Feature photo by Cliff Baise
I am a student of the game, a lifelong historian of sorts. Somewhat of a purist, somewhat of a fundamentally sound seeker of baseball’s hidden pieces of art and secret tales of triumph and perseverance, I have graced these pages a few times talking sports like some type of expert.
This October, baseball’s best will square off (diamond off?) for a shot at the inappropriately named World Series, which should be called the America Series. Ever since the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals, Canada’s only chance to barely legitimize the name World Series would be if the Toronto Blue Jays somehow rise from the depths of the American League East. They’re perennially buried by the mighty New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and now the Tampa Bay Rays, even, which turns their run in the early ‘90s to a distant memory.
Even with Boston’s historic meltdown in September, America’s biggest markets (except Chicago and Los Angeles) were represented in this year’s MLB Postseason: the New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers. Smaller markets also get some representation as well with the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays and St. Louis Cardinals stepping into the dance.
Bud Selig and his owners couldn’t be sitting prettier while the rest of professional sports can’t seem to get their swelling heads out of their stubborn asses. With an apparent NBA lockout looming in the not-so-distant future, an NFL lockout of the same stature averted at the last minute earlier this year and the NHL still recovering from their recent strike, MLB seems to have figured out a way for their legion of fans to continue filling stadiums and rocking 59Fiftys well into their financial future.
Digression aside, this leads me to the World Series kicking off tonight on a Fox channel near you. The Texas Rangers looking to redeem themselves from last year’s loss in The Series to the San Francisco Giants going up against the hot-at-the-right-time St. Louis Cardinals. How does Tony LaRussa keep leading teams to the World Series? He’ll probably go down as one of baseball’s all-time greatest managers. His chess opponent this October, Texas’ Ron Washington is a great redemption story and an inspiration to his ball club and entire organization.
The Rangers’ reigning American League MVP Josh Hamilton is another tall tale of atonement and reclamation of life, making it virtually impossible not to like him and his squad to take the title this year. The offense is just too good to deny. In their clinching victory to dispose of their inferior opponent in the ALCS, they beat the Detroit Tigers 15-5. Nelson Cruz is swinging the hottest October bat this side of Reggie Jackson. The pitching staff is no star-studded affair, but they won’t need good pitching to beat these Cardinals whose starting pitching all but disappeared in the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers. The series could turn into a bullpen-fest, but Texas actually has the advantage there as well, featuring several starters turned relievers capable of turning in big innings on any given night the starters get themselves into rare trouble.
2B Ian Kinsler leading off, SS Elvis Andrus batting second, Hamilton in the three hole, clutch 1B Michael Young cleaning up, power-hitting 3B Adrian Beltre hitting fifth, C Mike Napoli sixth, Cruz hitting seventh, too many weapons throughout this lineup for the Cardinals not to get swept.
Legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan and I have another thing in common outside of commanding stuff: we’re both picking the Rangers to win the World Series in six games. Viva Texas!