Congratulation to the San Francisco Giants are in order. They officially closed out the 2012 Major League Baseball season by beating the Detroit Tigers 4 games to love. A team that was doubted all year long, disrespected time and again, took us all by surprise and won the whole damn thing. Their unbelievable story goes a little bit like this…
In the regular season, the Giants played neck and neck with the Dodgers through August for the NL West crown. Both teams were carried by a solid rotation and timely hitting. In the process, the Giants certainly had their ups and downs. They had Melky Cabrera leading the league in hitting for the first half of the season, including single handedly dominating the All-Star game, subsequently clinching home field advantage for the Giants. Matt Cain was equally dominant, earning the starting spot for the NL All-Stars. Buster Posey bounced back from an injury shortened 2011 and returned to his All-Star level. At the same time though, Tim Lincecum, the 2 time former Cy Young Award winner greatly struggled all season long, losing several miles of the fastball and control of the strike zone. The before mentioned Melky Cabrera got caught with steroids, then caught attempting a cover-up and it looked like the wheels might fall of the Giants bus.
In late August, I wrote an article about the NL West race being tied and predicted that the Giants would find a way to close it out, though I wasn’t at all certain. The the Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster trade for the ages, adding Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford only weeks after adding Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino. My P.I.C. called the Dodgers the best team on paper, and the entire baseball world figured Los Angeles would easily overtake the Giants for the NL West. Obviously being the best on paper doesn’t equal success because the Dodgers went into a slide that handed the Giants the division. Heading into the playoffs, their were still question marks surrounding the Giants about how legitimate they really were.
We picked the Giants to lose their first round series against the Cincinnati Reds. We looked like geniuses as the Giants dropped the first two games at home. Because it was a Best of 5 Series, everyone assumed it was over the Giants. The Reds had three home games and only needed to win one to advance. Well, the Cincinnati crowds had three long awful days of spectating, as the Giants performed admirably with their backs to the walls. Former Giants and current Reds manager Dusty Baker choked in the playoffs again, but this time the San Francisco fans were on the receiving end.
Next came the NLCS, where we picked the defending Champion Cardinals to keep up their clutch play and beat the Giants in 7. Well, we looked like we had picked correctly again as the Cardinals took a 3-1 lead and like the Reds, only needed one more win to eliminate the Giants while San Francisco needed three. However, the Giants received a Game 5 victory from the beleaguered Barry Zito, the momentum in the series shifted and San Francisco ended up easily defeating the pesky Cardinals in Games 6 & 7.
Heading into the World Series, it was the same exact script. The Detroit Tigers blew up the New York Yankees in embarrassing fashion, had the best pitcher in Justin Verlander and best hitter Miguel Cabrera and nobody really thought the Giants would win the World Series. Once again, the Sports Debaters are guilty as charged as we picked the Tigers in 7. Heading into Game 1, Verlander took the mound against the before mentioned Zito, and everyone expected an easy 6-0 Tigers win. That’s when the Big Panda took control of the series. Well, after 3 HRs by Pablo Sandoval and 5.2 one-run innings from Zito, all the nonbelievers took notice of the Giants 8-3 by the bay. Still, some observers were not yet convinced…
The Giants kept the ball rolling in front of their home fans to take a commanding 2-0 lead, with a brilliant pitching performance by Maidson Bumgarner and enough offense from Hunter Pence. The Tigers bats were held to two hits, as they were shut out and slightly resembled the Yankees in the ALCS. The Tigers were a team that had struggled with the bats during various periods of the regular season and they couldn’t have picked a worse time to fall back into old habits. Doug Fister, even after taking a line drive off the head, gave them a huge chance to win throwing 6 innings and only allowing a single run. The Tigers offensive ineptitude and 2-0 hole changed everybody’s perception.
