Cliff, The Freak and Memories of the Catch

Don't miss the Freak Show

After more than two weeks of radio silence (or maybe I should call it Internet silence), I’ve emerged from my cave. Two reasons why I went Jimmy Hoffa on my small but somewhat devoted following: 1) My post-season pick to win the World Series, the Twins, tanked quickly to the dreaded Yankees so I hid in shame. Serves me right for banking on a team whose pitching corps is anchored by Carl “Cheesy Moustache” Pavano; and 2) In my last post, I threw my hat in the ring for the Mets’ GM job. I was besieged by interviews requests, book offers and marriage proposals so I had to escape from the bright lights and pressures of sudden fame. Of course, the Mets chose not to contact me, instead settling on a guy who actually has experience and success at this thing, most likely Sandy Alderson. That’s okay, I can handle rejection. I’ll just continue being a cynical, frustrated, angry fan. We’ll see how far that gets the Mets.

So with the World Series about to begin, I decided to press replay and take another stab at the very in-exact science of prognostication.  After all, I have a 50/50 shot at getting this one right. I knew the Giants had a prayer with their pitching, but who could boast a deeper staff than the defending NL champs? How an you lose with No-Hit Halladay? I’m not crying for the Phillies. I’ll let their fans do the honors — all winter long.  I just thought they were too loaded for a team that should have been wasted from chasing the Padres all summer. Apparently not. 

I really don’t know who to pick, but should I even bother? With a Texas-San Francisco matchup, this is likely to be the lowest rated Series of all time. Fox might get higher ratings for re-runs of Are You Smarter Than  a Fifth Grader? Speaking of Christine O’Donnell. . .wait, we’ll get to her in a minute.  Honestly, if the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Phillies, Dodgers, and Cards are out golfing by now, why bother to watch, right? When you have such entertaining fare as Dancing With the Stars, Jersey Shore, Man v. Food, and Wife Swap and the Delaware Senate Debate to choose from, who cares about baseball in October? Not to mention November, oh mighty schedule makers at MLB.

Well, actually, I do. Although I must admit, the nightly highlights and lowlights on CNN, Fox and MSNBC of the final leg of the midterm election campaigns is great theater.  Maybe O’Donnell or her Neveda clone, Sharon Angle, can’t throw a fastball like Tim Lincecum or work the corners like Cliff Lee, but they sure can make  a comical mess of the Constitution can’t they?   And did you see the New York Gubernatorial debate? It was weirder than the bar scene from Star Wars.  

But I digress. I may not watch every inning of the Series.  I do like to sleep, if want to know the truth, but the story lines of this matchup are very intriguing. Here are a few:

— Either the Rangers win their first ever World Series, or the Giants finally win their first Series since heading West more than 50 years ago. Imagine that? Their first title since the Willie Mays and Dusty Rhodes led the NY Giants over the Indians in 1954.

— Cliff Lee.  Win or lose, this guy has set himself up for a whopping contract after the season.  As he did with the Phillies, he’s given the Rangers a post-seaason pitching stud and further enhanced his reputation as the best post season pitcher in the game today. Odds are he’ll be in Pinstripes next season, but I would not rule out the Rangers’ new owner, Nolan Ryan, from making a big play at Lee. Nolan Ryan has a habit of getting what he wants. Regardless, it must make the Yankees’ and Rangers’ chief rivals (Red Sox and Angels, respectively)  heads spin about how they are going to counter the Cliff Lee factor for the next  5-7 years. They can start by cracking open their piggy banks to see what’s inside.   Or look into other options for pitching talent. Or load up on offense. Just do something.   

— The catchers. Bengie Molina starts the season as the Giants catcher. He’s traded a few months later to the Rangers to make room for rookie phenom, Buster Posey, who accounts for much of the Giants offense as they eventually overtake the Padres. Will Molina, who helped the Angels win their first and only Series in 2002,  get the last laugh, or will Posey cap off one of the best rookie campaigns ever for a catcher with a title of his own?

— The Freak. Tim Lincecum won the last two NL Cy Young Awards in relative anonymity, mainly because the Giants were not contenders. But now, with the World Series as his stage, the guy who reminds many of Sandy Koufax with his freaky mechanics, has a chance to be Koufax-like and dominate his way to a championship.    

Townes: What I like about Texas.

With home field advantage, thanks to that ridiculous All Star Game rule (although I would not complain if it were the Mets and not the Giants still playing), I’m taking the Giants in seven. Regardless, I’ll be rooting for them. I’m still bothered by their fans’ collective denial of the whole Barry Bonds mess, but they have their roots in New York, I’m a National Leaguer at heart, and Mays is one of my all-time favorites. Plus, I never root for teams from Texas. I have a thing about teams from Texas, not to mention a lot of things about that state.  Except barbecue. I love Texas barbecue.  And the Austin music scene. Townes Van Zandt. Steve Earle. Emily Lou Harris. Love that sound. Okay, so I do like some things about Texas, but when it comes to baseball, the Giants are originals, they’re history, they’re tradition.

Maybe some day I’ll even lobby for their GM position. See how far that gets me.

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