“The Freak” by Robert Marosi Bustamante. Courtesy of George Krevsky Gallery and private collector, California.
The Texas Rangers made a strong bid for my allegiance too, and not just because Neftali Feliz roped A-Rod with that curve to clinch the American League championship. There’s something ebullient and, yes, winning about the Rangers. They’re slightly cocky, sweet, and sly, smiling like they’ve gotten away with something—which, as you point out, several of them have. (And don’t forget catcher Bengie Molina, traded by the Giants to the Rangers over the summer; he’ll get a ring regardless of who wins.) I love to watch Josh Hamilton’s swing, injured ribs or not—the long extension and the letting go. And I love to watch Elvis Andrus dash around the base paths—so foolish, so daring. Still, there’s something a little too Manifest Destiny about the team. I can’t help but think of the Rangers’ former owner, George W. Bush, not to mention James K. Polk.
So I’ll take San Francisco, thanks. The Giants call their style of baseball “torture,” their star “the Freak,” their NLCS MVP “Cody” (I don’t care if that’s his real name). I’m smitten with a kid named Buster Posey. Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid,” would fit right in. The Giants hit home runs, or not at all. And their pitching! This team plays baseball like it’s a great game of catch with diverting interruptions. The whole team is weird and improbable. After Juan Uribe homered in the eighth to break a tie in game 6 of the NLCS, Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said, “The big blow was by what’s his name? The shortstop.” Never mind that Uribe was playing third base. Plus, when the game was over, I got to do my best imitation of Russ Hodges hollering, “The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!” (My grandfather was at the game where Bobby Thomson hit his famous shot and swore he’d never attend another game—baseball couldn’t get any better.)