A lot of baseball fans will see the 2010 World Series as improbable. All I can think, is “Thank God!” Let’s be honest, did you really want to see a rematch between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies? I won’t lie, I’m a little biased against Northeastern teams (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.), but instead of glitz and glamor, this Fall Classic will have heart, character, and grit. Those qualities are what really matter to true sports lovers everywhere. I think most fans enjoy seeing the teams who spend the most money come up empty handed because, let’s face it, cheering for the New York Yankees is the equivalent of going to a casino in Las Vegas and pulling for the House to win. Who does that?
The Texas Rangers will represent the American League in the World Series for the first time in franchise history. In 1961 the Washington Senators were born, and for ten years they did very little, thus causing them to move. Since 1972 the Rangers have been based in Arlington, Texas, and despite having great players such as Nolan Ryan, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, Kevin Brown, Alex Rodriguez, and Rafael Palmeiro put on the Rangers colors, they hardly sniffed success until the mid-1990s. It’s nice to see some new blood in the Fall Classic, and now there are only two teams who have never experienced this honor (the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals).
Earlier this season, Rangers manager Ron Washington admitted to having used cocaine. Add that to star outfielder Josh Hamilton having battled drugs and alcohol throughout his career and you have two feel-good comeback stories to keep an eye on. In fact, out of respect for Hamilton, his teammates celebrated their American League Championship Series win over New York by spraying each other with ginger ale as opposed to using champagne or beer. That speaks volumes to what he means to this closely knit team. It’s a squad of guys who just want to get it done, and man can they hit.
Vladimir Guerrero was once considered to be losing a step, but he’s come out slugging with a .300 batting average and 29 home runs. Granted he’s fallen off the horse during the playoffs thus far, but he’s still one of the best sluggers in the game. Pair him up with Michael Young, Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz, and the Rangers can hit with anyone in the Big Leagues. They’re going to need it because after ace Cliff Lee, Texas isn’t as stacked with pitchers as San Francisco is.
The San Francisco Giants make their first appearance in the World Series since 2002, when they were knocked out by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They also appeared in 1989, when an earthquake postponed Game 3. San Francisco lost that series 4-0 to their Bay Area cross-town rivals, the Oakland Athletics. In fact, the Giants haven’t won a World Series since 1954, back when they played at the Polo Grounds in New York. The city of San Francisco hasn’t known a champion in any sport except for the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. The Golden State Warriors are perennial losers, and the nearby San Jose Sharks win in the regular season, only to regularly fall apart during the playoffs.
Keep an eye on wild-man pitcher Brian Wilson. He’s inspired the Giants unofficial slogan, “Fear the Beard” in which fans wear fake beards to AT&T Park. Wilson’s personality makes him baseball’s closest real life version of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn from the movie Major League with the one major difference is that Wilson is a closer. If you look at the starting pitching of the Giants it’s hard not to be in awe. Pitching is what got them past each round of the playoffs, and it’s not hard to see why. Two-time NL Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum is downright nasty. Barry Zito is getting up there in age, but he still has one of the best curveballs in the game. Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez have been getting the job done, and youngster Madison Bumgarner has shown he will have a bright future.
San Francisco’s band of cast-offs have been heroes throughout the playoffs. Cody Ross was brought over in a late season trade from the Florida Marlins, and he’s been pounding the ball ever since (batted .350 with 3 home runs during the NLCS). Journeyman Aubrey Huff has made his presence felt, and former 1997 World Series hero Edgar Renteria looks to provide playoff experience. The Giants aren’t the slugging bunch that the Rangers are, but these two teams each have their advantages and disadvantages. You know Barry Bonds is wishing he were still playing right now, especially considering he never “officially” retired. It’s a sweet redemption to see the Orange & Black succeed without performance enhancing drugs.
When the dust settles, there can only be one World Series Champion, and the old saying goes that pitching wins championships. I’m not one for predictions, but if I were to guess, I would say the San Francisco Giants will outpitch Texas to win 4-2. Cliff Lee will win both his starts for Texas, but after that, the Rangers have nobody else to match up with San Francisco on the mound.
Two scrappy teams, two underdogs, and twice the fun. It’s parity at its best. Since 1995 either the Yankees or Red Sox have been in the playoffs (usually both, and a lot of that has to do with the introduction of the Wild Card spot). More often than not, it seems one of them makes it to the World Series. The Phillies have been one of the NL’s best teams since 2007, and the just won the World Series last year. That means this World Series is like unwrapping a brand new gift as opposed to playing with your old toys again. If you’re not a die hard fan of either squad, just kick back, relax, and enjoy some real playoff baseball with a fresh new look. Hey, at least you don’t have to watch those darn Yankees again, right?