2010 TYIB Awards

Pitching won the World Series and yet not a single Giants starter is amongst the nominees for MLB’s This Year In Baseball Awards.  Who comes up with the nominees?   It almost seems too silly to participate in the voting, but of course I did.  If you’d like to vote party, here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet.  Remember you can vote more than once in each category, so make sure you tag every Giant!

STARS

Rookie – Buster Posey
Closer – Brian Wilson
X-Factor – Pat Burrell
Executive – Brian Sabean
Manager – Bruce Bochy
Postseason MVP – Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Cody Ross, Brian Wilson
MUST C

Postseason – Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe, Brian Wilson
And there you have it.  Apparently there was nothing to see from the Giants until they hit the postseason.  Awesome.  

The Torture is Over

I’m supposed to be preparing for my trip to Seattle.  I have tons to wrap up at work, I have packing to do, but I can’t concentrate.  How the heck am I suppose to accomplish anything after last night?  

I started by listening to it on the radio on my way home from work.  Cliff Lee was back.  Uh oh.  This is going to be tough.  Sounds like we’re coming back to San Francisco and I’m going to miss it.  Damn.
But no, Lincecum is in full force too!  Three up, three down.  The Freak is on the mound and he’s taking no prisoners.  He saw Cain and Bumgarner’s shut outs and he wants a taste.  This is going to be a tight race.  
For seven innings they battled, neither giving up a run.  This is what everyone wanted in the first game.  This is what everyone wanted when Lincecum faced Halladay.  This is a pitcher’s duel.  
lincecum.jpg VS lee.jpg
Then in the 7th, the first slip.  Ross and Uribe hit singles to center field.  Could this be the opportunity?  Huff bunts…BUNTS a sacrifice and the two men on gain a base.  Ross is so close to putting a run on this board.  I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t watch, I HAD to watch.  Burrell up.  Oh no, why is he still playing?  Maybe this will be his time to make up for his post-season.  Sacrifice fly?  Get someone home?  C’mon Burrell!  Strike out.  Ack.  So much for drama.  Edgar Renteria up. Now would be a good time for a home run, I really said that. He hits it out of the park.  Where there were no runs scored by either team, now there are three and they are Giants runs.  
OMG!  And it’s the 7th.  We can hold them until the end.  We do it all the time.  This is our thing.  We have it!  
Lincecum gets excited and Nelson Cruz knocks one out of the park.  Whoops!  Okay so the lead is getting tighter, we can still do it.  Ian Kinsler walks. Oh no, Lincecum is losing it.  The Rangers are going to issue out some payback now.  
Nope!
Lincecum reigns it in and adds two more strikeouts to his belt, ending the inning before more damage is done.  He also takes care of the 8th.  I’m thinking, much like Bumgarner the night before, he probably could have knocked out the 9th too, but Bochy sticks with tradition and brings in Wilson to finish it off.  
2010worldserieschampions.jpg
No champagne, no jumping up and down, I just sat there on the couch soaking in the surreality of the moment.  I watched all the post-game coverage, I watched the awards given out in the Rangers hidecloset, I did some dishes and listened to Jewel, which has nothing to do with baseball but somehow helped satiate the excitement that was consuming me.  
I dreamed about baseball. I woke up thinking about baseball.  I’m not going to get anything done.  I’m going to be in Seattle with no underwear.
But who cares?  THE GIANTS WON THE FREAKIN’ WORLD SERIES!!!!!
Watching the World Series last year, when my baseball obsession was starting to blossom, I thought and wrote the following:
I got home in time to see the Yankees win it and watch the post-game hoopla and I got to wondering what it would feel like to have a team you had an investment with in a game like this, win or lose.
Who the heck could have thought that it would happen the very next World Series?  I can’t even believe.  I still don’t believe it.  I’m not sure it’s sunk in completely. I have no idea how to even communicate my thoughts on all this.  I feel like I could write an entire book on these guys in one sitting, while at the same time I’m struggling just to put a coherent sentence together.  
I love this team.  I love everything about them that everyone is now latching on to. I love the misfits, the team made up of rookies and players nobody wanted.  I love the beards and ‘fros and pandas and freaks.  I love that every person on the team contributed in some way.  When someone was slumping, someone else rose to the occasion.  They’re all superstars.  I’ve followed them from Spring Training to the top of the world.  I never want this band to break up. 
In some ways this might be a horrible season for me to have started caring.  It can only be downhill from here.  It’s not like this can happen every year, right?
“Why not?” ~ Buster Posey

Giants-Rangers Game 2: Cake Walks

I am completely confused as to what’s going on.  This is not Giants baseball as I have come to know it.  20 runs in two games?  Not that I’m complaining, mind you, it’s kind of nice actually.  Is this what games are like for other fans?  Lots of runs, great defense, no torture?  I could get used to it, but on the other hand, the pessimist in me is waiting for the other shoe to drop.  

