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Your unofficial guide to bandwagoning the MLB Playoffs as a Mariners fan

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Don't have any idea who to root for in the playoffs? Here is a guide for fulfilling your Mariner fandom through other teams in the 2014 MLB Playoffs

Brian Kersey

Last night the Giants walloped the poor Pirates to secure the final seed in the NLDS, and with that victory, the 2014 MLB Postseason is officially underway, Wild Card be damned. It's going to be a fun month of competitive baseball, filled with requisite underdog stories and superstar performances and you may have noticed, surprisingly, that the Seattle Mariners will not be taking part in any of it.

I can assure you their absence not a simple scheduling error, and that I was just as surprised as you upon discovering this. But facts are facts, and despite knowing how much better this whole thing would be with a little Felix Hernandez thrown in, we are just going to have to deal with our lot in life as it is.

So what are you to do, fair Mariners fan? Turn off your television? Wait in misery until the next Jesus Montero spring training controversy? No, you should probably watch these here final baseball games of 2014, even if you have no vested interest in any of the teams. You can, actually, watch as nothing more than a self-identified Mariners fan, despite the fact that you may have no idea who to root for.

So below I've investigated each team's connection to the Seattle Mariners for that very reason, and it is by no means a list for everyone. You may know who you want to root for. Have family in St. Louis. Grew up in Detroit. By all means, stick with your teams.

But if you have no idea who to care about this October, or are still reeling from the discovery that the Mariners are out of it for good this year, then read on, fair fan, and discover your surrogate Seattle Mariners team that will bring you into the cold autumn nights that stand between us and the playoff-bound Mariners of 2015.

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1. Detroit Tigers

PROXIMITY

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It would take you 34 hours to drive to Detroit, which is far too much time to spend in a car in one sitting. Despite all of our relative familiarity with spending too much time on something we could have all avoided in the first place, this is not the way to do it. No on this one.

FORMER MARINERS

For the longest time, watching a Detroit Tigers game was a chance to revisit our old buddy Doug Fister, to whose memory every other day's second strikeout in the seventh inning has been dedicated lately. But that has come and gone just like Austin Jackson's offensive production in the second half of 2014, leaving us with future Mariner DH Victor Martinez and a bag of chew left on the end of the dugout bench.

STORY

The Tigers are going to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, which is just about the least Mariner sentence I will be typing in this entire article. I guess you could make the argument that their failure to actually win it all since 1984 puts them in some boat with the Mariners, but that's awfully flimsy ground. Yesterday, Miguel Cabrera announced that he will be forgoing his playoff bonus in some sort of strange sacrifice that could only ever be made by someone who already has millions of dollars, simply because he's only in it for the ring. That gives him two things he has in common with Felix Hernandez, but that's about it.

VERDICT

Yeah, no.

2. Baltimore Orioles

PROXIMITY

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You would think that Baltimore is a lot further away than Detroit, but these East Coast cities are deceptively close. It has the whole bay thing going for it, but that's about it.

FORMER MARINERS

I swear there's someone in the Orioles outfield that came up through the Mariners farm system, but you know, I just can't remember who it is for the life of me. I guess that's what happens when you intentionally try and erase something from your memory for the sake of your own health.

STORY

The Orioles have a pretty good one, in that they squelched a 15-year playoff drought with 2012's surprise Wild Card berth. By all accounts, Buck Showalter is a pretty great manager, and they even have the whole dark horse thing going for them by playing in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees. But on the other hand, these guys had their Justin Smoak story turn out to be a good one, so fuck them.

VERDICT

Maybe. Defensible for sure, but read on--

3. Kansas City Royals

PROXIMITY

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This has nothing to do with this story so let's just skip it.

FORMER MARINERS

Raul Ibanez is 42 years old. Raul Ibanez is in the playoffs. Raul Ibanez is not taking up a spot on the Mariners roster striking out two times a day while hitting the occasional moonshot. Raul Ibanez owns a computer bed that reverses the aging process like he's in an episode of Star Trek. Raul Ibanez is the father you never had that you wish you did. Raul Ibanez isn't currently on the Mariners, but he will always be a Mariner, and for that reason alone, your decision should be made for you. I guess there is a chance he doesn't make the playoff roster, but let's be honest: Raul Ibanez is going to hit another pinch-hit dinger to save a playoff game and it's going to be the most beautiful thing that has happened in years. Oh yeah and Jason Vargas is there too, I guess.

STORY

29-year playoff drought. Hopeless ownership. A manager who gets his in game strategy off the back of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese boxes. The Kansas City Royals may not be the Mariners of today, but they are certainly honorary Mariners in spirit, and for that, they deserve every bit of success they can muster this year, if only by proxy.

