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Red Sox fans should be Indians fans the rest of the postseason

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Sure, the Indians just eliminated the Red Sox from the playoffs, but they should be your team the rest of the way.

Division Series - Cleveland Indians v Boston Red Sox - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Red Sox made the playoffs. The Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs. It’s unfortunate, but it can happen to anyone — hell, the single-season leader for wins, the 2001 Mariners, didn’t make it past the ALCS. This isn’t a suggestion that you shouldn’t feel sad or upset about Boston losing, but instead a call to you for what to do next. There are still playoffs to be played, you know, and teams to cheer. Well, team.

Many of you could be flocking to the Cubs, given they are in a similar-ish situation to what the Red Sox were in back in 2003 and 2004. Theo Epstein is there! Jed Hoyer is there! Jason McLeod, too! Jon Lester and John Lackey are on the pitching staff, Anthony Rizzo is at first, and they have a generally likable and young, fun team to watch.

I’m not going to the Cubs, though. While I’m over it for the most part, when it comes to picking someone to root for, I haven’t forgotten that Theo Epstein bailed on the Red Sox in 2011 after saddling them with Carl Crawford’s contract and a bloated budget that forced his successor, Ben Cherington, to get creative and deal players like Josh Reddick in order to make the money work on upgrades elsewhere. I haven’t forgotten that Lackey basically forced the Red Sox to trade him, that Hoyer followed in his boss’ footsteps and bailed on the Padres mid-project to rejoin Theo in Chicago’s front office, or that Joe Maddon is the goddamn manager of the goddamn Cubs right now.

MLB: NLDS-San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs
This f’n guy
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Sorry, you’re not going to convince me that this is wrong. I rooted for the Cardinals over the Cubs last year, and then the Mets over the Cubs, and I’m currently pulling for the Giants and their even-year bullshit to come-from-behind the Cubs into the offseason and 108 years without a championship right now.

I’m a lost cause, or you are. It depends on your point of view!*

*my point of view is the correct one

You don’t have to be lost, though! You can root for old friends and changes of fortune and new beginnings without sullying yourself with support of those who bailed and also Joe Maddon. Yes, the Indians just swept the Red Sox, but these Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948. These Indians have Mike Napoli, member of the 2013 World Champion Red Sox and Boston fan favorite, at first base. They have (bearded!) Andrew Miller in relief, and Coco Crisp in the outfield, and are facing the Blue Jays in the ALCS.

Plus, they have Terry Francona, who, unlike Theo, didn’t bail after 2011: he was forced out. He took the fall for a historic collapse, he had the awful, besides-the-point stories written about him following said collapse, and he stepped away from managing until the Indians had a job for him because of it all. Now, he’s back, the Indians are a force to be reckoned with trying to fight off history, and Red Sox fans should absolutely be pulling for them if they’re looking for someone to support these next few weeks.

Terry Francona, the manager of the team who broke the curse for the Red Sox, who made all the right moves in the postseason after decades of Boston managers making the wrong ones. Terry Francona, the manager of not only the first Sox World Series champion team since 1918, but also the second, and plenty of wonderful (but less successful) Boston teams besides that. Now, imagine Francona as the manager at the helm of the Indians team that snaps their own horrific championship drought, one that spans nearly 70 years. That’s a Hall of Fame manager you’re talking about right there, and it’s precisely the kind of redemption story he shouldn’t have to live, but circumstances in Boston kind of forced it to exist.

Red Sox World Series Victory Parade Held In Boston Photo by Gil Talbot/Getty Images

You could root for Theo to be in charge of both the Red Sox and Cubs teams that break their respective stretches of futility, but again: he bailed on Boston for that chance. Francona didn’t get a choice in the matter. Francona didn’t try to hurt Boston on the way out. He didn’t negotiate his own exit from the organization that helped make him a star by refusing to give up anything of value from Chicago’s system to do it.

Theo didn’t necessarily owe the Red Sox or their fans anything, but we’re in the land of irrational playoff rooting interest tiebreakers here, so I have zero issue digging up buried skeletons to put them on display for a few weeks. And, lest we forget, Theo hired Joe Maddon. On purpose! (And fired Rick Renteria, who was, by all accounts, doing a fine job in Chicago, to make it happen.)

I respect Theo Epstein for what he accomplished with the Red Sox. He’s a fantastic executive, a future Hall of Famer, the model for what GMs and presidents of baseball operations should aspire to. He’s deservedly the highest-paid executive in the game, and what he’s built in Chicago is as impressive as anything he managed in Boston. If you’re asking me to choose between Theo and Tito, though, between Rizzo and Napoli, between Lackey and Miller, the happiness of Cubs’ fans vs. the happiness of Indians’ fans, between seeing the Blue Jays lose or the Cubs taking down one of the Nationals or Dodgers, then there’s no contest.

Let’s go Cleveland. You’ve got a Red Sox rival to take down starting Friday, and I’ll be pulling for you.