A funny thing happened on the way to my next blog: my beloved Dell Studio 1558 laptop lost its brakes, careened out of control and punched through several cloud storage containers before finally smashing into a virtual stone wall.
No lives were lost but all of a sudden I couldn't write, feed myself, or get dressed. I called Dell technical support and talked to a number of really nice and helpful people (I may need Dell's help later).
We came this > close to fixing my laptop issues before all hell broke loose. My hard drive unexpectedly went into DEFCON 1 shutdown and the deflector shields went up before I could react.
Another desperate call to Dell central and I was told my laptop would have to be placed into a box and sent to Texas. Dell would provide the box and Texas. I would provide the dinero to cover the exorbitant costs involved.
After our recent Presidential election I had read that many people had signed petitions demanding the state of Texas be allowed to secede from the Union. Turns out, a great number of those signatures were from states bordering Texas, but no matter. Not only was my laptop down, if I didn't act quickly the repairs would be outsourced to a foreign country and no telling what the tariffs might end up costing.
The box came the next day and I held my Dell 1558 over the foam lined interior with fear in my heart and a growing wariness. It was like taking a beloved pet to the pound for you-know-what. Now that I think of it, it's probably only a matter of time before dog and cat pounds go out of business and we'll have to also send our pets to Texas.
As I waved goodbye to my laptop, I realized I would have to find a replacement device capable of allowing me to write, to email, search for the meaning of life, and download quality pornography. Pronto.
Thankfully I had an alternative. I retrieved the old desktop computer that my Dell laptop had replaced several years ago. For reasons unknown I kept the box and keyboard tucked under my desk, gathering toxic amounts of dust and (no doubt) hepavirus. My best recollection is that I purchased that old PC during a going-out-of-business sale at a non-franchised 7-11 Store along Interstate 5. Somewhere near Buttonwillow I believe.
I excitedly fired that ancient puppy up and stood back. It sputtered, coughed, and revved up like one of those cars built in an East European iron curtain country during the 1950s. I had forgotten that many older computers were steam-powered and required a handcrank to boot up.
Once it got going I discovered the hard drive was apparently over-loaded with massive amounts of ancient programs, megabytes of blurry photos, and the contents of what appeared to be several expired foreign language encylopedias.
No problem, I'll just delete all that crap and upload some PC tune-up software to get this thing back on duty. That little dream went up in smoke when I pressed the "start" button and it took ten (10) minutes to bring up my old home page. It had a screensaver showing President Eisenhower delivering his second innaugural address.
You may ask, was my dusty, out-of-date PC slow? No, you can't say it's "slow". Or even "tedious". Tedious is officially defined as listening to Tim McCarver explaining the infield fly rule (or anything else). My replacement PC would have to increase its speed by about 100% before it reached "tedious" and then double that to approach the outer boundries of "slow".
So I have been able to continue to write, exchange emails, and conduct my business. Kind of. The image that sticks with me as I work with this interesting device is trying to push 100 gallons of free-flowing molasses up a steep hill. At night. But I press on and am breaking through various new frontiers, like finally posting again on Bloguin.
But the effort of working at a pace any independent observer would likely describe as "going backwards" has been tough. And, yes, there have been tears and excessive drinking. There, I said it.
This morning my phone rang at 7:30 AM and a pre-recorded voice told me my laptop was "fixed" and had been mailed back to me from Texas. I would receive it next Tuesday. I immediately sat up in bed and yelled "Yippee-ki-yay motherf--kers!" in the general direction of the new country of Texas.
Then I lay back down and dreamt of going Apple and living happily ever after.
A funny thing happened on the way to my next blog: my beloved Dell Studio 1558 laptop lost its brakes, careened out of control and punched through several cloud storage containers before finally smashing into a virtual stone wall.
A million plus Giants fans came out on a beautiful Fall day lining San Francisco's downtown streets to cheer and celebrate their World Series Champions with a grand parade. Again.
In 2010 the team's World Series victory parade was this strange and shiny new toy that took our breath away and was non-stop exciting in ways that are hard to explain. The 2012 Series parade held Wednesday felt like more of an affirmation of an extraordinary achievement: a World Series sweep and two Series wins in three years.
