Picking a Horse: What to do when your team misses the playoffs

I need a horse.

It’s October, leaves are falling, we have a pumpkin and baseball playoffs are about to start. For the first time since 2006 I don’t have a horse in the race- i.e. a team I have a vested interest in. Since 2007 I’ve been spoiled, in that every year, either the Red Sox or my adopted little brother team, the Phillies, have been in the playoffs- giving me someone to route for when the playoffs rolled around. Now while it hasn’t worked out so well following those teams since 2008, when the Phillies won the World Series, it has still allowed me to have a team to route for when the playoffs start, making the playoffs that much more interesting.
 
This year however, I have nothing. I have no horse. The Red Sox are in last place and have lost sixty games for the first time since 1966. The Phillies last minute attempt to make the playoffs stumbled and bumbled to a halt about a week ago. My horses are already at the bar.
 
So that leaves me wondering, who do I hitch my wagon too? This wouldn’t be an issue if I either A) didn’t care about baseball (which I do) or B) was able to watch it and just enjoy the game, not aligning myself with any particular team (which I can’t.) If I’m going to watch the playoffs, I want to be invested in it. This was the same reasoning that led me to adopting the Phillies when I moved to Philadelphia in the summer of 2006. 
I want to care about what I’m doing. So as a result, I want a team to route for.
 
As of today, here are the teams in this year’s playoffs:
American League: New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s
National League: Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, S. F. Giants and either the St. Louis Cardinals or L.A. Dodgers
 
How do you then decide between these teams? You need a system.
 
Ryno’s Advanced Metric Playoff Horse-Picking Strategy
 
Starting with Step 3, each team is awarded a point if they fall into a category. The exception is Step 2, where they are deducted a point. Whoever has the most points at the end is the team you route for.
 
Step 1: Decide Who Are the Automatic No-Go’s
Explanation: These are the teams that you wouldn’t support if your life depended on it.
Automatic No Go’s: Yankees, Nationals, Reds, Dodgers
Ryno Reason: The Yankees & Nationals are easy- as the main rivals of the Sox and Phillies, there’s no way I can get behind them. As for the Reds, well I’ve been to Cincinnati and frankly, I didn’t care for it. As a result, I don’t care for the Reds. Plus Cincinnati is an incredibly hard word to spell. And the Dodgers? I can’t support any team that’s new nickname is the “Yankees of the East.” And there’s also part of me that’s routing for Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to fail.
* These teams are not included in any of the following steps and are automatically awarded a zero.
 
Step 2: What Team’s Success Might Have an Effect on the Future of the Red Sox
Explanation: Ultimately it all comes down to the Red Sox. If they can’t be successful this year, you want them to be good and in the playoffs next year. So as a result, you want to be wary of any team whose success this year might hamper the Red Sox being successful next year.
Potential Sox Hamperers: Tigers, Rangers, O’s
 
Step 3: Judge Based on Baseball Reasons
Explanation: This one is pretty straight forward. Who are the teams who you like how they play, have players that you like and you like watching.
Baseball Reason Teams: Orioles, Tigers, A’s, Braves, Giants
Ryno Reason: It’s hard to not want to see more of the Tigers and the Orioles are proving to be pretty fun to watch.
 
Step 4: Judge Based on the City
Explanation: Again, pretty straight forward. Do you like the city a team is from?
Sweet City Teams: Orioles, Giants
Ryno Reason: Baltimore will always have a special place in my heart and I loved San Fran.
 
Step 5: Judge Based on the Team’s Uniforms
Explanation:
If you’re a baseball purist like me, uniforms will factor into your decision.
Sweet Uniform Teams:
Orioles, Giants, Tigers
Ryno Reason:
All have a classic look to them and great hats. I love that the Orioles have brought back the old bird logo. And I’ve always like the Giants’ home jerseys.
 
Step 6: Judge Based on a Random Personal Connection
Explanation:
In some way, no matter how random or how it came to be, are you connected to personally to one of the playoff teams (i.e. was your Dad a fan of one of them, is your significant other a fan of one of them, etc.)
Ties That Bind Teams:
Orioles
Ryno Reason:
The Pride of Regan Lane, Ryan Flaherty, is a utility infielder for the Orioles. I’ll support anyone or anything from Portland, Maine. But this one is especially cool. We used to play wiffle ball together, now he’s belting grand slams against the Red Sox. Pretty awesome.
 
Step 7: Judge Based on a Team’s Chances
Explanation:
After going through this process, you really don’t want to do it again. Ideally you want to hitch your wagon to a team that has a legitimate shot to make and win the World Series.
In It to Win It Teams:
Giants, Tigers
Ryno Reason:
The playoffs are kind of a crap shoot this year, but I like the Giants’ (pitching) and Tigers (Cabrera/Prince & Verlander) chances.
 
Step 8: Judge Based on Your Initial Reaction to a Team
Explanation:
This is the blink test. If someone flashed a team’s logo in front of you and asked for your first thought- is positive or negative.
Blink-Approved Teams:
Orioles, Tigers, Giants, A’s, Cardinals, Braves
Ryno Reason:
Can’t explain this one. I just like these teams.
Now tally up the scores.
 
American League
New York Yankees: 0
Baltimore Orioles: 4
Detroit Tigers: 3
Texas Rangers: -1
Oakland A’s: 2

National League
Washington Nationals:
0
Atlanta Braves: 2
Cincinnati Reds: 0
S.F. Giants: 5
St. Louis Cardinals: 1
L.A. Dodgers: 0
The result?
 
Looks like I’ll be routing for the Orioles in the American League and the Giants in the National League.
I can support that
You’re welcome.
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