For this year's Twins-free baseball postseason, the two meanings are mutually exclusive.
I expect the World Series to match the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Those are the two highest payrolls (not only in the tournament but in MLB total); they have the best records; they probably offer the highest ratings potential for the TV boys.
On that latter point alone, I rather hope to see the Milwaukee Brewers and Tampa Bay Rays advance.
Who I root for is another matter. As general rules, I prefer fly-over land to either coast, I prefer north to south, I prefer small market to large market, I prefer American League to National League, and I want to see historically great teams triumph (not an issue this year). And personalities matter -- indeed, they may trump other concerns. I abhor Tony LaRussa, and despise all things Steinbrenner. ABY -- Anybody But Yankees.
|CC Sabathia may not be the best pitcher in baseball,|
but he's not far behind.
Detroit Tigers-New York Yankees
Rooting for: Tigers, of course
I won't be shocked if the Tigers win this one. But I suspect Doug Fister's remarkable record since coming to Detroit is largely a function of a weak Central Division. Detroit needs to win anytime Justin Verlander takes the mound; CC Sabathia makes that difficult.
Texas Rangers-Tampa Bay Rays
Rooting for: Rays
The Rays's struggle to get in leaves them with rookie Matt Moore -- a September callup -- to pitch the opener. Moore is extremely talented, but that's a tall order. The Rangers have their rotation neatly arranged.
|This is likely the final month that Ryan Braun and|
Prince Fielder will hit back-to-back for Milwaukee.
Rooting for: Brewers
A remarkable worst-to-first season for the Snakes, but the Brew Crew has the better stars in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder; the deeper rotation in Zach Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum; and the knowledge that this is this crew's last chance. Fielder's a free agent, he's a Scott Boras client and he ain't staying.
Philadelphia Phillies-St. Louis Cardinals
Rooting for: Neither
Don't really care for either team. Phillies fans -- based on the commenters on the Hardball Talk blog and on a handful encountered at spring training -- come off to me as insufferably smug and entitled. St. Louis is tainted by the bully LaRussa. I will root vigorously for the winner of this series to lose the next one.