Game 1 of their respective division series held dramatically different consequences — implied, imagined and in reality — for the Giants and A’s, and such circumstances represented perhaps the most clear reflection of the teams’ hold on the Bay Area’s collective imagination.
In short, the Big Brother-Little Brother dynamic was in full effect.
Look, that the A’s even had a Game 1 was a shock to us all. As we grew increasingly fascinated by what they were pulling off, as the summer wore on and crept into fall, we never really even considered them being anything more than a wild-card entry.
And being a wild-card team meant not a Game 1, but likely a Game 1-and-Done.
The Giants, on the other hand, didn’t necessarily fascinate us. They captivated us, no question. They held our attention. For a variety of reasons.
But fascinate? No. Not like the A’s.
Fascination brings palm to forehead, or to open mouth. As in, “You gotta be kidding me!”
Captivation brings forefinger and thumb to chin. As in, “Hmmmm, really?”
Think about it. Look no farther than each team’s best all-around player. They’re emblematic of the notion. Yoenis Cespedes’ story fascinates. Buster Posey’s captivates.
That fascination we’ve developed for the A’s, a team of virtual no-names whom most of us had pegged for 100 losses back in March, intensified this week as the Elephants shook the Texas Rangers to the core, snatching so much of their soul that Texas’ wild-card game against the Baltimore Orioles was over before a pitch was thrown.
Thus, when we pondered the immediate aftermath of what might very well be the greatest baseball story in Bay Area history (sorry, 2010 Giants; this is better by a light-year or two), we immediately issued a pass of sorts.
Game 1 against the star-studded Detroit Tigers, who feature the Triple Crown beast that is Miguel Cabrera and the Triple Vegetarian Cheeseburger beast that is Prince Fielder in the middle of their lineup, in Detroit? With Justin Verlander, the reigning American League Cy Young winner and Most Valuable Player, on the mound?
Before a pitch was thrown, we asked: OK, what’s the pitching matchup for Game 2? We knew Game 1 would go to Detroit. And we were right.
Completely different story for the Giants, who were expected to do what they did in a seriously flawed National League West. Even with Melky Cabrera out.
Come on, admit it. You’d have been surprised if the Giants didn’t hold off the Hollywood Free Spenders. If not, you don’t know much about the power of chemistry and cohesion.
And admit it. When you pondered Game 1 of the NL Division Series, you saw that Matt Cain was on the mound, at home, and thought not of the Reds’ powerful lineup and Cincy starter Johnny Cueto’s brilliance, but of Cain’s perfect game earlier in the year.
So we asked: Who is protecting that 1-0 series lead?
And when Cueto went down early in Game 1, forcing Mat Latos into action, some of us even figured the alteration of the Reds’ rotation would quite likely lead to a 2-0 series lead.
It’s simple. We expect more of the Giants, especially now that they’ve won a World Series. We always will.
And sadly, that means we’ll never quite enjoy what they accomplish as much as what the insanely entertaining A’s might pull off next.
Mychael Urban, host of “Inside The Bigs” (9 a.m.-noon Saturdays) on KGMZ (95.7 FM) The Game, can be followed on Twitter @BigUrbSports. His website is UrbsUnchained.com.