To Win World Series – Rangers and Giants Deserve To Be Here

Well, it wasn't what Madison Avenue may have wanted, but it is what the general public gets, and what the two teams deserve, and the lesson is learned - to win the World Series, you can't just spend your way there, you've got to earn it.

The Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants have both earned their way to this point, doing it in fewer games than the maximum no less, and the likelihood is that we are going to get treated to some outstanding pitching as we have in the divisional and championship series.

The games begin on Wednesday night, with the Rangers priced at -145 to win the World Series, while the Giants are +115. All World Series games will be televised on FOX.

To Win World Series

TEXAS RANGERS -145
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS +115

It is appropriate that this World Series starts with what could be a classic pitching duel between Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum, who might not have been the two best pitchers in the regular season, but have two of the four best in the playoffs (Roy Halladay has to make the list, and we'll get to the other one in a minute).

Right now, fans in Arlington and the Metroplex can put their mourning over Tony Romo's injury and the sad state of affairs with the Cowboys on hold for a while, and root for the team that has actually OVER-achieved when it counted most.

Here is the schedule for World Series action. All games will be televised by FOX:

* Game 1: Rangers at Giants, Wednesday, October 27th, 7:57pm ET
* Game 2: Rangers at Giants, Thursday, October 28th, 7:57pm ET
* Game 3: Giants at Rangers, Saturday, October 30th, 6:57pm ET
* Game 4: Giants at Rangers, Sunday, October 31st, 8:20pm ET
* Game 5: Giants at Rangers, Monday, November 1st, 7:57pm ET
* Game 6: Rangers at Giants, Wednesday, November 3rd, 7:57pm ET
* Game 7: Rangers at Giants, Thursday, November 4th, 7:57pm ET

Keys to win the World Series - In general terms, it is safe to say that the Giants have more depth in their starting rotation, while Texas has more offensive capability.

I consider CJ Wilson to be an iffy proposition here, because he was so shaky when he started Game 5 against the Yankees, although he was pretty impressive against Tampa Bay.

San Francisco's Matt Cain, who will be the Game 2 starter, has been close to untouchable in his two post-season outings, allowing just nine hits over 15-2/3 shutout innings, and he's performed right up there with Lee, Lincecum and Halladay.

Jonathan Sanchez was also more than credible for the Giants, at least in his first two playoff starts, while Madison Baumgarner threw a good game against Atlanta in the NLDS but wasn't especially glowing afterward.

To win the World Series, however, the Rangers are most likely going to have to get something special from either Wilson or Colby Lewis, who'll oppose Cain in Game 2 and who had a 1.45 ERA in this post-season, allowing just eleven hits in 18-2/3 innings.

Most people concede that San Francisco has the better bullpen, but take away Brian Wilson and it had a 5.29 ERA in the playoffs.

Although it is known by now that the Giants have players all the way down their order who can hit the ball out of the park on occasion, they don't have anyone in the lineup that the opposition necessarily has to consider pitching around.

Texas has that guy in Josh Hamilton, who had four homers and a .536 on-base average against the Yankees. If he gets on base, that allows this team to play "small ball" a lot more effectively; if he gets his whacks, that gets the table setters around.

Elvis Andrus has had seven steals in the playoffs, and Buster Posey can't throw anybody out. These guys can manufacture some offense. Michael Young strikes out, but he's a .300 hitter. Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz can easily hit it into the alleys. This offense sets up pretty nicely for them.

Then there's Lee, the ace who has struck out 34 and walked one batter in the playoffs. The ace who has fanned 39% of the hitters who has faced him. The ace who is 7-0 in post-season play over his career.

The big question is whether they would send Lee out there on three days of rest to pitch Game 4. I would think it would be dictated by the situation, but if he could go in the 1st, 4th and 7th games that would give this team an even bigger edge.

Right now they are talking about either Tommy Hunter or Derek Holland for that fourth spot. It will be interesting to see how daring Lee and Ron Washington are going to be in this regard when the time comes.

I just wonder if someone who isn't necessarily in the spotlight could become a hero all of a sudden helping a team to win the World Series. Cody Ross was the man of many moments for San Francisco in the NLCS, hitting three homers.

Could there be someone we haven't seen much of who supplies a boost to the offense? Could it, for example, be Jorge Cantu, who was stuck on the same Florida Marlins roster as Ross was earlier this season, but became another of the aggressive pickups Texas has made as they thought about bolstering its offense with the playoffs in mind?

Probably not; Cantu had two RBI's in 98 at bats for the Rangers, then was benched in favor of Mitch Moreland after going 0-for-7 in the playoffs. he's also had just two hits in 18 at bats with no RBI's combined against all the Giants pitchers who could be used in this series.

But hey, maybe the guy is Moreland himself, the rookie who hit .389 in the ALCS and showed a lot of heads-up defense.

In a season where the big payrolls were supposed to once again carry their teams to the World Series, maybe this is a good "message" for them - sometimes if you're more aggressive and smarter, and perhaps more importantly, if you go after the quality pitching and forget about giving the big money to mediocrity, you've got a shot.

There is a quote I saw in a USA Today story that really describes the thing in a nutshell. It came from Rangers' pitching coach Mike Maddux, when describing the arrival of Lee.

"When he showed up in the clubhouse," he said, "it was a moment of truth for some guys. It was a wake-up call saying 'We're not messing around here. We want to win. You all in, or not'?"

And since the theme here is who deserves it, I think that such bold moves on the part of a franchise that was on the verge of collapse in a bankruptcy court deserve to be rewarded. I'm "all-in" with the Rangers to win the World Series, though my feeling is that it could go the limit.

JAY'S PLAY TO WIN WORLD SERIES: TEXAS 4 GAMES TO 3 (+500) **
(Graded on a scale of 1-4 stars)

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