Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The World Series

From OddShark:

From VegasInsider:

From 538:

Certainly the Cubs are the favorites--they scored the third most runs in baseball and gave up the fewest. They also won the most games. They are the best team. But the Indians are good. They were expected to do well this year and they have played well all season and beat two good teams to get to the Series. So a Cleveland upset is not unreasonable. It would be a good bet. The favorites don't win as often as they "should" in baseball, I'm not sure why that's the case other than to say "anything can happen" in a small handful of games. I think the Chicago starters give them the edge and I'll be surprised if they don't make the biggest impact on the outcome. But that's why we watch--there are no sure things!

By the way, fuck football. Baseball is so much better. I'll be sad when the season is over. I don't really care who wins the Series, I just want to see some good baseball.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Cleveland Rocks

The Cleveland Indians will be hosting their first-ever World Series opener on Tuesday. The Tribe went 7-1 in the playoffs, allowing only 7 runs in their sweep of the Red Sox and only 8 runs in the five games against the Blue Jays. Andrew Miller pitched 11-2/3 innings across six of those games, whiffing 25 of the 41 batters he faced while allowing only five hits, two walks, and no runs. Acquiring him obviously had the biggest impact on the AL race. Congratulations to them for a great season. They have not won the World Series since 1948--losing in 1954, 1995, and 1997. Manager Terry Francona adds another pennant to his already impressive resume.

Down in Los Angeles the Dodgers have to be a bit dismayed that the Cubs seem to have found their collective batting stroke with a 13-hit, 10-run attack to even the NLCS two games apiece. Chicago's lefty ace Jon Lester goes tonight. The Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw scheduled for Game Six in Wrigley. Replay denied LA an early score as Adrian Gonzalez was called out at home after apparently beating the tag. He tweeted "Us against the world" after the game. I don't know about that--this is the Dodgers who have not only the best attendance but the highest payroll, not to mention an internationally-recognized brand. Seems like the "world" is filled with Dodgers fans! "Us against the ML replay system" might have been better. It did look like he was safe, although there could have been a gap between his hand and the plate at the moment of the tag. I'm glad I don't have to make those calls.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

First and Third

I was going to hold off and not post or comment until after the World Series but two things are true: (1) I'm a hopeless Giants junkie and (2) the Giants just fired two coaches. Bill Hayes and Roberto Kelly are out as first and third base coaches. I did not see that coming. They may or may not stay with the organization (all I know I got from the tweets in the sidebar, mostly from Baggs, reporting on the post-mortem press conference). So, that's what's up!


p.s. No doubt we've seen some poor baserunning this season, whether that was the fault of Hayes/Kelly I can't say, but firing coaches is a long-established practice, as we know. Thank you, gentlemen, for your efforts, and good luck going forward.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's Over

6-5 Cubs
Fittingly it was a bullpen collapse that ends the Giants season. An impressive Matt Moore held the Cubs at bay over eight innings but five relievers gave up four runs in the final frame to doom our Game Five hopes. It was a longshot, but it sure looked like it would pay off. Alas, the Giants could not overcome their fatal flaw--relief pitching--and the Cubs prevailed and continue their impressive run. It could have been otherwise. The Giants had a real shot to take this game, but we've said that a lot this season. The Giants lost a heap o'games this year that they really ought to have won, and this was just another to add to the pile. Except that it ended the season. I suppose the shock and dismay are muted a bit by the inevitability. You knew the 'pen would gag a big one at some point. Welcome to that place, my friends. I was looking forward to Cueto v. Lester on Thursday, perhaps the baseball gods punished me for my hubris. If so, all I can say is mea culpa.

I reckon there will be lots to talk about this off-season. There always is. We'll get to it, I'm sure. Right now I need a break. The Giants are done. So am I.

Readers, writers, lurkers, commenters, followers, friends, and fans: thank you, as always, for joining me on this journey.


Late Game, Giants Win!

If adversity is strength, the Giants are a very, very strong team.  They do not make it easy on themselves or their fans, either.  But they are not out of it yet, and have been in this place before, like for instance, 2012 vs Cincinnati. 

