It’s Over

Your Daily Giants Playoff Report
By Screamin’ Leeman
Ahhhhhh.  Satisfaction.  
I was so giddy in the afterglow of the Giants victory over the Nationals I said to my darling wife Carol, “I’ll never say anything bad about My Giants again.”
She said, “Yes you will.”
But that is neither here nor there.
The fact is, is that not only did Our Beloved Giants send the Washington Nationals, offenders of the baseball gods, home for the winter, but the St. Louis Cardinals took care of those diapered babies from the Southland, sometimes referred to as the Dodgers.  

Ahhhh.  Justice is served.  
In the seventh inning, when Cardinal first baseman Matt Adams hit the three run-homer to take the lead over the Dodgers, I jumped out of my chair in a moment of great jubilation.  Hit it off of His Royal Majesty Clayton Kershaw, no less.  
Could it get any better than that?
Why yes, as a matter of fact, it could!  And it did!
What could be better?  Why, Our Beloved Giants beating the Nationals, that’s what!  AND THEY DID!   
Oh, what a glorious day!
All year long from every corner all we heard about was the Nationals and the Dodgers.  How they were the baddest in the land, destined for the World Series etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, until I wanted to spit up.  
On paper, yes.  They were both very worrisome teams.  
As I’ve said before, that’s why they don’t play the games on paper.
Yet both teams were in for a big surprise when it came to the playoffs.  One went up against the Cards: ‘The Team That Never Dies.’  That’s right.  You cut off it’s head, it grows another.  
The other went up against our Giants, who are like ethereal mystics.  Way beyond smoke and mirrors.  You end up losing, then wonder how it happened. 
This Giants win was one of the most satisfying wins in a long, long time.  Not only did the baseball gods extract their fair and just payment from the Nationals, but it was done at the hands of Our Beloved Giants.  
What an honor!
As a matter of fact, all of the playoffs thus far have been quite rewarding.  Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim each getting SWEPT?
Both the Dodgers and the Nationals getting knocked off on the same day?
But it has been a very trying time.  This is not easy, watching all these games (someone’s gotta do it, though).  I’m glad we get a couple days off now because it’ll give us time to replenish our medicine cabinets with heart attack and stroke medicines.  
Medical emergencies notwithstanding, this whole week has been worth it!
The baseball gods have been appeased. 

Why The Baseball Gods Are Really, Really Ticked

Your Daily Playoff Report
By Screamin’ Leeman
Oh, Boy!
Our Beloved Giants really threw one away last night, didn’t they?  Yep, just when we should have driven the stake through the heart of the Nationals, we gave them another chance.  Gave them a new life.  Not a good sign.  It is never a good idea to wake up a sleeping behemoth.  
Now, we have our work cut out for us.  We’ll be facing Gio Gonzales while we counter with Ryan Vogelsong.  I’m not crazy about that match up at all.  As a matter of fact, it’s kind of scary.
We would rather not go back to Washington for a game 5.
But as scary as the prospect of Gonzales v Vogelsong is, we still have one thing in our favor that should instill confidence in the most pessimistic fans:  That‘s right, the baseball gods.  
Oh, you think I’m kidding.  I am not.  I am banking on their help.  And why, you might ask?
I am reprinting a column here by a sports columnist of renown from October 2012 that explains it well:
How To Make The Baseball Gods Angry, Alienate Fans Everywhere, And Hopefully, Be Sorry For The Rest Of Your Moronic Lives
By Screamin’ Leeman
Around this time of year, we are always reminded of past deeds of heroism, and/or disaster.  They all stand out because, well, it’s the playoffs, and World Series time.  Playing for all the marbles.  The Glory, the Fame, the Money.  The Pinnacle of the profession.

This is a story of how to make the Baseball gods really, really angry.  And some of us fans even angrier.  Or, put another way, baseball Karma, personified.

Here is what you do:  You take your team, which in this case is the Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos, established 1969) and after about a hundred losing seasons in a row, finally, in the year 2012, you pull it all together with trades and free agents and play great ball all year and make it to the playoffs.