Favorite sign along the route: "Dodger fans are working today".
Favorite tee-shirt: Sergio Romo's wonderful "I Just Look Illegal".
Best quote: from the Great One, Willie Mays, when asked which parade was best-- the original 1958 parade when the Giants first came to San Francisco, the 2010 victory parade, or the 2012 parade. "This one. This is the best." Indeed it was.
A fitting end to the 2012 journey by a group of talented, hard-nosed baseball players who simply wanted to win. And management and an ownership group that has nurtured and blossomed this team into what is probably the premier franchise in the game today.
The San Francisco Giants created the postseason of a lifetime in 2012. We know that because just when one unbelievable scenario after another is described, up pop three fantastic stories that go with each scenario and simply must be told.
How rare is it for an MLB team to make the World Series? How about winning the World Series two out of three years?
It's less likely than a McDonald's meal actually being "happy". This will happen first: Woody Allen deciding to film the definitive Three Stooges bio, set in Paris. What I'm trying to say is, so much has to happen for a team to be in a position to even make one Series. What the Giants achieved is epic and certainly suggests the foundation for a dynasty.
Along the way, there was a plethora of stuff going on. The following are observations and comments from The Giants Cove staff and extended family, many of whom are either out of work or are simply unskilled:
> Favorite tee-shirt seen on the streets in San Francisco: "Let Pablo Eat". A tee-shirt that needs to be made: "Whatever You Do, Don't Get Between Prince and his Food Bowl".
> Initial impressions of the Detroit Tigers during Game 1 of the Series were not very positive.
-- My season ticket partner and I were amazed at how badly Delmon Young played left field. Sure, he's the Tigers' DH and he was in Game 1 for his bat but he played the entire game about three steps in front of the warning track in left. Even when light hitting left-handers like Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford were at the plate. He just looked scared out there and that is not a good first impression.
-- Twice Young had to throw the ball in from the outfield during play. Both times the ball did not make the infield, this throws landing in the outfield grass before tumbling into the infield. Both times the throws were dramatically off-line.
-- While the Giants have the somewhat overweight Pablo Sandoval on their roster, a number of Detroit players made Pablo look svelte by comparison. In the pre-game ceremonies, when the Tigers were introduced and took their places along the first base line, I was amazed at how many of them looked... well, really fat and out of condition.
We all know Prince Fielder is a human recreational vehicle, but Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young, Jhonny Peralta, Jose Valverde, and Octavio Dotel fairly waddled out of the dugout and onto the field. Prince Fielder is listed on the Detroit website at 275 pounds. Right. And my estimated net worth is over 4 million dollars.
If Delmon Young weighs 240 pounds and Cabrera is 240 pounds (as is officially claimed) then I am just a few pounds away from a successful career modeling speedos. I mean those dudes were chubby.
-- Watching Tigers' starter Justin Verlander was absolutely fascinating. We tracked his pitches and their speed and he seemed to have a definite plan. Verlander pitched the first four Giant hitters (Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey) this way: 94 MPH fastballs without a lot of movement. And one of those pitches was sent over the center field wall by Sandoval.
To start the bottom of 2nd inning, Verlander changed up. Literally. Virtually all his pitches were 84 MHP breaking balls and change-ups. And he got three consecutive outs. Then came the 3rd inning and Verlander seemed to simply mix up 94 MPH fastballs with 84-89 MPH breaking and off-speed pitches.
Giants hitters caught up with all of it and scored three runs in the 3rd, 1 in the 4th, and 1 in the 5th before running Verlander out of the game.
We thought three things: 1) where was Justin Verlander's 100 MPH fastball? 2) Why did he seem to have only two consistent speeds? And, 3) why did Manager Jim Leyland leave him in the game for 98 pitches and 5 earned runs when it was clear he wasn't bringing his "A" game?
