October 24, 2010
Well, I certainly didn't foresee either the American League or the National League pennant winners this year. The underdog San Francisco Giants overcame a large, ferocious home crowd and an awful performance by starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, who gave up two runs to the Phillies in the first inning. After the second inning went almost as badly, he was replaced. For most teams, that would have been too much of a burden to overcome, but the Giants' bullpen rose to the occasion and prevented the Phillies from scoring any more runs over seven innings. When you're going against a lineup consisting of Utley, Rollins, Howard, and Werth, that is a truly stellar accomplishment.
Inning by inning, the game ground ahead in an atmosphere of extreme tension. The Giants tied the game with two runs in the third inning, and the benches cleared after Chase Utley was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the third, but no blows were exchanged. The Giants took the lead in the eighth inning when Juan Uribe knocked a home run that just cleared the wall in right field. The Phillies had several run-scoring opportunities in the latter innings, but failed to capitalize on any of them. They thus failed to live up to expectations of becoming another "dynasty," in the mold of the New York Yankees.* Giants closer Brian Wilson [took the mound in the eighth inning, and got the final five outs while allowing two walks but no hits.] Cody Ross, who has made a name for himself with all those clutch home runs, was named NLCS MVP. See MLB.com.
Last year the World Series pitted two east coast teams against each other, but this year both teams are from the western divisions of their respective leagues. Is this a reflection of pop culture trends, as "California Gurrl" Katy Perry supplants New Yorker "Lady Gaga," a.k.a. Stephanie Germanotta? As I commented on Amish Trevedi's Facebook page, [I hope the absence of any east coast teams in the World Series this year doesn't hurt TV ratings too much. For the record, here are the previous World Series in which both teams were from the AL or NL Western Division:]
One might also consider the 1965 Minnesota Twins vs. L.A. Dodgers matchup as an all-western World Series. Minneapolis (or Bloomington, rather) is located on the west side of the Mississippi River, after all.
Speaking of dynasties, fellow Yankees fan Brian Vangor wonders what will become of the team after their cadre of four superstar veterans retire: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte. All four men began playing in 1995, and except for Pettitte (who spent a couple years in Houston) all of them have stayed with the Yankees for the entire careers. They have defined the latest Yankee dynasty, but some of them may retire over the next few years. Who could possibly replace them? Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Hughes are the most notable younger players who have come up through the Yankee farm system, but among them only Cano seems to offer promise as a future superstar. Maybe some of the others will develop their talents and lead the Yankees to future World Series.