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.  
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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.  
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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 4: Rookie Sensation

Who knows what this Bumgarner guy is going to do?  That’s what I was thinking going into this anyway.  I like the guy, but he hasn’t been ridiculously dominate or anything, and this is the World Series, and the potential tie-winning game for the Rangers.  So what’s he going to do?  How about this?

Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Madison Bumgarner, W (2-0) 8 3 0 0 2 6 0 2.18
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/1/2010.
The Giants shut down the Rangers for the second time this World Series.  The fifth highest scoring team in the majors in the regular season, and they’ve been shut down twice.  Yes yes Media, I know I know; their bats disappeared.  Funny how that keeps happening when the Giants are in town.  
I knew it was going to be a good night when it seemed like the innings where Texas was pitching took forever whereas the innings where the Giants were pitching were like one, two, three.  I think Tommy Hunter averaged about twenty pitchers per batter, seemed like.  Stands to reason he only lasted four innings, the dude must have been tired.  
Bumgarner, on the other hand, lasted eight, and probably could have went all nine, but I guess since it’s the World Series and all, Bochy decided to play it safe and bring in Wilson for the last inning.  The guy has to do something this series, right?  
Considering the scores of the first two games, not a great deal of offense from the Giants last night, but in a shut out, I guess you only need one run.  Top of the 3rd, Aubrey Huff takes his new job as DH seriously and knocks one out of the right field, driving in Torres and making it a 2-0 game.  Freddy Sanchez was surprised:
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I was too.  Can’t remember the last time Huff hit a homer.  He used to do it regularly.  So there was the game winner.  In the 7th, Torres doubles in Renteria and in the 8th Buster Posey remembers who he was and slams another one out of the park, making it a 4-0 game. 
So one more to go.  I am on egg shells of course. Do not want to jinx anything.  Thirty-eight of the last 44 teams to have a 3-1 in the World Series went on to win, so good odds.  But still, there were those eleven who thought the same thing. 
I hope they win tonight, even though they’re still stuck in Texas.  Seems unlikely we’ll beat Cliff Lee twice, but a lot of things have seemed unlikely this season.  That’s kind of the Giants thing, to do the unlikely.  It’d be great if Lincecum clinched it, being Mr. Franchise and all.  Plus, I have to go out of town first thing Wednesday morning, and I want a day of celebration, which would have to be Tuesday.  So yeah Giants, do it for me, would ya?
WORLD SERIES WIN COUNTER
nolanwin.jpg nolanwin.jpg nolanpending.jpg nolanwin.jpg

Giants-Phillies Game 6: Onward

I painted all day Saturday. 
The wife and I just bought a new house, so my weekends have been
replaced by manual labor in an effort to make the house her own.  Labor makes me tired and I almost forgot that
Game 6 was even happening that day, but I managed to wake up and tune in to see
the Phillies score 2 runs off Sanchez in the 1st. 

Off to Game 7, eh? 
God damn it. 

I was tired, it had already been a long day, and the idea of
three hours of torture to cap off my evening did not appeal to me at all.  I turned on Star Trek.  This will be easier.  Captain Kirk always wins, even when he’s in
Philadelphia. 

It started off good. 
I managed to sit back, relax and enjoy watching the exploits from where
no man has gone before.  But then the
back of my brain started scratching. 
“Hey, what if something awesome is happening right now?  What if the Giants have hit eight home runs
in a row or something?  You’re missing
it!”  I brushed it off and kept watching,
but “what if…?”

I cave and flip to the game, “just briefly” I tell myself,
and it’s tied up 2-2.  I convince myself
that a tie is worse than losing, and it will probably go 12 innings now just to
get to Game 7 anyway.  I flip back to
Trek.  Captain Kirk isn’t doing so well
but I’m confident he’ll come through. 

I start switching back more frequently.  Every time there’s the briefest lull in Trek
action, I use it as an excuse to “let’s just quickly see how it’s going.”  Still 2-2. 
Over and over again, it’s still 2-2. 
Every time I switch back, there’s a new pitcher; Sanchez, Affeldt,
Bumgarner (BUMGARNER?) and it continues to remain 2-2.  