> The San Francisco Giants postseason and World Series sweep was achieved because of the contributions of virtually every player on the team. But none of it happens without the contributions of these four Giant players:
|2012 Postseason pitching||W/L||ERA||IP||SO||BB|
|2012 Posteason hitting||AVG||AB||H||RBI||R|
|Pablo Sandoval WS MVP||.364||66||24||13||9|
|Marco Scutaro NLCS MVP||.328||64||21||8||11|
There's a great deal to process in understanding the scope and immensity of the San Francisco Giants sweep of the Detroit Tigers to become the 2012 World Champions. It's not just the records broken or tied, the dominance over three quality MLB teams, or the Giants' impossible postseason journey.
This is also about something that may be a lot more important: pure team play.
In an era when MLB franchises have exponentially grown in value, players routinely receive mega-contracts, and stars flip from one team to another simply to cash in, the 2012 San Francisco Giants actually played for each other, for their manager and for their fans.
Nothing better explains how they scaled one ridiculous ice-slicked, sheer drop, harrowingly high mountain after another to achieve greatness.
And it's so much more than that tired pro-sports canard "team chemistry". Did you ever hear any baseball, football or basketball player publicly state that his current team has bad, poor or zero team chemistry? Not unless they were on the way out, in which case I'm guessing team chemistry did improve shortly after.
Led by potential NL MVP catcher Buster Posey, the Giants already had a core of team-focused players when General Manager Brian Sabean sweetened the mid-season pot by getting Marco Scutaro from the Rockies and Hunter Pence from the Phillies. Scutaro would end up finishing third in the National League in hits with 190. He got 88 of those hits in 61 games as a San Francisco Giant, driving in a remarkable 44 runs.
Pence would only hit .219 in his 59 games as a Giant, but he drove in 45 RBI for a total of 104 in the 2012 regular season. But it would be the intangibles that Brian Sabean got from Pence that became true game-changers: a dramatically positive attitude in the face of disaster, and a fierce devotion to his teammates. None of that showed up on the stat sheet when the Giants were weighing their August trade with Philadelphia.
Pence surprised the hell out of everyone in the Giants clubhouse just before Game 3 of the Divison Series against Cincinnati, the Giants down and on the road after losing two straight at home. Inside the visiting clubhouse prior to the game Marco Scutaro and Javier Lopez prevailed on Hunter Pence to address the team. Pence gathered everyone around him and unleashed a super-charged inspirational sermon that rattled the lockers and made him a legend in Giants lore.
Pence's theme was let's play for each other, let's win every inning, don't give up because I don't want to stop playing baseball with you guys. And of course the Giants went on to win the final three games against the Reds and move on to the NLCS. That spirit of checking egos and personal records at the door continued to drive the 2012 Giants through three sudden death games with the St. Louis Cardinals and their dominating sweep of the Detroit Tigers.
That's why this World Series was different. That's why the San Francisco Giants are different.
Just about everyone knew this was not supposed to happen. Superstar media baseball talking heads and various pompous MLB prognosticators agreed they pretty much had World Series Game 1 figured out and, frankly, it was time to talk about other things.
It was simple. The overpowering Detroit Tigers led by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the best pitcher on the planet Justin Verlander would crush the Giants and soft-throwing starter Barry Zito. That was a given. So let's move on and talk about Game 2 and decide how the Tigers would also win that one.
That memo went out early Tuesday. Not receiving it were the following baseball players: Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval, starter Barry Zito, second baseman Marco Scutaro, and left fielder Gregor Blanco.
Also apparently misplacing that particular memo were Tigers' starter Justin Verlander, the Tigers bullpen, AL batting champ Miguel Cabrera, and human recreational vehicle Prince Fielder.
The Giants took Verlander and the Tigers down to the tune of 8-3 and absolutely dominated them. But that's not nearly the whole story.
Justin Verlander only lasted four innings, throwing 98 pitches and giving up 5 earned runs. His World Series ERA stands at 11.25. Verlander spent what little time he had on the mound almost exclusively throwing either 94-mph fastballs or 84 MPH off-speed/curve ball pitches in a confused approach that suggested little planning was wasted on this "done deal" game by the Tigers.
