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A Giants fan guide to the postseason

We still got skin in the game.

Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners practice on the eve of their American League Wild Card series Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Duane Kuiper quipped recently that the postseason is all about rooting passionately for a team or passionately against one.

San Francisco Giants fans are very much in touch with this sentiment. The early 2010s were a dream—a bliss bordering on delirium of three championships each more unlikely than the last. The past five Octobers have been driven by a slightly less wholesome, arguably fiercer drive to see one team in particular fail and fail and fail and fail and fail.

It’s not the healthiest or emotionally productive way to spend the next couple of weeks, but the solution certainly isn’t to turn off the TV, curl up by the fire and read a book.

This fan guide is dictated by what team has the best chance of beating the Los Angeles Dodgers. Period. The moment the Atlanta Braves cemented game 6 of the ‘21 NLCS, Northern California took a collective sigh of relief. Our work was done. Who cares what Atlanta did in 1993? They redeemed themselves by knocking the Dodgers from championship contention. It’s an act that covers a multitude of past sins.

How you, loyal Giants fan, cheer for the contending teams is up to you. Sami posted their rankings earlier—similar, but not the same. We all have our hang-ups and our blind spots.

Maybe former Mets reliever Roger McDowell spit on you coming out of the players parking lot after a game in the early 90’s and from that moment on you swore off anything Shea for the rest of your life. Maybe you really like Bo Bichette’s hair. Hell yeah!

The only wrong answer is rooting for LA.

National League Wild Card Series

San Diego Padres (5) vs New York Mets (4)

I grew up in San Diego. It was a helluva time. Ortiz’s California burritos, the zoo and its pandas (though I think the pandas are gone now), Qualcomm, Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, and KHALIL GREENE.

My brother and a lot of my friends are Padres fans. I feel for these people, their historical trials and tribulations—I’ll always shamefully hold a soft-spot for the Swingin’ Friars.

That being said, this business and you just can’t root for a division rival right out of the gate. The Giants season isn’t even cold yet—we can’t go around and cheer for the team that out-paced them in the West by 8 games.

Important question: Did Willie Mays ever play for San Diego?

My brother-in-law is a Mets fan and I have a deep respect for anyone who’s from New York and has every right to claim fandom for the Yankees but chooses to pull for the Queens team instead.

But the 2000 NLDS might still have some people sore and I can’t blame ‘em. Healing takes time. But let’s think practically here. The winner of this series plays the Dodgers and between these teams, the Mets have a much better chance against LA. Daniel Murphy took it to them in 2015 and he could do it again in 2022!

The Padres have a little brother complex with LA. It’s what makes them lovable as well as incredibly frustrating at times. They lost 14 of the 19 games they played against the Dodgers this season. They get anxious. Freeze up. Maybe get a little starstruck, I don’t know! But it just seems impossible for them—no matter who San Diego drapes in the smock—to do much of anything against LA.

The Mets, on the other hand, have won 4 of 7 games this season, which sounds like an ideal postseason match up. They also have maybe the best pitching tandem in baseball with Jacob de Grom and Max Scherzer.

Those two probably won’t end up going 1 and 2 against the Dodgers due to how the schedule lines up but if they make it to the best-of-5 series, you can bet Buck Showalter will roll them out as soon as he can.

I wouldn’t bet against the Dodgers but I wouldn’t bet against deGrom / Scherzer either—so I guess I’m just going to hold onto my money then.

My pick: Los Mets.

San Diego Padres Photo Day Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies (6) vs St. Louis Cardinals (3)

This series really does nothing for me. I don’t think either team will beat the Braves which means I don’t think either team will beat the Dodgers in the NLCS if it comes to that.

Both teams have beef with the Giants which San Francisco fans aloofly throw up their hands in innocence, knowing full well what happened in the championship serieses of 2010 and 2012 and 2014.

Cody Ross is the Philly fans’ Bucky Dent. During my tenure inhabiting those city limits, I sat through more than a couple arguments for why the 2010 Phillies team was better than the 2008 team and how they should’ve won in 2009 if it weren’t for Hideki Matsui and Kapler’s a meathead who can’t manage a bullpen and on and on and on…

Philadelphia hadn’t reached the postseason since 2011—it’d be a nice gesture of brotherly love to wish them well. If you choose grace, God bless. From my vantage point here, there is no reason to root for the Phillies. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols, who is doing a cool home run thing, and Yadier Molina in tandem with Adam Wainwright, who are also doing a cool thing. I’m used to cheering for the old guys.

