I won't bore you with the details of the D-backs non-playoff inevitability. I think a lot of people have already internalized that the Diamondbacks have little hope of catching a postseason spot with a month to go. Is it still with in the realm of possibility? Sure, but it would take a once in a lifetime kind of run that the Cardinals had last year, coinciding with the Giants, Dodgers, and all the teams currently in front of the team for the Wild Card.
So where do we go from here as fans?
There's the time tested method of rooting to be a spoiler. In this scenario, you root that your team beats other teams with the hope that it will cause them to fall out of playoff contention (or at least make their life hell). Arizona has 6 series remaining against teams that are in the playoff hunt, and 5 of those series are against either the Dodgers or Giants. The road to the NL West crown is going to go through the Diamondbacks, and the team has an opportunity to make either opponent's life hell.
Given that so much of our remaining schedule is against the Dodgers and Giants, we will naturally fall into the role of rooting to play spoiler. And I certainly wouldn't want to tell people to not root for the team. We're not in a position to tank for a high draft pick, and that always feels a bit distasteful.
The other side of realizing your team won't make the playoffs, though, is realizing that it inherently means some other team is. And given that being a fan is all about expressing preferences, then it follows that fans of an out of contention team would have a pyramid of hierarchy for alternates.
There are really only three teams in contention for the division this late in the game, and the D-backs and currently floundering their way out of the race. So who is it going to be, Dodgers or Giants?
We battled against the Giants last year, saw their fans whine for new rules in regards to Buster Posey, and suffer through their 2010 World Series loss and "torture." On the other hand, their most annoying player, Brian Wilson, has been out of the public eye for most of the year due to injuries and general averageness. Sure, they had a roiding roider who roided in Melky Cabrera, but he was caught and punished, unlike some Giants outfielders of yesteryear.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, seemed like a fairytale story at the beginning of the year. They had genuine talent in Kershaw, Kemp, and Ethier, but filled in the rest of the roster with AAAA guys. Even the Dodgers bloggers laughed when I suggested that they might compete this year. We have some recent hatred of the Dodgers for destroying our 2008 season (though honestly, the D-backs kind of did it to themselves), but whatever goodwill is now burnt away with the recent transactions. The Dodgers have new ownership, and seem determined to become the Yankees West, acquiring former and current All-Stars to replace their AAAA players.
I wouldn't have imagined it in 2010 or 2011, but in the race between two evils I'm going to have to back the Giants. San Francisco certainly has a higher payroll as well, but there's always something distasteful about so blatantly buying all the best players. It's like that annoying rich kid down the street that had all the newest video games systems, and could afford to buy whole cases of Star Wars CCG, while I was stuck with an NES and the occasional pack or two.
The current race (assuming the Giants, with their 2 game lead, win out the West) has the Braves, Cardinals, Pirates, and Dodgers. The first two teams are in the drivers seat, while the next are within 3 games.
We've already covered the club from LA (now, not the one in red, the other one), so let's briefly consider the other three. The Braves are kind of a fun team, but your ability to root for them is probably determined solely on how you feel about the 90's, and what you feel about Chipper Jones. Some might root for them to win in his last season, but others are probably gagging at all the media attention his last postseason would bring.
The Cardinals are obviously not new to success, considering they won last year. That might make you feel okay with them dropping out, but then you might also be rooting for St. Louis to do well to spite Albert Pujols (who, by the way, ain't making the playoffs this year barring a miracle). Still, I imagine most people could take or leave the Cardinals in the playoffs this year.
Which leaves the Pirates, the feel good pick of every year since the early 90's. I think the only people who can't root for the Pirates to just get in, even if they lose the Wild Card play-in game, are NL Central fans, or people who hate the Steelers so much that they see Black and Yellow and pass out. Unfortunately, they've been sliding pretty hard lately and are on the outside looking in.
I suppose from the four remaining teams I would pick the Pirates (natch) and the Cardinals.
What about you? Now that the D-backs seem more assured of no meaningful October baseball, are you going to let your fan eyes wander?