Game 4

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Lady Type Friend made this from scratch last night.  She's also crazy gorgeous.

I've outkicked my coverage a little bit.

So, the World Series is about Game 4.  A short series is hard to forecast with any level of certainty; something I say in this space over and over again is if you're investing in sports, the value is in the season long win totals - an individual game or a short series has variables outside of your ability to compute.  That said - my prediction post has been pretty good thusfar; and with that as evidence, let me suggest, the World Series is about Game 4.

I picked the Series from the inside out.  As I wrote, the matter about which I had the most confidence was Matt Cain's pitching well, and I gave us Game 2.  I was almost as confident about Colby Lewis pitching well, and more to the point, Texas having a solid advantage in Lewis/Sanchez, so I gave them Game 3.  Lincecum/Lee is largely a toss up - I liked our matchup with Lee more than did most (not 11 runs worth, or 7, I guess, that were charged to him - but I wasn't surprised we got good swings) but not enough that you'd say we beat him twice.  So I gave us Game 1 - and them Game 5.

If there was a Game 6 - Cain.  I picked it to go 6 and Cain to win the MVP.

If there's a Game 7 - look, I don't love the look of a Game 7.  I do not like this team against Colby Lewis; the game last night - that was what I expected to see.  Sanchez is not where you'd like him to be right now.  And as you could have read in my History of the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, Game 7 is not our friend.

Which is why, as I looked at the Series - the game I saw was tonight.  Tonight's the World Series.

I expect Bumgarner to be solid.  Solid enough that the debate, should we still be playing Thursday, is if he should come back on short rest to start instead of Sanchez. Bumgarner had a pronounced reverse home/road split this year; his road ERA was under 2.00.  I expect Hunter to be solid; I don't think it's a game where he can't find the plate and we're into their pen in the 4th inning.  I expect, as did I before the Series, that if there was one game that went 11 and finished like 5-4 and just made you want to kill yourself, that it would be tonight.

I hope Burrell, really, really scuffling, sits for the next couple of days.  It gives us a chance to get more left handed tonight - I'd really be in favor of seeing both Ishikawa and Schierholtz in the lineup.  Nate in right, Travis at first.  Huff DH's.  It seems like a lot of move to make when you're up 2-1 in the Series - but if there's one grievance I have with Bochy (who is getting a lot of credit for making moves in the postseason) its that he's a little shy about taking a platoon advantage.  We're a better lineup tonight (and significantly - just hugely better defensively) with Ishikawa/Schierholtz - and if they're both playing, I think you should look at that as indicative that maybe we're the team who squeaks through in Game 4.

I'm going to my mom's for the game.  I've been over for 3 postseason games this year - we've won them all.  This is the only WS game I'll be able to see with her - unless we're still playing Thursday.

Let's not play Thursday.  Okay?  I don't so much have a Game 7 in me this year.

edit - sort of like that.

1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown October 24-30 2010. Tendown 50 - Every Tendown Linked

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dear Internet:

A year ago (mid November, actually) I began writing Tendown, my recap of the week that was.  The countdown conceit was to give my thoughts a little structure and provide a schedule for whatever readers I might have, knowing that they'd have a weekly place to check me out.  It's a bit more of a chore now, given my real world schedule, than is ideal; and I'm uncertain if each week reflects enough of the thoughts I'd like to offer.

But, the value of the structure is if some weeks (most weeks) it winds up being links, at least it serves as a record of that week, for me, if no one else; just so I can get some bread crumbs down in case I ever need to backtrack.

This is Tendown 50.   Here, I'm going to provide links/recaps to the previous 49 Tensdown, so I can have them all in one spot.  I haven't read some of these essays since the immediate aftermath after their posting, so that's really the value in it for me.  My working plan is to take next Sunday off.  Although, I've been making multiple posts a week on sports topics, and one way or the other, I'm likely to have WS thoughts.

Thanks for reading.  Go Giants.

Tendown 1:
-Mad Men's 2009 season finale and Sammy Sosa changing colors.

Tendown 2:
-Curb Your Enthusiasm's tremendous Seinfeld reunion episode.  A gutsy as hell ten year old boy in Arkansas who refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  A 13 year old Details Magazine article about the comedy troupe The State.

Tendown 3:
-My glowingly positive review of Sasha Baron Cohen's Bruno, my defense of Adam Lambert, Sam sent Diane a telegram on the last episode of Cheers, and a judge that couldn't get confirmed to an appointment because he knows the word Allah means God.

Tendown 4:
-I ripped Tim Tebow, offered for your consideration the film Elegy, talked about Marc Maron's curious family, and pimped a terrific Nick Kristoff piece.

Tendown 5:
-I criticized Obama for institutionalizing the worst right wing, authoritarian foreign policy preferences, discussed seeing Chris Cornell in an Anthropolgie, noted Glenn Beck (who I call Simple Jack) calling for the abolition of Medicare, and won the Palm Beach Post college football picks contest for 2009.

Tendown 6:
-I rip Obama again, noting that why authoritarian popular movements succeed is because there is an absence of reformist voices and fascism fills the space.  I said about health care reform what I also could have said about the stimulus and financial reform too  - the right fought it out of concern it would work, and (with the complicity of the corporate Democrats) wound up with half loaf measures ensuring that it wouldn't - or at least, it wouldn't sufficiently such that people would notice.  The Democrats had a two year window they are unlikely to see in the near future to actually make change - and through a combination of weakness of political will and a disinterest in seeing those changes actually made - they largely failed and will pay for it Tuesday.

Tendown 7:
-My idea for a movie based on Dwight Clark's "The Catch" to defeat the Cowboys in the NFC Title game almost (gulp) 30 years ago.  My favorite TV quote of 2009.  A discussion of my past student loan debt nightmare that earned me a link on an advocacy site, and a discussion about jury nullification on the Survivor finale.

Tendown 8:
-The Hot/Crazy scale; movie reviews, Captain Kangaroo on youtube; and the G spot being a myth.

Tendown 9:
-My unsuccessful attempt to save Better off Ted. The foreclosure crisis, which had just reached my doorstep. Bret Hart's return to RAW.

Tendown 10:
-Jay v. Conan. Marvin Harrison killing dudes.  The Texas textbook catastrophe.

Tendown 11:
-The Citizens United decision. The Massachusetts US Senate election. More foreclosure crisis talk.

Tendown 12:
-Obama takes on the Republicans. I pick the Saints plus the number in the SB. I write that the SFGiants will not win a WS in my lifetime and Howard Zinn passes away.

Tendown 13:
-44 Super Bowls v. 44 Presidents.  The longest Tendown ever.

Tendown 14:
-Sarah Palin writes on her hand; isn't laughed out of public life.  My discussion of SB44. I go to the theater. I pick SFG to go 81-81.

Tendown 15:
-Tiger Woods.  Plutocracy. Roger Ebert. Texas textbooks.

Tendown 16:
-I decide I have Asperger's.  Another kid kicked out of school for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I talk moral philosophy in the film Cop Out. Bryan Danielson starts his WWE run. The Republicans are correctly called a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry.

Tendown 17.
-Oscar night, I gave you some winners and discussed the best pictures nominees as a device to talk about the week's news.

Tendown 18:
-I spend 4 hours watching Fox News in a waiting room, come out in favor of Crystal Bowersox, and explain how the Giants cactus league record won't help us go better than .500.

Tendown 19:
-Cake v. Pie in the ultimate dessert tournament.  Health care reform.  The 10,000 best movies ever made. Sandra Bullock's husband gets some strange.

Tendown 20.
-Wrestlemania. Republicans tell the truth.  Survivor All-Stars.

Tendown 21:
-My most read Tendown ever.  Russell takes out Boston Rob. Shawn Michaels leaves WWE. Obama's simultaneously called too smart and too dumb by the right wing.  I explain the concept of the trope.  Not a fish.

Tendown 22.
-SFG opens the season 4-1 and I get uncharacteristically optimistic. More Tiger Woods talk.  Glenn Beck says he's just an entertainer and Fox is an entertainment company. We kill some more civilians. I complain about the Niners not dealing for McNabb.

Tendown 23. 
-Plutocracy and a churchgoing requirement in order to vote in Virginia.

Tendown 24.
-Arizona's immigration law. I find my bar exam chartbook. The Giants don't give up runs.  A toothless dude wins 250 million bucks.  Sharron Angle kicks off her campaign of crazy.

