Matt of Matt’s Bats: Picking postseason favorites with Nats on outside looking in

With the Nats 6 1/2 games out of the National League East with 13 games to go, it looks a lot like the New York Mets are going to pull away with the division title. There still is hope, though. The Nats are 6 1/2 games out, and the Mets are coming off a series loss against the New York Yankees. If the Nats can make up enough ground to roll into New York next week within three games of the division lead, they could pull of an end-of-season upset. As much as I would love to see that happen, it is still unlikely. So I have been thinking a lot about who I will be rooting for in the postseason if the Nationals aren’t going to be in the playoffs.

From the American League, I am going with the Texas Rangers, who have a 1 1/2 game lead in the West division in front of the Houston Astros as of Monday night. One reason for my picking of Rthe angers for Nats fans to root for: They used to be the Washington Senators team. In 1960, after the original Washington Senators moved up to Minnesota to become the Twins, MLB awarded two expansion franchises. One of them was awarded to Anaheim, Calif., which became the Angels, and the other went back to Washington. Confusingly, that team was also called the Senators. They played for 11 years at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Northeast Washington. In 1971, the Senators got shipped out to Arlington, Texas (between Dallas and Fort Worth) and became known as the Texas Rangers.

In addition to being originally from D.C., the Rangers are a good team to root for in the postseason. This year, the Rangers, like the Nationals, started off slow. In mid-May, the team was sitting in fourth place. But within a month, they found themselves 2 1/2 games behind the Houston Astros for first place. At the trade deadline, the Rangers acquired pitchers Jake Diekman and Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Matt Harrison and five prospects. That boosted the team. The Rangers soared, eventually overtaking the Astros in early September. They have a good chance to make the playoffs by winning the division or the wild card, so if you need an AL team to root for, this may be a good one (and an underdog) to take an interest in.

In the NL, if the hometown Nationals aren’t in it, then you should join me in throwing your support behind the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have some of the most supportive fans in baseball, and this year, most of Chicago is on their side. Cubs fans have been waiting even longer than Washington baseball fans to see their team win the World Series. The last time Washington had a champion was in 1924. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series title since 1908, 107 years, and it’s never happened since the Cubs have occupied Wrigley Field. The closest they came in decades was in 2003, but Cubs fan Steve Bartman famously reached over the fence an interfered with ball that could have put the Cubs within four outs of a division championship.

This may be the year of the Cubbies. In the 1989 movie ‘Back to the Future 2’, which was set 30 years in the future, it was predicted that the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015 (but over Miami, which definitely isn’t going to happen this year). If it does happen, it’s going to be because of their amazing young talent. Star third baseman Kris Bryant has been leading the way, with Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber also being big forces in their success this year. These guys remind me a lot of Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon. This is a fun team to watch, and I hope that they can make it into the postseason through the wild card. It’s hard not to root for the Cubs if they make it to the playoffs.

Obviously, I want the Nationals to make it into the postseason. But if they don’t, it’ll be fun to root for some of the underdog teams that have a lot in common with the Nationals.

Ten-year-old Matt blogs about the Nationals at Matt’s Bats. Follow him on Twitter: @MattsBats. He shares his views weekly as part of MASNsports.com’s initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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