As someone who is leery of fans to the point where distrust and annoyance are in the rearview mirror and abject fear is dead ahead, let me walk you through the final six days of the major league baseball regular season.
First, though, let me tell you who you’re rooting for to make the playoffs.
Miami. Pure and simple.
Under normal circumstances, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would be the representative of everything you root against in sport – and that’s saying something given the already low owner/likeability scale we apply. But sometimes even detestability must take a back seat to the demands of a nation, and the Marlins both helped their city start the process of grieving and help hasten its end with a performance that we needn’t remind you was a triumph of dignity through empathy, with a side of “Are you kidding me with that?”
Now the Marlins, like nearly every other team, has only six games left to play and are four games to the bad of the Giants, the team who only this past weekend passed the Minnesota Twins for the honor of having the worst record since the All-Star Break, and the Metropolitans, whose lovability begins and ends with Bartolo Colon. Plus, there are the St. Louis Cardinals, who seemingly cannot pitch or field but hit metric tons of home runs, and probably have a healthy dose of humble coming their way.
Frankly, and I am allowing for Giant fans and their understandably blind allegiance to a team that by rights really should be out of the race by now and survive only through the kindnesses of strangers, but the truth is that they really should be out of the race by now and survive only through the kindnesses of strangers. And objectively speaking, that’s not a sufficiently compelling reason for anyone other than the truest orangy-black fans to not prefer the Marlins instead.
As for the Mets, well, they’re the Mets. And the Cardinals have alarmingly offended their own fan base, where manager Mike Matheny is savaged daily as though he were actually Robin Ventura.
Look, this is all about feel and mood and impulse, and two days ago it wouldn’t have mattered at all what Miami did one way or the other. They could have wondered about what might have been had Giancarlo Stanton not gotten hurt, or if they hadn’t lost eight games to .500 since the break themselves.
But it matters now, because we’ve seen the restorative powers of unity in grief, and the intrinsic value in magic.
Plus, as we all know, I’m a sap for a good narrative (this last bit, of course, being a monumental lie).
But it does matter. It matters far more than whatever emerges from the primordial ooze of the American League, where Detroit and Seattle fight daily to see which team is not going to catch the struggling Baltimores, or whether the underachieving Bostons (the second-best team in baseball by record and since the break, yet still five games below their Pythagorean number of 97-59), the stealthy Clevelands (no real weaknesses), or the improbable Texii (who ought to be barely ahead of Kansas City for ninth rather than a half-game behind the Red Sox).
So yes, Miami’s needs are greater, and no, the Giants acquiring Gordon Beckham (if that deal, the first six-day rental in available memory, actually happens) does not somehow increase their attractiveness. Their desperation in the face of the Eduardo Nunez injury, yes, but not their attractiveness.
Now this is not some sort of command that Giant fans should abandon their lifelong Kool-aid addiction, or some cheap form of defiance to our Comcastian overlords. You want to root for the Giants, go ahead – just so long as you do it where I can’t see, hear or read you (except for McCovey Chronicles’ Grant Brisbee, the one fan/typist who has diplomatic immunity).
But at least you should all have the minimal human decency to be genuinely melancholy when the Marlins are eliminated, which could conceivably happen as soon as Wednesday night. Just so you remember that you have no call to sorcery or sympathy when your not-quite-the-Twins heroes gimp into the weekend trying to explain why a team that is not-quite-the-Twins still is in play.