Getting Super-Aroldis was huge, it must have put doubts in the Cubs mind as to whether they could lose this series.  Or does that really happen?  Maybe only in the minds of the fans.  But that's good enough for today.  Too bad that, once that happened, the fans then had to believe that the Giants can also blow saves, because they did.  I felt bad for Romo, who went an inning too far, but it shows that, after all the struggles this season, the Giants still don't really have a closer.  That is not true of the other teams, and may hurt the Giants yet (again).  Our ace, Madison Bumgarner, was not his uber-self.  101 pitches in 5 innings, mainly because used 40-something in the 2nd, when the Cubs got a home run and then put runners on before we got out 3 outs.  But he went 5, and then the Giants chipped, chipped, chipped until they were able to take the lead, in spite of what seemed to be bad calls inevitably going against the Giants.  The rest of the pitchers looked great.  Law gave us 2, Strickland 1, Smith 1 and rookie Ty Blach 2.  He got the win.  Buster went 3 for 5.  Span and Crawford were each 2 for 6.  Conor Gilaspie was the hero against Chapman, and Joe Panik (3 for 4) came through in a big way in the 13th.  We need his bat.  I'm exhausted and we have to do this again today.

Meanwhile, one of the most annoying-fanbase teams got eliminated and another is down 2 - 1.  The AL is going to sit around until the AL Championship series starts between the Blue Jays and Tribe. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Cubs Live Up To Hype

CHI 5 SF 2 at Wrigley
The clinical Chicago Cubs surgically removed Giants starter Jeff Samardzija after two innings and despite an injury to starter (and NL ERA leader) Kyle Hendricks their bullpen squelched any thought of scoring and they emerged with a win and a two-zip lead in the series. As ChuckieD said:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, . . .
Thus we have the 2016 season. I am immensely excited by the resurrection that happened against Colorado and Los Angeles that launched the Giants into the wild card game. I'm overjoyed by the spectacular win they conjured up over New York to get the playoffs. I did think the Giants could get a win in Chicago before coming home. Alas, it didn't happen.

Madison Bumgarner, once again, is tasked with rescuing the Giants. Who better? It's pointless to think past Monday. MadBum at home in an elimination game: should be some spectacular baseball theater. Let's hope the good guys prevail.



Friday, October 7, 2016

NLDS Game 1 : One Mistake

1-0 loss at CHI

JohnnyC was everything we needed him to be.  Almost.  His dazzling, 8 inning, 10 strikeout, 3 hit performance was all for nothing because one of those hits caught a breeze and landed in a stupid basket on the left field fence.  Buster's last gasp against Chapman did not find any friendly baskets, so we lost.  So close. No denying that these guys are good, we threw our best at them and theirs was a little bit better.

So now we have to take three of four against the best team in baseball.  An imposing task, for sure.  The Shark gets the call first, then MadBum when it returns to SF.  If we can find a way tomorrow, the advantage will return to us.  I think we can do it.  What about you guys?  Holding up OK?  If every game is like the last two, I may end up with an ulcer, but DAMN it sure has been GOOD BASEBALL.  Go Giants!

Chi-town Showdown

The Giants are in a familiar role--underdogs. The Cubs are, deservedly, heavy favorites. One line says +160 for San Francisco (a $100 bet nets $160) and -180 for Chicago (you'd have to lay down $180 to win $100). If, like me, you prefer the traditional odds, I've seen the Cubs listed at 11/10 for the LDS and 9/5 for the Series. On paper, it's a mismatch. The Cubs are loaded--they score the most runs (4.99/g) in the NL field and yield the fewest (3.43/g). You win 103 games you're a good team--the best in the league. It's been a great year for them, they've kicked ass all season and played .685 ball (that's right, .685, 50-23) since the Break. They had one bad month, July, when they went 12-14. That's some scary competition!