But wait!  
The powers that be, that is, the people who run that organization, decided early in the year that their star pitcher (who had ‘Tommy John’ surgery on his shoulder 18 months prior) should be limited to 175 innings, period.  No matter what!  
That’s right.  It was Stephen Strasburg, phenomenal pitching talent, one of the top five pitchers in the National League.
So, sometime in September, they benched him.  Never mind that they were on their way.  Never mind that this was their chance to go to their first World Series EVER!  Never mind that if they had continued to use him, they would have been IN, with ease.  
Nope, they wanted to ‘protect’ the arm of their best pitcher.

Above all else, never mind that this was all based on the PRECAUTION that something COULD POSSIBLY happen to his arm.  Not that he was experiencing any pain or anything, it was all based on a PROBABILITY that he MIGHT, MAYBE, CONCEIVABLY hurt his arm.
Now as we all know, baseball is a man’s game.  A macho sport.  This is not some goddamned quilting bee.  This is not a tea party.  This is where real men come to play ball.  To strap on the leather, eat handfuls of dirt, crash against walls, and spit all over the place.  As it should be.
Now, if my team has a chance of going to the playoffs, or World Series, and my arm is hanging by a tendril, I WANT THE BALL!  If I have a compound fracture, and have lost three quarts of blood, PUT ME IN, COACH!
IF MY EYE HAS BEEN GOUGED OUT BY A SPLINTERED BROKEN BAT, hey, get me a fricking band-aid and let’s get on with the game!
This is what baseball is all about!  This isn’t some namby, pamby, whining, crying, baby game, for gods sakes!
“Ooh, he might hurt his wittle arm??”  YE GODS!  Bob Gibson is rotating in his grave.  Along with every other pitcher who ever lived, and is still living, and every one else player who ever played the game!
The first round of the playoffs in 2012 is where the baseball gods extracted their first payment:  The Nats were ahead by SIX runs in game 5.  As a matter of fact, they were up by 2 runs and needed just ONE OUT to advance to the World Series!
This is where the baseball gods stepped in. To make a long story short, the Cards, God Bless ’em, scored 3 runs, won the game, and went on to the Fall Classic.  Baseball Karma?  You better believe it.  The Nationals got exactly what they deserved.
It would serve them right if they didn’t make it back to the playoffs for another 35 years, or at least until everyone responsible for this fiasco is dead.
       *        *        *
Now, the second time the baseball gods stepped to extract payment was in the ninth inning of the 18 inning marathon the other night.  Oh, yeah.  In the top of the ninth, leading by a run, they whispered into Matt Williams ear, “Hey, Matt.  You better go out and get your pitcher.  He just walked a batter, could be trouble!”  
And of course, that is exactly what Matt Williams did.  
Never mind that his pitcher, Jordan Zimmerman, had retired the last 20 batters in a row.  Never mind that he was completely unhittable.  That he had thrown only 104 pitches and was still as strong as an ox.
Never mind that they just needed ONE MORE OUT!
Nope, the baseball gods intervened.  “Go get him, Matt.”  
We all know the rest of the story.  Two hits later the game was tied, and OF COURSE and we won it in the 18th.
I am totally convinced that this is our ace in the hole.  If Vogelsong isn’t strong, if our hitters don’t come through, if we have to go to a game five… 
The Baseball Gods are not finished extracting their payment from the Nationals.  
I can’t wait to see how they do it!