By the 8th inning, I’m watching more baseball
than Trek.  It was more torturous to not
know what was going on than it was to just watch the torture.  UUUU-Ribe hits a home run.  Captain Kirk will have to go on without
me.  Game 7 gets farther away.  Can we hold them? 

Lincecum is brought in to try.   Lincecum! 
One day of rest and coming in to help close?  Ridiculously unusual, and I’m not sure if it’s
a great idea, but I’m glad to see him anyway. 
He strikes out Werth.  But then
Victorino and Ibanez get on base.  Oh
no.  Then they call in Wilson.  Oh no again. 
This is too early for him isn’t it? 
It’s only the 8th. 
They should only bring him in when there’s three outs left, not
five!  Double play-YES! 

Three more outs and the World Series. 

Wilson’s back. Good, it has to be Wilson.  Ross Gload grounds out, two more to go.  Jimmy Rollins walks, oh no.  That’s okay, Wilson always has to have a
little drama, it’s part of his charm.  Palanco
grounds out.  ONE MORE TO GO.  Utley walks. 
OH NO.  There’s drama and then
there’s drama, Wilson.  Ryan Howard steps
up.  The crappy Fox announcers talk about
how he hasn’t done anything for the Phillies all post-season.  “Thanks for the jinx”, I think to myself, wondering
if this will be the moment where he decides to snap out of his funk and hit one
out of the park to keep his team in the game. 

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Strikeout!  Giants win
the NLCS!  World Series bound! 

The Giants come rushing off the bench and everyone jumps up
and down as the quietest stadium I’ve ever seen in my life watches their
victory.  My wife and mother-in-law were
all watching at this point, and even they commented that it seemed a shame no
one else was celebrating.  Were there no
Giants fans there?  Probably but
considering the massive sea of red, they must have been few and far between.  I didn’t expect fireworks or even applause
really, but man was that moment quiet. 
It’s a real shame they couldn’t have won it in San Francisco. 

Nothing against the Rangers, but they weren’t officially in
it until the other day and haven’t really been on my radar.  The Phillies have been the team to beat since
the Giants made it into the post-season. 
They’ve been to the World Series the last two years and have clinched
their division consecutively since 2007 and they were number one in the
National League this year.  They were the
hurdle the Giants had to get past as soon as the regular season was done.  Hats off to you Phillies, MUCH respect.  You didn’t make it easy.

Off to the World Series. 
Giants vs Rangers.  Posey vs
Molina.  “Haven’t won a World Series
since NY” vs “Haven’t won a World Series ever.” 
I know little about the Rangers, other than Molina’s been hitting and
Cliff Lee is full of win.  I’ll look into
them later.  Right now let’s just bask in
the joy of winning the NLCS. 
Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh….

P.S.

Congrats to Cody Ross for being selected MVP of the
NLCS.  You da man!

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Our Bum vs Dem Bums

Madison Bumgarner pitches 5.5 innings and gets his third win of the season.  Not bad, minus that one teensy little home run.  Good on ya, son!  (I can call him “son” because he’s like 15 years old and I am not.)  Still need to snag your bobblehead on eBay one of these days.

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Buster and his .350 batting average continued his 13 game hitting streak, racking up an RBI in the process.  But it was our main man with the killer arm Nate Shierholtz (who’s last name is still impossible to spell) who brought in two runs with his third home run of the season.  Good on ya buddy, you were due!

natehighfive.jpgAnd since I’m talking to players as if they read this, “Hey Mr. Wilson!”  You’re awesome and all, but serious what is with the pension for drama?  Why can’t you just get your three outs?  Why does it gotta be two outs, and then loading bases for 20 minutes before effortlessly getting the third out by striking the dude out with three pitches?  Boom. Boom.  Boom.  Like you couldn’t have done that three batters ago?   I feel like you’re addicted to drama.  But…so long as the drama works out in our favor, I guess I’ll suffer the nervous sweating and nails digging into my palms. 

cantwatchthis.jpgThe Dodgers and the Rockies are on a losing streak and we’re in second place again.  We are a different team.  That said…yes we beat the Dodgers yesterday, in their home turf, but let’s not get all full of ourselves just yet.  It’s one game.  Two to go.  Game faces on, people!