The Tigers travelled back to Detroit for what they hoped would be three games to change the momentum in the series. As we know, only two games were necessary. A second shutout was dealt to them, as the Giants were able to score 2 early runs, which was more than enough for an unbelievable effort by Ryan Vogelsong, the beleaguered Tim Lincecum and closer Sergio Romo. Lincecum resurrected his season and Giants legacy, coming out of the bullpen and looking like the Timmy of old. In last night’s Game 4, the Giants were finally able to throw out their ace Matt Cain, who kept the Giants in the game despite giving up a 2 run HR to Miguel Cabrera. With the game tied at 3 in the 10th inning, Marco Scutaro had a huge RBI single, Sergio Romo closed it out as easily and stress free as one can imagine, and the Giants celebrated all night long in front of the opposing fans.
The Giants faced elimination 6 times during the playoffs and never panicked. The formula of unbelievable pitching and timely hitting worked all season long, and it’s always a recipe for postseason success. The Giants captured their 2nd title as a San Francisco franchise and their 7th overall, as they had won 5 in New York. Congratulations to the players, the city of San Francisco and all the Giants fans from coast to coast! This team didn’t care if they received respect, didn’t care if people thought they were legit and didn’t care if they were picked to win any series. As the end of the day, they are the Champions and will be until this time next year, or potentially forever if this hurricane ends civilization as we know it!
The 2012 Major League Baseball season has been nothing short of spectacularly crazy. From a plethora of injuries to emerging young superstars, this season has been non-stop entertainment for baseball fans around the world. The World Series is now upon us, as the best team from the American League faces off with the best from the National League to determine who the greatest team of the year is. The Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants both traveled completely different paths to reach this final plateau, but in the end they will battle it out on America’s biggest stage to win that coveted trophy in the Fall Classic. Here is a breakdown of each team position by position and how they matchup with each other.
Catcher: Buster Posey vs. Alex Avila
Buster Posey is coming off of just winning the Comeback Player of the Year in the National League and his play in the playoffs has shown why. Posey is one of the top two most important bats in the Giants lineup while his counterpart, Alex Avila, is clearly in his lineup for defensive purposes. Posey isn’t so bad on the defensive end himself and with Avila batting even worse in the postseason (.227) than he did in the regular season (.243), Posey is proving to be the much better catcher between the two.
Edge: Buster Posey
1st Base: Brandon Belt vs Prince Fielder
Like the catcher position, this comparison is almost unfair. Brandon Belt is a solid defensive first baseman but is only in his first full season in the Majors, making him a work in progress. Prince Fielder on the other hand was one of the biggest pickups of the offseason and teamed up with his PIC, Miguel Cabrera, to absolutely dominate pitching across the league all season long. On top of Fielder’s ridiculously good hitting, he is also getting better defensively every game and will soon pass his father as the best in the family.
Edge: Prince Fielder
2nd Base: Marco Scutaro vs. Omar Infante
If I was asked at the beginning of the playoffs who is the better between these two second basemen I wouldn’t have hesitated in saying Omar Infante. But after a 14-hit NLCS which resulted in Scutaro winning the NLCS MVP, he is now the favorite in my mind. Both of these players are defensive specialists with the ability to hit for average, but there is not much power coming from either of them. Scutaro is slowly turning into the best midseason acquisition of the league, and Infante has been nothing more than just a solid #9 hitter in the Tigers lineup.
Edge: Marco Scutaro
Shortstop: Brandon Crawford vs. Jhonny Peralta
Both of these players are clear indications of defensive specialists. The only difference between the two is power and experience, Crawford 2 years and Peralta 9 years. Peralta is always a threat to go deep and has had an amazing 2012 playoffs thus far (.343 BA), with a couple bombs already. Crawford will not hit for power, he only has two extra base hits in the playoffs, but he is a scrappy player and will find ways to get on base to help his team. Neither of these teams rely heavily on either of these SS and their offense, but both can make an impact on any given day.
