Oct 17, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; General view of Busch Stadium before game three of the 2012 NLCS between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

An A's Fan's Guide to the MLB Playoffs

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It’s been really difficult to sit back and watch the playoffs carry on while the A’s players are off on vacations, moving back to their offseason homes, and watching the playoffs on TV themselves.  When your team is in the playoffs, and gets bounced in the first round, it’s pretty tough to try and get interested in the remainder of the postseason no matter how compelling the games and series might be.  That’s the problem I have found myself dealing with as the AL and NL Championship Series got underway.

In the ALCS the Tigers have a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, and are just 1 win away from the World Series.  But I will never pass up an opportunity to pile on the Yankees a little, so I’ll start with the Evil Empire.

The Yankees are the antithesis of the Oakland Athletics, in pretty much every aspect.  They throw money at every problem that arises, and address their needs through mammoth contracts, while the A’s of course attempt to succeed despite extremely limited resources, and mostly build from within and through shrewd trades.  Ask just about any random A’s fan who their most hated team in baseball is and you’d be pretty likely to get the Yankees as their answer.  Be it jealousy, or a feeling that the Yankees are poisoning baseball with their spending, A’s fans absolutely love to root against the boys in pinstripes at all costs.  That said, it’s almost inconceivable for an A’s fan to actually be rooting for the Yankees, but there are a few reasons to justify doing so.  Two prominent former Athletics do play for the Yankees in OF Nick Swisher and 3B Eric Chavez, and while they don’t exhibit the same youthful exuberance they did with Oakland, many A’s fans still have a special place in their hearts for those two.  The heartbreaking injury to Derek Jeter may have actually netted the Yankees a hint of sympathy from the masses.  Like him or not, Jeter is one of the classiest players in baseball, and he makes it really difficult to root against the guy.  So perhaps a “Win It For Jeter” campaign could be in order.  Finally, harkening back to the original rooting interest I noted, the New York Yankees would seem like a prime candidate to snuff out the San Francisco Giants mojo should both of them reach the World Series, but again with the ALCS sitting at 3-0, that scenario is rather unlikely.Since it’s the league the A’s play in, I’ll start by examining the ALCS between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees.  As of this writing the Tigers have a commanding 3-0 lead in the best of 7 series, so it makes little sense to even take a look at the Yankees in this case, but I’ll never pass up an opportunity to pile on the Evil Empire.

Many fans will stand behind the team that eliminated theirs from the playoffs.  I for one do not subscribe to that notion.  But those that do seem to think that if the team that beat you goes on to win it all, that makes your team’s defeat a little less painful and frustrating.  In this case though the Detroit Tigers are taking advantage of a Yankees team that is beaten down at the moment.  With the Jeter injury, the prolific slumps of Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano, and the angst that is currently swirling through the Bronx, the path to the World Series appears to have been extremely well paved for the Tigers.  That could’ve been for the A’s.  It is entirely possible that if the A’s had moved on they could be a win away from the World Series.  So rooting for the Tigers to lose means rooting against the presence of a prime missed opportunity for the A’s to take their season all the way to the top.  Of course those who root for the Tigers are surely doing so simply because they are opposing the New York Yankees.

Over in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a 2-1 lead after tonights rain extended victory over the San Francisco Giants.  It’s hard to imagine too many fans hoping for the Giants to pull out the series and head to the Fall Classic, but I suppose it’s possible.

There are some A’s fans who aren’t necessarily hard liners in the Bay Area baseball wars who will pull for the Giants.  The thought that another Giants World Series Championship would boost the profile of the entire Bay Area has to be behind that line of logic.  I think it’s flawed logic, but logic nonetheless.  The Giants and the A’s are headed toward a be all end all legal battle over the infamous San Jose territorial rights, and the outcome of such a battle will dictate the future of the A’s franchise, for many this is personal.  Ever since the Giants won the 2010 World Series fans of the team have taken on a new level of superiority in many cases and have sought out A’s fans to berate and belittle.  Sure the state of the A’s isn’t as rosy as that of their cross bay counterparts, but the franchise is one of the most successful ever and that history needs to be respected.

The defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals have gone on quite the run over the last 6 years, already they have added 2 championships to their resume, giving them a total of 11 in their history.  That is good for second most of any team in the history of baseball and most of any NL team, and also two ahead of the Athletics who have 9.  If they win another title then they’ll be 3 ahead of the A’s, and the odds of the A’s making a major championship run to catch up would be rather unlikely.  Also former disgruntled Athletic Matt Holliday is a Cardinal now, and seeing him celebrate makes my skin crawl. But the reasons to root against the Cards are far outweighed by the reasons to root for them.  First and foremost again, they’re playing the Giants, enough said.  Their starting 2B Daniel Descalso is a Bay Area guy, and grew up an Athletics fan.  His family are season ticket holders at the Coliseum.  So seeing their boy win it all and realize his dreams is a pretty cool thing.

So there you have it, a guide for bored A’s fans on how to determine who to root for in the rest of the playoffs.  As much as I wanted to just turn my back on baseball for a few weeks, I couldn’t.  The game always draws me back in.  I’m pulling for the Cards to repeat as champions, it’s the least of all the evils in my book.

For the record, man up Marco Scutaro.

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