An LCS rooting guide for SF Giants fans

Dusty Baker
Dusty Baker / David Madison/GettyImages

The SF Giants, coming off their franchise-record 107 wins in the 2021 regular season, severely underperformed in 2022 and failed to make the playoffs - or even post a winning record.

If you're dispirited and angry at the baseball gods for how this year went for the Orange and Black and have written off baseball for the year, that's completely understandable. Looks like the 49ers...are on the same track as the Giants? Yikes.

But you may still be paying attention to Major League Baseball's postseason. If so, you probably celebrated last week when the somewhat-rival San Diego Padres eliminated the Giants' most-hated rival and the World Series favorite, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in the National League Division Series.

Until that point, it was easy to know who to root for if you were a Giants fan. If you're like me, you have two favorite teams: the Giants and whoever is playing the Dodgers. So we cheered on the Padres in that NLDS. Had the Dodgers advanced, we would have pulled for their opponents in the NL Championship Series and, if necessary, World Series. But we don't have to worry about that scenario!

What about the scenarios that have come to fruition? Can we lean one way or another in the League Championship Series matchups?

Sure! And here are some thoughts on why to root for - or against - the four teams left:

NLCS: San Diego Padres vs Philadelphia Phillies

Are you a fan of underdogs? If so, this is the series for you. Out of the six NL teams to make the playoffs, the Padres were the fifth seed at 89-73 and the Phillies the sixth, finished 87-75 in the regular season (just one game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Padres have never won the World Series; they've reached the Fall Classic only twice, in 1984 and 1998. Philadelphia went to the Series in consecutive years over a decade ago (2008-09), winning it all in 08.

These two teams were also the immediately-prior employers of the Giants' current and previous skippers: Gabe Kapler was in charge in Philly in 2018-19, and Bruce Bochy led San Diego from 1995-2006. So San Francisco can thank both teams for good leadership of the past 15 years - especially the Padres for letting Bochy go and run a dynasty in the early part of the last decade.

But really, it all comes down to the Padres being somewhat of a rival. It's not the fiercest rivalry, but there's some animosity in the stands. And their players and fans, as recently as two years ago, had the audacity to call the Padres-Dodgers rivalry a better one that Giants-Dodgers. That's just foolish.

San Diego, we owe you our gratitude for knocking out Los Angeles. But go Phillies.

SF Giants fans' NLCS rooting interest: Philadelphia Phillies

ALCS: Houston Astros vs New York Yankees

Opposite the NL, you have the top two seeds duking it out for the right to represent the American League in the World Series. The Astros went 106-56 for the second-most wins in the Majors, while the Yankees were second in the AL at 99-63.

Want a reason to like both teams? The Yankees feature the player probably highest on Farhan Zaidi's offseason wish list, new AL single-season home run champion Aaron Judge. The Astros are led by Dusty Baker, who managed the Orange and Black from 1993-2002 and is still mostly appreciated by Giants fans outside of a few missteps in big moments. Houston is also the team that produced the Giants' newest executive, general manager Pete Putila.

How about reasons to dislike them? The Yankees...are the Yankees. They've been to the World Series 40 times in just over 100 years and won 27. They have some of the most-insufferable fans in the world - let them tell you how agonizing it is that their team hasn't won (or even been to) the World Series since 2009. Thirteen whole years! And let's not forget...they're the Yankees.

The Astros were loveable losers just a decade ago. Since then they have made a habit of winning: six-straight playoff appearances, over 100 wins in four of the last five full seasons, an odd-year streak of making the World Series and the 2017 title. The dominance isn't really what earns them hatred; it's that 2017 World Championship. This Giants fan, at least, doesn't mind it because it came against the Dodgers. But for many fans around baseball there's an asterisk because Houston was outed as having cheated during that season.

If we really consider the circumstances, it's not as bad as it seems. Let's be real: if pitcher Mike Fiers hadn't gone on record exposing the team's sign stealing, the general public wouldn't have heard a peep about it. It's highly likely that many teams were doing something similar, and only because Fiers ratted out his former teammates did MLB commissioner Rob Manfred have to pull his head out of the sand and do something about it.

I digress. Should Giants fans cheer for the Astros or Yankees to make the World Series? Well, consider this: the Yankees make it and win it all. Their players are left with an elated feeling as the season ends, and the club obviously benefits off the title with an even bigger influx than normal of cash from fans and advertisers. That premier free agent, Northern California native Judge, is presented with a blank check for some ungodly amount more than the next-best offer he gets on the market. He decides that the money, plus his potential final moment in pinstripes being the joy of holding the Commissioner's Trophy, is enough to make him a Yankee for life. The slugging outfielder doesn't come home, and the Giants have to scrap to fill the outfield once again.

No thanks. Let's see Dusty get another chance at a ring.

SF Giants' fans ALCS rooting interest: Houston Astros

Now, instead of agonizing over every pitch thrown for and against a certain team, Giants fans can relax and enjoy some good baseball - with some preference in each series.