So, if you’re not a fan of the Royals or Giants, who ya got?

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Before the playoffs started I talked about why you should or shouldn’t root for various teams if you have no dog in the fight. I feel like a couple of weeks of games and emerging storylines changes all of that a bit. We’ve gotten a different look at these teams through the postseason lens and our feelings may have changed. So I ask: if you’re not a Giants or Royals fan, who are you gonna root for in the World Series and why?

Here’s a possible calculus. Not all of the pros are things I necessarily care about and not all of the cons are things that actually bother me, but these are categories of things that encourage and/or bother some people, so let’s put it all out on the table.

GIANTS PRO:

  • I tend to favor the National League because I’m old and I remember when the leagues meant something;
  • Their history is hard to hate, what with guys like Mays, McCovey and others, all of whom were great but none of whom have been truly shoved down our throats like Yankees or Dodgers icons have. Add in Barry Bonds and all of the politics which surround him which, while a con for most people, is a big pro for me;
  • It’s not some star-studded team. They’re doing this without their two highest-paid players in Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and another top-paid guy (for them) in Angel Pagan.
  • Bruce Bochy is a hell of a manager and in a day and age where teams have, for whatever reason, decided that managerial experience is meaningless, he is showing us all that, yep, experience matters.
  • They are clearly not the national, non-aligned favorite and there’s something good about separating yourself from the herd.
  • San Francisco is a way-cool city, maybe my favorite city in the country and while that probably shouldn’t matter much for baseball, dammit, I always have good associations with that place.

GIANTS CON:

  • Stars or not, they’ve been there. Three times in five years? Eh, give someone else a chance.
  • They’re an 88-win team and a second wild card. Embracing a Giants World Series victory means embracing not just the wild card, but the second wild card.
  • Giants fans. Look, I’m not going to put too fine a point on it as it’s a very small point in the grand scheme and doesn’t particularly bother me personally — and I’m certainly not going to overly-generalize, because it certainly does not apply to everyone — but based on my experiences at AT&T Park and based on what some of my friends in the Bay Area tell me, Giants fans aren’t uniformly the best or most-informed baseball fans around and, if you’re in to this sort of thing, maybe they haven’t quite earned it. There are a huge number of people who have come to San Francisco in recent years and gotten really good paying jobs and becoming a Giants fan is just as much part of that deal as jacking up the housing market is. So a big portion of Giants fandom — especially those who can afford season tickets in that park — are a tad, well, green. Hats off to the old timers who used to freeze in Candlestick and root for Shawn Estes and Glenallen Hill, but there are a lot of people who joined the bandwagon for Bonds’ big numbers, got off when he went away and then hopped back on in 2011, and maybe they could stand to suffer more before getting their third ring. It’s not a Cardinals thing in that I’ve never really met a smug or entitled Giants fan, but it’s something at least some of you either care about or have mentioned in comments before.
  • That’s really all I got in the cons. We all talked about being tired of the Giants and Cardinals in the NLCS, but I feel like the groaning at that was about 80-20 in terms of groaning about St. Louis.

ROYALS PRO:

  • They came (seemingly) out of nowhere and are trying to slough off 29 years of futility. Yes, that talking point has been beaten into the ground over the past few weeks, but that makes it no less true. Royals fans deserve this after so much crappy baseball and so many poorly-run Royals teams.
  • The defense, she is spectacular, and that should be rewarded. And say what you want about the tenets of power-driven, take-and-rake baseball, but all of the bunts and steals and crap are certainly interesting. I wouldn’t want my team doing that 162 games a year, and yes, sometimes the small ball makes us cringe, but it’s certainly true that we haven’t been able to look away.
  • Power bullpen arms are always awesome.
  • Kansas City is no San Francisco, but it’s a great city as well. At least it has been in my experience. And not just for the BBQ. I used to go there for work a lot and found it to be a really enjoyable place with nice people. As a Midwesterner, it’s hard not to have some love for the place.
  • Admit it: we’re all looking forward to IHOP or Denny’s signing Billy Butler to a national TV deal pitching “Country Breakfast” specials.

ROYALS CON:

  • The bandwagon is pretty full right now. I get why it is, but always beware of what the crowd is doing.
  • Ned Yost is, objectively, not a good manager and sometimes it’s really hard to see people fall into success despite themselves. This could be mitigated against if, as he sort of did during the ALCS, he shows that he’s learning from his mistakes on the fly, but it’s also possible Yost Yosts it up, the Royals nonetheless win and we’re stuck with a winter in which we’re subjected to “Ned Yost: smarter than you think” articles.
  • Related: a winter full of commentary about how the Royals are the new baseball paradigm and everyone should emulate them, blah, blah, blah, all the while ignoring the fact that, yo, this is still an 89-win team here.
  • Your girlfriend roots for an AL Central team that is not the Royals and if you root for them it could be bad for you for a week or two. (note: this may not apply to everyone).