It started out like a normal Giants game.  No runs for the first four innings, both Cain and Wilson (C.J. Wilson, now our Wilson) shutting out the competition.  Then Edgar Renteria decides to relive his past World Series experience and knocks one out of the park. 1-0, still a normal Giants game.  That run ultimately won the game BTW, but let’s keep going.
Bottom of the 7th, Juan Uribe, the other “old guy” on the team with post-season experience, knocks a single into right field and Cody Ross scores.  2-0 Giants.  Okay now, from past experience, the goal now is to keep those measly two runs and prevent the other guys from catching up by using our awesome bullpen to shut them down, sealing the deal with Brian Wilson.
But then the 8th happened.  Like this:
  • O’Day now pitching, strikes out Torres.  One out.
  • Freddy Sanchez up, strikes out.  Two out.
  • Buster Posey, single to second base.  Still two out.
  • O’Day replaced by Derek Holland. Nate Schierholtz walks.  Buster to 2B.  Still two out.
  • Cody Ross walks, Posey to 3B, Scheirholtz to 2B.  Bases loaded.  Still two out.
  • Aubrey Huff WALKS.  Posey scores.  Scheirholtz to 3B.  Ross to 2B.  Still two out.  SFG: 3, TEX: 0.
  • Holland out, Lowe in.  Walks Juan Uribe.  Scheriholtz scores.  Ross to 3B. Huff to 2B.  Still two out.  SFG: 4, TEX: 0.
  • Renteria singles to LF, Ross and Huff score.  Still two out.  SFG: 6, TEX: 0.  
  • Lowe out, Kirkman in.  Aaron Rowand triples to RF, Uribe and Renteria score.  Still two out.  SFG: 8, TEX: 0.
  • Andres Torres doubles to LF, Rowand scores. Still two out.  SFG: 9, TEX: 0.
  • Freddy Sanchez strikes out swinging.  Three out.

The Texas bullpen just died or something.  Giants score 7 runs in one inning, two from walks.  It was like one of those cake walks at the community fair, where everyone is just walking around in circles waiting for the music to stop.  It finally stopped after 7 runs.  Of course, as I said above, only 1 run was needed to win this game, so the 8th inning was just icing, but an icing that certainly boosted confidence and hopefully sucked some life out of Texas.  I guarantee you there will be a pitchers meeting before Game 3.  

Fear the ‘Fro again, people!  Matt Cain performed another shut out, keeping his post-season 0.00 ERA intact.  I’m so glad the world gets to see how awesome this guy is.  (Well, the world that’s watching, because y’know.. the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t in it this year.)   Ian Kinsler almost knocked one out of the park in the 5th, but he was about 10 cents short and the Ranger remained scoreless.  
Series Date Tm Opp Rslt Inngs IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
2010 NLDS g2 Oct 8 SFG ATL L,4-5 GS-7 6.2 7 1 0 2 6 0 0.00
2010 NLCS g3 Oct 19 SFG PHI W,3-0 GS-7 7.0 2 0 0 3 5 0 0.00
2010 WS g2 Oct 28 SFG TEX W,9-0 GS-8 7.2 4 0 0 2 2 0 0.00
21.1 13 1 0 7 13 0 0.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/29/2010.
Matt Cain everyone!
mattcain.jpg
Speaking of awesome pitching, and I don’t think I ever have spoken about this guy, but how sick is Javier Lopez?  His crazy pitching style had me from the beginning, but I always overlook him in my posts because he generally only pitches for one or two at-bats.  But they’re always smoking.  He takes out left handers like a freakin’ ninja with Chinese throwing stars.  His sideways looking bullet eliminated Hamilton’s last chance to get something going in the 8th.  It was a beautiful thing.
javierlopez.jpg
So the Giants are 2-0 so far.  Everyone around here is getting all cocky again, just like they did in the NLCS. I hate that, personally. I guess I’m too negative to celebrate before anything is official.  Of course, all the premature back patters were right about the NLCS, so maybe they’ll be right about the World Series too.  I heard on the way to work this morning that a 2-0 lead has happened 51 times in World Series history, and of those 51 2-0 teams, forty have gone on to win the title.  Pretty good odds, but how much you want to bet the Giants were one of those 9 teams who didn’t make it?
Not to be negative though.  Be positive. But not too positive.  Everyone keep wearing the same hats, sweaters, lucky socks; whatever you’re doing keep it going.  Don’t change your routine now.  We’re in Texas now.  Enemy territory.  Don’t look ahead, focus on the next game.  Keep your cool, your determination, look for those lucky breaks to feed on.  Wait…who am I talking to?
GO GIANTS

