The Yankees aren't in this World Series, and the Phillies aren't in this World Series -- but I like it in spite of that.
Hell, I like it because of that.
You'll like it, too. Promise. You'll like the Texas Rangers vs. the San Francisco Giants if you like kooky concepts like good baseball, interesting storylines and likeable characters. But if you're one of those types who view a World Series' worthiness through the Northeast prism -- the Yankees have to be involved, or the Red Sox, or worst comes to worst, the Phillies -- then never mind. This World Series isn't for you.
It's for everyone else.
|In eight postseason starts, the Rangers' Cliff Lee is 7-0. (Getty Images)|
And you know it's true.
During a game in the AL Championship Series, a game played at New York, television cameras caught a Yankees fan waving a sign that read, "Can't we just sign Hamilton and Lee?" Josh Hamilton and Cliff Lee were the best hitter and pitcher, in the ALCS, and both played for the Rangers. That one Yankees fan may have been speaking only for himself, but he symbolized what the rest of the country thinks about the richest franchises in baseball. Your teams don't win titles -- they buy them.
And your money was no good this year.
But the World Series won't suffer, at least not anywhere but in the television ratings. And since the games aren't being televised by CBS, I don't care about that. And unless you or a loved one work for Fox, why should you care about the ratings, either? The only connection between the TV ratings, and you, is this:
Will you be watching?
And unless you're a knucklehead, the answer is yes. Of course you'll be watching. And you'll like what you see, because these were two of the most charming pennant winners possible.
|More on World Series|
The Giants and the Rangers took a decidedly different path to reach Wednesday's Game 1. Read More >>
The Rangers are delightful. There's probably a church lady or two out there who will be shocked -- shocked -- that a recovering drug addict like Josh Hamilton and an admitted cocaine user (just once!) like Rangers manager Ron Washington would get lionized by anyone in the media for doing something as simple as reaching the World Series, when they've done something as sinful as use drugs. As for the rest of us, well, we're human. Hamilton and Washington? They're human. They fell, and they got back up. Hate that all you want, church ladies. Me, I'm going to like it.
And I'm going to love seeing those goofy antlers the Rangers make above their heads every time they steal a bag or take an extra base. It's a symbol of the baseball phrase "he runs like a deer," and the Rangers have adopted it as their own. It's a heck of a lot more charming than the Oakland A's stupid "Bash Brothers" forearm slam of the early 1990s that was, in hindsight, a celebration of steroid use.
Hamilton is the best all-around player in baseball -- the closest thing the American League has to Cardinals offensive force of nature Albert Pujols, but also a gifted center fielder. Hamilton needs to do it for a few more years, but some day he could be known as the best all-around player since Ken Griffey Jr. was in Seattle a decade ago.
You might like to watch a player like that.
Cliff Lee is a left-handed version of Greg Maddux, with location and movement and maybe an extra mph or two on his fastball. Or he's an even better Whitey Ford, the Yankees ace of the 1950s and '60s who is known to this day as the greatest postseason pitcher of all-time. In 22 postseason starts, Ford was 10-8 with a 2.71 ERA. In Lee's eight postseason starts, he's 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Comparing him to Whitey Ford is an insult -- to Cliff Lee.
You might like to watch a player like that, too.
Me, I've grown fond of the San Francisco Giants. I covered the NL Championship Series, and every day it was a new lineup. Andres Torres or Aaron Rowand in center field. Edgar Renteria or Juan Uribe at shortstop. Uribe or Pablo Sandoval or Mike Fontenot at third. Tim Lincecum starting. Tim Lincecum relieving. No idea who Giants manager Bruce Bochy will use as his designated hitter, but it might just be some guy named Kitchen Sink.
You might like to watch a team like that, a Giants team made up of castoffs and spare parts, guys Bochy himself calls "misfits" -- 30-something has-beens like Renteria and Pat Burrell (.202 earlier this season for Tampa Bay) and Aubrey Huff (.189 last season for Detroit). And Uribe, Rowand and Cody Ross.
And don't get me started on Giants closer Brian Wilson, who's quite possibly the smartest -- and without question the strangest -- person in any room he enters.
Interesting teams. Likeable. And good, too. If that's not enough for you, if you think this World Series will suffer without its usual contestants, do us all a favor.
Go to a Jets game and leave us alone.