A week ago, the Giants were celebrating a fast start that had not been equaled in their San Francisco history since the 1962 Giants. There’s no real comparison between those two teams. The ’62 Giants had Willie Mays, often considered the best player ever, Juan Marichal, the best pitcher in Giants history, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda. All are in the baseball Hall of Fame, as is Gaylord Perry, a marginal member of that team.
Who on the current Giants would be a Hall of Fame candidate? If Tim Hudson makes it, his pitching for the A’s and Atlanta Braves would be the big consideration. Buster Posey has been in a funk lately. If he recovers his earlier form, he’s a possibility. Madison Bumgarner is still young and has a chance if he has a long career. That’s about it. There’s certainly nobody close to Mays, nor a power hitter in McCovey’s class or a consistently brilliant pitcher like Marichal, who once bested Warren Spahn in a 16-inning, 1-0 game, which was decided, of course, by a Mays home run.
But the current Giants don’t have to be that good because the competition is nowhere near as strong as the 1962 National League. The one team with what seems to be overwhelming talent is the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they often seem to be fighting each other, with manager Don Mattingly unable to make his 25-player squad a true team. The Washington Nationals looked like champions against the Giants last week, but they’re barely over .500.
Even after their disastrous last week, when the Giants lost three of four to the Nationals and all three to the Rockies, the Giants entered Monday’s games with the best record in baseball.
The A’s also have hit some speed bumps lately, but they snapped back by taking two-out-of-three games from the New York Yankees at the O.co Coliseum. They’ve now won 14 of their last 19 from the Yankees, who are nowhere near so formidable as they were when George Steinbrenner was in charge. His sons inherited a ton of money, but apparently not much intelligence.
The American League seems to be marginally stronger than the National. With inter-league games every day, it’s easier to measure the two leagues and the American League has won a slight majority of the games so far.
But money hasn’t played much of a part in the AL this season, and the A’s, always near the bottom of the team salary list, are a great example. General manager Billy Beane has done a great job of finding players and pitchers who can help, and Bob Melvin is their best manager since Tony La Russa.
The A’s, who have the best record in the American League, seem to have only one serious competitor in the AL West, the Los Angeles Angels. The superior A’s pitching will probably prevail over the season.
So, keep the faith, the Bay Bridge World Series hope is still alive.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.