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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

5 Wins Away From Bliss

I don't practice tantric sex but I have to imagine this is what it feels like. The Giants are on the brink of their 4th World Series appearance as a San Francisco team. Now, plenty can happen. Halladay can happen. Oswalt can happen. And Hamels can happen. The Phillies O can happen. But.. let's consider this for one second as the Giants now lead the NLCS 3-1.

The Giants have beaten Halladay twice this year.
The Giants have beaten Oswalt FOUR times this year.
The Giants have beaten Hamels twice this year.

The Giants only need one more win against that trio. Can they do it? Who knows? This Phillies team is not going to roll over and play dead. They are going to come out firing with all they got tomorrow. Were you surprised to see Oswalt come in tonight? Be ready to see Halladay, Lidge, and Hamels come in for Game 5. The Phillies have their backs to the wall. And like any cornered predator, that's when they are the most dangerous.

That being said...

THE GIANTS ARE ONE WIN AWAY FROM OFFICIALLY BEING THE BEST TEAM IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE!!

I can't help but think it's all the positive Giants mojo the organization is spewing... first pitch in Game 3? Pennant winners Bonds (doing his best Tom Cruise jumping on a couch impression), Snow, Nen, and Dunston. Game 4? Pennant winners Clark, Thompson, Williams, and Craig.

The Giants are slowly conquering their demons. They beat the Dick Stockton curse. Cain finally beat the Dodgers this year and yesterday he finally beat the Phillies. Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez etched their names on the SF Giants record books for strikeouts in a game. Buster Posey had 4 hits tonight, the most by a Giants rookie in the postseason since 1924 or something ridiculous.

Can they conquer the ultimate demon? The 0-SF Demon? The lack of a championship?

Tonight gave me (cautious) hope. But SFGiantsGuy will be there for Game 5 to see if The Freak, Seabiscuit, can nail it down.

In the words of the viral Ashkon video: Don't stop believing... this could be the season.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phillies Vs Giants: Oh yeah, this is happening

I just checked out of the hospital because the Giants gave me several heart attacks this past week.

I mean, come on.

A 1-0 win in Game 1. A complete "Here I Am" moment from Big Time Timmy Jim. 2 hits. 14 K's. And he scribbled his name atop of the Giants franchise record books for most strikeouts by a Giants pitcher in the postseason. 9 tense innings. And a 1-0 victory. Little did we know that was going to be the LEAST exciting game of the series.

A 5-4 predictable heartbreak. Raise your hand if you thought the series was over after that game. (SFGiantsGuy raises his hand, looks around room, sees other raised hands). The Giants were fulfilling their own destiny with this loss. A 4-0 lead. Everyone feeling great. Cain cruising. A 4-1 lead in the 8th. Then an error. Then a 2 run double. 4-4 ball game. Before we even knew what was happening, Rick Ankiel drove a stake through Giants fans hearts and had them (me) thinking sickenly of Game 6 2002. The doubts creeped in. Same old Giants. Same old heartbreak. But then...

A remarkable turnaround. A once in a (Giants) lifetime comeback in October. A stunning counter punch to the Game 2 knockout punch, a 3-2 victory handwrapped by the Braves, with love, from Brooks Conrad. Thanks Brooks. And with that, the Giants had their swagger return. Just one more game to win. And a sure bet to return to SF at worst.

Then Game 4. Baseball world, meet our rookies Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Say hi, guys. Bets on a 1 run game? Clearly it had to be. And another 3-2 victory and one that may have been the most impressive of the series. Giants trail early 1-0. They're getting no hit. Then Cody f'ing Ross turns up, hits a game tying homer and gets the Giants believing. No sooner does he do that but McCann (the scariest guy in the Braves patchwork line-up) returns the favor and gives the lead right back to the Braves. But the Giants, playing looose with Timmy on the horizon at home if all else fails, mount a ho hum come from behind victory to send Bobby Cox packing for good. Cody Ross is the unofficial NLDS MVP and may have earned himself the starting RF job in SF next season just for helping them advance.

What a series. Giants starters? 3 ER in the NLDS. Suck on that Philly.

And now we have the privilege of facing the 2 time defending NL Champs. And you know what? I feel confident. The Phillies are not going to underestimate the Giants. But don't you get the sense they feel like they already have a ticket to the World Series?

