Until television, baseball players didn’t celebrate their victories — even World Series-clinching victories — on the field. They went to the dugout, shook hands with each other off the field, and then punched in to their offseason jobs as mail carriers.

But professional sports are performative as well as competitive, and athletes adapt their performance to the audience. World Series celebrations got more elaborate with broadcasts. Then the broadcasts got more elaborate, then enhanced, then arguably superseded by cable and the internet and social media. Content expanded outward, and the performances followed it. It’s a meme world now, baby.

Every team that goes deep in this postseason will have a meme. Think “Party at Napoli’s” for last year’s Indians. Or the 2015 Royals’ 1738 obsession, where players were fined for not inserting Fetty Wap lyrics into postgame interviews. The Machine. The Idiots. That’s What Speed Do. Rally Thong. Hunter Pence. Beard Tickling. Chocolate Syrup.

The memes will entertain you, they will keep teams loose, they will bring teams together, and they will affect how you process each team’s achievements. In 60 years, you will try to tell your grandkids about this year’s World Series champion, and you’ll find yourself describing how, like, they filled all the water coolers with milk. Drinking milk from Dixie cups. Milk showers during the postgame interview. Disgusting milk beards. A custom-made Paul Goldschmilk bobblehead, if it’s the Diamondbacks; or Milkie Betts, or Lactose Severino, or Yu Dairyvish, or whatever infuriating thing. Anchorman outfits on the road. The whole clubhouse redesigned to look like the Korova Milk Bar. A whole big thing.

The only problem with all this is that baseball players aren’t funny.

Most of us aren’t funny, but the world doesn’t strain to act like most of us are. For baseball players, we do. You will never get these postseason teams’ inside jokes out of your head.

So: Which team is best prepared for meme season? Which team is actually funny? Which team should you want to spend four weeks in a meta-relationship with? This, friends, is a postseason preview.

American League

Wild Card Game

New York Yankees
Mode of humor:
Meme factory
Originality: D-
Execution: A-