Two Down

Your Daily Playoff Report
By Screamin’ Leeman
Oh, man!  How about those Kansas City Royals!  Wow!  What a team.  Completing the sweep of the mighty Los Angeles Angels?  The winningest team in baseball?  OMG, who woulda thunk it?
Remember, Kansas City is the team that was losing to the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game.  Not only losing, they were down by FOUR runs in the EIGHTH inning, for crying out loud.  
But somehow they came back to win that game, and what a head of steam that gave them.  Beat the mighty Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim near Disneyland three straight! Oh, you gotta love that. 
The Angels.  Best record in baseball with 98 wins.  Who will now enjoy the rest of the playoffs from the comfort of their own homes.
And the Baltimore Orioles!  Same thing!  Sweeping Detroit!  Not only sweeping, but beating each the last three American League Cy Young winners in the process. Wow!
Now I don’t know about you, but I, for one, am SO SICK of Detroit being in the playoffs year after year after year, beating everyone, especially our A’s, I’m sorry to say, with their dominant pitching. And this year, just to make sure they would be there again, they picked up David Price (last year’s Cy Young Winner) to help them complete the deal.  
Then, they get swept by Baltimore? Unbelievable! Oh, happy day.
This is why we love baseball, isn’t it?
Makes me proud to be an American.
So we won’t have the stinking Tigers to kick around anymore.  
You know what is so great about Baltimore and Kansas City playing each other for the American League Pennant?   Among other things, the fact that neither team has been there for a combined 46 years!  That’s right.  Last time Baltimore was in the World Series it was 1997.  Last time the Kansas City was there it was 1985!
Wow.  29 years ago.  You know, most players on that team weren’t even born yet.  
Here is an interesting fact: The Royals have now won seven straight post-season games, dating back to 1985.  Pretty good, I would say.  Of course, it can’t compare to our Giants, who have won 10 in a row, but very good none-the-less.
Now, you might ask, how did Kansas City get to where they are?  Some would call it Grit!  Character!  Resolve! Tenacity!  Perseverance! Balls!  All these are true, and fitting.  
I like to refer to it as TEAM CHEMISTRY!  Are you listening, Billy Beane?  You klutz.
And our Giants are about to go up against the Nationals and Doug Fister, who is not a slouch by any stretch of the imagination.  If we win this one, we’re IN!  We’ve got home field advantage, MadBum on the mound, and a city full of RABID fans!
I like our chances.

Very Good, So Far

Your Daily Playoff Report

By Screamin’ Leeman

Hey!  You’ve gotta love the way ALL of the playoffs are going so far, right?  A whole bunch of really great games!  A VERY satisfying playoff scenario so far.
I mean, come on!  The Royals beating the Angels?  Twice?  Oh, yeah!  Both games went extra innings and the Royals won in 11, twice.   NOW, they go to Kansas City.  Oooh, wee!  What kind of a chance to you give the Angels there?  I give them three chances.  Slim, none, and “See those flying monkeys?”
Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing Kansas City get to the World Series.  Giants against KC?  Why yes, I’ll take that.
Then of course, the St. Louis Cardinals pounding the Dodgers, and mighty Clayton Kershaw!  YES!  Scored 5 in the seventh off him to go ahead.  Great game!  Cards scored another three after Kershaw was yanked, Dodgers ended up coming back to within one, but lost 10 to 9.  
Final out was on a PUIG strike out.  How fitting.  Thank you, baseball gods!
Kershaw, by the way (oh he of the lowest ERA in the league the last four years), is the only pitcher in baseball history to give up 7 runs in his first two post season starts!  Isn’t that interesting?  Could this mean our boy might have some little gag reflex going on?  
Again, let’s all send our thank you notes to the baseball gods.
And then:  Baltimore beating up on Detroit!  Oh, how sweet it is!  First, they pound last year’s Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer.  
The next day, they beat 2011’s Cy Young winner in Justin Verlander.  Oh, boy!  
Now, on Sunday, they’ll face 2012’s Cy Young winner in David Price.  Wouldn’t it be something to complete the task by beating all three of those guys?
Listen, I always wanted Detroit to lose because I was so tired of them taking our A’s out in the first or second round every fricking year.  I guess we won’t have to worry about that this time around.  But be that as it may, I’m still rooting for them to take it on the chin.  Their pitching has been too good for too long.  I love to see them get beat if for no other reason than to show how even the playing field is in this great game! 
As I said, a VERY satisfying playoff scenario.  This is just what we hope for at this time of year, is it not?
I can’t wait for the next game!

