Saturday, September 29, 2012

1989 Called - They Want Their World Series Back

I felt the earth move
It's another of those "very good times to be a baseball fan" in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The Giants have already won the National League West crown, and just across the bay the Oakland As are closing in on that new one-game play-in for the Wild Card.  Of course, Giants fans and As fans are not typically friendly, and it is rare (but not impossible) to find someone who genuinely roots for both teams, but these moments are different.  There's something extraordinarily cool about a World Series played in one metropolitan area.  For one thing, there's just not that many places where it can happen - New York, Chicago, Florida, Los Angeles and of course, the Bay Area.  But more than that, particularly out here on the left edge of the map, we like any opportunity to remind the denizens of the Bronx and Bristol CT (yeah, I'm looking at YOU, ESPN) that there is baseball outside of New York and Boston, and it can even be worth watching.  When the Giants won it all two years ago, the grudging nature of the appreciation in the national press was a joy to behold.  Sure, west coast games go well past a lot of bedtimes, but it can still be a little frustrating to be the second class citizens of MLB.

Certainly, there's a LOT of great storylines in this year's playoffs.  The Orioles, a Washington DC team that is not only good, but VERY good, even though they may have voluntarily crippled their starting rotation, the final year of the classic Chipper Jones' great career playing for the odious Atlanta Braves, the Rangers giving it another go for the third year in a row, always a bridesmaid, the Reds turning it on down the stretch even as their hapless and notably incompetent Manager had a stroke - these are all going to play out in a very interesting post-season.  But the possibility, however faint, of another whack at a cross-bay World Series is much more than intriguing.  How might 1989 have played out had the fault stayed where it started, had disaster stayed away for another week?

The 1993 Giants were arguably the best team that has ever played in San Francisco, dominating opponents with both pitching and a prodigious offense and winning 103 games that year.  Unfortunately, they never got a chance to see how that particular team stacked up to the rest of the league as those loathsome Braves won 104 and took the pennant.  But that 1989 team was almost as good, better in most ways than the 2010 team that took the World Series championship.  2010 was characterized by a few incredibly special performances, Lincecum and Cody Ross and a few others finding something inside themselves that nobody quite realized was there.  Beyond that, it was the bullpen and a few good breaks that took that team over the top.  But that 1989 team had it all.  They had Brett Butler at the top of the lineup getting on and stealing bags.  They had not only power, but average up and down the lineup.  They had good outfield defense and an utterly unrivaled infield.

This year's Giants team has a better offense than in 2010 and the best bullpen in the game.  Unusually for this team, it's the starting pitching and defense that are the question marks.  And the overall quality of the teams in the playoffs is ridiculously high this year.  If the Giants can get through the Reds and the Nationals, they ought to be favorites to win the World Series.  I haven't paid enough attention to the As to know how they really stack up - I know they've been getting good pitching and a lot of home runs, but it's going to be hard for them to get through whatever combination of Orioles, Yankees and Rangers they'll have to play.  But right now, before being confronted by all that reality, I can think about another shot at the As in the World Series, and smile.


  1. Makes me wish Milwaukee had a baseball team.

  2. Who's the Washington team? And what about Baltimore? They're a story too.

    Tampa Bay-Miami would be an Interstate Series, like KC-St. Louis. Or Giants-Angels.

    Geography aside, we'll see your boyz down here Monday. And if the former Bums o' Brooklyn somehow don't make the post-season & dodge to triumph, we'll be pulling for the Giants. California über alles!!

    P.S.: Is hoping for another Bay Bridge Series tempting tectonic fate?

  3. I am a little discombobulated by seeing the Bouf so wound up about this....

  4. I just hope Bochy doesn't buy into that whole "rest the regulars" going into the playoffs scam. I remember 2010, when game 162 was balls to the wall and there wasn't a game that wasn't must win. There's an entire off-season to rest. Sure, set up the rotation, keep the arms fresh, but keep the regulars on the field...

  5. Oh. I originally thought "a Washington DC team that is not only good, but VERY good, even though they may have voluntarily crippled their starting rotation" was an appositive for the Orioles, but it's the next item in the list.

    Never mind, I'm a ninny.

    zrm, as a mature male of the honkie persuasion, it's in the contract that I have to give at least half a shit about baseball. To me, all other sports are subsets of telebision, which is the true nat'l. pastime anyway. (This means I'll leave the house to go to a ball game. Can't afford other sporting events anyway. Hell, I've watched lesbians play softball in public parks.)

    Hey, if some of those old wretches want/need a day or two off, who's Bochy to deny them?