Tendown 25.
-I have no air conditioning.  The Phoenix Suns take a lefty political stand. The convict-lease system. The 4 NLDS games SFG lost to the Marlins. The top American idols of all time. Bill Moyers retires.

Tendown 26:
-LeBron James. The right wing has no earthly idea what the Constitution says or means. More Texas textbook talk.

Tendown 27.
-I take drugs. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, my analysis of which is maybe the best thing I had written to that date in Tendown, outside of 44 Presidents v. 44 Super Bowls, which is better read as its own standalone post  

Tendown 28.
-I come out in favor of PEDs, listen to every call in the history of Jim Rome's Smack Off, celebrate the Giants finally calling up Buster Posey and requesting that we trade Bengie Molina, and miss the pick on the American Idol finale.

Tendown 29:
More Show Your Papers talk; I was on a good roll here.  I rank the top 5 sports themed tv shows ever. I talk about the best wrestling matches of 2010.

Tendown 30:
I coin the term Circle K fallacy and expose an email scam aimed at those renting houses.  I hit one of my favorite topics - the degree to which sports media fits stories in predetermined good guy/bad guy frames. Bryan Danielson gets fired and USC goes on probation.

Tendown 31.
-The BP oil spill. The right wing loves authoritarian violence - which I started writing about years ago and could still be writing about this week, if I were doing a new post. They want to be the boot stepping on your neck, as long as you can't (or won't) fight back.

Tendown 32. 
-The NBA Draft, much like my Oscars Tendown, becomes the jumping off point for the full week of news.  I liked that as a technique.

Tendown 33.
-I sell my house to the bank, talk about the rhetoric of waterboarding, the right wing wouldn't confirm Thurgood Marshall in 2010 and they'd like to make homosexual sex illegal.

Tendown 34.
-They set fire to LeBron's jerseys in Cleveland. Sharron Angle keeps bringing right wing crazy.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a can.

And on July 15 - I wrote this.:

thanks to Brian McCann, Game 1 of the 2010 World Series will be played in San Francisco.

Tendown 35.
-I take apart George Allen's new book, do some reality show talk, and, for the third straight week, get some Mel Gibson schadenfreude in.

Tendown 36.
-I complain about my bank, out the racist right wing, oppose blood testing in minor league baseball and express curiosity about Dolly Parton's TV special.

Tendown 37.
-The San Francisco Giants are 60-45 and I start getting excited.  I give my pre-season college football Top 25.  Number 1 - Boise St.  Number 2 - TCU.  My most hated sports teams of all time (to that list, I really needed to add the early-mid 90s Atlanta Braves).

Tendown 38.
-The TV show Baggage. The top 5 athletes in Bay Area history. Opposition to gay marriage in 2010 = opposition to interracial marriage in 1967. The penultimate season of Friday Night Lights ends.

Tendown 39.
Anti-intellectualism in US politics. The Giants are 67-51. The top 20 SFG of all time. The top 10 Summer Slam matches of all time. A full scene from Invention of Lying.

Tendown 40.
-The Ground Zero mosque and 27 Buddys in the history of MLB.

Tendown 41.
-Glenn Beck's I Have a Dream speech. The Bush tax cuts. Davey Richards/Tyler Black - still the best wrestling match of 2010. The official report about the death of Pat Tillman and the right wing doesn't even know enough history to understand who they should dislike.

Tendown 42.
-Moral Philosophy on the Jersey Shore. The Giants are 76-61 and the Padres have lost 10 in a row. I pick us to win the West.

Tendown 43.
-The Giants are one back with 19 left and Andres Torres has his appendix removed. Reggie Bush gives back his Heisman Trophy. I talk Mad Men and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

Tendown 44.
-Randy Moss and Tom Brady wear Giants caps. We're a half game out with 13 to play. I've seen every game since July 26 and detail how they've all been decided by less than a run. The Democrats are at fault for the right wing resurgence. Every TV show I watch.  The top 5 wrestlers I've met.

Tendown 45.
-I turn 40.

Tendown 46.
-The last day of the MLB regular season. Ken Burns crappy Tenth Inning. The Tea Parties are full of shit. Glenn Beck says the government ruined slavery.

Tendown 47.
-The NLDS is even at a game apiece. The right wing likes it when gay kids kill themselves. I wonder when the Brett Favre story will hit the mainstream (answer - the following day). A lawyer gets jailed for not saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  A contemporary history of flag salute punishment in the US is a book that needs to be written. I join Richard Dawkins out campaign.  That's the scarlet A on the right side of my page.

Tendown 48.
-We play 7 straight one run postseason games.  I'm calling it a record.  The Giants save my life. Infrastructure. Climate change.  Right wingers hate facts.

Tendown 49.
-The Giants Win the Pennant.

49 Tensdown.  Back in 2 weeks for Tendown 51.

TBOR Athlete of the Month - October, 2010 +1999 Athlete of the Year

Matt Cain.  Runners up - Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cody Ross.

10 months in.  You can get to the previous winners here.

Back in '99, AP and I both picked Tiger Woods.

Jan: John Elway (Peerless Price, Terrell Davis, Chris Chandler)
Feb: Jeff Gordon (Patrick Roy, Oscar de la Hoya, Jeff Maggert)
Mar: Rip Hamilton (Lamar Odom, Wally Szczerbiak, Scoonie Penn)
Apr: Jose Maria Olazabel (Jaromir Jagr, Fernando Tatis, Chris Antley)
May: Pedro Martinez (Nomar Garciaparra, Allen Iverson, Luis Gonzalez)
June: Tim Duncan (Andre Agassi, Maurice Greene, Payne Stewart)
July: Mia Hamm (Lindsay Davenport, Hicham el Guerrouj, David Cone)
Aug: Tiger Woods (Dale Jarrett, Sammy Sosa, Michael Jordan)
Sept: Felix Trinidad (Barry Bonds, Serena Williams, Chipper Jones)
Oct: Orlando Hernandez (Kurt Warner, Nomar Garciaparra, Mariano Rivera)
Nov: Peyton Manning (Tiger Woods, Ron Dayne, Ladainian Tomlinson)
Dec: Kurt Warner (Edgerrin James, Stephen Davis, Gary Payton)

That completed the 90s, my Athlete of the Decade was Michael Jordan.

I Pick College Football Games - Week 9 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Last week was here.

I'm 42-42-2 on the season.  Picking eleven games. 

WVA -6.5 UConn (loss)
Arizona -8 UCLA (push)
Buff +3 Miami (loss)
Mary -5.5 Wake (win)
Miami -15 Virginia (loss)
Navy -13.5 Duke (loss)
Ore St -3 Cal (win)
SD St -10 Wyo (push)
S Carl -17 Tenn (loss)
A&M v. TTech under 59.5 (loss)
USC +7 Ore (loss)


The 100 Greatest Players in Professional Football History: 20-11

We've hit the top 20.  How about that.

Last week, at the bottom of which is the full list to that point, is here.

This is my list, the top 100 players in NFL history - I post it each week in advance of the NFL Network episode releasing its list and then I edit in its choices for comparison.  We are getting down to it now.

20.Fran Tarkenton QB 61-78 Vikings
-47000+ yards passing, 3600+ rushing. 342 td thrown, 32 rushed.  His SB performances are and should be held against him, but in every way up until that game, Tarkenton's one of the very elite QB of all time. (They took Brett Favre, still to come on my list.)

19.Rod Woodson DB 87-03 Steelers
-71 picks, 12 TDs, 32 fumble recoveries.  The second greatest DB of all time; it's interesting that the NFL Network systematically underrated their own analysts, really across the board. (Bronko Nagurski - not on my list.)

18.Don Hutson WR/DB 35-45  Packers
-In ’42 Hutson had 74 catches.  Second place had 27.  He also had 30 career picks.  The war helps him as it reduced his level of competition, but his level of dominance still keeps him the second best WR of all time.  (Ray Lewis - already appeared on my list.)

17.Junior Seau LB 90-09 Chargers
-in ’98, opponents rushed for 2.7 y/c against SD.  20 years is a helluva long time to be as productive as Seau was.  He's the second greatest LB of all time. (Barry Sanders - still to come, but not far away.)

16.Bruce Smith DL 85-03 Bills
-200 career sacks.  Boom.  He's the second greatest DL of all time. (Otto Graham - already appeared on my list.)

