The 2021 Postseason officially begins Tuesday night with the American League Wild Card game The Atlanta Braves qualified for the postseason for the fourth straight season, but won’t begin play in the NLDS until Friday when they take on the Milwaukee Brewers.
This Braves team overcame a ton of adversity to win the NL East and are a much different team than what we saw at the start of the season. They are likely going to be underdogs throughout the postseason which isn’t the worst thing actually. The thing to remember about baseball is that it is unpredictable and just getting into the field gives you a chance.
So with that as the backdrop, here is a (slightly tongue in cheek) rooting guide to the 2021 MLB Postseason for Braves fans
We are not going to ease into this. I could make a joke about this being the matchup that is made for ESPN. Both of these teams had to struggle to lock down playoff spots. The Yankees are the team that everyone expects to win in the preseason and then it is a major storyline when they don’t win the AL East. It feels like the Red Sox have arrived in the postseason a year early after a major turnover to their roster.
Rooting recommendation: Never under any circumstance should a Braves fan pull for the Yankees.
National League Wild Card - Cardinals vs Dodgers
Now we are faced with our first moral dilemma in this exercise. The NL Wild Card features a matchup of the two teams that have knocked the Braves out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. The Dodgers are the reigning champions who eliminated Atlanta in 2018 and overcame a 3-1 advantage in the NLCS last season. They somehow didn’t win the NL West and find themselves in a Wild Card game. While some teams try to bring in reinforcements at the trade deadline, the Dodgers go out and get Max Scherzer and also get Trea Turner thrown into the deal because why not.
Which brings us to the Cardinals who had to use their Devil Magic to win 17 straight games at the end of the season to secure the final wild card spot. I don’t care what anyone says or thinks, St. Louis is the worst team in the postseason field but one that probably every team fears. The Braves have history with St. Louis too and you only have to go back to 2019 when they ruined a good NLDS with a 10-run outburst in Game 5 of the NLDS at Truist Park. Here is a video in case you have forgotten.
That series also featured Mike Shildt talking junk in the aftermath so you can see why it is easy to hate the Cardinals. The league also had a sense of humor assigning umpire Sam Holbrook, he of the infield fly rule game, to the series.
So yeah, I am trying to give myself every reason to not pull for the Cardinals in this game, but in the end I just can’t do it. Atlanta went 6-1 against St. Louis this season and while they are not the same team they were then, they definitely are not the juggernaut Dodgers.
Rooting recommendation: You have my permission to pretend this game doesn’t exist but otherwise you have to pull for the Cardinals.
ALDS - Rays vs Yankees/Red Sox
We touched on the Yankees and Red Sox above and all of that still applies here. My hope here would be that the forward thinking Rays use an opener in every game and deploy six relievers a night just to upset the traditional crowd. Plus they have Wander Franco which will make watching this series well worth the time.
Rooting recommendation: Rays
This series features Dusty Baker versus Tony LaRussa. I’m not even sure how to quantify that. I know it has become fashionable to hate the Astros but can I really pull for LaRussa at this juncture? The White Sox have a fun young team and Craig Kimbrel. Plus if the Braves were to meet one of these teams in the World Series, I would rather it be the White Sox.
Rooting recommendation: White Sox
NLDS - Giants vs Cardinals/Dodgers
Are the Giants the most unlikely 107 win team in MLB history? San Francisco somehow won more games than any other team in 2021 yet they could be the underdog in this series? The Dodgers enter the postseason with injury concerns but they have enough depth to overcome it. If you are a fan of an NL team in the postseason, you have to be pulling for Los Angeles to be eliminated. What if it is the Cardinals? Then as a Braves fan you ride that devil magic only because ending St. Louis’ season could only be topped with a World Series win.
Rooting recommendation: Giants over Dodgers OR Cardinals over Giants
NLDS - Braves vs Brewers
This one is self explanatory since you are reading this on a Braves website. It is a little sad too because I would have pulled for Milwaukee all the way through.
Rooting recommendation: Braves over everyone
Let me know who you will be rooting for in the comments below.