As John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out, Verlander faced 19 batters of whom 7 reached base. Fully 22 of Verlander's 98 pitches were delivered to Angel Pagan. He was so hittable that Barry Zito slapped an opposite field two-out single off Verlander in the 4th inning that scored first baseman Brandon Belt, who Verlander had walked to lead off the inning.
But nothing approaches Pablo Sandoval's earth-shattering, record tying three home run spectacular that turned Game 1 into a shutdown-slapdown of the mighty Tigers. Understand these dingers were hit at AT&T Park, a pitchers' palace that brings power hitters to their knees mewling like frightened kittens.
Sandoval's first home run came off a Verlander 95-mph fastball that soared 420 feet over the wall in straight away center. His second smash came with two outs and Scutaro on base. As Sandoval walked up to home plate for that at-bat Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones came out to the mound to talk to Verlander.
Sitting in our field box between the visiting dugout and the backstop screen, we saw Verlander being visibly annoyed that Jones dared to come out to his mound in the middle of his game. We also saw that, as Jones walked back to the Tigers dugout, he had a smarmy smirk on his face. That look said, "we're only down 2-0 and I saw the memo that said we were going to destroy the Giants, so all is well".
The very first pitch to Sandoval, another 95-mph fastball down and off the plate, was sent by Pablo some 335 feet to the opposite field over the left field fence for a two-run homer. Oh to see the formerly-smirking Jeff Jones in the dugout at that moment.
Of course history will record that Sandoval hit his third and record-tying home run off the unfortunately-name Tigers reliever Al Alburquerque. That puppy went 404 feet and capped a magnificent moment in Sandoval's career. In his last at-bat Sandoval merely singled and fans in our section immediately called for him to be replaced by Joaquin Arias.
Benched during the 2010 World Series for being overweight, Pablo Sandoval had two significant injuries the past several years with broken bones in each hand. His struggles to find his hitting mojo during the 2012 season reflect Sandoval's attempts to once again be the pure hitter he was in the minors, in 2009, and in 2011.
Pablo has found that mojo. His combined 2012 postseason numbers against Cincinnati, St. Louis and now the Tigers are staggering: a .370 AVG, 1.164 OPS, 6 HR, 4 2B, 13 RBI, and 9 RS.
In many ways Barry Zito is the real superstar of the Giants 2012 postseason. So far he's topped his 15-8 regular season record with the following postseason performance: 2-0, 1.69 ERA, 16 IP, 13 SO. Without Zito's incredible shutdown of the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS, there is no three home run game for Pablo Sandoval in Game 1 of the World Series.
Now I certainly hope everyone received the new memo about WS Game 2 and how Giants' starter Madison Bumgarner is tired and has pitching mechanics problems and shouldn't be any problem for Tiger hitters.
This Copywrited Exclusive MLB Content Cannot Be Found Anywhere Else on the Net or on Actual Pieces of Paper! And it's Not Free!
Well maybe it is free. And I'm going out on a limb here and suggest there are probably few articles, stories, or blogs about the upcoming World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers that have anything original or new to say.
So in general all the stuff you're reading about the Series --everywhere-- is rehashed, repackaged, or just directly copied from other previously replicated material. But that certainly won't stop me.
Beyond the Leather
I'm going to break down the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers in ways that will make it damn hard for anyone to put them back together. I will be conducting a major deconstruction of the World Series that will tear it all down and spread it all out. Everything you know about these teams will literally be all over the place. Then we'll spend days, maybe weeks, trying to put it back together.
And I know there will be pieces left over, but you like things broken down and redone, right?
Inside the Backside of Baseball
I'll be going so deeply into the inner workings of this story you'll be lost and crying for your mama, or at least for some authority figure to assist you in exiting. This is Insider Baseball from someone on the outside who sees the interior of the game so clearly that no artificial lighting is required. My contacts in the game know the game, and those who know the game rarely contact me.