15.Anthony Munoz OL 80-92 Bengals
-And when we hit the top 15, we get to the greatest OL who ever lived.  Things start getting really tight at this level. (Deacon Jones - already appeared.)

14.Johnny Unitas QB 56-73 Colts
-There have been 2 Unitas’s in NFL history – the other one’s name was Pong. This one was better.  I've still got five QB left. (Sammy Baugh - already appeared.)

13.John Elway QB 83-98 Broncos
-300 career TD passes. 33 rushing TDs.  This means I'm calling Elway the fifth greatest QB of all time.  (Joe Greene - already appeared.)

12.Peyton Manning QB 98-      Colts
-He’s now thrown for over 50,000 yards with a completion % of just under 65%.  By end of 2010 he’ll be third in passing yards and TDs.  Obviously, the highest ranked active player - I expect he will retire no worse, and probably better, than the third greatest player in NFL history. (Anthony Munoz - just appeared on my list.)

11.Barry Sanders RB 89-98 Lions
-In ’97 he rushed for 2053 yards and 6.1 yds/carry; 5 y/c for his career.  It makes him the fourth greatest RB of all time.  (Ronnie Lott.  Had you bet me that one of the Niners from my era would be higher ranked on the NFL list than on my list, you would have cleaned me out.)

90 down.  Ten to go.  Next Thursday.

I Pick Every NFL Game in 2010 - Week 8

Last Week is here.

ATS: 46-38-6
SU: 54-36

Niners -1 Denver (win/win)
Dallas -6.5 Jags (loss/loss)
Skins +2.5 Detroit (loss/loss)
Packers +6 Jets (win/win)
Rams -3 Panthers (win/win)
Dolphins +1.5 Bengals (win/win)
Chiefs -6.5 Bills (loss/win)
Titans +3.5 SD (Chargers win game) (loss/win)
Tampa +3 Cards (win/win)
Seattle +2.5 Oakland (loss/loss)
Minnesota +5.5 NE (Pats win game) (loss/win)
Steelers over Saints (loss/loss)
Texans +5.5 Colts (Colts win game) (loss/win)

ATS 5-8 51-46-6
SU 9-4 63-40

The Prediction.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(my look at the history of SFG in the WS is here.)

I don't want the Giants to win the World Series.

You: Have I stumbled onto the wrong blog...Jividen...are you being held against your will?  Blink twice if you want me to call for help.

Okay, I want the Giants to win the World Series; the San Francisco Giants are my dominant institutional affiliation; I have no church nor state, for me it's..

1. Giants
2. Niners

And this has been the case for almost the entirety of my 40 years.  So, I want the Giants to win the World Series.

What I'm saying is its not entirely a good - and not because I'm 40, although, to be fair, I would have been more emotionally satisfied with any previous SFG team that got close.  I turned 40 a month ago and wrote that it didn't bother me at all, in the way that turning 30 turned me into a ball of twitch; this is essentially that - anxiety over a birthday is for someone without real problems; my emotional space to celebrate my baseball team is crowded out this year by the constant pressure, minute by minute pressure, to earn enough money to pay the bills.  Even a World Series win won't pay my rent.  It should.  In a good world it would. 

But that's not it.

It's also not it that I'll feel let down by a SFG WS win; you wait for decades for something - there's no way that you won't feel (even if you don't admit it) a little bit of "is that all there is" - followed by the "what do I wait for now?"

But that's not it.  I burst into tears when Ryan Howard took that called third strike in Game 6; I (and you - I'm guessing, many of you who are reading this are similarly afflicted Giants fans) want this, I understand what it is, and I want this.

Why I don't want the Giants to win the World Series (with the caveat being I do want the Giants to win the World Series) is Steve vs. Joe.

I wanted the Niners to win Super Bowl 29 (particularly since I gave the two touchdowns) but it was mitigated a bit with the "Steve v. Joe" storyline that had mushroomed in the build up - that a Niner victory would be a victory for Steve Young - and therefore a loss for Joe Montana.

And I'm a Joe guy.  So the portion of that win which was framed as a defeat of Joe was not my friend; it took a percentage of the wind out of the win, and given that it's now 15+ years in the past (with no Niner SB seemingly on the horizon) I would have liked to have enjoyed it fully.

The Steve v. Joe story emerging about this team is the 2010 Giants v. Barry Bonds.

Joan Walsh wrote about this yesterday; this emerging meme that these are the "good Giants" helping to cleanse San Francisco of the "bad Giants", or, more specifically, of Barry Bonds.  To her links, which are illustrative of the point, I'd add the Ken Burns coda to his baseball documentary, last week's Sports Illustrated, and Marc Purdy on Outside the Lines last week - over and over and over again, the storyline is being written that the 2010 Giants are the anti-Bonds team; selfless and clean and morally upright.  We can proudly take our children to these games, wear our orange and black in front of our co-workers, and not feel the terrible shame that we must have endured in that corrupt bargain Giants fans made to root for Barry Bonds.

It's horseshit.  Just something to write.

A-Rod and Andy Pettitte just got bounced from the playoffs.  But yet, no discussion, even with their admitted PED use, of Yankee fans having to hold their noses to root for them.

Manny and Big Papi have been caught.  But that Burns doc didn't taint in even the mildest form that 2004 World Series win for the Sawx.  Bonds = steroids and steroids = bad are the equations that have been firmly calculated by the sports media industrial complex - and there is just no way to avoid a SFG win being framed as a Barry Bonds loss.

And I'm a Barry guy.  I feel a strong sense that the media stole his two home run records, and I'm uninterested in the 2010 Giants being used to further chip away at his legacy. 

With that.  Here's the forecast.

The Rangers finished with 91 pythag wins, we were better, 94, it's the fifth best SFG team of all time and the first time since '62 that we went into the WS having had a better regular season than our opponent.  The two best teams in baseball during the regular season were Tampa and NYY - and Texas just bounced both.

Here are the rosters (not finalized at time of writing).

WARP is first/WAR second.

CF Torres  5.2/4.5
2B Sanchez 2.6/1.5
1B Huff 6.1/5.9
C Posey 4.4/3
LF Burrell 2.5/2.8
RF Ross .7/1
3B Uribe 2.8/2
SS Renteria 1.4/1

SS Andrus 3.2/1
3B Young 3.4/2.7
CF Hamilton 8.2/6
RF Guerrero 2.7/2.1
LF Cruz 5.6/3.9
2B Kinsler 4.4/3.2
C Molina .5/-.6
1B Moreland .5/.4

You like us at catcher and first, both pretty clearly, despite Molina's theoretical ability to give away trade secrets (he's only the second player ever dealt in midseason to face his former team in the WS - the first was Lonnie Smith).  You like them at second, short, and third - also all pretty clearly, although SS is less clear if Sandoval and not Renteria is in the lineup (which would be my preference).  You like them in every OF spot; you hope, if you're SFG, that Cruz's hamstring flares again; you argue, if you're SFG, that the Ross/Vlad matchup is close given how well Cody is playing in the postseason and the need to put Vlad in the field.  You hope, if you're SFG, that Hamilton goes all Stanley Wilson the night before Game One.

But they have the better lineup.

Our arms are a little better.  Our defense is a little better.  Their bats are a little better.  None of those advantages is as great as you might think.  Neither team walks enough - Texas generates some offense on the basepaths, we are a feast or famine, home runs or nothing club, surviving our inability to get on base by hitting the long ball. 

In Texas, Murphy/Francoeur can play the OF, moving Vlad to DH, while SFG will mix in Sandoval and maybe Ishikawa.  You like them better there.

Here are the benches.

Fontenot .2/-.6
Sandoval 2/.8
Rowand .5/-.1
Ishikawa -.2/0
Schierholtz .2/.2
Whiteside 1/0

Murphy 2.6/.6
Francoeur .2/.7
Treanor .6/-.1
Cantu .4/.1
Borbon 1.3/-.1
Blanco .9/.7

Texas has a stronger bench.

