Back in the ’80s, the Atlanta Braves were known as “America’s Team.” Why? Because the explosion of cable television meant Braves games were available on TBS from coast to coast. At the time, that exposure was a real novelty, and players like Bob Horner and Dale Murphy quickly became two of baseball’s most recognizable faces. These days, it’s so easy to follow any of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams day in and day out that the title of “America’s Team” has basically been cut and pasted into a scrapbook of days gone by.
Who’s Ready to Win America’s Hearts?
With baseball’s postseason just a few weeks away, we are ready to anoint two of teams — one from each league — as most deserving of your day-to-day attention and admiration and the title of “America’s Team.” We’ve made these decisions based on things like the passion of their fanbase and the team’s overall entertainment value.
They’ve Been Waiting
Consider that our choice for America’s Team in the National League plays its home games in the most polarizing city in the country. We’re talking about New York, the ultimate love-it or hate-it place on the map, and the Mets, a team that hasn’t won a World Series since 1986. But the 2015 Mets are just so lovable. More on that later.
North of the Border
But before we get back to the Mets, let’s get to our choice in the American League: ironically enough, it’s the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays. Like the Mets, it’s been a long time since baseball mattered in Toronto, but this year’s Jays are so fun to watch, the Rogers Centre is rocking as hard as it did back in ’92-’93, when the Jays were kings. “The best atmosphere I’ve ever been in,” left-hander David Price told the New York Times after his first start at home after coming over in a trade. “I’ve pitched in quite a few big games, but that atmosphere today, that takes the cake. I’ve never experienced anything like that. That was cool.”
High Heat Index
The Mets have been driven most of the year by their young power arms. Matt Harvey (age 26), Jacob deGrom (27) and Noah Syndergaard (23) and Steven Matz (24) all throw fastballs in the mid-90s and have the swing-and-miss stuff that totally dominates opponents. But it wasn’t until the front office made a deadline deal for slugging outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (17 home runs in his first 46 games as a Met) that their long-suffering fans began to believe that maybe these Mets could win it all.
Since adding Cespedes and getting captain David Wright back from the disabled list, the Mets have dusted the NL East and become one of the most fun-to-watch teams in baseball. Citi Field, a great ballpark that is hosting meaningful late-season baseball for the first time, has become a fortress. “There’s a buzz,” Wright told ESPN.com. “I can’t remember Citi Field rocking the way that it has been (this year).”
Swing Hard or Don’t Swing At All
The Jays also made believers of the baseball world when they pulled the trigger on a huge trade at the deadline, acquiring left-hander David Price from the Tigers, which gave them a bonafide No. 1 starter. Before Price, the Jays were known mostly for their ferocious array of sluggers led by Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion. The best thing about the Blue Jays is that they don’t get cheated at the plate. They have hit more home runs and scored more runs than any team in baseball. Win or lose in October, Toronto’s going to be swinging for the fences.
If your team’s going to be playing October baseball, you’re not, of course, going to jump on the Mets or Jays bandwagon. But if you’re neutral, what’s not to like about these teams? They’ve got power arms, power bats, hungry fans who’ve waited more than two decades for a champion and raucous crowd-filled stadiums.
From our point of view, that’s America.