The Giants Cove Has Numbers You Haven't Seen Anywhere Else
I mean, really, have you seen the number 11,521 in any article, story or blog about the 2012 World Series? I didn't think so. The stats uncovered by The Giants Cove team of elite researchers reveals so much about the Giants and Tigers it will make Sabermetrics look like one of those "Jitterbug" cellphones for old people.
My one-of-a-kind content will lay everything out and connect all the dots for you using a #2 pencil, leaving me the option of unconnecting any dots I may have screwed up.
Giants Cove Information is Information You Can Take to the Bank
Although the bank doesn't usually handle information storage, there are no laws I'm aware of that prevent you from actually walking into a bank with a box of information. The current rate of exchange for Giants Cove information is running at 3 1/2 cents per ton, or 87,000 Italian quatros per ounce.
Warning: your banking experience may not be typical of people who actually bank money. May cause sexual dysfunction after 6PM on the weekends, or blinding headaches if you accidently bump your head. Do not consume food or water within 72 hours of having contact with Giants Cove information.
We Have the Baseball News You Want Where You Want It
I understand there is now a medical procedure that can permanently remove baseball news from where you thought you wanted it. And most people go on to live happy and productive lives. But sooner or later you and I both know you'll want to reinsert that baseball news and content-- it just feels so damn good.
The Giants Cove's History of Accurate Predictions is Stunning
For just $25 a week I will stop sending you my exclusive "Giants Cove MLB Game Prediction" emails. And, if you order in the next 20 seconds, I'll also stop sending my "Hot Pick Specials of the Week" that very often are more about dog grooming than Major League Baseball.
A lot of people have made a lot of money after they've signed up to receive The Giants Cove "Click-to-Pick World Series Winners". Apparently they later go into business and do well, or they inherit a large sum of money from a deceased family member. So don't wait!
As a bonus for Giants Cove readers, for the first time ever I am publishing the scores of each of the 2012 Giants-Tigers World Series games: 8-3, 2-1, 8-4, 4-2, 9-7, and 3-1. That's right, it's a 6 game series. You can thank me later.
In this version of Gene Kelly's classic film it was forty thousand Giant fans who were splashing in the puddles along King Street in delirious love with their National League Pennant-winning Giants.
It was pouring rain and it didn't matter. In fact, for those of us in the stands who had just watched the San Francisco Giants clinch the National League Championship Series over the St. Louis Cardinals with a 9-0 win, the rain was perfect. Everything was perfect.
Giants’ starter Matt Cain once again proved his mettle and tenacity battling a St. Louis line-up that finished the regular season second in NL runs scored (765) and first in OBP (.338). Cain pitched into the 6th inning and gave up five hits and 1 walk with 4 strike-outs.
Giant hitters pounded out 14 hits, including 2 doubles and a home run to squash any hope the Cardinals had of moving on to the 2012 World Series.
The tote-board for St. Louis was a tsunami of bad numbers: starter Kyle Lohse gave up 5 earned runs in 2 innings; the Cards’ bullpen backed that up with 7 innings of consistent imperfection: 8 hits, 4 walks and 4 earned runs.
San Francisco’s defense, which led the Majors in errors at the stormy start of the 2012 season, was game-changing in its perfection. Throughout the NLCS shortstop Brandon Crawford and right fielder Gregor Blanco made a half dozen dazzling plays that killed potential rallies and kept San Francisco’s momentum going.
But one startling set of numbers perfectly defines the Giants’ crushing dominance in the 2012 NLCS: in San Francisco’s four wins they outscored St. Louis 27-2, including two shut-outs.
Game 5: The Critical Difference
NLCS Game 5 was the first potential elimination game for San Francisco after the Cards took a 3-1 lead in the Series. But starter Barry Zito gave the performance of his career by shutting out St. Louis for 7.2 innings with 6 hits and 1 walk. The Giants took Game 5 by a score of 5-0 and the team was obviously inspired by Zito's performance against the Cardinal hitters. Without Barry Zito there is no Game 7 to win.
Marco Scutaro: It Was All About Hitting, Not Getting Hit
Scutaro was named the NLCS MVP as he become the first player in history with 6 multi-hit games in a League Championship Series; he tied the LCS record with 14 hits (and did that with the fewest number of plate appearances among the other record-holders).
