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!



Monday, October 3, 2016

9th inning: 10-8

1st inning:  8-10
2nd inning: 10-8
3rd inning: 15-3
4th inning: 12-6
5th inning: 12-6
6th inning: 5-13
7th inning: 6-12
8th inning: 9-9
9th inning: 10-8

The Giants finish 87-75 and only FOUR wins behind the Dodgers. I can think of a dozen blown games they "should have won" and if only half of those went the right way it's a 93-win team and a division title. That would have been closer to my expectations. Alas, my expectations are irrelevant. In fact, the entire regular season is now irrelevant. The post-season tournament is upon us and the Giants are the 10th seed. They have the tenth-best record in baseball, so that seems right.

Winning in the post-season has little or nothing to do with what happened in the regular season. Teams with the best records don't always win, home field advantage is not that significant, having the best starting pitchers doesn't always guarantee a title, post-season experience is not correlated to winning, and who's hot and who's not is equally unimportant. A bunch of exciting baseball is crammed into a few weeks and the survivor gets crowned World Series Champion. That's it. Don't try to read too much into it, the post-season is not a measure of character, heart, grit, or clutchness. All the teams and their players have already demonstrated that they possess those qualities in abundance otherwise they wouldn't be there. All the teams are good, the differences between them are small, and great performances by one or two players can have a massive impact on the outcomes. There is no leveling over time or regression to the mean like we have in the regular season. Luck--er, random variation--plays a big part. A bigger part than any fan wants to admit. Look for a narrative and you will find one, what you see will confirm the biases you had going in.

The 2016 Giants scored 715 runs, 4.41 per game, just short of the MLB mean of 4.48 per game. They allowed 631 runs, 3.90 per game, the 4th-best behind the Cubs, Nationals, and Mets. Their Pythagorean record was 90-72 so they were a little unlucky or under-perfoming, you decide. In the second half they went 30-42 despite scoring more runs (291) than they allowed (280). I think maybe the bullpen woes can be blamed for that. But as we know this was a weird year where they'd win 9-3 and then lose 2-1 and 3-0 in a weekend, outscoring the opponent and getting well-pitched games but coming out on the short end. But like I said none of that matters now.

Up next is a massive winner-take-all game with the defending NL champions. The Mets, it could be argued, under-performed much like the Giants. I imagine most of their fans expected something better than eight games behind the Nats. They were a disappointment for most of the summer, playing well in April and September and middling along for the months in between. It all added up to .537 and that was just enough. Noah Syndergaard (aka "Thor") is the best pitcher in baseball (6.5 fWAR) by one metric, but Madison Bumgarner (4.9 fWAR) is certainly no slouch and the matchup is about a good as it gets. Let's hope the team plays clean, crisp ball and that the fluky bounces and bad calls go our way. Oh, and a couple of massive homers by our guys with men on and some key whiffs of their big hitters late in the game wouldn't hurt, either!


 (that's Eastern time)

Sunday, October 2, 2016


SF 7 LA 1
The Giants secure the final spot with an emphatic win over the Dodgers behind a dominant Matt Moore. They also chased Kenta Maeda early and ultimately tallied 16 hits and four walks. Great play on both sides of the ball. The Giants threw three lefties--Bum, Blach, and Moore--in three days and got three wins. Here's the tally: 23-1/3, 14 H, 4 R, 5 W, 17 K. Think the Dodgers have a problem with southpaws?

First time since the Break that the Giants have won four in a row. The Giants finished the first half with four wins to lead baseball with a 57-33 (.633) record, they finish the second half with four wins and an ugly 30-42 (.417) record. But it matters not, they had to win four in a row to guarantee themselves a slot in the Wild Card game, and they got it. Thirty teams whittled down to ten, the Giants, with one win, can join the final eight. For a forgettable latter part of the season, it's a remarkable accomplishment. We may have expected more from this team but expectations are a bitch. The boys are playing October baseball because they did what they had to do when all appeared lost. What a great story!


p.s. I'll do a 9th-inning (10-8) post later. They were .500 over the final 30 games, 13-15 in September and 2-0 in October. When the Giants lost 9-3 in LA last week they had ten games left and were tied with the Mets and Cardinals, same 80-72 records. I said at the time it would take "at least 6-4" to get it done and the Giants did one better, going 7-3 to finish 87-75, one up on the 86-76 Cardinals! Mets also went 7-3 but held the tiebreaker with a 4-3 season-series advantage. Giants play Citi Field on Wednesday, I suppose we'll see Bumgarner and Syndergaard, that ought to be a good one.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

All Hands on Deck!

9-3 win Friday
3-0 win today
If the Giants win tomorrow they are the second wild card in the NL and will travel to NYC to play the Mets on Wednesday. If they lose, and the Cardinals win, the Giants will play a tie-breaker in St. Louis on Monday. Obviously a loss by the Cards means the Giants are in.

Two stirring wins, back-to-back against the Dodgers, and a win against the Rockies before that and that's three in a row for the first time in three weeks. The Giants will play a 163rd game no matter what, and that's something I thought impossible mere days ago. This team is capable of great things, this little run here at the end is the epitome of Veteran Savvy Clutchness, don't count the boys out--ever.

Fabulous effort by the rookie--can we call him a phenom?--Ty Blach today against the best pitcher in the game. What a tremendous performance! That's what this team needs, a young stud stepping up in October. A stupendous win on Friday night as well, coming from behind and getting a huge hit from Madison Bumgarner himself. And Brandon Belt's three-run bomb was epic.

Matt Moore tomorrow. GO GIANTS!


p.s. Russian River I expect a full report in the comments about your trip to the game.