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Who should Rays fans root for? Cubs vs Cards Edition

Let's not bury the lede. This is still all about Joe Maddon. Just the way he likes it.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not gonna lie: I don't like the Cards.

It goes back quite a ways, and has little to do with the team, or even the fans. It's mostly the way the media people talk about the team and the fans. All this "play the game the right way" and "the most knowledgeable fans in the game" stuff grates on me. Mostly because a) I consider myself pretty knowledgeable, and 2) I have no idea what the "right way" is.

Seems to me that the right way is the way that ends with you having more runs than the other guy. So maybe I'm not the most objective person here, but I don't like the Cardinals. Six times out of nine, I'm pulling for them to lose a series like this.

But this isn't an ordinary match up.

It's more like this

Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

It's more like this

On paper and on the field, this is a good St. Louis squad. They won 100 games. They won their division. Their staff put up the lowest ERA in almost 30 years. John Lackey, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia (along with the injured Carlos Martinez) put up solid years in the rotation, and Trevor Rosenthal and Kevin Siegrist nailed down the back end with regularity. Couple that with veterans bats like Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, Jason Heyward, and they will be a tough team to beat.

But really, this isn't about the Cards. It's not even about the Cubs. This is still all about Joe. Which is a shame, because I really want to like the Cubbies. Well, some of the them. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, and Jorge Soler are young and fun to watch. As we've already seen, Jake Arrieta is one of the best pitchers out there right now. They have ex-Ray Jason Hammel holding down the back end of the rotation. Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, and Travis Wood make for a solid bullpen. There's a lot to like.

But Chris Coghlan? He can take his high spikes and shove them straight up his North Side. Also, John Lester still has that Red Sox stink to him. And then there's the tortured mood and mindset of the Wrigley faithful. Not that I don't believe in the baseball gods, but good grief, people, it's not their fault your ownership group is incompetent and has been for a century. That's why you never win. It's not because you're cursed; it's because the guys running the joint didn't know what they were doing. Now that (it seems like) there are competent people in charge, I imagine you'll be raising a banner someday soon.

Just not this year. Because, as I said, it's still all about Joe this year. And the baseball gods are setting you up, Cubs fans. It's a feeling you should be familiar with.

So when it's game five, and Joe Maddon puts Schwarber in left, Bryant in center, and David Ross in right, just because he can, and the Cards hit back-to-back inside the park homers to win it, don't say you weren't warned.

Go Cards! (for now)

Game One of the Cubs vs. Cardinals NLDS begins Friday at 6:30 PM EDT on TBS.