The baseball universe is down to just 4 teams as the Tigers and Rangers square off in the ALCS and the Brewers and Cardinals match up in the NLCS with a trip to the World Series on the line. Meanwhile, the A’s are sitting around at home watching the postseason on TV just like the rest of us.
But just because the guys in white shoes aren’t part of the action doesn’t mean there isn’t a green and gold angle to October baseball. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving every inning of the playoffs regardless of Oakland’s lack of participation but I can’t help but take a quick A’s-centric view of the championship series in each league.
Reasons to cheer: This one’s easy. Manager Ron Washington is the clear reason to pull for the Rangers winning it all. Is there any A’s fan out there who doesn’t love Wash? I didn’t think so.
Do I think Wash should have been hired as manager of the A’s after general manager Billy Beane drop kicked Ken Macha out the door? Yeah, that would have been a good call but the franchise got treated to the Bob Geren Era instead. It hurts just writing that.
I have no idea why the Mets are considering him to be their next bench coach.
Reasons to jeer: I’d have to say the No. 1 reason to root against Texas bringing home a World Series trophy is loudmouth C.J. Wilson, but that’s a bit of a stretch because I don’t think he’s really worth the effort.
If the Rangers win it all it’ll be with Wash at the helm which will make the call to hire Geren sting a lot more. Throw in the fact that Beane’s two-time free agent target Adrian Beltre and former members of the Oakland organization Nelson Cruz and Colby Lewis will be key members of a championship team and you have one bitter pill for A’s fans to swallow.
I’d say that’s as good a reason as any to hope the Rangers don’t come out on top.
And here’s a scary thought I threw out there on Twitter the other day: Imagine how scary the Rangers could be in 2012 if they dipped into their cable TV money a little early and replaced pedestrian first baseman Mitch Moreland with free agent slugger Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols?
There’s a monster growing in Texas. Be afraid, be very afraid. They have a great big league roster, a very good farm system, a sharp general manager, an aggressive owner and a lot of money to play with. That’s a dangerous combination for any team hoping to contend in the AL West for the next several years.
Reasons to cheer: Leave it to the Tigers to be the one team in this post that doesn’t present me with a clear A’s angle to jump on. But maybe that’s why this is the club to pull for in October. If you want a clear break from the A’s while you enjoy postseason baseball you can probably find a comfy seat on the Tigers bandwagon. But you better jump on quick because it looks like the ride could end soon with Detroit trailing in the series 2-1 and key players dropping like flies.
Reasons to jeer: Maybe you can root against Detroit because manager Jim Leyland sets a horrible example for the innocent, impressionable youth of America by smoking so much? I’m kind of at a loss here since I actually like this team from afar. They made a lot of aggressive moves over the past few years to get where they are and I can’t help but tip my cap to them.
I do think closer Jose Valverde’s antics during his saves against the A’s have been rather obnoxious so I guess I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t get a chance to lock up a World Series victory.
There, I can now root against the Tigers while proudly wearing my A’s hat.
Reasons to cheer: Mark Kotsay, pure and simple. I’m kind of amazed that the guy is still playing ball after years of chronic back issues but I’m totally pulling for him to close out his career by winning a ring. His inside the park homer against the Twins in the ALDS will always be one of my favorite memories and his defense and throwing arm were always a treat while he was with the A’s.
One more reason to cheer, and I’ll admit it has nothing to do with the A’s: Bob Uecker. I’d love to see the hilarious scrub ballplayer-turned Hall of Fame broadcaster (and underrated star of the powerhouse sitcom “Mr. Belvedere”) get a chance to call the Brew Crew’s first world title.
Reasons to jeer: Francisco Rodriguez, pure and simple. Is there an A’s fan out there who doesn’t despise K-Rod for all his obnoxious post-save theatrics vs. Oakland while he was an Angel? OK, there are probably a lot of you who couldn’t care less but I tend to be a little bitter about that kind of thing and I don’t care to see the guy win another World Series ring.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Reasons to cheer: Tony La Russa and Company. Have I mentioned that I have a soft spot for the former World Series-winning manager of the A’s? The man may make a million pitching changes every game and start beanball wars at the drop of a hat but he wins a ton of ballgames every year and the 1989 A’s he managed to a championship will always be near and dear to my heart.
Reasons to jeer: I guess if you hate playoff squirrels you’ll be jeering the Cardinals through the rest of the postseason.
You could also root against the Cards as an A’s fan if you’re angry at Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes for being ulcer-inducing relievers while they were in Oakland. Personally, I’m still annoyed at Dotel for undergoing elective season-ending surgery in his walk year with the A’s. I’m selfish and I wanted to see the team get a draft pick if he stayed in one piece and signed with another team as a free agent.
You could also hold a grudge against Rafael Furcal for spurning the A’s as a free agent and cross your fingers that La Russa’s crew doesn’t win it all because that would mean you’d have to see Matt Holliday celebrate and be reminded that the A’s don’t really have anything to show for the two deals they made involving the slugger.
When you get right down to it, if I look at the current playoff field through green and gold tinted glasses the Cardinals and Rangers are the two teams I have the most rooting interest in.
But it’s not like I’m passionately rooting against the Brewers and Tigers. Each franchise would be a great story if they popped champagne at the end of the year.
In a perfect world the last three series of the season go right down to final innings of Game 7 and leave me thoroughly entertained while I dream of the day the A’s will finally be back in the limelight making noise in late October.