This is only the second time in 90 years that two teams never to win a World Series for the city they currently represent will meet in the Fall Classic. The only previous time was in 1992, when the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Atlanta Braves.
The Texas Rangers have been around since 1972 after starting as the second incarnation of the Washington Senators (who also never won the World Series) in 1961. The Giants have been in San Francisco since 1958. So a lot of losing will be put behind, by someone at least.
As Clint Hurdle, himself a two-time loser in the World Series, would say, something's got to give.
By the way, with the Rangers' coronation as the American League entry, the Mariners and Nationals are now the only teams never to reach a World Series. Sound good for next year's World Series matchup?
But first, in honor of Giants legend Willie Mays and the jersey number he made famous, here are 24 interesting things about this year's entrants:
1. Rangers manager Ron Washington is looking for vindication. Washington had a rough spring training when he was identified as having failed a league-mandated test for cocaine during the 2009 season. The Rangers decided to keep him at the time of the test and also the revelation and will sign him to an extension after the Series, win or lose. Giants GM Brian Sabean is looking for vindication himself, after talk radio callers bombarded San Fran airwaves with rips of him for years, as the San Francisco Chronicle recounted in Tuesday's editions. Sabean, who became the team's GM in 1996, started his Giants tenure on a long winning streak of good deals, then seemed to have a losing streak of trades gone awry. Now he looks like a genius of the moment again.
2. Talk about redemption stories -- the Rangers' Josh Hamilton, who was out of the league for five years with drug problems, is in the World Series on the heels of winning ALCS MVP honors and is a leading contender for AL MVP. "The Commissioner's Office deserves a lot of credit for letting him back in. It's awesome,'' said teammate and friend C.J. Wilson. "He's the best baseball player I've ever seen."
3. C.J. Wilson could become a star on the big stage. He is definitely already a role model. He shows his charitable side with his smart tweeting as @str8edgeracer. "I make an effort to connect with the fans to let them know we're normal human beings,'' Wilson said. "I want to show kids they can have a cool life, too." Wilson is a great tweeter who wonders how the Yankees' Nick Swisher, or @nickswisher, has 30 times the followers he does, at a ridiculous 1.25 million despite saying nothing beyond "Great Game by CC," or "We'll get 'em tomorrow." Said Wilson, "It's been eating at me for two years.'' (Me, too, apparently.)
4. Excellent Padres manager Bud Black didn't make the World Series despite a great season of overachievement this year, but he is here in spirit. He was Wilson's mentor when the Rangers pitcher was growing up in Black's San Diego neighborhood as a close family friend (Black was also a left-hander who had success in the majors as a reliever and starter). Few have done it quite like Wilson, though, who moved from being a fine closer the last four years to an excellent 200-innings starter this season.
5. Before Wilson gets to pitch Game 2 against engaging Giants star Matt Cain, we have yet another great pitching matchup this postseason in Game 1, featuring aces Cliff Lee of the Rangers and Tim Lincecum of the Giants. This has been the postseason for great pitching matchups, with this one following the Lincecum-Roy Halladay showdown in the NLCS, Lee vs. Andy Pettitte in the ALCS and two David Price-vs.-Lee games in the ALDS.
6. This is a rare time both team names, the Rangers and Giants, are used in other sports. Hockey has the New York Rangers and football has the New York Giants.
7. Both these teams have been overwhelmed by football teams at times in their towns (in the Rangers' case, it's basically all the time). But coincidentally, the Cowboys and 49ers are both off to horrible starts, allowing those cities to focus on their excellent baseball teams.
8. This is only the third time that two teams that train in Arizona have reached the World Series, the first two being the Giants' last two World Series appearances of 1989 and 2002, when they faced the A's and Angels, respectively. Everyone remembers that the first of those was interrupted by an earthquake, and I recall the second one for being unbearably cold and for the Mets announcing they were hiring Art Howe as manager (they are doing better this year by hiring Sandy Alderson as GM).
9. The Giants are to be commended for financing their own beautiful stadium, AT&T Park, which sits on the water and is one of the most picturesque settings in all of baseball. Meanwhile, the Rangers were financed to some degree by Major League Baseball before finally being taken over earlier this season by impressive new owner Chuck Greenberg. MLB fronted the club an alleged $60 million, which was later paid back, and also allowed them to add to their payroll while in bankruptcy before the July 31 trade deadline, 12 days before Greenberg took over for the overextended Tom Hicks. And add they did, obtaining the great Lee and several others who've helped them.
10. The Rangers didn't waste much money. They beat the $210 million Yankees in the ALCS with a payroll of less than $80 million. The payroll for the key Giants would actually be even lower than that, but San Francisco also spent $214.5 million on veterans Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria. To his credit, Zito was excellent in the first half and played a big role in the Giants getting here (they only won the NL West by one game), but he has been left off the postseason roster for each of the three rounds and has understandably mixed feelings. Zito said he feels good about his early contribution but "to not be a part of what we play for is disheartening. I have no one to blame but myself for not getting it done in August and September. It's about accountability, and it hurts."
11. Bengie Molina, yet another excellent midseason acquisition by the Rangers, gets a ring either way because he spent the first three months of the season with the Giants. He gets a share either way, as well. He gets a full share if the Rangers win, but with the Giants, Molina's share is a closely guarded secret. The Giants voted, and it isn't known whether he will get a half share, a full share or something else. They aren't saying. Molina said earlier he plans to retire, but said on Tuesday, "Maybe yes, maybe no." He gave a hint how he's leaning, though, when he said, "My family misses me so much."
12. Both Bruce Bochy and Hurdle are in the World Series for the third time, having lost once each as a player and as a manager. Combined they are 0-for-4. Bochy lost in 1984 as player with the Padres and in 1998 as the manager of the Padres team that was swept by the Yankees. Hurdle lost as a player in 1980 with the Royals and then as a manager in 2007, when his Rockies were swept by the Red Sox.
