Since tonight is (technically) the first day of the Playoffs, I thought I'd rank the ten teams participating in what is officially recognized as "the postseason" by how great a story they'd make if they won the World Series:
1. Cleveland Indians
A team that hasn't won the World Series since 1948, a city that hasn't seen a major sports championship since 1964, a franchise that had been losing for several years before striking gold with some free agent signings and bounceback seasons this year...just imagine how much it would mean to the fans in Cleveland if this was the year for them.
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
What a ride! Ever since Francisco Cabrera's pinch-hit single in Game 7 of the 1992 NLCS it had all been downhill. A record 20 consecutive losing seasons was finally snapped this year with 94 wins, and Pittsburgh is excited about baseball again. This team has had a great season thanks to several shrewd moves that paid off, and the organization has made its way back to respectability. If the Pirates could win their first World Series since 1979, that'd really be something.
3. Detroit Tigers
The Jim Leyland era has been one of restoration for the Tigers. Detroit has seen several great and very good players pass through since 2006, but it hasn't been able to win that elusive World Series title. After getting swept by a rerun Giants team last year, a championship this year could give this core of players redemption, and also solidify Leyland's Hall of Fame credentials.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
Remember back in June when there was talk of Don Mattingly getting fired? Who would've thought back then that the Dodgers would end up running away with the division? With several veterans seeking out their first rings, and exciting youngsters like Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw, plus the fact that L.A. hasn't won it since 1988, this could be a cool team to see win it.
5. Oakland Athletics
Billy Beane's boys continue to defy the odds. Oakland hasn't won the World Series since 1989, and while the current A's don't have many household names, they've got a nice little perpetually-overlooked team. I wouldn't mind seeing them get it.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
I love the Rays. The team with no financial resources to speak of manages to be competitive year after year while sharing a division with baseball's richest teams. While they haven't been able to assemble any outright powerhouses, they're always in the mix. I'd love to see these guys get a championship. The only reason I can't rank them higher is because they're the second Wild Card team, and it would feel wrong if such an illegitimate entry to the postseason was how they got their trophy.
7. Cincinnati Reds
Like the Rays, the Reds have to be ranked low due to entering the postseason in a playoff spot that shouldn't exist. Other that that though, Cincy has a cool core of players who I could back under normal circumstances.
8. Atlanta Braves
They aren't the consistently-great Bobby Cox teams of the 1990's, but they've built a solid nucleus of young players that have something to prove. The Braves won the first World Series I ever saw, back in 1995 when I became a fan, so I can't pull very hard for them, because I want to see someone new win it. Still, they're far, far preferable to either of the remaining two teams on this list.
9. Boston Red Sox
I guess it is a new era in Boston to some degree, since most of the 2007 team is gone. Still, I loathed few World Series winners as much as those 2007 Red Sox, and I still hate the city of Boston's sports teams with a passion. The last thing we need is another October-long Boston droolfest. Someone ought to do us a favor and eliminate these guys.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
There is nothing remotely likable about the St. Louis Cardinals. After the 2011 World Series, a small piece of me died, and I will never forgive them. This team deserves every bit of scorn you can muster.
Being the pessimist I am, in any matchup, I'll presume that the team with the higher number on this ranking is going to win. That means that the last team standing should be St. Louis, and they'll be avenging 2004 in the World Series. I would consider anything else a miracle.