The Oakland A's. The Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays. The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unless you're completely new to the baseball scene this year (in which case, welcome to the roller coaster), chances are you already have some kind of deep-rooted affection or hatred for these teams. It makes the MLB postseason more exciting, but more than that, it makes it a more conflicted experience. As a Tigers fan, you obviously want to see "the D" win the World Series. But if you've been watching baseball for as long as I have (1549-present), you've probably rooted hard for some of these other teams in past postseason contests. Therein lies the conflict.
The Oakland A's
As a young lad, I was enamored of the long ball, and I loved the Oakland A's in 1988 when Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were hitting home runs every other day, sometimes off the ceremonial first pitch. I also loved Dennis Eckersley, for some reason, probably mustache-related -- it was the 80's, after all. When former Tiger Kirk Gibson (my all-time favorite player, OMG, also for mustache-related reasons) hit his walk-off home run against "Eck" in the '88 series, I suffered an identity crisis so deep, I'm still in therapy. More recently, Moneyball did a lot to secure my affection for this team. How can you not love an underdog? How can you root against Brad Pitt? (Oh, shut up, Jennifer Aniston.)
However, repeated shots of Oakland fans doing that stupid "Bernie Lean" every time Coco Crisp so much as sneezes has done a lot to cure me of my attachment to the A's. I think I'm over them. Lose hard, Oakland. Lose so hard.
The Los Angeles Dodgers
They beat my beloved A's in the 1988 World Series. There is no forgiveness here. If the Tigers don't make it, I'd love to see Oakland and Los Angeles have a grudge match this year, and I'd love to see Oakland destroy the Dodgers. The only drawback is that I know that Jose Canseco's typically obnoxious tweets would increase exponentially, and I'd somehow end up rooting for the Dodgers, if only because they've got Vin Scully. Let's just keep the West Coast out of the Fall Classic this year, OK?
The St. Louis Cardinals
I sat here for 45 minutes trying to think of something nice to say. I can't. They're perpetual enemies of Detroit, and I hope they get eliminated twice.
The Cleveland Indians
Also perpetual enemies of Detroit, they somehow managed to irritate me even more this year by aiding and abetting obnoxious players like Nick Swisher, Jason Giambi, Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis, and Chris Perez. These guys belong on a crappy network sit-com, not in Major League Baseball. I hope they get eliminated three times.
The Pittsburgh Pirates
I was rooting for them back in the early 90's, and not even the presence of Jason "Grilli" Grilli can make me dislike them. It's Jim Leyland's old club, so they're alright in my book. These opinions may or may not also be influenced by the fact that I put money on them in the World Series back in June.
The Tampa Bay Rays
The Boston Red Sox
I don't understand all the Sox hate based on their "insufferable fanbase." Get over it. It's an iconic club with a long history of great players, and a great "underdog" story that lasted for decades. I was pulling for them so hard in 1986, and when the lousy New York Mets somehow managed to beat them, I think I became a Red Sox fan for life. When my wife and I vacationed in Maine last year during the ALCS, our hotel shuttle bus driver was a nice, older man who was a life-long "Sawx fan," who happily rooted along with us for the Tigers to beat the "gawd-dahm Yankees," so if the Tigers get knocked out early this year, I'll happily root for the Red Sox along with our new friend from New England.
The Atlanta Braves
I've never really been a huge fan, but the triple dust-up this past month over home runs hit by Bryce Harper, Jose Fernandez, and Carloz Gomez has made me an active advocate for the dissolution of the entire franchise. I hope they suffer an unprecedented 75-game losing streak in the postseason, with every one of those games being a one-run, rain-shortened event.
These are just my opinions, and if you disagree, I won't call you a moron (at least not to your face). Who do you like, and who do you dislike, in the event that the Tigers don't make it to the World Series? Or if they do make it, who do you want to see them beat the most, and who would make you feel the most conflicted?