WORLD SERIES WIN COUNTER
nolanwin.jpg nolanwin.jpg nolanpending.jpg nolanpending.jpg

Giants-Rangers Game 1: First Down

The Giants add another pitcher’s pelt to their wall next to Jimenez, Latos, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.  Here’s Cliff Lee’s new post-season stats:

Rk Series Date Tm Opp Rslt H R BB SO HR
1 2009 NLDS g1 Oct 7 PHI COL W,5-1 6 1 0 5 0
2 2009 NLDS g4 Oct 12 PHI @ COL W,5-4 5 3 3 5 0
3 2009 NLCS g3 Oct 18 PHI LAD W,11-0 3 0 0 10 0
4 2009 WS g1 Oct 28 PHI @ NYY W,6-1 6 1 0 10 0
5 2009 WS g5 Nov 2 PHI NYY W,8-6 7 5 3 3 0
2010 Postseason Series Tm Opp Rslt H R BB SO HR
6 2010 ALDS g1 Oct 6 TEX @ TBR W,5-1 5 1 0 10 1
7 2010 ALDS g5 Oct 12 TEX @ TBR W,5-1 6 1 0 11 0
8 2010 ALCS g3 Oct 18 TEX @ NYY W,8-0 2 0 1 13 0
9 2010 WS g1 Oct 27 TEX @ SFG L,7-11 8 7 1 7 0
48 19 8 74 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/28/2010.
That “L” on the last row? That’s the Giants.  Not only does nobody think the Giants are going to win this series, absolutely nobody saw them defeating Lee, especially in an 11-7 game.  The Giants don’t have offense, what was that about?
Even I’m somewhat baffled.  I’m not sure what any of it means.  I would have preferred that the Giants kept the 8-2 score they had in the 5th, that makes more sense to me.  The Giants strength all season has been their ability to keep runs at bay.  So it concerns me that after Lincecum leaves the game the bullpen gives up 5 more runs in 4 innings.  Yes, the Giants scored 11 runs and took the win, but can they do that all the time?  Are they going to have to?  They’ve only scored double digits fourteen times this season. 
On the other hand, I’ve heard the Rangers are pretty good about not giving up runs too, especially Cliff “third greatest post-season pitcher of all time” Lee, and yet they gave up 11.  So I really have no idea what to make of this game.  Maybe it was a fluke for both teams. 
I would like to think that the Rangers 3 runs in the 9th were mostly because Bochy didn’t put in Wilson right away, per usual, and I would like to think that the reason he did that was because the Giants were far enough ahead that he wanted to save Wilson and give other closers a chance to see some action.  Of course, it didn’t work out for Ramirez or Affeldt and Wilson ended up coming in anyway, but maybe those last 3 runs were “freebies” or something.  
Another “battle of the great pitchers of all time” hype that didn’t live up to itself.  Despite giving up more runs, Lee tied Lincecum in the hits department, dominated him in strikeouts and ultimately ended up with a slightly better ERA, even though he pitched one less inning.  But obviously, given the amount of runs in the game, neither star pitcher gave his best performance and the media was once again sad.
The tack-on offense was just amazing last night.  Consider that the Rangers had 8 hits off Lincecum but only generated 4 runs, while the Giants had 8 hits off Lee and generated 7 runs.  The singles and double just kept coming, and it always seem like it was when there were two outs.  Freddie Sanchez made World Series history by hitting three doubles in one game, generating three RBIs.  Posey, Schierholtz, Ross, Huff and Ishikawa all got to contribute RBIs and Juan UUUU-Ribe once again batted one out of the park with two on base.  God I love that guy.  He doesn’t always hit, but when he hits it’s always good.
uribe.jpg
Aside from the lame Fox announcers, two things I hated about last night’s presentation: 1) They completely skipped the opening pitch by Giants hall-of-famers in favor of focusing on two igits in the press box who, by their own admission later in the game, don’t know what they’re talking about.  How come I had to watch them instead of watching Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey?  I don’t even know what they said.  Who cares what they said!  2) Didn’t get to see whether or not the crowd cheered when they announced Bengie Molina.  That was a discussion around the bay area all week, as to whether that would happen.  I heard on the radio this morning that they did in fact cheer his name, and I’m glad for it. I love the Bengie, even if he’s in the wrong colors.  
Speaking of Bengie, his latest blog entry is full of warm-hearted goodness.  My favorite bit:
The first time I was up, I wished Posey luck and he wished me luck. Then I looked out at Lincecum and touched the bill of my cap, and he touched his in response.
 
