WORLD SERIES STAGES A GIANT ROYAL CHESTNUT
Cindy Sadler, ArtsBeat and Sports
In the world of baseball, the tried and true takes precedence over innovation, as witnessed on Tuesday night when the World Series once again presented one of the chestnuts of the game, the San Francisco Giants. This the the twentieth appearance of the Giants in the Series, which must represent some kind of record; but it's what the well-entrenched baseball establishment seems to want.
General Manager Brian Sabean chose to shake it up a little this time by adding the lesser-known Kansas City Royals to the mix (with only three appearances, the Royals are hardly standard fare), with mixed results. I won't be giving away any spoilers when I tell you that the Giants won, four games to three.
At the end of the regular baseball season, the three divisional winners and the wild-card team from both the National and American Leagues to into a playoff, each playing two series to determine who wins the pennant. Traditionally, the winners are awarded a pennant to fly over the stadium. The champions from each league then square off in the World Series.
In the initial round of playoffs, aka the Divisional Series, the teams take turns performing at each others' venues for the best of five games. The second round, or Championship Series, continues in the same vein for best of seven. In both series, the higher-ranked team gets the home field advantage.
These playoffs climax with the World Series, in which the champions from each league play best of seven games with rules alternating between American and National Leagues, depending on which ballpark they are in.
The Royals had home team advantage in four out of sevcn games and offered a valiant effort, but alas, they were overpowered by the more experienced Giants.
The leagues cleverly snagged opera star Joyce DiDonato to lend some class and draw attention the proceedings. Miss DiDonato's warm, liquid mezzo-soprano opened Game Seven with a riveting rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. Clad in chic kinee-high boots, black leggings, and a sporty jacket, Miss DiDonato delivered the highlight of the evening with her trademark charm.
The conflict between the two teams was nicely echoed in the clashing colors of the uniforms. The Giants' orange, black, and white foreshadowed their aggression towards the more stately, serene Royals in blue and white. The Kauffman Stadium lighting lit the area handsomely; but was less effective in the ladies' room, where the dimness of the florescent bulbs resulted in some garish makeup repairs which were, however, only minorly distracting from the game. Lou Seal, the Giants' mascot, cavorted effectively to draw response from the crowd, while the Royals' Sluggerrr mugged amusingly.
Bruce Bochy barked authoratatively at his players, spurring them to some of the best work we've seen from the Giants in some time, while Royals manager Ned Yost seemed off his form, resorting to shoulder rubs and aromatherapy instead of the traditional screaming.
As the starring pitchers, Madison Baumgartner and James Shield were both in good arm, whizzing balls over the plate with aplomb. The supporting players hit, caught, and ran bases with energy.
Baseball's World Series, October 21-29 2014, on Fox Television and ESPN Radio.