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Dynasty

Friday, October 31, 2014

You know the funny thing?

If we just had the no-hitters, that's it - just the 3 no hitters since 2009, that would probably be good enough.  Toss in Cain's perfect game - definitely enough.  Give me some good seasons, maybe a short playoff run, my first ever no hitters, yeah, I'm totally good with this run of Giants baseball.

The San Francisco Giants have won 3 World Championships in the past five years.

Before that, we had won zero championships in all the years, so this has been better than that.

In 52 years in San Francisco before 2010, the Giants won 6 games in the World Series.

We've now tripled that total.



It took a dozen playoff wins to get there this year, starting when Madison Bumgarner threw a 4 hit shutout in Pittsburgh in the coin flip game to knock out the Pirates.  Here's what Bumgarner did this postseason:

1.03 ERA
52 2/3 IP
45 K, 6 BB

His career World Series numbers?

0.25 ERA
36 innings

Brandon Crawford hit a 4th inning grand slam and we eliminated the Pirates 8-0.



The best team in baseball this season was Washington, coincidentally led by a beloved Giant from two decades ago, Matt Williams.  We beat them 3 games to 1.

Jake Peavy before the trade had the worst season of his 13 year career, but as a Giant was our best pitcher down the stretch with an ERA+ of 16, so it wasn't startling that he held the Nats to two hits in 5 and 2/3 innings to win Game 1; Crawford continued here, with 3 hits, rookie second baseman Joe Panik had two, including a triple that led to his scoring what would turn out to be the winning run.

Game 2 may still be going on, like one of those cricket games that last two weeks.  18 innings, 6 and a half hours, the longest playoff game ever played, the Giants were down to their last out in the 9th, with no one on base and a 3% win expectancy. Panik worked a walk, leading to Williams helpfully removing Jordan Zimmerman from the game - Buster Posey followed with a single and Pablo Sandoval with a double that scored the tying run.

Yusmeiro Petit carried us in extra innings, going 6 and giving up 1 hit as the Giants 7th pitcher of the enervating night which finally ended with a Brandon Belt 18th inning home run.

Bumgarner lost game 3 on a throwing error, but Ryan Vogelsong came back with 5 and 2/3 the next day, giving up 1 run on 2 hits. Panik and Crawford again had two hits; Panik scoring the winning run on a 7th inning wild pitch.


Beating the Cardinals has become a Giants tradition; they were the other team on the field when we won the pennant in both 2002 and 2012.  We took it in 5 games this year.  Bumgarner got them in game 1, giving up 4 hits in 7 and 2/3, Pablo Sandoval had three hits, Travis Ishikawa, who was a teenager in the Giant organization when we won that pennant a dozen years before and was now the most makeshift of left fielders, had two.

They got us in the bottom of the 9th in game 2, setting up us getting them in the bottom of the 10th in game 3.

We blasted 4 in the first against another face from 2002, John Lackey; Ishikawa hit a 3 run double that should have won the game - but the Cards chipped away, 2 in the 4th, 1 in the 6th, 1 in the 7th, while we didn't get a hit after the 4th inning.

Until the 10th, when Juan Perez singled Crawford (who led off with a walk) to second, and then a Gregor Blanco bunt was thrown away by the Cardinal pitcher to give us the win.

We needed 3 more scoreless from Petit the next day; Vogelsong couldn't match his NLDS performance and we were down 4-1 in the third - we scored the next 5 including 3 in the 6th on a series of infield hits, to put us a game from our third pennant in 5 years.

The most famous moment in baseball history is probably Bobby Thomson's 1951 home run to give the New York Giants the pennant - 63 years later the Giants had another walk off pennant winning homer.  It wasn't from Michael Morse, but his 8th inning homer tied the game at 3 to set the stage for Ishikawa's three run shot to right to put the Giants back in the World Series.


The Giants took the 2010 Series in 5 games and swept in 2012 - this was not that; in 204 the Giants became the first road team since the '79 Pirates to win a game 7.

Game 1 was Bumgarner - he gave up 3 hits in 7 innings, Hunter Pence hit a two run first inning homer, and we won 7-1.

They won the next two, game 3 was close, game 2 was not - either way, we were down 2 games to 1 and when Vogelsong couldn't get out of the third in Game 4, we were down 4-1, giving the Royals an 84% chance to win that game too and hold a 3-1 Series lead.

