During the playoffs, everything’s better when you hate. There’s nothing quite like rooting for a team to fail, especially if you’re nominally a fan of a franchise that hasn’t made it into the postseason this year. Obviously, the most optimal solution would be to cheer on your team as it goes all the way to claim a new title, but that’s not a reality for 29 of the 30 fan bases in the MLB. No, during the playoffs, it’s much more fun to embrace the dark side of the force and to wish bad things on bad people who probably aren’t bad people at all, except for the fact that they don’t put on the right uniform.
Some franchises, though, are more justifiably unlikeable than others, and there are ways you can measure this. The Wall Street Journal has put together a breakdown of how hateable each of the 10 teams competing for the next World Series title are, broken down into quantifiable data points, like number of Sports Illustrated covers in 2014 and “Opposing batters plunked.” You could call that science. You could also call it the “sabremetrics of sour.”
Whatever you want to call it — we’re going with sabremetrics of sour, because you’ve got to grab a name like that when you’ve got the chance — there are some teams that aren’t quite as eminently lame as others. At least, according to the people who don’t root for them. Here are the five most hateable teams in the 2014 MLB Playoffs.
5. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 6.9
OK, so what does this 6.9 actually mean? Looking at the WSJ categories, the Angels score a 1.3 for “Payroll (in multiples of $100 million),” three points for “Players with $100M-plus contracts,” a pair of points for two SI covers, and a 0.6 for “Opposing players plunked in multiples of 50.” That’d be 30 players, for the record. One thing the Journal didn’t include, but is certainly pretty hateable: The team’s ownership walked away from negotiations for a new stadium because the city had the audacity to see what could be done with the land if the Angels left. The gall!
4. Detroit Tigers, 8
No, it’s not because their fans always leave early. You should feel good about hating on the Tigers because they’ve won a pair of pennants in the last decade, they’ve got a couple of players with massive contracts, a single solitary Sports Illustrated cover, and a sole point in what the WSJ calls “Excessive beards,” which is a little bogus when you consider that no beard is ever excessive. The publication’s defense? “Baseball’s beardissance [sic] has been in full swing for a few years now, to the delight of most fans. But a handful of players — most disturbingly Joba Chamberlain of the Detroit Tigers — are attempting to turn the style du jour from bearded hipster to Tom Hanks in ‘Castaway.’ ”
3. San Francisco Giants, 8.1
The Giants are lame. Everyone knows this, deep down. While they haven’t had the same level of ire-drawing national attention — no SI covers, no aggravating hype — and they’re relatively beardless, they do have a fan base that has a reputation for invading other teams’ stadiums, they’ve had a player suspended for PEDs (the scarlet letter of the MLB), and they’re a successful team that spends a lot of money, which always builds resentment — just ask the Yankees.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers, 10.8
The Dodgers have a “nation.” Excuse us, we just threw up a little bit in solidarity with the WSJ. The Dodgers also get nicked because of their massive paychecks (five deals over $100 million) and their huge payroll overall. We can say this for them, though: They’ve plunked the fewest players out of any team in the playoffs, and they’re owned by Magic Johnson, who seems like a pretty good guy. But seriously, “Dodgers Nation.” Ew.
1. St. Louis Cardinals, 12.7
Yeah, the Cards suck. They got their own column in the WSJ math, which you can see in full here, for whether or not their fans are “routinely labelled ‘best in baseball.’” There is nothing more eminently hateable than a team that has fans that are better than your team’s fans, which means that they’re better than you, because of some Christmas card drivel about playing the right way.
And now, maybe, we’ll all have to sit and stew as St. Louis plays the right way all the way to the World Series. The sanctimony will be so thick you can bottle it and sell it back to the Cardinals for twice the cost of harvest. Gross. The playoffs start September 30.