From a Philadelphia-area friend comes this particular take on the Phillies’ entrance into the World Series:

This is what we expert, professional sports analyzers like to call “one way to look at it.” But it raises an interesting point:  What is an “acceptable” way to celebrate en mass, who decides what that is, and how much room do we allow for cultural differences?

At the soil-bottom level of this question is: How do general sports fans, or those whose own teams have faced elimination (some for decades, some Cincinnatians–and I am one of them–might add) decide who to pull for in the playoffs?

My first consideration is geographical. Is the team from New York or California? You’re out. You get enough attention. I tend to favor the Rockies and Diamondbacks and Florida teams because their states are pretty and I want to live in them. Is your skyline stupid-looking? I hope you lose.

When two acceptable regions face off, the parameters loosen: Which one of you has pissed me off the least? But since that question was levelled ever since the entire MLB decided to cover itself in anti-fandom. If the team is an MLB team it has pissed me off. You see where this leaves me.

Sometimes this involves the travel of favored players. I frankly cannot understand how any human being who does not enjoy inhaling solid rain for weeks on end can stand to live in Seattle, so this battled with a natural desire to see former Reds who are solid human beings do well with the Mainers.

So then I am left to consider if one of the combatants is a divisional rival. Maybe this comes from a heavy dosage of “WE ARE THE NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL TEAM AND WE ARE INDEPENDENT AND THAT MEANS SOMETHING, PAL” in my formative new-adult years, but I don’t quite understand a rooting hierarchy that depends upon league organization. It shocked me when I discovered that Ohio State students even really noticed that they were in the Big 12, let alone save special shakers of salt for the SEC.

But I cannot bring myself to fall into National League Conference line. If you’re the Pirates, I don’t want you to win. You’re still the Pirates. Get outta here with this Team NL Central business.

If all these produce a draw, I must fall to that unerring basis of all the best decision-making: My feelings. Who do I want to win? For this vital issue trumps all, and brings us back to the first question: Which fanbase is the most deserving, and what is that? Is it the most bereft? Which fanbase will win in a way that doesn’t, I don’t know, kill the power to an entire neighborhood of old people who just want to heat up their soup? Whose fans will appreciate it more?

Closer to home, has the management deliberately made decisions that would place the team into contention? And have the fans responded with support that shows appreciation? I imagine the collective reaction to the Cubs’ Series victory was best expressed as: “Congratulations. You’ve waited a long time for this. Good for you. Now shut up and go back to the basement.”

These tensions are tougher to suss out from several states away, but I think deeply embedded sports fans can recognize a beaten-down populace, one that “deserves to win,” no matter what the humanity in the front office or even on the field is up to.

So who have you been rooting for? Who deserves this one?

38 Responses

  1. Scott C.

    As for Me: East Coast versus Southwest. (Is southern Texas really in the US?) National League over American League. And with players I like to follow. So Philadelphia checks all three boxes with Castellanos playing for them now, besides I really dislike the Astros, the are the dirty Cardinals of the American League.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I cannot see myself pulling for the Astros for several decades. Even if they were playing the Yankees, I’d have a hard time with it.

  2. Bill J

    I’ll take Dusty in 7 and he can retire a winner. I was a Colt 45s fan back in the 60s because I could listen to their games on WWL and couldn’t hear the Reds games.

  3. LDS

    Flip a coin. I do back to the days when Houston was a division rival with Cedeno & JR, and Philadelphia was Carlton, Schmidt, Luzinski, & co. So not really pulling for either. I lean slightly toward the Phillies, if for no other reason than seeing Castellanos in the WS, sort of flips Bob & Phil the bird. Reds fans have to take what they can get. I mean where else are we going to go?

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      THE CINCINNATI REDS: we’ll have to take what we can get

  4. Old-school

    Cardinals 30-always
    Yankees -29
    Dodgers 28
    Mets 27
    Red Sox 26
    Angels 25- they spend money worse than Castellini and cant make the playoffs with Trout.
    Cubs 24-because
    Big market west coast /east coast /apathetic Midwest teams 23-5
    Mariners 4-they got good reds
    Braves 3-they have a plan
    Rays 2
    Reds 1

  5. Votto4life

    If the Reds aren’t playing then I don’t have a rooting interest.

    I have been a Reds fan for 50 years. Of those 50 years, 47 years have ended in disappointment.

    The reason I am still a Reds fan are the other three.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Beautifully (if sadly) said.

    • greenmtred

      look on the bright side. 32 teams, so the odds indicate that it would take almost 100 years to amass 3 championships. i know: when you and i started following the game there were 16 teams, making the calculation more complicated. but while my idle point proves almost nothing else, it does indicate that the reds are far from the only team that experiences prolonged futility.

      • Mary Beth Ellis

        I cannot even imagine what it’s like to be a total no-trophy team. Augh.

