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..
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.
Texas has a stronger bench.
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.
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.