VERDICT

If you are trying to find a playoff team to reflect your Mariner fandom, you should choose the Royals. If you don't really care about any of these teams but want a good story, you should choose the Royals. If you aren't a heartless monster, you should choose the Royals. The Royals are the answer--not the only one, but the answer that will have to do for now.

4. Los Angeles Angels

Proximity

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Far, far too close. In fact, what is LA doing down there? Get out of here, LA.

FORMER MARINERS

In a way, Josh Hamilton is kind of like a Mariner. But he is not, nor has he ever been a Mariner. And somehow, for once in the history of this franchise, that decision will end up going in their favor.

STORY

The Angels won their only World Series title in 2002, which at the time was their only playoff appearance since 1986, which was only their third playoff appearance since being founded in 1961. That in and of itself is a pretty good story, but I guess you get one lick off the tootsie pop of success before you turn into a spoiled brat because now they have this Mike Trout character and Albert Pujols is--for the moment--still pretty good, and they even managed to get that obnoxious guy the Cardinals used to keep in the closet for the playoffs each year. The Angels have been in the postseason six times in the past eleven years, challenged only by their failure to win it all more than once.

VERDICT

No. You want to root for a division rival, anyways?

5. St. Louis Cardinals

PROXIMITY

No.

FORMER MARINERS

No.

STORY

Fuck no.

VERDICT

Are they playing the Rangers? No? Then no.

6. Los Angeles Dodgers

PROXIMITY

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While this Los Angeles is just as far away as the Angels' Los Angeles, it feels much closer. Closer because the Dodgers haven't been great since the halycon days of yore, and they won the NL Pennant in 1890 which is crazy because I don't even think they had electricity back then. Close enough for an NL team.

FORMER MARINERS

While it may be hard to root for Brandon League, you can at least root for blown saves that fall on someone else's shoulders. Or perhaps, you can share some of that 37-year well-worn empathy with others on this one. Carlos Triunfel made a few appearances on this year's Dodger club, but will not be on the playoff team despite being a friendly face that would feel good to root for. But the best part of all of this is that if the Dodgers win the playoffs, Miguel Olivo and Chone Figgins will get World Series rings. Just think about that for a minute.

STORY

Eh, it feels a bit like Stockholm Syndrome to imagine the Dodgers as underdogs, but for some reason I've always kind of felt they have that in common with the Mariners. Which is insane, because they have the biggest payroll in all of baseball, one of the oldest franchise histories, and reside in the second biggest media market in the world. Try as much as you can, but I'm not sure there is any kinship to the Mariners here, even though they have a music connection that rivals anything Seattle has done in the past ten years.

VERDICT

Not sure how Marinery this club can claim to be, but rooting for them wouldn't be the worst thing in the world as an impartial Mariners fan.

7. San Francisco Giants

PROXIMITY

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This is your clear cut proximity bandwagon. The Giants territorial rights bump up directly against the Mariners, so know that somewhere in Southern Oregon there is a house divided amongst who to root for every September. Ha, who am I kidding that has never happened in the history of baseball.

FORMER MARINERS

Michael Morse once hit two home runs in a single game against the A's. It was like the third game of the season, but then he broke his everything and ROOT played it as a bumper commercial every day for the rest of the year. I don't think that counts for anything, but if you're a letter of the law type person, then I guess you have a pass here.

STORY

The Giants have had a lot of recent success, so it seems hard to remember that before their World Series title in 2010, they had come up empty since being in New York in 1954. I guess they have the whole Marine thing going for them as well, but they are at best only cut from the same block of cheese as the Mariners, in that they are the first fresh slice while the M's are growing mold in an unsealed ziploc bag stuffed in the back of the refrigerator.

VERDICT

Enough to work, but for the love of god, THE ROYALS.

8. Washington Nationals

PROXIMITY

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Wow, Seattle is really far away from everything. It's almost like it takes forever to get to any other city that hosts a Major League franchise, and that these guys get exhausted traveling this much every year.

FORMER MARINERS

It would be great to see Doug Fister get a ring, but that's about all you're gonna get there, unless I'm missing someone.

STORY

The Nationals are perhaps, behind the Royals, the closest Mariner surrogate in the 2014 MLB playoffs. None of them were responsible for stealing the Expos away from Montreal, and by chance, share the only two spots in the major leagues available for teams without even a World Series appearance with the Mariners.

VERDICT

By all means--this would be a defensible Mariner-fan bandwagon follow. The only debate is if you want the Mariners to be the sole team without a World Series appearance in the processes. I mean, it would make the inevitable all that sweeter, but...embarrassment wins no rings by default, either.

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So there you have it. I hope this has been enlightening, and that you now have an idea who to root for in the playoffs this year. I also hope I haven't offended any of you--clearly you can root for whoever you want to root for. I'm not here to tell you what kind of fan you need to be. Unless, of course, you are rooting for someone other than the Royals. In which case, knock it off.