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Texas Rangers Are World Series Favorites Over the Giants

It’s a bunch of firsts in the World Series this year: the Giants are looking for their first World Series win since moving to San Francisco for the 1958 season while the Rangers are playing in their first World Series in franchise history. Somewhat surprisingly, the team with the least postseason experience is favored in World Series betting odds to bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Both teams pulled off upsets in the LCS with the Rangers dominating the Yankees in all four of their wins while the Giants beat the Phillies by a narrow margin in all four of their victories. The way Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, and C.J. Wilson are pitching the Rangers are deserving favorites. Lee is now 7-0 in eight career postseason starts, posting a 1.26 ERA and 9.56 K/BB ratio. Because Texas clinched against the Yankees in six games, the studly southpaw is set to start Game 1 against San Francisco.

C.J. Wilson threw a shutout in the ALDS against the Rays and lost both of his starts to the Yankees. Though he looked good in Game 2, he may be surpassed by Colby Lewis in the World Series rotation after getting hit hard in Game 5. Lewis went eight inning of three-hit ball to send Texas to the World Series with a Game 6 win. He’ll have five days of rest should Ron Washington decide to start him in Game 2 on Thursday. Not only has the pitching been consistent for Texas, their offense has been stellar.

Josh Hamilton homered four times against the Yankees winning ALCS MVP honors. He’s swinging the hot stick and the Rangers have so many other offensive weapons it’s hard to say they’ll be shut down. Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz both hit three home runs in the ALDS and are OPSing more than 1.000 in the playoffs. Additionally, both catchers (Bengie Molina and Matt Treanor) have been hitting for Texas, and Elvis Andrus has stolen seven bases and has a hit in every single playoff game. Except for their shaky bullpen, Texas is not showing any weaknesses. I’m going with the favorites to win the World Series in six.

Brian Wilson Really Loves ‘The Machine’ from 8mm Movie

I don’t know if Brian Wilson had an extra role in the movie 8mm or what, because he sure acts like he’s getting residual checks. Every time he has a chance to bring up the movie in an interview he’s done so, and he seems to be making it his personal mission to ensure everybody checks out the 1999 Nicolas Cage film.

In late August, the crazy closer stunned Chris Rose in an interview on the Cheap Seats when he had an S&M gimp-looking masked man walk through the background as they were talking. The Pulp Fiction-looking gimp is actually a character from 8mm called the Machine, who’s a masked pornstar. A few days later, Wilson broke out a mask from his back pocket during a bizarre interview with Jim Rome (must-see if you haven’t checked it out).

And in case you missed it, Brian Wilson broke out another reference to “The Machine” during an NLCS celebratory interview with FOX reporter Chris Rose once again:

That is one wacky dude. Let’s just hope the Rangers win so we don’t have to worry about another appearance from the Gimp err, the Machine.

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And if you want to see the video where the Machine first appears, check it out at the 0:43 mark:

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Texas Rangers Appear to Have Genuine Team Chemistry

When the Texas Rangers broke out the ginger ale to celebrate their ALDS win over the Tampa Bay Rays, I thought it was a a bit contrived and done more for show. The more I’ve seen of this team, the more I’m convinced they genuinely love each other. Take the comments from ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton upon receiving the award:

“I love my teammates. I love them so much. Any of these guys could have gotten this award. I’m happy to have them. At the same time … I don’t want to talk about myself, I want to talk about them! WE are the reason we’re here. The chemistry on the team is something like I’ve never know anywhere. All the guys love each other and we support each other.”

That sentiment wasn’t exclusive to Hamilton either; manager Ron Washington said about his team “They’re the greatest bunch of guys I’ve ever worked with in my whole career.”

Texas’ team attitude and the love the players appear to have for each other seems to be contagious. I speculated if winning breeds team chemistry or if it depends on the group of players and how well they get along. While all teams that are winning appear to enjoy themselves, this bunch of guys seems to genuinely like each other and support each other more than the average team. This reality makes them an enjoyable bunch and a team that’s easy to support. As an Angels fan, I can’t stand the Rangers, but because of this reason it’s hard to dislike them.

Josh Hamilton Named ALCS MVP After Hitting Four Home Runs Against Yankees

He had burned the Yankees so badly in the previous five games they had no choice but to walk Josh Hamilton in Game 6. They issued Hamilton three intentional walks on Friday night, making the total five for the series which was an ALCS record. In all, Hamilton was so dangerous he was walked eight times in six games by the Yankees. When he wasn’t being walked, he was hitting home runs — four in all, including two in Game 4. Because of his dominance in the series, Josh Hamilton was named ALCS MVP.

The AL regular season MVP-candidate redeemed himself after a 2-for-18 ALDS against the Rays in which he only drove in one run. Hamilton blasted a big three-run home run in Game 1 before the bullpen imploded. In Game 2, he walked four times and stole two bases as the Yankees decided they wanted to avoid his big bat. Hamilton went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in both Game 3 and Game 4 that put Texas up 3-1 in the series. After going 1-for-4 in Game 5′s loss, Hamilton grabbed a hit in his first at-bat of Game 6 before being walked intentionally three times.

