I called Rays in 5 in the ALDS and Rangers in 7 in the ALCS. Why stop while I'm ... tied?
Got in to the City by the Bay last night and this place is in a baseball frenzy. There's a pervasive baseball buzz. Lots of similarities between the San Francisco Giants and your Texas Rangers in the World Series:
Neither team has won a championship in its current city, the Giants since moving from New York in 1958 and the Rangers since re-locating to Arlington in 1972. Both teams will open tonight in Game 1 with a Cy Young winner when Cliff Lee duels Tim Lincecum. Both teams play in depressed football cities, where the Cowboys and 49ers are a combined 2-11.
Both teams are salivating at their World Series match-up, surmising that their opponent is indeed beatable.
But only one team will win the World Series:
STARTING PITCHING - Cliff Lee is Bob Gibson in the playoffs. He's never lost a post-season start and this year in an unfathomable 3-0 with 34 strikeouts, one walk and one - that's one - run allowed. Two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum was good, but not great (at least not compared to Lee), in the NLCS. The Rangers follow with C.J. Wilson (shaky in his
only last ALCS start), Colby Lewis (2-0 against the Yankees) and Tommy Hunter, whose Game 4 start probably should go to Derek Holland. The Giants had baseball's best ERA, solidified by Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, who also has the most made-up, giggly name of any World Series pitcher ever. Edge: Giants.
BULLPEN - Even after the Game 1 implosion, Texas' bullpen out-pitched the Yankees in the ALCS. But Holland, Darren O'Day and Darren Oliver may have met their match in the Giants' combo of Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez. As good as Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz was during the season, he hasn't pitched in a close game in the playoffs as Texas' smallest margin in their seven wins is four. The Giants' Brian Wilson and his dyed beard have been epic, pitching nine playoff innings with 12 strikeouts, four hits and not a sniff of a run. Edge: Giants.
1ST BASE - In the playoffs Mitch Moreland has more than solidified what had been a season-long black hole for the Rangers, but SF's Aubrey Huff is their leader in homers and RBI and is their best all-around player. Edge: Giants.
2ND BASE - Freddy Sanchez is a defensive whiz who has made three All-Star teams and only four errors all season, but he walks less, strikes out more and doesn't have near the speed or pop of Ian Kinsler. Edge: Rangers.
SHORTSTOP - SF's Juan Uribe has the Rangers' Elvis Andrus by 24 homers and about 100 pounds. Still, Elvis has been the A in Texas' post-season Antlers with his lead-off base-running and sparkling defense. Edge: Rangers.
3RD BASE - Pablo Sandoval is somehow "Kung Fu Panda", but he's a defensive liability. First time this post-season the Rangers' Michael Young has the edge, and it's a big one. Edge: Rangers.
CATCHER - Bengie Molina had a huge homer in Game 4 against the Yankees and he's assured of a ring either way since he played 60 games for the Giants before the July 1 trade to Texas, but the Giants' Buster Posey is the NL Rookie of the Year and a rising star begging for a national stage. Edge: Giants.
LEFT FIELD - Nelson Cruz has five playoff homers, a key aggressive tag-up in the ALCS and intimidated the Yankees with his arm. Pat Burrell hit 20 homers but has gone cold in the post-season. Edge: Rangers.
CENTER FIELD - Andres Torres is a ... oh, forget it. Josh Hamilton is so good the Yankees intentionally walked him five times in the ALCS. Edge: Rangers.
RIGHT FIELD - Vladimir Guerrero played 15 games in the outfield in the regular season so he shouldn't be totally lost in AT&T Ballpark, plus his bat will more than make up for his glove. Cody Ross, signed off waivers on August 22, was the Giants' surprising MVP of the NLCS, but unlikely homer binge is likely over. Edge: Rangers.
DESIGNATED HITTER - Guerrero had perhaps in the biggest hit in Rangers' history in Game 6 of the ALCS while Sandoval, a switch-hitter, is made for this position. Edge: Rangers.
BENCH - The Rangers aren't afraid to use Jeff Francoeur in the outfield and David Murphy is a dangerous clutch hitter. But the Giants can call on Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria, big-name backups with World Series experience. Edge: Giants.
MANAGER - Both Ron Washington and Bruce Bochy are instinct managers who prefer gut over book. Both are also accused, at times, of over-managing bullpens. Edge: Even.
INTANGIBLES - Both cities have enduring long droughts leading up to this moment. You'd think the Giants would have an edge with home-field advantage and NL rules in their park, but the Rangers are 5-1 on the road in the playoffs and were 8-1 in NL parks during the season. Destiny seems to favor Texas. Edge: Rangers.
PREDICTION - After picking on someone their own size in the first two rounds, the Rangers step down in weight class to bloody the nose of a runt whose weak offense predicates it trying to win games 3-2. In 11 playoff games the Rangers have scored less than five runs only three times. After dispatching the team with the best record (Rays) and the defending champs (Yankees), this historic romp will be feel like a home-run trot in the park. Rangers in 5.
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