Lincecum 4.6/3.5
Cain 5.3/3.9
Sanchez 4.6/3.4
Bumgarner 2.9/2.2

Lee 4.6/4.3
Wilson 4.9/4.6
Lewis 4.1/3.6
Hunter 3.1/2.4

Our arms advantage, not as great as you want to say, not as great as their position player advantage. Lincecum's a good matchup against Texas's righty heavy lineup; SFG might be able to string some hits together against Lee.  There was some sentiment to move Cain to Game One, but that would mean he'd pitch in Texas in Game 5 - and for the same fly ball, offensive park reasons we kept him out of Philadelphia, it's better he pitches in San Francisco.  Lewis and Hunter might be tough matchups for us in Games 3 and 4 - were we to win both One and Two at home, hold the celebration, as the real possibility of Texas taking both 3 and 4 exists.  Lefties have good success against Hunter, look for a lefty heavy lineup in Game 4. Keith Law pointed out this week the huge difference in Ray/Yankee strategy against Hamilton, pretty clearly the heart of that lineup, was the amount of breaking balls Tampa fed him (successfully so in comparison to the Yankee fastball strategy).  Hopefully, that's our approach - hopefully, Lincecum's breaking ball is working in Game one, its absence in the NLCS was noticeable.

Wilson 6/3.3
Romo 2.4/1.6
Casilla 3/1.6
Lopez 2.4/1.6
Ramirez 1.6/1
Affeldt .9/0
Mota .5/-.4

Feliz 4.5/2.4
O'Day 2.7/2.1
Oliver 1.6/1.7
Ogando 1.9/1.7
Holland .7/.6
Nippert 1.1/.4
Rapada .1/.1

We'll see what happens with the last bullpen spots when the rosters are announced.  I would prefer Runtzler  and even Zito to Mota.  In fact, I'd like to see Zito get that last spot.  There is a thought we might take only ten pitchers and add a Ford or Velez for that last spot.  Guillen's disappearance, while not only acceptable but preferable, is weird - right - this isn't some injury issue, that dude got sent away.  He does have some good numbers against some Rangers arms (9-25 against Lee) and with all that AL experience, you wouldn't hate him as the last guy on the roster to pinch hit.

We had a slightly better regular season.  They have a better roster.  Not hugely better, but better.  You'd trade our 25 for theirs.  Cruz is an injury issue - but so are Ross and Torres - and at the time I write this, Torres playing in Game one is not a certainty, and that's a really big deal.  Texas is favored and the very smartest baseball people are forecasting that they will the Series.  I don't have any criticism of any of that.  it might rain Thursday, now, that doesn't really impact anything - the plan is to make it up Friday so the Series stays on schedule - but if we were to lose multiple days (the way we did in '62 and '89) such that Lee could pitch 3 times in the Series, then the Ranger advantage becomes really hard to overlook. 

Here's my forecast.
Let's say we win Game one.  8 day layoff for Lee, if he can lose a little sharpness maybe that's enough to get him outdueled by our guy, who I think matches up well against that lineup. Let's say we win Game two - I love Matt Cain in this series; it's close enough that I don't say a lot definitively about the matchups, but my strongest view of anything that happens in the series is that Cain pitches well in both of his starts.

We lose Game 3, we're going to struggle against Lewis, maybe more than against any of their starters, and right now you can't be sure how Sanchez is going to show (sort of why I'd like Zito on the roster, in case Sanchez can't get out of the third, I want someone to eat those game 3 innings).  But Bumgarner wins Game 4 in the battle of the kids to put us up 3 games to 1. If there's a game in the series where you're going to just feel sick with tension, it's probably - well, probably all of them, but I'll say game 4 is the worst.  Lee wins Game 5, so I'm splitting the battles between the two aces; we go home up 3-2, and Matt Cain wins game 6 and is named Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

Giants in 6.  World Champion San Francisco Giants. 

I'm getting a little teary eyed just thinking about it.

The Great Pumpkin finally arrives. 

Good luck everybody.

A History of the San Francisco Giants in the World Series

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I've been rooting for the San Francisco Giants for the past 33 years, and have been writing about them nearly as long.  You can click the label and find some of the posts - my reaction to our winning the 2010 World Series is here. My look at every NLCS in SFG history is here. Links to my summer of writing about every team in San Francisco Giants history can be found here. I've written lots about steroids, some of those pieces are here. And you can read a piece I first wrote 4 1/2 years ago about my SFG fandom here.

Or you can just read this history of the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.  Look - it's right here - right below - it's right here!

1962 – Yankees d. SFG 4 Games to 3

The best team in San Francisco Giants history was the ’62 club, the only SFG team ever with a hundred win pythag – at 94 wins, the Yanks were terrific, but you would have considered SFG the side were you investing.

The Giant “ace” in ’62 was Billy O’Dell; his 5.3 combined WAR/WARP for the season placed him behind both Sanford and Marichal – but he got the nod against Whitey Ford in Game One.  We were at home – the only time a World Series has ever opened in San Francisco, until this Wednesday night.

Hopefully, it works out better.  We lost 6-2; Maris doubled home Richardson and Tresh in the first and then they left two on in the second.  O’Dell got out of that jam, however, getting Richardson to end the inning – and in our half we got one back; Jose Pagan (3.9 combined WAR/WARP) bunting for a base hit with two outs to score Mays.  O’Dell walked two in the third, but struckout Skowron to escape, and we tied it in the bottom – Mays singling home Hiller, giving us two on and one out before the inning ended in a Cepeda double play.

Ford wriggled out again in the 4th – putting 2 on with 2 out before getting Harvey Kuenn (4.6 combined WAR/WARP).  Both pitchers largely settled down over the next few innings until Clete Boyer led off the 7th with a homer from which SFG wouldn’t recover.  The Yanks got 2 more in the 8th, the second coming off Don Larsen, and then one more off Stu Miller in the 9th for the 6-2 win.

Jack Sanford threw a 3 hit complete game shutout in Game 2.  Chuck Hiller (WAR/WARP 5.6) led off the second with a double down the right field line off Ralph Terry, was moved to third on a Felipe Alou bunt (yes, a no out second inning sacrifice to move a runner to third, small ball, ladies and gentlemen) and scored when Matty Alou hit the ball the other way, grounding out to second.  The Yanks got a runner (Tresh) in scoring position in the 4th – but that was the furthest either team was able to advance until a leadoff Willie McCovey (WAR/WARP 4.6) homer in the 7th gave us a 2-0 lead, which was the final margin.  Mantle doubled in the ninth for NYY only extra base hit, but the game ended with a harmless Maris ground ball.

71,000+ packed Yankee Stadium for Game 3 to see a combined 9 hits.  Bill Stafford gave up 4 of them, in a complete game 3-2 win for NYY – we got a couple walks in the top of the first, but couldn’t score – then a Jimmy Davenport (WAR/WARP 9.8) double in the second which didn’t produce a run.  Kubek doubled in the third, and Howard in the fifth - but neither crossed off Billy Pierce (WAR/WARP 4.5).  They got us in the 7th – consecutive singles to lead off the inning by Tresh/Mantle/Maris plated two and broke the scoreless tie, and Larsen gave up the third run of the inning on a Boyer groundout.   Down 3-0, Mays led off the ninth with a double, and two outs later Ed Bailey (3.9) hit a startling two run homer to get us back in the game.  Stafford got Davenport, however, and we were down 2 games to 1.

Future Hall of Famers Ford and Marichal squared off in Game 4 – a grand slam in the seventh got us the game and tied the series.  Tom Haller (7.5) hit a two run homer in the second (SFG catcher power in back to back games).  Despite batting for himself with two on and no one out in the fifth, Marichal got pulled for Bobby Bolin in the bottom – he benefited from the Yanks letting Ford hit with two on and no one out; his bunt attempt turned into Skowron’s getting thrown out at the plate and a Richardson double play got us out of the inning.  Bolin – who just got torched in this appearance – wasn’t as fortunate in the 6th: walks to Mantle and Maris – singles to Skowron and Boyer – and NYY got 2 to tie it up. 

We beat them in the 7th; Chuck Hiller hit a two out grand slam off Marshall Bridges in the biggest moment of his career, and life, one assumes – and added to it by driving in another run in the top of the 9th, giving us a 7-2 lead that turned into a 7-3 win.  Larsen, 6 years after his perfect game – to the day – was the winning pitcher.

Terry and Sanford rematched in Game 5.  We committed two errors in the first inning, but were able to slip out of it and took the lead in the third when Hiller (Chuck Hiller!  Chuck Hiller!) doubled home Jose Pagan.  NYY tied it in the 4th; the first two hitters reached, Tresh scoring on a wild pitch.  Pagan led off the fifth with a homer to give us a 2-1 lead that held until a 6th inning passed ball tied it up. 