The Giants find themselves in a bit of an unfamiliar role, too, that of "bad guy." The nation wants the Cubs to win. Cubs fans, of course, are beyond hungry for a title (we can certainly grok that), and their club is obviously the sentimental favorite. Casual fans are rooting for the Wrigley-ites. Many of the Giants fans I know (as well as many of the Dodgers fans I know) have been telling me "I'm rooting naturally for my club but if they don't make it I'll pull for Chicago." Fair enough. I'd love to see teams like the Indians and Cubs finally break through. Just not at the expense of the Giants! If the Giants do bump off the lovable Cubbies you can bet the "Giants? Again?" memes will emerge and people will root for the other guys, whoever they are. But that's OK. I always wanted to root for that team that everyone is sick of because they win too damn much!

But we've a ways to go. Right now it is Día de Cueto (don't laugh I saw #DiaDeCueto right alongside #BeliEVEN) and that's what we have to focus on. A good start by JohnnyC tonight and the Giants could put a chink in the Cubs armor. The nice thing about October and the playoffs is that the regular season is irrelevant. The margins between the teams are much smaller and the short-series format means upsets are likely. Anything can happen if you play good ball. So we are counting on our boys to play well, like they have been, and counting on Boch to push the right buttons.

I'm ready. I'm stoked. Hope you are too. First pitch 6:15 pm PDT.



Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Winner take all and the big man was on the mound for the Giants.  Madison Bumgarner is already the stuff of post season legends.  Years, decades from now, baseball fans won't believe it until they look it up.  How could the guy improve upon 2014?  119 pitches, 9 innings, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts, 4 hits, 0 runs.  In the wild card game to move the Giants into the playoffs.  You may remember 2014, Madison Bumgarner took the hill in the must-win wild card game and gave up 4 hits, struck out 10 and shut out the Pittsburg Pirates by throwing 9 innings as Sergio Romo warmed up in the bullpen but saw no action.  That 88 win Giants team went on to.......well, you know.

Remember Travis Ishikawa?  Tonight, he made a spiritual re-appearance in the body of Conor Gillaspie, another former Giant returned to the promised land as a hero.  A ninth inning 3 run home run, off of Jeurys Familia, who had given up 1 home run this year.  Unbelievable.

A word about Noah Syndergaard.  The guy is a stud.  He pretty much befuddled the Giants, or blew them away, however you choose to define it, for 7 innings.  Why take that guy out in this win-or-go-home situation?  The Mets have (had) good relief but, as soon as they got into their pen and Madbum was going strong, you had to believe that the Giants had an advantage.  I just hope he's not thor about the outcome.

The Giants have good hitters, now that they have finally (knock on wood) woken up.  They have better starting pitchers, in my estimation,than they did in 2014, but probably not as reliable of a bullpen.  They have Bochy.  And tonight at least, they had that Giant post-season magic.  Fuck yeah!

Knockout Round

I suppose that means the Mets are favored tonight. (The odds are from Vegas Insider.) All I can find on betting lines is pretty close to "you pick 'em" (Giants -117, Mets +107) with a slight edge to the home team. I think it will come down to home runs--the Mets hit a lot of them and the Giants don't. Bumgarner allowed 26 in 226-2/3 innings (1.03/9), Syndergaard 11 in 183-2/3 (0.54/9). Mets score about half of their runs with the long ball. The Giants offense is allergic to homers, as we know, but gets on base at a good clip and avoids the strikeout. Citi Field is rated as a pitcher's park, though not as extreme as AT&T. If Bum can keep it in the yard then I think the Giants win. I don't see the Mets stringing together big rallies so no gopher balls is the key tonight for the big lefty.

The knockout game is not really a baseball feature. This is a sport of attrition and long grinds punctuated by the drama of short series. The one-and-done format is not what you want after 162 games. But it is exciting and a fair attempt at giving division winners some sort of advantage in the post-season. Giants salvaged a crazy and somewhat disappointing 2014 regular season with a big Wild Card win in Pittsburgh (we know how the rest of that month turned out). This season is much like that one--high expectations, second-half chaos, squeaking into the post-season at the last moment. Can they capture lightning in a bottle again? I'm not going to answer that. But I will say a win tonight will erase weeks of frustration and that post-ASB .417 win percentage!