Saturday, October 23, 2010

Torture Never Felt So Good

Did you expect it to happen any other way?

The entire 2010 San Francisco Giants season would have been a lie had the NLCS clinching game not come down to a tension-driven, palm-sweating, ulcer-forming torturefest.

The San Francisco Giants are headed to the 2010 World Series, and well-deserving of it.

Let's face it. This is a team of misfits, forgotten by their respective teams who have found home in San Francisco. I'm talking about guys like Pat Burrell, who Tampa Bay basically payed to go away; Andres Torres, who is a career minor-leaguer and had 3 hits last night; Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez, who have never been in a playoff situation before; Cody Ross, who was placed on waivers by the Florida Marlins and picked up by the Giants just so the division-leading Padres couldn't snag him. Now he is your NLCS MVP.

"They're idiots!" as Joe Buck so fondly called them. But these idiots with dyed black beards and forgotten players are headed to the World Series. Enough said.

Leave it to this team to clinch a trip to the World Series in the most nerve-racking way possible, though.

Jonathan Sanchez getting yanked in the 3rd inning certainly wasn't a good sign. Neither was the fact he left the Giants in mental disarray after he and Chase Utley sat down and had a tea party in the middle of the diamond.

Ok, it was a benches-clearing brawl, but it sure felt like two chicks going at it.

Yet the Giants did it. This time, they did it behind the heels of their bullpen. 7 innings of 0 runs, including Jeremy Affeldt, who hadn't even pitched in the Braves series, turning the tide for the Giants by going 2 innings of no-hit ball.

And how big a breath of fresh air did you take after Juan Uribe flipped the bat and thew those hands up? He knew it and every Giants fan who has ever witnessed a Uribe homer knew it. That ball was gone.

'Destiny' is a good word for it. Or 'Torture.' Or both!

How about a 'torturistic destiny?' Works for me.

But never has torture felt so good.

One final note. The fans of Philadelphia really showed their true colors last night, booing the Giants off the field after winning the game. Rude and disrespectful to a team who has shown nothing but class during these playoffs.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Joe Buck: 'Giants Are A Bunch Of Idiots'

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are the worst. There's no doubt about it, Buck hates the Giants and any team that isn't a legitimate favorite, and McCarver just isn't bright.

McCarver: 'He is a good two-strike hitter, but he strikes out a lot.'

Enough said.

As for Buck, he is a notorious hater of all things not him, but the fact he seems to throw his arrogant one-sided opinions into his play-by-play calls is simply unprofessional. Nobody cares about your opinions. Just give us the game straight without showing us how full of yourself you actually are.

But one thing he said last night struck me as an actual intellectually flattering statement to the Giants, albeit a back-handed compliment.

'The Giants are a bunch of idiots just crazy to pull this thing off," Buck said.

It seems like Buck was the pot calling the kettle black, but, of course, he was referencing the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox who were given the name 'idiots' because of their long hair, 'don't care' attitude, and 'cowboy-up' mentality.

Now, dying your beard jet black is an idiot move in its own right, but Buck was correct. This 2010 Giants team is a bunch of idiots. Huff, Burrell, Uribe, Sandoval, these are all eccentric characters who could be referred to as something far worse, but 'idiot' is the polite term.

Between Sandoval's pre-at-bat routine, Wilson's Jim Rome interview, and the fact that Lincecum looks like a 13 year-old girl from behind is proof enough that this team is unusual.

But doesn't the fact that these idiots torture us fans and we love it make us idiots as well?

Yes, but it hurts so good.

These torture-enjoying idiots from the west coast may be just crazy enough to pull this thing off. And Joe Buck will be a witness to it all, accompanied by Tim McCarver's insightful analysis and color commentary.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Struggling 49ers and Up-Beat Raiders Collide in Week 6 Matchup

In the not too distant past, you will not find a season in which the Raiders (2-3) have looked so much better than the 49ers (0-5) this early in the season. Of course, who hasn't looked better than the 49ers? Well, the Panthers and Bills, but they don't count anyway.

