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More Fun Than a Barrel of Pandas

In Annie Hall, Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall (Diane Keaton) are asked — on a split screen, by their respective therapists — to describe the frequency of their, shall we say, adult interactions with one another.

“Hardly ever,” says Alvy. “Maybe three times a week.”

“Constantly,” says Annie. “I’d say three times a week.”

In that vein, I could imagine somebody else taking in the second game of the 2012 World Series and labeling it “boring — there were only two runs scored the whole night,” while I would avow at the exact same instant that it was “fantastic — only two runs scored the whole night!”

A lack of offense is by no means a guarantee of fun, not even when filtered through one’s old-school, purist, National League instincts, but if a game ever benefited from a lack of what others might call “action,” Game Two was it [1]. The Giants scored twice, but not until the seventh and without the benefit of a run-scoring hit. The Tigers didn’t score at all. And that’s…fun?

Totally! Are you kidding? Of course it’s fun! A single, a walk, a bunt hit…and a DP grounder! That’s all the Giants needed to take a seventh-inning lead. And then in the eighth: a walk, a strikeout, a steal, an intentional walk, an unintentional walk and a fly ball. Bam — insurance!

John McGraw would have been tickled. I know I was.

Nothing wrong with one player hitting three home runs in one game, as Pablo Sandoval did in Game One [2], but slugfests (especially one-sided slugfests) are their most effective when they fall out of the sky. I remember the offensive onslaughts of the latter 1990s. The more common they became, the number I grew. But a game so close that Prince Fielder, who it turns out does not move well for a big man, is sent from first to home — or almost home — on a second-inning double with nobody out because who knows when another Tiger will have another chance?

That’s real entertainment. That’s defense to go with pitching, of which there was plenty between Madison Bumgarner and Doug Fister. Bumgarner gave up only two hits in seven innings while striking out eight. But Fister — four hits in six innings — kept pitching despite taking a ball off the head, for crissake. So I’d call that a pitching duel.

Maybe the Tigers are just cold. Maybe they’ll heat up in Detroit. That would be fine. My N.L. roots are showing and I find myself leaning San Francisco’s way, but I’m willing to risk Giant fans’ happiness in quest of a World Series that goes as long as possible. We had one blowout that was moderately enjoyable if just for the novelty of the Panda going so deep so often and all the joy Phone Company Park radiates when things are going extremely well for the home team. But then we had Bumgarner and Fister starring, and the hitters scuffling to make something happen, and the result was tense beauty — or perhaps beautiful tension.

The remaining games don’t all have to unfold as mysteriously and gorgeously like Game Two, but I tell ya, it’s not a bad blueprint.