September 29, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Hall of Fame member Cal Ripken, Jr. rides in to the stadium for the Orioles Legends Ceremony honoring Brook Robinson prior to a game against the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Who's An Orioles Fan to Root for in the Postseason?

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When October baseball doesn’t include the Baltimore Orioles, the game becomes deciding on a team to root for, in lieu of.

Most Orioles fans worth their salt can tell you who that isn’t.

It probably comes as a relief to some that St. Louis finished off Pittsburgh tonight in the Central Division’s divisional series, with the winner advancing to play the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

For those with short memories or who are just good at putting things behind them, the Pirates of course beat the Orioles in seven-game World Series in 1971 and 1979, winning Game 7 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium both times. I was at three of the Orioles’ four home games in the ’71 Series, as the O’s had won 101 games that year and had home field.

Even though it will be a memory forever, and even though it should be said the Pirates had a good team this year after 20 losing seasons, I belong to the school of thought in which I can’t make too many good words flow in the general direction of anything black and gold, even if it isn’t the Steelers.

Like any normal Baltimorean, Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” makes me lunge to change the station. Nonetheless, the objective reporter in me is compelled to hope the best team wins. All I ask is a little latitude if my whole heart isn’t quite in it.

Since I’ve come this far, I should say which team I’m for. As most normal Oriole fans will tell you, that’s an easy decision: Whoever is playing the Red Sox. A manager with class and a team that plays defense are appealing qualities to me, and Joe Maddon-led Tampa Bay Rays fit both of those descriptions.

So much for that idea. The Red Sox capped a divisional series win over the Rays last night. So I’ve narrowed it down to Detroit as a team to pull for, if they get by Oakland. Jim Leyland has long been one of the most respected managers in the game, and there’s really no Tiger that anyone loves to hate.

***

To the reported prospect of Cal Ripken becoming the manager of the Washington Nationals, I say, “Gulp.” It is a jarring possibility. The sight of Ripken uniformed in anything other than orange and black? Considering he has not managed on any level of professional baseball? You kidding me?

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