Saturday, June 21, 2008

8 5 4 3 1 8

Many of you heathens, our biggest demographic, probably celebrated the Summer Solstice yesterday. Whatever you crazy pagans did, maybe larval dodger sacrifce, it WORKED! It looks like the "Matt Cain Curse" may be lifted. (Photo credit and a fun and educational article!)

Yesterday was a game that Matt has lost several times in his young career. After 3 early runs off hard hit balls, and another unearned run, we were facing a big hole. Given our offense and Matt's track record, I figured we had dropped another the crappy Royals no less. BUT NO. Something happened...was it John Castle's head first slide at first? (More likely the pair of 2 out walks that followed.) We tied it up in short order then busted it open later. All the time Matt continued to grind it out. He retired 15 of 16 at one point, dominant save for a bunt single that was quickly erased. His big key, as it has been during this current three game resurgence, is control. Matt has yielded a single walk in each of his last three starts, after averaging three per start over the first thirteen chances. The eight innings and eight strikeouts are swell, but the thing that has to be heart warming is the "W." Matt has worked this hard and brilliantly before, only to be tagged with yet another tough loss. But not this time...
What is the difference? Does Matt know?
"I feel a lot more comfortable recently. I think I need to keep that good mind-set going, and if they beat me, they beat me. It's crushing when you walk a guy and he ends up scoring."
Well, that's not very definitive. I have two theories:
1) The previously mentioned Solstice activities have successfully lifted a curse that Matt has unjustly been burdened with for low these many months ( a tale for another time perhaps??? ).
2) MOC, the chief boobaa at Raising Matt Cain, has or will shortly leave the country. No one is quite clear on the reasons for the "author's" hasty exit. It could be a scheduled and announced vacation, or...perhaps a bloodless coup at the offices of RMC. If anyone cared, rumors would abound. Baseball experts have noticed a significant "bump" in Giants success when the controversial blogmaster is, shall we say, indisposed. Look for a whole bunch of exciting wins for our beloved boys in the next few weeks.
Any other explanations for such a nifty Matt Cain win? Is the "hard luck" phase of his career finally over?? Or do we all have some wacky pagans to thank?


Anonymous said...

Brother Bob:
I'm all for a deep discussion of the utterly irrational aspects of our enjoyment of the national pastime.
I'm sure all of you have played some sports, and maybe you were pretty good. So you know what "The Zone" is. It's when you can do no wrong and you know it. The part of your mind where doubt resides shuts up for a while, and you and the game are "one."
I was a half-assed jock at best, but I had my moments. One day during a high school PE flag football game, I was playing linebacker, and I was grabbing flags right and left. I knew just where to position myself and which angles to take. Nobody could block me or outrun me. Then I saw in the other huddle that team's premier jock pointing at me and yelling angrily at his teammates. On the next play he ran the ball, away from my side, extra guys tried to block me, I got away from them anyway, was diving for that guy's flag, when he swatted my hand away with his free hand and ran away down the field. I was immediately out of the zone and stayed out of it the rest of the game.
Then there are slumps, or anti-zones, where nothing goes right. I've had plenty of those but you don't want to read about them and I sure as hell don't want to recall them.
So maybe the defining quality of a great jock is his ability to access the zone often and stay there for long periods.
Another large subject is our perception that the observer effects the observed, ie that our behavior as fans has an effect on the results on the field. We allude to this all the time, eg Mark goes to Mexico, therefore Cain wins. Makes perfect sense in the RMC world.
That's all I got today.

Anonymous said...

Brother Bob:
I clearly remember a moment at one the playoff games against St. Louis in '87. We all had good lower level seats, and mine weren't too far away from Mark & Sue's, so we were able to visit each other fairly easily. Our starter was doing really well (I can't think of his name- he was a decent right hander who had a decent year)& the Giants were ahead by a few runs. I dropped by to say hi to M&S and said something like,"Isn't this great" but I probably said something more specifically implying the game was won. What I remember is Mark gave me this stricken look and let me know I shouldn't have said it. And he wasn't joking. And I immediately knew he was right. And the Giants soon began to lose the game.
Anybody have any similar stories?

Anonymous said...

Brother Bob:
The pitcher was Scott Garrelts. This was the series famous for HacMan Leonard's one-flap-down home run trots.