Monday, October 8, 2012

Giants Playoffs (2012)

The Giants has a tremendous season--as Los Angeles Dodgers new mega-$$$ owners were loading up with 200+ million worth of free agents, Brian Sabian and the Giants made just enough key moves to surprise everyone and run away easily from the Dodgers.  Would be the best story in baseball except for the A's, who have a habit of upstaging the Giants***, coming out of nowhere with a team of rookies to stay ahead of Anaheim and catch Texas the last day of the season.   Can see Nolan Ryan's scowling face right now.

Hard not to like this fun loving A's team--kinda like the Giants of 2010.    So its really great that Both Bay Area teams made the playoffs--until the 15th time someone suggests another earthquake if there is a Bay Bridge World Series.   But I hoped for an all Bay Area, or all orange and black (vs. Orioles) World Series.

In 2010 I was pimping the underdog Giants chances to win it all to my scoffing East Coast friends.  This year they have a faster team, a deeper lineup and Buster Posey as MVP of the league,.  With all this I didn't like their chances. 

2010   SF Giants ERA 3.36 (1st)    K 1331 (1st)
2012                   ERA 3.68 (6th)    K 1237 (7th)

They no longer had the best starter in baseball followed by two killer starters in their own right.    This year they had one very good starter and then everyone spent some time being horrid.  No guarantee of a 10 strikeout game almost very night.  Barry Zito went from being the best (and most overpaid) #5 starter in baseball to the Giants 2nd best starter this season.  Good for Zito--but not for the team.   They no longer had THE CLOSER, though committee of relievers did a nice job.     And while the 2012 team has good speed and good average hitters--it isn't great enough to make up for utterly no power in most of the lineup.  Firstbase-thrirdbase-left and right field COMBINED, the power positions, would be beaten by Barry Bonds home run totals in most years.

Hoping for magic the pumpkin family traveled out to Pac Bell Park for the second playoff game.  Giants already down 0-1 and the A's down 0-2 in their series.    Hanging around the park was nice, seats in 3rd deck weren't bad, game STUNK.   Only high point was Tim Lincecum who has a crap year but still a fan favorite, came in relief and pitched great (best command of the year)  but with fans now psyched the hitters couldn't get anything going against a ham and egger picther,

Oh well--they could win three straight in Cincinnati and get into the next series.  But I doubt it.  Good baseball season but "the music's over."

***By upstaging--in the 1960's the A's moving here and splitting the attendance in a very weak two team market, often outdrawing the Giants as the AL reported tickets sold (so included no shows), not actually butts in the seats as the NL used to report.  While the Oakland Coliseum (even before Mt Davis) had problems (huge foul lines, built on the cheap), it was still a million times nicer then the worst baseball stadium the Giants played in--the 'Stick in the middle of nowhere but a constant windy fog belt.   In the 1960's and 70's Giants finished 2nd a zillion times in a highly competative NL, while the A's won three straight championships with a solid but boring team, coming out of a weak AL.  Of course in 1989 the A's beat the Giants in the World Series with team steriods.   It wasn't until the Giants built and moved to the best ballpark in baseball and the A's toiletbowl was made worse, much worse, with the football amenities, did the relative strength of the teams change.

Update-Holy crap--they pulled it off--battling Cincinnatti and being the first team to win their series. Tim Lincecum pitched THE BEST he did all year relegated to long relief, and Bruce Botchy continued to show why he is one of the best managers of all time--certainly the best from this century.  The whole team played great.

 Speaking of whole team I compared them, position to position, to the 2010 championship team and they do have a better team in 2012 BUT not at #1 killer starter, #1 relief pitcher and big dropoff in leftfield.   The killer starter hurts--during the season you may go into a series and see the other teams #3-#4-#5 pitchers, but in a seven game playoff series you nay see the killer ace THREE times.    But are the remaining teams that strong?  For example it was clear in the Detroit/ Oakland series that Detroit has the three best players on the field, but Oakland had the next 7-10 best players.  In the Yankee/ Baltimore series it was clear that the Yankees zillion dollar lineup knows one way to move up a runner--with a home run.  For St. Louis Beltran and Holliday are scary--but we match up well against the rest of the team and our pitching is better.  Getting past St. Louis and then  having a shot at the Yankees (which is no Texas)--good chance as the Giants already beat the best team they'll face in the playoffs.  But I still wish we had that #1 killer ace starter and #1 reliever.