Edge: Jhonny Peralta
3rd Base: Pablo Sandoval vs. Miguel Cabrera
This has to be the most intriguing matchup of any position in this series. The first Triple Crown winner since 1967, Miguel Cabrera, versus one of the most lovable and talented players in his position, Pablo Sandoval, will be heavily watched by every spectator. Unfortunately for Sandoval, he will be compared to the best player in the game right now for the entirety of the series. Cabrera is without question the best hitter in the league and the fact that he matches that with stellar defense makes him a priceless player. I like Panda, but it is tough when you are compared to the best. Cabrera is coming off of arguably one of the greatest offensive seasons ever and single-handedly carried the Tigers offense for most of the year.
Edge: Miguel Cabrera
Left Field: Gregor Blanco vs. Andy Dirks/Delmon Young
Obviously Detroit does not play two left fielders but since they are an American League team, they do play with a designated hitter. While I am not positive who the Giants will throw out there as the extra bat when the games are being played in Detroit, I do know that Delmon Young will be strictly a DH when they are home. Andy plays a solid left field and even has some pop to his bat but he will not be playing when they are in San Francisco. So I will be comparing Blanco to Young and even though Blanco has had a good year and has a solid glove, Delmon proved in his ALCS trouncing of the Yankees, just how valuable he can be. Young’s glove is a little skeptical but not enough to keep his bat out of the lineup.
Edge: Delmon Young
Center Field: Angel Pagan vs. Austin Jackson
I have a soft spot in my heart for Angel Pagan because he is truly one of the hardest working men in the game and he has proved that again this season in his first year in San Francisco. Pagan is extremely talented in the field and provides the Giants with some important at bats at the front of the lineup. Austin Jackson has the same responsibility for the Tigers. Jackson is one of the fastest in the game and he might even come out of this season with a gold glove. He is young and super talented in every aspect of the game. While I absolutely love Pagan as a player I think that Jackson is just on another level talent-wise.
Edge: Austin Jackson
Right Field: Hunter Pence vs. Brennan Boesch
Boesch is always a threat when he picks up a bat and he adds to that by playing a solid right field. Boesch will find himself anywhere from the 6 to the 8 hole in the lineup and with Cabrera and Fielder in front of him, he will have a big role to play for driving in runs for the Tigers. In my mind, Hunter Pence is one of the most talented outfielders in the National League. Unfortunately for the Giants, he is yet to really emerge as that superstar I know he is. Pence had a subpar regular season and he hasn’t done anything particularly special in the postseason, but every one of Detroit’s pitchers knows the threat that Hunter poses every time he is at the plate. I think this will be a good series for Pence and he will finally prove his worth as a San Francisco Giant.
Edge: Hunter Pence
Starting Pitching: Justin Verlander and company vs. Matt Cain and company
I love the pitching matchups that will be coming out of this series. While I think that Justin Verlander is the best pitcher that the Majors has seen since Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens were in their prime, I think that the pitchers the Giants are throwing out there can give them a run for their money. Verlander will be facing Barry Zito in game 1 of the World Series because Cain is just on two days rest after pitching a masterful game 7 in the NLCS against the Cardinals that inevitably led to their WS trip. The Giants have Bumgarner and Vogelsong to round out their starting 4 with Lincecum available for long relief or even an injury replacement. The Tigers have strikeout master Scherzer, Fister, and Sanchez to follow in Verlander’s footsteps. I don’t think the Tigers staff will have as easy a time as they did against the anemic bats of the Yankees, but there is no denying the amount of talent that Detroit puts out there on a nightly basis.
Edge: Justin Verlander and company
Relief Pitching: Sergio Romo and company vs. Jose Valverde and company
In my NLCS preview, I completely underrated the Giants bullpen. They pitched magnificently throughout the NLCS and were flawless in the final 3 wins that brought them to the World Series. Sergio Romo has had a couple of hiccups but he has managed to get himself out of any trouble that came his way. Jose Valverde on the other hand got rocked in his only game against the Yankees and was lucky enough to have his team save him in an eventual game 1 victory. Both of these teams have solid set up men and long relievers that can salvage games in any inning. What it comes down is that both of these teams starting pitching staffs are so good that the bullpens will not see much action in this series.
