Kansas City Royals fans like to root for the underdogs and the small market teams, and rightfully so. Both qualities describe Kansas City sports teams well. Unfortunately for Royals fans and for fans of the small market teams everywhere, this Major League Baseball postseason has...not exactly been great.
The traditional marquee names and big market teams all made it to the 2021 MLB postseason, with precious few underdogs in tow. Per Nielsen’s Designated Market Area rankings, which measure number of homes within each given market area, the 2021 playoffs are filled with the cities and areas at the tippy top of the list. We’ve got New York (ranked first), Los Angeles (ranked second), Chicago (ranked third), the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose bay area (ranked sixth), Atlanta (ranked seventh), Houston (ranked eighth), Boston (ranked 10th), and Tampa Bay (who, even though they have stingy owners, rank 12th). Only Milwaukee ranked outside the top dozen, at a whopping 37th.
An unofficial poll of Royals fans would probably reveal that the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers were their two main favorites. The Rays are simply the best run team in baseball that competes in a division with absolute behemoths, while the Brewers are the Royals of the National League (in more ways than one).
Well, guess what? Both got knocked out in the divisional round. Unfortunately, this leaves...a poop emoji. Let’s take a look at the teams that are left:
- Boston Red Sox—insufferable since 2007. Boston has been showered with a truly ridiculous number of championships; it is simply unfair for Boston to enjoy four Red Sox World Series wins and the Patriots’ half dozen Super Bowls and one championship each from the Bruins and Celtics all in two decades.
- Los Angeles Dodgers—Clayton Kershaw finally got his World Series last year, but the Dodgers are a cheat code and it has been since 2012 since they went on a less than 91-win pace. There’s no Kershaw and no welcome anymore.
- San Francisco Giants—forget what they did to the Royals in 2014; the Giants have three World Series wins in the last 11 years. That is no fun. They do not deserve another. That the team came out of nowhere to win 107 games is somewhat fun, but come on? No.
- Houston Astros—cheaters who have three ALCS appearances, two World Series appearances, and one World Series victory in the last five years, the Astros have single-handedly ruined the day of other more deserving teams. And yet, here they are.
Of course, I haven’t mentioned one team, and that team is the Atlanta Braves, who Royals fans should absolutely root for.
With the above collection of teams, it’s easy to root for Anyone Else this year. The Braves are certainly that. But moreover, the Braves haven’t had postseason success in a very long time. For sports fans who are in their 30s or older, they will remember the Braves’ absolute dominance of the National League East and their whopping 11 consecutive division titles from 1995 through 2005.
But, consider: the Braves only won one World Series during that run. Additionally, their franchise’s playoff woes were quite extreme before that run. From 1966—their first year in Atlanta—through 1990, the Braves went to the playoffs twice. Furthermore, the Braves had terrible postseason performances for a long time after their famous NL East dominance. From 2006 through 2018, the Braves made the playoffs four times and had three combined wins. They were just a punching bag.
The other thing to consider? Atlanta. Atlanta hasn’t won a championship since the Braves’ 1995 World Series—and unlike other cities, Atlanta has had an MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA team at their disposal (well, until the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg). Oh, they’ve tried. the Falcons famously had a 28-3 lead and couldn’t close the game against the Patriots.
Look: I don’t have a connection to Milwaukee at all, but to see the Bucks win the NBA championship this past season was amazing. Seeing another ill-fated sports town pull in their first championship in decades would be fun. So...let’s win, Atlanta? Weird thing to say.