I had as special a relationship with Timmy as I have had with any pitcher. Maybe because he was so young when I began catching him and I became a mentor to him. We have texted since I was traded but I had not seen him or talked to him in person until the game yesterday. I had heard he had said really nice things about me to the press.
 
When he came up to bat for the first time, I stood and told him, “I want you to know that hits or no hits, win or lose, you’re my boy.”

“Hey, Be-Mo, I love you.”

Then we both got to work.

Awesome.  

Game 1 is in the bag.  Cliff Lee defeated.  The Giants are 1-0.  We’re still making the media scratch their heads in bewilderment.  Keep it up!  

GO GIANTS!


WORLD SERIES WIN COUNTER
nolanwin.jpg nolanpending.jpg nolanpending.jpg nolanpending.jpg

Giants-Phillies Game 3: Home Sweet Home

I love day games because I get to watch them. Digitally anyway, as I hide MLB’s Game Day amongst my many open work windows. You would think watching a pixelated baseball game wouldn’t be very exciting but I’ve found that it’s just as interesting as listening to a game on the radio or watching it on TV. Well maybe not “just as….” but pretty close. 

Yesterday’s game was a good example of how the Giants have been doing it all year; stellar pitching, a sprinkling of offense and the game is won. The only difference between yesterday’s game and your average win of the season was that it was completely free of torture. Other than a very brief nail biter in the 7th inning, the game was very straight forward. Even Brian Wilson didn’t load the bases before getting his three outs. Weird! 
The Bochy Shuffle seems to be working as Matt Cain, who swapped starting positions with Sanchez, threw a three-hit shutout. Renteria moved to first and got the first hit of the game in the 5th. Cody Ross was bumped to fifth and drove Renteria home with a single to left field. In the same inning, Huff, who was bumped to sixth, drove home Burrell with a single to second base. Aaron Rowand was added to the line-up and gets on base in the 6th with a double to left field, and Freddie Sanchez, who’s probably the only guy who kept his same position, runs in Rowand with another single to second base.
Huff and Sanchez should thank Utley for doing his best Brooks Conrad impression.
Yesterday I posted a comparison chart between Hamels and Cain:
cainvshamels.jpg
Here’s how they compared yesterday:
cainvshamels.jpg
Other than the bases on ball, pretty much the same thing, eh?  I love it when a stat comes together!  Matt Cain is not an undersized, two time Cy Young winner with a wild pitching style.  He’s doesn’t have a shoe polished beard.  He has no drama, so no one talks about him.  But he’s Mister Giant in terms of tenure, and he’s a constant, which may not be interesting for the media to talk about, but I think he rocks anyway.  Check it:
fourstarters.jpg
Bad start in April and a mild dip in June, but otherwise the guy is a flat line.  Certainly more consistent then his fellow starting pitchers.  Not better or worse, but right down the middle.  
Anyway, two more to go.  It would be great if they could clinch it in San Francisco, but that’s probably asking too much.  It would be great if they could clinch it period.  Let’s stick with that.  

