The Super Bowl gets huge ratings. It is an absolute circus, has all the glitz and glamor of any red carpet, and features the pinnacle (generally speaking) of America’s favorite sport. It is truly the biggest game of the year in America, and its revenue numbers prove that even without talking about the football side. Even the commercials are waited on with watchful eyes, anticipation, and buffalo sauce, written all over the face of just about every viewer.
The World Series does not have the ratings, the glitz, the revenue, or even the buffalo wings to bury your face in, hoping to fit in at a pumpkin patch. Nope, it doesn’t have any of that. So why is it so much better? Yeah, I said it: Better. Is it due to the history behind the sport that dwarfs that of every other mainstream American sport? Is it because there is much more so a sense of history-in-the-making? Or is it just because I am biased and love baseball above all else? Maybe all three.
Let me put it to you this way. Bills fans have been absolutely brutalized throughout their history. They are right up there with the Browns for the most tortured NFL franchises. However, I use Buffalo because that is a football city that has never had anyone like LeBron to let them forget about their misery for a while. They have Scott Norwood instead. I am not re-hashing this simply to make Bills fans double over in their chairs, I swear. Bills fans feel bad about their team, but generally speaking, it does not overflow to their personal lives at an extreme level. In their 50 years of existence, they have been through the ringer a time or two.
50 years is a long time. Double that. Oh, and add a couple years for good measure. Welcome to Cubs baseball. These people are tortured. They have even had Michael Jordan to ease their pain for a while, but still there is a pervasive sense of defeat that lurks in every corner of the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. Grown men would break down in tears if their team won the World Series. The Bears could win every single game for the next two years and the people of Chicago as a whole (Sox fans aside) would not be a fraction of how happy they would be to see their team make history in October.
Is Chicago an extreme example? Sure. Let’s take New York instead. Would a New Yorker who is a Mets fan or Yankees fan trade his team’s success in October for a Super Bowl? Not a chance. Think a San Francisco native would trade a Giants World Series for a 49ers Super Bowl? Maybe if down was up, Willie Mays never lived, and Dodger blue did not boil their blood, but given the reality of the situation, there is no chance he/she would. Do you think a Dallas native would trade a Cowboys Super Bowl for a Rangers World Series? Ok, bad example. The Cowboys suck, have not been good in my sports lifetime (starting at age 7 in 1997), and will never be good as long as they have a megalomaniac building hot tubs in the shape of the state of Texas. Sorry, got carried away there.
Ok, so the Giants have a huge, huge edge in terms of fans. They are a storied franchise that has undergone its share of hardships since moving out west, but, in its Say Hey-day in New York, was as fine a baseball team as there was. It is no fault of the Rangers fans that their team does not have the history of the Giants, but they clearly have not cared as I have really not seen an empty seat at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Does this matter in terms of previewing the series? Absolutely. There is a hunger in October baseball that you have to experience to know, and there is no doubt that the Giants faithful, and through their environment, the players, surely have at least a piece of that hunger. If you walked down Fisherman’s Wharf in March and told a non-tourist that the Giants were in the World Series, you would get a hug. If you were to walk down the streets of Dallas and do the same thing about the Rangers in March, you would get the response “cool” or some response asking about the Cowboys. I have a friend in Italy for the semester who is a Giants fan who has been staying up til dawn to watch the games. Sorry for doubting Rangers fans, but I doubt there is that kind of commitment readily available.
I know, I know. The fans don’t pitch or hit. Hell, they don’t even field unless they are reaching over the railing illegally. I think it matters. Sue me. I honestly have not had a rooting interest since I had my eyes gouged out by the Red Sox in 2007, and at a much deeper level, since I had my soul ripped out in 1997, but I think it is clear who I am suggesting you root for. You don’t even have to read between the lines. However, I also have some more analytical previewing to do, so without further ado, I give you the 2010 World Series Preview.
Texas Rangers vs. San Francisco Giants
C- Bengie Molina vs Buster Posey
Advantage Posey here. I am still on the Jason Heyward/Jaime Garcia for ROY bandwagon because they did it all year, but it is clear that Posey is the next Joe Mauer, but with perhaps a bit more pop. Bengie knows this all too well as he is the reason he was sent to Texas. In every phase of the game, the rookie is better right now. I would normally say that Molina has the advantage in terms of handling the staff, but after watching Posey this postseason, I wouldn’t even give Molina the edge there.
1B- Mitch Moreland/other option vs Aubrey Huff
The edge goes to Huff, but not by nearly as much as you would think. Moreland quietly had a great series against the Yankees, hitting .339 and getting on base at a .450 clip. That is EXACTLY what they need out of him, as they have other guys to knock him in. However, the advantage still is Huff’s as he has really been one of the main engines behind the grind-it-out Giants offense. I saw him basically get out of the way of a ground ball in spring training, but he has really been outstanding since then.
2B- Ian Kinsler vs Freddy Sanchez/Mike Fontenot
I am tempted to bash Kinsler for his truly idiotic pick off against the Yankees, but he is still clearly the better player here. Neither is an elite defender and Kinsler’s offense just far outstrips even Sanchez’s numbers in his best years in Pittsburgh. Did you know Kinsler played 2B at college baseball powerhouse Arizona State? Who was his SS and middle infield partner? Dustin Pedroia.
SS- Elvis Andrus vs Juan Uribe/Edgar Renteria
Andrus has the advantage because he is faster, a better defender and better fielder. Pretty straightforward. However, I would like to take this chance to hate on Edgar Renteria. Why? For ruining my childhood. He knows what he did. But if you don’t you should read the following link. THIS LINK RIGHT HERE. Renteria’s 1 RBI? Came in the 11th. Scotch please.
