The average Joe watches the World Series with his buddy on one side and a cold beverage and potato chips on the other. He yells and screams when his favorite team hits a home run or moans in disgust when the shortstop makes an error.
For him, the Fall Classic is one of the greatest events of all time. Every pitch could be history, every player a possible Hall of Famer.But, to the guys who are involved with the game, a night of World Series viewing is like going to the office.
Managers and coaches see it as a time to check out the baseball strategies of others. For the players and former players, it's often a bittersweet event, reflecting on what could have been.
While not as impressive TV-ratings-wise as the Super Bowl, the World Series attracts a large number of devoted viewers. Each year, about 70 million tune in to the baseball finals, according to statistics from NBC Sports and ABC Sports, which alternate telecasting the best-of-seven series.
ABC Sports officials, who are telecasting this year's event, expect those same numbers when the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants meet this week, said Mark Mandel, a spokesman for ABC Sports in New York.
"That's a lot of people watching," he said.
Tommy Lasorda will be one of those viewers. When he is not in the World Series, the skipper for the Los Angeles Dodgers watches his colleagues battle it out on the big-screen television in his den, according to his wife, Jo.
"We don't sit down and watch every minute, but we watch as much as we can," she said.
Although a friend or two might drop by to see the games, the Lasordas usually watch alone.
"We don't make a big thing about it," she said.
Instead of the fat, caloric sandwich he used to gobble down while watching the series, the 62-year-old baseball manager this year will munch on bowls of raw vegetables and fruit.
Since March, the once plump and pasta-loving Lasorda has lost about 32 pounds in a well-publicized diet.
"He won't nibble on anything else," Jo Lasorda said.
Ernie Banks, the former Chicago Cubs shortstop who never got to play in a World Series, feasts not only on sandwiches but pizza, as well.
The 58-year-old said he gets together with friends - most of whom are Cubs fans. The atmosphere is much like it would be at the ballpark, he said.
"They scream, yell and cheer," said the man who is known as Mr. Cub. "We have popcorn, hot dogs, the works."
During the series, the faithful Banks wears a Cubs T-shirt and shorts.
As a Cub from 1953 to 1972, his team never even won a pennant, yet he still feels a close association with the World Series.
"I feel how the players feel," he said. "When they drop a ball, I feel the humiliation. When they hit a home run, I feel the exhilaration."
His favorite World Series, he said, was the 1975 doozy between the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds won the series 4-3.
"The series kept going back and forth and back and forth," said Banks, who watched the game with his family at home. "It was played the way a World Series should be played."
This year, things will be a little different. Banks has a new restaurant, and he said he plans to watch the game there, sipping a mai tai.
"The World Series is important to me," Banks said. "The whole flavor of the Fall Classic is that it brings people together and it makes them happy even though they can't be there.
"It's a big part of our lives, and it takes us away from our daily routine."
His prediction for the showdown: a tossup.
"I'm pulling for a good World Series since my Cubs lost," he said.
The majority of baseball professionals contacted by the Daily News said they don't make an issue of the Fall Classic. They usually watch it alone or with their families.
And no elaborate dinners or snacks are concocted. The fare is usually potato chips, soft drinks and peanuts. But most do have a preferred attire and seat while keeping an eye on the big game.
George "Sparky" Anderson, manager of the Detroit Tigers, said he sits in his favorite black Lazy Boy and wears his favorite garment of the off-season - a running suit. "That's all I ever wear," he said.
Anderson usually watches the games with his wife, Carol. He drinks whatever is on hand, and he "messes around with chips and dip," he said.
Anderson said he considers the World Series the greatest event in the world, but can't get too enthusiastic about the game when he's not involved.
"I've been to five World Series, and I know what it's all like," said the 55-year-old, who is the only manager to ever win the title in both the National and American leagues. "I know what's going on all the time."
As for this year's Battle by the Bay, Anderson would like both teams to win.
"I'm close to both (team managers) Tony (LaRussa) and Roger (Craig)," he said. "I'd say it could go either way."
Cecil Cooper said he would have preferred to see the Toronto Blue Jays and the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, but the former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman still plans to watch the games anyway.
In his 14 years in baseball, which ended in 1984, Cooper played in two World Series. He lost in 1975 with the Boston Red Sox and again in 1982 with the Brewers.
"I still get a thrill watching the game," said Cooper, who now works for Coordinated Sports, a public-relations firm in Chicago. "I remember what it was like. It was not so much the playing that was exciting, but before the game when they'd announce the players. I loved the build-up to it."
When it's game time, Cooper has a ritual. First up - comfortable shorts, preferably blue. Next on the roster is his old Baltimore Colts T-shirt. Cleaning up is a long pair of sweat socks.
The field is the Cooper den. The equipment is a bottle of pop, lightly salted peanuts and the remote control, so he can zap around during commercial breaks.
"I like to watch it alone," said the 39-year-old resident of Katy, Texas.
"I'm real critical when I watch it. I examine every throw, hit and pitch. It's just the way I am."
Surprisingly, not everyone associated with baseball watches the World Series. Many players, tired of a long season, say they prefer outings with their families or doing work on the house. Others figure if they're not in it, they're not interested.
Former Dodger pitcher Don Drysdale said he would rather play golf.
"If I'm at home, I'd rather be in the pool or doing something else," said the 53-year-old who lives in Pasadena, Calif. "I've never been one to watch people bathe in their glory. Because that's what people do when they play in the World Series."
Drysdale, who played for the Dodgers from 1956 to 1969, said the game today isn't as important to him as it was back then.
"I don't have any ties to those kids who are playing now," he said.
During his career, Drysdale participated in five World Series, three of which he and his teammates won. His biggest thrill, he said, was playing in the 1956 game against the New York Yankees.
"We were still the Brooklyn Dodgers, and it seemed like the whole world was watching. It was my first World Series. President (Dwight D.) Eisenhower was there. And that was like icing on the cake."
California Angels pitcher Bert Blyleven says the only way he'll see the World Series is if it's on a slot machine.
"I'm going to Las Vegas," he said. "I'm on vacation."
For Dodger utility man Mickey Hatcher, baseball is out of sight, out of mind.
"My off-season is my off-season," Hatcher said. "I'd rather be fishing than watching baseball. It's my time to be with my family."
Although he said he probably won't be watching the big event this next week, the 34-year-old who makes his home in Apache Junction, Ariz., still feels a twinge of regret that his team didn't repeat as champions. In case anyone's been locked in a cave, the Dodgers upset the favored Athletics in last year's World Series.
"It's what you play all year for," said Hatcher, who was instrumental in his team's championship. "That's why I don't watch it. Then it starts making me thinking, `Gosh, I wish I was there."'