Rooting rules for the 2014 MLB playoffs

Several years ago I wrote up “rooting rules” for sporting contests that don’t involve your favorite team. Well, the MLB playoffs have begun, and once again, my beloved and benighted Cubs are nowhere near them. (2015 — mark my words.) So who to root for?

My rules, in brief, are to root for these five things, in descending order:

  1. The underdog, whether it be the weaker team that year or the team with a weaker history of success

  2. The team playing any serious rival of your own team

  3. A close, hard-fought contest

  4. Whichever team has the most appealing intangibles

  5. Cool, dramatic plays

So who’s in the playoffs this year? A reasonably appealing lot, actually. (I’m writing this retrospectively to include the two teams that lost in Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s Wild Card play-in games.

In order of their regular-season records:

National League

American League

So here’s my personal rooting ranking for this year’s playoffs:

  1. Anyone playing the Cardinals. Hatred is a much more powerful emotion than admiration.

  2. Kansas City Royals: So pathetic. Winning for once! On the down side, bunts.

  3. Pittsburgh Pirates: Also getting major points for a long-term win-deficit.

  4. Washington Nationals: My pick for the World Series. Appealing, but also really good. Also I’m a National League guy, so that will break some ties.

  5. Oakland Athletics: Can’t Moneyball win a World Series for once? Probably not — look at all the ex-Cubs on their roster.

  6. Baltimore Orioles: As I said, this is an appealing bunch of playoffs. I wouldn’t be upset at all if any of these first five teams won it all.

  7. Los Angeles Dodgers: Please don’t make me choose between your long-suffering fan-base and the best team money can buy, guys.

  8. Detroit Tigers: Not really excited at this point in the list.

  9. Los Angeles Angels: Maybe Mike Trout will do some cool stuff in the playoffs?

  10. San Francisco Giants: Get a few more years of losing in before you expect to be in my good graces.

  11. A civilization-destroying meteor.

  12. St. Louis Cardinals.