October brings out the best in everyone — especially the underdogs.
By: Charlie Miller | 10/26/10, 5:47 PM EDT
Going into the season, most baseball experts expected the Yankees and Phillies in the World Series. Coming out of the season, most experts still expected the powers from New York and Philadelphia to face each other in a rematch of the 2009 series.
But Cliff Lee, Josh Hamilton, Cody Ross and Juan Uribe had other ideas.
An unlikely scenario, for sure, having the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers meet in the World Series. The Rangers have never been there in their 50-year history that dates back to the Washington Senators. The Giants haven’t won a World Series since 1954 when the team was based in New York and called the Polo Grounds home. The team has played in three since moving to the Bay Area in the late 1950s, but lost two Game 7s and were swept by their neighbors, the Oakland A’s, in the 1989 Earthquake Series.
Back in January, some odds makers had the Giants at 16:1 to win the World Series and the Rangers at 20:1. Of course, no one knew in January that Lee would be the rangers’ ace by this time and that Ross would be in a Giants’ uniform.
But here we are.
These two teams present fresh faces in the World Series. Only Bengie Molina, Vladimir Guerrero and Lee have even appeared in a World Series for the Rangers. The Giants have Edgar Renteria, who played in two series — providing the game-winning hit for the Marlins in 1997, and making the final out for St. Louis in 2004 — and Pat Burrell, a member of the 2008 champion Phillies, as the only players with that experience.
It’s easy to root for upstart teams, especially ones filled with feel-good stories all their own. It’s been well-chronicled hwo Hamilton has overcome addiction and revived his career from being drafted No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay to being out of baseball to All-Star. Colby Lewis has been released or waived four times and spent two seasons in Japan honing his curveball before returning to Texas last winter.
Michael Young, who has become the current Mr. Ranger, played in 1,351 games — all with the Rangers — prior to this season without sniffing the postseason.
And then there is the brains of the outfit. Nolan Ryan, who took over as team president in 2008, emphasized pitching. The team was rebuilt with a purpose with pitching the linchpin. The process was methodical and the organization didn’t waver, even through financial turmoil that led to the team being sold out of bankruptcy to a group organized by Ryan.
On the other side, the Giants have Aubrey Huff. Similar to Young, Huff toiled for 1,322 games for the Rays, Astros, orioles and Tigers without reaching the playoffs. On Jan. 10, 2010, he signed with the Giants for $3 million after received no real offers elsewhere.
Burrell, once the No. 1 overall draft pick of the Phillies, was released in May from the Rays. He signed with the Giants on May 29. After spending five games in the minors, Burrell was back in the majors for good.
Unlike the Rangers, the Giants building plan authored by Brian Sabean, was not methodical, but focused on the short term. After recent veteran signings such as Matt Morris, Omar Vizquel, Mike Matheny, Renteria, and others yielded no results, Sabaen focused on young pitching and began to fill in gaps around the staff essentially with role players. It seemed to be much more seat-of-the-pants than planned. Sabean claimed NLCS MVP Ross off waivers from Florida just to keep the rival Padres from adding another bat. So what the Rangers have accomplished seemingly through careful planning, the Giants have done with good old fashioned luck.
Most Popular Articles
Sign Up For Our Newsletter
Get the latest news and find out what our Athlon Sports experts have to say each week.
Contests & Promotions
Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing!
Enter the Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing game. Just head over to athlon.myfantasyracing.com and register for your chance to win a chance to watch a 2014 race from the grandstands. You'll also have a chance to win other amazing prizes such as an autographed Kyle Busch helmet.