While National League baseball fans in northern California get whipped into a frenzy about another even-year championship for the San Francisco Giants, one (especially as a Dodger fan) has to constantly wonder how this team could possibly be in this position. Sure, they've got a couple maybe the best hitting catcher in the game in Buster Posey, and one of the best pitchers in the game in Madison Bumgarner, but if you think about it, that's really it.
Hunter Pence played all 162 and got you 20 home runs, but hit .277. Angel Pagan was the only hitter other than Posey with more than 300 at-bats to hit better than .280, and he's hurt, and the Kung Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval, likely in his last year as a Giant, is a fan favorite and fun to watch, but only drove in 61 runs.
In the rotation, Bumgarner won 18 games, but Tim Lincecum was second on the club in victories, and was booted from manager Bruce Bochy's five-man unit. Tim Hudson was second in innings, but only won nine games. Jake Peavy, who was abysmal in Boston, did come through after the trade to the Giants, went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA, and is Bochy's 1-B in the playoffs behind Bumgarner.
While still trying to get over Kershaw's losses to the Cardinals and the bullpen blowing it, it's inconceivable that these also-rans are still running. Here's where the Giants rank in baseball (with the Dodgers in there too). There are 30 teams overall, and 10 make the playoffs...Hitting
To their credit, the Giants did issue the second fewest walks and are third overall in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched, or essentially the number of baserunners in an inning). Yet, somehow, despite these bad numbers, they find themselves three wins away from their third World Series in five years,which in this day and age would qualify as a dynasty. In 2010 and 2012 it was guys like Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Marco Scutaro. Maybe this year it's rookie Joe Panik or the Yes Yes Yes man in Pence. As a Dodger fan it's maddening, but that's baseball, and that's why you've got to love it.
Armchair analyst: I haven't been keeping track, but it seems pretty random as to when they show the singing of God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch. Fox did it Saturday in Game One of the NLCS, but TBS hasn't been doing it regularly, if at all, and I know Fox Sports 1 hasn't done it on a regular basis either... I didn't memorize or write down any good quotes this week, but Fox and FS1's Tom Verducci continues to impress. He's a long time writer, and still writes for Sports Illustrated, so you come to expect some of the literary references, but he also has a lot of opinions about strategy and pitch selection (although that's been done to death, and it would be nice sometimes if they would just shut up for a moment every once in awhile)... I've watched so many games either taped or taped delay, that I haven't had to endure many of the commercials. The worst ones that I have seen have been that interminable Viagra commercial, and the DirectTV ad with Rob Lowe (although the ending with the St. Elmo's Fire theme playing in the background is pretty funny).
Kickin' it: With tonight's Orioles-Royals game rained out, I watched the Niners and Rams, which turned out to be the 700th game in NFL Monday Night Football history. It started back with Howard Cosell and company on ABC in 1970 when Cleveland beat the New York Jets 31-21. Google tells me ESPN has had MNF since 2006. It's hard to believe it's been that long... I think those were the 'throwback' uniforms the Rams were wearing, but those are the ones I remember and like. Blue and bright yellow instead of blue and metallic gold... Yesterday's 37-37 Carolina-Cincinnati game was just the fifth NFL tie in the past 17 years, but the third straight year the league has seen a tie game. The Packers and Vikings played to a tie last season, and the Niners and Rams had an overtime tie in 2012. Prior to that, you have to go back to 2008 when Cincinnati and Philadelphia fought to a draw, afterwards Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb admitted that he didn't know a tie was possible. That's because it had been six years since Pittsburgh and Atlanta tied in 2002.
Last lick: I know the NFL is king, but did Fox's Joe Buck really have to duck in the Sunday Night Football score with one out in the dramatic ninth inning of Giants-Cardinals game two? I didn't tape it or anything, but there's drama unfolding during the National Pasttime, and Buck has to mention the Eagles beating the New York Giants (27-0). Well, he didn't have to mention it, but he did.
Tomorrow (October 14) marks the 33rd anniversary of my father's death. It's hard to believe it's been that long, that I am older than he was when he died, and that I've actually spent almost two-thirds of my life without him. I miss him.