Giants vs. Rangers: A World Series Beyond Blue and Red

There is a tempting political spin to impose on the 2010 World Series: it's the ultimate red-state/blue-state showdown. In one corner, you have the Giants from the People's Republic of San Francisco and across the ring you have the Texas Rangers, hailing from a state that repeats "Don't Tread on Me" like a religious catechism. The Giants best player is two-time Cy Young award winner and long-haired midnight toker Tim Lincecum. Their top reliever, Brian Wilson, sports a Mohawk, tattoos and an epic beard that would shame a Crown Heights Chasid. In contrast, the Rangers best player, top-line starter Cliff Lee, leads the team with a style that's more Johnny Appleseed than Johnny Rotten.

 

Then there's the owner's box: in the Giants luxury suite, you have Bill Neukom, who made his fortune as the chief attorney for Microsoft as it grew from garage startup to leviathan of digital doom. His team plays in a stadium, AT&T Park, which, much to the chagrin of Major League owners, was built with private funds. In the other owner's box, you have former Rangers Hall of Fame pitcher and proud political conservative Nolan Ryan. Ryan is seen on camera often this post-season with his dear friend, former Rangers "owner" George W. Bush.

 

Thanks to Bush, the Rangers play in a park that represents perhaps the pinnacle of taxpayer-gouging, public stadium financing. Two decades—not to mention two wars, a gutted economy and a wrecked New Orleans—ago, Bush and his team of owners threatened to uproot the team if the city of Arlington did not foot the bill for a new park. The local government caved and in the fall of 1990, forked over the entire near-$200 million tab. (One wonders if the bankers who received the largesse of Bush's Wall Street bailout were taking notes.)

 

But the scam did not end there. As part of the deal, the Rangers' ownership was given acres of free land around the stadium to create a dingy amusement park for the kiddies. But most of this land-gift was left to sit, increasing exponentially in value after the stadium's construction. To make this happen, the late Democratic Governor Ann Richards established the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority, which was granted the extraordinary power to seize privately owned land deemed necessary for stadium construction. Then Bush sold his stake in the team to billionaire and friend of the family Tom Hicks in 1998 for $15 million, making a 2,400 percent profit on his original $600,000 (borrowed) investment.

 

Seems pretty cut and dry for the political sports fan: you line up with either San Fran or Bush Country, right? But even though it would be great to see Dubya cry if the Rangers lose, people should resist easy political labels for either team. The field manager for the Rangers is Ron Washington, who could become the second African-American manager in baseball history to lead a team to championship glory. Washington must be as surprised as anyone to be in the World Series, let alone employed. To the credit of the Rangers organization, they kept Washington at the helm even after the 57-year-old manager failed a drug test during the 2009 season and then admitted this Spring  that his drug of choice was cocaine. The Rangers are also led by another player many teams would have thrown overboard: probable 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton, who has been on and off the substance-abuse wagon so many times, his blood might be 90 proof.

 

Also, for those sneering at the red-state owners box in Texas, remember that the Giants ownership team is hardly the Grateful Dead. In addition to being the consigliere for the Microsoft Mafia, Bill Neukom's team has gobbled $80 million in public financing for park upgrades and untold millions in tax exemptions. They also have a sixty-six-year lease on the primo 12.5 acres of park real estate at a cost of just $1.2 million a year. Then there is the Giants organization's treatment of forcibly retired home run king and suspected steroid user Barry Bonds. The reviled Bonds is still popular in the Bay, and he sold out the park during the leanest years for the franchise. No one should nominate Bonds for sainthood, but he deserved far better than being released after leading the league in on-base percentage and having every last picture and memento from his historic career removed from team headquarters. Bonds did make a token appearance on the field before game three of the National League Championship Series, but maybe if he had played for Texas, they would have treated him more the way they've treated Ron Washington and Josh Hamilton: like a human being.

 

Far more interesting is what unites both franchises: failure. The San Francisco Giants, despite their storied history have never won a World Series since their 1958 move from New York to the Bay; and the Texas Rangers before this season, had never even won a playoff series. Both teams will be playing with a desperate ardor in front of tortured crowds conditioned for failure. Nope, there are no easy labels in this series: just two teams looking to make their mark on baseball history and two fan bases desperately waiting to exhale. I can't wait.

 

[Dave Zirin is the author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love” (Scribner). Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com.]

 

24 Reader Comments | Add a comment

zarin, zarin..



zarin, as soon as these teams made the world series I knew you would write article like this.


Why not just do away with any of your precious labels and enjoy two good teams?