Make no mistake about this 49ers/Raiders matchup this Sunday, the 49ers are the favorites. It doesn't matter what each team's record is, the 49ers are supposed to win this game.

You can call it the "Battle of the Bay" or whatever you want, I prefer "Getting Off the Shneid", if you're a 49er fan, or were one to start the season.

For the Raiders, there is no pressure on them. Coming into this season, they looked up at the Week 6 matchup and saw an automatic loss at the hands of the 49ers, who were supposed to run away with the NFC West. Now, they are thinking they can obliterate this team that is in absolute turmoil. Kick 'em while they're down.

No doubt about it, if the 49ers lose this Sunday, there will be changes. No matter what they say leading up to then. If the 49ers fail to score, bye bye Alex Smith, enter David Carr, or Alex Smith #2 as he is so fondly nicknamed.

This game is a season-changer for the 49ers. If they win, that's great, they got their 1st win. If they lose, goodbye season, hello change. That would most likey start at head coach. No matter how in love the ownership is with Singletary, there is no excuse for an 0-6 season and a loss to the Raiders at that.

Don't forget, the 49ers have a pretty favorable schedule here on out. I counted 8 favorable matchups, 5 of which are against the NFC West.

So this week is the jump start the 49ers needed. And for the Raiders, it's the respect in the Bay Area they've always wanted.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giants Down Braves, Phils A Much Bigger Beast

Thank God GM Brian Sabean is as vindictive as he is. Had he not picked up Cody Ross off waivers from Florida just to spite the Padres late in the season, the Giants might be headed in the opposite direction they are now.

Ross went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI's in Game 4 last night, including a HR and a clutch RBI single to put them ahead late.

With runs coming at a minimum in this series, you can make an argument that Ross was the MVP in this series, although another argument can be made for Buster Posey. We will also accept that answer.

Nevertheless, the Giants won, not that we were doubting them or anything...Torture. They gave one away in Game 2, and stole the final 2 games to win the series. Take it or leave it, it's Giants baseball.

But the Giants were supposed to be here, at least that's what we were telling ourselves. A starting rotation like that can carry a team, and it carried this one to a win over Atlanta.

But a bigger beast awaits the Giants in the next round. The Phillies, quite possibly, could be the best team to come through the MLB in some time. Pitching, hitting, you name it, they got it. Game on.

And talk about being thrown right into the jaws of this series. Roy Halladay will introduce the Giants to the NLCS real quick on Saturday. He's the best pitcher going right now. Period.

Good move by Bochy not starting Lincecum for Game 4, although I don't think there was any doubt Bumgarner was your starter, no matter what he said.

Lincecum will play 2nd-tier to Halladay on Saturday, and the Giants will play 2nd-tier to the Phillies the entire series. It's how nationl TV works. It's up to them to prove America wrong, because as of now they are huge underdogs to an amazing team.

Can the Giants win this series? Can the Giants' pitching stay solid? Can the Giants score some runs??? So many questions heading into this series. All will be answered soon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Giants' NL West Championship a Culmination of the Past Few Years

A couple years back, I attended a San Jose Giants game, the Giants Single-A affiliate. I attended partly because I live in San Jose, partly because the SJ Giants were/are a really good team, and mostly because I had caught a wiff of the pitcher-catcher duo of Bumgarner/Posey.

It was a fact back then, the Giants had a good core of young potential talent. It was just up to the Giants organization to raise these kids into superstars who could one day lead the Giants ball club to the promised land.

On Sunday, they did that.

A few years ago, the Giants promised that the young talent we saw climbing the minor league ladder would be great. They promised that the young hurlers of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner would be the starting rotation of the future. And we sat with patience anticipating what could be. The Giants organization didn't disappoint on this one.

