Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reverse Kharma

From reader drbgiantsfan:

Maybe this blog has been reverse karma for the Giants this year? If so, keep up the great work! What you are missing about the talent level on this team (don't worry, almost everybody misses it) is the pitching. The '89 and '02 teams had much better hitting, but neither team had anything at all resembling the pitching this team has. Anything can happen in a 7 game series, but I like this team's chances because of the pitching. Pitching, pitching and more pitching!

Yeah, I'm a big fan of kharma, and no doubt I've been the biggest killjoy all year. Over 40 years of fandom I've had my heart broken repeatedly by this team, so it has become very hard to trust them. Whatever the roster permutation, the result has been the same: a season that ends in disappointment -- sometimes gut-wrenchingly so. Say "Game Six" in my presence at your own peril.

So, is this blog some kind of cosmic mirror that turned around the fates? The more I bash this group, the better they play?

If that's the case, I'm gonna really screw this up because I'm starting to believe.

The pundits are out there saying the Giants don't have enough offense to deal with the big bad scary Rangers. TYexas does too many things too well. They hit, they pitch, they run. The Giants don't have a chance.

Yeah, well, they didn't stand a chance against Atlanta either. Philly was supposed to be planning a parade right now. But a funny thing happened on the way to oblivion. The Giants never bought into it.

Let's be realistic. Is this the best team in baseball? From a talent standpoint, no way. They do two things well. One is pitch. The other is refuse to die.  The 2010 Giants are the Jason Vorhees of baseball.

I finally started to think this might be the year on Saturday, a day on which I ran the gamut of emotions. I was beyond ticked as Jonathan Sanchez melted down, both physically and mentally. "Here we go again," was my thought process. Come on, who didn't start to think about Solomon Torres in 1993, Felix Rodriguez in 2000 or Livan Hernandez in 2002? As the Phillies took a 2-0 lead didn't you start looking over your shoulder for Jose Oquendo, Neifi Perez or Scott Spezio?

I was spooked by the ghosts of failures past. The Giants? They whipped out a proton pack and summoned Jereny Affeldt (playing the role of Peter Venkman) to bust said ghosts. They weren't buying. Those teams that failed so spectacularly? Different Giants.

As formidable as the Braves and Phillies were, the Rangers are even scarier. They deserve to be where they are. This is a unit that took out the team with baseball's best record then dethroned defending world champs -- and did so with style. This just in, the Rangers are really good.

The Giants? They don't hit as well as Texas. They don't run as well as Texas (they don't run as well as the arthiritic ward at the old folks home). If you believe the talking heads, the Rangers also eat better food and their women are hotter.

To hear the so-called experts tell it, tonight's Game One is all about Cliff Lee. Okay, he's good. He's one of the best. But that Lincecum guy the Giants are throwing? Two Cy Young's and three straight strikeout titles say he's no slouch.

No, the Giants aren't an offensive jugggernaut. In the off-season they do need to find a way to get better with the sticks, but that doesn't mean Mr. Lee is gonna have a cake walk.

I know the numbers. ESPN has drilled them into my brain. He's 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts. This postseason: 34 strikeouts, one walk. He's won all three of his career starts against the Giants. They've managed just three runs total in those outings.

So what? These are different Giants. Check out the credentials.

They beat Roy Oswalt on Opening Day. They took down Mat Latos in the fnale with the NL West on the line. In April they beat Adam Wainwright. Two days later they beat Roy Halladay, and Halladay was 5-0 at the time. That was a nice warm-up for Game One of the NLCS when Halladay was coming off a no-hitter but fell to The Freak and G-men (appearing nightly with Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen). Ubaldo Jimenez was 14-1 with a 1.83 ERA when the Giants thunmped him just before the All-Star break.
Rmember Oswalt? The Giants beat him three times during the season, and they got him twice in the playoffs. Cole Hammels made the list -- in fact the Giants beat each of the Philly's Big Three in the regular season and the postseason. They beat Derek Lowe twice during the NLDS.

It's not the kind of thing you write home about. Every game is a whole different Oprah, and nothing is ever easy. But, in case you missed it, their next win will be the 100th of the year. Something went right, so why can't that same thing go right four more times?

I started the season predicting gloom and doom. As it turned out, the team that took the field down the stretch was a very different unit. Buster Posey, Pat Burrell and Cody Ross came aboard. Javier Lopez filled out the pen. The current team is still flawed, still maddening at times, but it's a team that seems to have that unidentifiable factor that makes them dangerous.

So for once, I'll let reason go. I'll surrender to the moment, let my guard down and allow myself to hope.

I'll say it. They could win this thing.


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