The two best teams, the two hottest teams, and the two freshest and most interesting teams in baseball have made it to the World Series. That does not often happen.

The thread connecting the Baltimore Orioles and the Pittsburgh Pirates is toughness. Like their towns, these clubs loathe gold bricks or malingerers.

The Birds, who have plenty of hard noses, nevertheless tend toward mental toughness -- an indefatigable, analytical sort of studiousness that infuriates teams that cannot fathom the Orioles' subtlety nor understand why they win.

he Bucs, who got a brain transfusion this season when Tim Foli and Bill Madlock arrived, still depend on a strong vein of intimidation in their play. The Pittsburgh metier is the humiliating whuppin', as Montreal and Cincinnati discovered in the last two weeks.

The Pirates are classic athletic bullies -- in a valid sense -- who will prance 'n preen, jive talk and woof, until foes think the bland-and-gold shirts they are playing should have "Steelers" written on them, not "Pirates."

That is why the '79 Series should have a special quality of tenacity, even pugnacity. No faint hearts here, no politeness, no choking. If you want to see your heart carved out by baseball spikes, just take a nap while making the double-play pivot against these guys.

Though these clubs have the two highest regular-season win totals in baseball (Baltimore 102, Pittsburgh 98) -- the first time that has happened since the '71 Series between the same franchises -- that does not mean this affair is a tossup. Several significant advantages -- some of them easy to miss -- go to Baltimore.

The Ace of Staff, the kingpin pitcher who gets to start the first, fourth and perhaps seventh game of a Series, is inordinantly important in October baseball.

That role for Baltimore falls to Mike Flanagan (23-9) who, since he developed a long-sought change up in midseason, has been, without question, the best pitcher in baseball. No one can approach his stats in his last 20 starts.

In addition, the Bucs have a conspicuous weakness against southpaws who have an edge when facing Omar Moreno, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, John Milner and Ed Ott. Flanagan and fellow-lefty Scott McGregor, the O's two most effective pitchers since the All-Star break, would start five of seven games in a full Series, with unflappable Jim Palmer working the other two.

Behind them, the O's would have the most incredible trio of "long relief men" imaginable in Dennis Martinez, who led the AL in innings, Steve Stone, another hot second-half pitcher, and rookie Sammy Stewart.

The secret in the bullpen is south-paw Tippy Martinez, who finally has given Baltimore arm-balance with Don Stanhouse in the bullpen.

It is not so much the undeniable greatness of the Baltimore staff that casts its shadow over this Series, as the almost eerie way that the Orioles' hurling strength seems to match the Pirates' hitting weaknesses.

If the Bucs have a typically strong-hitting performance against Baltimore, it will mean that all baseball stats should be burned in a huge pyre in the Memorial Stadium parking lot at the conclusion of the Series.

Redoubtable as the Pirates are -- a true .600 team with power, speed and a superb bullpen -- the Orioles are capable not only of beating them, but of doing it in such swift and conclusive order that the baseball world may have to gasp and reevaluate this Baltimore outfit.

Pitching exaggerates everything, and in this Series it may exaggerate the rather slim overall advantage that the Orioles hold.

Certainly the Pittsburgh starting staff is as worrisome to the Bucs as Baltimore's is reassuring to the O's.

Nonetheless, there are mitigating factors for the Pirates. John Candelaria, a 6-foot-7 14-game winner, had a poor, some say wishy-washy, September. Theoretically, he is no match for Flanagan. Yet Candelaria's off-speed junk from a deceptive windup is exactly the sort of nonstuff that drives Oriole hitters craziest.

Also, another less-than-brilliant Buc pitcher, Bruce Kison, who has been named to start the opener, has a spectacular record in cool weather when the middle-finger blister which has bedeviled him his entire career is less a bother. Kison's career September record is 23-6 and his postseason ERA is under 1.00.

Kison, like Pirate master reliever Kent Tekulve, is a sidearm slinger, and the O's don't particularly like them, either. Classic overhand fast-ballers, like California's Nolan Ryan, are easier pickings for the Birds than exotic deliveries of slap.

until foes think the bland-and-gold shirts they are playing should have "Steelers" written on them, not "Pirates."

That is why the '79 Series should have a special quality of tenacity, even pugnacity. No faint hearts here, no politeness, no choking. If you want to see your heart carved out by baseball spikes, just take a nap while making the double-play pivot against these guys.

