If your favorite team failed to reach the postseason -- sorry again, Seattle fans -- choosing whom to cheer for can be challenging. Especially given that nine of the possible postseason teams haven't won the World Series in droughts ranging from 22 to 107 years -- an average of 38 years apiece.
Who should you pull for? My annual Rootability Index, which includes a couple extra teams still fighting for a spot in the postseason, will break down your options.
Pros: Hmm. Well, the Yankees were actually kind of underdogs this year since few people picked them to make the postseason, so that's something. You also have to like Masahiro Tanaka. But the main reason to root for the Yankees: There is no better way to honor the great Yogi Berra -- who won 10 championships -- than for his former his team to reach the the World Series again. Ninety percent of baseball fans outside of New York may hate the Yankees, but the other two halves love Yogi.
Cons: Derek Jeter doesn't play for them anymore, but PED cheat Alex Rodriguez is back -- and New York fans have been cheering him this year. And oh, yeah, they're the Yankees, who have ruined seasons for more teams than anyone else.
Rootability Quotient: 20.4
Pros: Despite playing in one of the game's smallest markets, the Cardinals keep winning and drawing huge crowds -- this is their 12th postseason since 2000 and the 10th season in the past 11 in which they have averaged more than 40,000 fans per game. This franchise wins the right way (well, most of the time) by signing and developing good players and making shrewd deals. The Cardinals also will have the game's best record despite losing ace Adam Wainwright for most of the season and Matt Holliday for several months, along with several other injuries to key players. It's hard not to admire their winning ways -- unless you root for the Cubs or run the Astros' computer system.
Cons: Even some St. Louis fans might be getting sick and tired of seeing this team play in October so often that you would think the Cardinals hailed from the Bronx. Yes, St. Louis fans are passionate, devoted and knowledgeable. But their increasing arrogance -- "We're the greatest fans ever!'' -- just annoys fans elsewhere. Hey, try going through decades of losing seasons like Seattle, Milwaukee or San Diego fans have endured, then see how your fandom holds up. But if you still decide to root for the Cardinals, just be careful about buying tickets through their website because they might hack into your system.
Rootability Quotient: 32.7
Pros: Mike Trout is baseball's best player and an outfielder with an even longer reach than some NSA monitors, and he deserves more prime time in the national spotlight. Albert Pujols became an All-Star again this season and hit 38 homers, which almost justified the huge contract the Angels gave him back in 2012. Those two players should be enough to prompt you to bang some Thunder Stix, but if not, there is always entertaining lefty Hector Santiago, who has so many superstitious quirks he once showered in his uniform to wash away a bad loss.
Cons: The Angels could use a solid postseason as justification to sign someone else to another $125 million-plus contract.
Rootability Quotient: 65.1
Pros: While Mets fans haven't suffered to the extent of other teams on this list -- at least they have been to the World Series this century -- New York's National League team has endured some awful finishes in the past decade. Not this year, though. This was a season -- New York was .500 and 4 ½ games back on July 4 -- that should have swelled their fans' heads even larger than Mr. Met's. How can you not like a club with a rotation that ranges in age from 23 (Noah Syndergaard) to 42 (Bartolo Colon) and also features Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom? On top of that, as Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld tweeted, there is now "A Cespedes for the rest of us." Yoenis has 17 home runs since being traded to New York on July 31. It's holiday time again! Plus, any time the Mets win, Yankees fans feel a little pain.
Cons: If the Mets win the World Series, Bernie Madoff will be happy.
Rootability Quotient: 72.7
Pros: Despite their rich history, the Dodgers haven't been to a World Series since Vin Scully was barely old enough to qualify for AARP. In Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, the Dodgers have the sort of 1-2 punch that reminds you of when Scully was broadcasting the performances of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale (except that he doesn't describe as many batters getting beaned as when Big D was pitching). With those aces and players such as Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner and promising rookies Joc Pederson and Corey Seager, the Dodgers have enough going for them to keep their fans from leaving the stadium until at least the eighth inning. Besides, who wouldn't prefer a World Series in the sun and warmth of Southern California rather than chilly, 40-degree rain in New York or Pittsburgh?
Cons: It's hard to get too excited about a team with a luxury tax payroll -- nearly $300 million! -- that makes the Yankees' look like House Republicans are managing their budget.
Rootability Quotient: 73.2
Pros: Along with their Texas counterparts, the Rangers have never won a World Series (grrrrrr, Nelson Cruz!). And after a last-place, 95-loss finish in 2014, no one expected them to get the chance this season, either. For that matter, few expected that to happen as recently as early August, when Texas still was under .500 and eight games back. Now the Rangers are in first place thanks to Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Adrian Beltre and the deadline trade for Cole Hamels. That's the sort of turnaround that should rouse fans everywhere (even Seattle and San Diego) almost as much as a foot-stomping broadcast of "Cotton Eyed Joe.''
Cons: After being pushed aside two years ago, Nolan Ryan won't be throwing out any first pitches at Rangers' home games this postseason. And the further the Rangers advance, the longer fans might expand their waistlines to Prince-like levels by devouring more 24-inch, 2,700-calorie Broomsticks.