Instead, the Giants scored the next 10 runs. We had 16 hits on the game, every member of the lineup reaching base.  Petit's 3 scoreless held the Royals down long enough for the bats to come through and even up the Series.

It became uneven the next night on a 4 hit/0 walk complete game shutout from Bumgarner.  12 more Giant hits sent the Series back to Kansas City.

The Royals smoked us in game 6 - setting up the finale.

Two for the Giants in the second.

Two for the Royals in the second - that ended Tim Hudson's (the oldest game 7 starter in World Series history) night, setting up Jeremy Affeldt's 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and after a third Giants run in the 4th inning (Morse singling home Sandoval) one of the more dramatic relief appearances in baseball history - 5 innings by Bumgarner in which he gave up just two baserunners (the second a single that, when followed by a two base Gregor Blanco error, put the tying run on third).

The Giants didn't score a run after the fourth inning in Game 7 of the World Series.

Because of Madison Bumgarner, we didn't need to.

One of my favorite stories after the Red Sox won in 2004 was of fans going to graveyards to tell their deceased relatives that their club finally won a title. There is no afterlife, there's this and that's that. But I'm not made of rocks.

My dad died during the 2010 season, he's missed all 3 titles.  My mom and I joke that clearly this means our never having won previously was his fault.

My brother died during the 2014 season, there's not a lot of joking yet about that. Bryan Danielson was in the parade for the World Champion Giants.  Somebody should tell him that.

There were a lot of close Giants losses in those 52 years - a lot of hard moments that define who you are as a baseball fan, and, to a greater extent than is healthy, as a person.

I'm gonna take these three titles, thanks.  Without any apology. If you've got more, I'll take those too.

The Giants are now officially a baseball dynasty.

Thanks, guys.













I Pick Football Games, Week 9 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Week 8 is here.

28-49
ECU -7 Temple loss 
Duke +3.5 Pitt win 
Geo St +11 App St. loss 
Air Force -3 Army win 
WKY +7 LA Tech loss 
BYU -4 Mid Tenn win 
S. Ala +2.5 ULL loss 
Cal +3 Ore St. win 
Ariz +1 UCLA loss 
Col St -7 SJ St push 
UAB +3 FAU win 
N Mex +1 UNLV win 
N Mex St +7.5 Tex St. loss
Nev -3 SD St. win

7-6
35-55


23-24
Carol +2.5 NO loss
Wash +2.5 Minn win 
Hou +2 Phil loss 
Pitt +1 Balt win 
NYJ +9.5 KC loss

2-3
25-27


Athlete of the Month, October 2014

September is here.


Madison Bumgarner.  Runners-up: Lorenzo Cain, Travis Ishikawa, Pablo Sandoval.

10 months down - who will be named 2014 Athlete of the Year?


January - Kevin Durant
February - Malcolm Smith
March - Breanna Stewart
April- Meb Keflezigh
May - Troy Tulowitzki
June - Lionel Messi
July -  Novak Djokovic
August - Rory McIlroy
September - Serena Williams
October - Madison Bumgarner

The World Champion San Francisco Giants










San Francisco Giants in Game 7

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It hasn't been good.

October 16, 1962 Giants 0 Yankees 1 (World Series)
It's got to hard to appreciate for people who just got here, but the Giants were losers; not like the Cubs, but like Charlie Brown, always getting the football pulled away at the last second.  The template for that self identification was set here, a four hit loss to Ralph Terry.  Willie McCovey made the most famous out in San Francisco history, a line drive right at Bobby Richardson to strand men on second and third.

October 14, 1987 Giants 0 Cardinals 6 (NLCS)
25 years later the Giants went to St Louis up 3 games to 2, lost Game 6 1-0 and then Atlee Hammaker gave up 4 in the second inning of Game 7, including a 3 run homer to Jose Oquendo that ended our season.

October 27, 2002 Giants 1 Angels 4 (World Series)
40 years had passed since McCovey and San Francisco had still never won a World Series, but in 2002 we came back to Anaheim needing just one game to win the title, blew a 5-0 7th inning lead in Game 6, and then Livan Hernandez gave up 4 runs in the first three innings, including a three run Garret Anderson double that ended our season.

October 22, 2012 Giants 9 Cardinals 0 (NLCS)
We've exorcised a lot of demons in the last five years, here, we were down 3-1 to the Cards, got a Barry Zito shutout in St Louis in Game 5, a Ryan Vogelsong win in Game 6, and then pounded out 14 hits including a 7 run blitz in the first three innings to win the pennant.

