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Archive for Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bay Area, Texas link continues

October 27, 2010

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We’re going to mess with Texas. Again.

Our Bay Area sports teams often turn to the Lone Star state for a major breakthrough, creating some of our greatest memories.

None will be bigger than when the Giants beat the Texas Rangers and deliver San Francisco its first World Series since Major League Baseball moved here in 1958.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday at AT&T Park, roughly a seven-mile kayak trip (not recommended) up shore from the site of the Bay Area’s biggest sports moment.

Joe Montana rolled right, lofted a pass over onrushing Dallas Cowboys defenders, and Dwight Clark leaped to make “The Catch.” The 49ers’ dynasty took root that day in 1981, and so did a Texas-sized rivalry.

As Steve Young put it Monday: “How many times can you say, for years, whoever won between the two was going to be the Super Bowl champ. That’s a rivalry.”

And here is a karmic link: At the Giants’ home opener in April, Young and Jerry Rice teamed up on the ceremonial first pitch.

Another chapter in the We-Mess-with-Texas anthology occurred in 2007 when the Warriors, making their first postseason appearance in 13 years, stunned the No. 1 seed Dallas Mavericks. Karma alert: Three days later, a certain Giants pitcher made his major-league debut. His name: Tim Lincecum, the pitcher who will try to beat Texas on Wednesday in Game 1.

Mark Cuban, the boisterous owner of the Mavericks, fails to see any connection. But he sees the potential for something else. “Maybe it will be a long-term WS (World Series) rivalry between the Rangers and Giants,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Let’s hope for that. GO RANGERS!”

Never mind that the Giants are 11-1 against the Rangers in interleague play since 2000. And never mind the East Coast complaints about this being an unappealing matchup. California vs. Texas is dandy.

Like the Giants, the Rangers made it here as underdogs. They won the franchise’s first-ever postseason series by knocking off the Tampa Bay Rays. Then, like the Giants, they knocked off the reigning league champions, the New York Yankees.

And, yes, a Giants-Yankees matchup would have been special, hearkening back to 1962 when the New Yorkers broke Bay Area hearts with a 1-0 victory in Game 7.

But the best Bay Area playoff memories are linked to Dallas. So Texas it has to be. We’ll take on the whole state.

Hopefully, Rangers reliever Frank Francisco doesn’t take this playful feud so far as to throw a bullpen chair into the stands and strike a fan, as he did in 2004 at an A’s game in Oakland. Ailed by a rib cage injury, Francisco hasn’t appeared in Texas’ postseason.

Young, however, was in Texas on Monday, working as an ESPN analyst for the Cowboys’ game against the New York Giants. Wednesday, he’ll be at AT&T Park rooting on the hometown team.

“Love the Giants. Love the Giants,” Young said. “I read something the other day asking why do we love them so much. Because guys like Cody (Ross) come out of nowhere. They’re good players, good guys.”

For matchups, they don’t come much better than Game 1: Lincecum, the little right-hander with two Cy Young awards, facing Cliff Lee, the tall left-hander with one Cy Young award and 34 strikeouts (and one walk) in three starts this postseason. Go behind the plate, and you have Buster Posey and Bengie Molina, the former Giants catcher and the apple-cheeked kid who replaced him and turned around the Giants season.

Delve further into the World Series story lines, and you’ll find Nolan Ryan, the Rangers owner and Hall of Fame pitcher. Ryan was pitching for Houston the day Will Clark made his Giants debut, and homered in his first at-bat. Clark now works in the Giants front office and is a regular visitor to the clubhouse, in case someone needs to know how to mess with Texas.

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