Rootability Quotient: 74.6
Pros: This team has been in existence for 53 years, yet it has never won a World Series. Red Sox and Cubs fans like to complain about their suffering, but consider the Astros. They got swept in their only World Series even though every game was a nail-biter of a loss. They saw a possible 2004 pennant slip away after an Albert Pujols homer in the 12th inning. They lost the 1986 National League Championship Series with two extra-inning losses, including a clinching 16-inning defeat. They lost the 1980 NLCS when all but one game went extra innings. They also had four horrible recent seasons in which they averaged 104 losses. But this team could end the misery with ace Dallas Keuchel, rookie sensation Carlos Correa and spirited 5-foot-6 defending batting champ Jose Altuve. And they could make it despite the second-lowest payroll in baseball (yes, even lower than Tampa Bay's).
Cons: You want to root for these guys but they're basically a below-.500 team since late May with a terrible road record. Do you really want to watch them in the postseason?
Rootability Quotient: 78.4
Pros: Since the Twins last reached the World Series nearly a quarter-century ago, they have been nearly contracted out of existence in 2001 and also have finished last three of the past four years. But they are back in part because of new manager and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor's expertise and people skills, plus the veteran presence of Torii Hunter (the friendliest player in baseball). And then there is All-Star Brian Dozier and powerful rookie Miguel Sano. This also is a club that shows loyalty, having had only three managers and three general managers over the past three decades. And hey, when the Twins play in a World Series, it always goes seven games.
Cons: Target Field is a gorgeous ballpark, but with the World Series likely stretching into November, do you really want games played outside in Minnesota? (The Twin Cities were hit with nearly three feet of snow -- followed by below-zero temperatures -- in the famous 1991 Halloween blizzard.).
Rootability Quotient: 79.8
Pros: Now, this is the Missouri team you want to root for. The Royals stunned everyone and regained their fan base last year by reaching the World Series after 29 years without a single postseason appearance -- only to lose in painful fashion. (Why, oh why, didn't third-base coach Mike Jirschele wave home Alex Gordon?) Kansas City returns much of the same exciting team with Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who covers almost as much ground as the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean combined (and he hits pretty well, too). The bullpen has been perhaps baseball's most dominating the past two years, though the loss of Greg Holland doesn't help. And if Kansas City is in the World Series, the intoxicatingly delicious aroma from all those tailgate barbecues could drift across the entire nation.
Cons: Not only did Kansas City collapse in September (going 10-17 with a combined 5.00 ERA), but the pugilistic Royals might fight their opponents so fiercely that WWE will want to steal the broadcast rights to the World Series.
Rootability Quotient: 80.2
Pros: Toronto ended the longest current stretch without a postseason appearance in baseball (22 years). Forget about dull, low-scoring games -- the Blue Jays keep things exciting, thanks to the best offense in the majors (857 runs, 223 home runs and a plus-229-run differential). They have the likely American League MVP in Josh Donaldson, the possible Cy Young in David Price, along with slugger Jose Bautista and the guy who turned the season around, Troy Tulowitzki (if he can come back from injury). R.A. Dickey, who has had a good second half, also is one of the smartest and most likable guys in baseball. Plus, they can give hope to Canadian fans, who lost the Expos in 2004 and haven't had a homegrown Stanley Cup champion since 1993. And we would get to hear "O, Canada''!
Cons: Yes, it has been a long time since the Jays were in the postseason -- but at least they won back-to-back World Series titles just before that drought began, which is more than some of these teams can say.
Rootability Quotient: 81.6
Pros: While Pittsburgh has ended its long losing stretch with three consecutive postseason appearance, the Pirates still haven't been to the World Series since 1979, back when the Sony Walkman was considered cutting-edge technology. Can the Pirates end that 36-year drought? Well, they have the starting pitching with Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano. Meanwhile, catcher Francisco Cervelli, first baseman Pedro Alvarez and center fielder Andrew McCutchen -- one of the most exciting players in baseball -- provide the offense. Heck, this is a team that was 18-22 on May 20 but has gone 77-40 since then. Have a Primanti Bros. sandwich delivered to your couch and root them on.
Cons: None. Unless you fear having to see some Steelers fans waving towels in the stands.
Rootability Quotient: 94.5
Pros: How can you not root for a team that hasn't reached the World Series in 70 years and hasn't won it in 107? Especially with this roster: Cy Young-deserving Jake Arrieta has been so good this season he has hit as many home runs (two) in the second half as he has allowed. Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber may be major league's best rookie class since the 1989 Mariners (though Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez and Omar Vizquel didn't strike out quite so often, except with the Big Unit was on the mound). The man who might be most responsible for this year's great turnaround is Joe Maddon, one of the most entertaining and most interesting managers in baseball. And renovated Wrigley Field now has a video screen so you can actually watch replays when the Cubs slam home runs or make great plays. Or when there is a play involving a fan. Speaking of which, if the Cubs finally reach the World Series, perhaps their fans will forgive the unfairly maligned Steve Bartman.
Cons: On the other hand, if the Cubs do reach and win the World Series, they could become as insufferable as Red Sox fans did after Boston won in 2004.
Rootability Quotient: 94.6