The New York Giants played in 2 Game 7s as well - lost them both.






I Pick Football Games, Week 8 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Week 7 is here.

25-46

VT +2.5 Mia loss
Mary +11 Wisc loss
WMich -10.5 OU win
WVA over Ok St win
Miss -3.5 LSU loss
ASt -3.5 Wash win

3-3
28-49

20-22
Detroit -3.5 Atl loss
Browns -6.5 Oak win
Rams +6.5 KC loss
Bills +3 Jets win
Wash +9 Dall win

3-2
23-24


2014 World Series Prediction

Monday, October 20, 2014

In 2010, I took the Giants, we were a little better than Texas.

                                 In 2012, I took Detroit, they were better than we were.

We won both years - this year, I've picked against the Royals in each of their three rounds, and against the Giants in the Division Series matchup with Washington.  I don't really think there's a good system to make postseason baseball predictions, beyond that, historically, the better team wins more than it loses.

Giants 87
Royals 84

Those are the pythagorean records for the two teams - both super low - this is only the third World Series in 110 years to match two teams with fewer than 90 pythagorean wins, expanding the playoffs has had exactly the impact you'd expect, increasing the likelihood that the best regular season teams do not win the pennant.  There's not enough daylight between 87 and 84 for it to be anything more than the slightest possible of advantage for San Francisco - were you to say the Royals had a tougher strength of schedule, beat the Giants head to head, have home field advantage, and the Giants are missing their leadoff hitter as factors to swing that the other way, that makes sense to me.

I'd be concerned if the Royals had more left handed arms; the current lineup configuration (Blanco/Belt/Crawford/Ishikawa/Sandoval) is heavily left handed, enough that as a Giants fan I'd much rather see Guthrie in Game 3 than Duffy.  So, thanks, Ned.

The Giants have better position players; save for Gordon and Cain, each was better this year than his Royals counterpart.

KC has better arms, except for Bumgarner, each Royal was better than his Giant counterpart, starters and bullpen.

For what it matters, I can't imagine anyone would prefer Yost to Bochy.

There isn't inherently a great reason to pick either team; the Giants have the best pitcher in the series and the position player you'd take first were you choosing sides.  The Giants have experience to the extent that matters.  The Royals haven't lost a game in the post season.  There's a reason this is essentially a dead even series at the sportsbooks.

I'll take my club.  Giants in 7.  

Here are the clubs, WAR is a combination of B-Ref and Davenport, position players OPS+ is listed, as is pitchers ERA+.

C Posey 5.65  143
C Perez  3.15   90

1B Belt 1.4    114
1B Hosmer .7  98

2B Panik 1.75    104
2B Infante  -.85  76

SS Crawford 3.8  104
SS Escobar    2.8  92

3B Sandoval 4.05  111
3B Moustakas 0    74

LF Ishikawa .5    109
LF Gordon 6.15  117

CF Blanco 1.45  103
CF Cain    4.35  108

RF Pence 3.55  121
RF Aoki  1       98

DH Morse 2.05  130
DH Butler .1      95

Bench:

Arias   -.1     67
Perez   -.9      41
Susac   1       125
Duffy   -.05    74

Dyson   2.2    82
Colon    .6      139
Willingham .15  104
Gore     0        55
Kratz    .1         119



Game 1 Bumgarner 5.05 117
              Shields    3.4    124

Game 2 Peavy  2.1  100
            Ventura 3.6  125

Game 3 Hudson  .85   98
            Guthrie   1.4   96

Game 4 Vogelsong .9  87
             Vargas     2.5   107

Casilla  2.45 207
Holland 3.65  277

Romo .35  94
Herrera  2.75   282

Affeldt 1.5   154
Davis   4.15  399

Petit     .65       95
Frasor   .8        266

Lopez .45   113
Finnegan .25  326

Machi 1.75   136
Strickland .3    
Lincecum  -1.1  74

Duffy 3.75 157
Collins  .2     105



2014-2015 NBA Predictions

Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014-15 NBA Predictions. Win Total Projections. Where there's a win total investment opportunity, I'll note.