Edge: Sergio Romo and company
Manager: Bruce Bochy vs. Jim Leyland
I think that Bruce Bochy has done an incredible job all season long, leading the Giants to yet another NL West crown and now a trip to his second World Series in three years. What’s most impressive is that Bochy has done all of this without one bona fide superstar on their roster. It has been the true definition of team play. Leyland took a totally different approach to the season as he had his team revamped in the offseason into a teams of all-stars and it clearly took him longer than expected to get his shit together. It wasn’t until mid-September that Detroit even took first place in the pathetic AL Central. Well, that slow start is behind them and the Tigers are coming off one of the most dominant sweeps in Championship Series history, and with Leyland’s already uber-impressive resume, I find it hard not to pick Detroit as the team with a managerial advantage.
Edge: Jim Leyland
Overall, these two teams are ridiculously close on paper. I think this series will come down to 7 hard fought games and each of these teams fans will be on the edge of their seats on a nightly basis. I feel that Detroit has a slight advantage by having Justin Verlander pitch game 1, which will give Leyland the option to put him in for a game 4 start and maybe even a game 7 one if necessary. I know I am looking forward to well played World Series and I can’t wait to see who takes home the grand prize.
Series Prediction: Detroit Tigers in 7
As a New York Mets fan, I usually find it extremely difficult to watch baseball in the months of September and October. I usually use those months to start loathing my New York Jets as I try and forget about yet another disappointing baseball season for the Mets. This year has gone a little differently as I have been following what has to be the most exciting MLB playoffs I have ever witnessed. This was the first season in Major League Baseball history that all four divisional series went to a decisive game 5. While the American League had some great matchups in it’s own right, I will leave that for my PIC to tell you about. The excitement and quality baseball that came out of the two NLDS series is enough to write about for days. While my predictions for the NLDS was for the St. Louis Cardinals to be facing off with the Cincinnati Reds, I think I am more excited to have the past two World Series Champions throwing down for yet another trip to the big dance. I said from the beginning that in baseball playoffs, there is nothing more important than experience and outside of the New York Yankees, no one in the league has more experience in the post season in the past decade than the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals. Here is a breakdown of how I feel the two NLCS teams compare with each other and who I feel will come out on top.
San Francisco Giants – Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, (Tim Lincecum)
The San Francisco Giants starting rotation has been dominant for pretty much the entire season, which helped them win the NL West with ease. Once the playoffs started things looked a little shaky as their Ace and NL Cy Young candidate, Matt Cain, and their usually reliable work horse, Madison Bumgarner, both got lit up by an amazing Reds lineup that seemed to be on the verge of an easy sweep. After masterful starts by both Ryan Vogelsong in game 3 and Barry Zito in game 4, in which Tim Lincecum came in and pitched over 4 innings of beautiful relief ball that gave him the win, the ball was given back to their Ace Matt Cain to redeem himself from his game 1 meltdown. Since Cain started game 5 of the NLDS, the first game of the NLCS will be pitched by Bumgarner followed by a game 2 start for Vogelsong and then back to the start of the rotation with Cain. It doesn’t look like Lincecum will be getting any starts in the post season barring any injuries to other starters, but what he showed as a reliever in game 4 definitely was comforting for the Giants fans.
St. Louis Cardinals – Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn
The Cardinals starting rotation has been plagued with injuries all season long and that trend has seemed to continue during Jamie Garcia’s game 2 start which ended with a season ending injury. The loss of Garcia is bad, but having one of the the biggest surprises from the regular season, Lance Lynn, there to fill the gap is pretty comforting. Lynn will be going from not being in the starting rotation in the NLDS, to becoming the opening game starter in the NLCS. Talk about pressure! Long time Cardinals great, Chris Carpenter, will most likely be the game 2 starter for St. Louis which comes as a huge relief for their freshman coach, Mike Matheny, because Carpenter spent practically the entire regular season on the bench with an injury. Chris had the most dominant start out of all the Cards starters, having pitched shutout ball for 6 innings. Depending on how the first two games pan out, Matheny will have a choice between the most improved pitcher in baseball this season, Kyle Lohse, or their regular season Ace, Adam Wainwright, to take the mound for game 3. While Wainwright looked solid in his game 1 start against the Nats, his game 5 start was so bad that he was removed after only 2 2/3 innings. Regardless of who takes the mound for this team, they all seem to have the goods to pitch a quality game night in and night out.
