Posted by Jason A. Churchill on September 14, 2006
For the fifth consecutive season, the Hometown Nine will not compete in baseball’s postseason. It’s frustrating, as a fan of the Seattle Mariners, to watch baseball into the month of October, and not hear the voices of Dave Neihaus and Rick Rizzs as they call the action.
But not all is lost.
If ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
When one cannot have what one most desires, one must seek the next best thing. For me, if I cannot root for the M’s in the playoffs, I do three things, one of which I know many others also do.
I root against the New York Yankees, though I pull for A-ROD to hit 1.000 with a home run in every plate appearance. Every season the Yankees fail to win the World Series, is a feather in the cap of the rest of the league, particularly the markets not in Los Angeles, Chicago or the Big Apple.
I root against the AL West participants, no matter who it may ultimately be. If it aint Seattle, it aint for me. So down with the Texas Rangers, Noonan (!) to the Anaheim Angels and, last but not least, to hell with the Oakland A’s. To hell I say!
The last thing I do is adopt a team that did make the postseason. Typically, since I eliminate the rest of the AL West as well as the New York Yankees, I take a look into the National League and hop on the wagon of the team that appears to be the best story or the most fun in which to watch.
If the Florida Marlins somehow make up the current 3 1/2 game deficit in the NL Wildcard race, they’ll be the easy choice this season. What rookie manager Joe Girardi, his staff and the entire roster is doing this season is nothing short of remarkable.
The Marlins are counting on 12 players that are either raw rookies, having never seen the light of the bigs before this season, or have official MLB rookie status. Four of their five starting pitchers are rookies, which sounds like they are rebuilding and years from contention, but on the contrary, the quartet has logged 43 wins and and a combined ERA at 3.69.
Up the middle, second baseman Dan Uggla and shortstop Hanley Ramirez are legit rookie of the year candidates while Miguel Cabrera anchors the lineup.
We’ll see if the fish can make up some ground and sneak into the postseason. If they do, it’s the story of the year, and with Dontrelle Willis and Cabrera leading the charge, who knows what might happen this Fall.
Maybe, just maybe a team with a combined payroll of less than $15 million can make some noise in the NL playoffs.
But with three teams ahead of them, It’s a bit of an uphill battle for Florida.
In the AL, there is one team that interests me.
The Minnesota Twins are leading the Wildcard race, and have the power bats they lacked in years past, thanks to the breakthrough season of Justin Morneau, and the steady, pure hitting Joe Mauer in the middle of the order.
If Brad Radke and Francisci Liriano were healthy, the Twins would have a shot to win it all. Without Liriano in the rotation, rookie Matt Garza will be forced into the rotation again, putting a lot of pressure on a kid drafted just two Junes ago.
With Torii Hunter playing for a contract and a bullpen anchored by the game’s most underrated closer, Joe Nathan, the Twins are armed and ready to do some damage.
Oh, and, Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball for the third straight season.
Minnesota and Florida…
I’m pulling for them both.
Who are you pulling for?