2-2 into the bottom of the 8th – Game 5 of a totally square World Series – when Jack Sanford’s domination of the Yanks came to an abrupt end with a 3 run homer by Tom Tresh.  We got one back in the 9th on a McCovey single/Haller double – but we left New York 5-3 losers, down 3 games to 2.

Game 6 was five days later as rain blew through the Bay Area. Billy Pierce, at the end of a terrific and underrated career (coincidentally, his top comparison is Vida Blue) threw a 3 hitter to force Game 7.  We got 3 off Ford (his third start in 6 games) in the 4th on 3 hits and a walk – then two more in the fifth on 4 singles that chased the pretty clearly overly relied upon Ford.  Those 5 runs made the Maris homer in the top of the fifth incidental (NYY first hit of the game) as well as the Yanks final two hits/run in the 8th.  We won 5-2 and moved to Game 7.

For the third time in the series – Jack Sanford against Ralph Terry.  We got 4 hit and lost 1-0. 
Marichal got hurt late in the season; those 4 innings in Game 4 were all he could give us (Marichal’s top career comps, coincidentally, are Giants from a previous era, Hubbell and McGinnity).  Perhaps a healthy Marichal puts us over the top. 

Or perhaps not – 4 hits in a game 7 of the World Series are unlikely to bring home too many titles.  The only run Sanford gave up was on a fifth inning Kubek double play – Sanford also got us our first hit of the game, a sixth inning single.  Our second hit was louder – McCovey followed a bullet line drive out by Mays with a two out triple in the bottom of the 7th – but Cepeda struck out to end the threat.  Sanford loaded the bases with no one out in the top of the 8th as NYY looked to put us away – but O’Dell came on to get Maris and a Howard double play.  

Our third hit was a leadoff pinch bunt single by Matty Alou in the bottom of the 9th.  Terry struck out Felipe – Terry struckout Hiller – with two outs, Willie Mays (combined WAR/WARP 20.6) doubled to right but rather than risk getting thrown out at the plate – Alou held at third.

Bringing up McCovey.   On the second pitch he lined hard to an out of position Richardson.  And it was over. 

1989 World Series: Athletics d. Giants 4 Games to 0

It took us 17 years to get back.

The ’89 Giants had a 92 win pythag, making it the 9th best team in SFG history.  The A’s had 97 pythag wins, so we were dogs going in. 

We got smashed.  I liked the A’s, always had – I had gone to A’s games as a kid, caught my first of two lifetime foul balls in Oakland in ’85 (Mickey Tettleton), met my only MLB Hall of Famer ever after an A’s game (Don Sutton).  Followed McGwire since college; followed Canseco through the minors; Rickey Henderson, just ridiculously good in ’89, is my all time favorite non SFG player. 

So that the first SFG World Series of my lifetime was against the A’s, focusing the entire energy of the sports world on the Bay Area – was an excitement almost beyond which my 19 year old brain could process.  It was, to my eyes, ushering in baseball into the type of place of success that the Niners and Raiders had found.  And when I was 19 years old, I identified myself first and foremost through the success of sports teams.  SFG had largely been bad during my  decade + of fandom, but with a division title in ’87 and now a pennant in ’89 – clearly we were turning that around, and I could expect the Giants to ascend to a 49er level of success.  Titles all year around.  Forever.

Then came the wrath of an angry and vengeful God.  A pre-game 3 earthquake postponed the Series for ten days – a Series in which Oakland scored first in every game and which was just never in doubt, at any level, almost since the very first pitch.

I missed every game.  A college play took me away from each game (the only game I would have been able to watch live – Game 3) I watched them all on videotape, alone in my parents’ house to which I’d drive 90 minutes each night from campus, everyone long asleep as I fast forwarded through the carnage.  Revolutions occur not in periods of destitution (like our sub 70 win pythags in ’84 and ’85) but after gimmers of hope turn into monumental disappointment.   Not only losing – but losing in a way rendered totally inconsequential from an overarching tragedy.  I didn’t watch a single pitch with anyone, and have forgotten almost every detail of every game, it devolving into a fast forwarded flurry of early inning A’s extra base hits. It was as if we didn’t play in the World Series at all. A worse World Series experience one could not have imagined.

I mean, unless one were to have imagined 2002.  But I did not. 

We got shut out in Game one – Dave Stewart throwing a complete game 5 hitter.
Scott Garrelts was our best pitcher in ’89 (combined WAR/WARP 7.3) – he gave up 3 in the third on a walk, three singles, and an error.  Dave Parker homered in the third; Walt Weiss in the 4th – and that 5-0 score was the final.  Will Clark (WAR/WARP 19.7) and Kevin Mitchell (18.4) singled to open the 9th, but Stewart finished us off.

In Game 2 – we got all of 4 hits.

Rick Reuschel (5.7) was our second best pitcher in ’89 – he walked Rickey to open the bottom of the first – that walk turned…shockingly…into a steal of second – and that turned into a run when Carney Lansford (future SFG batting coach) doubled down the right field line.  We tied the score (Tied the score!) off Mike Moore in the third – Terry Kennedy (3.4) and Brett Butler (7.8) singled, Kennedy being swapped on the basepaths for Jose Uribe (2.8) after a fielders choice – and Uribe scored on a Robby Thompson (10.7) sac fly.   We were in the game all the way to the bottom of the 4th – a Parker double scored Canseco –  a three run Terry Steinbach homer made it 5-1, and the scoring for the evening was again done early.  Only one Giant reached second base the rest of the way as we went down lightly.

I took a Sports Management course my sophomore year in undergrad – we had a discussion during the ten days between games 2 and 3 about which team it might benefit.  The A’s argument was that it allowed Stewart to come back, my argument was, given how easily SFG had been beaten in Oakland, that this level of unexpected interruption at least provided a path to alter the trajectory of the Series.

The series did change – instead of the A’s scoring a handful of runs by the 4th and taking the rest of the game off – they decided to keep scoring all game long.

Oakland hit a record 5 homers in Game 3, beating us 13-7.  Lansford and Canseco singled off Garrelts and were both doubled home by Dave Henderson in the first; a Matt Williams (4.1 combined WAR/WARP) homered in the 2nd to cut the lead…briefly…to 2-1; I recall thinking as I watched the videotape that it felt like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom – that all the homer would do would make the A’s mad.  Dave Henderson and Tony Phillips homered – chasing Garrelts – in the 4th, and we were down 4-1. 

But in the bottom came really our best hope of the series – we hit Stewart, Clark/Mitch singling, Kenny Oberkfell walking to load the bases – and Terry Kennedy scoring two with a single to cut it to 4-3, I don’t remember if that brought me off the couch to high five the wall (a lifelong Jividen celebratory measure during games I watched alone – I may have invented the self high five during a Gerald Willhite run in a San Jose St game in the late 70s – but it seems like the type of thing which would have. 

Then Canseco and Henderson (Dave, once again) homered off Kelly Downs (-2.9) in the 5th – the Canseco shot was for 3 runs, and now it was 8-3.  Ten total bases in five innings for Dave Henderson; fortunately for the family Downs, Kelly was less impacted by this than had been others similarly afflicted by Hendu.

Lansford homered (a solo shot, yawn) off Brantley in the 6th – and here was Atlee Hammaker’s 8th inning:

Weiss – single
Blankenship – single
Rickey – fly ball, moving Weiss to third
Lansford singles – two runs score
Canseco singles
McGwire grounds out – Lansford scores
Hendu – hit by pitch
Steinbach singles – Canseco scores.

And scene.  Hammaker left and we were down 13-3. 

The JV got 4 in the ninth – Bill Bathe pinch hit a three run homer; Greg Litton doubled home Donnell Nixon after he singled to make the final a less repulsive seeming 13-7.

21 years to the day after game 3 of the ’89 series – game one of the 2010 series.

Mike Moore against Don Robinson (2.4) in Game 4 – Rickey led off the game with a homer, so we could start wrapping our minds around the sweep early.  The Caveman didn’t make it out of the second – double to Hendu, walk to Weiss – a double to the pitcher, Moore, that scored them both, then a single by Rickey that scored Moore and made it 4-0.

We had yet to have a runner reach scoring position when the A’s tacked on 3 more in the fifth off Mike LaCoss.  You can probably write the rest of this paragraph yourself – just toss in randomly some of the names you’ve been reading, give them credit for extra base hits – have it all add up to 3 runs.  It’s part of your critical interaction with the text.  

