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A Red Sox fan’s rooting guide for the playoffs: American League Edition

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Who to root for on the AL side.

2019 NLDS Game 1 - St. Louis Cardinals v. Atlanta Braves Photo by Mike Zarrilli/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The MLB postseason gets underway today in a new format that hopefully is an old format when this time of year rolls around in 2021. There are eight first round series, all best of three, all with the higher seed hosting all three games. The Red Sox, of course, are not participating. Even with that being the case, I would guess many Red Sox fans will still be following along, potentially wondering for whom they should root. I am here to serve, and thus will be providing reasons to root for every postseason team, as well as reasons not to. With the American League side of the bracket starting this afternoon, we’ll start there. We go in order of seeding, because we live in a society dammit.

(1) Tampa Bay Rays

Why you should root for them

I’m really putting myself in a tough position right off the bat, eh? Well, I’ll give it a shot. One, Kevin Cash has Red Sox ties. Two, it means the Yankees didn’t win. Three, besides this first round it won’t involve any games at the Trop. Four, people will get mad online about some of their tactics. I love people getting mad online, unless it’s me. That’s all I got.

Why you should not root for them

Well, don’t root for division rivals to do good things. Come on now. Also, the Rays and Red Sox are legitimate rivals, whether it feels like it now or not. There are a whole lot of heated exchanges between these two teams going back to the beginning of the Tampa Bay franchise’s existence. Plus, they play at the Trop. Finally, they once employed Joe Maddon. You simply cannot root for a team that would do such a thing. But really, the most important reason is it’s bad for the league if small market tactics become the latest copycat trend.

(2) Oakland Athletics

Why you should root for them

Brad Pitt says so. More importantly, so does Eck. Their jerseys are probably the best in the entire postseason. (Yeah, the Padres might be up there too. Whatever.) Even though one is healthy, two of their best players are Matts. Can’t go wrong there. The longer Ramón Laureano is in the postseason, the more likely he is to do something nutty in the outfield. Oakland just lost their football team. They deserve this. Jesús Luzardo is rad as hell.

Why you should not root for them

Same concerns re: small market tactics mentioned above with the Rays. That’s really all I got. The A’s are cool.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

(3) Twins

Why you should root for them

Nelson Cruz deserves his time in the spotlight. He is so much fun and also will hit a monumental dinger if you give him enough time. Byron Buxton is in the running for most fun baseball players to watch and might be the fastest in the postseason. Their entire lineup is incredible. If you like hitting, this is the team for you. Rich Hill is on the Twins.

Why you should not root for them

Minnesota Nice is fake and until the entire state disavows it as a concept, they must be punished. Kenta Maeda seems like a perfectly nice man and I don’t necessarily like rooting for him, but also the Red Sox could have traded for him in the Mookie Betts trade and elected not to. That probably was the right choice, but I don’t really want to hear about that during a long playoff run that doesn’t involve the Red Sox. Michael Pineda is on the Twins.

(4) Indians

Why you should root for them

Terry Francona is the manager. Not only that, but he’s also dealing with some health issues that have kept him out of the dugout and will at least to start the playoffs. Getting a win for him would be awesome. They haven’t won in forever. Carlos Carrasco beat cancer last year. Francisco Lindor deserves the national spotlight. Same for José Ramírez. Shane Bieber is out of this world. Triston McKenzie could be the breakout young player of the postseason.

Why you should not root for them

Zach Plesac revealed himself to be very easy to root against this summer, both in breaking COVID protocol but also doubling down on it in an Instagram video afterward. They have fans that passionately defend an incredibly racist former logo. I’ve become weirdly obsessed with signing Cesar Hernández this winter and a long postseason run probably makes that more difficult.

(5) Yankees

Why you should root for them

If they win we can make Yankees fans mad online by incessantly telling them this World Series doesn’t count.

Why you shouldn’t root for them

I don’t have time to list out all the reasons. You get it.

(6) Astros

Why you should root for them

If they win, we can also tell them this one doesn’t count. This would be doubly effective since they also hear that about 2017. Also, Dusty Baker.

Why you should not root for them

Obviously the cheating scandal, but also that entire front office has proven to just be so easy to root against over the years. Seriously, don’t let this happen. Please.

(7) White Sox

Why you should root for them

There are so many reasons! Luis Robert was cold to end the year, but if he gets going he is absolutely thrilling. José Abreu might win the MVP. Tim Anderson might be the most charismatic player in all of baseball. Yoán Moncada is very good and also was the reason Chris Sale is in Boston, so no hard feelings there. Eloy Jiménez is yet another great young bat. Lucas Giolito is a legitimate ace. Garrett Crochet was just drafted this year and is already up in the bullpen throwing triple digits in the bullpen. I’m sure I’m forgetting reasons.

Why you should not root for them

There’s one too many Sox teams in baseball.

(8) Blue Jays

Why you should root for them

If you like young talent, this is the team for you. Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio are great at the top of the lineup. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been a bit disappointing, but he’s gotten going lately and could have a real October breakout. Teoscar Hernandez came out of nowhere to be a home run hitting machine. Lourdes Gurriel is forever underrated. Alejandro Kirk is everyone’s new favorite large player. Travis Shaw is there. Hyun-Jin Ryu is amazing.

Why you should not root for them

Division rivals


Here is my rooting order, from the team I most want to see win the pennant to least.

1. Indians

2. Athletics

3. White Sox

*gap*

4. Twins

5. Blue Jays

*gap*

6. Astros

7. Yankees

8. Rays