really, really feel overdue. If the Dodgers are in the series with the A’s, hopefully they would give Vin some TV somehow over Buck, but radio would be fine. Tough call, but I’d maybe root for the A’s since it looks like the Dodgers are going to be there every other year from now on.

    No A’s or Dodgers in series:

    Pirates. You kidding me? No brainer. Who wouldn’t want that? AJ and Cutch are really funny people.
    Indians. After what they did to Francona in Boston, and picturing him in that silly shirtless on-line dating photo, vindication would be sweet.

    Some sympathy for small market Rays. David Price is cool. Everyone else is meh, a complicated formula that only I care about. Busch stadium’s vibe and aesthetics are too much like Bavaria ca. 1938. Those guys creep me out, so maybe no Cardinals.

  12. baldyscotsman - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    First of all–Cardinals fan(got that out of the way), why all the dislike for the Redbirds? I am not trying to start something just wondering. Most of you say “I don’t know why I don’t like them but I just don’t” What does that mean? If you don’t like meatloaf, you don’t like it because it tastes like Sh**! Just say why you don’t like them–they win too often, Midwest team, Fans etc– really why don’t you like them?

    Pirates(the rivalry with them will come back but for now I want to see them do well)
    Dodgers(Puig me)
    Reds(NEVER! don’t like them and them don’t like the Cardinals–Nuff said)

    Athletics(Best uni’s in Baseball–Besides the Redbirds)
    No one else, sorry.

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

      The best-fans-in-baseball label does you no favors.

    • paperlions - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      I think it is a combination of the “best fans in baseball thing”, which also annoys most Cardinal fans, I think…and the fact that they have won twice recently and have been in the playoffs a lot…so…been there done that…if I wasn’t a Cardinal fan, I wouldn’t root for them if my team was eliminated either…no reason to do so…most people want to see under dogs win or teams that haven’t been in a while, probably out of a sense of “fairness” or even handedness.

  13. ricardorobertasq - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I’m an O’s fan, so we are used to doing this. Once the O’s are gone, there is only one choice-whoever plays the Yankees. Oh wait, they’re out too (Cue Hallelujah music here). Next comes rooting against the Sox. Once they are out, I will have a very “meh” attitude towards baseball. Love the underdogs, though. Go Tampa, Pittsburgh, Oakland and Cleveland.

  14. lew24 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    Fun places to go in Detroit? How about the airport on your way back home!

  15. theskinsman - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    There are 2 baseball teams ,the Red Sox, may they win it all. and whoever is playing the Yanks,although they really were irrelevant this season.

  16. ch0psuey - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    1) Athletics – Exciting Fans, Low Payroll
    2) Rays – Low Payroll, Evan Longoria

    1) Reds – Mat Latos, Billy Hamilton
    2) Pirates – Cutch, Feel for the fanbase

  17. yousuxxors - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    its not the same when your team is not in the playoffs but I always go for the underdogs or my favorite players. mc and the pirates are my team this October. I would like to see the A’s win if the pirates do not.

  18. raysfan1 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:39 PM

    1) Reds. Full disclosure–I grew up a fan of the Big Red Machine, went to see them in spring training every year when I was a kid (back then they trained in Tampa. Their field is now underneath the Tampa Bay Bucs’ stadium.). My Rays fandom of course only started 15 years ago. Thus, the Reds are a primary rooting interest as my favorite NL team still.
    2) Pirates–the bandwagon for the long suffering.
    3) Cards–lots of Cards fan friends.
    4) Braves–usurped the Tomahawk Chop from Florida State, act like they own it, overused it so much even a lot of FSU fans don’t like doing it anymore. They also routinely use Selig’s decision to screw the Expos by not awarding division pennants in 1994 to claim a longer division title streak than they deserve. Too many entitled/fair weather fans. Every player on the team that I liked is now retired. They’d be last on my list, except…
    5) Dodgers–when I was a kid, and Reds fan, they and the Reds were in the same division. The Dodgers were thus the main competition for supremacy and thus enemy #1. Not even the dulcet voice of Vin Scully can change that, sorry.
    After the Rays,
    1) A’s. The Rays model for success.
    2) Tigers. My niece lives and dies with them.
    3) Rangers. Lots of Rangers fan friends.
    4) Red Sox. Soft spot due to having lived there at one time. Can’t put them higher because there sports reporters are just that obnoxious.
    5) Indians. Meh. Nothing personal, just meh. If they get to the WS, I’ll root for them over either the Braves or Dodgers.

  19. babyfarkmcgeezax - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    “I really can’t root for a team that features a rapist, an anti-semite and a homophobe.”

    I’d bet every team has some of those types of people, or at least some combination of them. Perhaps if you could find your popcorn you might have some energy to reconsider your double standard, Craig.

    • paperlions - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      Feel free to list all of the other known rapists in MLB…we’ll be sure to root against them as well.

