Either Giants or Rangers will end futility

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports
Either Giants or Rangers will end futility
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David Clyde was rushed to the majors by the Rangers in a marketing gimmick

Because the Chicago Cubs monopolize baseball's sad sackery, it's easy to forget the collective futility of the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers. Coming into this season, the Giants had suffered through 52 non-championship years in San Francisco. The Rangers, including their time in Washington, D.C., went 49 years without so much as a postseason series win. Add 'em up and they equaled the Cubs' 101 years of yearning.

Since getting into a self-loathing contest with the Cubs is futile, it was best, then, to compare the Giants and Rangers to each other. They're similar enough: big underdogs to reach the World Series, from markets larger than they seem and boasting enough talent and intrigue that this series shouldn't be the ratings disaster Fox expects.

Look, these aren't the Cubs or the pre-2004 Red Sox or even the Cleveland Indians, whom the '54 New York Giants beat for the franchise’s last World Series title. They are two organizations, however, that understand pain. Come 10 days or so, one will finally experience pleasure while the other rots with more despair. In the meantime, it's best to compare them in 10 distinct categories to see which franchise truly does have better reason to seek out that Paxil prescription.

Note: The advantage, in all cases, goes to the team with the worse situation in each category.

Ownership

The disastrous reign of Bob Short from 1968-74 saw him move the team after the 1971 season from Washington, where they were the Senators, to Texas (and spawn this amazing sign), where they became the Rangers. Once there, he rushed high schooler David Clyde to the major leagues as a marketing gimmick and taxed him until he blew out his arm. The team's latest owner, Tom Hicks, oversaw the team into bankruptcy.

Heartless as Horace Stoneham uprooting the Giants from New York and taking them to San Francisco was, he's not exactly revered in the Bay after flirting with letting the franchise move in the '70s. Bob Lurie saved it from that … then threatened to sell the Giants to Vince Naimoli, who would move them to Florida. Peter Magowan came to the rescue, built AT&T Park and ownership has since been stable.

Advantage: Texas

Karma

It’s tough to beat taking a five-time World Series champion from a historic stadium (Polo Grounds) with the single biggest moment in baseball history (Shot Heard 'Round the World) as well as the greatest defensive play (Willie Mays' catch in the '54 World Series) and carpetbagging to California.

Advantage: San Francisco

Talent

For a seven-year period in the 1960s, the Giants featured a lineup with three Hall of Famers: Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda. They also developed Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, the Alou brothers and Bobby Bonds. And, of course, there was the 15-year dalliance with Bobby’s son.

Tom Grieve is nicknamed Mr. Ranger. Rusty Greer is in the team's Hall of Fame.

Advantage: Texas

Infamous events

Poor Johnnie LeMaster got so used to hearing a particular word from Giants fans – "boo," they said – one day he customized a jersey as an homage to them.

When playing outfield for Texas, Jose Canseco let a ball bounce off head and over the fence for a home run. Nearly two decades later, it remains a strong contender for the single worst play in baseball history.

Advantage: Texas

Historic events

Though he didn't sign with them until his 41st birthday, Nolan Ryan still managed to get his 300th win, 5,000th strikeout and seventh no-hitter with the Rangers. Now he's the team president.

Barry Bonds' chase for 756 home runs devolved into a nasty indictment on his legacy. Fans at home cheered. Fans away from AT&T Park lit into him with fury. Thus went the dichotomy that turned what should've been a momentous occasion into the saddest record.

Advantage: San Francisco

Steroids

Canseco (The Godfather) vs. Bonds (Victor Conte's Monster). Slight victory has to go to San Francisco, which not only lived through dumpster-diving IRS agents but federal charges against its most beloved player in decades.

Plus, nobody ever needed to hear about Barry Bonds' alleged testicles shrinkage.

Advantage: San Francisco

Awful contract

As much of a disaster as Barry Zito's(notes) seven-year, $126 million dandy continues to be – he won't pitch an inning this postseason and still has three years and $64.5 million remaining – it still was for only half as much as Alex Rodriguez's(notes) landmark deal Hicks gifted him in 2000.

Even though Rodriguez opted out of the 10-year, $252 million contract to sign an even richer one with the Yankees (that, in fact, is proving nearly as ugly), the Rangers still owe him about $25 million. He hasn't played in Texas since 2003.

Advantage: Texas

Stadium

Rangers Ballpark is an underrated joint from the outside (gorgeous brick façade), inside (comfort that has gotten awfully cacophonous this postseason) and otherwise (valet parking – seriously).

Compared to AT&T Park, perhaps the greatest in the major leagues, Rangers Ballpark has all the charm of a homeless shelter.

Advantage: Texas

Annoying present-day trend

The antlers-and-claw crap isn't going to stop, so it's high time to get used to it. Two points first.

1) The Rangers really, really, really need to stop playing that "Do the claw" song every time something goes good at home. There are only so many times people can raise their hands with the intention of looking like they have a brutal case of carpal tunnel.

2) The claw isn't even a damn claw. When Miguel Tejada(notes) and teammates in Baltimore used it, they did so to signify a spotlight – and "beamed" it on teammates who had shone. That is cool. Dead-animal imitation? Not so much.

And still, as much as the antlers and claw might surpass Rayhawks and cowbells for the annoying postseason tradition, it cannot compare to the absolute brainwashing of San Francisco fans by Bonds. You'd think that a few years would allow Giants fans to realize that Bonds hijacked the franchise, and that no matter how good he was – and his seasons last decade rank with Babe Ruth's among the best ever – what he brought to the Giants was poisonous.

Bonds infected the clubhouse, the culture, not to mention the game's (relative) integrity. San Francisco deserves a hero worth cheering about, not some narcissistic, disgraced attention whore whose bounding out of the dugout to throw out a first pitch last week was greeted with an enormous ovation. Bonds played to the crowd, jumping up and around, and they gave it right back.

Gimme antlers and claw any day.

Advantage: San Francisco

Low point

Really, the entirety of the Texas Rangers experiment has been a mess. One victory in a postseason game before this year. Plenty of hitting and no pitching. A fan base that, before the Rangers started winning, cared only about football.

The Giants, on the other hand, produced more follies than Ziegfeld. Ugly was 1993, when Bonds was amazing without steroids, John Burkett and Bill Swift won 20-plus games each, the Giants finished with 103 victories and it still wasn't good enough for the playoffs. Or 1962, when the Giants watched Willie McCovey line a ninth-inning rocket that ended the World Series because it happened to be right at Yankees second baseman Bobby Richardson.

Yeah, those hurt, but nothing sticks in the mind – and gut – quite like the latest. Eight years ago, the Giants rode Bonds to a World Series and were eight outs away from a championship in Game 6. Russ Ortiz(notes) had pitched seven brilliant innings. Almost time to celebrate. Until Dusty Baker replaced him with Felix Rodriguez, who gave up a three-run homer to trim the lead to 5-3. The next inning, the Los Angeles Angels took the lead. They never gave it up and won the series the next day.

Advantage: San Francisco

Final score: 5-5

Final word: Of course it's a tie. These franchises screwed themselves and got shafted by the system. Yet after all this time, something good will come of it: One team will be able to erase the past, to start over, to spit at history. And, well, at least the other isn't the Cubs.