The Bravos are calling me

If it wasn’t for the Boston Red Sox I wouldn’t be a baseball fan. Or, to be more accurate, if it wasn’t for Pedro Martinez I wouldn’t be a baseball fan. There’s not a lot of exposure to the game here in the UK so it took the greatness of Pedro to first grab my interest and then captivate me. My suffering as a fan can’t compare to others, but I do remember what it’s like to see your team run out Shea Hillenbrand and Craig Greback on the left side of the infield.

All the while I’ve been supporting the Red Sox, I’ve never had a National League team to support. At first I never felt I needed a second team, but now I think it might be good to have a team to follow on the senior circuit. This post is my process of elimination to find that team. It’s entirely subjective and slightly arbitrary but they’re going to be my team to follow (at least until they meet the Red Sox in the World Series – a man has to have priorities) so I reserve the right to dismiss teams for the most insignificant of reasons.

The ‘Absolutely Not’ Division:

  • Philadelphia Phillies – No baseball fan can fail to enjoy watching Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee do their thing, but picking them would be too much like jumping on a bandwagon. They might be the best team in baseball and that’s not what I’m after here. Plus it seems being a fan of the team can drive you to some strange online behavior.
  • Houston Astros – If I wanted to support a Triple-A team there are better ones around.
  • San Francisco Giants – One of my favourite cities and some very enjoyable talents on board, but their being the reigning champions rules them out.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates – Even the Andrew McCutchen factor can’t encourage me to get on board with this team. They’re steadily on the up and appear to be drafting some good young talent, but it just seems too self defeating to sign up to the yellow and black however cool those team colours are.
  • LA Dodgers – Probably an even greater exercise in self abuse than picking the Pirates.

The ‘Thanks But No Thanks’ Division:

  • Florida Marlins – The big pro here is the excuse to watch Mike Stanton hit more regularly. The big con is I would suddenly represent an uncomfortably large percentage of the team’s total fans. I’m not ready for that type of pressure.
  • New York Mets – The Metropolitans’ have got plenty of fans already without me muscling in.
  • Arizona Diamondbacks – Dan Haren is one of my favourite pitchers to watch. The D’Backs made a terrible trade to ship him out of town. I will not reward them for that.
  • St Louis Cardinals – Should earn more consideration. I have to consider the LaRussa factor though.

The ‘Close But Not Quite’ Division:

  • Washington Nationals – There’s a change here to get in early and become a fan before their wave of future stars come through the system. The unavoidable downside is that I would always be disappointed that I wasn’t supporting the Expos.
  • San Diego Padres – I believe SB Nation’s Marc Normandin has the monopoly on combining Red Sox and Padres fandom.
  • Chicago Cubs – The only reason they’re not in one of the previous groups is the amount of day games they play makes it much easier for me to watch them. Unfortunately convenience isn’t enough to overcome the current on-field product.
  • Colorado Rockies – Living in the UK means you end up consuming baseball in a very different way. Exhibit A of this is that I personally know of only one other person with anything more than a cursory interest in the game. He’s a Rockies fan. They’re out.

The ‘Finalists’ Division:

  • Cincinnati Reds –  They’ve got the history, the exciting young talent, potential to thrill and frustrate, Drew Stubbs, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto and a manager I could almost enjoy being annoyed by. A contender.
  • Atlanta Braves – They’ve got the history, the exciting young talent, potential to thrill and frustrate, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson and a manager I could almost enjoy being annoyed by. A contender.
  • Milwaukee Brewers – A talented if top heavy squad and Yuniesky Betancourt offers an easy target for pot shots. Does their being top of the NL Central already constitute a bandwagon jump? Will their be anything left of this roster on the 2012 season?

So it’s between the Braves, Reds and Brewers. I’m leaning towards the Braves but I’m open to suggestions and passionate cases from fans who feel slighted by my dismissal of their beloved team.


5 Responses to “Find Me A Team”

  1. Here’s the problem with the Braves: their fans suck. Even when the team is winning, they can’t fill the seats. The great thing about being a Philly fan is that there are moments of unbelievable excitement that only a stadium full of crazed fans can create. In Atlanta, that’s seldom possible. They don’t even sell out playoff games.

    If I were picking an NL team, I’d seriously consider the Pirates. You’d be buying low, but there are strong signs that this team will get better fast. Plus, if you ever make it to Pittsburgh, you’ll get to enjoy a truly fabulous ballpark. Plus, you can get a Primanti Bros. sandwich, with the french fries served inside the sandwich! Then again, you might be forced to wash it down with an Iron City beer, which is easily one of the three or four worst beers in America.

  2. As a lifelong Reds fan, all I have to say is: Don’t Do It. Sure, there is a nice crop of young talent, but it doesn’t appear that the front office is interested in building around that talent. Instead of building a team that is capable of dominating, Castellini and Jocketty seem content constructing a 91-win team. Since the Brewers won’t be all that competitive after this current run, I’d go with the Braves.

    • A 91 win team, especially in the NL Central has a chance just about every year to make the playoffs. It also has a chance of being one of the most exciting divisions in baseball as well.

      • Yeah, a 91-win team has a shot at winning the NL Central, but that hardly makes it a great team. The NLDS last year clearly showed the talent differential between a 91-win team (the Reds) and a powerhouse like the Phillies. It would be nice if the Reds desired to be that good. I just don’t see it. (Dusty Baker said a day ago that the organization’s goal is to have two winning seasons in a row. Can you imagine the Braves, Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, etc say that? Way to set your aim low, boys.)

        Plus, when your expectations are so low it gives you very little room for error. A rather mediocre 91-win team in 2010 will probably finish below .500 this year despite having a decent run differential.

        As for being exciting, I don’t wouldn’t describe the NL Central that way. Currently, only two teams are over .500. The Cardinals are hardly exciting and the Brewers are built for a long run of contention. There window will close very soon.

  3. *Their* window will close very soon.

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