In modern baseball history, two of the most celebrated franchises best for known having "long-suffering" fans have been the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs.
The BoSox of course, ended their long, long, status as losers when they miraculously defeated the New York Yankees after being down 3-0 in the American League Championship status in 2004, and then swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win it all. For good measure, the Red Sox captured a 2nd championship in 2007, and are now considered one of the elite teams in the game.
The Chicago Cubs have not won anything in over a century, and indisputably now possess the rank of having put their fans through the longest wait for a championship, at over a 100 years now.
But as was documented in Ken Burns' recent PBS epic on the last two decades, the next biggest franchise whose fans have had to wait forever for a championship are the San Francisco Giants, who since moving from New York in 1958 have only played in three World Series (1962, 1989, 2002), but are now headed to their 4th such series beginning this Wednesday night, after thrillingly holding on to defeating a much more impressive Philadelphia Phillies team on Saturday night, taking the series 3 games to 2.
They will now take on a franchise that has never made it to the big dance in the Texas Rangers, who play in suburban Dallas and were formed in 1972, after they left Washington D.C. and were known as the Washington Senators. With the hottest post-season pitcher going in Cliff Lee, as well as possibly MVP Josh Hamilton, the Rangers would probably be the smart pick, especially in getting through Tampa Bay and New York, the two teams with the best records in the American League.
In case you weren't aware, yours truly is a San Francisco native and began attending Giants games at Candlestick Park in 1971, when the team won the National League West - and didn't make it to the playoffs for 16 more years (longer than the Tampa Bay Rays have been in existence).
And what about the Rays? Throughout the post season, via Twitter, I've heard the frustration of many Rays fans, embittered that Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff, two key offensive contributors to the Giants in 2010, didn't produce in St. Petersburg.
No question that Burrell was a classic bust - it doesn't help that the Rays have been paying most of his salary this season. But Aubrey Huff? He was a solid Devil Ray for many years - many losing seasons, by the way, in which sometimes he was one of their most productive hitters. I'm not sure if he deserves any hatred.
In any event, a Giants-Rangers World Series was predicted by basically nobody who professes to be an expert three weeks ago, which makes it all the more exciting. And by the way, what's with people giving a damn that this won't be good for Fox Sports TV ratings? Unless you're a shareholder with the News Corp. Fox's parent, why would anyone worry about that?
No doubt a Texas-Giants series will be lower rated than if it involved the country's 1st and 4th biggest media markets - but Dallas is 5th, and SF 6th. The ratings for baseball in October still pale next to the NFL, a trend that began thirty years ago and shows no signs of abating.
Politically this is now a battle between the home of Nancy Pelosi and George W. Bush. The former President of course formerly owned a part of the Rangers, and in the post-season he's been sitting prominently in the front row next to Rangers President Nolan Ryan. Madam Speaker (for at least another week) was at the first game of the Division Series between the Giants and the Braves.
This brings back memories of the early 1990's, when the 49ers and Dallas Cowboys had their epic rivalry. One hopes the discourse between the fans from both cities might be escalated from that era, but one shouldn't count on it (at one time the biggest local sports talk stations did a simulcast - that led to all types of Texas conservatives calling in and making crude homophobic jokes, while San Franciscans took the bait and pushed some remarks about inbreeding to their Texas brethren).
Okay, enough about baseball. How about that St. Pete Times Forum? Talk about an embarrassment, what was up with that debacle on Friday night, when the Orlando Magic were scheduled to host their annual pre-season game in Tampa, this time against one of the most anticipated basketball clubs ever, the 2010-2011 Miami Heat, led by LeBron James.