Breaking news: The Red Sox aren’t very good. The season has been borderline unbearable and as Chaim Bloom prepares for a fire sale at the trade deadline, it’s about to get even uglier. Now, am I advocating for bandwagoning? Not necessarily. However, if you love baseball and want to continue watching the sport into the postseason, it’s hard to stay invested without having a team you’re pulling for. It doesn’t make you any less of a Red Sox fan to have a team you’d like to see win it all in light of the fact that the Red Sox won’t be in the mix.
Most of these teams have some sort of status as a team that either has been really bad for a while or maybe has had some success, but hasn’t won a title. Others just have Red Sox ties that should interest Boston fans. I’m most definitely not suggesting you root for some juggernaut like the Yankees, Astros or Dodgers, as much as I know some of you would love to cheer for Mookie Betts again. If you root for a powerhouse, people have every right to consider you a bandwagoner, but these teams will keep your fan status clean and your appetite for good baseball quenched.
White Sox or Cubs
The White Sox and Cubs are part and parcel of the same thing and it’s not just that they’re both in Chicago. With both teams, you get to watch a former high ranking Red Sox prospect on a different team whether it be Anthony Rizzo or Yoan Moncada. With the Cubs, you also get the bonus of seeing Jon Lester — who started the season pitching well, but has faltered more recently — and the team might have an added feeling of familiarity given that it was mostly assembled by former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein.
If you enjoyed the movie Moneyball, you likely have a soft spot for the Oakland Athletics. It’s unfortunate that one of the teams at the forefront of the analytics craze in baseball still hasn’t been rewarded for their efforts. Billy Beane, who still holds a role in Oakland’s front office all these years later, remains ringless and it’d be nice to see a legendary executive finally reach the mountain top. It also helps that Oakland currently has the best record in the American League. They may be a bit of a slog to watch (3rd in ERA, 26th in batting average), but from afar they’re always a lovable team that’s easy to root for. That’s what made them such a good subject for a Hollywood movie.
The Padres might have the most swagger of any team in baseball right now after their grand slam show against the Texas Rangers. Fernando Tatis Jr. is the current favorite for NL MVP, just ahead of the Giants Mike Yastrzemski (whom may give you a good reason to root for the Giants, actually, but they didn’t make the list). The Padres have had quite the playoff drought — having not made the postseason since 2006 — and it’s nice to watch a losing team finally breakthrough. If all that isn’t enough, you’ll get to watch former Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo, one of the best in the business, call games again. That might be as big a draw for Boston fans as Tatis Jr.
EDIT: And now Mitch Moreland! What’s not to love about the Padres?
Like the Padres, the Marlins have been down for a while. Unlike the Padres, the Marlins don’t have the talent to rationalize how they’re performing so well this season. On paper, the Marlins should be one of the worst teams in baseball, but if Red Sox fans have learned anything from this season, it’s that it’s not all about how good your team can be on paper. The Marlins aren’t exactly setting the world on fire (only one game over .500 at the moment), but this team even being in the playoff mix is absurd. The Marlins were tied with the Orioles, Tigers, Royals and Mariners for the worst odds to win the World Series in baseball coming into the season at 300-1. Despite their solid start, their odds still sit at a measly 100-1. If you want to root for the underdog of all underdogs, this is your team.
Cleveland hasn’t won a World Series in 71 years, the longest drought in baseball. It’d be nice to see that streak finally ended. The team also boasts former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who most fans in Boston still hold a fondness for, and former Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon, if you needed another smaller draw to pull you in. There’s currently a three-way tie for first place in the AL Central, so this also should provide a very compelling and competitive division title race.
Photo: (AP Photo)