  6. Mark Moore

    This is soooooo well written!!! 😀

    I’ll only follow casually and really don’t care who wins or loses. I was hoping for the Braves to have a chance to repeat and would have loved to see either of the Mariners or Guardrails represent the AL.

    Alas, it was not to be. At least we don’t have the Evil Empire or the Trolley Dodgers. Though watching Aaron Judge for the last time in Pinstripes (my prediction) would have at least been entertaining, if for no other reason than to watch those fans weep when he walks away.

    It’s almost November and we’re playing some games in a colder city. That’s just wrong on so many levels. But we get what we get, right?

    This weekend my wife’s Notre Dame Irish visit the Loud House that is home to my Syracuse Orange. I’m really hoping we can channel our frustration at the Clemson loss into beating up the Irish this week. Besides, I’m headed up the road to visit my brother for a guys weekend.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you Mark– both for the kind words as well as my new favorite term, “The Guardrails.”

  7. Harry Stoner

    I was born and raised in Houston, before moving to Cincinnati for a short spell and then back to Texas and Austin.

    Used to regularly hang out in the “Jose Cruz Section” of the Dome drinking beer and eating tacos.

    Root for Houston now? Never.

    Not until the last of the cheaters is long gone: Altuve, Bregman, Gurriel, Verlander…

    Have I forgotten someone?

    I enjoyed Dusty Baker as Reds manager and he still gives the best post-game interviews in MLB.

    But, too bad. You’re the manager of a team (half / one-third) full of cheaters.

    Go, Phillies.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh this has to hurt– seeing your hometown team turn out like this. At least the Reds lose the old-fashioned way: With front-office neglect, despair, and honor.

  8. Klugo

    I like Dusty, but I just cant root for the Astros anymore.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I still haven’t forgiven the Mets for the ’99 season.
      I will root for them before I EVER pull for the Astros again.

  9. Jim Walker

    Oh, well. No one who knew me back when, including myself, would believe it but circumstance and experience has made the Dodgers my alternate MLB team.

    My wife lived in SoCal from her early teens on through the birth of her kids and beyond prior to moving to Ohio 40 or so years ago. A surviving brother and her daughter along with a number of nieces, nephews and cousins still call SoCal home.

    The truth is SoCal it has become my second home subsequent to the time we have spent there with her folks. I actually experience pangs of homesickness when I see the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains behind Dodger Stadium or the Rose Bowl on TV.

    A second truth is I would move there in a heartbeat and never look back. The Reds will always be my baseball team. The Buckeyes will always be my college football team. However I am a self in SoCal who is more comfortable than the self I am in Ohio anymore. Thank goodness for the internet and streaming.

    • Jim Walker

      As far as this World Series, I wish Dusty was managing the team Nick Castellanos played on. Then I would have a team to root for. Absent this, I am in the who cares group.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I mean, you came by the Dodgers via hard-by location and exposure, so I’ll allow it.

      • Jim Walker

        Actually (and don’t tell my wife), I think it all started with watching Dragnet when I was a kid. I was hooked by Jack Webb, aka Sgt. Joe Friday, proclaiming at the start of each episode, “This is the city….” as various panoramas of LA rolled across the screen.

        Then there was (the original) Mickey Mouse Club and the round water tower outside Dodger Stadium painted like a baseball with the Dodgers logo on it.

        The line between hatred and jealousy is a fine one that is sometimes blurred. When the Big Red Machine came along I began to realize I never really hated the Dodgers and their home turf, I really just wanted to be more like them in attitude and achievement. And feelings evolved from there.

  10. ryan

    Baseball is too parochial for me,too, If the Reds aren’t in it I don’t watch, agreeing with Votto4life

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      It’s really sad but really have no idea when it even starts. I think I will watch the tapes I set of the games with Votto in the booth 🙂

  11. Doc

    Who cares?

    Castellanos could not have cared less about the Reds, so can’t root for Philly.
    Astros cheated, but unlike the 1919 scandal, no Astros players were banned so can’t root for the Astros.

    Fortunately, I can live without baseball until spring training, and I’m pleased the LCS went 4-0 and 4-1. Cut out five games worth of commercial advertising revenue for networks and/or MLB, neither of which rank very highly with me.

    As far as Judge is concerned, I believe the jury will find he was the biggest bust of the ALCS. Had as many hits as Carpenter, I believe, a total of one, and Judge had more ABs.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Yeah that whole Astros investigation just kinda– vanished, didn’t it? I think a lot of people would be more forgiving if there were at least a couple (justifiable) banning out of that.

      • MadMike

        Some of the reporting out of this was that multiple teams were likely cheating in similar ways; I think the Brewers are on record for alleging that the Dodgers were stealing their signs… The Astros were just the ones that got caught. So I think the Astros got used as an example to the public, new tech was developed for pitchers and catchers to communicate privately, and the matter otherwise dropped for marketing reasons.

