World Series Preview
Tigers versus Giants
October's chill is lingering everywhere in America, which means that it's time for baseball's biggest stage—the World Series starts on Wednesday night. It'll be the Detroit Tigers against the San Francisco Giants, after a stunning seven-game series sent the Giants to their second finals in three years. The Detroit Tigers, on the other hand, swept the heavily-favored New York Yankees in a dominating fashion. Their ample rest time and the momentum of previous upsets allow for a perceived advantage.
The Tigers made the normally superstar Yankees look terribly mortal in their League Championship series. During their first two games in New York, the Yankees' vaunted captain Derek Jeter fractured his ankle and once-invincible Alex Rodriguez was benched after subpar hitting. The post-season disappointment was enough for General Manager Brian Cashman to declare that A-Rod was no longer untouchable in an angry rant that surprised no one.
The Tigers didn't look as impressive during the five games it took them to dispatch the Oakland A's, but their consistency means that, despite New York's always-expected headlines, Detroit is the team that's still making waves for good reasons.
The Cardinals won it all last year, the Giants the year before. It should have been expected that this match-up would mean a spectacular series, but when opening games were split in San Francisco, some people doubted the resolve. Of course, we should have seen this coming considering not only both prgrams' last two seasons, but also this year's regular season. Neither team knows how to quit.
Sadly for St. Louis fans, game 7 in San Francisco brought a dramatic end end to this epic fight. The Cardinals were rolled 9-0. Not-so-sadly for Giants fans, their team can carry this victory with them as the latest sign that they can never be counted out.
The Tigers may have the larger momentum, but San Francisco has a deep-seated belief that they will never lose. They were down in the NLCS 1-3 and beat the odds to win games 5, 6 and 7, with the margin in this last closeout game being the largest of the series.
The World Series is the best time for the casual baseball fan to get excited and embrace a team. Despite the Yankees’ continued headline dominance and decorated history, baseball begins to feel like a sport that has achieved true equivalence. In the last ten years, eight different teams have risen as champions, with the repeaters being the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. The Giants now have a chance to join that repeaters club (if they can get over the Detroit Tigers of course). It is going to be a fantastic battle.
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So. The Texas Rangers. How about it?
Man, I never would have thought I would be here. I was certain they were going to roll. I was afraid for my friend's long-term well-being and then, magically, a week ago it all came together. The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays in a best of 5 series—without winning a single game at home. (This, oddly, made them still without a home playoff win in their entire existence until their current series.)
Now, they've embarked on the journey that all Davids must undergo if they want to take down baseball's ultimate crown: that perpetual Goliath, the New York Yankees.
As a baseball hater, when October inevitably arrives each year, I usually turn my rooting interests the way of the Yankees. They're usually pretty good, they win a good percentage of the time, and they're at least somewhat entertaining, especially given their links to Jay-Z.
Now, however, I'll have to root against my pseudo-team. And I'll be happy to do so. Despite any troll comments online, the Texas Rangers' story only gets better and better to me. Turns out, when they clinched the American League Division Series in game five, the team celebrated with ginger ale before breaking out the champagne. Why? Slugger Josh Hamilton is a recovering alcoholic. Plenty of smart-mouthed sports fans made negative cracks about that in the last week, but imagine being him and seeing your teammates holding back on their celebration out of respect for you. My fandom of the Rangers begins at that noble point.
Count Cliff Lee, their pitcher extraordinaire, as reason No. 2. With an ERA of 3.18, through the regular season, he ranked sixth in the American League this year. He's been in the league a mere eight years, and made it to the World Series in 2009 with the Philadelphia Phillies, only to fall to the New York Yankees. Added intrigue to an already interesting storyline? Count me in. Through the fourth game of the American League Championship Series, Lee's pitching at an insane 1.26 ERA and hasn't lost a single game he's started.
Last but not least, I default to the somewhat bizarre case of the Rangers' sad luck. Having made it to the playoffs only three times before this year, they've always been eliminated by, you guessed it, the New York Yankees. Now, with a chance to get back at the bully in the ALCS, there's a lot to root for. Game 4 was played in New York yesterday, with the Rangers walking all over the Yankees, for the second night in a row. The Rangers lost their first home game last Friday, but proceeded to win (their first postseason home victory in the history of their franchise!) on Saturday. Things stayed cheerful for the Texas boys in New York, and with the win last night they're only one away from their first ever trip to the World Series.
Tune in today at 2:07 p.m. on TBS as the Rangers try to wrap things up in New York.
The Return of Major League Baseball
Or, how to have a 9-month excuse for vegetating in front of your TV with a beer and a bath robe.
Ah, spring time is finally here. Flowers a bloomin’. Birds a chirpin’. Wood’s a crackin’. Time to roll out “America’s Favorite Pastime™” from its ever-so brief hibernation.
The 2010 MLB regular season kicked off in dramatic fashion Sunday night as the Boston Red Sox hosted George Steinbrenner (who may look more like the Tales from the Crypt crypt keeper than the crypt keeper himself) and his gazillion-dollar circus New York Yankees Sunday night. The Yankees, whose payroll easily dwarfs most countries’ entire GDPs, are heavily favored to win it all again this year, fresh off their record 27th title win last season. If their “Mission: Redux” isn’t made clear enough, manager Joe Girardi wears a jersey emblazoned with the number 28 to show that his team means business, once again. What a prick.
If there’s any justice, goodness and grace left in this world, they could be challenged by strong AL East division rivals in the form of the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, while over in the NL, the Philadelphia Phillies are expected to head back to the big dance for the third consecutive year. Yankees vs. Phillies again? That sounds about as anticlimactic as a Dick Cheney heart attack.
For the love of Christ, is anybody willing to don the glass slippers and be this season’s Cinderella story? Young teams stacked with talent like the Colorado Rockies St. Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants could make a strong run at it.
Who ya got?