My pick: Cards.

ssjm1017giants Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

National League Division Series

Cards/Phils vs Atlanta Braves (2)

No matter what happens in the aforementioned series, Giants fans have to pull for the reigning Word Champs in this division series. It doesn’t feel great—but they’re the hot hand right now. They just swept the Mets to pull the NL East division out from under them and leapfrog the first round of the playoffs.

If the Dodgers beat the Mets/Pads in their division series then Atlanta and LA would meet in the NLCS for the 3rd season in a row. That would be an all hands on deck, can’t miss donnybrook. If the Braves pull off a series win again, Giants fans might be able to start to forgive them for what happened in 2020 and might start to think about forgiving them for handling Freddie Freeman’s contract negotiations so poorly.

My pick: Braves

Pads/Mets vs La La Land Doggers (1)

See above paragraph. We want the top-2 starting pitchers in baseball to face the best lineup in baseball. That is what the postseason is all about.

If the Padres beat the Mets, this won’t be a fun series for Giants fans—though I imagine by the end of the second inning of game 1, I’ll have purchased a Ha-Seong Kim jersey.

My pick: Mets over Dogs obviously.

MLB: SEP 13 Mets at Braves Photo by James Guy/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

American League Wild Card

Tampa Bay Rays (6) vs Cleveland Guardians (3)

Cleveland is the only team in the American League postseason bracket that the Giants played this season.

They swept them in a 3-game series about 6 months ago which measured the coldest first pitch on record. We all learned something valuable then: Don’t go to northern Ohio in mid-April. I imagine it won’t be a fun place to be once the sun sets in mid-October either.

San Francisco swept Cleveland in the 1954 World Series when the Giants played in a different city and the Guardians went by a different name. I think it’s a good rule of thumb that you should never root for a team that the Giants have played in the World Series.

We’ve also got a lot of practice rooting for Tampa after 2020. Some buried resentment towards Kevin Cash for pulling Blake Snell in game 6 might surface when watching the Rays play, but it’s good to get that out of your system anyway.

My pick: Tampa.

Seattle Mariners (5) vs Toronto Blue Jays (4)

This is the toughest match-up for me. Or maybe it’s the easiest because I like both teams. No matter what happens I’ll roll with it. Water off a duck’s back. Water is to Mariner as Duck is to bird is to Blue Jay. We’re having fun.

My other brother-in-law is a Mariners fan, and I recently watched the Dorktown series on the history of the Mariners, so I’m invested. And Curt Casali is on their team! And Matt Boyd! And Donovan Walton for a brief moment! And Stuart Fairchild for a hot sec!

That being said, I just watched Dorktown’s series on Dave Stieb sooooo…I’m not making much headway here.

The Blue Jays also have Kevin Gausman whom I harbor no ill will against. I’d love to watch Gausman’s little leg kick and diving splitter lead a postseason charge. Maybe he’ll hit a walk-off sac fly in a World Series game…

Both teams have signed and released Sergio Romo this season—which is just another curveball (or should I say slider) that I don’t know how to deal with.

My pick: Mariners. Bro-in-law Jeffrey and cat Ichiro serving as tiebreaker.

Los Angeles Angels v. Seattle Mariners Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

American League Division Series

Cle/TB vs New York Yankees (2)

Aforementioned rule. The Giants have played New York in the Fall Classic 7 times. 6 while cross-river rivals and once in San Francisco in 1962. The Giants are 2-5 in those meetings. They played in 3 consecutive World Series, winning the first two in 1921 and ‘22, and we’re smack dab in the middle of that centennial celebration.

The last meaningful match up between these two teams happened when JFK was president but always and forever screw the Jankees!

Rooting for a disappointing finish for the Yankees might also pay dividends in the offseason when pursuing Aaron Judge. A sour end to a season could get the outfielder to look westward, yearning for home.

My pick: not the Yankees.

SEA/ TOR vs Houston Astros (2)

This is a no-brainer for the majority of the baseball world: The Astros have been the American League version of the Dodgers in terms of playoff success in recent years—while being at the heart of one of the largest organized cheating scandals in the history of the sport.

The wrinkle for Giants fans is that Dusty Baker is their manager. Lord knows he deserves a championship. Maybe he could defect mid-series?

A rematch of the 2017 Astros - Dodgers World Series could get real feisty real fast. A donnybrook’s donnybrook. Claws out from first pitch on. Better not risk it though—we don’t want the Dodgers to become likable, or recipients of commiseration from the masses, and playing the Astros will do exactly that.

My pick: ah, jeeze...

Houston Astros v Baltimore Orioles Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images