The 2011 MLB Playoffs Rootability Index: Helping You Decide Who To Root For

MILWAUKEE, WI: Yuniesky Betancourt #3 of the Milwaukee Brewers misplays the baseball against the New York Mets at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Mets defeated the Brewers 4-1. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Is your team out of it? Are you desperately trying to figure out who you should bandwagon for the next four weeks? We've got you covered, with a special MLB Playoffs guide to which teams are the most and least rootable.

At last, after an absolutely magical Wednesday, and also a lot of other, earlier days, we've arrived at the first day of the 2011 MLB playoffs. Friday afternoon will mark the beginning of a postseason tournament that will prove little of consequence, but that will still entertain. Albeit less than last Wednesday entertained. Such is the blessing and the burden.

If you are a fan of one of the eight teams still alive, then, fantastic! Congratulations on not yet feeling like you wasted six months of free time on nothing! This must be an exciting time for you. I am guessing, because I like the Mariners, and my understanding of your current emotional state is not unlike a rabbit's understanding of a mechanical pencil.

But if you are a fan of one of the eight teams still alive, this article is not for you. This article is for everybody else, whose favorite teams are officially dead and done playing. Most everyone will still tune in for the playoffs, because, playoffs. We want to see who's going to win the championship. Championships are what give this all a purpose.

Yet watching sports isn't half as fun if you don't have a rooting interest. Rooting interests allow for emotional investment, and the experience of feeling genuine highs and lows. That's why I'm here now. What follows is a rootability guide to the 2011 MLB playoffs, in which all participating teams are assigned a number grade corresponding to ease of support and bandwagoning. The higher the number, the easier it is to root for that team. The lower the number, the more it'd be like watching a bootlegged movie where the audio is laggy and doesn't match up with the video. "This is horrible, I hate it!"

How are the number grades derived? By balancing the various reasons to root for each team against the various reasons not to root for each team, and then by introducing the X-Factor: the contribution each team made to the historic collapse of the Red Sox, since that was pretty much the most awesome thing that ever happened. I was a science major so you can trust the results.

Your team is finished. The playoffs are starting. Who should you root for? Off we go!

Milwaukee Brewers

Why You Should Root For Them

We live in a society obsessed with ambition. No matter how much one has achieved, one should always achieve more. If you're a high school student, you should be a college student. If you're a college student, you should be a graduate student. If you're a doctor, you should be a better doctor. And so on. We are told that satisfaction is the enemy of greatness, and that greatness is the only goal. This puts an unthinkable amount of pressure on everybody, and yet we're supposed to just deal with it like it's normal.

The Brewers' everyday shortstop is Yuniesky Betancourt. Yuniesky Betancourt is terrible. At no point has he shown the slightest drive to get better. Yet he's in the playoffs, as the Brewers have succeeded despite him. Betancourt is proof that you can get places by riding the coattails of others, and a Brewers championship would be a victory for all who are sick of society's expectations.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

The other day I did a photo search for recent Brewers shots. Here are some of the pictures that came up:

Brewerscelebrate_medium

Cockiness is really unbecoming. It's like agitators in hockey. It's great if you're already a fan of that team, but if you're not, it's annoying to the point of making you upset, and such behavior shouldn't be rewarded. Plus, the Brewers are already destined to be America's bandwagon, since they're new and hadn't won their division in forever, and aren't we now a country of hipsters? Aren't we supposed to like things that people don't like, and hate things that people do like? Shouldn't we all root for the Yankees? If we all root for the Yankees, do we then all have to stop rooting for the Yankees? Being a hipster is so complicated.

X-Factor

Terry Francona finished his playing days as a Brewer. He then guided the Red Sox to maybe the worst collapse of all time. We can't prove that these two things are related, but we can't prove that they aren't!

