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Best Baseball Series 

Grab the cabernet, Giants fans. Don't forget your calculators and 20-sided dice, A's fans. Here are a few can't-miss matchups on both sides of the bay.

A's vs. Toronto, June 3-6

Toronto General Manager J.P. Ricciardi was the first of the Billy Beane disciples to take over another team's front office, and he has done so in dramatic fashion, slashing payroll and purging more than half of his full-time scouting staff. Now, having built a competitive, bargain-basement team on the model of the A's, Ricciardi might be poised to overtake his old boss.

A's vs. Giants, June 25-27/Giants vs. A's, July 2-4

The differences between these two clubs have never been more pronounced. One team tried to balance the loss of its MVP shortstop with several quiet, inexpensive moves; the other stood pat in the off-season, apparently content to bat the most feared slugger in baseball in front of a .250 hitter. The poor vs. the idle rich -- class warfare, over the July Fourth weekend no less.

A's vs. Anaheim, June 29-July 1

This off-season, Angels owner Arturo Moreno cherry-picked the free-agent market when the Yankees weren't looking and signed right fielder Vladimir Guerrero and pitcher Bartolo Colon, turning Anaheim into arguably the best team in the AL West. If the division race is as tight as expected, this could become one of baseball's great rivalries: Moreno's checkbook vs. Beane's computer.

Giants vs. Chicago Cubs, Aug. 6-8

Your chance to watch a legitimate World Series contender.

A's vs. Boston, Sept. 6-8

Remember the last time these two played in Oakland? Game 5 of the ALDS: bottom of the ninth, Sox up 4-3, two outs, bases full of A's, Coliseum full of noise -- and a statue named Terrence Long watching strike three float over the inside corner of the plate. Need we say more?

Giants vs. San Diego, Sept. 17-19

The Padres, NL West doormats in 2003, added one of the league's best hitters in outfielder Brian Giles late last season, then brought in a veteran pitcher (David Wells) and an All-Star catcher (Ramon Hernandez), turning themselves into the last thing the Giants need: another division rival.

Giants vs. Los Angeles, Sept. 24-26

Under new General Manager Paul DePodesta, yet another Billy Beane protégé, the Dodgers are sure to be competitive by the second half of the season, by which point the Giants' entire pitching staff could be on the disabled list and their best player under indictment.


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