THE VERDICT:

Man, I have no idea. It’s hard for me to hate either of these teams. I can’t unconditionally love one or the other, but neither is ire-inducing in any real way. We say “I just want to see a great, competitive World Series” all the time, but rarely is it actually true. We usually prefer one team over the other pretty sharply. But in this case I really can’t give one team an edge in the personal sentiment department.

It’s been a crazy, improbable and exciting postseason so far. More of that please, and let the chips fall where they may.

Dodgers clinch NL’s top seed, West title with win over A’s

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Wrapping up an NL West title has become routine for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but in a year in which no one was sure three months ago if there would be a baseball season, manager Dave Roberts wanted his team to still savor the moment.

The Dodgers clinched the NL’s top postseason seed and eighth straight division title Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics. They are third team to win at least eight straight division titles, joining the Atlanta Braves (14 straight from 1991-2005) and New York Yankees (nine straight from 1998-2006).

“To fast forward a couple months and be crowned NL West champs is a credit to everyone. It should never be taken for granted,” Roberts said. “Truth be told a lot of guys didn’t know we could clinch. We were responsible but I let it know that it has to be appreciated.”

The Dodgers, who own the best record in the majors at 39-16, were the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth on Sept. 16. They will open postseason play on Sept. 30 by hosting every game in a best-of-three series against the No. 8 seed.

Los Angeles came into the day with a magic number of two and got help with the Angels’ 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres.

Instead of a wild celebration on the mound after Jake McGee struck out Sean Murphy for the final out, players briskly walked out of the dugout to celebrate with teammates. Everyone grabbed a division clinching shirt and cap before heading to the mound for a group photo.

The clubhouse celebration was also muted. Champagne was still involved, but it was players toasting each other with a glass instead of being showered in it.

“We talked about it instead of dumping stuff on people. It’s a moment you need to celebrate and we did,” said Corey Seager, who had three hits and one of Los Angeles’ four home runs, “It stinks not being able to do champagne and beer showers because some of the younger guys haven’t been able to experience that.”

Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and AJ Pollock also went deep for Los Angeles, which leads the majors with 104 home runs.

“This whole year has been weird. There’s no other way to describe it,” Muncy said. “It’s sad not to be celebrate as usual but we know there is a lot more at stake.”

Dustin May (2-1) went five innings and allowed two runs on three hits. The 22-year-old red-headed righty set a team record by not allowing more than three earned runs in his first 13 career starts, which include 10 this season.

Robbie Grossman homered for Oakland, which clinched its first AL West crown in seven years on Monday during a day off. The Athletics, in the postseason for the third straight year, currently are the AL’s No. 3 seed.

Mark Canha had two of Oakland’s five hits.

Seager tied it at 1 in the first with an RBI single and then led off the fifth with a drive to center off T.J. McFarland to extend LA’s lead to 6-2.

Muncy gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the third inning with a two-run homer. Taylor and Pollock extended it with solo shots in the fourth off Oakland starter Frankie Montas (3-5).

Grossman quickly gave Oakland a 1-0 lead when he homered off the left-field pole in the first inning. Sean Murphy briefly gave the Athletics a 2-1 advantage when he led off the third with a walk and scored on a wild pitch by May with two outs.

Montas, who allowed only four home runs in his first seven starts, has given up six in his past three. The right-hander went four innings and yielded five runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

“They’re a pretty good team that when you make mistakes, they make you pay,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “They’re pretty good laying off and making you throw it over the plate. They made Montas pay, unfortunately.”

Cody Bellinger added two hits for the Dodgers, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the seventh.

ATHLETICS ADVANCE

The A’s have a team text thread they used to celebrate clinching their first AL West title since 2013 during their off day Monday, when the Mariners beat Houston.

“We didn’t really celebrate too much yet. It’s exciting,” Chad Pinder said. “We wanted to do it on our own terms. We still won the division and that was our goal. It’s nice to know we’ll be playing home for the series.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Athletics: INF/OF Pinder (strained right hamstring) planned to run at Dodger Stadium and test his leg with hopes of still playing before the conclusion of the regular season. …. RHP Daniel Mengden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas. He was designated for assignment after being medically cleared and reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list following a positive test from Aug. 28.

Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch due to left hamstring discomfort He came off the injured list on Sept. 15 and has not played in the field since Aug. 28. … Joc Pederson was in the lineup at DH after missing five games while on the family emergency medical list. Roberts said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Pederson will remain with the team during the entire postseason.

UP NEXT

Athletics: LHP Sean Manaea (4-3, 4.50) is 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA over his last five starts dating to Aug. 20.

Dodgers: LHP Julio Urias (3-0, 3.49) will make his team-leading 11th start.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this story.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports