Tuesday, October 05, 2010
We're In It! Playoff Ponderings
I was part of the screaming masses on Friday (albeit not waving an orange towel; I completely whiffed on that when walking through the gate), a deafening cacophany of rabid voices desperate for postseason baseball. It was the loudest craziest crowd I've ever seen at a baseball game, and everybody was ready to whoop it up in celebration of a Giants clincher. I had my camera primed to capture the moment. Yet it wasn't to be. It was an exciting game, with an abortive comeback attempt, but it ended prematurely on an epic Freddy Sanchez brainfart. My plea to witness history went unanswered, and 40,000 people death marched out of the stadium, looking toward the weekend for solace.
Then came the Barry Zito Fail Start, and suddenly those doubts started creeping in. You know...The Doubts. Those feelings that have built up over the years and have been exacerbated by inexplicable Neifi Perez home runs and brutal Pudge Rodriguez collisions. As Jose Guillen grounded into yet another feeble double play to end the game, I got that sick feeling, preparing to be turned into a blubbering, weeping mess as the Giants inevitably blew it on Sunday. It's amazing how Giants fandom can turn you so schizophrenic. One moment I'm jumping around in the upper deck, squealing in joy like a crazed 12-year-old girl, the next I'm a profane, pessimistic bastard. Perhaps if I were properly medicated I wouldn't even like this team.
Thank goodness for Jonathan Sanchez though, and really, it was totally appropriate that he be the one to shut the door on the Padres after his unprovoked ranting in August. Hey, it came almost two months too late, but he was right. Um, sort of. Also, in a bit of tasty karma, Mat Latos got the Padres' season-killing loss in a start that was worse than his end pitching line will show (he was giving up rockets all game; he would have been nailed for at least five runs on most other days). Latos's buffoonish comments about the Giants' supposed mercenary squad (not to mention smashing Dave Flemming's sunroof with a baseball) probably sealed his fate.
So the Giants are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, and I seriously can't believe it's been that long since I got to watch a Giants clinching celebration, with Bud Light and champagne flowing like geysers. It felt good. I laughed, I cried, and I broke out the Thumbscrew. Hey, what better way to celebrate this torturous team?
This is the first time since I've been maintaining the Stankeye blog (in its many starts and fits and bizarre incarnations) that I get to write about the Giants as they are in the playoffs. In fact, this blog was inspired by the Giants' failure to make the postseason in 2004, and my need to vent after watching that travesty unfold. So basically, I'm out of my element here. I don't know what to do with myself. This blog has been built on bad Giants teams, and from making fun of awful Brian Sabean moves and Barry Zito. What to do?
All I know is that I can't wait until Thursday, when Mays Field should be a rockin'. Expect playoff coverage from yours truly, along with the usual torrents of profanity and stupid You Tube videos. For now, here's a quick rundown of some things I'd like to see happen in this upcoming playoff series and (hopefully) beyond.
--Cody Ross needs to be the starting right fielder in the playoffs. I'm fairly adamant about this, because his bat has come around in the past few weeks, and even when exposed to right-handed pitchers (his weaker platoon split), he's every bit the hitter Jose Guillen is and three times the fielder. Unfortunately, the Giants have this weird blind spot when it comes to Guillen that prevents them from realizing that he sucks. If the Giants don't insert Ross as the right fielder and leave him there, come hell or high water, they're asking for trouble.
--Keep Nate Schierholtz on the playoff roster for his late-inning defense. Leave Guillen off. Yes, this Schierholtz-love/Guillen-hate thing has likely reached ridiculous proportions here at Stankeye, but I don't care. Guillen is worthless! He had one big game against Milwaukee and one or two big hits sprinkled around, but otherwise was one big pile of detriment with the Giants. Hell, I'd rather have Eugenio Velez on the roster instead of Guillen. At least he brings speed and pretend versatility to the table.
Sticking with Schierholtz as a late-inning defensive replacement for Pat Burrell seems like a no-brainer, but he fell completely out of favor late in the year and you just never know what Sabean and Bruce Bochy are thinking. He, Ross, and Andres Torres give the Giants one of the rangiest outfields you'll ever see for late-game purposes, a huge weapon with that bullpen and a late lead.
--Aaron Rowand and Barry Zito do something good in the playoffs. It's dubious whether these guys should be on the playoff roster, but they no doubt will be since they've been with the team for so long now. I would love to see the two most maligned Giants come up big in the playoffs, in any capacity. As much crap as I've given Zito on this site over the years, I actually really like the guy, and I was rooting very hard for him to do well in his start Saturday. I'm not sure how he'd do it (assuming Madison Bumgarner is the fourth playoff starter), but I'd love to see him get a big out or two, or pitch some strong innings in relief, or maybe get a tough lefty out in a key spot, and earn some cheers from Giants fans.
The same goes for Rowand. His contract was a terrible mistake from the second the inked dried, but he still plays hard as hell and he's taken his benching like a man (from all appearances, at least). I'd love to see him jack a homer or come up with a big hit in the playoffs, just for some sort of redemptive value. Funny how I suddenly do a 180 and proclaim my fondness for a bad player once the team starts making playoff appearances.
--Make MadBum the fourth starter. Yes, this should be a no-brainer, but once again, you just never know when Bochy might go wacky on us and decide he wants "veteran presence" over youth, and make an ill-fated decision to start Zito in a key game. I mean, why is this even an open question? Again, I'm rooting for Zito to do well, but he doesn't belong anywhere near the mound at the start of a playoff game. I don't care if Bumgarner has the playoff mentality of a twelve-year-old in stirrups. Start him!
--A World Championship. Yep, it's the only way for this post to end. Go Giants!
Kevin: He probably shouldn't be left on the playoff roster, but I imagine he will be for sympathy's sake. He's a "clubhouse guy" and all that, and there's still the name value. The only scenario I see him pitching in would be a long extra-inning game or a blowout loss, both of which I really hope don't happen.