For the most part, I’ve been able to thoroughly enjoy the Major League Baseball playoffs through the eyes of a baseball fan. But now that the 2010 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers is right around the corner, I’m going to get back to my green and gold roots and look at the series through the eyes of a die-hard Oakland A’s fan.
If I have to watch the Giants win a World Series, I can handle this team bringing home a trophy a lot more than I ever would have stomached watching the 2002 San Francisco team win it all. Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent were amazing players but they were sour personalities who clearly couldn’t stand each other, and it took away from that team’s vibe.
This season’s Giants roster is full of great young pitchers and castoff position players who all seem to genuinely like each other, and the fans are feeding off of that. It’s refreshing to see and the passionate crowds at AT&T Park have lovingly embraced this team in a way the 2002 team probably never knew.
If I have to watch an American League team other than the A’s win it all, I’d be delighted to see former Oakland third base coach Ron Washington get a ring. The painful part is knowing Wash was the right man for the A’s managerial job back when general manager Billy Beane gave Ken Macha the boot. Beane got the weak “yes man” he wanted in Bob Geren and Wash got a chance to be himself in Texas. The Rangers clearly adore the man. The ensuing success couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
One of the worst parts about the Giants making the World Series is having to look at closer Brian Wilson for one more week. I respect him for the fierce competitor and successful closer he’s become after losing his dad to cancer when he was a kid, but I just can’t stand the sight of the guy, with his lame mohawk, goofy post-save celebration and that absurd Just For Men beard. The next time the cameras zoom in and gaze into his eyes when he pitches, you’ll see that he looks like he’s absolutely nuts. Typical crazy closer.
I saw on Twitter that local radio broadcaster Martie Lurie briefly made a case for adding former A’s star Barry Zito to the Giants’ roster for the World Series, and all I can say is that’s a horrible idea. It’s just a dreadful thought. This Giants team is rolling and they’ve done all of it without Zito. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Let’s just pretend that the Giants made it this far thanks to Zito’s clutch work as a cheerleader and leave him in that role.
Former A’s reliever Santiago Casilla is a key member of a World Series team. I can’t believe I typed that without the world ending in a ball of flame around me. Casilla always had a live arm while he was in Oakland, but he was never able to display any consistency in finding the strike zone. Every time he takes the mound for the Giants I expect him to melt down, but so far he’s managed to keep it together. We’ll see if that can last through the World Series.
Is it painful to see former A’s prospect Nelson Cruz crushing the ball for Texas? I covered all this in a previous blog but it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to watch Cruz help carry the Rangers to the World Series.
One more painful thing to see as an A’s fan: Colby Lewis developing into a valuable starter for the Rangers. Lewis made a mediocre pass through the A’s organization before heading to Japan for a couple of years where he got his career together before returning to the states as a free agent.
Oakland showed a little interest in Lewis before he signed with Texas last offseason. But instead of getting Lewis, the A’s ended up signing Justin Duchscherer and Ben Sheets, who predictably got hurt. Oakland finished the season with a .500 record while Lewis proved to be a solid bargain for the AL West champs.
It’s times like these that bandwagon fans drive me up the wall. Early in the season when the Giants were just puttering along in the National League, I could go out and see a little bit of orange and black on people. Now when I run errands it seems like every other person is wearing Giants gear. You know in your gut that a ton of them just signed on as fans over the past couple of months and probably know more about the menu at Panda Express than they do about Pablo “Panda” Sandoval’s stats. I know it’s innocent, well intentioned, perfectly natural and you see it every time a team gets hot in the playoffs but it never gets any less annoying.
Another thought that goes through my head is how the heck did Giants general manager Brian Sabean get to the World Series?
On an intellectual level it’s easy to see how the Giants got to this point. They were mediocre/terrible during a seven-year playoff drought which got them some premium draft picks, and they’ve done a superb job on draft day. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson and Buster Posey are all homegrown talents.
The rest of the roster has been filled in with veterans via trades and free agent signings. When you do that and everything breaks right, you pile up wins and make a run in October, which makes perfect sense. But on an emotional level, it’s hard not to look at what Sabes has accomplished this season and shake your head in disbelief.
San Francisco’s payroll is pushing $100 million, but the lineup is full of castoffs. Most of that money is tied up in stiffs like Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria. Their contracts looked like a bad idea several years ago and they look even worse now. Sometimes it seems like Sabean is winning in spite of himself.
With so much money committed to players who are arguably sunk costs, Sabes has been forced to roll the dice on bargain bin players like Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe and Cody Ross. Amazingly, he’s hit it big with almost every move despite the odds. The man is on the verge of dumpster diving his way to a world title. How incomprehensible is that?
Is that just smarts or is it all dumb luck?
It’s probably a little bit of both and all you can do is tip your hat to the man now that he’s built a World Series team twice in his career.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax and see how the World Series plays out.