The Giants chances look good against St. Louis (though Melky's inflated stats ain't with the Giants anymore.)  Funny--watching the Detroit-Yankee game--on every play I want Detroit to kill the Yankees.  But I hope the Giants play the Yankees in the World Series.

AWAY team stats
SF  410 Runs (1st) .271 avg (1st)    83 hr (3rd)     586 k (3rd )  64 sb (4th)
StL 361 Runs (4th) .258 avg (2nd)   72 hr (10th)   622 k (7th)   41 sb (14th)

SF   4.29 ERA (11th)  614 k (5th)
StL  4.19 ERA (9th)    572 k (11th)

First game-Giants gets down early and it looks like beginning of route--too much like last Sunday's loss to the Reds at home.  But Giants show some gumption and make it close--though lose.

Second game-Giants tag the "great playoff pitcher (FOX ad naseum)" Chris Carpenter while Ryan Vogelsong shows incredible guts, makes the start of his life, and shuts the Cards down..  Speaking about tagged--Holliday knocks Scutero to another county with a legal but overly aggressive slide.  This is why we have Mota in our rotation--next time with a 5 run lead Mota should come in and smoke Holiday in the ribs.

Is it strange rooting for the Yankees to win the Series???  Usually my 2nd favorite team is whoever the hated Yankees are playing.  But nothing would be better than the Giants beating the Yankees in the World Series.  The overall concept of wanting the Yankees to win DOESN'T carry over to individual plays--where I root for the Tigers.  Maybe the Tigers can win the individual games but Commissioner Bugs can find a way to forfeit the Tigers (for TV ratings in the "best interests" of baseball) and have the Yankees in the World Series.

Third game--no clutch hitting.  One timely single would have had the Giants win the game.  Looong rain delay--rain delay started when I left work and Krukow/ Kuiper/ Miller telling great rain delay stories (eg. How Vince Coleman, fastest man in baseball, got trapped under an automatic tarp moving 2mph.)  I rode 3/4 up Mt Diablo, when I got back to the car the game resumed.  St. Louis bullpen "a little" better than the pitchers who came in for Colorado when their starters got to 75 pitches.

Fourth game--looked like series over on same day Tigers wipe the floor with the listless $225 million Yankees.  After some good relief outing Lincecum gets a start and he gets wacked.  Up to Barry Zito, and THE BEST the KNBR talking heads feel he'll do is 5 innings.

Go down to Los Angeles to watch game #6--in Barney's Beanery.

Wearing Giants gear in the Hollywood Hills.

Fifth game-Barry Zito could have pitched a shutout.  He pitched the game of his life.   Giants score early and win.

Sixth gane-Return home.  Ryan Vogelsong could have pitched a shutout.   He pitched the game of his life.  Giants score early and win.

Seventh game-Revenge of the Jeffrey Leonard/ Will Clark playoff loss in St. Louis.    Thought the Giants would win but it would be close.  Wrong.  Giants have a bat around. St. Louis looks so lost the McCarver--Buck St. Louis cheerleaders (actually they weren't nearly as bad this year as in the past) even stop talking about St. Louis' comeback against Washington.    Game ends in a rainstorm.  Giants back to the World Series.

Giants picthing came through--their two weak links all season--Zito especially and Lincecm stepped up.

Hype for World Series is that Justin Verlander is the greatest pitcher ever.  Hmmm, sounds like Cliff Lee two years ago and he got racked.  Tigers may have 3 of 4 of the best players on the field but they don't look that deep--Giants may have the next best 6-9 best players.  Giants lose their DH for all the Pac Bell games--and after Cabrera-Fielder their lineup looks thin.  And while they have a good starting staff their relief corp looks like they are ready to be torched.

