The Giants Playoff Picture?

The Giants’ baseball season is now down to less than thirty games and a month left in the calendar year. August was another roller coaster ride, especially when your ace,

Ace SP Tim Lincecum photo by Icon SMI

goes 0-5 with an ERA over 7.00. On the other hand, I did see the offense get white hot against the Cincinnati Reds. The Giants were losing one game 10-1 in the fifth inning, and they came back to take the lead, 11-10, only to finally lose the game in extra innings. It was the biggest comeback in team history. If only they had been able to win the game…

The Giants also acquired two players in mid-August for their stretch drive, Mike Fontenot from the Cubs and Cody Ross from the Marlins. I do not think that I’ve seen a team change the entire nature of it’s team this much since the beginning of the season; they have elevated the team chemistry and the talent level. Perhaps, in 1987, when the Giants traded for Kevin Mitchell, Craig Lefferts, Dave Dravecky, Don Robinson, and Rick Reuschel to win the NL West.

The other thing that I find interesting about this time of year is the prospects and extra players who are called up by all the teams, and their impact on the pennant race. This isn’t just the players on those teams fighting to make the play-offs; it is also those players on teams with no chance of making the play-offs who will have an impact. I have two specific examples in mind– for the Giants, it was Ron Pruitt in 1982 and in 1993 it was Armando Reynoso of the Colorado Rockies. With a week left in the baseball season and not much time left in his career, Ron Pruitt came off the bench for the Giants in a critical situation to hit a game-winning pinch-hit single against the Astros. While the Giants were eventually eliminated by the Dodgers the last weekend of the season, it did keep them in the race and it made Pruitt a Giants legend, albeit briefly. I do appreciate the contribution of those players who are just trying to finish their careers lost in the glamour of great players. In 1993, the Giants had an outstanding team with a great offense, a great defense, and not quite enough pitching. The Giants won 103 games, and waited until it was too late to pick up another pitcher. The Braves were aggressive, picked up another bat, Fred McGriff and overtook the Giants at the end of the season. One thing that did have an impact during the course of the season was that when the Giants were facing the Rockies, a first year expansion team, and they had one pitcher, Armando Reynoso who pitched against the Giants like he was Cy Young. He beat them several times over the course of the season, and this definitely had an impact on the final standings. I do always find it interesting to see who will be the heroes and helpers of the 2010 baseball season.

And, how are the Giants doing as they enter September? It looks like Lincecum may be back on the right track after he pitched eight innings of one run ball against the Colorado Rockies. “The Freak,” Tim’s nickname, actually got the win against Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez when Giants’ September call-up and speedster, Darren Ford, who was on second base, took third base on a ball that bounced only five feet away from the Rockies catcher, and scored when the Rockies catcher threw the ball into left field for an error allowing Ford to score the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning. Questions do still remain about the other pitchers in the rotation– Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez. Can they pull it together for the rest of the season?

Aside from how the Giants are doing, there are other factors that matter, as well. One is how the Padres are doing. They’ve now lost seven games in a row, and are only three games ahead of the Giants in the NL West at the time of this writing. The Padres have not had a bad stretch in 2010, and maybe they are starting to feel the pressure since they are a young and inexperienced team. The Phillies are two games ahead of the Giants in the wild card race. I’ve never been a fan of the wild card, and I would rather win the NL West, but I’ll take the play-offs any way that I can get them.

Another factor that does matter is which teams are playing the Giants, Padres and Phillies during the final month of the season. Those teams will determine who makes the play-offs and who goes home to watch it on the couch. The Giants now have twenty-eight games left, of these games, sixteen are on the road and twelve are at home. Six games are against the Dodgers, buried, but they may have an impact on the race, six are against the Arizona Diamondbacks, seven are against the Padres, the Giants’ primary rival, three against the Cubs and three against the Brewers. This means that the Giants have a lot of games left against the NL West, along with quite a few games against teams that are below .500. As I mentioned previously, just because a team is below .500 doesn’t mean that they’re not dangerous. They are all very dangerous to one’s post-season hopes.

I do love when people say that they cannot follow baseball. To me, this signifies that the person may have a short attention span, which is too common in today’s world. Baseball is a game of concentration, along with strategy. It does combine the best elements of a team sport along with individual confrontation between the pitcher and the hitter. I also think that the best examples of sports literature are those which examine the history and strategy of baseball. The literature of other sports just cannot express itself the way that it can for baseball.

The Giants’ 2010 season has been part roller coaster ride, and part rocket ship. They have played at times great, and at times mediocre. I love that they have added so much talent during the course of the season. I do love when I hear people say that if a team loses or doesn’t make the post-season it is the result of this one game or another. There are maybe a dozen games where you snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, or you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It just happens; it is the nature of the game. I think that this is why people fall in love with baseball and come back, season after season. I never knew that I would still love this game thirty eight years later after falling in love with it when I was thirteen years old. Former Yankee pitcher Jim Bouton once said, “You stand there holding the ball, and in the end it is the other way around, the ball is holding you.” How true this is….

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  1. iCrizzo

    September 6, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    This has been a awesome year to be a Giants fan. Hopefully Zito can break out of his slump and Lincey can return to form. I am more worried about the Rox right now than I am the Padres!
    .-= iCrizzo´s last blog ..How to link to your iTunes Ping account =-.

    • Peter Schiller

      September 7, 2010 at 1:23 pm

      I’m always rooting for the underdog as long as they’re not in the AL East. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting!

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