Back in spring training, who would have thought the San Francisco Giants and Anaheim Angels would be fighting it out at the end of October in the World Series? Nobody. At the beginning of the playoffs, who would have thought for the first time ever the two wildcard winners would make the World Series? Nobody.
While a Giants-Angels World Series might seem boring at first, there are tons of reasons that make tuning in to this year’s Fall Classic worthwhile, even for you Yankee fans. So stop pretending baseball doesn’t exist and realize that occasionally the baseball season does not end when the Yanks are finished playing.
The greatest reason to watch the Series is to see Barry Bonds, one of the, if not the greatest player in the history of baseball. Forget the fact that you might despise him for his less-than-friendly demeanor and remember his five MVP awards (no one else even has four), his nine Gold Glove Awards, his 613 career homeruns and 493 stolen bases. He is the only 400/400 man in the history of baseball and is about to win his first batting title ever at the age of 38. Bonds is worth watching, but you knew all this.
Batting after Bonds, Benito Santiago is playing like the Rookie of the Year he was 15 years ago, throwing out runners from his knees and batting well in the clutch. Never mind the four teams he played with since his 30-homerun season with the Phillies, Santiago looks like his old self coming through with huge late-game homeruns lifting the Giants to victory in games one and five of the NLCS. He made the Cards pay for pitching around Bonds. Mr. October? Maybe not, but Santiago was named Most Valuable Player of the NLCS Tuesday night.
The Bay Area Bombers? No? Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it? We’ll move on. On the mound for the Giants is Livan Hernandez who, like his older Yankee brother Orlando, thrives in postseason. Hernandez is 6-0 in his career in the postseason and could reach 7-0 at some point in the series, a feat no pitcher in the history of baseball has ever accomplished. Hernandez told reporters before his start against the Braves in the Division Series, “I never lose in October.” Stay tuned to see history in the making.
But while the Giants were a realistic possibility heading into the playoffs, an Angels run to the World Series meant the impossible, beating the Yankees. So are you still considered an underdog if you dethrone the king? If this is your first World Series in your 42-year history with a whole cast of underdogs, then yes.
Underdog No. 1 Adam Kennedy hit seven home runs in the 144 games he played in the regular season but hit three homeruns in the decisive ALCS game. The only other players to hit three or more in a postseason game? Ruth (twice), Reggie Jackson and George Brett.
Francisco Rodriguez is that guy that you’ve never heard of until his team makes the postseason but makes a huge impact in October. Rodriguez, technically still not a rookie, only pitched in five regular season games this year. Imagine being named World Series MVP before having the opportunity to win Rookie of the Year. Rodriguez has four of the Angels seven postseason victories with 15 strikeouts in his 10 innings in seven appearances. He has struck out one of every two postseason batters he has retired. Oh, and by the way, he still can’t go to bars with teammates. Rodriguez doesn’t turn 21 until Jan. 7.
No excitement? Getting to the World Series is no cakewalk. The Giants have a genuine legend and the Angels have enough scrap to get the job done. No history? Sit back and watch history in the making as Bonds, Hernandez and Kennedy break some more records. No rivalry? Tell that to the rally monkey. Who will win this Bay Area battle? You’ll have to watch to find out.