Most of the people who frequent this site are better people than I am. They might pick out a team to root for in the playoffs when the Brewers aren't involved and they might manage to throw themselves into their temporary or secondary fandom with passion and sincerity.
I've never managed to do that.
Being the person that I am, mostly for ill, my interest in the baseball playoffs when the Brewers aren't involved are almost inherently negative, aside from the manic desire to see just a few more ballgames as the season disappears down the drainpipes of winter. If you're like me, you root negatively, pulling for one or more team's on-field calamity far more often than you hope for a well timed hit, a gorgeous hit and run, or a well played game. Every year I run through the candidates and pick the teams I'd least like to see win it all, and usually there are at least a couple of teams that I'd like to see experience a very public spirit crushing humiliation. In that spirit, here are your playoff teams rated on a 10 pt Chris Carpenter scale (because really, every hater out there is an amateur compared to the spittle-ejecting, curse-machine that is the pile of offal known as Chris Carpenter) scale for the degree of contempt I currently feel.
St. Louis Cardinals - 9.5 Chris Carpenters
Chris Carpenter is back. As if Yadier Molina wasn't enough. This is a comfortable disdain by now for me and most Brewers fans. Sure, some of the more objectionable types are gone, and I'll admit the white hot fury of my hate for the Cardinals has faded from what it was last year when they got hot at the right time while managed by a serial liar. But hey, it's the Cardinals. If you need a good injection of disgust for this franchise google "Molina" and "spit" or watch the video of Molina starting a fight with the Reds that ended a teammates career. Perfect scenario: they lose the WC game by 15 runs and TLR gets arrested for an OWI before he gets out of the parking lot after the game (pre-accident, I don't want anyone getting hurt. Not even the miserable guy behind the wheel.)
New York Yankees - 9.2 Chris Carpenters
There are actually several guys on this team that I admire quite a bit. It's hard for me to get worked up over ARod, though others seem to manage it. But as long as the economic structure of the MLB remains out of balance, largely by the design of the owners of this organization who then have the temerity to suggest publicly, repeatedly, that really don't enjoy all that much of advantage, as long as there is a Steinbrenner in New York, I'll hate the Yankees. Perfect scenario: Getting knocked out by the Orioles. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Sabathia lose the game that takes them out, but I might be in the minority on that one.
Texas Rangers - 9.1 Chris Carpenters
There was a time, not so long ago, that the Rangers were one of my favorite non-Brewer teams in the MLB. Then they blew a World Series they should have won and handed the Cardinals another title. I could have forgiven them that, I suppose, because the Rangers have been denied twice now on the MLB's biggest stage. Surely that's deserving of some pity, some empathy, some support? It was indeed. Until the team that's come in second consecutive years PASSED on the biggest deadline acquisition it could have made and went into the playoffs at least one arm short of what it needed to win the title. In a fair, just world, Zack Greinke would be a Brewer. In the world we actually live in, Zack Greinke SHOULD be a Ranger. He's not because the Rangers, in their wisdom, wanted to keep their organizational infield depth more than they wanted a title. And now they're going to pay for it. Not because I want them to (though I do), but because they aren't good enough to get out of the AL, in my opinion, and they've got no one to blame but themselves. Am I pleasantly surprised by Segura? Sure I am. Glad to have him. But I wanted Profar or Olt, and in a rational world, we have one of them, and I'm just bitter enough to resent it. Besides, watching Nolan Ryan make his angry old man face is more entertaining than you'd think. Perfect Scenario: The Rangers win the WC game, but having spent Yu Darvish to do so, they lose the game that Zack Greinke should be pitching for them after falling behind 5-0 after 3 innings.
San Francisco Giants - 7.4 Chris Carpenters
Usually it's tough for me to get worked up about the Giants. They play a pretty style of ball, at least when they've got the right guy(s) on the mound. They did recently win a title, which generally makes me pull for someone else, and they've got the likely MVP who isn't which is aggravating. But for me, and I'm maybe a little sensitive to this, their fans, who regularly feted Barry Bonds (and still would if he showed up) booed Ryan Braun, having convicted him in their heads on less evidence than there is against Bonds. Yeah, screw the Giants.
Cincinnatti Reds - 5.3 Chris Carpenters
I've never had any luck hating the Reds. Even back in the 70's when I was a kid they were in a league I rarely watched and only casually followed, so I didn't much care when they dominated. They seem to really irritate the Cardinals, and that's certainly a positive character trait from my perspective. There are a couple of guys here I find mildly irritating, but otherwise it's pretty much a meh from my perspective. They rank here because I guess I'd rather no one else from our division win a title before the Brewers do. They can hang around long enough to escort the Cardinals out the door if that's necessary, but after that, so long.
