I am starting to think that the Twins won’t make the playoffs this year. An ordinary person would have given up hope long ago, considering that the Twins were eliminated from contention weeks ago, they have the worst record in the AL, and they are quickly spiraling toward 100 losses. But I’m an optimist, and I was holding out hope that MLB would suddenly decide to contract the 10 best AL teams, thus leaving the Twins to duke it out with Baltimore, Kansas City, and Oakland for the title.
But that’s not going to happen. The Twins are done. So if you want to still have a dog in this fight, you’re going to need to pick another team to root for. The good news is Puckett’s Pond is here to help. For the next week or so, we’ll profile one playoff contender at a time so you have enough information to know who to cheer on to a World Series title.
Why Should You Root For Arizona?
Unlike some of the other contenders out there, the D-Backs do not have a long, storied history. Born in 1998, the franchise still isn’t old enough to drink, much less elect anyone to the Hall of Fame. But they have featured some impressive names in their short existence: Mark Grace, Matt Williams, Curt Schilling, and Randy Johnson among them.
Why should you root for the D-Backs? For those of you who love reptiles, this is an easy question. The Diamondbacks are the only team in the playoffs named after a poisonous snake. End of story.
For the rest of us, you can take consolation in the fact that the Diamondbacks have absolutely no rivalry with the Twins. They’re perched solidly in the National League West, and thus only play the Twins about once every three years. And if the D-Backs make it to the World Series, they’ll likely have a chance to knock off a team that IS a rival to the Twins, one way or another. So if you’re at all bitter toward the Twins’ enemies, this is a good team to pick.
On an emotional level, anyone whose memory stretches back 10 years should have some attachment to the D-Backs. Remember that 2001 World Series? It was one of the greatest ever played. It stretched seven games and provided fans with heart-stopping entertainment in most of them. Johnson and Schilling shut down a star-studded New York Yankee lineup. And, of course, there was the back story, with the Series being played in New York right after the September 11 attacks. Ten years later, another Yankees/D-Backs Series would make a great storyline. Ian Kennedy is no Randy Johnson, but he has emerged as an ace, and he could provide some similar nerve-wracking performances this fall.
One more point in the D-Backs’ favor: they are an underdog. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2007. Last year, they finished an abysmal 65-97. Unlike New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Atlanta, which seem to be in the playoffs every single year, these guys are new to the party, and it will be fun to watch them have their first taste of postseason ball. And, of course, the 2010 finish has to be encouraging to Twins fans – if the D-Backs can lose 97 games and make the playoffs the next year, why not the Twins in 2012?
Why shouldn’t you root for Arizona?
Well, if you’re a baseball traditionalist, I’m sure it’s galling that an upstart team like this one has had so much success right off the bat. They won a World Series in only their fourth year of existence. Compare that to Philadelphia, which didn’t win one until their 98th year of play! Playing for their second title in 14 years of existence, Arizona definitely isn’t a long-suffering MLB franchise like Milwaukee or Texas. And they don’t appear to have the same committed, emotional fanbase that places like Boston or Atlanta have. If the Diamondbacks win, it won’t really feel like justice is being done.
But don’t make up your mind yet! Next time, we’ll feature the Atlanta Braves. Please stay with us as we profile every playoff-bound team