Best Baseball Series - 2003
A's vs. Minnesota, May 20-22
Oakland and Minnesota met in last year's Division Series, which offered a playoff between perennial underdogs. The Twins won by a run in the decisive fifth game; the A's went home embarrassed. They'll want revenge now, so a good rivalry brews in baseball's bargain basement.
A's vs. Giants, June 20-22; Giants vs. A's, June 27-29
Purists hate interleague play, but there's nothing like a good cross-town series during that hot, mid-summer slog through the schedule. It helps that the teams are so different. The Giants rely on a star, the A's on statistics. The Giants can sell out Pac Bell with a good promotion; the A's can't draw 20,000 fans on $2 Wednesdays. Which team you root for here isn't merely a matter of geography; it's a matter of principle.
Giants vs. Los Angeles, June 23-25
The Giants host the Dodgers for three games between the two bookends of the A's series (and just a week after a visit to L.A.). From June 17 to June 29, in fact, the Giants play only regional rivals, which means we should expect 12 good ball games and a million jokes about merlot-sipping San Franciscans.
A's vs. Seattle/Anaheim, July 1-6
In the span of a week, the A's get two three-game series against the stiffest competition in their division: a big rival in the Mariners (July 1-3), and a world champion in the Angels (July 4-6). It's a crucial stretch of the season, just days before the All-Star Break, in front of holiday crowds. Expect fireworks.
Giants vs. Arizona, Sept. 5-7
The Diamondbacks got off to a slow start, but don't be surprised if they're neck-and-neck with the Giants by September. It'll be a race between two creaky old ball clubs, with stars on both teams in the winter of their careers. But rest assured -- in a late-season matchup like this, they'll try to knock the dentures out of each other.