Hamilton, who gave all the glory to the lord for winning the ALCS MVP, did exactly what big-time players do in pressure situations — step up. Facing the best competition around on a do-or-die stage, Hamilton gave us his best — four home runs and seven huge RBIs in only six games. This is the exact type of performance the best players in the game are expected to display in big-time situations and it’s the exact reason why Hamilton was once taken first overall in the MLB draft. Josh has put his stamp on the postseason and cemented his place as one of the most superior players in baseball. The Rangers can only hope it continues in the World Series.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara

Colby Lewis Delivered in Game 6 for Texas

Who could have figured that a man who spent the past two seasons pitching in Japan could turn out to be such an impact player for the Texas Rangers this year? If Jon Daniels and the rest of the team’s front office says so, I wouldn’t believe them. 31-year-old Colby Lewis who only had 34 career starts entering the year turned out to be an anchor on the Rangers’ pitching staff and especially clutch in the post-season.

Lewis went eight innings of three-hit one-run ball to beat the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS, sending the Rangers to their first World Series. He walked three and struck out seven and seemed to get out of trouble any time there was a threat. When the Yankees scored their first run in the 5th (on a b.s. call), Lewis stranded Jorge Posada on second with two outs following Posada’s double. When Lance Berkman tripled in the 7th with two outs, Lewis induced a flyout to end the inning. Even when Lewis had passed the 100-pitch threshold, he managed to strike out Derek Jeter in the 8th — the last batter he faced.

Colby Lewis beat the Yankees twice in the ALCS — once in Game 2 and on Friday night in Game 6. Each outing he threw 102 pitches, but the difference was he went eight innings in Game 6. Lewis gave the bullpen a break and made it possible for the team to open up the World Series with the unconquerable Cliff Lee on the mound in Game 1 by coming up with the big start.

Phil Hughes turned out to be an exposed weakness for the Yankees, but who could have ever expected Colby Lewis would be such a strength for Texas? The man now has a 1.45 ERA in three postseason starts. He sure has been impressive and will make the Rangers more insurmountable if he keeps it up in the World Series.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

MLB Dugouts: Dirtier Than Your Average Sports Agent

Baseball. It’s as American as the political scandal and substandard automobiles. The crack of the bat, the plunging of the steroid needle, the fresh smell of grass, and the ABCs of the PEDs are things we all associate with this nation’s supposed pastime (even though both basketball and football have seemingly lapped this aging, flabby runner).

Flip on the television (sometime between Christmas and the Vernal Equinox, when the next series begins) and you will see the traditional diamond, the chalked lines, neatly trimmed playing field just as your uncle Schlomo and previous generations knew it. Though there have certainly been changes — for example, advertisements everywhere inundating the senses and orifices to no end — the game has continued virtually unabated for the better part of a decade. That also goes for something you may not see on television, the dugout.

I’ll never forget the time I walked into a postgame Major League dugout: the larger than life professional athletes, the endless supply of Bazooka and Gatorade, and the horrific scene on the floor that could probably have caused a mortician to weep. Words don’t quite describe the site that I saw, but imagine if someone from that TV show “Hoarders” lived in a freshman’s college dorm room and invited some people over from the local repository, you would get a better image.

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Matt Cain Finally Got Some Run Support

The phrase “Cained” has been springing up throughout major league clubhouses over the past few years as a word to describe losing a close ball game, perhaps 1-0, or 2-1. This has come about in reference to Matt Cain, the San Francisco Giants starting pitcher. For those who watch him on a regular basis he is truly the man that makes the Giants staff go. When he takes the ball every fifth day, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. In a rotation with two former Cy Young award winners and a wicked lefthander with a no-hitter under his belt, Cain stood out this season as the only pitcher to record an ERA under 4 for every month of the year, finishing at 3.14. Go figure.

Over the past 4 seasons just 17 pitchers have compiled an ERA under 3.50. All of them except for Cain have winning records. Most are not even close to .500. But Cain is just 42-47. He is known for losing the close ball game. For whatever reason, the Giants hitters simply have not been able to come up with the big hit when they need it with Cain on the mound. Hence getting “Cained.”

In game 3 of the 2010 NLCS, Matt Cain had the fortune of ending up on the other side of a pitcher getting “Cained” as he shutout the Phillies for 7 innings en route to a 3-0 Giants win. It was his coming out party. Cain dominated Phillies hitters on a national stage, locating his fastball with precision, mixing in some deadly sliders, a hard-breaking curve, and a sinking changeup.

Cole Hamels wasn’t so lucky. Hamels looked nearly un-hittable through 4, but the Giants’ sporadic offense picked the perfect time to try and earn Matt Cain a new nickname. Cody Ross delivered another clutch hit to give the Giants a lead Cain would not relinquish. Maybe next year they can start to call it getting “Hameled.”

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu