An incredibly busy week has kept me from posting anything this week. That’s the first time that’s happened in a long time. Did you miss me? Didn’t think so.
I’ve been spending most of what little unscheduled time I was able to muster this week watching my San Francisco Giants crush the St. Louis Cardinals, thus earning their third trip to the World Series in five years. Well, okay, “crush” is a bit strong. Over the course of the five games, the Giants outscored the Redbirds 24-16, which is an average of 4.8 to 3.2 for an average winning margin of less than 2 runs per game. So “crush”? Maybe not. But out-played? For sure. And, I think, out-toughed is another appropriate description. Last night’s Game 5 was a perfect microcapsule. When the Giants had tied the game, the Cards came to bat in the top of the ninth and had runners on 1st and 2nd with one out, and runners at 2nd and 3rd with two out and failed to score. In the bottom of the inning, the Giants got to runners at 1st and 2nd with one out before Travis Ishikawa hit his magical homer. Just guts.
Cardinal third-baseman Matt Carpenter said after the game, “It wasn’t meant to be. Look at the way this game unfolded. We were inches away from taking the lead (again). That’s the way the series has been going. It wasn’t meant to be for us.” And that resignation to fate — the Giants were also inches away from taking the lead again…and they did…– may be as good an explanation as we need of why the Giants are headed to Kansas City and the Cards are headed elsewhere in Missouri.
The Giants out-hit the Cards .253 to .233 and reached base more often (.330 to .298) although the Cards led in Slugging Percentage (.423 to .355) and the highly touted On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage (OPS) by .721 to .685.
On the mound, San Francisco’s team ERA was a respectable 3.20 vs the Cards’ fairly dismal 4.57. Strikeout-to-walk ratios were pretty close (SF 32/13 and StL 27/19) and not very impressive. (Stats courtesy of BaseballReference.com.)
But at the end of the day, the Giants won 80% of the games played. Nuff said.
In my post-game reading, I stumbled across a couple of interesting items I haven’t seen mentioned in many places.
Barry Bonds was on hand for the playoffs and is still finding ways to help the Giants. Michael Morse gave Bonds partial credit for his game-tying homer in the bottom of the eight. Morse told SF Gate, “Barry came up to me and told me, ‘Get your foot down. You can’t hit if your foot’s in the air. I really thought about it. I went to the cage trying to get my foot down early.” When his pinch-hit opportunity arrived, he was ready. Foot down. Ball over left field wall. Tie game.
- As far as I can tell, MLB.com was the first news outlet to use the word dynasty to describe the G-Men, who are appearing in their third world series in five years. (Every even-numbered year as if to help take our minds off the numbing run of election news). The article by Anthony DiComo attributed the Giant’s run of success to the ability of the team to keep a core of solid players together when other teams are juggling players and roster spots like an out-of-control clown. At least that was reliefer Jeremy Affeldt’s opinion, which DiComo cited with approval in his piece. Dynasty. I sort of like the ring of that.
- Cardinals fans and media are second-guessing Manager Mike Matheny’s decision to give the ball to Michael Wacha for that fateful final inning. Wacha hadn’t thrown a pitch in more than a month after an injury but had been asking and asking and asking to get into the post-
season. When he did, he looked pretty terrible. He gave up a leadoff single to Pablo “Panda” Sandoval, got Hunter Pence on a routine fly, then walked Brandon Belt. After Belt gave way to pinch-runner Joaquin Arias, Wacha missed the first two pitches to Ishakawa before serving up the inevitable 2-0 fastball. Ishakawa parked it on the arcade high over the right field wall and it was over. Well, it was almost over. Giants pitcher Jake Peavy thought the ball had stayed in the yard, meaning Ishakawa had a walk-off double to score the winning run. So he went out and met the Giants’ outfielder between second and third and almost tackled him. “Move!” Ishakawa said to his stunned teammate, “I hit it out!” LOL
- No sooner was the champagne dry in the SF clubhouse than the national “Hate the Royals” bandwagon began to pick up steam. Beats me why. They’re making their first appearance in the World Series in 29 years and only their second in franchise history. It’s not like they’re the Yankees or the Red Sox or the Dodgers — teams everyone loves to hate because they’re “national” and obnoxious. They’ve not been a very good team historically. My money is on the Giants to make them look like the relatively weak team they were most of the season. But, hate? Seems a bit strong. This piece on Medium.com sort of summarized the roiling national feeling; I expect to see a lot more of this. I prefer to be pro-something than anti-anything so I’m just going to settle for a quiet, mild-mannered..