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Sox Knocked Off

Well, our socks anyway.  Red Sox took the series, but at least we weren’t swept!  By the skin of our teeth, mind you, but a victory is a victory.

victory.jpgThe wife and kids were out on Friday, which is a rarity but perfect timing in that I got to watch the first game uninterrupted.  Right off the bat, the Sox score three runs.  But then the Giants catch up in the second and pass them in the third and then get yet another in the eighth.  But that’s not enough for me.  I know better at this point.  It could be 12-1 Giants, and I’d still be wary of the ninth.  And it wasn’t 12-1 Giants, it was 5-3 Giants.  So I was standing a lot in the end, my palms were sweating and the Sox made Wilson work for that last out.  They even had to get one more run in before we finally finished them off.  Three innings with loaded bases, ten walks, three wild pitches and we eek out a win by one run.  Awesome but TORTURE! 

torture.jpgI skipped watching Saturday in favor of taking the family to see TOY STORY 3.  Excellent picture, perhaps my least favorite of the three, but maybe that’s because I’ve only seen it the one time so far. I doubt they will make more after this, and you couldn’t ask for a better story for the characters to go out on.  I dug it. I didn’t dig that we lost 4-2, however.  In a surprise (for me anyway) last minute change, they brought up Madison Bumgarner to start the game, and I think he did okay.  Sure, the Giants lost, but he only allowed four runs and pitched seven innings.  Pretty good for a rookie.  I’d like to see more of him. 

MadisonBumgarner.jpgSunday went to my wife’s BFF’s house to watch the game on the big screen.  HD is funny in that everyone seems much uglier on TV.  Not sure if I want it now or not.  The grass was never greener at AT&T park though, I’ll admit that.  Great scenery shots on a perfect cloudless day in San Francisco.  Aaand we lose again, pretty much the same way we did the day before.  The Sox score right off the bat, and then we spend the rest of the game trying to hold them at bay and catch up.  Lincecum floundered through three innings before being pulled.  Our Golden Boy isn’t so golden these days. He’s 8-3 mind you, but that’s not good enough for a back-to-back Cy Young winner, right?  We eek out one run in the first because Andres Torres steals makes it to first when no one else could and then proceeds to steal two bases, ensuring his status as the World’s Fastest Giant.  Otherwise, the Giants don’t do much and the Sox take the rubber match 5-1.

istock_face-punch.jpgSo 2-1 Red Sox.  Since I had a fairly bad feeling about them coming to town in the first place, I guess I’m happy we at least took one game and avoided a sweep.  Can’t deny their all-star status, it was a very exciting weekend with them in town.  If I was a jerk, I could say that, while we didn’t win, we at least injured one of their starters in each of the three games. If I was a jerk.

jerkstore.jpgAfter lunch at the BFF’s house, we moved on to my sister-in-law’s house for dinner where her husband, my father-in-law and I decided to watch the Yankees/Dodgers game, in hopes that at least the Dodgers would also lose, allowing the Giants to keep their second place status.  But nope!  5-0 Dodgers.  Bummer.  Wait..now it’s 5-2 Dodgers.  Wait…now it’s 6-6 and going into extra innings.  Now it’s the 10th inning and the Yankees take it 8-6!  Unbelievable rally, and even more unbelievable that there was a room full of Giants fans rooting for the Yankees.  A rarity and somewhat fun.  I’m sure the Dodgers are pissed at losing their lead.  I wonder if being pissed is a good thing for the Giants today.  Will they be tired and sloppy or more determined than ever to make up for yesterday? 

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Monte Irvin’s number 20 was officially retired on Saturday, making him the 11th player to have his number retired by the San Francisco Giants. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Orlando
Cepeda all showed up to honor one of their own.  Congratulations Monte!  Sorry we lost on your big day!

monteirvin.jpgJonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter celebrated its 5 year anniversary on Sunday. Sanchez was the fifth Giant in history to pitch a no-hitter, and he was joined by the other four, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry,
Ed Halicki and John Montefusco. 
Congratulations Jonathan!  Sorry we lost on your big day!

thenonos.jpgCrazy weekend, full of awesome stuff. I feel like I’m skipping half of it.  I guess that’s what happens when you’ve got two rivalries on the west coast playing each others teams.