The MLB regular season is coming to a somewhat anti-climatic close. Unless something truly crazy happens, there is only one playoff spot remaining up for grabs – AL West. Aside from some geographical similarities, that one doesn’t have much to do with the Rockies. Right now, baseball fans are mostly just waiting for the playoffs to start, and as we all well know, the Rockies won’t be there this year. Arizona sits in the Rockies’ rightful place and just to be honest I’m upset about it. Maybe even upset enough to root against them in the playoffs.
This brings to mind an interesting question: when a division rival beats your team and makes the playoffs, should you root for or against that team? As always, maintaining appropriate fandom is a must, but I find myself answering this question differently all the time.
Certainly, there is a very strong argument that you should always cheer for your division representative. After all, their success only makes your team look better. However, I doubt very many of us were rooting for the Giants last year. Not after the late season meltdown that kept the Rockies from making the postseason tournament and especially not after the whiny humidor hogwash. The Giants are not well liked by Rockies fans and neither are the Dodgers, though that hatred stems more from disliking the institution than from their actual success. However, the Diamondbacks don’t seem to be reviled as the division rivals in LA and San Fran. Sure the fan base went nuts on Eric Byrnes during the 2007 NLCS and perhaps if the Rockies hadn’t dominated that series the Snakes would be more hated, but for whatever reason, they don’t conjure up the same emotional feelings as the evil team that plays by the Bay. And, no, I’m not talking about the Padres. The only thing I hate about the Padres is that ballpark.
This year, the Diamondbacks present an interesting cheering option for the playoffs. They are easily the biggest underdog of the group. They lost a ton of games last year and no one thought this was a possibility. Their manager was one of the greatest to ever play the game. They’re resilient. They come up with big hits in big moments. If they were in any other division, they’d almost certainly be the team that I latch on to this postseason. However, they play in the National League West and that’s where it ends for me. I hold too much resentment for teams in the West. I can’t help it. When they win in the regular season, it’s almost always bad for the Rox. After awhile, you become accustomed to rooting against the other squads in the West and it becomes natural. I’ve always found it difficult to change that just because it’s the playoffs. And, realistically, if the Diamondbacks have success in the playoffs, that won’t make anybody think any more of the Rockies’ performance in 2011. The final records will show that they have sucked and any success from the D-backs won’t change that. I can’t cheer for them.
So who will I be rooting for in the playoffs? Well, I grew up in Arlington and was a visitors’ bat boy for the Rangers for three seasons. So, I never root against the Rangers exactly. However, American League baseball is an abomination. So, the National League has my undying allegiance. This year I’m pulling for the Braves. Why? Because I can’t root for the favorite and I like a team that is young and on the rise. It’s that simple and when your team spends the entire season laying eggs night in and night out, that’s all you’re left with.
Who are you pulling for in the playoffs? Is it proper form to root for the Diamondbacks?