Entering the postseason, a Red Sox-Cardinals matchup was the series I least wanted to see, because those fan bases don't really need my help.
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.
The smugness: From the players to the media to the fans. At least Red Sox Nation doesn't pretend it's doing baseball a favor.
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?