And anyone who thinks that the Cards’ Matt Holliday’s illegal take-out of Scutaro at second base in Game 2 somehow “inspired” Scutaro to hit better might remember this: Marco Scutaro finished third in the National League in hits this season with 190.
He is apparently one of those players who brings a quiet dominance to the clubhouse and the Holliday incident seems to have affected his teammates and the fans more than it did him. The best way of thinking about Scutaro is that he’s a number three hitter who is batting second in the line-up.
Hunter Pence: Woody Harrelson on Caffeine
Hunter Pence has become the crazy uncle on the 25 man roster. His super-charged pre-game inspirational rants are already a legend in Giants lore; his physical demeanor at the plate and in the field are moments that make you stop whatever you’re doing to just watch him.
No other hitter in baseball history did what Pence did in the bottom of the 3rd inning of Game 7. When Cards’ starter Kyle Lohse loaded the bases with no outs in front of Pence, reliever Joe Kelly was summoned from the bullpen. Pence swatted a Kelly pitch and the baseball broke his bat. Then the momentum of his swing made the bat hit the ball a second time.
And then, incredibly, his bat hit the baseball a third time before it bounded between second base and shortstop Pete Kozma. Kozma misjudged the crazy spin Pence put on the ball and actually took a step toward third base before he made an unsuccessful course correction. The ball wamped past Kozma's glove and into center field where John Jay let it bounce off his glove.
All three Giant runs scored on the damnest double ever hit by a San Francisco Giants player.
The Sunday night before the game the San Francisco Bay Area was hit by an Alaskan storm that produced several inches of rain. At the game's 5:00PM start time the rain had let up, but sprinkles and then large drops began to appear by the 8th inning. It would be just a hint of the deluge to come.
In the 9th inning as the rains picked up, virtually every fan in AT&T Park stood up laughing and cheering waving their soaking wet orange rally towels. As reliever Javier Lopez valiantly tried to get the final Cardinal hitter out (a certain Matt Holliday) the rain was coming down in sheets.
No one (and I mean no one) left the Park, reveling in the utter joy of this Giants team going to the World Series and the experience of getting completely soaked to the skin doing it. Finally Sergio Romo came in from the bullpen as small bodies of water were forming in the infield and got Matt Holliday to pop out. To a certain Marco Scutaro.
And the puddle splashing party on King Street started in earnest.
There's a bunch of great stories waiting to be created, experienced, and written about if the San Francisco Giants can recaffinate their bats for today's NLCS Game 6.
First there's the prospect of the ultimate baseball postseason dream: playing a deciding game seven in a seven game series. Few sports moments have more potential for flat out excitement and great plays. Then there could be a second miraculous reanimation of the Giants, following their improbable three game NLDS sweep at Cincinnati after dropping two in a row at home.
Most importantly for the Giants' franchise would be the impact of San Francisco playing two World Series in three years. The local and national bounce the team would get from that has economic and fanbase implications that would reverberate through the brand for years.
In the way of all that happiness and delight are the players whose job it is to create runs. I won't say the Giants offense is bad, but they're looking to move up to "moribund". They're hoping to achieve "pretty good" which would quadruple their current postseason output. If they could make outs in only two out of every three at-bats the champagne would be a-poppin'.
These numbers will numb you: three of the Giants' top four hitters in the NCLS are pitchers-- Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito are all 1 for 2, batting .500. The three, four, and five hitters (Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence) are 11 for 58, hitting a startling .190. And clean-up hitter Buster Posey has no RBI, no extra base hits, and has struck out 5 times in 18 at-bats.
I won't say San Francisco's hitting sucks trailer hitches but the safest place on the field during an NLCS game is at home plate when... well you get the idea.
So while it would be very good if Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong can conjure a quality start in tonight's sudden death contest, it is the Giant offense that needs to get slapped back into focus and score five or six runs to make Game 7 a reality.