Just a few years later, look what has happened. Lincecum is a 2-time Cy Young Award winner, Cain was dubbed the Giants best pitcher this season, Bumgarner is a rising star pitching far more mature than his age, and Sanchez literally clinched the NL West by himself on Sunday.

Oh ya, there's also a guy name Posey who may have clinched the Rookie of the Year on Sunday as well.

So, in some ways, this year's NL West Championship is a culmination of all that. It's a culmination of the past few years of sitting and waiting for the young stars in the minors to grow into fantastic ballplayers. It's fulfillment of a promise by the Giants organization to the fans saying that this young core group would lead this team one day. That became a reality on Sunday when the Giants' young stars led this ball club to the postseason for the first time in seven years.

Sure, it seems like Giants fans have waited forever for this to happen, but we all saw it coming, Lincecum, Cain, Posey, etc. The young talent was all there. And we witnessed it bloom on Sunday, we will watch it mature in these 2010 playoffs, and we will continue to see these young players be a success for years to come.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Giants NL West Champs

On Thursday, it was not if, but when will the Giants clinch the NL West. Now, in game 162, it was not when, but if. But the San Francisco Giants pulled it off on Sunday and are champions of the NL West, thus confirming the motto, "Giants Baseball...Torture."

But this one was hard fought, and no doubt did the the Giants show Sunday what they had in their arsenal for the playoffs, real good pitching mixed with solid hitters.

Today's savior, and yes there is a new one one every day it seems, is Jonathan Sanchez. Honestly, if the man starting on Thursday didnt have back-to-back Cy Young Awards, Sanchez is my man. He has been the Giants' best pitcher recently, and he will get rewarded for that by starting the third game of the Giants/Braves series that will start on Thursday at 6:30pm.

As for a 'Giants Season in Review,' ask yourself this question, would the Giants be NL West Champs without Huff, Burrell, Fontenot, Ross, and Guillen? No chance. You can say that especially for Huff and Burrell, really. Huff supplying numbers that were not expected at the start of the season, and Burrell with timely hit after timely hit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, thank Brian Sabean. Yes, the man everybody wanted a piece of at the beginning of the season because he couldn't bring a legit bat to San Francisco. Turns out, he did get the legit bat. Huff Daddy. Credit, Sabean for signing Huff in the offseason for nickles and dimes, as well as taking Burrell "off the Rays' hands."

But all-in-all, this Giants season was a season of fulfillment. The Giants made a promise years ago when the likes of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner were all young and full of potential, that this would be the pitching staff of the future that would secure playoff appearance after playoff appearance for this ball club. Some years later, look what happened. The Giants arguably have the best rotation going right now and can carry that into the 2010 playoffs with them.

It's just that, though. We've always said with that pitching staff, if the Giants get into the playoffs then look out. Now is the time to see what the young guns we yearned so much to see a few years ago can do in October.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blame Singletary For 49ers Not Meeting Expectations

It would seem to me that a team that was as underprepared for their first game of the season as the 49ers were against the Seahawks in Week 1 should point the finger in the direction of the man with the headset.

It is his job to get his team prepared for the season, and it is his job to make sure everyone is on the same page and that there are no communication issues on the field. If anything, it's to not look ridiculous and embarrassed when on the field. Check that one off the list.

After the 49ers' lackluster performance in Arrowhead on Sunday, things need to change, and it starts from the top. Is Mike Singletary the man for the job? Or is he just a bunch of billboard catch phrases that get kids psyched up? Time will tell. One thing is for sure, Singletary looks confused on game days. Just throwing it out there, but Singletary has never been a head coach at any level until the 49ers hired him. It's been showing.

First order of business, let's fire the Offensive Coordinator. That will accomplish a lot. An 8th Offensive Coordinator in 8 seasons is an embarrasment in itself, but Jimmy Raye had nothing and was nothing but a hinderance to this team. He had no imagination even though he was given the imaginative players to have that type of playbook. His offense was bland and vanilla, and when you have Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree on your team your offense needs to be anything but.

