SAN FRANCISCO — Five years ago, the Patriots were on their way to an 18-0 record, the Ubuntu Celtics were in the early days of a championship season, Boston College’s football team was ranked second in the nation, John Farrell was Terry Francona’s first-year pitching coach . . . and the Red Sox were in the World Series against the Colorado Rockies.
Those were the days when you cared about the World Series. You couldn’t wait for Jonathan Papelbon to pull a 12-pack box over his head and do another Riverdance on the Fenway lawn.
Baseball mattered. The World Series mattered.
And now? It’s just a bunch of slow-pitch softballers from Detroit and San Francisco lurching toward November.
Bring on the Celtics. Bring the New York Jets back to Foxborough. Free the NHL.
Here in the Hub of the Universe, baseball is just so . . . five years ago.
Maybe you tried watching an LCS game last week and turned away when you saw a tarp on the field. Who has time for rain delays when the Red Sox are 3,000 miles and several light years removed from baseball’s championship event?
Give it a shot, I say. This 108th Fall Classic featuring the Giants and Tigers is a terrific matchup. Here are just a few of the thousands of reasons why you should watch this World Series.
■ The Kung Fu Panda. What is not to love about the Giants’ third baseman? Pablo Sandoval is baseball’s biggest loser and baseball’s biggest winner simultaneously. He must have the worst body of any athlete competing for a championship this year. He also has got the best nickname since Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd. Sandoval is Everyman, batting in the middle of the lineup for a team in the World Series.
■ Al Alburquerque. The Detroit reliever hacked off everybody in Oakland when he fielded the final out of a Division Series game and kissed the baseball before throwing it to first base.
■ Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro. Can’t you just hear Bob Lobel voicing over his highlights, saying, “Why can’t we get players like that?’’ Scutaro holds a special place in Red Sox lore. His baserunning blunder in Baltimore contributed to the final loss on the final night of the 2011 season. He flung his glove into the dugout when he came off the field as the Orioles celebrated at home plate. He was dumped during the offseason in a front office effort to avoid the luxury tax. He was also one of the Red Sox’ best players during the 7-20 collapse of 2011. Scutaro hit .387 (36 for 93) in his final month with the Red Sox. And now he is the MVP of the National League Championship Series (14 hits).
■ Tigers manager Jim Leyland wears spikes and smokes in his office. His wife is from Greater Boston and he has been known to complain about the cost of college tuition.
■ If you’ve tailgated on Commander Shea Field before a BC football game, you’ve stood in the spot where Buster Posey called pitches for Florida State against the Eagles in a three-game ACC baseball series in 2008.
■ Detroit’s Game 4 starter, Max Scherzer, has one blue eye and one red eye.
■ The Giants have won six consecutive elimination games, but Monday’s 9-0 win over the Cardinals was the franchise’s first Game 7 win in a best-of-seven series. When the Giants won their only World Series since moving to San Francisco (2010), their MVP was Cody Ross.
■ The Tigers haven’t played a game since last Thursday. Bet they worked on PFP (pitchers fielding practice). Detroit pitchers made five errors in their five-game World Series loss to the Cardinals in 2006.
■ Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti pitched a no-hitter against the Red Sox on the Fourth of July in Yankee Stadium in 1983. Wade Boggs struck out for the final out.
■ You can root for an angel in the outfield. San Francisco’s starting center fielder is Angel Pagan.
■ There is a Polo Grounds Pub and Grill across the street from AT & T Park (which some of us still call “Pac Bell”).
■ The Tigers’ home tuxedo whites (you won’t see them until Saturday night) are the best uniforms in baseball.
■ You might hear something amazing come out of the mouth of Fox analyst Tim McCarver, who picked up a partial World Series share when he enjoyed a short stint with the Red Sox in 1975. In Game 7 Monday night, the Giants executed a perfect hit-and-run play (with Scutaro batting, of course) exactly two seconds after McCarver said, “This situation screams hit-and-run.’’
■ Maybe we’ll get another memorable national anthem from Jose Feliciano. Jose offended just about everyone with his offbeat version at the 1968 World Series in Detroit, and managed to get in a rip at the Red Sox (“Boston royally screwed up this year”) when he performed before a Giants-Cardinals game last week.
■ In the Globe’s annual baseball preview section, I picked the Giants and Tigers to make it to the World Series. Too bad I was wrong with my Red Sox prediction. I had the Sox coming home in fourth place in the American League East. That’ll teach me not to get caught up in all the optimism of Opening Day. Never again.Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.