Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yes We Can

No one expects the Giants to beat the Phillies. Take a look at ESPN's NLCS page and scroll down to "Expert Picks." Nary a one of those scribes inked the Giants to win. The bookmakers like Philadelphia, too. If you want to make money betting on the Phillies, you'll have to wager $260 to get a $100 payout. And if you put $100 on the Giants, you'd get $200 if they win. Here's what most of the analysis sounds like (from Pat Lackey at MLB Fanhouse ):
I think that their excellent pitching and a unique home field get the Giants one more win than the Dodgers got in either of the last two seasons, but I'm not going to believe an NL team can take the Phillies out until I see it. PHILLIES IN SIX.
The Phils are the champs and they remain the champs until someone delivers the KO. Philadelphia's core from their 2008 World Series win is mostly intact, a mix of stars and solid players: 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley, SS Jimmy Rollins, CF Shane Victorino, RF Jayson Werth, C Carlos Ruiz, lefty Cole Hamels, righty Joe Blanton, and closer Brad Lidge. The 2009 NL champs replaced LF Pat Burrell with Raul Ibanez and the 2010 team replaced 3B Pedro Feliz with Placido Polanco. The 2009 club featured the indomitable Cliff Lee but it wasn't enough to overcome the Yankees in the Series as Hamels and the aging Pedro Martinez were ineffective. This year the Phils swapped out Roy Halladay for Lee and grabbed Roy Oswalt to bolster the rotation. There seems to be a consensus that this is the best 1-2-3 punch in baseball.

Hey, sure, it's a good one. No argument. But the best? Giants pitchers gave up 50 runs in September. That's 26 games, my friends. FIFTY runs. That's ridiculous. At what point do you say one team has a better rotation than another team? The Phils were 21-6 in September, scoring a whopping 142 runs and giving up 94. Now 94 is damn good. Most teams would love to give up only 3.48 rpg. But 94 ain't as good as 50. It just ain't. So forgive me if I call "bullshit" and say the San Francisco Giants have the best starting pitching in baseball. I'll take the Giants 1-2-3 as at the very least even against them and our 1-2-3-4 is superior. Throw in the better bullpen and you are talking about the best staff in the majors.

The problem with the Giants, as we all know, is their lack of offensive firepower. They hit a lot of homers, especially late in the year, but they just don't put enough guys on base and don't sustain rallies, hitting into an average of one double play per game. The Phils are known for offense and they thrive in their bandbox park. So, how does a one-armed fighter win a match against a guy throwing combinations? For starters, you never let him land a punch. If the Giants want to win, they have to avoid mistakes. They have to make their pitches and field their positions. They absolutely cannot give away runs. The longer the games go without scoring, the longer the series goes toward seven games, the more the odds will swing in the Giants favor. The Giants win this series by a long, slow, attritional grind. They can't slug it out, especially on the road. They have to wait for their opportunities and they have to seize them with the grace and sangfroid of a cat burglar.

The Giants have no expectations. The Phillies are thinking "dynasty." The pressure is all on them. If we get to Game Four and it's 2-2, all the pundits will be talking about will be Philadelphia's failures and Philadelphia's problems. No one will notice the Giants. Hey--this is a 92 win club. A division champion, not some AAA team. The rest of baseball seems to think it doesn't matter who plays the NLCS, the Phils will win. And that's exactly how to beat the mighty Phillies--play baseball. Encapsulate the game--one pitch, one at-bat, one out, one inning at a time. Be relaxed and don't play tight, nervous, "oh-my-god-they're-so-good" baseball. They have the weight of being the favorites. The Giants can relish the underdog role. The tortoise beat the hare after all, and David beat Goliath. Remember that. And if anyone asks you if the Giants can beat the Phils you say:




Ron said...

Great points about our pitching, Mark. So, where do our big hits come from? While others will contribute, I am looking to 2 players to deliver in this Series.

Juan Uribe is a very unpredictable hitter who, basically, sucked in the NLDS. I think that he will come through in this Series. Why? First, the Philadelphia ballpark should be a good place for him to hit. Second, because I don't think that he is daunted by anything, including a 1-for-15 NLDS & including the Phillies' pitching staff. He swings hard &, odds are, he'll connect at some point. He has an up-&-down record in the post-season, just like in the regular season. He's due.

I think that Pat Burrell would really like to stick it to the Phillies, especially in Philadelphia. He is still a well-liked player in that town, so it's nothing against the fans. But, when an organization gives up on you, you want to hit them hard. Some players would press too hard to try to make that happen. Burrell is a cool customer & a veteran. I think that he is lined up for a big series.

So, I think that we are in for an excrutiating series, winding up on October 24 with a Matt Cain victory in Game 7.

Anonymous said...

Ron, hi.

I agree with just about everything that you guys said. Fuck the Phillies. Who do these experts think they are? You know what really pissed me off this season? It was how fast the teams with shitty pitching suddenly became amazing. The Giants have been improving the pitching every year, we worked for this damn it. Padres got lucky and the Phillies just bought some aces. Our rotation is better, our bullpen is better, and so is our defense. They may be faster and better offensively, but, 3 - 2! GO GIANTS!

If they lose though, there is no God. Please guys, do it for Jesus/Buster!

M.C. O'Connor said...

David Pinto at Baseball Musings picks the Giants. He quotes my post, disagrees a bit and uses it to argue a different point, but comes to the same conclusion.

Check it out.

Anonymous said...

M.C., you're famous!

M.C. O'Connor said...

I wish!

Anonymous said...

These short series are impossible to predict. I always thought the key to doing well was being intense but not tense. Which is similar to what you are advocating for the giants. The big question seems to remain Pablo or Fontenot. I hope Timmy and the gang of giants' starters remain cool customers. It seems as if that is not a problem for Halladay of the Phillies. Timmy needs to get the phillies big first baseman out as Ryan Howard has had too much success vs Timmy. That needs to be reversed.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Other than the obvious--pitching--the Giants could decide this series with home runs. The key will be to get some guys on base so hitters like Uribe will see some strikes. Posey hits the other way and I think he'll find CBP to his liking. We all know Pat the Bat can go yard. We need Torres and (gulp) FSanchez to be patient and get some long counts. Huff won't get anything to hit if the bases are empty.

Pitch like crazy, play good baseball, be relaxed. Everyone expects the Phils to win. A split this weekend might cause the world to stop spinning!