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The 10 most intriguing people in this World Series

Jeff Francoeur

Jeff Francoeur Credit: Getty Images

Did this last year, and I was very pleased with the feedback, which is to say that, to my knowledge, no one hated it. So let's do it again:

1. Josh Hamilton. If he wins World Series MVP, that pretty much clinches the movie deal, doesn't it? You wouldn't believe his story if you hadn't been following it from the beginning. Truly remarkable.

I understand that Joe Girardi alienated many fans with his five intentional walks of Hamilton in the ALCS, but I didn't blame Girardi too much for that one. We can't rip him for not "feeling the game" in failing to lift A.J. Burnett in time or going to David Robertson and then turn around and say he should've adhered to statistical wisdom with Hamilton. At least, I won't.

Now, Hamilton does fare considerably worse against lefty pitching, and the Giants have two lefty relievers they like in Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez. So we should see some good late-inning chess matches involving Hamilton.

2. Tim Lincecum.  The Freak! How could you not love a guy with that nickname? How could you not love watching him pitch? I don't know if I loved the Philadelphia cat calls, but it certainly added to his legend.

I still remember standing in the Giants' clubhouse in spring training of 2007, there to cover Barry Bonds' arrival, when a fellow reporter alerted me to the Giants' stud pitching prospect, who had yet to throw a pitch in the majors. "That guy?" I said. "He looks like a clubhouse attendant." He pitches much better than one, though.

3. Cliff Lee. He's putting himself in line to make the most money per season of any starting pitcher in baseball history. He has played for four teams in the past two years. He is 7-0 in eight career postseason starts. In high school, he was named All-State in two states.

Actually, that last one is a "Cliff Lee fact," being pushed by Texas' hilarious Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson on Twitter.

4. Ron Washington. In this age of managers representing "middle management," and being implored to utilize statistical analysis, Washington stands out as his own man. To see him smiling throughout the ALCS made his counterpart Joe Girardi look even more tense.

Can any of us understand what implored him to use cocaine last season? What also amazed, however, was that Washington's players immediately closed ranks around him, an impressive show of support. And now he's looking to add a World Series ring.

5. Nolan Ryan. It's not too often we get to see a Hall of Fame pitcher serve as a team owner, trying to bring one of his former teams its first World Series title. Don't know if his ceremonial first pitch for ALCS Game 1 was televised, but it was awesome. He further fired up an already passionate crowd by throwing a strike from the top of the mound.

Speaking of which, another fascinating component of Ryan is that all four of his former teams _ the Rangers, Astros, Angels and Mets, going in reverse order _ want to associate themselves with him as much as he'll allow them. I can't think of another player who gets that much reverence from that many teams. 

6. Vladimir Guerrero. He's pretty much at Cooperstown's doorstep, and he did it his way. I love talking to scouts about him, because they all say the same thing: "You can't plan for him, because you never know what pitches he'll chase and how far he'll manage to hit it," or something like that. He jumped from the Angels to their AL West rivals in Texas, and now he gets to play in his first World Series at age 35.

7. Buster Posey. the most important rookie in the Series (sorry, Neftali Feliz), he didn't get the call to the big leagues until May 29, as the Giants wanted to push back his arbitration calendar and get another season (2013) of cheap labor from him. He turned into, arguably, the Giants' most valuable everyday player for the duration of the season.

If you can sort of understand why nine teams passed on Lincecum in the 2006 amateur draft before the Giants popped him - after all, Lincecum is a "Freak" - then it's harder to comprehend why four teams didn't take Posey in the 2008 draft. The Rays had the first pick in that draft; they went with Tim Beckham. Tampa Bay doesn't make too many mistakes, and it's too late to write off Beckham altogether, but you have to think the Rays wish they had a do-over on that one.

8. Brian Wilson. Fear the Beard! Come on, how many of us would have the courage to go with that look? And he has backed it up with some great pitching. His pennant-winning strikeout of Ryan Howard won't soon be forgotten in Giants lore.

9. Cody Ross. The NLCS MVP serves not only as a symbol of small sample-size greatness, but also of dumb luck for general managers. Giants GM Brian Sabean put a waiver claim on Ross, then with Florida, mostly to block San Diego from getting him. The thrifty Marlins said, "Hey, let's save a few bucks!" and handed Ross over to the Giants, who weren't really looking for an outfielder.

The rest, as they say, is history. Let's see if Ross has any more history in him.

10. Jeff Francoeur. Ah, what the hell? Yes, he's a pretty bad baseball player. Yes, he's an awfully nice guy. No, he'll probably never again make close to the $5 million the Mets paid him this past season.

But there's something about Frenchy. It's partly the personality, but it's also what he represents: The old-school reliance on tools over actual results. And seeing who will next give him a shot. He's sure to be non-tendered by Texas, but it wouldn't surprise me if the Rangers then pursued him as a platoon outfielder. And you can count on the Royals - whose GM Dayton Moore knew Francoeur from their days together with the Braves _ to express interest, as well.

In the meantime, we thought it was Doctober, but that was a false alarm. A fleeting thought passed that this could be Farnswober...nope. So we're left with Frenchtober. Enjoy it while it lasts.

--Greetings from San Francisco! Today is World Series Media Day, which is like Super Bowl Media Day, only with a lot less foofery. 

From JFK Airport, I wrote my thoughts on how to "fix" the not-really-broken Yankees

--Josh Byrnes interviewed with the Mets yesterday, and Sandy Alderson will have his second go-round today, and we might very well see white smoke coming from Citi Field by the end of this week. It would be a surprise if Byrnes prevailed over Alderson, and again, the Mets have put themselves in a no-lose situation here.

--Live chat at 11:30 tomorrow. You don't have to be crazy to participate in one of our live chats, but it sure helps.

--I'll check in later from AT&T Park.


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