East
1. Cleveland 65 (over 58.5)
2. Chicago 56
3. Washington 47
4. Atlanta (over 42) 46
5. Charlotte 45
6. Toronto 42 (under 48.5)
7. Detroit 40 (over 36)
8. Miami 39 (under 44.5)

Brooklyn 35 (under 42)
NYK 34 (under 41)
Indiana 32
Milwaukee 26
Orlando 24
Boston 24
Philly 15


West
1. LA Clippers 60 (over 56.5)
2. San Antonio 56
3. OKC 54
4. Houston 53 (over 49.5)
5. GSW 52
6. Portland 49
7. Dallas 48
8. New Orleans 47

Memphis 43 (under 48.5)
Phoenix 42
Denver 39
Minnesota 33 (over 27.5)
Sacramento 30
Utah 28
LALakers 26 (under 30.5)


I'll take Cleveland to beat the Clippers in the NBA Finals.




Top 100 NBA Players, 2014-15

Here's my ranking of the Top 100 players in the NBA for the 2014-15 season. Not a fantasy ranking.

100. B.Beal SG Wash
99. A. Johnson PF Tor
98. Mark. Morris PF Pho
97. CJ Miles SG Ind
96. B. Wright C Dall
95. A. Varejao C Cle
94. J. Henson PF Mil
93. J. Johnson SG Brook
92. D. Rose PG Chi
91. K. Thompson SG GSW

90. J. Sullinger PF Bos
89. J. McRoberts PF Mia
88. D. Gallinari SF Den
87. J. Crawford SF LAC
86. T. Chandler C Dall
85. D. West PF Ind
84. T. Parker PG SA
83. JR Smith SF NY
82. M. Chalmers PG Mia
81. P. Pierce SF Wash

80. R. Hibbert C Ind
79. M. Ellis SG Dall
78. S. Hawes PF LAC
77. C. Andersen C Mia
76. R. Rondo PG Mia
75. B. Knight PG Mil
74. D. Jordan C LAC
73. N. Vucevic C Orl
72. N. Mirotic PF Chi
71. J. Hill C LAL

70. R. Gay SF Sac
69. T. Evans SF NO
68. Z. Randolph PF Mem
67. B. Jennings PG Det
66. A. Iguodala SF GSW
65. V. Oladipo SG Orl
64. R. Lopez C Port
63. M. Plumlee PF Brook
62. J. Calderon PG NY
61. P. Beverley PG Hou

60. W. Matthews SG Port
59. N. Pekovic C Minn
58. M. Ginobli SG SA
57. C. Bosh C Mia
56. D. Green SG SA
55. B. Lopez C Brook
54. T. Jones PF Hou
53. J. Smith PF Det
52. J. Butler SG Chi
51. T. Young PF Minn

50. J. Holliday PG NO
49. M. Carter-Williams PG Phi
48. G. Hill PG Ind
47. C. Parsons SF Dall
46. M. Gasol C Mem
45. A. Horford C Atl
44. J. Teague PG Atl
43. K. Bryant SG LAL
42. D. Favors PF Utah
41. G. Hayward SF Utah

40. K. Faried PF Den
39. R. Rubio PG Minn
38. G. Monroe C Det
37. K. Korver SG Atl
36. T. Ariza SF Hou
35. A. Jefferson C Char
34. L. Aldridge PF Por
33. I. Thomas PG Pho
32. E. Bledsoe SG Pho
31. T. Lawson PG Den

30. T. Duncan PF SA
29. K. Walker PG Char
28. S. Ibaka PF OKC
27. R. Anderson PF NO
26. K. Leonard SF SA
25. D. Williams PG Brook
24. D. Nowitzki PF Dall
23. N. Batum SF Port
22. G. Dragic PG Pho
21. D. Wade SG Mia

20. M. Conley PG Mem
19. D. Lillard PG Port
18. P. Millsap PF Atl
17. J, Noah C Chi
16. D. Howard C Hou
15. J. Wall PG Wash
14. C. Anthony SF NY
13. K. Lowry PG Tor
12. K. Irving PG Cle
11. D. Cousins C Sac

10. B. Griffin PF LAC
9. R. Westbrook PG OKC
8. A. Drummond C Det
7. K. Durant SF OKC
6. K. Love PF Cle
5. S. Curry PG GSW
4. J. Harden SG Hou
3. A. Davis PF NO
2. C. Paul PG LAC
1. L. James SF Cle

















The History of the San Francisco Giants in the World Series

Friday, October 17, 2014


Would you like to read a 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 pythagorean wins – 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 2.65 WAR (combination of baseball-reference and Clay Davenport) for the season placed him behind both Jack Sanford and Juan Marichal – but he got the nod against Whitey Ford in Game One.  We were at home – it would be a half century before a World Series would open in San Francisco again.

