Posted on: November 2, 2010 3:10 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2010 4:32 pm
I picked against the Giants in the World Series, and I was wrong.
There. Are you happy now, Giants fans?
I have absolutely no idea why anyone would care who I picked to win, and even less of an idea why anyone would stop celebrating long enough to berate me for a wrong pick. But there were times over the last week that Giants fans had me convinced they got more pleasure out of me being wrong than they did out of their team winning.
It began after Game 1. It didn't let up, all the way through Game 5.
"It would be nice to see some form of mea culpa from you and the other Brainiacs who predicted a different outcome," wrote Chet, who was at least polite about it.
I'm not sure what this says about Giants fans, but I never got nearly as much e-mail about any of my other wrong picks over the years. And believe me, there have been plenty of them.
Maybe I ought to ask Judge and Prisco if 49er fans are the same way. Maybe it's the Bay Area.
I'm not sure I care. I'm not sure why you care.
But since you do, here it is again:
I picked the Rangers in 5. I was wrong.
Now, can we all look back to what we saw over the last month? Here's what I saw, through three rounds, 17 games witnessed in person, most of the others seen on TV, two train rides and nine flights stopping at seven different airports:
Best game: The very first one, or at least the very first one I covered. It's hard to beat a no-hitter, and in more than two decades of covering baseball, I've never seen anyone pitch as good a game as Roy Halladay did in Game 1 against the Reds.
Best moment: The Giants interrupting their celebration at Turner Field to salute retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox. It was a classy, classy move, and it should make anyone feel better that the Giants got two more chances at celebrating -- both of them uninterrupted.
Best moment II: On the field after Game 5 of the World Series, I was interviewing Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti, who grew up in Northern California, has been with the Giants for years and had never before won a World Series. Just then, the fans gathered behind the third-base dugout started chanting, "Thank you, Giants!" Righetti stopped, almost tearing up. "How cool is that?" he said. Then, thinking about the celebration back home, he added, "They're going to tear up the city."
Best song: No contest. It was the by YouTube sensation Ashkon , the Giants fan who wrote new words to sing along with Journey's Don't Stop Believing. The best line: "I had faith, and I had hope; And thankfully the Padres choked."
Best T-shirt: I never thought about buying one of those claw and antlers shirts that were so popular in Arlington. I did think about getting one of the "Let Tim Smoke" shirts in San Francisco. If you don't get it, check out Proposition 19 on today's California ballot.
Most disappointing team: Plenty of candidates, but it has to be the Twins, who played so well in September to get the best record in the American League, and home-field advantage through the AL playoffs. And they still got swept by the Yankees -- again. The worst part is that the Twins seemed to know what it would take to beat the Yankees. They tried hard to sign Colby Lewis last winter, and they tried hard to trade for Cliff Lee this summer. They didn't get either, and after they lost in three straight, they watched Lewis and Lee win three of the four games as the Rangers ousted New York.
Worst overreaction to a loss: Phillies fans, who sat in absolute disbelief as they watched the final outs in Game 6 against the Giants. The Phillies won 97 games, the most in the majors (for the first time in franchise history). They were the most impressive team entering the playoffs. They have their Big 3 starters ready for another go next year. And because they lost four of six games to the Giants, they're suddenly too old? Come on.
Worst timing for a movie: Isn't that Moneyball movie supposed to come out soon? Any chance they can rewrite it and reshoot it on the other side of the Bay? The Giants pride themselves on being the ultimate anti-Moneyball team, and the AL champion Rangers don't really subscribe to Moneyball, themselves. Funny that in the middle of a World Series between two teams that believe in old-fashioned scouting, the Mets would hire Moneyball founder Sandy Alderson to take over their organization.
Best team: Yeah, as if I'm going to pick anyone but the Giants. They were impressive, with a pitching staff that dominated and a lineup that didn't look good, but did just enough. I'm happy for Cody Ross, Andres Torres and Edgar Renteria, three of the nicest guys I covered in my years on the Tiger beat. I'm happy for Bruce Bochy, one of the best managers in the game, and for plenty of good people in that organization.
Believe it or not, I'm even happy for the Giants fans, especially those for whom this was every bit the lifelong dream that 2004 was for many in New England, or that 2005 was on the South Side of Chicago.
Maybe most of the country didn't care, as evidenced by the low ratings. Maybe it wasn't the best World Series ever.
But you could say the same about the 1984 World Series, and as I know from my time in Michigan, a whole bunch of people in that state consider it the best World Series ever.
Years from now, a whole bunch of people in Northern California will say the same about this one.
