How Giants fans can choose who to root for in MLB playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants technically played just four meaningless games in 2022, but you would have a hard time making that case to the small crowds that filtered into Oracle Park during the last homestand. It felt like more of the same for a franchise that hasn't had much to cheer for in recent Octobers.
Since Game 4 in the 2016 NLDS, the Giants have played just five postseason games. Even with an expanded postseason this time around, they're once again back home on the couch or on the golf course.
There won't be local rooting interests this year, but if you're a Giants fan, you'll probably still tune it at some point. Here's a ranking of who to root for this October as you wait for the Aaron Judge rumors to really pick up:
12. Dodgers: No explanation necessary.
11. Cardinals: Ahh, the Giants' old postseason nemesis. Thanks for the Barry Zito and Travis Ishikawa memories, but you won't find a lot of Giants fans who can stomach ever rooting for the Cardinals.
The Albert Pujols story has been unbelievable and it's been cool to see how they've handled Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, but that probably doesn't matter to many Giants fans. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have great reputations, but they spent a lot of years making life miserable for the Giants.
Former Giant Jose Quintana will start Game 1 for them and Chris Stratton is in their bullpen, but those are their only Giants ties.
10. Braves: Another Braves run would mean rings for old friends Alex Dickerson, Ehire Adrianza, Chadwick Tromp, Adam Duvall, Will Smith, Jay Jackson and Mike Ford (yes, he was on the 2022 Giants, among other teams). But nobody roots for a team to go back-to-back.
9. Phillies: If Gabe Kapler was enjoying their late-season collapse, he certainly didn't show it publicly. Kapler speaks highly of interim manager Rob Thomson, and J.T. Realmuto is one of his favorite players, but there aren't a lot of Giants connections here.
Sam Coonrod is the most notable one, but a Phillies title would mean a ring for longtime Giants prospect Tyler Cyr, who finished his season with 11 strong appearances for the A's.
8. Mets: Would an early exit make Steve Cohen more likely to jump into the Judge sweepstakes, complicating the offseason a bit for the Giants? Maybe. Maybe not. But most of all, this is, once again, about the Dodgers.
The Mets, with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom atop their rotation, probably have the best chance out of the NL field to knock the Dodgers off. If you're rooting against the Dodgers all month, you probably want the Mets coming out of the Wild Card round.
Beyond that, they have Darin Ruf, a good dude and a good Giant who had a brutal couple of months after a surprising trade. Ruf hit .152 with no homers after the trade but he's on their postseason roster and it would be cool to see him have a big moment in October.
7. Yankees: Ordinarily, the Yankees would be right near the bottom of any list like this, but what do you do with the Judge factor? Would a championship make it easier for him to bolt for, say, a team closer to home? Would a World Series loss leave him feeling like he has unfinished business in New York? Would an early exit lead to firings and chaos in the Bronx?
It's hard to figure out, so we'll just leave the Yankees right here in the middle.
6. Guardians: We have reached the point where it's like, "Eh, I guess. I'd rather choose you over the bigger-market team." The Guardians are a fun story and have Bay Area native Steven Kwan and former UCSB star Shane Bieber.
A Guardians title would mean a ring for current Giants left-hander Alex Young, who made one appearance for Cleveland earlier this year.
5. Rays: It's always fun to root for the underdog. The only problem here is that so many large market teams now try to copy their success, and that doesn't make for the most fan-friendly experience in other places. A Rays title would just keep shifting the game in that direction.
The Rays and Giants had a lot of connections in recent years, but the only former Giant to play for them in 2022 was Matt Wisler, and he's not even on the team anymore. Unless you're, like, a huge Kevin Kiermaier fan, there's not really a "get that veteran a ring" angle here, either.
4. Padres: This probably doesn't matter to most of you but the Padres serve nachos in their press box in the third inning every night, and a franchise should be rewarded for that.
A franchise should also be rewarded for going for it when so many front offices these days are doing the opposite. The Padres have not worried about winning at the margins -- they have taken huge swings, signing Manny Machado and trading for Juan Soto, Josh Hader and many others. Their fans have responded, filling Petco Park and turning the Gaslamp into one of the best pro sports scenes in the country.
Yes, it would be hard for Giants fans to see another team in the division win it all. But perhaps it would provide a reminder to the organization of just how important star power still can be. Plus, if the Padres get through the Mets, they'll face the Dodgers.
3. Blue Jays: The correct answer for the Giants last offseason wasn't Kevin Gausman or Carlos Rodón ... it was Gausman AND Rodón. Gausman was an ace who was popular with other players and fans and became a mentor for Logan Webb, but the Giants never seriously made an effort to bring him back.
In his first season with the Blue Jays, Gausman had a 3.35 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 31 starts. He finished second among AL starters in fWAR and led the way in FIP (2.38), ranking behind only Rodón on the MLB leaderboard. Oh, what could have been.
2. Astros: They were the most-hated team in baseball for a while because of the cheating scandal, but if you're a Giants fan, that scandal likely cost the Dodgers the title in 2017, so you're probably not too upset. It still might be weird to see the Astros this high, but this one is pretty easy. They have two very popular former Giants, plus former Willie Mac Award winner Will Smith.
Manager Dusty Baker clinched his spot in Cooperstown by shooting past 2,000 wins, but he's still looking for his first title. The Astros also have Mauricio Dubon, who was a fan favorite in San Francisco before being traded earlier this year. It might seem like it happened three seasons ago, but Dubon provided one of the more interesting moments of the 2022 Giants season when he put down a bunt in a blowout, igniting "unwritten rules" talk. He also provided one of the better memes of the Giants season.
Rooting for the Astros might feel gross on the surface, but this is essentially just pulling for Dusty and Dubon.
1. Mariners: They're an easy story to root for after making the postseason for the first time since 2001 and ending the longest drought in the sport, but it goes beyond that.
The Giants dealt popular veterans Curt Casali and Matthew Boyd to Seattle at the deadline and you can bet plenty of current Giants players will be cheering from the couch, particularly for Casali, who did a nice job in parts of two seasons in San Francisco.
Boyd's story is one of the best of the season. He was hurt when he signed with the Giants and had a setback during his rehab, but he allowed just two runs in 13 1/3 relief innings after the trade. Boyd is a native of the Seattle area and a lifelong Mariners fan, and he couldn't hide his emotion after they clinched a playoff spot.
— ROOT SPORTSâ¢ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) October 1, 2022
Seriously, how can you not root for that?
Plus, the Giants and Mariners made so many trades this year that probably, like, 17 current Giants will get rings if the Mariners win it all.