They're in for a rude awakening. I'm not saying the Giants are going to win the NLCS. But I am saying this series is going to go 7 games. The Giants beat Halladay, Oswalt, AND Hamels this year. The season series was split 3-3 and the only reason it wasn't 4-2 in favor of the Giants is because Jayson Werth took a Brian Wilson fastball, ran it out to right field, and dropped it in the one place in the entire field where a ball would blow a game.

And oh yeah, then there's these stats:

Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels against the Giants this year? 1-2, 6.12 ERA.

Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez vs the Phillies? 2-1, 1.96 ERA.

Take your time to digest that. The Giants pitchers in the past couple seasons have had no problem shutting down the Phils offense.

I really think this series goes the full seven. People are saying the Giants have a chance but all seem to expect Philly to get by pretty easily.

This will not be the case. The Giants are going to give the Phillies all they can handle.

My theory is simple.

Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels are all strike throwers. They're not exactly the type of pitchers that the Giants have trouble against. The Giants really struggle against pitchers who move the ball out of the strike zone and fool batters. The Phillies Big Three come after you with wicked stuff but for the most part, they throw strikes. This bodes well for the Giants. It's why I think they did well against Halladay in April.

So game on Philadelphia. SF is primed to give you all you can handle.

Don't Stop Believing. This could be the season...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Game 4: Please No More Torture

Somebody wake me up. Am I dreaming?

Game 3 just ended. The only way I can express how I felt during the 8th and 9th inning:

It felt like I was at a party and somebody hit me in the face with brass knuckles. Then I was given a blow J by the hottest girl there for sympathy.

Brooks Conrad, you are my favorite Brave of All-Time. It also helps you're an ASU grad and you did this Sun Devil alum proud today. 3 errors, 2 which directly resulted in 2 of the 3 Giants runs they scored. Thank you from preventing me from calling the suicide hotline.

The Giants lead the series 2-1. This series could easily have been over by now with the Giants sweeping or the Braves sweeping. The Braves could very easily be leading 2-1 instead of trailing. Yet it's the Giants leading 2-1.

I have never seen a Giants team come back like that in October. Ever. I can't remember them having a comeback like that in their postseason history. Certainly not the San Francisco Giants. Brooks Conrad had a Bill Buckner moment and the Giants were the benefitting team. When has a break like that gone the Giants way? The closest I can think of is when JT Snow hit that homerun off Benitez in the 2000 ALDS but the Giants wound up losing that game anyways. This time, Posey hits a grounder to 2nd and it goes through the wickets and the Giants take the lead and Brian Wilson shuts down the Braves in the 9th.

Now the Giants turn to Bumgarner to shut the door on the reeling Braves who seem to lose a player every game to injury. Tonight, they almost lost Heyward AND McCann. They're already without Chipper, Prado, and Wagner. And Wagner being hurt probably contributed the most to the Giants victory. Any baseball person will tell you, the hardest 3 outs to get are the 3 to close out a game. With Wagner out, Bobby Cox had to turn to some inexperienced guys to close out a game. A playoff game. A pivotal Game 3. And they couldn't.

I've never felt such depression followed by elation in my Giants fandom. I've felt elation, then depression numerous times. And tonight looked like another chapter being written into Giants misery. But a different entry was penned instead. A comeback victory. In October. Against the odds.

It'll be hard to take Game 4 in Atlanta. They are the best team in the NL at home. But they have to be reeling right now. Demoralized. They took home field advantage from us on Friday night and they immediately gave it back with a choke job of their own in Game 3.

This is what the playoffs are all about. I can't wait for tomorrow.

By the way, the Giants starters? 1 earned run in the entire series. That is impressive considering the playoff experience they had collectively amounted to, yup, zero.

Obviously, the Giants are my world. But it's neat to see one more exciting series as the Rays and Rangers have made things interesting. Meanwhile, the Twins once again crapped their pants to the Yankees. Thanks Twins. I can only hope the winner of TB/TEX can knock off the money grubbers of New York.

Go Giants, Stop the Chop.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Retraction: And It Feels So Good

If I were ashamed of my mistakes and I had the power to erase them, I would. But I'm not ashamed. Because I am happy as shit that I'm wrong. That the Giants did not commit the ultimate choke job. The chokes of all chokes. No, they tortured as they're wont to do. They lost Friday and Saturday and then Jonathan Clinchez showed up, backed up his words from a month ago, and singlehandedly beat the Padres and knocked them out of the playoffs.