Starting Pitching Edge: San Francisco Giants
San Francisco Giants – Brandon Belt (1B), Marco Scutaro (2B), Brandon Crawford (SS), Pablo Sandoval (3B), Buster Posey (C)
Outside of Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey, there really isn’t a formidable power bat on the Giants infield. The Giants first baseman, Brandon Belt, had an average sophomore season with the club as he hit .275 and proved that he can put the ball in play on a consistent basis. Belt struggled mightily throughout the entire NLDS and was even benched for game 4 of the series. Second baseman, Marco Scutaro, has been a journeyman in his 10 year career and when he was acquired almost halfway through the 2012 season from the Colorado Rockies, he hit a remarkable .362 for the Giants to close out the regular season. Scutaro, like Belt, had an abysmal NLDS, collecting only 3 hits in his 20 AB’s. While the Giants second year shortstop, Brandon Crawford, is obviously in the lineup for defensive purposes, his bat will be needed at least a little bit. Crawford fills in the Giants 8th spot on their lineup every game and if he can put up a similar OBP (.357) in the NLCS as he did in the NLDS then the Giants could be in good shape. Pablo Sandoval is a great hitter and with men on base he will be pitched around more often than not. Buster Posey is arguably the best catcher in the game and is in the running for the NL MVP.
St. Louis Cardinals – Allen Craig (1B), Daniel Descalso (2B), Pete Kozma (SS), David Freese (3B), Yadier Molina (C)
The St. Louis Cardinals infield are a scrappy bunch that can win games in many different ways. If they need a home run they can hit it and if they just need men on base they seem to be able to do that with ease. At first base, Allen Craig has been a reliable bat all season long with a regular season BA of .307 and he carried that success into the playoffs by hitting a fantastic .348 in the division series against the Nationals. The Cards second baseman, Daniel Descalso, had an average opening playoff series against the Nats by hitting a modest .273, but he is considered the man who won the series for them with a huge home run in game 5 to pull them within 1 run in the eighth inning and then a game tying 2-run single in the ninth. With Rafael Furcal out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury, Pete Kozma has stepped up for the Cards and has played great baseball. Kozma’s .385 OBP in the division series out of the 8th spot in the batting lineup was a huge boost for the Cards. It also helps that Kozma has a comparable defensive ability to his predecessor, Furcal. At third base, David Freese has been here before and he always seems to get on base or get the big hit when the team needs it most. Yadier Molina might be the only catcher in baseball that can challenge Posey for the rights to the best at that position and no one knows his postseason prowess better then us self loathing Mets fans.
Starting Infield Edge: St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants – Gregor Blanco (LF), Angel Pagan (CF), Hunter Pence (RF)
The Giants outfield would look a hell of a lot different if it wasn’t for Melky Cabrera’s PED use. Gregor Blanco spent most of the 2012 season as the Giants utility outfielder, but once Cabrera was suspended for the rest of the season, Blanco was needed as a regular starter in left field. While his bat was basically useless during the regular season, Blanco seemed to have found a little success in the NLDS with a .375 OBP. Blanco is as sure-handed as they come in the outfield. Angel Pagan is another great defensive outfielder, but as the lead off hitter for the Giants, his role is a lot more important on the offensive end. Pagan really struggled in the NLDS and if he has a similar performance in the Championship series than the Giants will be in big trouble. Hunter Pence was a mid-season acquisition from the Philadelphia Phillies that was thought of as a brilliant move. Unfortunately for Giants fans, Pence has under-performed since he arrived in San Fran and he carried those batting woes all the way through the NLDS. If the Giants want to find success in the NLCS, they are going to need all three of these guys to pick up their hitting a little bit more.
