September 25, 2021

An Over-the-Shoulder Preview

October 24, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

If it had been the Giants and the Yankees, the World Series would have had old world flavor and been a big television draw.  The money lenders cannot win them all.  Still, it will be an old fashioned World Series, one in which the very strong pitching of both teams will do much to decide the 2010 World Champions.

It has been quite a while since a team like the Giants made the Series.  Pitching and defense are their strength.  The lineup has been able to cobble together enough runs to win behind an excellent run by Cody Ross and others.  They resemble nothing so much as the teams of the early 1960’s that confounded the much more powerful New York Yankee teams with the bats of Mantle and Maris and the pitching of Whitey Ford.

Few thought the Dodgers in 1963 or the Cardinals in 1964 could beat the powerful Yankee teams of that era.  In 1963 the Yankees won 104 games, but behind the great pitching of Sandy Koufax, Johnny Podres and Don Drysdale, first the Dodgers beat them and then a year later–with Bob Gibson leading the way–the Cardinals repeated the feat.  Which is to say that the Giants should not be dismissed because the Rangers have a more powerful team going in.  But putting good money down that San Francisco can beat the Rangers?  Not my money.

Josh Hamilton does one of the better Mickey Mantle impressions in recent years.  He plays a great center field, hits for power and average and looks like a kid from the Ozarks.  But he has more company than Mick had back in the early 1960’s.  Maris fell off quickly after 1961 and Mantle was on the downside as well, having had a horrible year of injuries in 1963.  The Rangers by contrast are young and hungry.  Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler are, like Hamilton, just hitting their peak playing years, all of them under 30.

There is senior leadership on the team as well.  Mike Young is 33, Vlad Gurerrero 35, and Bengie Molina is 35.  The seasoned hands of the Rangers are significantly better than those of the Giants and they balance out the youth of Elvis Andrus–just 22, as well as that of Julio Borbon and Mitch Moreland, both of whom are rookies.  When the DH is in play, the Rangers will have a very significant advantage.  Home field advantage will be much bigger in the 2010 World Series given the weak hitting Giants.  It will mean giving the Rangers just one more very big club–that of free-swinging Vladimir Guerrero–with which to whack the Giants.

It is hard to discount the balance and depth of the Rangers and even more difficult to understand how the Giants will counter it.  I remember Joe Morgan talking in April about all the talent in San Francisco during one of the early Sunday night games on ESPN.  I flipped through their lineup and was curious exactly what he saw that I was missing.  I am still perplexed how they have gotten this far.  Their outfield features Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, and a platoon of Nate Shierholz and Aaron Rowand.  Together their offensive numbers are well south of those put up by Nelson Cruz and Hamilton.

If one were to provide one of those position-by-position comparisons that evaluates the advantage of one team versus the other, there are only two places on the field where the Giants would gain an advantage.  One would be at first base where Aubrey Huff has had another fine year. Buster Posey is the other.  He may yet be a great offensive force in the game and he is better than Molina, but the experience of the older receiver against that of the younger one makes it a close call.

So are Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Jonathan Sanchez that good?  Can they neutralize the advantage of the Rangers overall and can the Giants bullpen sustain it?  The answer has to be in the affirmative.  The bullpen of the Giants is better than that of the Rangers. Their starters are better and so the plus would be a large one for the Giants on the pitching side.  The only way that Texas can keep up with the Giants pitching is if Cliff Lee is as dominating in the World Series as he was in the two American League Championship series in which he was as good as it gets.

Even if Lee can win in the games that he pitches, a huge burden then shifts to Colby Lewis and CJ Wilson.  They are good, but the numbers favor the Giants once Lee is in the dugout.  And even if Lewis and Wilson are good, they will hand the game to a bullpen that was shaky against the Yankees and Rays.  However, when the fourth starters sally forth, the better offensive club should win in a higher scoring affair–advantage again to Texas.

The bottom line will be less lucrative for its location in Texas and California.  Not a single link to the Northeast Corridor and Wall Street.  But the baseball will be the better for it.  There may be some heavy hitting, but no concussion.  If there is it will likely come from the Rangers and that will spell defeat for the Giants.  But if it is Sixties baseball and low scoring contests abound.  Then the Giants have an advantage.

So start your engines Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee, the 2010 World Series will be an endurance run and will go late into the evenings. I can hardly wait.


3 Responses to “An Over-the-Shoulder Preview”
  1. jeremy says:

    “The bottom line will be less lucrative for its location in Texas and California. Not a single link to the Northeast Corridor and Wall Street. But the baseball will be the better for it.”

    Amen. As a Rangers fan, this is really the first postseason I’ve cared about in 11 years. (OK, I did care a little when the Rockies and Rays went crazy in their years.) The average baseball fan likes to watch his team win and doesn’t care about whether the Giants and Yankees can rematch their 1948 (or whenever) series. Is something lost with parity? Yes. Is something gained? Ask the NFL.

  2. Ted Leavengood says:

    It is great to see two of the western teams playing in the World Series. Your last reference to the NFL I assume references the way television revenues are pooled in the NFL. Something like 3 percent of the population live in the NYC metro area, yet they demand 90 percent of the attention, like unruly children. Baseball will never grow until it finds some means to expand into other parts of the country and fuller revenue sharing is the only way to support it.

  3. Ken Voytek says:

    This is a nice summary. I like this Series but will be off to hills to listen to the games on the radio like they should be heard. I have a place that is veritable BB palace in the hills so that is good.

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