Baseball managers and one dumb sumbitch

Your Daily Giants Report

By Screamin’ Leeman
Okay, everyone get their pens out.  Today we can all write thank you notes to Matt Williams, former Giant third baseman and current idiotic manager of the Washington Nationals.
In one of the most bone-headed moves I have ever had the pleasure to watch, he yanked his starting pitcher, who was rolling, with two outs in the ninth.
You’ve got to know he had to graduate Summa Cum Lout from the Ron Washington school of managing, and I’m sure he’s been invited to make the commencement speech.
Let me set the scene:  The Nationals starting pitcher, Ryan Zimmerman, was completely untouchable.  Giants got three hits off him all night, and nothing after the third inning.  
All night long the Giants are flailing at pitches, popping up, swinging and missing, striking out, just having a helluva time.  
Nationals are leading one to nothing in the ninth, Giants are up, and there are two outs.  One more out and it’s game time.  
So Zimmerman walks Joe Panik.  And what does Mister Brilliante do?  He YANKS him!  Brings in someone else to face Buster Posey.  
I jumped up and started screaming.  Because with Zimmerman in there we had NO CHANCE.  ZERO.  Before the walk, he had retired TWENTY consecutive batters.  
But with ANY other pitcher, we had a chance.  And what sometimes happens in a case like this, when the starter is SO dominant, when the reliever comes in it looks like he’s throwing meatballs.  Because the starter was SO tough, ANYONE else will be easier.  
So I figured:  We have a chance.  
Okay, so up comes Buster, with Panik on first.  OF COURSE he gets a hit.  Panik to second.  
Then, the Panda!  Who promptly hits a double down the left field line to tie the game, with Buster being thrown out at the plate.   The call was disputed, reviewed, and confirmed.  
But now we were tied, and going to extra innings!  And facing mere mortal pitchers for the rest of the way!  
Thank you Panda, thank you Buster, and most of all, thank you Matt Williams!
Matt Williams!  You big dumb bunny!  What the hell were you thinking?  
I’m sure he was channeling Ron Washington.  His pitcher was mowing guys down with wild abandon, he would have got the last out without a flinch.  But no, bird boy lets us get back into the game!
I swear, if I didn’t know better, I’d think he was still on our side.  Except that a little later in the game, in another unfathomable move, he gets himself tossed for arguing balls and strikes, which, as you know, is an automatic ejection!  Honest to god, I don’t even think Ron Washington would be that dumb.
And by the way, how do you think Ryan Zimmerman feels about his manager?  Think he’s a little steamed?  
I am pretty sure the baseball gods are making the Nationals pay for holding out Stephen Strasburg in 2012.  They’ll be paying off that karmic blunder for a long, long time.  As they should.  
Anyway, who was to know the game would go 18 long innings?  My goodness, what a marathon.  And we won it on a lead off home run by Brandon Belt in the eighteenth!  
Got to hand it to Yusmeiro Petit who came in in relief and threw about 80 pitches over six innings.  Man!  That’s nearly a whole ‘nother game!  
So we took two from the Nats in their own home park, and now it’s off to AT&T for game three.  
Bumgarner against Doug Fister on Monday afternoon.  Fister is no pushover, but then again, we’ve seen what MadBum has done lately, haven’t we?


Your Daily Giants Report
By Screamin’ Leeman

Doncha just Love it?  That the Giants are always picked as the underdogs?  That they get no respect?  That they are the Rodney Dangerfields of baseball? 

