Rangers vs. Giants would be good for baseball

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As I write this, the Phillies have just lost on a walk-off
sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning, putting them three games to
one down in their best-of-seven series. Earlier today the Yankees staved off
elimination with a 7-2 win at home to the Rangers. They will play game 6 on
Friday night in Texas

 

So we’re on course for a Rangers vs. Giants World Series,
avoiding the much-anticipated rematch of last year’s Fall Classic: Yankees vs.
Phillies. Much-anticipated by pundits, anyway…

 

The most popular team in baseball is the New York Yankees.
The most unpopular team in baseball is also the New York Yankees, which means
lots of viewers, which means bigger revenues, which means that major league
baseball would love to see them there, while paying lip-service to the idea
that they like to see the underdogs succeed.

 

One of my problems with this is that the Yankees have too
many fans – most of them are not actually fans at all, it’s just that they hear
the name ‘Yankees’ a lot and figure when someone asks them who they support
they’ll go with the New York flow. It beats the heck out of saying, ‘Pittsburgh
Pirates’ anyway. (On the other hand, maybe most of the people who claim to be
Yankees fans are closet Pirates supporters, who knows…)

 

But really, these quasi-fans need to be made to understand
that saying ‘Yankees’ at the right moment does not make them a fan, that there
needs to be an emotional investment. At the very least we should be able to
expect the right answer to the following multiple choice question: Was Mickey
Mantle, a.) a Disney character you put on a shelf at home, or b.) a 20-time
All-star with 536 home runs in his career?

 

We need to at least stem the tide of youngsters abandoning
their roots or just abandoning being interesting by falling victim to the
Yankee marketing machine, and the best way of doing that is having the Yankees
lose – preferably badly – on the big stage, so I’m raising a glass to the
Rangers.

 

The Rangers themselves are a trendy pick this year. Josh
Hamilton’s story of uberprospect-to-zero-to-hero calls for a World Series
appearance. His life story of disappearing out of sight due to drug issues
before recovering to become a feared slugger is a compelling one.

 

As is the notion of a franchise going for its first-ever
World Series win. Now granted, they’re not a real ball club. They’ve only been
around for 38 years after moving from Washington where they were known as the
Senators, so they don’t have the Cubs’ near-century of doom, but it would be a
nice story all the same.

 

For a similar reason, it would be a good story for the
Giants. They moved from New York to San Francisco in 1957 and haven’t won a
World Series since. In 2002 they were 8 outs from their first World Series win,
carrying a five-run lead against the Anaheim Angels, only to lose that game and
game 7.

 

Having pitched their way into this postseason the Giants
have so far got the better of two of Philadelphia’s vaunted troika of aces.
Only Oswalt shut the Giants down, in game two, while Halladay and Hamels, as
well as Joe Blanton in game four, have succumbed to the Giants model of
lights-out pitching and just enough hitting.

 

Ironically, it was Oswalt who picked up the loss tonight.
Running low on bullpen arms, Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel
brought in the starter to pitch the ninth inning, only to give up two hits and
the game-winning sac fly.

 

There’s every reason to expect that the Giants can take one
of the last three games to dispose of the Phillies, and even if the Yankees win
game six, they’ll be up against the Rangers’ Cliff Lee in game 7. The same
Cliff Lee who struck out 13 Yankees in his last start and who beat them twice
in the World Series last year while with the Phillies. Good luck with that.

 

If the Rangers and the Giants square off, other than a
first-time winner you’re also guaranteed lots more close-up shots of a wrinkly
Nolan Ryan (Rangers’ owner and retired Hall of Fame pitcher), Tim Lincecum’s
mop of hair and analysts blathering on about how nice it is to see these two
lovely, oh-so-deserving teams in the World Series. You’ll get Giants’ closer
Brian Wilson dyeing heis beard black to look…er…cool? You’ll get lots more
revenue going to those teams who are not in the top tier of rich clubs. You’ll
get to see a lot more of Giants’ wonder-rookie Buster Posey and wonder just how
it is that someone who looks like they’re 10 can be that good. You’ll see
weather conditions almost conducive to baseball instead of the freezing
conditions common to the East Coast in November. You’ll get so much that’s
good.

 

Good for baseball? Bah, humbug. I want to see my Phillies
beat down the Yankees in the World Series. I don’t want what’s good for
baseball – I want revenge…

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