There is one game left to decide the 2020 World Series matchup. We already know the Tampa Bay Rays will represent the American League, but the National League is still up for grabs. The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers will play Game 7 on Sunday to decide who moves on and who goes home.
For Oakland A’s fans, there are reasons to root either way. The A’s have faced the Dodgers twice in the Fall Classic, winning in 1974 and losing in 1988, and that ‘88 edition is particularly painful because Oakland was heavily favored and ended up on the wrong end of an all-time highlight play. Mix in some Northern/Southern California rivalry, and you could make a case for rooting against L.A. in general and the Dodgers in particular. They’re also the massive-payroll bully team that serves as the antithesis of the scrappy and efficient A’s.
On the other hand, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the Dodgers making another World Series would annoy Giants fans. Furthermore, while California’s intrastate rivalry is strong, surely we can band together as West Coasters against the East Coast Braves. And, while I don’t need the Dodgers to win anything, it’s easy to have some sympathy that they were the team who lost the ring to the Cheating Astros in 2017.
Perhaps as a tiebreaker, there are two old friends on the L.A. roster. Former A’s prospect Max Muncy is still a star despite a fluky low batting average this year, and he already homered twice in this series. And former All-Star closer Blake Treinen is now wearing blue as a setup man, though he took one loss already in this NLCS.
Meanwhile, the Braves are a complete blank slate from an Oakland perspective. Geographically, divisionally, and league-wise, they are as irrelevant to the A’s as possible. They’ve never faced in the postseason, nor mattered to each other in the regular season, and there are no former A’s on their roster. There’s no reason to love them or hate them in terms of green and gold fandom.
Perhaps you’re still miffed at Marcell Ozuna for ripping on the A’s a couple winters ago, or Pablo Sandoval for being part of the Giants lucky years? On the other hand, they also have some absurdly exciting young stars whom you might just enjoy as a general baseball fan.
Looking big picture, Atlanta is also neutral on the sympathy spectrum. They haven’t won since 1995, which is a while, but it’s also several years less than we’ve waited (and than the Dodgers have waited) so cry me a river. On top of that, an entire generation of Americans grew up with the Braves as the only team on daily national TV, so they’ve gotten more than their fair share of attention in recent decades. They’re no Rays or Brewers or Mariners or Padres, that’s for sure.
In terms of payroll, they aren’t huge-market but they’re middle of the pack, and they just got a new stadium only 20 years after their last one. To put that in perspective, their previous stadium was newer than Mount Davis and they already got a new park. They’re not rich bullies, but they’re absolutely not poor.
So who’s your pick, Athletics Nation? I could go either way here. I won’t be disappointed to see either team win, and won’t be bummed to see either fall short. But that doesn’t mean it’s a boring matchup by any means, just that there are no obvious Villains, either locally or nationally, now that the Astros are out.
I will say, a Braves vs. Rays matchup would be a nightmare for national TV network marketing, which I would love because it would force them to be more creative than just slapping New York and Los Angeles and Boston on everything and calling it a day. Maybe highlighting more than three different teams would, y’know, grow the MLB brand a bit, sheesh.
Who are you rooting for in NLCS Game 7?
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