By the Book

Craziest game I’ve ever witnessed (not that I’ve witnessed many)!  First off, it was 5-1 Dodgers by the third inning, and yet I was somehow not freaked out.  Not that I was cocky enough to think we had it in the bag, but I knew we’d score more runs.  First half of the season, we would have stayed at one run, but not this new team. 

ateam.jpgBut that’s not even what was crazy.  Here’s what was crazy:

Lincecum’s Wild Pitch

He was having another control issue day.  Only made it to the fourth inning. His comeback after the All-Star game apparently didn’t last, oh well.  But he throws a pitch that is so completely out of control, it flies over his head and he can’t even figure out where it went!  You gotta see it to believe it! 

missingball.jpgBack and Forth Drilling

I’m thoroughly confused as to what even happened at this point, but here’s what I think happened:

  • Tim Lincecum beams Matt Kemp.  Retaliation for Vincente Padilla breaking Aaron Rowan’s face in April?  Tim says it was an accident and lack of control. (Given the aforementioned wild pitch, I tend to believe him.  After all, Matt Kemp didn’t break Rowan’s face).  Kemp kind of veers towards Lincecum, not really looking at him or say anything, but still to the point where umpire Adrian Johnson steps between the two, escorting Kemp to first base, after which both benches are warned not to escalate anything.

  • One inning later, Bautista makes Russell Martin duck and cover, Dodgers bench coach Bob Schaefer cries foul apparently too loudly and gets ejected. Meanwhile, Martin jogs close to the mound and snarls some nastiness at Bautista.  It’s on!

  • Seventh inning now, and Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw strikes Rowand with the first pitch.  Everyone goes nuts except Rowan, who takes it like a pro and heads to first base.  Both Kershaw and manager Joe Torre are ejected, I assume because of the “no retaliation” warning? 

In other words, your typical Dodgers/Giants game? 

icanfeelyouranger.jpg
Rally by Technicality

So now it’s 5-4 Dodgers, top of the 9th, 1 out , bases loaded, and my favorite oddity of the night occurs.  Assistant manager Don Mattingly approaches the mound to talk to his peeps, as managers often do when things are close, but unlike most managers, he leaves and then comes back for some additional thoughts.  And Bochy gets him. 

gotcha.jpg
Apparently there’s this rule 8:06 that “prohibits managers or coaches visiting the mound from supplementing
their visits by making a U-turn. If they do so, the pitcher must be
removed.”  So the Dodgers are forced to bring in a pitcher cold and the Giants score two more runs, thanks to Torres and Posey.  So kids, bitch about Bochy if you want, he won that game.

mvp.jpgThanks to some rule breaking in our favor, we took the series!  It’d be nice to finish them off with a sweep tonight, but a series win in Dodger Town ain’t nothing to sneeze at!

Suck It, All-Star Game!

You don’t want to play our pitcher in your fancy special game, then we’ll play our pitcher instead and he’ll throw his first complete game this season and earn his 10th win this season and throw his fourth career shut out and his first career win against the Mets.  Neener!

timlincecum.jpg
Sorry I got all “bat” crazy the last couple posts, Mr. Lincecum.  Sorry I was all Buster around the Posey.  I got excited about the new and shiny, I admit it.  But you are still the best thing to watch on this team, especially when you’re on fire.  You are still the face of this franchise for me, hands down.  I love you.  Call me.

stalkers.jpgSpeaking of my new and shiny love for hitting, where was it?  Another 2-0 game.  Pablo got a double, and everyone got stoked, especially Pablo.  I’m happy for him, but I don’t necessarily think it means anything, despite what Bay Area media would have me believe.  Everyone’s bound to his once in a while, right?  It was a nice hit for sure, and very timely.  I certainly hope it’s a turning point for him, and he keeps it up, because Pandamonium is much cuter when he’s batting .300+.

pandovalmask.jpgNine innings for Lincecum though!  A complete game!  That never happens for any of our starters.  Bochy is a yanker.  But not last night!  Was it because he could tell Lincecum was hot?  Or was it that 6th inning foul ball that hit him in the head? 

headinjury.jpgCrawled up half a game and the second half of the season is looking good!

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB Strk
1 SDP 51 37 .580 W 1
2 COL 49 39 .557 2.0 L 1
3 LAD 49 40 .551 2.5 L 1
4 SFG 48 41 .539 3.5 W 3
5 ARI 34 55 .382 17.5 L 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/16/2010.