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Saturday, December 27, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 36.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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Citizen Dave: Baseball and the Underdog Index
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I'm still watching baseball. I know. You've moved on with your sports lives. In fact, you may have moved on about the time the Brewers dropped out of the pennant race, which was when the magnolias were still in bloom.

But really there are still some pretty interesting story lines in October playoffs baseball this year. I've found teams to root for. As a good Democrat, I always want to root for the underdog. So I've devised the Underdog Index, combining down-on-their-luck teams with troubled cities to decide what woebegone franchises I want to pull for.

Here's how my system works.

First, let's take the Los Angles Dodgers versus the Atlanta Braves. There's nobody to root for here. Los Angeles and Atlanta are glamorous and sprawling Sun Belt cities, and both teams have had a history of winning. May the winner lose their following series in four straight games.

But next we have Pittsburgh against St. Louis. While both cities have lost much of their population in the last few decades and so deserve our support, St. Louis has long been a baseball powerhouse while Pittsburgh hasn't been to the playoffs since George Bush was president. The first George Bush. Also, the city of Madison's Recycling Coordinator, George Dreckmann, is a huge Cardinals fan and he's really obnoxious about it. So the Pirates are my favorite for the World Series.

Over in the American League, first up we have Boston versus Tampa Bay. This is a tough call. It wasn't so long ago that this would have been an easy choice, as the Sox had a record of futility even exceeding that of the Chicago Cubs. But the Red Sox have won it all a couple of times in the last decade, which hurts their cause in my book. But I'll still come down on their side though for two important reasons. First, Tampa Bay has drawn fewer fans than Milwaukee despite the Brewers' miserable season (Rays fans don't deserve success) and Massachusetts elected Elizabeth Warren to the United States Senate.

Finally, we have the Detroit Tigers against the Oakland A's. This is the hardest decision of all. Both Oakland and Detroit have struggled mightily as cities. They each need a boost. And both teams have had rich histories of success, though not so much recently. Neither team has won it all since the 1980s. In the end, I'm going with the Tigers because they have Prince Fielder, and because for all its woes Oakland still has better weather than Detroit. The Underdog Index nod goes to Michigan.

I'd like to see Pittsburgh play Detroit in a seven-game World Series that in the end is won by the Pirates.

So there you have it -- a good reason to keep watching baseball almost up to deer season.

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