      • babyfarkmcgeezax - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:12 PM

        Notice how I didn’t say every team has rapists, but how I did say every team probably has some combination of the three types of people mentioned. With your lack of reading comprehension skills I hope Craig doesn’t ask you to help him find his popcorn, your help would be mediocre.

      • paperlions - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:17 PM

        You logic is lacking. You are saying that we KNOW there is a rapist on Tampa, but there are probably rapey people we don’t know on other teams…so, let’s give Tampa a pass….which is 12 kinds of fucking stupid.

        Instead of attempting and failing to be clever by avoiding the point, feel free to provide evidence that there are players on other teams as despicable as Lueke.

      • babyfarkmcgeezax - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:45 PM

        Ok, so let’s say the Rays player in question is the only rapist in baseball. Are you (and Craig) saying that the Rays are the only team with anti-semites or homophobes? Because it would be 12 kinds of fucking stupid to assume the only anti-semites and homophobes (especially homophobes) in the entire league are on the Tampa Bay roster. Craig even posted another entry today about most pro baseball players being religious, and religion, as we all know, tends to be a factor in those kinds of prejudices. Craig’s Bravos likely have plenty of homophobes, but he’ll conveniently look the other way like he does with cheaters.

        Feel free to provide evidence of where Craig’s popcorn is, because he sure as hell can’t find it.

  20. happytwinsfan - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    the trouble is there’s no one to root against. i must be mellowing with age because i don’t even hate the yankees anymore. everytime i try to get worked up about the red sox bill buckner comes to mind. that just leaves the dodgers because of thier big payroll. thin gruel indeed.

  21. bornintoitiniowa - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:55 PM

    My team, Red Sox, is obviously still in it. However, for NL, I have to go with the Pirates.

    My former boss, a longtime Cubs fan, hated the way the Cubs organization ran the team, so a couple years ago, he decided to be a Pirates fan (by fan, I mean he wore a Pirates hat). For some reason, the team started to win more. Last year, he predicted the Pirates wouldn’t make the playoffs at the All-Star Break. This year, he said they would take the division. While they won’t do that, you have to root for the ultimate underdogs.

    • jimeejohnson - Sep 28, 2013 at 7:39 PM

      Pirates/Red Sox Series would be uN bE LEavE abuLL!

  22. roverboy1949 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    As a Red Sox fan, I know I am going to get reamed for this post, but here goes. This team is so different from many of the Sox teams of the past (except maybe the Damon, Millar, et al group). They play the game to the fullest and have proven that they belong at the top of their division. They win the tough games in every way possible. They compete like kids on a dirt field. They actually enjoy playing as a team, with a different guy picking up the slack almost every game. They don’t complain (with the exception of maybe Big Papi) about the officials, and respect their competition.
    I agree, in the past, that they may have come off as aloof, but that was the past. I haven’t seen one player put himself above the team all season. Many of them have been asked to play a supporting role, day in and day out. They have done this without any whining. I will root for them til the end. If the end comes early, well, that’s sports. That’s why we watch. If they do get knocked out, I will root for the American League to beat the National League. If the Indians are in the WS that would be great to see, although I think the Tigers would put up a better game.
    Also, those who rag on the fans – check out the fans of just about every team. There are bad eggs in every basket.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      Boston fans are fine. Boston media members, however…

  23. ctony1216 - Sep 27, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    As a Yankees fan, the season typically ends with a crushing loss in the playoffs after which I’m so disappointed I shut off baseball and start watching the NY Football Giants. This year, though, the Giants are pretty hard to watch so …. I’ll be enjoying the MLB playoffs and rooting for some former Yankees.

    In the National League, it’s the Pirates (A.J. Burnett and Russell Martin) to meet the Dodgers’ (Donnie Baseball) in the NLCS. And in the American League, gotta go with Nick Swish-a-licious and the Tribe to make it to the W.S.

    Lots of great story lines this postseason. Should be a fun October.

  24. gostlcards5 - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    First of all, Craig, I have to say as a proponent of most of your blogs, I am disappointed with your comment about the “best fans in baseball” thing. I think good (“real”) Cardinal fans don’t buy into that crap. We’re just people that are proud to have our allegiance with a team that knows how to consistently run things the right way to stay good/relevant.

    That being said:….
    1) Pirates – Cutch is not a God (serious blasphemy), but he is a stud/beast/thoroughbred. I love that Bucs fans finally have a good, relatively complete team to root for. Not too many holes there.
    2) Indians – Every “Major League” reference applies…if they’re winning, you can’t help thinking “Harry Doyle here, welcoming all you friends of the feather to another season of Indians baseball”…
    3) Rays – Big Joe Maddon fan.
    4) Tigers – Big Jim Leyland fan

    Reds – No chance – like a few of their players, though (Votto, Ludwick, Chapman….)

  25. stlouis1baseball - Sep 27, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    “and maybe not even then”

    Sell out!

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