        If the Astros got punished too severely, they would probably go after the other teams that were cheating, that is a sort of mutually assured destruction scenario where no one benefits.

  12. Pablo

    First off I’m glad the teams from CA and NY are eliminated. That’s always a top priority. I don’t think I can bring myself to root for Houston so Philly by default. And it’s an amusing tidbit that they fired their manager mid-way through the season and here they are in the Series. Bob and Fredo would never dream of that move.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I don’t think the Reds have pulled the mid-season firing since Perez, have they?

  13. TR

    As a life-long Reds fan who in now in his mid-eighties, I watch it all in passing since the Reds are not in it. It’s a great show and the politics of baseball and all sports keeps me interested along with time with a good book, usually history. I look forward each day to Redleg Nation to keep us informed of news that will positively affect the Red’s 2023 season.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I don’t know what we’d do without the stalwarts like you helping us to keep perspective, TR. I’ll be sitting next to you with a book myself in the meantime 🙂

  14. Donovan Wheeler

    I have wrestled with the geography argument on a level that sits a notch or two above choosing a playoff team. As a west-central Indiana resident (smack-dab between Indy and Terre Haute) I have always been a Pacers fan, and I bid adieu to the Bengals when the Colts arrived my sophomore year in high school.
    I have been a Reds fan since second grade. It was my late-grandma’s decision. I didn’t question it then; I don’t question it now. My loyalty continues to defy reason.
    And when ESPN+ said, “Hey, try watching some hockey,” I found myself having to make this playoff-based decision on a larger, more permanent basis.
    This part of the Hoosier state is plum with St. Louis and Chicago fans. We sit at the confluence of three Major League regions. My boss suggested I pull for the Blues, but I couldn’t reconcile that with my loathing of the Cardinals. So, St. Louis scored a “hard pass.” My buddy grew up in Indiana’s “Region,” and loves all the Chicago teams. Granted, I rallied behind the Cubs in ’84 …and ’89 …and in the Bartman Era, but I’ve never gotten over the ’98 Pacers-Bulls series, and I just don’t feel that Windy City vibe.
    So I settled for the Blue Jackets.
    It’s such an existentially weird thing to feel tethered to a team that inhabits a city that is otherwise alien to you. Both Cincy and Columbus are names on a map to me, but my emotional connection to both the Reds and the Jackets allows me to embrace them on a regional basis. And those emotions are pretty raw, too. After watching more than half of the Reds’ 100-loss fiasco, I’m now writhing as the Jackets squander a good roster with this all-too redundant phrase: “a dreadful opening month.”
    If an MLB team were to come to Indy (it will never happen, I know this) would I trade in my Bench jersey for my local team? If an NHL club came to the Circle City (again, won’t happen…I know this) would I cancel that order for a Gaudreau sweater in favor of the new team?
    Honestly, I would.
    I spent much of my life dreaming of living somewhere other than here, but I have grown to appreciate how amazing this place is. I do consider myself lucky to live here.
    Thus, from my perspective, geography matters a lot. Unless, of course, we’re talking about St. Louis. I could be sitting in a lean-to, cooking a hot-dog under the shadow of the Arch, and I’d still hate the Cardinals.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      The last paragraph is art. I thank you, my friend.

  15. AMDG

    The last World Series I followed was the 1990 match up between the Reds and A’s.

    I can’t really say I have a rooting interest in this one, or know who won the 30+ titles after the Reds won in 1990.

    Like many people, I follow the Reds, but I don’t follow Major League Baseball. So I’ll watch or listen to the Reds vs anybody, but don’t have an interest in watching anybody vs anybody.

    Let’s revisit this topic next year when the Reds are in the World Series 😉

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      I most remember the Bloody Sock game and… maybe a couple from the Cubs’ run? Otherwise, if it’s on it’s on; if it’s not it’s not.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Because of a new job, I moved to the South side of Chicago and lived there quite a while. During that time I became a Sox fan, and they were the team the rest of Chicago and many other cities looked down upon, with the Shoeless Joe and Black Sox scandals. But, I grew to like and then love this team, my reasoning being that they were in the AL, while the Reds were in the NL, so as long as they did not meet in the Series, I could pull for both. The 2005 Sox were what many around here would appreciate. Underdogs with players with grit and gumption. No real superstars( except maybe Frank Thomas, but he did not contribute much that year) . Guys like AJ Persinski, who his own teamates declared, “if he was on another team we would hate him” and Mark Burhley (who pitched much like Arroyo) and others who were good to great players, but overall played like a team, not a bunch of overpaid prima donnas. They beat the Astros four straight, and that keeps them my second favorite team, period. It also gave me even more reason to hate the Cubs, as their fans barely acknowledged the Sox had won. Difference? While the Cubs fans celebrated their first series win in 100 years with Champagne, the Sox fans celebrated with a trip to 7-11 to buy a pint of Old Crow. And so it goes.