 We lost 6-2; Roger Maris doubled home Bobby Richardson and Tom 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 (1.95 WAR) bunting for a base hit with two outs to score Willie Mays.  O’Dell walked two in the third, but struckout Moose Skowron to escape, and we tied it in the bottom – Mays singling home Chuck Hiller, giving us two on and one out before the inning ended in an Orlando Cepeda double play.

Ford wriggled out again in the 4th – putting 2 on with 2 out before getting Harvey Kuenn (2.3 WAR).  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 (2.8 WAR) 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) 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 (2.3 WAR) homer in the 7th gave us a 2-0 lead, which was the final margin.  Mickey 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 4.9) double in the second which didn’t produce a run.  Tony Kubek doubled in the third, and Elston Howard in the fifth - but neither crossed off Billy Pierce (WAR 2.75).  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 (1.95) 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 (WAR 3.75) 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.  He did not hit it three or even two feet higher. And it was over. 



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

It took us 27 years to get back.

The ’89 Giants had a 92 win pythag. 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 lifetime 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 glimmers 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 (3.65 WAR) – 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 9.85) and Kevin Mitchell (9.2) singled to open the 9th, but Stewart finished us off.

In Game 2 – we got all of 4 hits.

Rick Reuschel (2.85) 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 (1.7) and Brett Butler (3.9) singled, Kennedy being swapped on the basepaths for Jose Uribe (1.4) after a fielders choice – and Uribe scored on a Robby Thompson (5.35) sac fly.   We were in the game all the way to the bottom of the 4th – a Dave 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 (2.05 combined WAR) 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 (-1.45) 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.

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 (1.1), a run scoring double by Butler, and a run scoring pinch single by Robby Thompson.  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.

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.   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.

In 2002, 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 (12.35) homer (Reggie Sanders also homered, giving us a 2-0 lead).  Bonds, by WAR 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 (2.05) in the Angels half of the second; we loaded the bases in the 4th – but David Bell (3.2) 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 (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 (3.2) 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 (2.9) 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 (8.05) 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  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 (2.75).  They’re gonna win.  He got out of it.

We loaded the bases with one out in the first against Lackey.   Benito Santiago (2.9) 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 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.

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 then 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.



2010: Giants d Rangers 4 Games to 1

And then we did.

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 (4.35) 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 (1.1) benched for most of the season (and correctly so) reached on an error and took second when Andres Torres (with 5 WAR 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 (2.05) and a base hit to the rookie catcher Buster Posey (at 3.7, the best SFG catching performance in two decades - and one that he seemed 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 (3) then singles by NLCS MVP Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff (6 - the best SFG performance by a position player since Bonds in '04)  and a 3 run home run by Juan Uribe (2.75) 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 (what ever became of that guy?) 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 WAR of 4.6) 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 (4), 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 (2.55) 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 had been with a woman for 3 years by the 2010 Series- 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 (4.65, 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.

2012 Giants over Tigers 4 games to 0

I picked the Tigers in 7.

I’d like to say I picked the Tigers in 7 because, as a Giants fan for each of the conscious days I either take pains to appear objective in prognostication or am looking to fake out the Baseball Gods, but I did pick the Giants over the Rangers two years prior. 

I picked the Tigers because they were nominally the better side; their stars and scrubs roster composition is designed for postseason success.  Detroit came into the World Series with both the best bat (Miguel Cabrera) and the best arm (Justin Verlander) in all of baseball.  I picked the Tigers because the Giants had been fortunate; the team that rallied from 0-2 in the Division Series and then 1-3 in the NLCS wasn’t more likely to be the team that showed than the unit that fell behind in those respective series.  I picked the Tigers because the Giants were, intentionally, heading into the contest with less than their optimum roster. In the NLCS Tim McCarver said the Giants leaving Melky Cabrera off their postseason roster made it a "non-story"; another story to tell would be "Giants intentionally leave second best hitter off the roster without a baseball reason for doing so" which sounded like a pretty important story.  I sit in the front row in both the “chemistry isn’t important” and “PEDs aren’t that big a deal” schools of thought so I was disinclined to accept either the argument that a drug free Melky wasn’t an upgrade over Aubrey Huff or that his return to the club would cause Brandon Crawford to start kicking ground balls out of distraction that a teammate that he was unhappy with was on the end of the bench. 