Bottom line, the people that needed to get the ball weren't getting it. That's a problem. So is an 0-3 start.

Enter QB Coach Mike Johnson as Off. Coordinator. Seems like the problem two of the last three weeks has been the QB, so let's hire the man who spends the most time with him. The 49ers had no choice, though. They're hoping to strike gold in Johnson who just seems the standard move to make following a Off. Coordinator's departure. But the players seem to back him, and that is a good sign.

They're not done, though. Reports are that Takeo Spikes and Michael Lewis will lose their starting roles. Why all the change? Just a hunch, but the defense may be this team's strongest asset next to punting. It probably didn't appear that way on Sunday against the Chiefs, but write that one off as 'giving up halfway through the game.' Ya, that's what we're going with...

If the 49ers want to turn this season around, or even avoid rebuilding yet again, it's on Singletary. Maybe the mindset he has isn't for this team or these players. So change it, or get out. There have been far too many losing seasons in this last decade and far too many seasons without a playoff appearance.

With playoff hopes looking glim and 'must win games' in the near future, pointed fingers need to remain at Singletary.

Cain Eases the Pain of 49ers' and Raiders' Debacles

Thank God the San Francisco Giants played an afternoon game on Sunday. The pain Bay Area fans were feeling by noon, and then again by 4pm was nullified, at least a little, by Matt Cain's crafty performance on the mound.

The earliest game on Sunday may have stung the worst, though. The 49ers were up against an unproven, yet 2-0, Chiefs team that seemed the perfect match for the 49ers on both sides of the ball. Except it turned out the 49ers were no match for the Chiefs, who showed that they were for real and that the 49ers are nowhere near where everyone thinks they should be, NFC West Champs. Not the way they're playing.

The 49ers were dominated in every aspect of the game on Sunday, less than a week removed from a spirited performance on Monday night. Many minds would think they could take that momentum of challenging the Super Bowl Champs into Sunday's game against the Chiefs. No chance, never had any. The Chiefs two-headed monster rushing duo were running at will against that laxidasical defensive line, and Matt Cassel, although not sharp, was able to piece the 49ers' secondary with ease. Disappointing.

As the 49ers were beat outright, the Raiders outright beat themselves. A well-played game the whole way, Janikowski's 2 missed kicks cost the Raiders what could have been a well-deserved win against the Cardinals. Even then, if Janikowski had chipped in the 3rd FG from 32 yards to win the game, all would have been forgotten. He had made 19 of 19 from 30-40 yards to that point. You can make that 19 of 20 now.

But as the Raiders and 49ers shot themselves in the foot time and time again, Matt Cain seemed to put his foot down for all the Bay Area and save them from one horrible Sunday afternoon in sports. Cain took a no-hit bid into the 8th inning and would ultimately lead the Giants to a 4-2 win in Colorado, and solo first place in the NL West yet again.

Cain pitched great, especially with the "juiced ball" conditions. He has no doubt been the Cy Young of the Giants season on a team that boasts past and possible future Cy Young Award winners. He has been consistent despite the starting rotation having its ups-and-downs. He should be regarded as their #1 pitcher.

The Giants were able to take a 1/2 game lead in the division and virtually knock out the Rockies from playoff contention at the same time on Sunday. The Giants/Padres playoff implications will no doubt come down to the last series of the year in San Francisco right where the Giants would prefer it. For that series, the Giants will have Zito, Cain, and Sanchez heading to the hill, with the Giants showing no signs of altering the rotation for the finale.

Meanwhile, the Giants will host the D-Backs Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. While the Padres host the Cubs in a 4-game series starting tonight.

A little advice, let the chips fall where they may for the 49ers and Raiders this week. With the 49ers in Atlanta and the Raiders playing the Texans, let's focus on the Giants on Sunday. For the sake of us going crazy. At this moment, they are the only true contenders in the Bay Area right now because they have shown us they are. The 49ers and Raiders have not.