This post is a little premature because there's still one spot left to decide in the National League. But I've got time to write now, so I'm going for it. Here's who I'll be rooting for the rest of the way.
I live in the Pacific Northwest. The Mariners just ended the longest playoff drought in baseball (though the purist in me says that's a lot easier to do when there are so many playoff spots). I can only name a couple of players on the team, and I assume that's because they really aren't that good. But they did win 90 games last year. Is Scott Servais the most underrated manager in baseball? I can't watch any of the games (because of blackout rules), so I don't really know, but they the only team that hasn't won a league pennant. So they get my vote.
2. Cleveland Guardians
There would be some karmic justice in the Guardians ending their championship drought -- the longest in baseball, as we all know -- after finally shedding their racist nickname and iconography. Terry Francona may not be able to manage must longer, but winning a title in Cleveland would just about guarantee him a spot in Cooperstown. I know a lot of people in Ohio and my wife's family is all from there, and they were very gracious about the Cubs winning in 2016. I'd like to return the favor.
Even without Tatis, that team has some star power. And it would be nice to see Yu Darvish have a big postseason (and get a ring) after what happened against Houston. I don't have much attachment to the team otherwise; I just think it would be fun to watch.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
Similar to the Padres. Plus I have some residual affection for the team from back when they had guys like Dave Stieb and Tony Fernandez and Jesse Barfield. I don't know, I've just always rooted for the Jays.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
This feels a little like rooting for Grubhub to defeat Applebees. But the budgetary limitations imposed by ownership aren't the fault of the players. That Kevin Cash continues to get so many wins out of so few dollars is astounding. And it would be cool to see Wander Franco on a big stage.
A ring for Castellanos and another ring for Schwarber? Sure. Otherwise, meh. I don't really have a reason to root against the Phillies, so I guess it's fine.
At this point, I've run out of teams I'd actually want to see win. The Mets are (somehow, this year) the team I'd want to see lose the least. Part of that is Jacob deGrom, who is amazing and deserves to pitch in a World Series before his arm falls off. EDIT: He did pitch in a World Series, back in 2015. For some reason I had blocked that out.
They just won. All things being equal, I'd rather they didn't repeat.
They've still got players left over from the cheating scandal. So I can't really root for them. But I can root for Dusty Baker. I'd love to see him finally win a championship as a manager.
10. Milwaukee Brewers*
I mean, they make for a natural geographic rival for the Cubs. And because they're a rival, I don't want them to win. So there aren't many scenarios where I'd be rooting for them this fall.
Here's one. The Dodgers have a lot of homegrown talent, but you can't pull for a team like this. I respect them, but it's like rooting for Goliath.
12. New York Yankees.
I am so over the 2022 Yankees. I don't think I could take an entire postseason of announcers and reporters slobbering all over Aaron Judge. And if I'm honest, I'd prefer that Anthony Rizzo's only ring be with the Cubs.
A Yankees-Cardinals World Series is the worst thing that could possibly happen. And not just in baseball. I know, I know, there's a war in Ukraine, and the pandemic is still happening, but a nuclear holocaust pales in comparison to the suffering we would experience if the Yankees and the Cardinals both won pennants in the same year.
* Has not clinched