Huff's rally thong
Former Ray Aubrey Huff really has done a lot for the Giants, leading the team with a .290 average, 26 homers, 86 RBIs and a .385 on-base percentage. But what he may be most known for is the slinky, silky red and black glitter-embellished piece of PAPI brand underwear he has been wearing under his uniform, and rather, um, proudly around the Giants clubhouse: The Rally Thong.
Huff's story is that his wife, Baubi, bought it for him a couple of years ago as a joke, and he saw it in the drawer one day this season and decided to wear it to the park to lighten the mood as the team was struggling a bit with 30 games to go. "I wore it around and said, 'Boys, this is going to be good for 20-10,' " Huff said, and the Giants did exactly that.
Huff, meanwhile, got three large boxes of thongs from PAPI to share with his teammates. "I don't really enjoy seeing Aubrey in his," manager Bruce Bochy said, "but he's proud of his body and he likes to walk around in it and he gets a lot of laughs. And it keeps the guys loose."
Before Giants OF Cody Ross wanted to become a ballplayer, he wanted to be a rodeo clown. His dad was in the rodeo, and he used to hang out with him, and until he was about 10, that's what he thought he would do. "I was drawn to them so much because those guys have no fear," he said.
Fear the Beard
A major-league-leading 48 saves should be enough to get Brian Wilson some attention. But it's the black — and, some have suggested, product-enhanced overly black — hair on his face that has inspired a following, with fans sporting fake beards and wearing Fear the Beard T-shirts. Plus, it has its own Facebook page (BrianWilsonsBeard) and Twitter account (BeardOfBrian). Also, there will be long wigs in honor of Tim Lincecum's flowing locks and panda caps for Pablo Sandoval, who is nicknamed Kung Fu Panda.
The Claw and Antlers
High-fives are so passé. What started as a simple hand gesture that utility INF Esteban German brought from the Dominican Republic to note a good play from afar spawned the Claw, and then the Rangers added the Antlers, with hands on either side of their head to acknowledge a play that required speed (as in running like a deer). Now there are thousands of fans doing the same, wearing T-shirts and some coming to the games sporting real antlers. When Rangers INF Jorge Cantu was introduced during a recent TCU football game, the whole stadium responded by doing the antlers.
Rangers LHP C.J. Wilson is a pretty good pitcher. He's also an interesting and prolific poster on his Twitter account — str8edgeracer, with more than 6,000 entries. He'll engage just about anyone, and type on about anything, but one of his more interesting recent posts was this one after the Giants clinched the NL pennant: "See your beard soon mr Wilson"
5 things to watch for
Are they Joshing?
The Rays fed Josh Hamilton a steady stream of breaking balls in the division series, and he hit .111 (2-for-18) with one RBI as he recovered from his missed month due to injury. The Yankees threw him a heavy dose of fastballs, and he hit .350 (7-for-20) with four homers and won ALCS MVP honors as he regained his groove. What will the Giants try?
AT&T Park is considered something of a pitcher's park, which is a polite way of saying it's hard to hit homers there (the Giants had 75 of their 162 at home). The burden on the Giants pitchers will be to keep it that way, as the Rangers have homered in all 11 postseason games (17 total).
The Rangers beat the Rays and the Yankees, and the rest of the AL, by running wild and free on the bases. Elvis Andrus and the Rangers are 15 of 17 on steals in the postseason and showed their aggressiveness against the Rays by scoring twice from second on infield outs. The Giants, a bit of a lumbering defensive squad anyway, will have to adjust.
Hanging on the cliff
Rangers Game 1 starter Cliff Lee will be a major part of the story, either because he'll maintain his remarkable postseason success (7-0, 1.26) or because he won't. The Giants are aggressive and free-swinging, which could be to their advantage as Lee throws a lot of first-pitch strikes.
If you think Joe Maddon tinkers a lot with the Rays, get a load of Bruce Bochy and the Giants. From shuttling players in and out of the lineup to shuffling the batting order to in-game moves (including three double-switches in one game), he'll seemingly try anything at any time.
5 random things
Tampa Bay's "home" teams
The Rangers could have been playing in the Tampa Bay area, if a late 1980s deal by Tampa businessman Frank Morsani to buy the team had gone through. And so could have the Giants, if the early 1990s deal made by Vince Naimoli had been approved. Instead, both teams were purchased by local groups and stayed where they were. And in March 1995, Tampa Bay was awarded the expansion franchise that became the Rays.
Obviously Rangers C Bengie Molina and Giants RHP Chris Ray want their teams to win, but they're in pretty good shape either way. Traded for each other July 1, both are in line to get a ring, and a playoff share, from both teams.
So they meet again
The Rangers and Giants are meeting in the Series for the first time, but it's not their first game of pomp and circumstance. On June 12, 1997, they played the first interleague game in MLB history, with the Giants winning 4-3. Overall, the Giants lead 15-7, winning the past seven, and are 12-2 at home, winning the past 11.
The Giants have ex-Rays 1B Aubrey Huff and OF Pat Burrell, plus Hillsborough High product Chris Ray. The Rangers have ex-Rays OF Josh Hamilton and INF Jorge Cantu, plus Gibbs High product 3B coach Dave Anderson.
The Rangers are in the World Series for the first time; the last three teams to make their debuts — the Astros in 2005, the Rockies in 2007 and the Rays in 2008 — all lost in four or five games. … The Giants are in the Series for the 18th time, and fourth since moving West in 1958. But they haven't won since 1954, the third-longest drought behind the Cubs (since 1908) and the Indians (1948).
Predictions | John Romano: Giants in 6 | Marc Topkin: Rangers in 6