After a whirlwind first night of postseason action, (which saw fans at Turner Field in Atlanta attempting to get ESPN to show Philly fans throwing stuff at Santa for the 500th time), the St. Louis Cardinals and the Baltimore Orioles have moved in to the Divisional Rounds of the Major League Baseball Playoffs. In Part 2 Today, I examine the NLDS and ALDS and the rooting interests of Phillies fans across the Delaware Valley.
Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals – I’ve been watching and following baseball for as long as I can remember. I was 10 years old when the Phillies went to the World Series in ’93 and that is about the time I started to follow the game. In the 19 years since then I don’t think I’ve ever seen a worse call than the “infield fly rule” that propelled the Cardinals into a matchup with the Nationals.
Washington, as we said yesterday, has been a somewhat bitter rival to the Phillies. While it would be upsetting to see them move on, could it be worse than seeing the Cardinals move on? Maybe I am holding on to too much hatred from the Phillies disappointing loss in 2011. I’m going to turn the page right now and forget about the 2011 season. It’s ancient history.
Washington is just plain awful. Could you imagine the “Natitude” tthe Natinals would have if they won the pennant, or even the World Series? Will they even sell out the World Series, or will they have to give away free beer to get people to go? If the Nationals make the Fall Classic, you probably could buy tickets on Stub Hub for about $4 a piece. If that’s the case, every Phillies fan should by just 1 ticket, and not go. Keep the stadium empty. Would a parade down the National Mall even look anything less than a normal day in Washington? Forget being a Phillies fan, if you are a BASEBALL fan you should root against the Nationals. So that’s why in the NLDS, you should root for the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS.
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants - When you look at this matchup, you look at two groups of players with no real indiscretions against the Phillies aside from the disappointing exit to the 2010 playoffs, Brian Wilson with his stupid beard and “Baseball Heaven”. However, when you look ahead to who either of these teams would face in an NLCS matchup, you need to go with whoever will beat either the Cardinals or Nationals as you should want both of those teams to lose as Phillies fans. Washington needs to lose as outlined above, and St. Louis still haunts us (even though I tried to let it go above… I still can’t).
Let’s go in-depth. Against the Nationals, the Reds were 2-5 but still scored 25 runs against the Nationals 29. Washington and Cincinnati haven’t met since May 13, so a lot has changed since then. The Reds were 17-16 and 2.5 games back in the Central at the time and the Nats were 21-13 and leading the East. Against the Cardinals, the Reds were 7-8 with 46 runs scored to 60 against. Now, two of those losses came in the last series of the year and they lost on April 18 by a score of 11-1.
As for the Giants, they were 1-5 against the Nationals this year and were outscored 45-24. Their lone win came on August 14th in San Francisco with Madison Bumgarner on the hill. They were 3-3 against St. Louis and outscored them 30-22. However one of the wins was a 15-0 drubbing of the Cardinals.
With the recent history of the Giants causing our 2010 season to end (who cares about Hunter Pence anymore) and the sheer fact that it seems the Reds matchup better with either the Nats or the Cardinals, its safe to say that as a Phillies fan, you should probably root for the CINCINNATTI REDS.
Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics - When I looked at this matchup, it became evident that it is very difficult to choose a team to root for as a Phillies fan.
In the American League there are only a few teams that Phillies fans should never root for. One is the Yankees (a bit of foreshadowing here). And the other is the Toronto Blue Jays. As for Detroit and Oakland, I feel it necessary to look ahead to a potential ALCS vs. the Yankees (if they were to advance over the Orioles)
Detroit had a 4-6 record against the Yankees but batted .294 with a relatively high .465 slugging percentage. The Yankees by comparison hit .272 against the Tigers. However Detroit pitching allowed a staggering 5.30 runs per game to the Yankees.
Oakland (5-5 against the Yankees) had a .231 batting average against the Bronx Bombers, while they had a .270 average against the A’s. Oakland’s pitching staff compiled a 3.69 ERA, but allowed 16 homeruns to the Yankees in 10 games, allowing the ERA to be somewhat inflated.
If I’m going with my gut and for the “feel good story” I’m going with Oakland. If I’m going for “who is more likely to beat the Yankees, either team has its strong suits. However, pitching wins in the playoffs and the Athletics pitching was way better against the Yankees. Also Oakland probably had one of their better months in September (and October) going 20-11 and winning the division after being 4 games out with 6 to play. For momentum (and Moneyball’s) sake, I’m going to be rooting for the OAKLAND ATHLETICS.
New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles – This is an easy one. Obviously the Yankees are not the biggest Phillie rivals when you consider they are not even in the same league, but they have beat the Phillies in two World Series’ and come on…they’re the Yankees.
The Yankees are an empire, a brand name. There are Yankees fans everywhere. In 2009 they came out of the woodwork to show their support for a team they forget about when they aren’t in the World Series. The Yankees fans that grew up and live everywhere else but New York are total frauds. The excuse is always the same “Well my dad grew up in New York, and even though I was born in Philly I’m still a Yankees fan”. If your dad told you to go jump in the Delaware River naked because he did it before you were born, would you do it?
Baltimore is the little brother 200 miles south of New York. They have about 1/3 of the payroll of the Yankees, but had only 2 less wins this season. The Orioles are to the Phillies like Pepperoni is to Bacon. It’s good and it satisfies you and you like it, but you really would rather just have the Bacon. It’s like your wife having an affair with your neighbor, but you’re OK with it because he hasn’t gotten any in a while and he may never be able to get any again.
In addition the Orioles are better than the Yankees head to head. They have a higher batting average (.270 to .258) a lower ERA head to head (4.69 to 4.91) and have won all 3 series at Yankee Stadium this year. The Orioles are the anti-Yankees. Plus they have Jim Thome. Jim is one of the classiest guys in the sport, and even though I never like rooting for one player, it would be nice for Jim to get his ring. Bottom line: You should root for the BALTIMORE ORIOLES.
Follow the MLB Playoffs, follow me on twitter @jcarullo19, and stay tuned to the blog next week as I roll out part 3 in this 4 part series.