As we head out of the MLB All-Star break, the refrain off of most Chicagoans lips is, "Who gives a sh--?"
On the North Side, the Cubs brain trust will attempt to continue to upgrade their farm system by acquiring blue-chip prospects and by shipping off what valuable parts they have left on their roster, including Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano.
On the South Side, Rick Hahn, serving as General Manager at the trade deadline for the first time, will actively try to put his own personal stamp on the White Sox wheelings and dealings that could and should result in as many as seven players departing, including: Adam Dunn, Jesse Crain, Paul Konerko, Matt Lindstrom, Jake Peavy, Addison Reed and the hopefully untouchable Chris Sale.
Baseball for the next two and a half months is going to be painful, so without any real rooting interest at hand until the Bears get under way September 8th against the Bengals at Soldier Field, ya got to root for someone, right?
Here is a list of five teams the Chicago baseball fan can actually care about:
1. Pittsburgh Pirates - Andrew McCutchen and friends will try and make this second half a little different then the last two. Fans in Pittsburgh are hoping that this is the year that they finally achieve a record above .500, since nearly twenty one years have expired since the Pirates were last in the playoffs. Which means that this idiot has lived his whole life without seeing the Pirates play one out of playoff baseball.
This year seems to be different as feel-good story Jason Grilli and McCutchen were only two of the Pittsburgh squads five all-stars (which also is the first time since Gerald Ford was President they they have had five all-stars). Their pitching looks strong and deep and Starling Marte is a beast.
Reasons to root for them: First playoff appearance in 20 years, Jason Grilli and awesome uniforms.
2.) Cincinnati Reds: For whatever reason, Cubs fans blamed Dusty Baker for the premature demise of blue chip arms Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, they also blamed him for rising gas prices, the parking meter fiasco, pension shortfalls, potholes, and whenever their 16 in. softball game got rained out, but in reality Dusty Baker is one hell of a coach (16th all-time on the career wins list). Even though this team tapered off, they have Joey Votto, the flame thrower Aroldis Chapman and one of the most charismatic players in all of baseball in second baseman, Brandon Phillips.
Reasons to root for them: Because hopefully the two teams that come out of the NL Central don't include the St. Louis Cardinals.
3.) Baltimore Orioles: How do you not root for a team from Baltimore? Have you ever been to Baltimore? Me neither, but when a show like this is made about your town, there can’t be a lot to root for. Granted, they just won the Super Bowl, but if you can’t get behind the seemingly clean Chris Davis’ pursuit for the “clean” home run record then you are officially jaded by the Steroids Era. Also, this guy Manny Machado plays for them, and he's kind of good.
4.) Cleveland Indians: Local native Jason Kipnis hails from Glenbrook North high school and is an all-star and will be a fixture for the Indians for years to come. Justin Masterson is having a strong year and Terry Francona is proving that he is a top-tier manager. The Indians have been here before though, as the Pirates were last year, when they were a first half surprise before tailing off in the second half.
Reasons to root for them: The pride and joy of Northbrook, Illinois, Jason Kipnis!
5.) Tampa Bay Rays: A team that consistently competes under perennial manager of the year candidate Joe Maddon has about three fans show up for their home games each night. The resurgent James Loney, Evan Longoria and the fresh off the DL, reigning AL Cy Young award winner David Price have this team in contention and only 2.5 out at the all-star break.
Reasons to root for them: Worst fans in all of baseball need someone to step-up and root for them.
Honorable Mention: Detroit (Detroit Rock Bottom), Oakland and Arizona.
Oh, and here's a great and random clip from Eastbound and Down: In my plums.
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