Well, the Major League Baseball postseason is upon us again. I’ve defied the orthodoxy about having just one favorite team and followed my beloved New York Mets since childhood and my hometown Red Sox since moving to Boston 21 years ago. For the first time since 2014, neither one of my favorite teams will participate in the postseason. To add insult to injury, teams that I absolutely despise – the St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Atlanta Braves – will all be in the competition to add to their massive piles of pennant flags and World Series trophies so their stuck-up fans can lord it over the rest of us peasants.
My strategy in a postseason like this is to root for underdogs and teams with long droughts of winning pennants and championships. As a Mets fan, I’m supposed to hate the Washington Nationals, but I’ve never been able to build up the enmity since the only time the two teams were both good enough to battle for the NL East title was 2015, and Mets got the better of the Nats that season. The Nationals have consistently been a top-notch team the past decade, but have famously never won a postseason series. Plus, I have a lot of friends in the Washington area and it would be nice for them to see their team get of the schneid.
The other National League team I’ll be rooting for is the Milwaukee Brewers. Like the Nationals they are a franchise dating back to 1969 (they played one season in Seattle before moving to Milwaukee in 1970) and have never won a World Series. The Brewers have one pennant flag from 1982 when the team still played in the American League.
Over in the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays are the franchise with the most futility, having won only won pennant (2008) since joining MLB in 1998. The Oakland A’s historically have won a lot of World Series (9, with the most recent in 1989), but in recent decades they have become an underdog favorite for succeeding despite low payrolls and a decrepit stadium. Honestly, it would be a delight to see smart, small market teams like the A’s and the Rays upset big money teams like the Yankees and Dodgers.
The remaining AL teams are the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros. I have a soft spot for the Twins, a team that has won two World Series, most recently in 1991. A Twins championship would also be a victory for a small-market team, albeit not quite the extent of an A’s, Rays, or even Brewers championship. The Astros won their first and only World Series in 2017, so can’t really be viewed as an underdog, but they’ve put together a solid, likable team and I wouldn’t begrudge them a second championship.
Just out of a twisted curiosity, I’d love to see a World Series matchup between the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers, the two teams who switched leagues, to the distress of baseball purists everywhere. Another fun matchup would be the Washington Nationals versus the Minnesota Twins, a franchise that played as the Washington Senators until 1960.
With that said, here are my preferences and predictions:
WILD CARD GAME
Preference: Nationals defeat Brewers
Prediction: Brewers defeat Nationals
Preferences: Braves defeat Cardinals, Nationals defeat Dodgers
Predictions: Braves defeat Cardinals, Dodgers defeat Brewers
Preference: Nationals defeat Braves
Prediction: Dodgers defeat Braves
WILD CARD GAME
Preference: Rays defeat A’s
Prediction: Rays defeat A’s
Preferences: Twins defeat Yankees, Rays defeat Astros
Predictions: Yankees defeat Twins, Astros defeat Rays
Preference: Twins defeat Rays
Prediction: Astros defeat Yankees
Preference: Nationals defeat Twins
Prediction: Astros defeat Dodgers
Previous preferences and predictions: