World Series 2010: 10 Reasons San Francisco Giants Should Close It Out
The 2010 World Series is one win by the San Francisco Giants from being over.
A spellbinding effort by 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner, making his first Fall Classic start and doing it in the Lone Star State's hostile heart, pushed the Texas Rangers to edge of elimination.
The southpaw coaxed eight empty innings from the Rangers' bats, striking out six while allowing only five baserunners (three hits and two walks) and no one passed second base.
The phenomenal rookie kept a dangerous bunch of splinters off balance and guessing wrong.
Vladimir Guerrero, in particular, had a Halloween night full of silly swings he'd like to forget.
Meanwhile, the Gent offense took care of the rest on an evening ruled by Orange and Black. As Texas watched bagel after bagel posted on the scoreboard, San Francisco enjoyed an appearance by the regular season's usual suspects, as Andres Torres, Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, and Buster Posey inflicted most of the damage.
Torres went 3-for-5 with an RBI double, a stolen base, and a run scored thanks to Huff's mammoth home run. Posey added an insurance run with a big fly of his own and Sanchez managed to contribute despite wearing an 0-for-4 collar.
The second baseman played his customarily blinding defense and, though he twice failed to advance Torres to third, Freddy bled Rangers' starter Tommy Hunter for 17 pitches in his first two at-bats. A particularly arduous nine-pitch sequence directly preceded Aubrey's moonball, so make of that what you will.
And with that, los Gigantes are but a single, itty-bitty victory away from the Promised Land.
But the faithful have been here before; well not quite here, but pretty close.
Which is why the article says "should" instead of "will"—I don't do predictions when the Giants are involved. I'm a baseball guy at heart and, as such, it's the one area where superstition holds sway. You can be damn sure I'm not risking any jinx at this late juncture.
Not with all the Baseball Gods have put us through.
So, with that disclaimer in mind, here are 10 reasons the San Francisco Giants should close out the 2010 World Series and claim the City's first baseball championship.
10. ESPN and Rob Neyer Deserve It for Their Embarrassing Coverage
Erin Andrews is about the only useful thing left on ESPN and even she's overrated. Not in that picture, per se, but as a phenomenon.
Regardless, the Sports Leader's senior baseball writer, Rob Neyer, has given the network another lazy black eye with his hideously one-sided and blatantly pro-Ranger treatment of the World Series.
I refuse to link to his travesty of blog, so you'll have to go searching for it yourself—not that I recommend doing so. To save you the trouble, I'll give you the lowlights:
1. He announced before the Fall Classic that Texas' pitching was better than San Francisco's. The alleged rationale had something to do with the American League being a hitter's league and the Rangers play in a hitter's park, both of which are true.
Of course, it's also true that Texas toils in the AL West, home of the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners—two of the worst offenses in baseball who call two of the most spacious yards home. The fourth member of the division, the Los Angeles Angels (who are actually in Anaheim), were just about as punchless after losing Kendry Morales.
2. He announced the Giants' defense is bad, which is demonstrably false. It has limited range, but this collection of leather gloves what it gets to for the most part and the range isn't so bad with the all-defensive team in there (Cody Ross, Torres, Nate Schierholtz, Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, Sanchez, and Travis Ishikawa).
3. After every Giants' win, Neyer lists a shallow recap of the game and emphasizes how lucky San Francisco was (this includes both gems authored by Matt Cain and Bumgarner). After the lone Ranger win, he posted an in-depth analysis of Colby Lewis' background and a statistical breakdown of his season versus Jonathan Sanchez'.
And there isn't a bit of exaggeration in No. 3.
It's absurd how he's not even trying to hide the pattern because the implication of it is particularly egregious. It shows that, not only was Neyer only prepared to do the "Texas wins" angle justice, but also that he couldn't even be troubled to do the appropriate research to support the "San Francisco wins" reality.
This is the WORLD FREAKIN' SERIES and the biggest constellation in the sports journalism universe can't even be troubled to provide balanced coverage. Nor is it as if the San Francisco Bay Area is a minor media market.
Just a pathetic showing.
Although Jayson Stark has done his usual, excellent job.
9. San Francisco Deserves a World Series
By now, everyone has probably heard that the San Francisco Giants are one of the three-longest suffering organizations in Major League Baseball. Arguably, the team and its fans have dibs on the worst suffering now that both Sox—the White in Chicago and Red in Boston—have exorcised their demons.
Yep, worse than the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians.
There was Willie McCovey's line drive in the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees. There was the 1987 National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
And then the Baseball Gods got really creative.
The Giants entered the 1989 World Series as underdogs, but Mother Nature devastated those slim chances when she did the same to the City. San Francisco was able to rebound from the Loma Prieta earthquake—Dave Stewart and Mike Moore made sure the Giants would get no such happy ending.
Then came the Last Pure Pennant Race against the Atlanta Braves in 1993 that saw SF at home for the playoffs despite 103 wins. Then the 1997 season where the store-bought Florida Marlins trounced the Giants from the postseason. Then the 1998 season that ended in a one-game playoff loss to Sammy Sosa and the Cubbies.
In 2000, San Francisco had the best record in baseball...and were sent home in the NL Division Series by the New York Mets. The 2002 World Series still only needs mentioning and, for good measure, the 2003 campaign ended at the hands of the expansion Fish.
The Gods couldn't really be so cruel as to dangle salvation within San Francisco's reach only to snatch it back one more agonizing time, could they?
8. So Do I
You might be wondering what the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals have to do with the 2010 San Francisco Giants.
I'll confess to being the common link.
When Don Denkinger screwed the Redbirds in '85 and allowed the Kansas City Royals to become the last World Series participant to rebound from a three-games-to-one deficit, I was a six-year-old boy who had just learned to love baseball, the Cards, Ozzie Smith, and Andy Van Slyke.
The loss in the Fall Classic was the first crusher during my tenure as a baseball fan, but it wouldn't be my last.
In 1987, my family had relocated to the Bay Area, but I was still a devout practitioner at the Church of the Sacred Cardinal. Consequently, a little bit of bile still jumps to the back of my throat when I imagine the '87 Minnesota Twins, the Metrodome (may it burn in hell), and those horrible homer hankies.
And then came all the nonsense once I made the leap to los Gigantes sometime in 1988.
The still-practicing St. Louis die-hards got their redemption in 2006.
Now, it should be my turn.
7. Home-Field Advantage
Alright, enough with the editorializing, am I right?
Let's get down to brass tacks—the real nuts and bolts of why the San Francisco Giants should be able to close out their 3-1 advantage.
First up are the friendly confines of AT&T Park—the normally mellow City crowds have gone rabid as the team has progressed through the postseason. The House that Bonds Built was legitimately raucous for Games 1 and 2; you should expect more of the same should the Series be extended to Games 6 and 7.
The Texas Rangers have been a good road team thus far in the playoffs, but they weren't wonderful away from their own yard during the regular season. Of course, this little conundrum is the least of their concerns at the moment.
6. The Texas Rangers Need 3 Consecutive WIns
August 25th through 28th—those would be the dates of the last three-game losing streak the San Francisco Giants endured (at the hands of the Cincinnati Reds and Arizona Diamondbacks with an off-day tucked in there).
The calendar will show November with the Texas Rangers try to become the first adversary to hang of trio of consecutive losses on the Orange and black in over two months.
All good things come to an end, but Nolan Ryan's fellas have precious little room for error in trying to end this particular trend.
5. The Real Cliff Lee Can Only Throw Once
Those of us who've watched the San Francisco Giants all year weren't totally dumbfounded when the lads battered Cliff Lee, an ace who'd pitched to an unparalleled playoff reputation until being unable to escape the fifth inning in Game 1 of the World Series.
Granted, I doubt even the most cockeyed optimist expected six earned runs in only 14 outs, but SF walked the Roy Halladay-Roy Oswalt-Cole Hamels gauntlet against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLCS and the team also beat Doc during the regular season as well as Colorado Rockie dirt merchant Ubaldo Jimenez at the height of his powers.
Clearly, the brightest names in the biz don't dazzle the Giants as much as they do other teams.
However, that was then—don't count on another sub-par outing from Lee.
Yet, even if the superlative southpaw can carry the Texas Rangers to a Game 5 win on Monday, Game 6 (if necessary) is Wednesday and Game 7 (if necessary) is Thursday. That is, unless Lee-sus is gonna twirl on three-days rest in the decisive finale, he's only got one bullet left.
And it seems to me that, if you were gonna start him on short rest, Game 4 would've been the time to do it.
4. Andres Torres Is Heating Up atop a Suprisingly Lively Offense
San Francisco Giant fans can tell you that most of the team's best baseball coincided with Andres Torres' hottest streaks. The little man with the big bat who hits leadoff hasn't been featured in every winning jag the squad put together, but he really, really, really helps.
