Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 World Series notes and oddities

By Rick Morris

^ The early media buzz is about how this championship matchup will tank outside of baseball hardcores and in the TV ratings with two upstart teams playing for all the marbles. But Fox could pop a decent overall number purely off of market size, because the Metroplex and Bay Area are both among the top six in the country.

^ With the Giants and Rangers in the World Series, it will stir memories of what seemed at the time an entirely random matchup: June 12, 1997 marked the first regular-season interleague game ever with San Francisco at Texas

^ Also, with the Giants back to the World Series, it is exactly eight years in between appearances. When was the last time that happened? 1979, when BOTH Pittsburgh and Baltimore made it back after an eight-year absence.

^ For as much as Jerry Jones hates to be upstaged, he really must be ticked. Mere months before the Super Bowl makes its debut in the Dallas market, the World Series has beaten it to the punch – the first time that the two championships have come to the same market for the first time within such a close block of time.

^ These two teams are considered non-traditional powers, and Texas certainly fits the bill with their lack of so much as a pennant since coming into the American League as the Washington Senators in 1961 (where they stayed until 1972). But the Giants actually tied the Dodgers for most NL pennants with this most recent one at 18 apiece. However, they still come across as a hard-luck franchise because only four of those pennant have come since their relocation to Frisco in 1958 (1962, 1989, 2002, 2010) and their last World Series win was in New York in 1954.

^ Speaking of the western migration that the Dodgers and Giants spawned toward the end of the 1950s, the Giants just broke an eight-year drought in terms of West Coast representation – going back to 2002, when, coincidentally, they clashed with the Angels in an all-West Coast battle. The only other drought to last as long? 1990-98, with the As and Padres on either end of that one.

^ The geographic areas where this Series will be contested only have one point of historical precedent in terms of big-time clashes: the huge Dallas/San Francisco football rivalry of the early 1990s (with “The Catch” NFC Championship Game of winter ’82 as the precursor).

^ Old-line franchises (teams in both leagues around before 1961) have won six straight World Series and the Giants will be trying for seven. The only longer stretch in baseball history lasted for 15 years, from 1970-84 (including the two won by the Baltimore Orioles, who descended from the old St. Louis Browns).

^ Here is an absolutely mind-boggling stat: with both teams being from the Western Division of their respective leagues, this marks the 10th time in the 16 seasons since the start of the League Divisional Series in 1995 that teams from the same geographic division from each league have met (2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1996).

^ Bruce Bochy has managed in the World Series before – in a losing effort with San Diego in 1998 – but came up short. Ron Washington is making his debut in the final round. The last six times that a manager who had only lost in the World Series faced an inexperienced World Series manager, the outcome rotated. The inexperienced Jim Leyland won in 1997, the inexperienced Mike Hargrove lost in 1995, the inexperienced Cito Gaston won in 1992, the inexperienced (Giants manager) Roger Craig lost in 1989, the inexperienced Bob Lemon won in 1978 and the inexperienced Tommy Lasorda lost in 1977. Prior to that, going back to the start of the League Championship Series in 1969, the inexperienced Darrell Johnson lost in 1975 and the inexperienced Sparky Anderson lost in 1970. Based on the current rotation, advantage Bochy. Also, unlike Bochy, all of the managers returning for their crack at the World Series did so with the same team.

^ Another Bochy note: with the Giants in the World Series, he is going back after a 12-year hiatus. He’s in very good company as far as managers with a similar break between appearances: Bucky Harris (23 years), Connie Mack (15 years), Tony LaRussa (14 years), Joe Cronin (13 years), Alvin Dark (12 years, with the first one coming with the Giants in 1962), Bill McKechnie, Danny Murtaugh and Dick Williams (11 years) and Leo Durocher and Charlie Grimm (10 years). All but Cronin and Grimm have a world championship to their credit.

^ Washington is the 3rd black manager in World Series after Cito Gaston (won in 1992-93 with Toronto) and Dusty Baker (lost in 2002 with San Francisco).

^ San Francisco has their third manager in their last three World Series appearances (1989-Roger Craig, 2002-Baker). The last team to do that? Detroit (1968-Mayo Smith, 1984-Sparky Anderson, 2006-Jim Leyland).

^ This is only the second Series to be played fully west of the Mississippi in the last two decades, with the aforementioned Angels-Giants tilt of ’02 being the other. Prior to that, the only other ones were in 1989, 1988, 1985 and 1974. There is some debate as to whether 1987 would qualify, since St. Louis is just west of the Mississippi and the river flows through Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

^ The AL and NL have rotated last the five World Series wins – the last time for a streak like this was 2000-04. The longest streaks of alternation ever were nine (1939-47), eight (1965-72), seven (1985-91) and another one at five (1993-98).

^ If the Giants win, they would mark two National League World Series wins in three years. The last time that happened was from 2001-03 (ironically, with the Giants as the one team on the short end of the stick). Before that, it was 1995-97, with the Indians victimized both times. Before that, it was 1988-90, with the Giants once again the only NL team during that stretch not to win.

^ At first blush, it may seem unusual for Vladimir Guerrero not to taste the final round until this stage of his career (age 35). But upon further reflection, some of the other greatest players of his generation didn’t make it this far until at least age 34: Alex Rodriguez was 34 in 2009, Todd Helton was 34 in 2007, Jeff Bagwell was 37 and Craig Biggio was 39 in 2005 and Barry Bonds was 38 in 2002.

^ Buster Posey is arguably the Giants’ best hitter as a highly-touted and successful-thus-far rookie. This is reminiscent of Miguel Cabrera in 2003, when he helped lead Florida to the upset over the Yankees. Also, not since Piazza in 2000 has a catcher arguably been a team’s best hitter and before that, you’d have to go back to the Big Red Machine with Johnny Bench in 1975-76 (and rank him over his Hall of Fame peers). This demonstrates the extreme rarity of slugging catchers leading their teams to the World Series, to say nothing of his rookie status. Also, per Ken Detwiler on THE FDH LOUNGE (Wednesdays, 7-10 PM EDT,, Posey is also the first rookie to be the lead catcher in a World Series since Andy Etchebarren in 1966.

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