Well, Giants fans, it’s been a rather tough season. And the postseason certainly isn’t the most thrilling prospect in terms of ways to spend your cold October days. But for those diehard fans who do so choose to enjoy America’s favorite pastime regardless, who do you root for?
First of all, fans, do not despair too much; with two World Series titles in the past three years, sleep shouldn’t be an issue. And let’s not forget how much stress fans have been saved, what with the Giants’ late-inning fanatics (displayed much earlier in the year it seems) and torture.
The Giants unfortunately came in seventh place for number of fielding errors with 107 (the Houston Astros made 125), gave up as many runs per game as the Chicago Cubs at 4.00, and hit less home runs than any other team in the league—save the Miami Marlins. Sure, they had their bright spots, like the eighth-best team batting average (surprising, right?), but ultimately, if a team plays like the Astros or Marlins, who can honestly expect to see them repeat last year’s story in October?
As painful as it is to admit, the Los Angeles Dodgers deserved a chance at glory as much as any team that made the postseason. In reality, any team with 90+ wins wound up with a chance to prove their worth, but as many saw last week, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians left the postseason early after their loss in the one-game wild card match-ups.
However, that does not mean Giants fans can root for the Dodgers. It is against the code of any rivalry. And they cannot root for the Braves, if only because of that monotonous chant that haunts opposing fans at night. So then who is left to root for aside from nobody? Well, it’s too easy to root for a postseason favorite such as the Cardinals, Red Sox, or that Puig-nant team from the south. And after seeing how exciting it can be for underdogs like the Giants to win, one can’t help but divert their attention to another team of misfits.
Queue Pittsburgh Pirates. Not only have they been unintentional partners in awarding the Giants storied players like Barry Bonds and Jason Schmidt, but they also have a similar style of play. They rely on their pitching to keep them in the game, and let their bats go to work—and with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte providing a lethal combination of speed and power, it’s hard to count them out.
In fact, the Pirates seemed to replace the Giants this year in terms of pitching performance, finishing in the top four in the league in almost every major category: earned run average (third, 3.26), opponent batting average (second, .238), saves (second, 55), and walks-hits-per-innings-pitched (tied for fourth, 1.23). It’s no wonder Pittsburgh celebrated its first positive season in 20 years and if they can hold opponents to three runs a game, they have to like their chances this year.
What about the A’s? The Oakland Athletics are a loyal choice, and in 2013 it’s certainly a solid choice.
The only downside to them winning it all would be having to hear about it from across the bay for the next year. However, for them to even dream about that possibility, they will first have to shut down Miguel Cabrera, who this season launched 44 home runs for the second year in a row after winning a triple crown last year, meaning he led the entire league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in.
They will also have to jump on Detroit’s top-tier pitchers Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. Sure, they have a respectable pitching staff of their own that includes Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, and rookie Sonny Gray, but the team’s postseason success will almost certainly hang on whether they can see a productive return to the lineup from Yoenis Cespedes, who started in left field in Friday night’s game one loss to the Tigers.
“They’re right across the Bay,” said Corey Cullen, a business major at Sonoma State. “They’re a young team that had big expectations, and they proved that last year’s magic wasn’t a fluke. Go A’s!”
With Cincinnati and Cleveland out of the postseason picture, Giants fans are left with eight options, but really it comes down to just a select few: the A’s, the Rays, and the Pirates—all of whom could be out by next week, but could also make for the most exciting postseason since, well, last year.
However, for most Giants fans, it’s just anyone but the Dodgers. And that is perfectly OK.