Here’s your quandary: You’re a diehard Texas Rangers fan. But you’re also, at heart, a lover of the great game. This should be your favorite time of the baseball season but instead you’re still sick to your stomach over how the season went.
But you want to watch and it’s always more fun watching with a vested interest.
The league championship series begin tonight with the ALCS pitting the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees from Minute Maid Park in Houston.
The NLCS begins Saturday with the Chicago Cubs at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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So, as a Rangers’ fan, who do you root for? The ALCS is especially rough for anyone that lives and dies with the Rangers. Root for the rival Astros? Are you kidding me? Especially considering the unfair (bordering on ridiculous) heat the Astros (and some of the Houston media) helped direct towards Arlington for the Hurricane Harvey fiasco? That’s a bitter pill to swallow for most Rangers’ fans. Heck, before the home and home issue even came into play, Houston wasn’t exactly a friendly neighbor with DFW. But the alternative isn’t any better. How in the world could you root for the Yankees? Sure, they’re the underdog of the post-season. But this is still New York’s team. Their young slugger Aaron Judge may be a wonderful, humble kid, but what about the loud mouth New York media and fanbase? They’re still as annoying as ever.
For me, that seals the deal. I’m always for New York and Boston (and let’s throw in Philadelphia, too) losing every game in every sport. Try to believe me, too, if you’re thinking, ‘Right, Stefan, we know you grew up in Houston and were a hardcore Astros fan as a kid.’ That’s true, but that part of me died nearly a decade ago. That’s not why I’m pulling for the Astros. The city could use some good times considering what they went through a month ago. And despite some of their fanbase being five beers short of a six-pack, which has manifested itself in some ugly ways on social media, I personally know enough admirable Houstonians who deserve nothing but joy. Plus, the Yankees, right? Good grief, it’s not even close.
One more thing on the ALCS. I think an Astros’ American League pennant only makes the Lone Star rivalry with the Rangers that much better. You don’t think that will bother manager Jeff Banister? Or Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Cole Hamels? The intensity of the rivalry has already risen fast in the last few years, thanks to some boneheaded off-the-field Astros’ comments and that benches-clearing jawing match in 2015. Astros’ success should add even more edge to the 19-game series in 2018.
Picking sides in the NLCS is a no-brainer for me, too. It’s easily the Dodgers. The Cubs are the defending champs and their fans finally got to celebrate after all those years. Yes, the Dodgers have had their share of success over the years, but their last World Series title was in 1988. Even though I love me some Eddie Vedder and Bill Murray — two of the world’s most famous Cubs’ fans — I’m tired of the Cubs’ limelight. It was too much a year ago and I don’t want that ball to start rolling again in ’17. For Rangers’ fans, rooting for Yu Darvish having success with the Dodgers seems like an easy choice. Remember, Darvish loved being in Arlington. He didn’t want to be traded. And there’s always the outside (way outside, perhaps) chance that he resigns with the Rangers in the off-season.
Lastly, I predicted a Dodgers-Rangers World Series in March. If you want some good laughs, take a look. Some of my sports writer brethren rolled their eyes (some even scoffed) at picking the hometown team. But I really looked at it objectively, I thought, and expected the Rangers to be better than they were in 2016, when they won 95 games. No need to rehash all that went wrong because I think we’re all incredibly aware of the club’s problems.
ALCS: Astros over Yankees (six games)
NLCS: Dodgers over Cubs (six games)
World Series: Dodgers over Astros (seven games)