The early keys? 1) Angel Pagan's .292 on base percentage goes way up after tonight's game because he got on base a whole bunch of times. 2) Pablo Sandoval gets some walks and hits some doubles in front of Buster Posey. And, of course, 3) clean-up hitter Buster Posey creates runs by plating Pagan and Sandoval throughout the game.
So far the stumbling zombie impressions by San Francisco's hitters in the NLCS aren't scaring Cardinal pitchers one bit. What's needed here is a real monster offense: old school slasher dudes who are on top of you before you know it with St. Louis running for their lives.
There are actually damn few truly defining moments in life, in sports, or in politics. Certainly interesting stuff happens all the time and a lot of it is important, but "defining"? To quote the venerable John Wayne, "Not hardly."
Though even I have to admit that sometimes the cow-dropping media hype we are hosed down with 24 hours a day does occasionally get it right: "Pirates of the Caribbean III" was indeed an important commentary on the history of world culture.
But today there is a classic pro-sports defining moment scheduled for 5:00PM Pacific Standard Time. It's Game Four of the 2012 National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently the Cards led the best of seven series 2 games to 1.
Why "defining"? Because two-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Tim Lincecum is on the mound for San Francisco. The same Tim Lincecum who put up the following numbers in the Giants' 2010 World Championship postseason: 4-1, with a 0.92 WHIP, and 43 SOs in 37 IP. And the same Tim Lincecum who posted a 23-29 win-loss record in 2011-12, topped off with a nasty 5.18 ERA in 2012.
Tonight Lincecum is the starting pitcher Giants Manager Bruce Bochy has chosen to stop the bleeding before the Cardinals take an intolerable 3-1 lead in the NLCS. It's a very big gamble for the Giants and a classic defining moment in Lincecum's career. After so many bad months and false starts the past two years, can Lincecum get it done with everything on the line and the national media watching and analyzing every second?
All the past awards and stellar numbers, the positive attitude, and having supportive teammates won't be nearly enough. This is the MLB postseason and it's strictly about hits, walks, and earned runs. Tim Lincecum has an inner competitive beast that is being held in check by apparent flaws in his mechanics and the loss of about 5 MPH on his fastball.
Which he has to somehow overcome tonight.
The National League Championship Series is once again providing legal cover for FoxSports to bring a national audience into the strange world of announcer Tim McCarver.
It's a world where getting a walk is sometimes better than hitting a homerun, and all these new-fangled sabermetric statistics will never give you the feel of what real baseball is all about: you know, all that tough old-school macho stuff like tobacco juice dribbling down the side of a players cheek.
As you watch Tim McCarver this week (and, god help us, beyond) you can start your own collection of McCarver's dramatically tedious stories and absurd observations about America's pastime. And if there's a better argument for the authorities to mandate forced medication I haven't seen it.
While McCarver has provided us with legions of embarrassing broadcasting gaffs, there are only two you need to know about to fully understand the depth of the man's ineptitude.
During a 2010 FoxSports TV broadcast of a Yankee-Tampa Bay game, McCarver began ranting about how badly Yankee ownership had treated recently departed Manager Joe Torre, claiming the team had "airbrushed" Torre from the team's history. The McCarver went on to compare Torre's treatment to how Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin treated their generals who had fallen out of favor.
"You remember some of those despotic leaders in World War II, primarily in Russia and Germany, where they used to take those pictures that they had ... taken of former generals who were no longer alive, they had shot 'em," McCarver said. "They would airbrush the pictures, and airbrushed the generals out of the pictures. In a sense, that's what the Yankees have done with Joe Torre."
Fox issued an incredible apology saying, "Tim McCarver regrets using the World War II analogies, and given his contrition and flawless 25-year track record we're comfortable that no further action is necessary."
The second McCarver story. During his TV broadcast of Game 6 of the 1996 World Series, McCarver noticed a camera shot that showed a fan sitting behind home plate holding up a sign that read "John 3:16".
"That guy is a true Yankee fan, " bloviated McCarver, "because he knows [pitcher] Tommy John's career ERA."
Being McCarver, he also got Tommy John's career ERA incorrect: it's 3.34, not 3:16.