3B- Michael Young vs Juan Uribe/Pablo Sandoval
Young is the better hitter, and probably the better fielder, though Uribe seems to pull great plays out of his ass sometimes. While Young is better, Uribe, like many Giants, has been beyond clutch this postseason, so any advantage Young has is void in a close game.
RF- Nelson Cruz/Vladimir Guerrero Cody Ross
Again, the Rangers have the better player, but if you made me face one guy right now between Cruz and Ross, I would roll the dice with Cruz right now. Ross is just that on fire. Not better overall, but he does seem to be better right now. Vlad will be playing right in San Francisco as well, which I assume means that Cruz will move to left. That is a big offense-for-defense sacrifice if you ask me, but he is clearly a huge part of the team, so I cannot really criticize it.
CF- Josh Hamilton Aaron Rowand/Andres Torres
This one goes to Hamilton. Not close. Despite missing time, he is still probably the AL MVP, and for good reason.
LF- Pat Burrell vs David Murphy/Nelson Cruz
Yet again, the Rangers have the better player overall. However, if Pat the Bat gets hot, that could mean some bigger problems for Rangers fans than they might care to admit.
DH- Vladimir Guerrero vs Pat Burrell/Andres Torres
This is not a big deal since only 3 games will feature a DH, but keep in mind that Pat Burrell was awful as a DH this year with Tampa Bay, and for that reason, he may not end up DHing even though he is the logical choice. Naturally, this gives the Rangers an advantage since it is an aspect they are supposed to be better with,
SP1- Cliff Lee vs Tim Lincecum
Push. No matter who you choose, you are getting a Cy Young winning guy who has been unhittable at times this postseason. I would never, ever bet against Cliff Lee in a playoff game, but if I was ever going to do it, it would be when he was facing Tim Lincecum at home. Lee is probably the best postseason pitcher I have seen in a long time, and I cannot really make an argument against him, but I will point one thing out. Lee seems to give up the long ball when he does give up the occasional run, and that is what the Giants have been banking on. They are the type of lineup that could sneak up on Lee as he builds his arsenal to attack the high-octane offense rather than the average.
SP2- CJ Wilson vs Matt Cain
I would take Cain here, but I have some worries about him. He has looked alright this postseason, but he has to face a lot of good fastball hitters in the Rangers, and has to deal with his former catcher giving the Rangers extensive scouting reports on him. This is obviously clear with the rest of the Giants staff too, but it just seems like something that would damage Cain more than it would damage the other guys. I would pick the Rangers to win this game, although I think Cain is the better pitcher.
SP3- Colby Lewis vs Jonathan Sanchez
Clear advantage to Sanchez here. You know who he reminds me of? Johan Santana. He has a similar, though freer, delivery, and while he is less change-up dependent, he works hitters in a somewhat similar way. Sorry, I don’t trust Colby Lewis even though he handled the Yankees just fine. Sanchez has been one of the bigger stories in this Giants playoff run.
SP4- Tommy Hunter vs Madison Bumgarner
Give me Bumgarner. Hunter is an Indianapolis kid, but I think it is pretty clear that Bumgarner is the better pitcher here. The back-end of this Giants staff has been huge all year, and it will continue to be a strength here.
I like the Rangers combo of guys a bit better, but I would be lying if I said I was not worried about what happened back in Game 1 vs the Yankees. I like the Darrens (O’Day and Oliver) and Clay Rapada for the lefties, and I just do not have that kind of confidence in Jeremy Affeldt, or Santiago Casillas. The bullpen is always hard to project as they are often one pitch from being a success or failure, but I have more confidence in the Rangers pen going in.
Closer- Neftali Feliz vs Brian Wilson
Are we talking charisma or efficiency? If it is charisma, I do not think there is any doubt that the edge would go to Blackbeard’s Delight. However he throws a lot of pitches, and he is going to have a really hard time holding the track team better known as the Rangers. The Giants have the advantage in clutchness, which would count against Feliz, but I would rather have Feliz than Wilson if we are talking purely baseball.
You probably saw the Tim Kurkjian interview after the Game 6 win and wondered if Brian Wilson was crazy. The answer is yes.
The Giants have the beautiful home field, crazy fans, and all the history. That alone should earn them the intangible label, but the Rangers seem to match that with that “2008 Rays with better pitching and hitting” feel, and the feel-goodness of Josh Hamilton, Ron Washington, and Nolan Ryan (who can still probably throw in the mid 80s).
Go ahead and add all that up and you will find who I picked.
Wait, you are telling me this isn’t a quantitative exercise? Yeah, I know.
All that analysis and we still have no idea. So what am I basing my pick on? Normally, my gut feeling would be accompanied by some sort of support, but I really have no gut feeling either way. I could see the Giants coming up with every clutch hit they need and shutting the Rangers bats down just as easily as I could see the Rangers bats being too much for the Giants to deal with.
In short, I have no clue. I want to pick the Giants because I feel for those tortured Giants fans far more than I feel for the Rangers fans. But that is not at all based on anything that will happen on the field. This series is not going 7, so whoever wins it is doing it in 6, and I am picking the….
Rangers over Giants in 6
Michael Young as World Series MVP
Hey, look at the bright side, Giants fans. I have been turning a blond eye to your team all year, so maybe this prediction is exactly what the team needs.