Oct 7, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants players celebrate on the field with relief pitcher Santiago Casilla (46) after defeating the Washington Nationals in game four of the 2014 NLDS baseball playoff game at AT&T Park. The Giants won the series three games to one and advance to the NLCS. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
While the Cincinnati Reds settle into their winter hibernation, the baseball world marches on. Tonight, the National League Championship Series opens at Busch Stadium as the St. Louis Cardinals host the San Francisco Giants. Just because our team is long gone does not mean we can’t get into the post-season, though, so here are five ways for Reds fans to enjoy the NLCS.
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Root for the Giants
There’s nothing about the Giants that jumps out and makes you think they’re a great team, or that there’s even anything remarkable about them. That apparent mediocrity makes them interesting, though, and they have won eight straight post-season series, including two of the last four Fall Classics.
This underdog-favorite dichotomy makes them fascinating to watch in the playoffs and pretty easy to root for, as long as you’re not a fan of the other team.
Root Against the Cardinals
Duh, right? If you root for the Giants in this series, you root against the Cardinals.
This is something different, though. Much stronger.
If you’re a Reds fan, chance are you can’t stand the Cardinals, so the NLCS gives you a chance to really dig in to your dislike. Bump fists with your buddies whenever a Cardinal batter strikes out. Pray for Adam Wainwright to groove all of his pitches. Change you avatar to a crossed-out Cardinal for the next two weeks.
In short, embrace your baseball hatred.
Look for Former Reds
As in the AL, the NLCS won’t feature many former Reds, but we can still root for them (him?) and search out Cincinnati connections up and down both lineups. One guy who stands out in the list of names for these teams on baseball-reference.com, both because he is a former Red and because he has been playing so long, is Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt.
Wouldn’t it be fun if he can help the Giants get back to the World Series and he meets up with his original team, the Kansas City Roayals?
Look for Future Reds
Just about every roster has players that the Reds might be able to put to use in their quest to upgrade in left field, in the bullpen and on offense. Maybe the rotation, too.
As the NLCS unfolds, keep your eyes open for guys who might improve the Reds next year.
John Lackey in the rotation? Hunter Pence or Mike Morse in left field? Affeldt in the pen?
The speculation is fun, and it can help give you an extra rooting interest in the games.
Take It All In
Most importantly soak in the sights and sounds of the ballpark, whether you’re watching on TV, listening on the radio, catching highlights on ESPN or even lucky enough to actually be at the game. If both Championship Series and the World Series go to seven games, we have only 20 games left in our 2014 storybook. Soon enough, we’ll be left with cold memories and faint dreams about 2015.
Giants. Cardinals. Royals. Orioles.
That’s our world right now, and we would do well to breathe in the sweet autumn moments while we can.