For most baseball fans, their favorite ball club is usually decided in childhood, often through a parent’s influence. If Dad has you wearing a Boston Red Sox cap by the age of two, it’s a safe bet you’ll grow up a die-hard fan.
But not everyone embraced the game as a child, or lives in a city where a franchise is located. The good news is, thanks to MLB.com, you can follow any team in the league on TV nightly. So if you’re looking to adopt a favorite, here are a few options.
The advantage of following a perennial loser is that there’s no sweeter feeling than when they finally win one. That said, you may have to wait a while.
They haven’t won the World Series since 1908 – the longest drought in the history of any sport. The Curse of the Billy Goat is thought to have been put on the team after a tavern owner was ejected from a World Series game against the Tigers in 1945 because fans were bothered by the odor from his pet goat. The owner declared the Cubs “ain’t gonna win no more,” and the team lost to the Tigers in seven games. This season, with one of the game’s best managers, Joe Maddon, and an attractive group of youngsters headed by rookie Kris Bryant, the Cubs are in contention in the NL Central. A good time to jump on the bandwagon – but check your goat at the door.
For most baseball fans, their favorite ball club is usually decided in childhood, often through a parent’s influence. But not everyone embraced the game as a child, or lives in a city where a franchise is located.
New York Mets
The Amazin’s have been endearing underdogs since their expansion year of 1962, when they lost a record 120 games. Though they’ve come a long way since, with two World Series wins and four National League pennants, they haven’t won it all since 1986, and are forever in the shadow of their more celebrated rivals in the Bronx, the Yankees. After six miserable seasons, the Mets jumped out of the gate this year with an 11-game winning streak, and they boast one of the most talented pitching staffs in the league, led by ace Matt Harvey. Like Cubs fans, Mets fans truly know the meaning of building character through endless heartbreak. The Mets are forever one player away from being a contender, but their fans are eternally hopeful – and loyal.
The Astros are one of eight MLB teams that have never won a World Series. But after four straight disastrous seasons with 90-plus losses, the Astros have suddenly emerged this season as one of the best young teams in baseball, thanks to an aggressive rebuilding plan. Led by second baseman Jose Altuve and a Cy Young pitching candidate in Dallas Keuchel, the Astros are the surprise of the league, atop the NL West ahead of stalwarts like the Angels and A’s.
If you could give a hoot about building character and would rather be associated with a consistent winner, these teams are always in contention.
New York Yankees
You will be despised and ridiculed at times, but you will never be alone. Like Apple and IBM, the Yankees are a corporate brand with fans in every city. They boast possibly the most polarizing player in the game today, Alex Rodriguez, a confirmed steroid cheat who also happens to be the fourth all-time leader in home runs. Their 27 World Series championships should make you feel comfortable about jumping on the bandwagon of the most successful team in the history of sports.
St. Louis Cardinals
With 11 World Series titles, the Cards are the second most successful club in MLB history behind the Yankees. Their organization is top-notch, their fan base is classy and supportive, and they play the game the right way. Best of all, they fly under the radar – quietly. All they do is win.
Los Angeles Dodgers
One of the most storied franchises in sports, the Dodgers have supplanted the Yankees as the Best Team Money Can Buy. With a wealthy new ownership group and a profitable cable channel, the Dodgers have the deepest pockets in the league, shelling out an unprecedented $230 million in player payroll. Currently leading the NL West, they now have a mandate to win.
Fun to Watch
These teams haven’t won squat of late, but they play the game with exuberance and flair.
Kansas City Royals
For years, the Royals were a team few even wanted to watch, let alone root for. But in last year’s World Series this runner-up was a joy to behold: a youthful blend of speed, great defense, opportunistic hitting, and the best bullpen in baseball.
The Nationals boast the most exciting young slugger in baseball, Bryce Harper, who recently hit 10 home runs in 12 games. They also boast one of the game’s hardest-throwing young pitchers, Steven Strasburg. They’re favored to win the relatively weak NL East, so this should be a fun summer in Washington.
A few other ideas…
If you’d like to ride on the coattails of the defending champs, the San Francisco Giants, who’ve won 3 of the past 5 World Series, are the team for you. Are colorful uniforms important? Try the green and gold of the Oakland Athletics. And if you’d like to commiserate with the most passionate, obsessed fan base in the country, join Boston’s Red Sox Nation for endless second-guessing and whining.