I hear it from fans all the time: "All you see on FOX are the Yankees and Red Sox. Show us some other teams!"
Well, here you go.
There will be no East Coast bias or any other bias in a World Series pitting the AL West champion Texas Rangers and the NL West champion San Francisco Giants.
Now let’s see how many watch.
Go ahead, accuse me of being a shill for my network. My response would be, "Put up or shut up."
If everyone’s so sick of the Yankees and Red Sox – and the Phillies and Cubs and certain other high-profile clubs – then the Series should draw record ratings.
The reality is, people talk about wanting to see less prominent teams on FOX, ESPN and TBS, but they don’t watch in nearly the same numbers when those teams are shown.
High-profile clubs attract greater followings and more casual fans. People either love or hate the Yankees. The Red Sox and Cubs also are big nationally, and the Phillies are getting to that point, too.
So, yes, the networks indeed broadcast a greater number of regular-season games involving the Yankees, Red Sox and certain other teams.
It’s simple business. The networks, which pay billions in rights fees, want to generate the largest possible audiences.
What frustrates many – from baseball and network executives who hold a vested financial interest to media and fans who simply love the sport – is that Rangers-Giants should be worthy of a large audience, too.
This Series might get one, particularly if the games are compelling and the drama extends to six or seven games. The seven-game classic in 1991 between the Twins and Braves – the best Series I’ve seen since I began covering baseball in ’87 – was one of the highest rated ever, in part because cable was far less prominent than it is today.
Still, baseball continues to suffer from a perception problem, especially when compared to the almighty NFL.
The uninformed complain about the sport’s lack of parity, when the reality is that, since 2002, the same number of teams have reached the Series as the Super Bowl – 13.
Baseball, though, is practically devoid of two NFL staples – violence and gambling. Baseball also has a longer regular season, helping create more of a regional than national flavor.
Well, Rangers-Giants should be good enough theater to overcome all that.
This is the Rangers’ first trip to the Series; the franchise was born in 1961 and moved to Texas from Washington D.C. in ’72.
The Giants haven’t won the Series since moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958, and have been shut out entirely since ’54.
One way or another then, this Series will make history. Here are 10 more reasons to watch, and I easily could think of 10 more:
• Cliff Lee. Actually, maybe the Series will draw big ratings in New York. Yankees fans can watch what they’ll get – or not – when Lee hits free agency.
For all the talk about Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum in the NLCS, Lee’s the best pitcher in baseball and quickly developing a reputation as one of the best in postseason history.
I can see Lee going all Don Larsen against the offensively challenged Giants. He’s 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in the postseason, including three victories over the Yankees. His strikeout-to-walk ratio: 67-to-7.
• Lincecum. Lee’s my favorite pitcher to watch, but Lincecum might be the most fun. His long hair, his skinny body, his high leg kick – "The Freak" is one of a kind.
He hasn’t been too shabby in his first postseason, either, going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, including a brief, unsuccessful appearance in Game 6 of the NLCS.
• Ron Washington. The Rangers’ manager is all energy in the dugout, reacting to plays emotionally, almost like a fan.
"Wash," a former infielder, is one of the game’s good guys, and the Rangers stuck with him after he tested positive for cocaine in 2009.
• Josh Hamilton. Another tale of redemption. Hamilton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, didn’t play from 2003 to mid-2006 due to drug and alcohol problems. Now he’s one of the top five players in the game and the most feared hitter in this series.
• Brian Wilson. "Fear the Beard" is one of the Giants’ many mottos. Wilson, the Giants’ wacky closer, has a penchant for hair-raising saves – and his all-black beard is only one of his quirks.
Among other things, the Giants are baffled by Wilson’s ability to identify an unmarked card out of a shuffled deck, as if he has ESP. Aubrey Huff freaked out when Wilson strolled over to him the other day, stared at a card and said, "five of diamonds."
Huff turned over the card, and sure enough it was a five of diamonds.
Wilson walked away without saying another word.
• Juan Uribe. Built like a running back, derided by sabermetricians for his .300 career on-base percentage, all Uribe does is help his team win games.
True, Uribe’s only 4-for-28 with one walk in the postseason, but he hit the game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 4 of the NLCS and the go-ahead homer in the Game 6 clincher.
• Elvis Andrus. This Elvis is more alive at shortstop than Uribe, the Giants’ Edgar Renteria – or, for that matter, the Yankees’ Derek Jeter.
Andrus, batting .333 in the postseason, also is a catalyst at the top of the Rangers’ order, and he’s still only 22 years old.
• Huff. About the only camera FOX won’t use during the Series is one that allows fans to see Huff’s red-thong underwear under his uniform.
Trust me, the network couldn’t extend any greater consideration to its viewers.
• Bengie Molina. Traded from the Giants to the Rangers on July 1, he’ll receive a World Series ring no matter which team wins.
While Molina’s a clutch hitter, he also might be the slowest player in baseball. One of his home run trots could last two hours, singlehandedly killing ratings.
• Cody Ross. The accidental Giant, and MVP of the NLCS.
The Giants claimed Ross on waivers to keep him from going to the Padres, who, as it turned out, didn’t even want him.
Now Ross has four home runs, four doubles and a 1.189 OPS in 38 postseason plate appearances.