Pssst… Don’t tell anyone! Let’s just keep this among ourselves.  
But here is a very interesting statistic: The Giants have won 9 straight post-season games, and outscored opponents in those games 47 -9.
Good!  Let them keep thinking of us as the underdog.
Yep, we waltzed into the Nationals ball park to face Stephen Strasberg, who some say is the best pitcher in the National League, and our boys got great at bats on him, slapped hits up the middle all day long, and made him work his little butt off until he was sent packing.  
In a really close, tough, torturous game (what else is new?), the Giants prevailed.  Our man, Jake Peavy, with balls of steel, held those Big Bad Bats of the Nationals to two stinking hits and no runs into the sixth inning.  He was yanked with the bases loaded as Big Head Bochy brought in Hunter Strickland for his playoff debut.  
This guy, Strickland, has been in the bigs for what…?  Three weeks?  I don’t know.  
But, “Here, kid:”  In the Nationals park.  A sea of red.  First game of the playoffs.  2 run game, 6th inning, bases loaded. 
“Here, kid. Take the ball.”
And take the ball he did, by striking out Ian Desmond with a 100 mile-an-hour fastball.  He gave up a couple solo home runs in the next inning, and I was kind of surprised when Bochy didn’t come out and yank him after the second one.  He left him in to get one more out, then brought in Affeldt.  
That’s the thing:  Bochy knows!  
We don’t know.  We think we do, but we don’t know like Big Head Knows.  See, a lot of us went to the Ron Washington school of managing.  “Holy crap, he just gave up two homers, yank him out of there NOW!”  
But no.  ‘El Cabesa Grande’ knows.
As a matter of fact, it is because of Bochy’s calm and knowing demeanor that the Giants are where they are.
Some people think that a manager doesn’t mean that much, that it is the players’ talents that get you to these championship games.  That is partially true, but when push comes to shove, a good manager will make all the difference in the world.  The difference between going forward and going home.
Among other things, he exudes a calm confidence.  Not arrogance.  Calm, collected confidence.  And it is contagious.  
Listen, I’ll admit it.  When the Giants went into Pittsburgh, I was not that optimistic. The way they stunk up the place in the last month of the season was not pretty.  But when Bumgarner pitched that absolute Gem, completely dominating a great hitting team, I said to myself, “Hey, Screamin’! These guys may be all right after all.”  
And then on to play the Nationals!  OMG, the best team in the National League.  All those great hitters, and all those great pitchers in their own home park.  
I was supremely nervous!  Through the whole darned game!  Oh, I loved what Peavy was doing.  But when Big Head went for Strickland I was wringing my hands.  
Then when he brought in Affeldt, I broke into a cold sweat.  After that, Javier Lopez.  Shaky.  I had to shield my eyes.  
And when Romo came in, I thought “Oh, crap”.  He’s not the same guy as he was in 2010.  I hid behind the couch.  
Then, Casilla!  “Oh, no!”  How many times has he blown it lately?  I almost left the room.  
But it all worked out, didn’t it?  Strickland got the biggest out of the game.  Affeldt came in for the last out of the inning, then Lopez did his thing.  
“My goodness.  It seems to be going okay…” 
Then Romo.  Against all these GREAT hitters.  Wow.  Mowing them down.  Gave up one hit, I think.  
Then: Casilla.  Made it look like child’s play. 
One, Two, Three.  GAME TIME!  
Oh, how could I doubt my boys?  
Another game today.  Hudson on the mound.  Can he revert to the championship form that we used to know so well?
I’m nervous.

All Bay Area World Series …oops

Your Daily Playoff Report
By Screamin’ Leeman

“Baseball is a beautifully crafted game, designed to break your heart.”

~ A. Bart Giamatti
Well, there was certainly a lot of heartbreak in Oakland the other night.  And conversely, on the other side of the bay, jubilation.
Doesn’t look like an all-Bay-Area World Series after all, now does it?
Kansas City.  Who woulda thunk it?  And we had our stud Lester on the mound.  The guy we threw away Cespedes for.  We had a four run lead in the EIGHTH inning, for gods sakes!  Can you believe it?  I’m still wondering what happened.  Oh, and by the way, guess who gave up the winning hit.  That’s right, Jason Hammell.  Who was a throw in in the Samardija trade, and a complete bust from the start.  
Doesn’t that just figure?
Somehow, this is all so fitting.  I mean Billy Beane can only make so many good trades.  One of them has to go bad sooner or later.  I think he’s playing God a little too much.  I’ve read in more than one place that he doesn’t believe in team chemistry.  Isn’t that interesting?  
Now, Lester is sure to be gone, and Samardija, and I just heard Donaldson.  Who else wants out?  Probably a bunch of them.  I’m sure they’d all like to go to a team where nobody messes with the team chemistry.
But the hell with them.
Let’s talk about our Giants!  How a fricking ’bout our man Bumgarner!  Have you ever seen a more dominating performance?  He was lights out from the first pitch.  And while we scored eight runs, thanks to the Brandons, one run may have been enough.  He was untouchable.  What a game!  
Now, it’s the Washington Nationals. On paper, they look like a damn good team.  They’ve been called the best team in the National League.  And our Giants?  Not so much.  On paper, they don’t have a chance.
Good thing they don’t play the games on paper.  
Meanwhile, Kansas City beat the Angels in the first game in Anaheim.   Go Royals!  
All this despite the fact that Ned Yost seems to have gone to the Ron Washington school of managing.  As a matter of fact, if KC hadn’t won that game with the A’s (…wait a minute, how did they do that again?) he surely would have been tarred and feathered.
And Baltimore beat blew out Detroit in game one.  Beat ’em bad.  Good!  I’m so used to rooting against the Tigers.  I always want some other team to beat them so they can’t take out our A’s.  
Oh, wait…
Never mind.