Rootability Points: 9.0

St. Louis Cardinals

Why You Should Root For Them

Albert Pujols. Pujols. Poo-holes. I cannot believe that we as a nation have advanced to the point at which we can just say a name like "Albert Pujols" without falling into fits of uncontrollable glee. We're all supposed to get in touch with our inner children, right? Be a child again. Think of the word play. "Freese Pujols." "Carpenter Pujols." Or, my personal favorite, "Pujols Holliday." Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday very frequently bat back-to-back in the lineup. "Pujols Holliday" is also the title of a racy pornography film, maybe set in the outback. Pujols Holliday: Excursion Down Under.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

Here is a picture of Tony La Russa with shingles:

Tony-larussa-eye_medium

Because of the St. Louis Cardinals, we have seen this picture, and cannot unsee it. Remember that scene in The Rock where the guy gets trapped in the room with the VX gas and his face melts off? At least the movie had the courtesy to cut away without showing the worst part.

X-Factor

The Cardinals went 1-2 against the Rays. It's something, I guess, but basically nothing. Way to chip in you guys.

Rootability Points: 5.5

Arizona Diamondbacks

Why You Should Root For Them

I think I was probably ahead of the game in growing tired of Brian Wilson (hipster!), but eventually, everybody grew tired of Brian Wilson. "Wow, so many quirks!" "That is a very unusual beard!" In the Diamondbacks, we have the team most responsible for keeping Brian Wilson out of this year's playoffs, and therefore out of this year's October spotlight. For this, the Diamondbacks deserve our everlasting gratitude.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

The Diamondbacks used to play in Bank One Ballpark, which was frequently shortened to B.O.B. Then they changed the name to Chase Field. I know people named Bob, and I know people named Chase. I bet next the Diamondbacks are going to name their stadium Steve. "Here we are at Steve's, as the Diamondbacks play host to the Dodgers."  This was the apolitical reason I came up with for rooting against the Diamondbacks. The amount of research I put into this post is really coming across, I think.

X-Factor

Josh Byrnes was an assistant GM in Boston under Theo Epstein before leaving to assume the general manager position with the Diamondbacks in 2005. One can't help but wonder if things might've gone differently were Byrnes still around.

What happened:

Epstein: I think I'm going to give Carl Crawford a seven-year contract.
Room:

What might have happened:

Epstein: I think I'm going to give Carl Crawford a seven-year contract.
Byrnes: Well...

Rootability Points: 7.5

Philadelphia Phillies

Why You Should Root For Them

In baseball, we never get to root for players who remind us of ourselves, because all of the players in baseball are good, and we are bad. In the Phillies, though, we get to root for a team much like the team we would've built given the chance, because the Phillies are a team built around a video game starting rotation. In a video game, you would try to get Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt on the same roster. The Phillies actually did it in real life. Rooting for the Phillies is like rooting for your own project.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

A year ago, the Phillies were considered nigh unbeatable in the playoffs because they had Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt. Then they lost, so they responded by adding Cliff Lee. Imagine what would happen if they lost again. They might add Tim Lincecum! Brandon Beachy! Felix Hernandez! Clayton Kershaw! That would be crazy! Ruben Amaro is crazy!

X-Factor

J.D. Drew was originally drafted by the Phillies, but everybody in Philadelphia hates him because he never signed. His career might have gone completely different had he signed with the Phillies instead of the St. Paul Saints. Perhaps in that reality, Drew is not the Red Sox's disappointing right fielder in 2011. That would have been a shame.

Rootability Points: 6.5

Texas Rangers

Why You Should Root For Them

This is a clip of Mitch Moreland hitting a home run in Seattle in May:

"In the air...and deep...and gone! A home run, by Mitch Moreland!" In that voice, with that tone. It's the worst call ever, by a guy named John Rhadigan. Shortly thereafter, the Rangers fired John Rhadigan. I feel like we all owe them for this.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

On the other hand, it was the Rangers who hired Rhadigan in the first place, even though he had zero experience. They replaced the likeable Josh Lewin with a guy with a horrible voice who didn't know that bunting foul with two strikes meant a strikeout. You don't deserve credit for committing a wrong and undoing it. Even if you admit to a crime, you're still punished, and hiring John Rhadigan was a crime.