It was 8-0 when Mitch hit a two run homer in the 6th.  And then we ran through half the A’s staff (that’s what she said) in the 7th with a two run Litton homer, a triple by Candy Maldonado (2.2), a run scoring double by Butler, and a run scoring pinch single by Robby Thompson (10.7).  With the lead now 8-6 and one on with one out – Clark and Mitchell both flew out to left, ending our chance at..well, at most likely giving up more runs.  It was sort of a bloodbath.

We didn’t get another baserunner – Bedrosian gave up a run in the 8th and 9-6 was the final score, mercifully ending our second ever WS, the first of my life.

I never rooted for the A’s ever again.

2002 World Series Angels d. Giants 4 games to 3.
A mere 13 years later, we returned.

The 2002 SFG had 98 pythagorean wins, tied for our second best season ever with that ’93 team that led the division by eleven thousand games at the break and then watched Fred McGriff and Ed Pinckney hit 82% from the floor in the second half to lead the Villanova Braves past us.  That ’93 team remains, subjectively, the best, and most heartbreaking, club of my lifetime.

The second best – and second most heartbreaking – 2002.

We had been on the verge of this season for a few years – 2002 was not a surprise.  We lost to the eventual champion Marlins in the ’97 NLDS, were a significantly better team, with 91 pythag wins, in ’98, and finished second in the division in ’99.  The San Francisco Giants were baseball’s best team in 2000, with 97 pythagorean wins and a stunning NLDS loss to the Mets – so, despite it coming from a Wild Card position – we really blew through that 2002 season, taking out the Braves and Cardinals in a SFG Redemption October – and we were solidly poised against a slightly superior 101 pythag win Angels in the WS.

I was again going to school – in the intervening 13 years I had graduated from college, graduated from law school, became a member of the California Bar Association, left the practice of law, and just a couple of months before left teaching high school government to go to grad school for US History.  My parents house was, helpfully, about halfway between the university and my house – so I was able to watch a good amount of the postseason with them – including games one and two of the WS, the only WS games I’ve ever seen with my mother.

My mother is the primary origin of my SFG fandom; my first ever present was a 1970 autographed SFG baseball, the signatures obtained by her sister during the year I was born (ball was destroyed in a house fire – I should not, but I blame Salomon Torres)  I don’t know what lessons you specifically recall from childhood – for me, there were two.
  1. We’re Democrats. 
  2. We hate the Dodgers.
That’s really all you needed to survive my childhood; I adopted to those norms pretty ably.  But I’ve only seen two WS games with her; in ’89 – I had my play and watched all of the games on tape – in ’02, I was unable to make it over in Games 3, 4, 6, and 7 – and she was out of town in Game 5.  11 World Series games – we’ve watched two together.  It’s been a reference between us since, that we’d know when the Giants would get back to the Series when one of us had a scheduling conflict.

She’s out of town this week visiting her sisters; it’s been scheduled for a couple of months.

I didn’t want to talk about it – because you don’t say “what if we go to the World Series” unless you’re going to the World Series – but we were both aware, as SFG began a march to overtake the Padres, that she had scheduled a trip for the end of October.

8 years ago, I watched Game One with both she and my dad.  We won 4-3.

It started the way it should have started, a second inning Barry Bonds (combined WAR/WARP 24.7) homer (Reggie Sanders also homered, giving us a 2-0 lead).  Bonds, by WAR/WARP combination, is the second best player in the history of baseball (Babe Ruth) and the second best SFG (behind Mays judging only career as a SFG) ever – and his lined shot to right gave us a lead we’d never give up.  Troy Glaus got to Jason Schmidt (4.1) in the Angels half of the second; we loaded the bases in the 4th – but David Bell (6.4) flew to right to end the threat.  Schmidt got in trouble in his half, two men in scoring position for the Angels catcher…Bengie Molina…who grounded to third.

Anaheim left two on in the fifth – and we extended the lead in the 6th, JT Snow (-.1, people really liked JT Snow but dude was almost always awful) hitting a two run homer off Jarrod Washburn to give us a 4-1 lead that would hold up despite the Angels coming back with two in their half, the first on another Glaus homer.

Neither team got a hit after the sixth – and we had taken home field away from Anaheim.

We lost Game 2 11-10.  28 combined hits.  11 combined pitchers. 

Our best starting pitcher in 2002 was Russ Ortiz (6.4) but the Angels set him on fire in Game 2 with 5 runs on 6 hits that, at the time, looked like it had evened the series.

That pessimism lasted all of no batters.  Barry led off the second with a walk, Snow singled him to third – and Reggie Sanders (5.8) hit his second homer of the Series – a three run shot on an 0-2 pitch, to cut it to 5-3, and was immediately followed by a David Bell homer to make it 5-4, and we were back in the fight.

Russ Ortiz came back out in the bottom of the second.  I yelled at my parents’ set “Dammit Dusty, don’t you know you never leave Ortiz in when he doesn’t have it!”

I was right.  I’m almost always right.  Tim Salmon hit a two run homer and we were down 7-4.

And then it was 7-5.  Jeff Kent (16.1) led off the third with a homer to once again get us close.

And then it was 7-9.  John Lackey, relieving Kevin Appier, gave us a leadoff double to Rich Aurilia and then a Bonds walk in the 5th – he gave way to Ben Weber – who allowed a single to Benito Santiago, loading the bases with one out – and singles by Snow, Bell, and Shawon Dunston brought home four runs and we had come all the way back to take the lead.

They got one back off Chad Zerbe in the bottom. 

One off Zerbe/Witasick/Fultz in the sixth – tying the score.

Felix Rodriguez, my bĂȘte noir, gave up a 2 run homer to Tim Salmon in the 8th, and the Angels had us, despite Bonds hitting a ball off Troy Percival in the 9th that killed a family of 4 in the right field pavilion. We lost 11-10 and went home for game 3 with the Series tied.

I shouldn’t have said FRod was my bĂȘte noir, because there was just never a single second that I ever wanted to see Livan Hernandez (.7 WAR/WARP combined) take the mound for my baseball team.

He got pounded in a Game 3 that started promisingly, our loading the bases in the first with one out – scoring one on a Santiago groundout.  The Angels loaded them as well in the second, but Livan worked his way out of it – and we went to the third with that 1-0 lead.

The less said after that the better.

4 runs in the third. 

4 runs in the 4th.

It was 8-1, I was booing Livan profanely from the solitude of my living room, and we were on our way to being down 2 games to 1 (we came back with 3 in the fifth to halve their lead on Aurilia and Bonds homers.  10-4 was the final score.  It was discouraging.)

And then it was all better.  

We won both games 4 and 5.  Game 4 was stomach churning. 

They put two on in the first against Kirk Rueter (5.5).  They’re gonna win.  He got out of it.

We loaded the bases with one out in the first against Lackey.   Benito Santiago (5.8) hit into a double play.  They’re gonna win.

They loaded the bases with one out in the second.  They’re gonna win.  But they only got one.

Glaus hit a two run homer in the third.  Jesus.  We’re down 3-0.

In the third, we loaded the bases again.  With one out.  Again.  Benito Santiago hit into a double play.  Again.  They’re gonna win.

We got them all back in the fifth.  Rueter single.  Lofton single.  Aurilia single, scoring Woody.  Kent sac fly.  Scoring Lofton.  Third intentional walk of the game to Barry – how many games in baseball history have had 3 intentional walks before the end of the fifth.  This was one guy in Game 4 of the World Series.  3 intentional walks before the end of the fifth. 

Santiago beat them this time, singling to score Aurilia and tie the game.

And it stayed tied.  Runners stranded at third.  Double plays.  Tied.

In the 8th, we got ‘em.  Snow singled.  Got a base on a passed ball.  Scored on a Bell single.

4-3.  And we’re all tied at 2 games apiece. 

The last SFG game, and the only SFG playoff game, I ever watched alone with my dad was the least tense SFG playoff game in history – like the inverse of two of those A’s games from ’89 combined.  We scored 6 in the first two innings and just kept hitting; you know how theoretically a baseball game might never end – a team could just keep getting on base, batter after batter getting on base forever.

