Mets fans: "rooting for the Phillies to fail"

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Two storylines you’ll hear a lot of between now and the first pitch on Wednesday night are (a) how bad it’s going to be for Indians’ fans to see a Cliff Lee vs. CC Sabathia matchup in Game 1 of the World Series; and (b) how bad it’s going to be for Mets fans to see perhaps their two biggest rivals — and certainly their two biggest bogeymen — facing off in the Yankees and the Phillies.

While I’m not an Indians fan, I am an Ohioan, and I can pretty much say that the Lee-Sabathia thing is overplayed. Midwesterners tend to take things like that in stride, and it’s not like Clevelanders are any strangers to bad fortune.  Tribe fans feel pretty good about both Lee and Sabathia, neither of whom left Cleveland voluntarily, and each of whom provided a lot of enjoyment while they were here.  Indians Nation blames Mark Shapiro and the Dolans for letting those big guys go, and second on the list of blame is baseball’s whole financial structure, which most of them feel is simply broken (which it may be, though I don’t think Tribe fans are first among those who have been wronged by the system). Upshot: no one is going to freak out about this too much in Cleveland.

Mets fans, however? Well, that’s a different story.  Mets blogger Matt Cerrone:

. . . the Phillies anger me every day, where as I only think of the Yankees during a few days in June and the occasional October.

So, for me, I can handle knowing my respectful Yankee friends and family are happy, because it means Phillies fans will be sad and disappointed, and their failure makes me happy.  So, again, it’s not that I am rooting for the Yankees, it’s that I’m rooting for the Phillies to fail.

I have a hard time putting myself in the shoes of Mets fans — they’re pretty delusional shoes, after all — but I think I can get behind that line of reasoning.  The Yankees have only directly killed the Mets’ dreams once.  The Phillies have done it fairly often in recent years. Or, at the very least, they were closer to the scene of the crime when the Mets killed their own dreams by imploding late in the season.  Either way, if I were a Mets fan, I’d have to root for the Yankees to win or, as Cerrone puts it, root for the Phillies to lose. 

Actually, now that I think about it, if I were a Mets fan, I’d probably just order a full season’s worth of some shows I’ve missed on NetFlix and pretend that the World Series was already over.

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”