Giants ramp up rollercoaster for Round 2
- Updated: October 12, 2012
I love baseball. Over the course of time, it becomes a rollercoaster ride of different emotions while rooting for your team. You go through the highs and the lows, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. And, if you’ve supported your team for any significant length of time, then you realize that you are in it for the long ride.
I’ve been a San Francisco Giants fan since 1978, and I’ve definitely signed up for the long-term ride. I think that I’ll be a Giants fan until the day I die. I don’t see anything replacing my love of baseball. At times, I don’t think that West Coast baseball fans have the same passion that East Coast baseball fans have. Some do, but a lot don’t. It’s just what I see as the reality of the situation. Of course, I think this has significantly changed since 2010 when the Giants won the World Series, and I think that it will continue to change. It does fill me with utter joy when I see someone walking down the street wearing any type of Giants’ gear. I’ve been a Giants fan since a kid and it has still never left me, even through moments of great despair.
Well, speaking of the rollercoaster, I definitely was on it is in this first post-season series. The first two games of the National League Division Series at AT &T Park, the Cincinnati Reds kicked the heck out of the Giants, winning both games by comfortable margins. The Reds outplayed the Giants in every facet—on offense, on defense and with pitching.
The Giants went back to Cincinnati needing to win three games in a row, an almost impossible task, to move to the next level. The Giants dug deep, inspired by a speech by mid-season acquisition, Hunter Pence. He said to look within oneself, to look into your teammates’ eyes, and play your hearts out to the best of your ability. Somehow, this speech did appeal to his teammates, and they did dig deep, and beat the Reds three straight. The Reds lost three straight for the first time at home this season.
I give a lot of credit to Giants manager, Bruce Bochy. He was utterly brilliant in getting both the hitting and the pitching match-ups that allowed the Giants to succeed. It was this brilliance that allowed the Giants to win the 2010 World Series.
I think that Bochy matches up against any manager out there, even those with supposedly better team Bochy out-managed the Reds’ Dusty Baker, who was the Giants’ manager from 1993 to 2002. I like Baker, and he did have a good playing career, mostly with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. He finished up his playing career for both the Giants and the Oakland A’s. I also saw Dusty Baker make bad managerial decisions for the Giants. In the 2002 World Series, the Giants were seven outs away from winning with 5-0 lead, and they were not able to close out the game. They subsequently lost Game 7 to the Anaheim Angels. I do realize that hindsight is 20-20, but these were decisions that I said were bad when he initially made them. Unfortunately, Dusty has now managed to make bad decisions in crucial games for other teams that he’s managed, the Chicago Cubs and now, the Reds. There is not much more I can say than this.
What were the keys that turned around the NLDS for the Giants? The Giants started to pitch well, and Bochy used his bullpen to his advantage. Bochy used Tim Lincecum in middle relief. He pitched like he did when winning the Cy Young Award in 2008 and 2009. He was dominant with excellent location, and just plain nasty stuff. Bochy pulled Barry Zito and Matt Cain from games when he needed to di so. I cannot say enough about how well the bullpen did in shutting down the Reds. It was spectacular!
While pitching is just one facet of baseball, I saw the offense pick up the slack. What had happened in the first two games of the NLDS immediately changed. I think that in Game 4 it started with the very first hitter, Angel Pagan, who hit a home run on the second pitch of the game. It set the tone for the entire game and the Reds were never able to get into it at all.
Game 5 was a game of pure torture, in and of, itself. It was a game that I could see the Giants losing, and yet, they hung together, persevered and won the game. The Giants rode one six-run inning, capped by a Buster Posey grand slam. I do give the Reds great credit for trying to come back, and for putting runners on base in every inning from the fifth through the ninth. The Giants’ defense stepped up big time, too, making tremendous play after tremendous play. Brandon Crawford and Pagan both made great plays to get key outs.
My next thoughts move on to which team the Giants will play in the National League Championship Series. It will either be the St Louis Cardinals or the Washington Nationals. Part of me wants to see the Giants versus the Cardinals, a replay of the 1987 NLCS. I would like to avenge the Giants losing that series, but that’s in the past. I haven’t quite figured out which team is a better match-up for the Giants. I am still enjoying that the Giants came back and were able to eliminate the Reds. The first NLCS game is Sunday, and I’m sure that I’ll be more focused by then.
For now, the Giants’ magic number is 8 for another World Series.