Write on, Dave!

Couple of fools posting here; when did Dave ever say he supports the Dems? If you can't take the truth about sports and capitalism, Bruce and dexx, then take yr hate and go back to yr fox 'news' (sic) (or whatever tributary of it you swim in) wasteland that you crawled out from. How about some constructive criticism? Me personally, I don't disagree with anything so far in this article, but if anyone has some reality based criticism that isn't just ad hominem rightwinger crap, I'm game.

"The bombs bursting in air..."

"Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave"?? Who cares? Let your freak flag fly Dave. "Hey Dave, why don't ya just enjoy the teams?" Do readers really think you're stepping out of bounds when you link politics and capitalism with sports, while the f*cking Blue Angels fly overhead and we put our hands on our hearts and sing about bombs?
I enjoy your writing and I love your truly unbiased, eyes-wide-open analysis. People struggle to pigeon-hole you -- for what? Simpleton zombie patriots.
P.S. I shared the article with Johnny Rotten and he approves of your stance. Cheers mate!

Go Rangers!

USA Today did an article quoting Giants brass saying they are eager to move past the Bonds Era. They weren't so eager to move past Bonds when he was selling out their ballpark. Classless!

I'm a Phillies fan, so...

I hope they both lose. On the other hand, I like the many contradictions imbedded in this Series. Not enough to watch it, but there are some good stories.

Have ya'll noticed that Bruce's grammar and spelling are improving. He must be in 8th grade now. One more year untill high school.

Owner-Thugs

Predatory capitalism urges and then creates the corruption among Owner-Thugs that Dave cites here - and details so well in "Bad Sports." The ruling class's mantra has always been the same: privatize the profits and make public the debt.

Hunter Thompson sums it up this way:

“We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the world… a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for profit, but killer Whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum and that is how history will remember us.”

Play ball!

Awesome Dave!

Dave - there are folks paid to troll on blogs like this. Ignore it. It's a shame because this could be a space for good debate. Instead you have some real losers, jealous because they don't know how to write a coherent sentence.

corporate welfare

Much of my interest in pro sports has been eroded by the boundless greed of owners, particularly when it comes to publicly funded stadiums. One of the most egregious examples of this happened in Philadelphia. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie positions himself as a social liberal, yet had no problem having 2/3 of his stadium funded by the city and state. The Eagles then turn around and claim that they "gave" us the stadium. Luire was vocal in denouncing Rush Limbaugh's racist rant against McNabb, yet he apparently has no problem with Rush's economic philosophy.

hey little brucey

Ya poor Juan, he lost his gig at NPR and then got a two million dollar contract at Fox News to do his own show cry me a river you bleeding heart.
I am sure you were just as outraged when Bill Maher was fired by ABC.

Geoffrey

As another PA-based Phillies fan, I'm with you. Both in having trouble rooting in this Series, and in your criticisms of the Eagles/Phillies/Pirates/Steelers stadium disaster of the last decade. As much as I hated the Vet aesthetically, I can't bring myself to go to "The Bank."

Triumph of the Will

The flag-waving to start Game 4 of the World Series, featuring George W. and his dad shaking hands with Nolan Ryan in front of a roaring stadium, was an extremely impressive display of propaganda. Mussolini would have been proud.

A re-post Dave?

George Bush being feted at a World Series game is especially ironic given what happened during his ownership of the the Rangers. Dave wrote some excellent columns about this subject. Perhaps they can be posted again.

Sports, Patriotism, Murder

Beyond the agitprop appearance of the Bush Crime Family at the ballgame last night, the real horrific reality is that God Bless Amerika continues to honor mass murderers as heroes.

Amerika's Orwellian behavior has become so predictable.

War is peace
Slavery is freedom
Ignorance is strength

Still not interested

Honestly even with this spin on the game I can find only a passing interest. The 7th inning stretch makes me throw up in my mouth.

/and back to your previously scheduled Bruce, Dex, hot wind(tornado) circle jerk.

