Commentary

Please have this Series go the distance

Giants must win it all, but for this Fall Classic to be memorable it has to go seven games

Originally Published: October 30, 2010
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Press box confessions time: I grew up a huge Giants fan.

This was the early 1970s, before the Mariners came into existence, and the Giants were the closest team to my home in southwest Washington. I listened to their broadcasts at night on a usually static-filled radio signal, keeping score with the game fading in and out and overlapping with Creedence Clearwater Revival hits. I copied the Giants' box scores down in a notebook each day and went to the public library in the evenings to read the game stories in the week-old San Francisco newspapers.

This is my ideal scenario. The Giants torture their fans a little more, but hold on to beat the Rangers at home in a Game 7 shutout on a walk-off splash hit into the bay.

I was in Candlestick Park for the 1989 World Series when the earth moved and I was in Anaheim in 2002 when the sky fell in. (I'm still ticked off at Scott Spiezio.) I don't know how long I've owned my Willie Mays replica jersey, but I do know it's been enough decades that it actually fit me when I bought it.

So as a Giants fan I'm very, very happy to see my team up 2-0 and just two wins away from its first World Series title since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

But I'm also a baseball fan and a baseball writer and as such, I also want a great World Series that goes the distance. The last time we had a really exciting World Series was 2002 when the Giants lost (of course) in seven games to the Angels. Since then we've had two six-game series, two five-game series and three four-game sweeps.

People say that not having the Yankees in the World Series hurts the television ratings, but the highest-rated World Series in the past 20 years did not involve the Yankees. And it did not involve the Red Sox. It did not involve any team from the all-important northeast market. It was the 1991 World Series that pitted the Minnesota Twins against the Atlanta Braves. Why? Because it ranked with the best, most exciting series in history. And it went seven games and ended in a thrilling, 10-inning, 1-0 shutout.

What drives up World Series ratings the best is a good series. A long series. And baseball used to have them all the time. There were five seven-game series in the '50s, six in the '60s, five in the '70s and four in the '80s, but only three since that Twins-Braves classic. That's what's keeping down interest in the World Series.

So the part of me that is a baseball fan wants the Rangers to get back into this and make it an exciting World Series for everyone in baseball, not just the lucky fans of one team, even if it is my team. The baseball fan in me wants drama, tension and a signature moment. Even if the series lasts fewer than seven games, I want the signature moment to be like Kirk Gibson's home run leaving the yard in 1988, not a near home run bouncing off the top of the fence and back onto the field. I want a legendary pitching performance like Jack Morris throwing a 10-inning shutout in 1991, not Derek Holland walking the world.

But the part of me that is an old Giants fan says that's just plain stupid. That asking for a seven-game series at this stage is asking for heartbreak, like in 1962 when the Giants lost in seven games to the Yankees and in 2002 when they lost to the Angels in seven. (Did I mention I hate Scott Spiezio?)

After all, did Red Sox fans worry that their 86-year wait ended with a four-game sweep in 2004? Did White Sox fans fret that their 87-year wait ended with a four-game sweep in '05? Did Phillies fans worry that their 28-year wait ended with a five-game series win in '08? Of course not. The Giants fan in me doesn't care how long the series lasts, only that the Giants win.

This is my ideal scenario. The Giants torture their fans a little more, but hold on to beat the Rangers at home in a Game 7 shutout on a walk-off splash hit into the bay. And the 43,000 fans wearing orange and black and fake beards and wigs in the stadium and the hundreds in McCovey Cove paddling their kayaks and life rafts and surfboards to scream so loud in jubilation that their voices carry all the way to my old Washington home and come in clearer than Lon Simmons' voice ever did. And tens of millions of fans watching the game on TV around the country and around the world smile and say: "Damn, that was fantastic. I love baseball. I can't wait until pitchers and catchers report.''

That's what I want. That's what I dream. But I'll settle for the Giants winning in any combination of games.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com