How's that feel San Diego? Not good, huh? I don't want to hear you whine about it. That's the first misery you've ever had. Try having that happen to you over and over and over. I have no sympathy for you guys.

So it's on. And I was wrong. The Giants were NOT eliminated in the last series of the year. They almost were. But they kicked the snide. They persevered! So I offer my retraction. The Giants are better than I thought. I thought they were good, I didn't think they were playoff bound.

The Giants are in the playoffs. Miraculously. And now they're a real threat. Experts around the country are already calling for a Giants/Phillies NLCS. Which makes me nervous. Not only did Halladay just pitch a no-no but we have to face the Braves, our arch nemeses. Yes, we beat them in 2002. But the Braves have beat down the Giants so much in the past 20 or so years, it almost feels like a Twins/Yankees match up. The Twins look like deer caught in the headlights when they face NY in October. They clenched up again this evening. Hopefully, this energetic, fraternal group of Giants who have no connection whatsoever to those teams in the past that used to get their asses kicked by the Braves, can make this cinderella story last a bit longer.

Lincecum vs ex-Dodger Lowe.

Cain vs one of the Hanson brothers

Clinchez vs Giant Killer Hudson

Maybe Zito, since he won't be doing anything else this week, can pick up Hudson on his unicorn and ride far far away... two birds, one stone.

There will likely be a deluge of posts coming during the playoffs.

Let the games begin.

GO GIANTS. STOP THE CHOP.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

On the Verge... of Collapse.

I've been telling you for weeks. I've been conditioning you. Getting you ready for THIS moment. The Giants are going to break our hearts. It is "The Giants Way". I never read Bill Neukom's handbook, but teasing your fans and then absolutely thrashing their heart has to be about 99% of that book.

The Giants came into the final series of the season needing one goddamn win to clinch the NL West. They have lost two in a row. They haven't pitched well and they already weren't hitting well. So instead of a champagne shower and me eating crow... the Giants are exactly where I thought they'd be: On the cusp of completely and utterly demoralizing a fanbase that already has to deal with the 49ers season going in the tank after 3 weeks and who's middle name is "gut wrenching heartbreak."

So I was wrong about one thing. The Giants definitely are NOT getting eliminated in THIS final series of the year. No, they have to make it even more painful. They have the potential of losing 5 games in a row not to make the playoffs. That, folks, will be the most legendary choke job in the history of baseball. More than the 2004 ALCS when the Yankees choked against the Red Sox. Even more than Game 6 of that World Series that did not happen. If they lose today (and they will) and if the Braves win (they will), the Giants will fly down for a 1 game playoff against the Padres in San Diego. If they lose that game, they will play a 1 game playoff against the Braves. Essentially, the Giants, needing only 1 win out of FIVE games to secure a playoff spot, will have the chance to break our hearts repeatedly today, Monday, and Tuesday.

That isn't even torture, the theme of the season. That's just downright criminal and sadistic to subject a fan base to that. But we're SF Giants fans. I mean... we do NOT get the credit we deserve for sticking with a team that repeatedly chokes in the worst ways possible. Sure, the Cubs haven't won in thousands of years. But Cubs fans really don't care. They just get drunk and have a good time at Wrigley. I do admit, the Bartman thing was pretty painful. But they've only had one of those moments. We've had many. Over and over. It's not that they lose, it's how they lose.

I mean, Freddy Sanchez rounding 3rd base on a flyout to right field by Huff? In the 9th inning? When he's the tying run? Where's the first base coach on that? What was he thinking? And then leaving our Saturday hopes to Barry f'ing Zito and Jose Guillen!? Jose Guillen!? Bochy, you take the slowest guy on the team (who might be slower than Bengie Molina) and you put him in a spot where a DP kills a rally when you have faster guys like Burriss or Velez on the bench. Or Freddy Sanchez waiting to atone for that ridiculous baserunning from Friday? Even Rowand, who had a pinch hit home run!? You put in Guillen, the guy that is batting something like .200 in September and runs like a turtle on sleeping pills??

Giants baseball is worse than fucking torture. It's blue balls times infinity.

And here they are, Sunday, on the 162nd game of the season, ready to provide that heartbreak I've been warning you has been coming for weeks.

Come on guys, just win ONE GAME!