Game 5 of the 2002 World Series was infinite baseball; we scored 16 runs; it was literally a laugher – I started laughing in the second inning and laughed all the way during the drive back to my house 3 hours later.  JT Snow scooped up Dusty’s kid avoiding what might have been an ’89 earthquake sized overshadow of the Series had David Bell smashed into the three year old at the plate – and I laughed through that.  I mean – who goes up 3-2 in the World Series by winning 16-4?

Here are the 16 runs.  Laugh along with me.

First inning: Lofton single, Kent walk, Bonds double scoring Lofton, Santiago sac fly scoring Kent, bases loaded walk to Bell scoring Bonds.

Second inning: Lofton single, Kent double, Bonds intentional walk, Two run single by Santiago, sac fly by Sanders.

6-0.  Laughing.  ‘Cause we’re 7 innings from being up 3-2 in the World Series.

The Angels got 3 in the 5th (and then one in the 6th) – Schmidt couldn’t get through it, that’s why Chad Zerbe was the winning pitcher in the most fun game in SFG history.  It’s counterintuitive I understand, but I was almost glad they scored (not scored 4 – 4 was too many – but I specifically recall saying to my dad something to the effect of “this gives us the excuse to keep scoring” – as if we were otherwise afraid of running it up and losing BCS points.  It makes less sense with 8 years of reflection, but I saw it with complete clarity at the time – it’s good that they’re scoring – ‘cause that means we get to tear out their hearts and just blow through their bullpen.

Kent hit a two run homer in the sixth.  8-4.

Lofton tripled home Snow and Bell in the 7th – and then Kent hit another 2 run homer.  12-4.

We got 4 more in the 8th, a 3 run Aurilia homer and a Shinjo (Shinjo?  Yes, Shinjo was our CF before Lofton took his job.  Shinjo.  We had a 98 win pythag and Shinjo {2.8} was our CF) grounder that scored Snow gave us the final four runs.

16-4.  Going back to Anaheim up 3-2.  I looked at my dad as I left the house that night, and said words I am uncertain if I had said before – but I know I have not said since.

We’re gonna win the World Series.

Here’s the thing about October 26, 2002.  I blame myself.  And you just need to know that up front.  For no good reason other than I was seized by whim, I watched the game in my upstairs bedroom (I had a townhouse that I purchased with money I won on the ESPN game show 2 Minute Drill, largely based on my knowledge of the 1958 San Francisco Giants) on a small television as opposed to downstairs on my larger set (I say larger in a 2002 context; technology has made every set I owned 8 years ago like a vestige of the Paleolithic Era; I assume I brought it home from the Best Buy in a car I had to Fred Flintstone my way home through the courtesy of my two feet.

I watched every pitch from bed – right up until Dusty handed the gameball to Russ Ortiz as he pulled him with 8 outs left and a 5 run lead.

Yeah.  Yeah.  Because you pull Russ Ortiz when he gets in trouble, you see.  Thanks for finally listening to me, Dusty.  Yeah.

I’m almost always right, after all.

I thought we were going to win.  And I took the opportunity of the pitching change to go downstairs to watch the San Francisco Giants win the World Series on my larger set.

How we got there hardly matters.  Dunston hit a two run homer in the fifth.  Lofton doubled, stole third, and gave us a three run lead on a wild pitch.  Barry homered in the sixth.  Kent singled home Lofton in the 7th.  I remember his fist pump.  It was 5-0.  It was over.

With one out in the seventh Ortiz gave up consecutive one out singles.  FRod came in, Spiezio worked a full count and hit a 3 run homer. 

And then Erstad hit one off Worrell in the 8th.  Back to back singles – which led to Robb Nen giving up the 2 run game winning double to Glaus.

My mom, who had, as mentioned, been out of town, returned for Game 7 – and called me early in the day to ask if I’d come over to watch.  I told her it was over.  She said they’d really like me to come.  

I told her I just couldn’t.  I told her it was over. We were the '86 Red Sox after the Buckner game.

We scored first – a couple singles in the second and a sac fly put us up 1-0 in the second.  Livan gave it back in the second – and then a 3 run Garrett Anderson double in the third made it 4-1, which was the final score.  We put two in scoring position in the sixth – but Tom Goodwin (Tom Goodwin?) struck out to end our chance.  We put 2 on with 1 out in the 9th – but Shinjo (Shinjo?  You need a goddamn postseason roster with Tom Goodwin and Shinjo?  In the 7th game of the World Series I have to have crucial at bats from Tom Goodwin and Shinjo?) struckout and Lofton flew out and it was done.

A year later, I drove home with my parents from our NLDS loss to the Marlins.  I was in attendance in all four of our one run last at bat division series losses to Florida, the first 2 in ’97, the last in ’03 – and as we drove home, I said, quietly, resolutely, without feeling an ounce of the hyperbole of the moment –

We are never going to win the World Series.  Never.

It’s 2010.  I’m 40 years old. Game One is Wednesday night from San Francisco. 

We’re going to win the World Series.

2010: Giants d Rangers 4 Games to 1

And we did.

The fifth best team in SFG history, the 94 pythag winning 2010 team didn't leave any doubt at all in a dominant 5 game Series win over a favored Ranger team that they slightly outperformed during the regular season (91 pythag wins).

The first National League All-Star Game win since the Coolidge Administration meant that Games 1 and 2 would be played in San Francisco.  We hadn't hit a baseball in either serenity or anger with any consistency since Bonds was exiled, but batted around in both games.

Texas scored first, off the 2 time defending Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (8.7 combined WARP/WAR) a single by Elvis Andrus, a walk by Michael Young, a single by Vlad Guerrero and we were down 1-0.

That became 2-0 just an inning later; Bengie Molina, only the second player in WS history to play against a team from which he was traded at midseason singled, went to third on a Cliff Lee double, and scored on an Andrus sac fly.

That was the worst it would get.

We got them both back in the third - Edgar Renteria (2.2) benched for most of the season (and correctly so) reached on an error and took second when Andres Torres (with a combined WAR/WARP of 10 was the best SFG CF in 20 years) was hit by a pitch.  Cliff Lee, who entered Game 1 on a multi-year postseason roll, then gave up a double to Freddy Sanchez (4.1) and a base hit to the rookie catcher Buster Posey (at 7.4, the best SFG catching performance in two decades - and one that he seems likely to surpass multiple times over) tied the game.

We sent 10 the plate in the 5th.

A one out double by Torres.  Sanchez's third double of the game to score him. An inning extending two out walk by Pat Burrell (6) then singles by NLCS MVP Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff (12 - the best SFG performance by a position player since Bonds in '04)  and a 3 run home run by Juan Uribe (5.5) made it 8-2 and just like that, Game One was effectively over. 

The final was 11-7; Texas scored 2 in the 6th that chased Lincecum - we got our 3 additional in the 8th with a Renteria single, a Travis Ishikawa pinch double, the fourth hit of the game by Freddy Sanchez (a SFG WS record, for those of you in the future searching for that improbable trivia answer) and a Nate Schierholtz single.  The bullpen blew up a little in the 9th; Texas tacked on 3 runs in a way only meaningful to their loved ones.

Game 2 looked like the pitchers' duel Game 1 didn't turn out to be, Matt Cain (our best starter in 2010, with a combined WAR/WARP of 9.2) and CJ Wilson were scoreless until a Renteria fifth inning homer, followed a couple innings later by Uribe singling home a walked Ross.  2-0 Giants in the bottom of the 8th - and instead of white knuckling Game 2 onto the tarmac, we matched our Game One fifth inning by sending 11 to the plate and scoring 7 runs.

Yes, of course I'll tell you about them.  Yes.

Posey - 2 out single.
4 straight walks.
Renteria - 2 run single
Rowand - 2 run triple
Torres - run scoring double.

9-0 to the good guys.  We go to Texas up 2 games to 0.

I picked us to win the Series in 6; and this was the result I had anticipated, so I was neither giddy at 2-0, nor concerned when we couldn't hit Colby Lewis in a 4-2 Game 3 loss.

All the runs they needed came on a 3 run Mitch Moreland 3rd inning homer of Jonathan Sanchez (8), and all the runs they got were done when Josh Hamilton homered in the fifth; it wasn't his only hit of the series, but it was close. 

We hit two ourselves - Ross in the 7th, Torres in the 8th - but our lead was halved headed to Game 4.