Though these clubs have the two highest regular-season win totals in baseball (Baltimore 102, Pittsburgh 98) -- the first time that has happened since the '71 Series between the same franchises -- that does not mean this affair is a tossup. Several significant advantages -- some of them easy to miss -- go to Baltimore.

The Ace of Staff, the kingpin pitcher who gets to start the first, fourth and perhaps seventh game of a Series, is inordinantly important in October baseball.

That role for Baltimore falls to Mike Flanagan (23-9) who, since he developed a long-sought change up in midseason, has been, without question, the best pitcher in baseball. No one can approach his stats in his last 20 starts.

In addition, the Bucs have a conspicuous weakness against southpaws who have an edge when facing Omar Moreno, Dave Parker, Willie Stargell, John Milner and Ed Ott. Flanagan and fellow-lefty Scott McGregor, the O's two most effective pitchers since the All-Star break, would start five of seven games in a full Series, with unflappable Jim Palmer working the other two.

Behind them, the O's would have the most incredible trio of "long relief men" imaginable in Dennis Martinez, who led the AL in innings, Steve Stone, another hot second-half pitcher, and rookie Sammy Stewart.

The secret in the bullpen is south-paw Tippy Martinez, who finally has given Baltimore arm-balance with Don Stanhouse in the bullpen.

It is not so much the undeniable greatness of the Baltimore staff that casts its shadow over this Series, as the almost eerie way that the Orioles' hurling strength seems to match the Pirates' hitting weaknesses.

If the Bucs have a typically strong-hitting performance against Baltimore, it will mean that all baseball stats should be burned in a huge pyre in the Memorial Stadium parking lot at the conclusion of the Series.

Redoubtable as the Pirates are -- a true .600 team with power, speed and a superb bullpen -- the Orioles are capable not only of beating them, but of doing it in such swift and conclusive order that the baseball world may have to gasp and reevaluate this Baltimore outfit.

Pitching exaggerates everything, and in this Series it may exaggerate the rather slim overall advantage that the Orioles hold.

Certainly the Pittsburgh starting staff is as worrisome to the Bucs as Baltimore's is reassuring to the O's.

Nonetheless, there are mitigating factors for the Pirates. John Candelaria, a 6-foot-7 14-game winner, had a poor, some say wishy-washy, September. Theoretically, he is no match for Flanagan. Yet Candelaria's off-speed junk from a deceptive windup is exactly the sort of nonstuff that drives Oriole hitters craziest.

Also, another less-than-brilliant Buc pitcher, Bruce Kison, who has been named to start the opener, has a spectacular record in cool weather when the middle-finger blister which has bedeviled him his entire career is less a bother. Kison's career September record is 23-6 and his postseason ERA is under 1.00.

Kison, like Pirate master reliever Kent Tekulve, is a sidearm slinger, and the O's don't particularly like them, either. Classic overhand fast-ballers, like California's Nolan Ryan, are easier pickings for the Birds than exotic deliveries of slap.

On the other hand, if Pittsburgh's Bert Blyleven does not get his ears pinned back against the O's, every Baltimorean will wonder why.

On these lionhearted nines, Blyleven is the man who sorely needs to prove his gumption. Blyleven's slithering curve -- called "Uncle Charlie" by players, as in "Hey, Bert, how's your Uncle Charlie" -- may be the best in the game. However, in a pinch, Blyleven's 10-year record says that he is the one who cries, "Uncle."

Pittsburgh Manager Chuck Tanner has a rule of thumb for Blyleven, which, though Tanner denies it, is borne out by two years of stats: Get Blyleven out of the game before he can lose it. That accounts for Blyleven's 12 wins this year, compared to a whopping 19 no-decisions.

It should be a Baltimore plus that the Orioles know both Blyleven and 250-pound Jim Bibby (recently effective) form American League days.

While there is no doubt about the O's fathomless pitching depth, one Pirate, if he stays effective, could give the Bucs a bullpen so deep that the vulnerability of Pittsburgh starters might be minimized with quick Tanner hooks.

That is huge 230-pound bear Don Robinson, who, like Candelaria, has had injuries all year. This guy is fierce and could be a standoff for Dennis Martinez in long relief.

The key to this Series is Pittsburgh pitching before the eighth inning. If the Bucs can stay even in the early going, then this Octoberfest could be a tingl