SAN FRANCISCO — Here’s a fun fact . . . well, okay, it’s not that much fun until you realize that it’s mostly a nerdtastic fact.
But first, this: The World Series you get from the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants will be almost nothing like any of the previous playoff series the Giants have played in the past four years and five seasons. It certainly won’t be nearly as much fun if your tastes run to food fights, softball players trying to cope in the field, balls being thrown all over the lot and ridiculous story lines that get screenwriters beaten in Hollywood.
Just so you know. Now, back to today’s semi-valueless arcana.
The Giants are attempting to become the sixth team North American sports history to win three championships in alternate years, as in win-don’t-win-don’t-win. I have no idea what this means, why it’s important or what it should tell you, but I went to the trouble of looking it up, so eat it.
BASEBALL: The St. Louis Cardinals of 1942 (beat the New York Yankees), 1944 (St. Louis Browns) and 1946 (Boston Red Sox). You probably don’t remember even if you are old enough to because you may have been too distracted by World War II. The Nazis and Imperial Japan could do that to a person.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Miami, Florida in 1987, 1989 and 1991. There was no actual championship game, so blame this one on sportswriters, those nauseating brutes.
WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Tennessee 1987 (Louisiana Tech), 1989 (Auburn) and 1991 (Virginia). Head coach Pat Summitt worried about their consistency.
PRO SOCCER: The New York Cosmos in 1978 (Tampa Bay Rowdies), 1980 (Fort Lauderdale Strikers), and 1982 (Seattle Sounders). The Cosmos bought every player on earth, so this is actually something shameful.
CANADIAN FOOTBALL: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats won the Grey Cup in 1963 (British Columbia Lions), 1965 (Winnipeg Blue Bombers) and 1967 (Saskatechewan Roughriders). They offered to kick the Green Bay Packers’ asses after, but Vince Lombardi was too much of a coward.
But we digress. The point here is that the Giants are not really a dynasty, or even on the cusp of a dynasty. They are a very good team that improves in October – except when they don’t. They’re wacky that way.
But now they’re getting wacky back with a full open-handed slap. The Royals aren’t wacky because they haven’t won in three decades, though. History doesn’t make you wacky.
[RELATED: Ishikawa's HR sends Giants to World Series]
The Royals are like the Giants in that they play six-inning games. They need six innings from their starting pitchers and enough of a lead to allow their bullpens to come in and harpoon any survivors. They also have excellent fielding metrics so they will have a harder time forcing mistakes from each other than they did against the Nationals, Cardinals, Tigers or Orioles.
They are unlike the Giants in many more things, though. They run. A lot. Almost three times as steals, in fact, and tons of extra bases, as urged by manager Ned Yost and coach Rusty Kuntz. They also don’t walk and strike out a ton. And their managers run their teams differently.
Yost, whose first name will be augmented to include the prefix “Oft-Maligned” for the duration of the Series, believes in assigned roles that rarely deviate from May to September. Bruce Bochy has, wants, and works a roster that is designed for ultimate flexibility. Bochy has rings. Yost does not. Thus, this will be perceived as a significant advantage for the Giants in much the same way that the Royals and their bullpen core of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland is perceived as the Royals’ best asset.
The problem with all these story lines, of course, is that almost all the pre-series story lines leading into this one have turned out to be so many cheap and tawdry lies. October games are typically separate entities that hinge more on circumstances than stars, on health more than reputations, and there is a Travis Ishikawa or Brandon Finnegan around every corner.
And experience? Well, the lack of it didn’t hinder the 1969 Mets, or the 1997 Marlins, or 2001 Diamondbacks, or 2005 White Sox. In short, every advantage you see will play out as a disadvantage at some point in this series, because these are perverse times in which we live.
All that said, Bruce Bochy has always said he has wanted to be known as the man who did what the Hamilton Tiger-Cats once did. Of course, he was working on his seventh stein of spigot-in-the-box Cabernet at the time.