At the same time, both teams finished with their league's best record. The one drawback of the expanded Wild Card system is that the league's fifth-best team can sneak into the World Series. Neither team backed into it this year, so at least the 162-game schedule comes away a winner.
Impartial baseball fans, on the other hand ... not so much. Here's my thought process for picking a side.
American League: It'd be nice to see Chris Sale's hard work in the All-Star Game put to good use.
Ex-Sox: Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton, even if the latter isn't on the roster. And Juan Nieves.
Red Sox fans: Include many of the people I talk baseball with around my neck of the woods.
Slow play: It takes me about an inning and a half before I give up on Clay Buchholz starts.
Beards: Seeing them. Hearing about them. Reading about them. Facial hair, I get it.
Red Sox fans: The ones who populate U.S. Cellular Field don't need the reinforcement.
Recent success: They won in 2004 and 2007.
Rewarding a process: It is a hell of a machine they've built.
College friends: The people I used to talk baseball with.
Carlos Beltran: Can finally put the premature "Mr. October" labeling to the test. A player should have more World Series hits, homers and RBI than Geoff Blum before that conversation can even begin, but that hasn't been his fault.
No ex-Sox: A side effect of producing their own talent. Their players are pretty much strangers.
Recent success: World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.
Ultimately rooting for:
Boston, because while Beltran will be worth watching, I'm not invested in any particular outcome. But more specifically, I'm pulling for a seven-game Red Sox winner with enough tension and mistakes to drive both sides insane. The more Fielder-flop moments, the better.
How about you?