It's amazing to think of all the hate I have pumped out into the world this week, that there are still three teams left to come to the razor's edge of libeling.
It's been quite the workload, but I can only hope that MLB is cynical enough to garishly bloat the playoffs more, so that more teams can lose, and to further harshen the probability that great teams get what they "deserve." Can you imagine the outrage if the 100-win Cardinals slumped their way out of a World Series run because they lost three out of four during the first of like, five rounds of playoffs, while they were playing the Padres or some other scrubs? I just...*trails off while wistfully staring off into space imagining another world*
Speaking of which...
St. Louis Cardinals
It's been a weird year for the Cardinals, a top-flight organization that does so many things right effortlessly, and does so many things wrong needlessly. "Don't hack into the player personnel database of another team out of a personal grudge," seems like an easy enough mandate, "Don't clumsily wander into the national furor on police violence," seems like something the guy who wears the Fredbird mascot could discern, but alas, the franchise that has defined itself by brutal efficiency spent much of 2015 pissing into a 30 mph gust of wind.
Not that they stopped being brutally efficient--they won 100 games--and did so while crawling toward the finish. This guides us closer to the crux of the matter; cheering for the Cardinals is like rooting for bacteria, or the T-1000, or death itself, or any other representation of an irresistible force that lacks a compelling identity. The Cardinals are so good at development, they transcend--likely unfairly--the sense that they are not comprised of real, human individuals.
Yadier Molina could be tabbed as the figurehead of the franchise, but he certainly was never the identifiable presence Albert Pujols, and we all watched them dispose of Pujols--especially the fanbase--when he tried to cash out on his Hall of Fame credentials, and keep on moving like nothing happened. Now, the Cards have suffered through a down year for Molina, and straight-up lost Adam Wainwright (the next most identifiable guy) for nearly the whole season, and just kept chugging along. Matt Carpenter is probably the best hitter in the lineup these days and is the primo example of 'random Cards org guy steps up and drags the machine forward.' It's one thing to be dominant and omnipresent, but the facelessness, and the seeming imperviousness to the things that fell other normal, great teams, is what kinda creeps everyone out.
And is part of what's wrong with the fanbase, which is overzealously documented in multiple forums, is that if there's something more disturbing to watch legions of people relentlessly defend than a few vaunted individuals, it's a corporate culture. The Cardinals have so regularly delivered a great product to their eager customers, that the Cardinal Way is ascribed an inherent morality and goodness that outstrips any level of trust people should be putting in a damn baseball team.
Which, you know, really raises the stakes for rooting against a team. Cubs fans are going to be bummed their team lost if they lose this series, Cards fans will be getting their belief system challenged.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Just rooting against the team that has the most money is actually OK by our standards. TCS would never openly advocate class warfare *wink*, and we're not doing that, since this is a friggin' baseball team, and as far as petty sports allegiances go "They have tons more resources than the White Sox either have or are willing to use and I'm bitter" meets the bar.
Since Frank McCourt is gone, the Dodgers are the cartoonish villains of financial malfeasance they once were, but we'll probably remember them when we discuss when the Cable TV revenue bubble crossed the Rubicon, they traded patron baseball saint Juan Uribe to baseball jail in Atlanta before he was able to escape to New York, and they've ruined Andrew Friedman for me. A Wall Street exec uses his guile and wit to work around financial and stadium limitations? Sounds like the plot of a fun book! A Wall Street exec is given limitless financial resources and is allowed to pay over his every mistake? Sounds like the plot of, Wall Street, or just Wall Street itself.
Hanley and his 1/3 buttoned uniform is gone, Uribe is gone, Puig probably really is a bit of a jerk. 2013 was a long time ago, and this team isn't as fun as it used to be.
New York Mets
On the flipside of envying the rich, do you want to reward incompetence? We could use "their owners are bad people" to dress down every team in the playoff, but the Mets are unique. The Wilpons either maliciously or foolishly tied up the team's finances with Bernie Madoff to such a degree, that the resulting disaster and their obstinate refusal to sell so hamstrung the franchise, that only the best young core of starters in all of baseball could drag them over the pustule-covered corpse of the 2015 Washington Nationals.
Which sums up the Mets pretty well. Their character is that of woe-ridden underdog, despite having no natural reason to be; they're a sports franchise in the No. 1 media market for crissakes, and neither the droughts from their last World Series victory, appearance, nor their last playoff appearance are particularly remarkable, so they've maintained their reputation largely by shooting themselves in the foot, whether by financial mishaps or by burning through their ample supply of arms via garish minor league management, trotting out clearly washed relievers recovering from injury, throwing rookie starters back out with injuries, along the tactical efforts of manager Terry Collins, who mostly just benefited from the reputation boost that comes with managing against Matt Williams.
I admit that I'm drawn to these lovable goofs, getting in their own way and having unbelievable starting pitching save them from themselves, but that's White Sox poisoning talking! We deserve nice things! We already cheer for less-competently run of the two teams in a major city. Cheat on them with someone different!