You'll hear a lot of opinions about which of the two teams battling for the Wild Card would make the best opponent for the Rangers in the ALDS.
Yes, for the purposes of this exercise we are assuming that the Rangers are going to wind up finishing in front of the Tigers when all is said and one on Wednesday. Obviously there's a chance that the Rangers will wind up headed to the Bronx, but the odds of getting home field in the first round are on their side.
Back to the question of which team is the best for them to face. There are good arguments to be made on both sides. Whether the Red Sox hold on or not, they are coming off one of the worst Septembers in the history of baseball. No team has ever blown a bigger lead, which is a testament to their awful pitching staff and the injuries that have ransacked their lineup.
The Rays, on the other hand, have a lineup that Rangers pitchers feasted on all season. Their offense doesn't threaten pitchers nor does it punish mistakes when they come down the pike. They have also been going for broke for so long to get themselves back into the race that you wonder how much there is left in the tank if they do wind up making the playoffs.
Reasonable people can disagree on which team seems like easier pickings, but there's no doubt that the best case scenario for the Rangers is having them play each other on Thursday for the right to continue their season. You've already gotten a huge break by forcing the teams to start Jon Lester and David Price on Wednesday night, but forcing another game out of them would be the icing on that cake.
It doesn't matter who starts. Tim Wakefield and Jeff Niemann are the likeliest candidates and neither one looks like a major postseason contributor. What matters is that it is one more day in a season that's already gone on forever and it is one more night for the bullpen to get chewed up as the Rays and Sox try to find a way to keep the fire burning.
The Sox have had one day off this month, the Rays have had two and both teams have played multiple doubleheaders to make up games lost earlier in the year. Having Thursday off would be huge when you're heading into a series against a team that's been able to rest starters and spend time preparing for the playoffs. Winning the game gives you a jolt of momentum, but how long is that really going to last when you're starting your third starter against C.J. Wilson on the road?
Don't root for the Rays or the Red Sox. Root for a playoff and be happy to welcome whichever team rides its fumes into Arlington on Friday.