And I picked the Tigers because the pitching matchup planned for Games One and Five was maybe the biggest mismatch in recent World Series history.

Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball; he had a 7.5 WAR (Baseball-Reference version) in 2012 and an 8.2 the previous year; 8 WAR is a Most Valuable Player Quality season, meaning in back to back years, you could have safely tossed Verlander an MVP vote without issue. 

Barry Zito’s WAR was 3.  Not during 2012.  Not during 2011 and 2012.  Barry Zito’s total combined WAR in all of his 6 seasons as a San Francisco Giant was 3. 

Half a season of Justin Verlander= Barry Zito’s entire Giants career.

I picked the Tigers in 7. 

I also voted for Dukakis.  These things happen sometimes.

The left fielder whose name dare not be spoken, 2012 version, was the MVP of the All Star-Game, and that gave San Francisco its first home World Series Game One in 50 years.  It was a game that saw Pablo Sandoval, maybe one of the dozen most popular Giants over that half century, put his name in the record books.

In the bottom of the first, with two out and an 0-2 count, Sandoval took a 95 mile per hour Verlander fastball over the center field fence.  Neither team allowed another baserunner until a third inning Angel Pagan double off the third base bag; that was followed by a run scoring Marco Scutaro single, and after a visibly irritated Verlander received a visit from the Tigers pitching coach – Sandoval hit another 95 mph fastball over the fence, this time to left field. 

When you’re ahead in a baseball game, even with what might “feel” like a relatively limited lead, 3-0 through 3, the chance that you will lose that baseball game is really small.  In this case – 10%.  You remember the comebacks, but baseball is a data rich endeavor; and from that position in a baseball game, we’ve got a good statistical understanding that the team that’s ahead wins 90% of the time.

And that’s what happened.  Barry Zito, who would be the winning pitcher in Game One, singled home Brandon Belt in the 4th; and with Verlander out of the game in the 5th, Pablo Sandoval became the 4th man in World Series history to homer three times in the same game, hitting an Al Alburquerque slider over the center field wall.

4 men in a hundred and eight years. Ruth.  Reggie. Pujols. Panda.

That made it 6-0, the final was 8-3.  Cy Young got beat by Sayonara and the Giants were up 1-0.


The Giants lied to us prior to Game 2.  Madison Bumgarner’s the fourth youngest game winning starter in World Series  history but he had been brutal down the stretch and a playoff ERA of over 11 got him shelved in the back end of the NLCS.

But the Giants said they made a mechanical adjustment and he was ready to go.  Anytime you ignore a couple of months of declining performance in favor of vague pitching coach promises that things are “all fixed” you’re going to be handing cash to your sportsbook.

Bumgarner went out and struck out 8 in 7 scoreless innings; the Giants gave up just two hits and beat the Tigers 2-0.  Apparently he’s all better now. 

Other than the second, in which Prince Fielder got thrown out at the plate and the Giants left the bases loaded (Tigers pitcher Doug Fister’s memory of the inning may be spotty, he took a line drive off the head) neither club had a runner reach scoring position until the Giants broke through in the bottom of the 7th.  Fister’s last pitch thrown was a leadoff single to Pence; Drew Smyly came on, walked Brandon Belt, and then loaded the bases on a slowwwwwww bunt single that hugged the third baseline.  We only got one, on a Brandon Crawford double play, but a 1-0 lead headed to the 8th inning gives you a 77% chance to win a baseball game.  We picked up the second run an inning later on 3 walks and a sac fly; and hitless innings from Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo gave the Giants a 2-0 win and a 2-0 lead.

A 2-0 World Series lead is sort of a big deal.  It had happened 50 times prior to 2012 and 40 times there was no comeback.  14 of the past 15 teams to go up 2-0 won the World Series.  We headed to Detroit solidly, solidly in the driver’s seat.

image
Back in the modern deadball era, in 1966, the Baltimore Orioles threw back to back shutouts in a World Series.  It hadn’t been done since.

The San Francisco Giants drafted 20 year old Ryan Vogelsong 14 years ago.  Our top pick that year was Nate Bump; in 2011 after 13 minor league seasons and almost 1100 minor league innings pitched, Bump was still pitching for Lehigh Valley. 