SF   410 Runs (1st)    .271 avg (1st) 83 hr  (3rd)  586 k (3rd ) 64 sb (4th)
Det  333 Runs (11th)  258 avg (4th) 71 hrs (12th) 615 k (8th)  38sb (12th)
SF  4.29 ERA (11th) 614 k (5th)
Det 4.05 ERA  (7th)  634 k (2nd)

Holy Toledo batman.  Which team has more power?   Giants hit 12 more road home runs than the Tigers who play with a designated hitter.  Giants scored significantly more runs, had a higher batting average and stole many more bases,  Pitchingwise the Tigers were a little better--a difference which easily gets wiped out if Lincecum and Zito step up again.  GIANTS IN 6.

One of of My Favorites From the World Series --SF Chronicle Photograph

Game 1-SANDOVAL GOES DEEP 3x, Zito pitches another good game, Lincecum throws solid relief when Zito runs out of gas.  Shades of 2010 when Cliff Lee was supposed to be the GREATEST post season pitcher in the free world and got knocked out in game 1.  Justin Verlander now had the GREATEST blah blah blah and the Giants knocked him out.  Everyone expected Verlander/ Tigers to win--so this was a BIG game for them to lose.  The Tigers lineup showed how thin it is, the Tigers relief corps showed how bad they are and the Tigers fielders showed how slow they are.   8-3 laugher and it wasn't even that close.

Game 2-zero-zero game in the 7th--I aint worried--this is Giants baseball.  Detroit's Beer league Prince already got thrown out at the plate.   Now the Giants load the bases with a few dink hits and a bunt that should have rolled foul but didn't.    Now Detorit Manager plays the infield back for a double play--giving up a run as CERTAINLY his club can overcome a 1-0 lead.  Giants score, now leading 1-0.  Then their bullpen comes in and does what it does all year--SHUT THE DOOR.  2-0...torture.

Two quick thoughts.  Buck and McCarver all full of themselves--do two guys state the obvious over and over and over and over.  I'd love to hear the Giants announcers & Tigers announcers--so we could get solid background on the teams.  How do the Giants win with a first baseman with little power??  How do the Tigers win with a shortstop with little range??  We'll never find out from Buck & McCarver.

One of those backgrounds is that Bruce Botchy is best manager I ever saw.  He was winning in San Diego when they said bye bye to him--rap on Botchy is that he never played the young guys.  Years later we find out that it wasn't the young guys--jesus--Botchy stuck with Brandon Belt when he couldn't hit and Brandon Crawford when he couldn't field.  So now we find out its not that Botchy doesn't play young guys, but he sticks with the players he's comfortable with and lets them work out their problems.  To a point.

Game 3--just like game 2 but this time Giants scored early, Vogelsong and Timmy and Sergio held the Tigers in check (deep breath every time Fielder and Cabrera came up.)  More great fielding.   More stupid FOX antics like the long interview over free tacos.  (What happened to the omnipresent lady from the early playoffs who kept telling us "I told Taco Bell to loooose the shell.") Otherwise key doubleplays turned by the Giants,  Suddenly Tigers down 0-3 in the series.

Game 4--Seesaw battle.  Giants and Tigers keep leapfrogging to 3-3.  FOX in depth-in game interview of two bimbos prattling on about Fancave.  Oh, lets get back to the game.  Extra innings.  Giants do all the little things to score extra inning run.  Blockbuster Scutero bloops one for the winnings RBI as we all knew he would do.  Tigers keep swinging for the fences.  Sergio Romo battles Triple Crown Winner Cabrera and freezes him with a fastball after a ton of sliders are fouled off.  Strike 3.  Giants win.  Giants World Champs2nd time in 3 years!!  No sense of relief after 50+ years as in 2010.  Just sense of  "I told you so."  Cincinnati, St Louis and Washington all tougher than the Paper Tigers.  What was the national media watching??  When is the parade???

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