3 Thoughts on Today’s Wild Card Game #royals #athletics #mlbplayoffs2014

Maybe it’s because the Giants are in the Wild Card Game this year, maybe it’s because I know a lot of A’s and Royals fans, maybe it’s because I’m having a hard time getting into the football season, but whatever the reason I am pumped for two ridiculous baseball games here over the next two days.

Knowing as many A’s and Royal’s fans as I do I’m bound to tick off someone here, but I’d like to offer 3 thoughts on tonight’s game:

1. Big trades led to this moment. The A’s made several big trades this year, but the controversial move of sending Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester will only be able to be fully appreciated and evaluated in light of tonight. If Lester pitches the A’s through this game, and if the A’s go on to make some noise, perhaps even get to the World Series, no one will moan and complain about this trade anymore. They shouldn’t complain about it anyway. The irony of the A’s moves this year was that they actually built a roster that could succeed in the playoffs (as opposed to strong regular season teams that weren’t designed well for short playoff series). Now, it’s time.

The Royals traded Wil Meyers to the Rays for James Shields. There were other players involved, but this was the heart of the trade. Big Game James gets an opportunity to live up to his name and bring joy to Kansas City that hasn’t been felt there in a long time. Many people thought it was a bad trade, but it made sense for one reason: this moment. No one will question the trade if the Royals win tonight and go on to make some noise in the remainder of the playoffs.

2. Someone will be very sad. All season the Royals fans expected the “other shoe” to drop and the bottom to fall out. You can still sense their reluctance to give their heart to this team. One thing, though, about not making the playoffs for 25 years (as depressing as that is) is they haven’t faced the sadness that A’s fans have faced since 2000. The A’s have lost in every conceivable way in the postseason over the last 14 years, and losing this Wild Card Game would only bring a new level of misery to the east bay.

3. And the winner is…I wan to pick the A’s so badly, I really do. I can see a world where they win this game, and go on to exact their revenge against the Angels and Tigers. It would be so, so sweet. But, all year long I have loved this Royals team. They remind me in many ways of the 2010 Giants. Strong starting pitching, unbelievable bullpen, just enough offense at just the right times. I think the Royals get an early lead and their nasty bullpen makes it stand up.

3-2 Royals.

-SB

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3 Thoughts on 88 Wins #sfgiants #2014season

Well, we know now that the Giants will fly to Pittsburg to face the Pirates and Edinson Volquez (really Pirates?), but more on that later. (By the way, the Pirates went all in on Sunday and started Garret Cole who was nasty: 7 IP, 12Ks, and so we won’t get the dream match-up described in the last post).

We’ll break down the big game tomorrow, or Tuesday, but for now a couple of thoughts on the 2014 season.

1. The Giants “only” won 88 games. Some people are disappointed in this. I understand. There was a point where this team was on pace to win 107 games. They had a huge division lead several months ago. But, they have a chance to do something special. If they lose on Wednesday it will hurt and we will complain about the stupidness of a 1-game playoff in baseball. But, they wouldn’t get to play anymore games if not for that 1-game playoff. Also, I once gave my heart and soul to a Giants team that won 103 games that didn’t get to play anymore games because they “finished in the second place.” Justice. (sort of).

2. Overall, this was an enjoyable season. Every successful season carries with it a good deal of surprise. Consider:

  • If you had of told me before the 2010 season that the Giants would win the World Series I would have laughed. Then, after calming down and thinking about it, I could have seen how maybe, just maybe, if the team called up Posey, got some career years from different guys, and kept up the ridiculous pitching from the season before perhaps something magical could happen. Under no circumstances would I have believed you if you told me they will win, BUT Pablo Sandoval will be an afterthought. No way. Never going to happen. And then it did.
  • If you had told me before the 2012 season that the Giants would win the World Series I would have laughed. Then, after calming down and thinking about it, I could have seen how maybe, just maybe, if Buster Posey played like an MVP, a couple of young guys emerged, and the pitching kept going like it had the past 3 seasons perhaps something magical could happen. Under no circumstances would I have believed you if you told me they will win, BUT Tim Lincecum will be so bad that he gets replaced in the post-season rotation by Barry Zito. NO way. Never going to happen. And then it did.
  • Now, if you had told me before the 2014 season that the Giants would win the World Series I would have paused, thought about it, and then said something to the effect, of “ok, but please don’t take Matt Cain this time.” Well, Matt Cain was taken. And a whole lot of other things happened. We loved Tim Hudson and Mike Morse in the first half. We loved Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan while we had them. We loved Brandon Hicks, but we love Joe Panik more. We love Madison Bumgarner. We love Tim Lincecum when he pitches against the Padres. And now we hope we get to keep loving them for a few more weeks.

3. No season can be fully evaluated until it is actually over. But, I would have taken this result back in March. 88 wins, wild card, do-or-die game. Done. This is a flawed team. This is not the best Giants team of the last 5 years.

But, this team still has a chance for magic.

-SB

All Hail The Wild Card Game #sfgiants #postseason #mlbplayoffs2014

Since the Giants are back in the postseason (maybe? kinda? sorta?), at least for one game, it is time to resurrect the blog.

I hope to share a couple of thoughts on the season, the future, and if the Giants have any kind of chance to make it three titles in five years. Plus I will write about all the games (could be one! could be 20!) the Giants play this postseason.

But for now I want to say this: Could there possibly be a better one-game playoff matchup for MLB than the Giants and the Pirates?

At first glance, you might think, “well, yeah, there are several: Giants vs. Dodgers, Red Sox vs. Yankees, Cardinals vs. Cubs (chuckles).”

Ok, sure, those are natural rivalries and MLB would love those games.

But hang with me here.

1. Both the Giants and Pirates have cornerstone, face-of-the-franchise type players who are great and going to be on their respective teams for a while. Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey are as important to their teams as any other players in the game.

And, for two franchises whose most recent “face” was Barry Bonds, this is a good thing for the teams and for baseball. They may not be the biggest stars in the game, or even the best players, but in terms of franchise anchors you cannot get a better pairing than those two.

2. Both the Giants and Pirates play in beautiful parks. Whenever I see an article on “best ballpark” PNC and AT&T are always at the top of the list. I’ve never been to PNC but it does look great on TV. Whoever ends up hosting this game (I’m fully assuming the Cardinals will take care of business this weekend and win the Central), it is guaranteed that the game will look great on TV.

3. Both the Giants and Pirates will (probably) start terrific young aces. The Giants have all but said Madison Bumgarner is going to start this game (pretty much a no-brainer), and I would be shocked if the Pirates went with anyone other than Gerrit Cole. (Like MadBum he’s lined up to pitch the last game of the season. I suppose that if the Pirates could win the division on the last day they’d go with Cole there, but again, the Cards will take care of business.)

This is maybe the best part of the whole thing: barring catastrophic, heart breaking injury these two guys are going to be among the best pitchers in National League (any league) for the next 5-10 years. Bumgarner has already pitched in two world series (and done fairly well), and is only 25. Cole is 23 and he’s is/going to be a beast. This could be a moment baseball fans look back on in 20 years and say: “Remember that wild card game in 2014. Bumgarner. Cole. Epic.”

Of course, the Pirates could go with Francisco Liriano just because this is baseball. At least the Giants would have one last chance to exorcise the demons of the AJ Pierzynski trade.

As much as I hate the second wild card and the idea that a 162 game season comes down to 1 stupid baseball game, the reality is that without it the Giants would be hoping against hope this weekend to even make the postseason. And, the potential of this game, more than that of the other 5 play-in games to date, has the potential to be truly special, something we talk about for years.

All the elements are there.

Go Giants!

-SB