The Giants and the Rangers faceoff for baseball’s ultimate prize
By Oliver Nacey
It’s October. The NFL and NHL seasons are well underway, the NBA’s is just tipping off and the “I’ll watch it if it’s on” sport of baseball is finishing its seventh month of play.
The World Series has just begun and in about two weeks a new World Champion will be crowned. Yes, World Champion, even though no teams from outside the US are playing and regardless of the fact Japan has won the last two World Baseball Challenges. Gotta love them yanks, right?
The San Francisco Giants are duking it out against the Texas Rangers for the championship trophy. They began the era of inter-league play in 1997 and now they will play each other in a best-of-seven series for the biggest prize in baseball.
Don’t worry, nobody knew the Texas Rangers existed either, but apparently they’re quite good. Good enough to be American League champions.
The Rangers’ bats have been big this season living up to their Texan name behind All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton who had the league’s best batting average over the season at 0.359. They led the league in batting percentage this season with a team average of 0.276 and were 10th in the league with 162 home runs.
As for their defense, Cliff Lee was huge on the mound with 185 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.18. The team also had only 105 errors all season.
This form carried over to the postseason where the Rangers took out young pitching starlet David Price and the highly-rated Tampa Bay Rays in a five game ALDS by homering eight times. They then went on to knock off the defending champion Yankees in six games by dominating with bat in hand, hitting another nine HRs over the series.
Every game the Rangers won they did so by four runs or more and outscored their opponents 59-32 in the first two series. Convincing? No, it’s more like domination.
The Rangers franchise had never won a playoff series before this year but are now on the threshold of a World Series title. With a win they will firmly secure their place in baseball mythology as the only team to be crowned World Champions after their first playoff series victory.
San Francisco Giants
They’re not the biggest or the baddest and their fan-base outside of the Bay area isn’t exactly huge but they have an awkward, long-haired and geeky-looking pitcher whose nickname is “The Freak.” Instant awesomeness? Yessiree.
Nicknames aside, this team has shown up under pressure coming out of the extremely close NL West division with a final game win over their California rivals the San Diego Padres.
It was the pitching of Tim “The Freak” Lincecum, who held an ERA of 3.43 that helped them through tough division games towards the end of the season.
Their bats held up too, hitting 0.257 on the season with 162 homers. Not bad for a team greatly reliant on pitching and who had only 94 home runs two years ago.
Offseason acquisition Cody Ross has been on fire this postseason hitting 0.324 with four home runs and eight RBIs to drive his team to the World Series and himself to NLCS MVP title.
The Giants carried their crunch time form into the playoffs taking out the hard-hitting Atlanta Braves in four of five and then clinching their World Series berth by knocking out superstar pitcher Roy Halladay and his defending runners-up the Philadelphia Phillies in six games.
For San Francisco it is a first World Series in nine years and by winning four games it will be the franchises first championship since the New York Giants (not the football team) won it all in 1954.
So who will it be this year?
History is putting a lot of pressure on these two teams who will both be aiming to bring a long-awaited World Series trophy to their enduring fans.
This drought-breaking factor turns what would not usually be considered a marquis matchup into an extremely exciting one.
With the strength of both teams’ pitching and their strong postseason batting this is a series that shouldn’t be missed. Tim “The Freak” Lincecum vs. Cliff “Cliff Lee” Lee battle will be one for the ages and may ultimately decide who wins the series.
There is also the great threat of the in form players Josh Hamilton for the Rangers and Cody Ross for the Giants. With their form this season either of them could take the series into their own hands and subsequently take control of the series.
On a larger scale here’s who I think has the advantage in each of the major facets of the game:
Pitching: San Francisco
Fielding: San Francisco
Emotional/ Wouldn’t it be so amazing if they won!: Texas
On those grounds I can’t see Texas losing this series. The setup is far too perfect and, of all the major sports, fairytales come true the most in baseball. However. logic tells me this series gets stretched to a conclusive seventh game and a tough contest will decide the Champions.