World Series Begins Wednesday With Unlikely Foes: Rangers vs. Giants

From 1901 to 1960, major league baseball consisted of 16 franchises, two leagues' worth of eight teams each. And starting in 1903, these leagues sent their champions to play in the World Series (except 1904, when the New York Giants' John McGraw refused to play AL champion Boston).

And except for some franchise movement which began in the 1950's, this structure did not change for almost 60 years.

One of the franchises that moved was those Giants, who moved to San Francisco in 1958. They have been in the World Series three times since then, but have not won since four years before their move. In one of those World Series (1962), a line drive hit by Willie McCovey was speared with two out in the bottom of the ninth of Game Seven with the tying and winning runs on base. If that ball goes two feet the other way, or higher, the Giants would have won that Series instead of lost. They had another World Series interrupted by the 1989 earthquake -- getting swept around either side of a 10-day delay -- and lost a third in 2002 after being six outs from winning.

In 1961, baseball expanded; that 60-year-old structure changed. One of those franchises went to Washington, DC, replacing the Senators who moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. That replacement franchise wound up moving, too, to Texas in 1972, becoming what we now know as the Rangers. And for most of its history it's been a pretty bad team; in their 50 seasons they have had only 19 winning seasons, have lost 100+ games six times and never won a playoff series until this year.

And those are your World Series teams for this year. Good stuff, actually, and last night's game was outstanding; the Phillies almost pulled it off, but the Giants' pitching, in the end, was too much for them. Perhaps the drought of a certain other team will be the next one to end.

After the jump, what I've learned about insurance companies from their relentless television commercials during the league championship series.

It's hard to tune out the insurance company commercials during the postseason telecasts because they appear in virtually every break. No wonder the breaks are so long; last night's game ran 3:41, which seems about par for the course in recent postseasons. It's not the worry about replay review "delays" that slows the pace down, Bud; it's the endless parade of commercials.

No fewer than five insurance companies ran advertising during last night's game. Here are the lessons I learned from them:

GEICO: If you buy insurance from this company, you will be annoyed to death, either from an animatronic pig yelling, "Wee, wee, wee" all the way home, or by a lizard with a ridiculous British accent who can carry a wallet and a cellphone even though he's only about four inches tall.

Travelers: Lovely shots of animals "getting along" in the rainforest splashing and playing. This is somehow supposed to make the world less scary. (And I have that dumb song as an earworm and I cannot get it to stop.)

State Farm: If you're in your 20s, you can sit in a messy apartment and snap your fingers, and pretty women (one of whom is an insurance agent) and hot tubs will magically appear.

Progressive: For this company, you have to go to a store to buy your insurance. Wear sunglasses, because everything is in white and it's very brightly lit and an impossibly perky woman with weird hair will sell you whatever you want.

Liberty Mutual: If you get into an accident and total your car by hitting an animal on a lonely rural highway, not only will the animal walk away completely uninjured, but you can magically pull a 5,000-pound replacement car out of your trunk, by yourself.

Conclusion: insurance companies are insane. Enjoy the World Series.

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