World Series pits deers v beards

Texas Rangers and San Fran Giants bring unique customs to Fall Classic betwen Major League Baseball's major underdogs.

    Ready for a face-off: San Francisco's Brian 'Fear the Beard' Wilson is a fans' favourite [GALLO/GETTY]

    Ticket touts are looking for as much as $6,000 for a seat at the World Series seats as two sides looking for their first titles prepare for the best-of-seven Fall Classic.

    Major League Baseball's Championship showdown sees the San Francisco Giants take on Texas Rangers after the underdog sides dispatched the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees respectively in the playoffs.

    While the Giants have won the World Series as a franchise, that was in 1954 when they were still the New York Giants.

    They headed west four years later.

    The Rangers meanwhile are in their first World Series in their half-century history.

    So whatever happens from Wednesday night on, the Commissioner's Trophy will have a new set of hands on it by the end of the last game.

    "You dream to be in this position," Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

    "This is what it's all about. It just means everything to me and to my players. They play with a deep feeling of passion."

    Rangers claw

    The 106th edition of the final matches two clubs who have excited supporters thanks to some unique customs such as the Rangers' claw-and-antlers motions and San Francisco's long-haired and bearded star pitchers.

    World Series 2010

    Wednesday October 27
     Game 1: Giants v Rangers
    Thursday October 28
     Game 2: Giants v Rangers
    Saturday October 30
     Game 3: Rangers v Giants
    Sunday October 31
     Game 4: Rangers v Giants
    Monday November 1
     Game 5: Rangers v Giants
    Wednesday November 3
     Game 6: Giants v Rangers
    Thursday November 4
     Game 7: Giants v Rangers

    Best-of-seven series can be won from Game 4 onwards

    The Rangers invented the claw motion with their hands as a quiet way of firing up teammates from the bench - a long-distance version of a high-five.

    For plays involving extra effort and hustle, Rangers put their hands alongside their heads to mimic antlers, symbolic of running like a deer.

    Texas slugger Josh Hamilton took the idea to heart, mounting a deer head over his locker.

    Hamilton's fightback from alcohol and drug problems is why the Rangers celebrated reaching the World Series with plastic bottles of ginger ale rather than traditional champagne, a locker room alternative likely to be repeated if they win the World Series.

    The Giants counter with "Fear the Beard", a motto stemming from closing relief pitcher Brian Wilson's trademark dark facial hair.

    "Blackbeard" is not the only hairy hurler San Francisco offer.

    Game one starter Tim Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner as top pitcher in his first playoff run, has long locks that inspire many fans to wear wigs.

    "It's a really good atmosphere, a lot of people kind of embracing me. I'm having fun with it," Lincecum said.

    "You see all the Brian Wilson 'Fear the Beard' shirts and things. Just something for them to play on and have fun with.

    "It gets them involved and I feel like they're part of the team."

    'Castoffs and misfits'

    A Giants club that manager Bruce Bochy calls "castoffs and misfits" has gone 28-24 in one-run decisions this year and did not clinch a playoff berth until the final day of the six-month season.

    But with solid pitching, the Giants have been able to win tight games when it matters most, often in dramatic nail-biting fashion.

    "The way we play, they call it 'Giants baseball-torture,'" Bochy said.

    "It is experience we are able to draw upon."

    Security has been tightened for the World Series, with plans to limit the number of kayaks and boats allowed in McCovey Cove, the area beyond the rightfield stands of AT&T Park in San Francisco where some home run balls have met a watery fate.

    No matter which team wins the crown, Texas catcher Bengie Molina figures to receive a World Series ring and winner's share of prize money.

    Molina played three-and-a-half seasons for the Giants until he was traded to the Rangers on July 1 and will be only the second player to face a team in the World Series for which he played earlier that season, the first since Lonnie Smith helped Kansas City defeat St Louis in 1985.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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