By then, maybe they'll forget that I picked it wrong. Or, at the very least, maybe they'll forgive me for it.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 10:30 pm
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As it turns out, a team from San Francisco is allowed to win the World Series.
And as it turns out, you can win a World Series with a team built almost entirely on pitching.
It can be done. The Giants just proved it.
And if you're asking how in the world they became champions with that lineup, you're asking the wrong question. They became champions because of that rotation.
They shut down the Rangers one more time Monday night in Game 5, with Tim Lincecum outdueling Cliff Lee in a 3-1 game. The Giants, as usual, won with just enough offense, with a three-run Edgar Renteria home run in the seventh inning breaking up a scoreless game.
They won the World Series, four games to one, and in two of those wins, the Rangers never scored. In the five games combined, the Rangers had just 12 runs, after scoring 59 in 11 games to eliminate the Rays and the Yankees.
Lincecum wasn't able to match rotation mates Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner by throwing the Giants' third shutout of the World Series, but he allowed just Nelson Cruz's solo home run in the seventh.
In their 15 postseason games, against the Braves, Phillies and Rangers, the Giants allowed just 41 runs, not even three a game on average. The starting rotation pitched a total of 97 2/3 innings in the postseason, allowing just 24 earned runs for a 2.21 ERA.
The bullpen was almost as good. Closer Brian Wilson didn't allow an earned run the entire postseason.
Because of the pitching, the Giants were able to win five postseason games where they scored three runs or fewer. They were able to win with a lineup that didn't come close to matching up in firepower with the one the Rangers put on the field each day.
In the clinching game, the Giants won with Cody Ross batting cleanup and Juan Uribe hitting fifth. Ross was a late-season waiver acquisition, and when the playoffs began he and Uribe hit near the bottom of the Giants order.
Doesn't matter. They won, as Giants teams hadn't been able to win in three previous World Series trips since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
Giants fans remember Bobby Richardson's catch in 1962, and the earthquake that allowed the A's to use just two starting pitchers in 1989, and Game 6 against the Angels in 2002.
But now they'll also remember Lincecum and Cain, Bumgarner and Wilson, Renteria and Ross and Buster Posey.
They'll never forget the 2010 Giants, the team that proved it could be done.
Posted on: November 18, 2008 11:02 am
The Orioles desperately need a shortstop, but they're not expected to make a play for any of the free agents available this winter (Rafael Furcal, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria). Instead, the O's will focus on pursuing the two big-name free agents with Maryland ties -- first baseman Mark Teixeira and right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Teixeira was born in Maryland and attended high school in Baltimore. Burnett is an Arkansas native, but he makes his home in Monkton, just outside Baltimore.
The Orioles desperately need starting pitching. Their rotation combined for a 5.51 ERA in 2008, tied with Texas for the worst in the majors.
Finding a shortstop remains a priority, but the O's will likely try to address that need through the trade market. Khalil Greene of the Padres, Jack Wilson of the Pirates and Bobby Crosby of the A's are all possibilities.
Posted on: June 26, 2008 2:56 pm
"Not a Braves-type player."
I heard exactly that a couple of weeks back, when I asked a Braves person about Sidney Ponson. I knew the answer, but I asked, anyway. After all, the Braves were looking everywhere for starting pitching help.
"Not a Braves-type player."
When Ponson had his trouble with the Rangers, causing disturbances and causing Texas to designate him for assignment, officials from several organizations predicted that he wouldn't get another job. Of course, he did, and now he's scheduled to start for the Yankees Friday night against the Mets.
I wouldn't have done it. They did. And when a team like the Yankees is willing to sign a player with as bad a track record as Ponson, you start to figure that almost anyone can get another chance these days.
Anyone but Barry Bonds.
"I feel like our story's just as good as theirs," Cards outfielder Ryan Ludwick said. "There were people picking us to finish fifth. We saw one magazine that said we'd only win 56 games. That'll get your blood boiling."
The Cards survived their two weeks without Albert Pujols, who returned today (a week earlier than expected).
That's three guys who each have 2,000-plus career hits (and two who have 2,500-plus). That's 897 combined home runs, 3,591 combined RBIs.
Sheffield hadn't hit lower than sixth since 1989, according to research through baseball-reference.com. Before this year, Renteria hadn't hit lower than seventh since 1996. And before this year, Rodriguez hadn't hit lower than sixth since 1995, and hadn't hit ninth since 1992.
In case you're wondering, it's not unheard of for a future Hall of Famer to bat near the bottom of the order, even in the middle of his career. Johnny Bench actually hit eighth for Cincinnati two times in the 1979 season.