September baseball. There's nothing like it. Every day another team adds an "E" for eliminated in the standings. The circuit of 30 gets carved down to 8. In the American League, the teams are all but locked in. The only suspense is who is going to win the AL East? The tyrants of baseball, the New York Yankees? Or do the scrappy Rays from Tampa take it? The answer?
WHO CARES!? We're Giants fans here. We only care about the AL when we meet them in the World Series. Twins, Rays, Yanks, Rangers? Let them go play their 2nd rate baseball. We have real strategery to deal with here in the National League! You know, in the league where pithchers who participate in the game actually have to hit! Where there's more to managing than picking your nose and grabbing your crotch!
The Giants have a real dad-gum chance of making the playoffs. They lead the NL West by a full game for the first time since April, a time when hope lingered for every team (except the Pirates). They went into their personal house of horrors (Colorado) and took 2 of 3 while all but ending the Rockies last surge. Though, the Rockies are a lot like those monsters and villains from scary movies. They're never really dead until you cut off their head and take out their heart. And even then, they might come back. And the Rockies, while virtually being eliminated (the Braves would have to win the wildcard, the Giants would have to go 1-5, and the Padres would have to go 2-4 for the Rockies to sneak in) STILL are mathematically alive. Which means they're not dead. Yet. But Rocktober Part III looks to be coming to an end unless something ridiculous happens (it better not).
Which leaves the field to 3. The Phillies have already clinched the NL East. The Reds will clinch with their next win or the next Cardinals loss. And although the Reds seemingly are ready to go in the tank, they'd have to lose the remainder of their games and the Cards would have to win them all for Cincy not to see the postseason for the first time since grunge was cool and the original Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210 were primetime hits. Think 1995. And even with Dusty chewing on his toothpicks in the Reds dugout, ready to give the game ball to Johnny Cueto in the 7th inning, I don't see that type of collapse coming. That's 2 spots already accounted for in a 4 horse race.
Which leaves our beloved Giants.
The playoff picture gets messy now. The Giants are in first by a game and the Braves lead the Padres in the wildcard by a half game. I outlined the scheduling in the last post and right now, the Braves look the best. They have 2 left with Florida then 3 against the Phillies. But the Phillies have nothing to play for. They're in. And they pretty much have homefield locked up. So expect to see the Phillies field spring training like line-ups against Atlanta in the final weekend of the season. Meanwhile, the Padres and Giants will be going at it to determine who wins the NL West. Right now, both teams have patsies. The Diamondbacks come to SF and the Padres are taking on the Cubs in the Litter Box. And although the Cubs won a nail biter tonight 1-0, they're not a very good team. Sure, the Cubs and Dbacks can pretend they're playing their toughest because they're both trying to impress their front offices for next year but let's be real, neither team is good. The Padres and Giants should both dispatch these teams with ease. Which sets up the weekend series.
I've been pretty constant in my assertion that the Giants will be eliminated in that series. That disaster is setting itself up. The heartbreak kids are going to be able to bring more heartache to this city. The opportunity is there. The Giants never have it any other way. Well, they do. They'll win 100 games, then flub up in the Division Series. But they are the best at ripping their fans hearts to shreds. And it's all set up again.
The question is, can they, for once, avoid kicking us in the nuts?
2 spots left. 3 teams in it. The Braves did it to us in 1993. They can do it again. The Padres? Well, to be honest, we've never really had any beef with the Padres. It's hard to have beef with the Padres. They're just so... boring. But, they have an opportunity to make us hate them like we've hated the Rockies, like we've hated the Dbacks, and how we always and forever will hate those fucks from LA. You'd like to see some guys get hot. The pitching as a whole is hot. But it'd be comforting to know at least a bat or two was smoking. They're not, of course. Why make things easy?
So I'm cautiously hoping for a miracle while fully expecting sadness. It's not that I'm negative. It's just that I'm a Giants fan. I've been conditioned this way. But man, I really want to see THIS team in the playoffs. I have a good feeling about this squad IF they can make it. But of course, 6 games left and only up one is a lot like scoring a TD late in the game but leaving just enough time on the clock for the other team to kick a game winning field goal.