Well, don't look now, but Torres might be settling down right into the middle of a torrid stretch.
Since starting the postseason in an anemic, just-trying-to-stay-above-.100 slump, the diminutive dynamo has relaxed and begun to find his stride.
Since Game 5 of the NLCS against the Phillies, Andres has thrown together three multi-hit games in six. He's 11-for-26 with four doubles, a home run, a stolen base, three runs batted in, and five runs scored.
That kind of table-setting is tough to stomach when you have a lineup behind Torres littered with guys feeling their World Series oats at the moment—Huff, Renteria (a total revelation at .429/.467/.643), Sanchez, Posey, and Ross are all swinging good-to-white-hot sticks at the moment.
3. Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner
The national spotlight has not shone favorably upon Mr. Sanchez as he struggled mightily with his command in Game 6 of the NLCS and Game 3 of the World Series. But let's pump the brakes on all this gloom-and-doom talk regarding the mercurial southpaw.
Consider the San Francisco Giants advanced to the Fall Classic from that Game 6, were right in Game 3 until the final Neftali Feliz bolt of lightning, and the other three starters are cooking at the moment.
When this rotation is going well, it can make a member who's not clicking look putrid by comparison while—in reality—he's not quite Barry Zito circa 2008.
Additionally, let's not forget the 13.1 innings of pretty good ball Jonathan tossed at the Atlanta Braves in the NL Division Series and Game 2 of the NLCS. San Fran lost that one, too, but details, details...He struck out 18 batters in those 13.1 frames while surrendering only 11 baserunners (four via the free pass) and three earned runs.
Sanchez hasn't been as awful as some in the media would have you think, he was very good only two starts ago, and Jonathan's history has shown a propensity for tossing masterpieces out of nowhere (see: no-hitter v. San Diego Padres).
Now, obviously, nobody rooting for the Gents wants to see this go to Game 7 and we'd all prefer to have one of the two aces lined up should that torture befall SF.
But there are worse fates than Jonathan Sanchez in the finale.
And don't forget about that country-strong MadBum waiting in the wings.
It'd be on four-days rest, but it would also be the last game of the season. For sure.
2. Tim Lincecum
Tim Lincecum will get the pearl Monday evening and try to clinch the San Francisco Giants' first World Series without playing another game at AT&T Park.
Even opposite Cliff Lee, the prospect of the Freak on the hill has to make your blood run a little cold if you're a Texas Ranger fan. Big Tim Timmy Jim wasn't so "big time" in Game 1, but he was good enough to get the Classic started on the right foot for the Gents.
And he was almost unhittable against the Atlanta Braves in his first career postseason start.
It's tough to say where a Game 5 start with a chance to win it all would rank on that scale of pressure—sure, the Promised Land is 27 outs away and you're in enemy territory. But it's not as much of a do-or-die situation as a Game 1 start, where a loss might precipitate a free fall.
Plus, there's a reason the Franchise—for the first time I can remember since he started winning Cy Youngs—isn't the most reassuring shadow looming over San Francisco (metaphorically speaking, obviously).
His wingman is prepped for launch should he be necessary.
In other words, this is a HUGE game, but there is a safety net.
That should work in Lincecum's favor—it should ease the soul-crushing stress that Cliff Lee will face without blunting any of Timmy's concentration.
1. Matt Cain
It's been said all season—Matt Cain has been the best San Francisco Giants' starter all year.
He didn't start out of the gates with the same burst as Lincecum or Zito, and he didn't finish with quite the same sprint as Timmy or Jonathan Sanchez, but Cainer has been the star all year—brilliant to the point of faux-flawlessness and as consistent as they come.
The Kid won't post a dizzying array of statistics; he'll just eat innings seven, eight, or nine at a time (223.1 IP and four complete games) and keep runners off the bases (1.08 WHIP). If he needs a whiff, you better believe he can get one (177 K).
In the postseason, he's been other-worldy; he's been historically good.
Cain has taken the bump three times, thrown 21.1 scoreless innings while fanning 13 and allowing only 20 baserunners (seven via the walk). The only extra base hit he's suffered was a double by Ian Kinsler in Game 2 of the World Series.
Other than that, it's been 12 singles. That's it.
That's the beast that slouches toward the Texas Rangers to start Game 6 on full rest at home in front of a viciously faithful crowd at AT&T Park.
Good luck with all of that.
Remember—Should, Not Will
By now, I've surely kicked up enough blasphemous dirt to have caught the attention of the Baseball Gods.
So I just wanted to be clear.