The dream is dead. The Mets could not beat Madison Bumgarner–or even score one run–so the 2016 season is over. As Jarrett Seidler wrote last week, there are plenty of positives to look back on, and fans should not be too discouraged.
Nevertheless, the Mets’ absence in the playoffs now creates a void for those who wanted to see more Mets baseball in October. There will still be baseball, but now fans will have to find other teams to support in the meantime. With the field now narrowed down to six (sorry, Carlos Beltran), what should be the preferred rooting order?
6. Los Angeles Dodgers
Former Mets: Justin Turner
No, absolutely not. They have Chase Utley, not to mention a couple other former Phillies who gave fans headaches. It would be hard for a team that isn’t in the NL East to take the bottom spot on this list, but that’s the power of Utley. Not even Turner’s glorious red locks can come close to making up for that. There’s also the fact that their World Series title drought is roughly as long as the Mets’ and they simply can’t be allowed to snap it before the Mets snap theirs.
5. Washington Nationals
Former Mets: Daniel Murphy, Oliver Perez
It was disappointing enough that the Mets couldn’t surge ahead of the Nats late this year as they did in late 2015, but that’s the wisdom of gradually dropping Matt Williams, Drew Storen, and Jonathan Papelbon from the organization. There is no sense in cheering for the primary division rival. It’s not quite to the crazy level of a Cardinals fan pulling for the Cubs or a Yankees fan hoping the Red Sox can survive, but the point still stands. Sorry, Murph.
4. San Francisco Giants
Former Mets: Angel Pagan
The team that knocked the Mets out only ranking third-worst here is a testament to the grim reality of the field. However, #EvenYearBullshit can be only be tolerated so much, particularly since Bumgarner almost single-handedly eliminated the Mets, save for a three-run blast from a classic “who?” Giants hero, Conor Gillaspie. They’ve won enough. It’s time for someone else.
Knowing the Giants, there is a very low chance that this season doesn’t end with Eduardo Nunez proudly holding the World Series MVP.
3. Chicago Cubs
Former Mets: None
The Cubs are the last NL team to be mentioned, but only because the idea of a championship for them is not as bad as it would be for the other three clubs. Like the since-eliminated Red Sox, they do have that awesome young core, and it’s not like they caused any problems for the Mets last year en route to their NL pennant. So as fun as it would be to see that championship drought continue, they’re palatable enough to make them the best NL option, despite Joe Maddon’s cutesy quirks.
2. Toronto Blue Jays
Former Mets: Ezequiel Carrera (minors), Jose Bautista (lol)
When this offense is rolling (as they did in the ALDS), it’s a lot of fun to watch, as the Blue Jays have tons of dinger threats. It’s kind of unbelievable that they had to settle for a Wild Card. It is incredibly difficult to find relief in this lineup, as Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista provide formidable threats right in the heart of it, and both Russell Martin and Troy Tulowitzki had 20 homers this year, as well. The fan base has had its ugly moments, and Donaldson has been a bit hyper-sensitive about remotely close pitches. They still aren’t a bad option, especially for those unenthused by the NL crop.
1. Cleveland Indians
Former Mets: None
Numbers one and two can be easily flip-flopped. The Indians’ whole brand is pretty gross, from the name to Chief Wahoo to fan behavior. If the team was named anything else, this would be a no-doubter. Pretend they’re called the Fightin’ Franconas.
The Fightin’ Franconas just have a tremendously entertaining team, with terrific defense from the likes of Francisco Lindor and an underrated offense led by Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and up-and-comers Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez. The pitching would be even more tremendous if they were at full strength, but watching Corey Kluber robotically mow through lineups is all the fun of Bumgarner without it actually being Bumgarner.
Also, Terry Francona has expertly managed the bullpen and is willing to use super-reliever Andrew Miller in just about any spot, even as early as the fifth inning. It’s refreshing to see both a manager embrace that fireman role, and for the pitcher himself to fully support it. They have the longest title drought in the AL at 68 years. Maybe it would nicer if they broke it next year, but the Fightin’ Franconas are a fine pick.
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