Get Ready for the Most Political World Series in History

The 2010 World Series should be a good one. It has some echoes of 2005 when a team from Texas which had never won a pennant before, the Houston Astros, played a team that had not won a World Series in long time, the Chicago White Sox. The Texas Rangers have not won a World Series ever, while the last time the Giants won a World Series, they played in New York and Dwight Eisenhower was in the White House. There is quite a bit of other things that should that makes this World Series interesting both on and off the field.

It is probably the most politically polarizing World Series in history as one team’s most famous fan and former owner is former President is George W. Bush while the other team plays in the country’s most left of center major city and has long been probably the most progressive franchise in the game. The “Let Timmy Smoke” signs and t-shirts, referring to Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum’s marijuana bust would fit in as about as well at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington as prominent Republican politicians would at AT&T Park, or anywhere else in San Francisco. Somehow this is fitting for the first World Series that, should it go to six or seven games, will be the first to be concluded after Election Day.

This World Series pits the country’s two most populous states against each other for the first time since the 1981 when New York had more people than Texas, and the Yankees played the Dodgers in the World Series. One of those states, Texas, with only two teams, has never had a World Series winner, while California, with five teams, has had nine. Texas is by far the largest state which has never had a World Series winner. The next largest state to never have won a World Series is North Carolina, which does not even have a big league team.

The Giants are in the World Series due to great pitching, but their pitching staff is also unusual in other ways. All four pitchers who will start in this World Series, as well as their close are under 30 years old, actually under 29 years old, and were drafted and developed by the Giants. Clearly, the Giants have some understanding how to develop pitchers.

Only the Cubs and Indians have gone longer than the Giants without winning the World Series, but it may surprise some that in recent years, the Giants have been one of the more successful teams in the National League. This is their third World Series in 21 years. During that time only the Braves and Phillies have won as many or more pennants, while five National League teams, the Pirates, Expos/Nationals, Dodgers, Cubs and Brewers have not made the World Series at all. However, the Giants had a 27 year period between 1962 and 1989 when they did not play in the World Series.

The 49 years between their first game and their first World Series appearance by the Texas Rangers is one of the longest such periods by any team in baseball history. Only the Chicago Cubs, who have not appeared in a World Series since 1945, have ever had a longer period without playing in the Fall Classic.

Both the Giants and the Rangers defeated defending league champions, with higher payrolls located in major east coast media centers to get to the World Series. This is not the matchup that the media wanted because these teams are not all that well known, but it further puts to rest concerns about teams being able to simply buy championships. Moreover, the parity in baseball is actually somewhat impressive. From 2001-2010 fourteen different team, seven from each league, will have played in the World Series. Baseball fans, networks and officials can either be concerned about big market teams dominating the game or about relatively unknown teams driving down ratings in the World Series, but it is not reasonable to be concerned about both.

Real baseball fans should be concerned about neither. Anybody who cannot get excited about Tim Lincecum pitching to Josh Hamilton, the prospect of the castoffs who make up the Giants lineup trying to find a way to beat Cliff Lee, deserving veterans like Mike Young and Aubrey Huff finally getting a chance to play in the World Series, seeing young stars like Buster Posey play on the game’s biggest stage or watching two of the best and most exciting closers not named Rivera battle it out in the late innings, isn’t a baseball fan.