I'm wrong as often as am I right, but my pre-series forecast said that the chip would be won or lost in Game 4, the youngest members of the two staffs, Madison Bumgarner (at 21, barely a blastocyst when we were swept in '89) against Tommy Hunter, who came in scuffling and left not demonstrably changed.

I was able to watch one game in the Series with my mom - it was Game 4, and it was never in doubt.  Lincecum was good enough in Game 1 - Cain better in Game 2 - but Bumgarner (5.1) better still in Game 4, we 3 hit the Rangers (Wilson getting the 9th inning). Huff hit an absolute torpedo 2 run homer in the 3rd, Posey homered in the 8th, and in between was a 7th inning Renteria single/Torres double.  We shut the Rangers out for the second time in the Series, the first team to pitch two WS shutouts in nearly half a century - and were poised to finish them off the following night.

You know how we had that 3 games to 2 lead in '02?   Did I mention that?  Funny story - we were 8 outs away with a 5 run lead up a game - and we lost.    Was it 8 outs?  I think it was 8 outs.  Hard to recall now for some reason.

Anyway, there was a year, maybe 2002, where the Giants were really, really close to winning the World Series and did not.

Yeah, that didn't happen this year.

We 3 hit them again in Game 5 - Lincecum with Wilson to finish it off.

You try to do something for your whole life and then it turns out the easiest part is actually doing it.

We had a couple of early innings baserunners.  Posey singled in the first; Torres in the third.  They took a walk in the third and got a Young single in the fourth.  Singles by each club in the 6th.  Lincecum and Lee both holding serve into the 7th inning.

Leadoff single by Ross.  Followed by an Uribe single. 

Two outs later - a 3 run Edgar Renteria home run.

The Giants were baseball's best team in 2010 when we scored 3 runs, baseball's second best team when scoring first and also had a sizeable advantage when hitting a home run. 

You don't ever say "We're going to win the World Series." - at least not out loud - at least not if you're a San Francisco Giants fan with some vague memory of some game where it looked like we'd win.  I can't recall now if it was Russ Ortiz or Jack Sanford leaving with a 5 run lead.  Not sure if it was Dave Henderson or Scott Spezio who hit the home run to wipe the lead away. 

Doesn't matter as much anymore, for whatever reason.

The Renteria homer was the end of the game.  They weren't going to score 4 runs off Lincecum.  They weren't going to beat us.  I sat on my couch that I bought in July.

Actually, that we bought in July - as 8 years after 2002 and 21 years after 1989, the main difference in this World Series as opposed to the previous - is now I'm not alone.  I've been with a woman for 3 years - she's my best thing.  Like winning the World Series every day.

I spent the rest of the game crying and shaking my head.  'Cause how could such a thing be possible?  How could it actually happen that the San Francisco Giants were going to win the World Series?

It happened like this:

Nelson Cruz homered in their 7th to make it 3-1.  A Kinsler walk brought the tying run to the plate - but Lincecum struck out Murphy/Molina to end the inning.

Posey singled in our 8th - but otherwise we got out of the way, as if our own baserunners were just postponing the celebration.

In the 8th - Lincecum struck out Moreland.
                 Andrus grounded back to Lincecum.
                 Young grounded to Uribe. 

You know how sometimes you'll root against Giants bats - it's raining hard, and we're up, and you think "make an out - we have to get through 5 innings." 

This was like all of those times put together.

We went down in order and Brian Wilson (9.3, our best closer year in a decade) came on.

Josh Hamilton struck out looking.
Vlad Guerrero grounded the first pitch to short.
Nelson Cruz struck out swinging on a full count.

No Bobby Richardson.

No Earthquake.

No 5 run lead with 8 outs to go.  Or something like that.

In 2010, the San Francisco Giants, for the first time ever, became World Series Champions.

1st and Ten: The Weekly Tendown October 17-23 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

So, what's new?

Here's Tendown 49.

First:  The Giants Win the Pennant.

The worst day of my life, to that point, was in September of 1989.  I had two lifelong goals - to go to USC to study broadcasting and to become the play by play announcer for the San Francisco Giants.  Were you to have asked me, really from the age of 8, but certainly since junior high, what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have given you those twin answers.

I was able to transfer to USC after my freshman year of college in Ohio; I started college when I was 17, and my process of selection left a little to be desired.  But by Christmas I had applied to USC and was on my way out the door by spring.  I burned as many bridges on my way out as a person who had told everyone he met since moving to Ohio when he was 11 that he was getting the hell out of there at his soonest opportunity would.  I packed everything I was taking with me in a couple of bags and set off across the country for the start of my real life. 

I was only there a week.  I lost my scholarship in some type of snafu that I'm not sure I still entirely understand; I think I missed a deadline somehow.  It was one of a handful of glaring examples of a "really not all that I thought I was" narrative the could be constructed about my young life.  I came back home, tail  tucked between my legs, firm in the belief that I had blown both halves of that dream.

A month later, the San Francisco Giants won the pennant for the first time in my life.  I was at the very lowest point in my life to that date and the Giants won the pennant.  It felt very real to me, in a way that it could only feel to a solipsistic 19 year old, that my baseball team was helping me through.  I'm not proud of that level of magical thinking, but I was only four years removed from wearing parachute pants, so I cut myself a bit of a break.

In July of 2002 I lost my job.  It was a crummy job, teaching for virtually no money and literally no benefits at a small private high school in south Florida.  But I was really good at it.  At least from my perspective I was really good at it.  I had a "pressure turns coal into diamonds" type of teaching demeanor then, and while the evidence for its success was real - it was easy for me to ignore the counter-evidence of students who had left the school unable to handle my courses.  The school was always on a tight financial edge, and losing student tuition because of my teaching style was unacceptable in a way that I did not sufficiently appreciate.  The part of the job that particularly worked for me was the complete level of academic freedom, but after 9-11 my Howard Zinn reading of US History and my critical legal studies approach to my legal courses drew almost constant scrutiny.  When the school year ended and I was told the budget wouldn't permit my continuing full time, it was not a surprise, I had been contemplating an avenue to not return for months - but it was a little traumatizing.  That job was my identity and I was a little lost. 

Two months later, the San Francisco Giants won the pennant for the second time in my life.  I was now 32 and didn't think of it as related to me in any way - but I was energized by it nonethless.  A couple years previous, I was in a tremendous financial hole, really without any hope of emerging, and my knowledge of the Giants won me some television money that gave my life a foothold - it wasn't magic, I caught a break and was prepared to take advantage of it - but to win money because of the Giants, the study of which had occupied so much of my life, was doubly nourishing.  That the Giants provided me some joy at a very difficult time just two years removed from that really filled me with a sense of optimism for the future. 

It's 2010.  I've had a hard year.  I've lost every dollar I had in the financial crisis; I've spent most of the year negotiating a sale of my house back to the bank.  My workload has risen exponentially, partially by need (I've had to add more classes to pay my bills) and partially because I live in the United States in 2010, and those of us lucky enough to have work have found the conditions at our jobs stretched beyond previous recognition.  I need to work every day of every month to pay the bills, and there is no visible end to that circumstance. 

And my dad died a few months ago, right at the beginning of the season, actually.  It feels a little greasy to mention it here.  I don't want it to be part of any narrative; it's not a device to tell this baseball story; it's my dad and I tear up every time I think about him.  But it's true; it just is.  The last time the Giants won a World Series game was Game 5 against the Angels - 8 years ago to this very day - we won 16-4 in just the most delirious explosion of "we're gonna win the by god World Series" you could ever imagine.  I watched the game alone with my dad; it was the last baseball game we ever watched alone together; it was the only Giants playoff game we ever watched alone together.  I'm not gonna tell you a Field of Dreams story; it doesn't fit my life particularly neatly and more than that, I just don't want to.  My dad is bigger than my blog, bigger than my lifelong devotion to this baseball team. 

But it's been a hard, hard year. 

And for the third time in my life - we're going to the World Series.  When Brian Wilson struck out Ryan Howard last night, I burst into tears.  The Giants aren't magically related to me in any way; their winning their third pennant of my lifetime doesn't really make my life better in any tangible way, and were we, almost inexplicably, to be able to win 4 more games, it wouldn't in any way foreshadow my prospects of future success.  It's just a game and not my life, despite my having spent the better part of that life devoted to that game.

But I'm grateful nonetheless.

The Giants won the pennant.  In 2010 of all things.  Who could have seen that coming?

After the jump - the rest of the Tendown:

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