13. As a former manager in the NL West, Hurdle could provide a few Giant secrets. "You don't spend seven years and 19 games [each year] and not pick up a thing." No Spin Zone dept.: "The Giants hitters have some trouble with some spin," Hurdle said.
14. There are ex-Mets (Hurdle, Jeff Francoeur, Darren O'Day), ex-Brewers (Mike Maddux, Nelson Cruz), ex-Marlins (Cody Ross, Jorge Cantu) and ex-White Sox (Aaron Rowand, Juan Uribe). But the infamous ex-Cub factor sure doesn't bode well for the Giants. Not only do they have infielder Mike Fontenot, but also bullpen catcher Bill Hayes, who had nine at-bats as a Cub in 1980-81.
15. The Giants have a decidedly Yankees flavor to them. Sabean led the Yankees' development program before coming to San Francisco the same year as Barry Bonds, 1993. Sabean seems to have a penchant for ex-Yankees that has paid off: Dave Righetti (pitching), Roberto Kelly (first base) and Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens (hitting) are on the coaching staff, and Dick Tidrow, Joe Lefebvre, Fred Stanley and Henry Cotto are in the front office.
16. Neither front office is shy about relying on wise old hands. The Giants' key front office people are in their 50s, 60s and even 70s, including assistant GM Tony Siegle (70), plus John Cox, Jack Hiatt, Joe Amalfitano, Jim Davenport and Paul Turco, an affable advance scout. (Turco appears to be 50-something, but he's often mistaken in New York for Bernie Madoff, which he jokes about.) Similarly, the Rangers have the beloved Don Welke, who liked to joke that he's smarter than the Ivy League hotshots now heading teams (among them Rangers GM Jon Daniels and key Texas executive A.J. Preller, both of whom went to Cornell) by pointing out he's a "Harvard man.'' And he then adds, "Harvard (Ill.) High School."
17. Yes, there are two surprise teams in the World Series and both clubs have some surprise heroes. Cody Ross, let go on waivers by the Marlins in August, comes to mind. But Hurdle cited Cooperstown candidate Vladimir Guerrero, who was limping around much of last year for the Angels before signing a one-year deal in the offseason with the Rangers and has already earned comeback awards for this year. "It's good the experts aren't always right," Hurdle said. Guerrero, incidentally, will play right field in San Francisco, where there's no DH.
18. Both these teams have a bit of a steroid past. The Rangers' situation was "loosey, goosey," according to Alex Rodriguez's explanation of his usage in his three-year stopover there from 2001-03, and other Rangers were listed in Jose Canseco's book, Juiced. The Giants, of course, had Barry Bonds.
19. There's a dispute over whether Giants closer Brian Wilson's unusual style is all one big put-on designed for attention. The Rangers' C.J. Wilson (no relation) said, "He's a left-hander in a right-hander's body. He's smart ... he's got you guys all played.'' But Giants rookie Buster Posey said, "Brian Wilson is like that 24/7. There's no acting."
20. Zito said of AT&T Park, "This ballpark will always be synonymous with Barry Bonds. He is the greatest baseball player ever." There isn't all that much notice that Bonds played here, aside from a plaque that Zito pointed to. But Giants legends Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, who never played at AT&T Park, are much more prominently honored there.
21. This Rangers team features some of the best interviews in the game, including the aforementioned Wilson plus Michael Young and Francoeur.
22. As with Molina, Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria appears likely to retire. Though he won't say for absolutely sure, he hinted at it when he said we may see him back next year "as a coach." In which case he should probably be listed among free agents as an anagram: E. Renteria, a retiree NA (not applicable). Renteria was the World Series hero in 1997 when he delivered the game-winning, walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th for the Marlins against the Indians. "I was a kid jumping all around," Renteria said. "Now, I'm not jumping around because I'd get hurt if I jumped around.''
23. Mazel Tov: The Rangers' owner (Greenberg), GM (Daniels) and a star player (Ian Kinsler) are Jewish.
24. The best analysis I heard all day yesterday came from a longtime baseball person who said, "The Giants pitch better but the Rangers do everything else better.'' My pick: Rangers in seven.
• As expected, Sandy Alderson is being hired as GM of the Mets, as SI.com reported first. Alderson brings added credibility to the front office. It just seemed like team owner Fred Wilpon wanted Alderson from the start. But not everyone thought it was the right choice. I would have opted for the other finalist, former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes, or waited a week to see about getting Daniels. "Daniels was a home run. As usual the Mets settled for a single,'' one competing GM said. However, contrary to one report, Daniels never called the Mets to ask them to wait for him, sources said. He's in the World Series, after all. Who'd really believe he'd be calling the Mets for a job now? Byrnes was said by the New York Post's Joel Sherman to have impressed the Mets, but they opted for the candidate with the most "stature and experience.'' They also opted for a candidate who will be well-received in New York.
• Greenberg said again that he expects his contract negotiations with Daniels to be "short and sweet.'' What about free-agent-to-be Cliff Lee? Greenberg said, "We hope they end up being sweet but they probably won't be short." As for how the USA Today report that Lee's wife didn't appreciate Yankee fans acting boorishly toward the Rangers wives during the ALCS might impact their chances of keeping their ace, Greenberg said, "It doesn't hurt." Misty May Treanor, the wife of Rangers catcher Matt Treanor and an Olympic volleyball gold medalist, took a picture of Yankees fans apparently spitting at the Rangers' wives that was on her Facebook page.
• Joe Girardi's negotiations with the Yankees aren't expected to take too long, as the Cubs are no longer an option and New York is expected to offer $9 million over three years off a disappointing season. Not bad work is you can get it.