I have an easier time paying attention to the playoffs in a year in which the A’s weren’t in contention. Somehow having the A’s more removed from things makes it easier to just sit back and watch it. But this year, even though the A’s finished in last place in the A.L. West and had no prayer of the playoffs past June, they are very much connected to some of the playoff narratives. This – along with various other irrational feelings of like and dislike to certain players and teams – affects how I root come playoff time. Let’s break it down.
NLCS: Cubs vs. Mets
A’s connections on the Mets: Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon, Tyler Clippard, Jerry Blevins (DL), Anthony Recker (not on playoff roster), Bob Geren (bench coach).
A’s connections on the Cubs: Jon Lester, Addison Russell (injured for LCS), Jason Hammel, Trevor Cahill, Chris Denorfia.
There are a number of A’s connections here – some that make me cringe and others that don’t. And really, the ones that make me cringe are the ones on the Cubs. Two of these players are directly connected to last season’s epic failure. Jon Lester signed a free agent deal with Chicago after the half season rental failed to win the Wild Card game for the A’s. And Addison Russell is the shortstop we could’ve had but don’t, because of the trade that brought Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakaland last summer. At least we got some decent talent back for Samardzija, but there are just too many reminders of A’s failures on the Cubs for me to root for them to win. After all, the better the Cubs do, the worse it makes the A’s look.
On the other hand, Yoenis Cespedes is also directly connected to those failures as he was dealt to Boston for Lester. But I don’t have those same hard feelings seeing him gun down runners from the outfield at Citi Field. The Mets are Cespedes’s fourth team and third since being traded from the A’s. The connection lines have been muddled too much for me to care. And I just love watching Yoenis hit baseballs and hit them far. I’m rooting for the Mets.
ALCS: Blue Jays vs. Royals
Fewer connections here but there is one big one here and it’s Donaldson. The trade was controversial and the Blue Jays’ success and Donaldson’s likely MVP seasons coupled with the A’s crappiness make this continue to look very, very bad for the A’s. That is a huge reason to root against the Blue Jays. They’ve got an MVP at the A’s expense; we don’t want them to have a World Series too!
But then there’s those supremely unlikealbe Royals. The A’s connected players do not invoke strong feelings. But the other connections to the A’s – mainly last season’s Wild Card game and the dust-up with them early in the season over a Brett Lawrie slide at second base – have them low on the list of teams A’s fans like. And then I also have one more personal beef against the Royals, and that’s that I will never forgive them for losing to the Giants in the World Series, just like I haven’t forgiven the Rangers or the Tigers.
So a team whose success makes the A’s look bad, or a team that I flat out just don’t like? It’s really a tough call in this one but for this one I’m ever so slightly siding with Canada. I’m rooting for the Blue Jays.