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World Series


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The season ends with a mighty roar just a half stride before the gathering storm. November beckons. It is time -- maybe overdue -- to put the baseball season to rest. They were shivering in the seats as the Detroit Tigers vainly expired.

Not that the San Francisco Giants were unworthy. Baseball generations down the road may well marvel at what they did with so much casual elan.

To survive against the Reds, the Giants had to win three straight with their backs to the veritable wall and they did it. To survive against the Cards, the Giants had to again win three straight with no margin for error and they did it. It was thereby no surprise that the Tigers submitted so meekly before them, acquiescing to the inevitable. That of course would be the very same Detroit Tigers who had so smartly humiliated the lordly Yankees just 10 day earlier.

You ask, who could have programmed this illogical scenario? The glory of this wonderful game is that sometimes it makes absolutely no sense.

We scorned the Yankees for their pathetic performance against the Tigers. Recall how inept their core sluggers at the heart of their bloated lineup -- Brothers Cano, A-Rod, Granderson, Chavez, and Martin -- were made to look as they went 4 for 58 while bowing in four straight. You may also recall how the Tigers were guffawing about all that. Then, against the Giants, Detroit's mighty Bash Brothers -- Messrs. Cabrera and Fielder -- went a sorrowful 4 for 26 and the Tigers too were over and out, in four straight.

Give the Giants the credit they deserve. It was a most impressive performance and it verified the notion, developing among the game's better students, that their manager, the quiet and totally unassuming Bruce Bochy, now ranks as the best in the business. Which ought to take as little as possible away from his defeated foe, the estimable Jim Leyland of the Tigers. Let's just say he's second best.

It wasn't a bad World Series; just too swift, one-sided, and lacking in ultimate drama. Maybe way back in the good old days of 1914 when the ''Miracle'' Boston Braves vanquished Connie Mack's almighty Philadelphia Athletics in four straight, a bloody "sweep" was considered a thing of beauty. Nowadays it's generally regarded as a bit of a bore.

Whatever, we can be thankful that it's over ending mere minutes before the descent of winter gales brings half the Republic to its knees. As the last out was being recorded in Detroit, the temperature was dipping into the thirties. No thanks!

Mercifully, it's over. So what grades do you give the entire 2012 season? Mixed at best, it says here.

Other small market franchises like the cost conscious Giants also fared well. The dramatic rise of the Orioles, A's, and Reds was immensely pleasing. The most stirring such tale was in Washington where the Nationals, drawing on the colorful legends of Joe Cronin and Goose Goslin and Heinie Manush, gave the Capital its sunniest summer since the otherwise unforgettably bleak season of 1933. The young Nats had baseball's best record until a sincere if misguided decision to shut down their meal-ticket, Stephen Strasburg, ended their fanciful run with a thud.

Necessarily, the rise of traditional weaklings means problems for traditional high-rolling, big-spending, large-market bullies and that the Great Unwashed Baseball Public always finds amusing. West of the Connecticut River there were very few tears shed for the disgraceful season the Red Sox conjured. The Phillies, Angels, Dodgers, and Mets were other big-market big-footers that failed notably. Then the Rangers and Braves expired meekly in the first round and the Yankees soon followed with huge embarrassment. It was not a good year for baseball's purveyors of conspicuous excess.

Otherwise, business was good, although not great. MLB attendance remained strong despite the on-going sluggishness of the economy. But TV ratings especially at the almighty network level continue to tumble, reaching historic lows in the World Series. It's still more troubling evidence that baseball's connection with the vast middle ground of the casual sports consumers -- those not wedded to a team or cause but mainly just seeking entertainment -- continues to slip sharply. This is the audience pro-football owns. Baseball has feature events that don't much out-draw hockey on the tube. This should worry the baseball moguls. Already fretting are the TV network moguls chagrined that commercial revenues aren't rising in step with broadcasting rights-fees.

Various controversies spawned by the contrivances of the Bud Selig era that remain unresolved will command more attention on the off-season agenda. Leading that list should be the profoundly dumb idea that hands precious home-field advantage in the World Series to the league that wins the trivial and otherwise pointless all-star game. It's more and more under fire and deservedly so because it's an awful way to do business. Most importantly, it totally fails to appreciate how important that edge is with its guarantee that the first two and (if necessary) last two games will be played on the field of the team that enjoys ''the home field.''

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