The World Series match-up between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers is no match when it comes to history.
The Giants, who have been around as a franchise since 1883, have a clear edge. Their .538 winning percentage is second in baseball history to the New York Yankees' .568 percentage.
Since moving to San Francisco before the 1958 seasons, the Giants have played in only three World Series and lost them all.
But while in New York, the Giants played in 14 World Series and won six times. From 1921-37, the heyday of the franchise, the Giants made it to the World Series seven times.
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Texas, meanwhile, is in the World Series for the first time in the franchise's 50-year history, which goes back to some bleak time in Washington as the Senators. Those, folks, weren't the days.
The Rangers' winning percentage of .471 is the third worst in baseball history. Only San Diego (.464) and Tampa Bay (.438) have been worse and both of those franchises have played in a World Series.
So when I set about to pick all-time teams for the Giants and Rangers, it was much easier (or harder) to settle on the best of the best for the Giants because of all the choices. You might not recognize some of the names for the Giants, but go back and look them up. You'll be surprised.
Of the 14 Giants on my list, 10 are in the Hall of Fame and one – Bonds – is the game's all-time home run leader.
There are no Hall of Famers on my all-time Rangers team. Yet. Surely catcher Ivan Rodriguez and shortstop Alex Rodriguez will get to Cooperstown someday.
San Francisco Giants
1B – Willie McCovey
2B – Jeff Kent
3B – Freddie Lindstrom
SS – George Davis
LF – Barry Bonds
CF – Willie MaysOttRF – Mel Ott
C – Ernie Lombardi
SP – Christy Mathewson
SP – Juan Marichal
SP – Carl Hubbell
SP – Rube Marquard
SP – Tim Lincecum
RP – Robb Nen
Manager – John McGraw
1B – Rafael Palmeiro
2B – Michael Young
3B – Buddy Bell
SS – Alex Rodriguez
LF – Rusty Greer
CF – Josh Hamilton
RF – Juan GonzalezHowardDH – Frank Howard (in honor of the old Washington Senators)
SP – Charlie Hough
SP – Kenny Rogers
SP – Ferguson Jenkins
SP – Bobby Witt
SP – Kevin Brown
RP – John Wetteland
Manager – Ron Washington (he got this team to a World Series. Enough said.)
* The danger when I get on the website baseballreference.com is that I'll spend the whole day there, mesmerized by the endless statistics and history of the site. It's an amazing place for a baseball guy like me.
While I was researching the all-time teams for the Giants and Rangers, my eyes wandered. I noticed some amazing pitching seasons by guys who were in the big leagues in the early 1900s. I found four I wanted to highlight here. Which do you think is the best?
Mordecai Brown, Chicago Cubs, 1906
Brown was 26-6 with a 1.04 ERA. In 277.1 innings, he allowed only 198 hits and gave up just one home run.
Christy Mathewson, New York Giants, 1908
Went 37-11 with a 1.43 ERA. In 390.2 innings, Mathewson struck out 259 and walked only 42. He had a 1.43 ERA.
Jack Coombs, Philadelphia Athletics, 1910
Coombs had 13 shutouts and a 31-9 record to go with a 1.30 ERA. In 353 innings, he allowed only 248 hits, though he did walk 115.
Walter Johnson, Washington Senators, 1913JohnsonThe Big Train, who spent his childhood years in Humboldt, was 36-7 with a 1.14 ERA and allowed only 232 hits in 346 innings.
I think I'd have to go with Johnson, who, as a 22-year-old in 1909 won 25 games, the beginning of a stretch of 10 seasons in which he would win 20 or more.
Johnson, like many pitchers of that generation, just didn't give up home-run balls. The dead-ball era helped pitchers, no doubt. Still, it's incredible that Johnson allowed only 97 home runs in 591.1 innings, which computes to one home run every 61 innings pitched.
* I struggled to come up with an all-time catcher for the Giants before finally settling on Ernie Lombardi, who spent five seasons with New York, from 1943-47. Lombardi, who was with the Cincinnati Reds for 10 years before moving to the Giants, is a Hall of Famer. His numbers: .306 average, 1,706 hits, 190 homers, 990 RBI, 601 runs. Good, for sure.
But Lombardi, to me, is just another catcher who is in the Hall when former St. Louis Cardinals (and Milwaukee Brewers, and Atlanta Braves) catcher Ted Simmons should be.SimmonsSimmons, who caught in the big leagues during the 1970s and 1980s, just doesn't get his due. During his 21-year career, he batted .285 with 2,472 hits, 248 homers, 1,389 RBIs and 1,074 runs. Those offensive numbers are superior to those of Lombardi.
Defensively, it looks to be a wash. Lombardi had a .979 fielding percentage; Simmons .987.
Anyway, I've been on the "Simmons for the Hall of Fame" bandwagon for a while now. I don't seem to ever get anywhere.
Who is the Opinion Line contributor?
This is an actual Wichita Eagle Opinion Line offering from the past week:
If the president captured Public Enemy No. 1 in a large Nebraska town, would the headline read something like "Obama nabs Osama in Omaha?"
Who is it?
Middle-aged male who dreadfully misses Johnny Carson. Talks to his pets, which is not that abnormal. Thinks they talk back, which is. Once went to the "Loony Bin" on East 21st Street and thought to himself: "I can do that." When he breaks into his stand-up routine at family gatherings, most just smile. His daughters, though, run for the bathroom.