The Royals are so absolutely terrible that Royals Review has written at least a dozen articles over the past months questioning if they could actually be this bad. I’m tired of covering that same topic over and over again. Instead, I had the thought, “Alright, the Royals are bad. They aren’t going to be good - at least not this year - so what am I going to do about it? I already suggested everyone go out and enjoy their other summertime hobbies. But, ya know, sometimes it’s nice to just relax with a nice, cold glass of lemonade and watch a game. But you don’t want to watch the Royals. Who can we watch instead?
Clearly, the only way to answer this question is with a series of bracket battles! So I’ve created a bracket system for the other 29 teams to see who can battle their way to number one over my heart, at least for 2023. The Royals may disgust me this year, but I’ve never been able to completely abandon them before so there’s no reason to think I’ll be able to now.
The initial 29
Arizona vs Atlanta
Arizona has a lot going for them, right now. They haven’t been to the post-season since 2017 and they’re in the same division as the big-spending Dodgers and Padres, so they definitely have an underdog vibe going for them. They’ve got some exciting young players that we should be able to root for for a long time. And they’re currently winning their division so it’ll be exciting to see if they can hang on against the heavyweights in their division.
Atlanta is also looking bright. They just won the World Series a couple of years ago and still have a roster chock full of young studs under long-term deals, including super star Ronald Acuña Jr. They were also the team of my late grandma who just passed last week, and they’re the closest to my current home town even if I didn’t end up spending a good chunk of the year in the area visiting family members.
By all rights, I should choose Atlanta. But I just can’t. I can’t bring myself to feel comfortable using the team name, and that makes it incredibly hard to root for them as my favorites, ya know?
Baltimore vs Boston
Baltimore hasn’t been to the post-season since their ill-fated run-in with the Royals in 2014. They have old friend Ryan O’Hearn currently blasting the cover off of the ball for them along with up-and-coming superstar Adley Rutschman. They’re currently second in the division to the dauntless Rays, but you have to wonder how long they can hold onto that position with a 35-year-old Kyle Gibson leading their rotation and no established fifth starter.
The Red Sox are playing .500 ball and at the bottom of their division. If you’re looking for some brighter baseball, they’re not going to be the pick.
Looks like Baltimore wins by default.
Chicago vs Chicago
I refuse to root for another AL Central Team, even one captained by old friend Pedro Grifol. The Cubs advance.
Cincinnati vs Cleveland
See above. Cincinnati advances.
Colorado vs Detroit
Weird how all the AL Central teams ended up grouped up together here like this.
Houston vs Los Angeles Angels
I know I’m on record as stating that the cheating of the Astros isn’t a big deal to me. But it’s enough of a big deal that given a choice between rooting for them or rooting for the team that has Shohei Ohtani, the most exciting baseball player of my lifetime, I’ll choose the latter.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs Miami Marlins
These two teams have eerily similar records despite the Dodgers spending nearly two-and-a-half times as much money on their roster. The Marlins also have old friend Jorge Soler, Luis Arraez still chasing .400 in June, and a young exciting rotation like we thought the Royals might have a few years ago. I’ll take the Marlins
Milwaukee vs Minnesota
Minnesota is the only AL Central team I’d even consider rooting for, but they’re up against the Brewers which is a team that I’ve had a soft spot for ever since they carried Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas as teammates after both left Kansas City.
New York vs New York
I will never root for the Yankees, so I guess I’m cheering for the Mets.
Oakland vs Philadelphia
If the point of this exercise is to root for a team that is not as painful to watch as the Royals, that eliminates the Athletics from competition.
Pittsburgh vs San Diego
This is an interesting matchup. San Diego has a bunch of young stars - Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. among them - while Pittsburgh is the exciting team that wasn’t expected to be able to contend this season that is running only 1.5 games back of the division-leading Brewers.
I have tried so hard to make the Padres my NL team for a very long time, but they keep disappointing me the same way the Royals do. It seems time to try something new.
San Francisco vs Seattle
How can I not root for the team that has literally never played in the World Series? Seattle
St. Louis vs Tampa Bay
I know St. Louis is an automatic out for most of you, but I actually spent the first few years of my life in St. Louis and they were my NL team for many years growing up.
That said, the organization’s arrogance has long irritated me and I’ll just go ahead and root for the Rays, thanks.
Texas vs Toronto
This is another interesting competition in the same vein as San Diego vs Pittsburgh above. Toronto has a bunch of guys I enjoy rooting for, ever since Bautista and Donaldson left. But Texas has come out of nowhere to be competitive this year.
I think I’m going to go with Toronto, here. It’s hard not to be drawn to Vlad Guerrero Jr. and company.
They get a bye because of the odd number of teams. Good thing for them, because I can’t imagine them beating many other teams out to go to the next round.
Arizona vs Washington
Bye bye Washington
Baltimore vs Toronto
I have enough bad feelings about Toronto left over that they can’t overcome my good feelings about the Orioles - I lived in DC for a year in ‘98 and followed them as closely as I did the Royals that season. Baltimore advances.
Cubs vs Tampa Bay
The Cubs are not good. I want to root for a good team.
Cincinnati vs Seattle
I can never spell Cincinnati right on the first try. Seattle advances.
Colorado vs Pittsburgh
The Rockies aren’t good, Pittsburgh advances.
Angels vs Philadelphia
Ya know, if Philly was winning games this year, they’d take this easily. But given a choice between Harper and Ohtani, I’ll follow Ohtani.
Florida vs Mets
The Mets, despite all of Steve Cohen’s spending, aren’t very good. So I guess I’ll send Florida in the quarters.
Advancement by bye. Congrats!
Arizona vs Milwaukee
This is a really tough one. In the end, I’m going to choose Arizona because I like their color scheme better.
Baltimore vs Florida
Another really tough one. On paper there isn’t much to distinguish these teams for me. Colors win it again, this time for Baltimore.
Tampa Bay vs Angels
A third straight tough decision, this time for different reasons, though. Choosing the Rays means picking a team that doesn’t hang on to their stars and is kind of the top dog. As a Kansas City fan, I’m used to choosing underdogs and I’m uncomfortable choosing a new team to root for with a long history of success. So I guess the Angels barely edge them out because Shohei is still Shohei even if they suck.
Seattle vs Pittsburgh
I guess let’s just call all of the quarterfinal matchups difficult. By all rights, I should choose Pittsburgh here. But I think I’m going to go with Seattle, even though they’re a worse team, because of my greater familiarity with their roster.
Arizona vs Seattle
The Mariners present more of an underdog case for 2023 than the Diamondbacks. Plus, have I mentioned they’ve never played in a World Series?
Baltimore vs Angels
If I’m being honest, I expected Baltimore to win this competition at the start. As noted earlier, I have already rooted for them in my life. So it would be an easy transition. But now that my Shohei love has made it this far I’m hesitant to give up on it.
I don’t think I can choose between these two teams. And so....
Baltimore vs Seattle vs Angels
Somebody please tell me who to root for!
This poll is closed
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
All three teams!
What is wrong with you?