X-Factor

The Red Sox's collapse began at the beginning of September. Between 9/2 - 9/4, the Rangers took two of three from the Red Sox. Then, between 9/5 - 9/7, the Rangers lost two of three to the Rays. We didn't appreciate then what the Rangers had started.

Rootability Points: 6.0

Tampa Bay Rays

Why You Should Root For Them

The Rays are only here because of a miracle. Again, the Red Sox's September collapse might have been the worst collapse in the history of baseball, and it is the Rays who benefit. That makes the Rays an incredible story. However, a quick postseason exit would kind of be a bummer of an end. It's like the story of Jim Morris, and The Rookie. Awesome, Morris made it all the way to the major leagues! Unfortunately he was bad and did not last very long. That sucks. The Miracle On Ice was amazing, but it wouldn't be the same had the US not gone on to win gold. The Rays need to win the World Series for this to be one of the greatest stories in baseball history.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

From the eighth inning in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night:

Raysfansleaving

Yes, it was 7-0 Yankees. Yes, the Rays looked like toast. Yes, the fans leaving represent only a small percentage of the fans in attendance. But it is impossible to imagine the Rays winning the World Series and us thinking "that's so great, the fans deserve it." It's just - I mean Jesus Christ, come on! You are the worst fans! Show up! Show up, and don't leave! Your team is fantastic!

X-Factor

Gosh, I don't know

Rootability Points: 8.0

Detroit Tigers

Why You Should Root For Them

I feel bad for Detroit. It's not that Detroit isn't kind of a shitty place, because it is, but it's to the point where Detroit is automatically cited as the shitty place to end all shitty places, and that isn't fair. Detroit doesn't deserve to be the butt of so many jokes. You know where else is shitty? Hartford. Baltimore. Modesto. Medford. Lots of places. Lots of places are shitty, and lots of places are probably shittier than Detroit. Yet Detroit gets the worst rap, because people are lazy and unoriginal. Come on, give Detroit a break. There are nice parts. There are nice people.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

"Come on, give Detroit a break" is a hard thing to justify when you remember that Detroit is the home of the Red Wings, and that the Red Wings haven't missed the playoffs since 1990. They have more Stanley Cups than any other team in the US, and just won in 2008, and 2002, and 1998, and 1997. And they went and lost in 2009. It's like feeling bad for Pirates fans. Don't fall into that trap! Pirates fans are Penguins and Steelers fans! They are more privileged than almost anybody! Detroit gets enough success. It doesn't need more.

X-Factor

Around the trade deadline, the Red Sox were searching for starting pitchers. They made inquiries regarding Doug Fister, but Fister wound up getting traded to the Tigers instead, and the Red Sox ended up with Rich Harden, and then no Rich Harden, and then Erik Bedard. Fister went on to pitch like some freakish right-handed Cliff Lee, while Bedard was mediocre and hurt. If only!

Rootability Points: 7.0

New York Yankees

Why You Should Root For Them

This is the impossible section, but I'll try. It is not at all surprising that the Yankees are in the playoffs. Of course the Yankees are in the playoffs. They're the Yankees. But consider how they got to the playoffs. They got to the playoffs in large part by leaning on Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, who filled in the void when Phil Hughes decided to be terrible, and A.J. Burnett decided to be terrible. Coming into the year, Garcia was thought to be on his last legs, and Colon didn't throw a single pitch in 2010.

Those are two unbelievable stories, and yeah I'm having trouble buying this too but I can't very well leave a whole section empty. You should root for the Yankees if you really really hate each of the other seven teams, because if the Yankees win then nothing really changes. They remain the Evil Empire. It isn't even important. Oh the Yankees won the World Series, whatever. Good for them I guess. It's good for the greater baseball narrative.

Why You Should Not Root For Them

I'm sorry, Yankees, but no, you don't get to dumpster-dive. You don't get to strike gold with cheap acquisitions like Colon and Garcia. That's what everybody else is supposed to do to try to keep up with you. You don't get to shop at Armani and the thrift store. If your more valuable pieces break down then you god damn better have to just live with it.

X-Factor

haaaaaaaaaahahahahaha

Rootability Points: 2.0

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