Washington Nationals - 4.2 Chris Carpenters
Here's where things get dicey. My dislike here really faded dramatically the last several weeks. I was one of the "get out of my yard" types who didn't like some of the stuff I heard and (in videos removed from their contexts) saw from Bryce Harper over the previous 18 months. Then after I watched him play for complete games again in the recent Brewers/Nationals series I found myself recognizing what I previously saw as arrogance and disrespect as passion, and yes, in-game intelligence particularly for a player with that little big league experience. Bottom line I really enjoyed watching him play, and I suspect I'll continue to do so for some time. So why do they rate this high on the Carpenter-Scale of Hate? Because I really, intensely hate the decision to shut down Strasburg. I mean, what the hell are you saving him for? This is why teams fight and claw and scheme to get guys like Strasburg on their teams! So they can pitch some of the biggest games in franchise history! Whatever happened to firing every bullet in your gun? What happened to selling out for a title? Tell Pete Vukovich, who pitched parts of three games in the 1982 series with intense pain in his shoulder that turned out to be a torn rotator cuff that would eventually end his career that it's ok to shut down a healthy pitcher because he hit the inning limit you've set for him before you made it to the playoffs. This is the same crap, no it's even worse than what the Rangers did. It diminishes the integrity of the playoffs, of winning a title, in favor of revenue generation over a period of years, and I think that's crap.. I know that's not a popular opinion, but yeah, don't care. I'm not going to freak out if they win it all, which they might even without Strasburg, and I'll be pulling for them if they run into one of the teams noted above. Heck, I'll enjoy watching their games a great deal because I love the way they play the game. But how can they do this? How?
Now from here it gets hard. I don't really hate any of the teams that are left, and so we turn to the other side of the coin, using the Sixto Lezcano unit of Baseball Love to reflect the joy watching them win would offer myself and maybe others too. If you saw him play, particularly when you were a kid, you'd know why. Plus "Sixto Lezcano" is fun to say. Try it. Say it out loud. Roll it around your mouth for a while when you say it. Say it with an outrageously cartoonish accent. It's fun. It's joyful. It's Sixto.
Atlanta Braves - 1.1 Sixtos
I'm not a Braves fan. Never have been. Never liked them. I only rarely hated them, but for some reason I've always identified the rise of the Braves as a bad thing, largely I suspect, because they got good shortly after I realized that baseball's economics were messed up enough that a new stadium wouldn't solve the problem for the Brewers. The Braves organization is linked part and parcel to the black-hole of my baseball fanhood: the 1990's. Labor strife. A lost world series, and still no real solution to the problem. Competitive imbalance. None of that is really the Braves fault, but because they were good in that era I can't get the taste out of my mouth.
Now Chipper Jones counter-acts most of that. I'm a fan. Have been for a long time like most people, and he's on the way out. Watching him get some postseason wins would be fun, and that erases the Carpenters and gets them one Sixto.
Baltimore Orioles - 2.0 Sixtos
JJ Hardy is here. Watching JJ Hardy be happy after an Orioles win is a surprisingly gratifying experience for me. Even though I understood the move, and agreed with it really, I always felt bad about the way Hardy's last year in Milwaukee played out. So seeing his success in Baltimore, particularly in 2011, was nice. Plus, post-season success for the Orioles has a decent chance to cause one or more Steinbrenners heart-burn. So go Orioles.
Oakland Athletics - 7.8 Sixtos
Much like the Braves, unfairly, are associated with a black era for baseball (in my opinion), the A's represent the lifeboat that saw me through that era. The A's were/are the little team sticking their thumb in the eye of the big-market clubs even when it seemed completely impossible to do so. It never quite worked out the way the poets would have written it, but God Bless 'em for coming that close, even if they benefited as much from PEDs as any big market team did. I really, really want to pull for the A's. I love the fact that they ran the Rangers to earth on the last day of the season and significantly damaged the Rangers chances of making the ALCS, let alone the Series. I love that they've done all this when no one expected them too. I really, really want to be an Athletics fan for the next few weeks, and I might yet become one. But not yet... because...
Detroit Tigers - 8.4 Sixtos
Yeah, I don't like Cabrera. It's not rational, and I can't really explain why (although I do recall one incident of him taunting Bill Hall after going 1st to 3rd on him during the misguided "Bill Hall is a Center Fielder" era).
But Jim Leyland... a treasure among men, if you'll forgive me for thinking so. I've loved the guy since he made no secret of the fact that he thought Barry Bonds was an ass even though Bonds was winning games for him in Pittsburgh. The man cried, he actually cried, when the Tigers won their division this year. This man wouldn't sit Strasburg down, and if he were a GM, he would never keep two positionally blocked infield prospects instead of dealing one of them for a pitcher that might put his team over the top. Here's what he said when he was crying over winning the division:
This was about the three million and probably a lot of them who couldn't afford to come and didn't show up, but were with us in spirit every night. I thank you for that," Leyland said while choking back tears.
And then there's Prince. He never hid his desire for a huge contract, and I understand why it was important to him, why it drove him. I loved watching him play in Milwaukee, and while I'm usually weak enough to hold some animosity for players who leave the Brewers, I have none for Prince, because I never thought he'd stay. Because he never told me how much he longed to stay while knowing all the while that he was going to cash a big check elsewhere. It's not a rational difference I dont think, but it's how I feel about it. And watching a happy Prince Fielder has always made me happy.
So I'm a Tigers fan. For Prince. For Leyland.