Thanks Guy

Thank you for wasting my time again with a pointless political article that has little to do with the actual world series itself. I have to read your stupid articles for my Sociology in Sports class otherwise I would rather waste my time reading the ingredients off a soup can. Why not talk about how refreshing it is to see two underdog teams that are barely a houshold name play in the world series instead of NY/Boston or Philly? No I guess its just better to get the right wingers all riled up instead. Thanks again

espn will never talk about this-go zirin!

of course the fools who only can have a knee jerk reaction to everything, are going to talk nonesense. i guess they are either rich, or don't give a damn that their elder aunts may not be taken care of, because you, and i, and they, are paying corporate welfare for rich buffoons to buy stadia[that's plural for stadium] at our expense. so instead of seeing reality,for what it is,even taking into account,that mr. zirin,presented a truly balanced objective portrayal of different scenarios;not taking the easy conservative vs. liberal angle;that is still not reasonable enough, for the unreasonble people who call themselves conservatives. these are the same people who have no problem with the fact that zirin,will never get any consideration on a so called mainstream station like espn. i could never imagine a glorified mediocrity like michael kay,having him on the air. colin cowheard,an outside chance,of having zirin on,but i would not hold my breath;the corporate masters at espn,would not likely dream of having a progressive mind like dave zirin on........

espn will never talk about this-go zirin!

of course the fools who only can have a knee jerk reaction to everything, are going to talk nonesense. i guess they are either rich, or don't give a damn that their elder aunts may not be taken care of, because you, and i, and they, are paying corporate welfare for rich buffoons to buy stadia[that's plural for stadium] at our expense. so instead of seeing reality,for what it is,even taking into account,that mr. zirin,presented a truly balanced objective portrayal of different scenarios;not taking the easy conservative vs. liberal angle;that is still not reasonable enough, for the unreasonble people who call themselves conservatives. these are the same people who have no problem with the fact that zirin,will never get any consideration on a so called mainstream station like espn. i could never imagine a glorified mediocrity like michael kay,having him on the air. colin cowheard,an outside chance,of having zirin on,but i would not hold my breath;the corporate masters at espn,would not likely dream of having a progressive mind like dave zirin on........

A lot of conservative Giants fans, too

I'm from Sacramento and most Giants fans I know are conservative. A's fans tend to be more liberal. In the city, most Giants fans are probably liberal, but down here in the valley it's pretty much Giant/Niners having a Republican fan base, A's/Raiders having a Democrat fan base. This world series was hardly blue vs. red. I don't think it could be possible in baseball, considering the sport is a republican dominated sport with a republican dominated fan base.

another example (tongue in cheek...)

Just to give you an idea of how conservative Giants fans are in the Sacramento valley, there's hardly any celebrating going on in Sac tonight. Giants fans are all in bed. LOL. But in San Fran they're going nuts.

if david z is what?

if david zirin is a "racist" then i guess michael kay makes satan look like mother theresa. zirin is pointing to a reality that corporate right wing media and right wing bozo fans will never get.
bruce,get a second hand brain on e-bay.....

if david z is what?

if david zirin is a "racist" then i guess michael kay makes satan look like mother theresa. zirin is pointing to a reality that corporate right wing media and right wing bozo fans will never get.
bruce,get a second hand brain on e-bay.....

barry's ok

Dave -

Please don't think that the Giants, let alone their fans, have dismissed or dissed Bonds, as so many outside the area have contended. In a call to the Comcast post-game show last night, he explained that he'd sat down with Giants management and they agreed to keep his involvement low-key until his legal struggles are behind him. Barring the worst-case scenario, which seems highly unlikely, he'll be back in the organization in some capacity as soon as possible. Count on it. And most of the fans give him as much love as ever, never having bought into the general defamation of character perpetrated by outside media.

This Giants team won it for Barry, Bobby, the Willies, and all who went before them.

Series

I admit to being for the Rangers--maybe only because they so handily handled the Yanks after the Yanks made total fools out of The 'Twinkies'.
Watching the schmoozing going on between Nolan Ryan & two awful Bushes behind the ondeck circle at Texas made the awful performance of the Rangers much more palatable. Send all of the best of both teams to the Yankees where they belong. Hasn't it been too long for the Yanks to be out of the winner's circle?

Last time Giants won a so called World Series.

The Giants won their last misnamed World Series in 1954, four years before they moved from NY to SF. That time they were the sole underdogs beating the misnamed Cleveland Indians by sweeping them in 4 games. 1954 was also the year 4 Puerto Rican went to Congress. Not to legislate, but to let the world know of the colonial subjugation of their nation by opening fire from the balcony. Back to baseball, the only pitcher in the Giants staff to lose was Jonathan Sanchez (pitched a no-hitter in 2009). But of the 1954 four victories against Cleveland, one of the pitchers was Puerto Rican Ruben Gomez. The 2010 Giants labeled their scant run output victories as "torture," not to be confused with the torture of torture admitting GW Bush, but somewhat a curious use of the word in these times. My two chavos (cents) out of left field.

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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Contact him at edgeofsports@gmail.com