Now is the time when I'd say something like "it's hard to make it in the Show" but that's a little more Ring Lardner than I can get away with. 

Vogelsong was in the same Single A clubhouse with Giants farmhands like Damon Minor and Joe Nathan; in the same Double A clubhouse with Scott Linebrink and Cody Ransom; in the same Triple A clubhouse with Calvin Murray and Ryan Jensen.  Lot of Ghosts of Giants Past, Well Less Past and More Ghost of Giants Never in Vogelsong's real view mirror. 

And then he was gone - sent to Pittsburgh in 2001 in the Jason Schmidt trade. 

When your prospects leave, particularly in what turned out to be an incredible heist, you lose track of them quickly; one day Vogelsong's someone you're keeping track of in Shreveport, and the next he's just another guy bouncing around. 

Nashville.
Lynchburg.
Altoona.
Indianapolis.

3 seasons in Japan.  And not great seasons.  Ryan Vogelsong was 11-14 with an ERA over 4 in over 200 innings pitched before returning to the States in 2010 to get kicked around AAA in both Salt Lake and Lehigh Valley.  33 year old Ryan Vogelsong hadn't thrown a pitch in the major leagues in five years when he returned to the Giants organization in 2011.

Ryan Vogelsong had been gone a decade.  He missed our losing Game 7 of the World Series; he missed our getting knocked out of the playoffs on a home plate collision; he missed Barry Bonds breaking both the single season and career home run records; he missed the bottoming out of the organization at the end of the first decade of the 2000s and he missed the first World Series Championship in the history of San Francisco. 

Almost all of the pivotal moments in recent Giants history - and Ryan Vogelsong, who first signed a Giants contract when Bill Clinton was President, has no connection to any of them.

In 2011, Ryan Vogelsong had his career year; he had more value (by WAR, B-Ref version) in 2011 than the entire rest of his career combined, and tonight, with the Giants having already won four elimination games in this year's postseason, Ryan Vogelsong struck out 9 (his career high) and won his second game of the NLCS.

Ryan Vogelsong was 34; I don't know what level of reflection he allows himself - if he thought about Altoona or the Hanshin Tigers - if he thought about that 20 year old kid who signed his first contract in 1998 and what would become of him.  I know in my own life during moments of unexpected, seemingly life altering triumph who I've most wanted to tell is an earlier version of me; to tell him to hang in there, to keep punching, that a day would come where I'd approximate the person I wanted to be.

I don't know if Ryan Vogelsong does any of that.

Ryan Vogelsong (backed up by Tim L:incecum and Sergio Romo) shut out the Tigers in Game 3 of the World Series; taking him to a postseason 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA.  

All of the runs were scored in the Giants’ second on a Hunter Pence walk, Gregor Blanco triple, Brandon Crawford single.  It was 2-0 good guys and that was that – Detroit threatened periodically, two on in the third, loading the bases with one out in the fifth, but Vogelsong held firm.  Lincecum came on with two out in the 6th and didn’t give up a hit in his 2 and 2/3, capping off a season saving postseason bullpen run of 1 earned run in 13 innings with 17 strikeouts. 


They’ve been doing this World Series thing for a hundred eight years; a team had never come back from a 3-0 deficit.  The Giants entered Game 4 having not trailed in 54 consecutive innings. 

The second streak ended, the first did not.

San Francisco took the lead early on a second inning Pence double/Belt triple.  A wind aided two run Cabrera homer gave Detroit its first lead of the series in the third.  Three innings later it was Buster Posey retaking the lead for the Giants by hitting a Max Scherzer changeup just on the good side of the left field pole; a lead that Matt Cain gave up in the bottom half on a Delmon Young solo shot.’

3-3 in the 7th.  3-3 in the 8th.  3-3 in the 9th.

12 years ago LSU beat Stanford in the College World Series on a single to left by Brad Creese in the 9th inning to break a 5-5 tie.  Ryan Theriot was the winning run, sliding home from second base.



Theriot was the DH in Game 4 and after a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt, he stood on second base with the man who took his job, NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro, at the plate.     

Scutaro singled to left.

Theriot slid home.



Sergio Romo struck out the side in the bottom of the tenth, and for the second time since moving to San Francisco in 1958 and the second time in three years, the Giants were World Champions.




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