St. Louis Cardinals – Matt Holiday (LF), John Jay (CF), Carlos Beltran (RF)
The entire Cardinals offense depends on how their outfield can perform at the plate because their three outfielders are the first three batters in their lineup. Matt Holiday put up his typical regular season numbers but he really struggled when he entered the NLDS. Holiday only collected 2 extra-base hits out of the 5 games that they played against the Nationals. John Jay is as fast as they come in center field but just like his counterpart, Angel Pagan, Jay is the Cardinals lead off hitter and his bat is as important if not more important to St. Louis’ success. Jay probably had the worst offensive performance out of all the Cardinals players in the NLDS (.222 OBP) and he knows that has to change that to beat the Giants. Is there anyone more clutch in the postseason than Carlos Beltran right now? Beltran carried the Cardinals offensively through the NLDS with a ridiculous .409 BA and a .500 OBP. On top of his amazing postseason bat, he is a stud defensively and he seems to only be getting better with age. While Beltran has clearly found steady footing in the playoffs, he is going to need his other two outfielders to join him if the Cardinals hope to come out of the NLCS victorious.
Starting Outfield Edge: St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants – Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, George Kontos, Sergio Romo (closer)
The Giants bullpen has had their ups and downs throughout the regular season but they have seemed to find their footing in the playoffs. The emergence of Sergio Romo as a reliable closer has really helped the Giants trust their bullpen in late innings. When it comes down to it, the Giants have a starting rotation that can go deep in almost every game and now that they have found solace with Lincecum coming in for long relief, there is even less pressure on the bullpen. Romo showed a little bit of his flaws towards the end off game 5 against the Cincinnati Reds, but in the end he was able to close out the game for his first ever postseason save.
St. Louis Cardinals – Mitchell Boggs, Marc Rzepczynski, Fernando Salas, Edward Mujica, Jason Motte (closer)
No one is in more familiar territory right now that the Cardinals closer, Jason Motte. Motte was on the mound for the final out of last years NLCS and for the final pitch of the World Series. He is truly in his comfort zone. The Cardinals, like the Giants, have a great starting rotation that takes a lot of pressure off of the bullpen. Outside of their workhorse’s Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski, the Cardinals bullpen is pretty underused. When the ball gets into Jason Motte’s hands, it seems as if the Cardinals always come out with a win. So the solution for the Giants is easy…get and keep the lead.
Relief Pitching Edge: St. Louis Cardinals
I know I picked the St. Louis Cardinals to have the advantage in 3 of the 4 categories I talked about, but this NLCS is not going to be so cut and dry. Even though the St. Louis Cardinals are the defending World Series Champions, the Giants are only two years removed from their last title. I think this series is going to be extremely close and come down to a decisive game 7. Both teams fans will have a lot to cheer about but once that final pitch is thrown I feel that the St. Louis Cardinals will be making a trip back to the big dance.
Series Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals in 7
Tonight will be the Midsummer Classic where the best players in the first half of the season from both the American and National League’s face off. Or so we thought. The voting system for the All Star game has been criticized every season because of snubs and undeserving popular players making it through. This season’s voting took the system’s shortfalls to a whole new level of ridiculousness. One city absolutely took advantage of the unlimited fan voting option and completely fucked up what could have been an amazingly competitive game being played by deserving players. The San Francisco Giants organization and fans had nothing better to do this season then stuff the ballots so their sub-par and undeserving players can make the National League starting rotation.
Now I have never had a reason to have beef with San Francisco because my parents lived there and it’s the city where my brother was born, but after this appalling display of over-voting I now consider the city pathetic. The Giants are only two years removed from winning the World Series and after a disappointing 2011 campaign and an average start to the 2012 season, where they trail the Dodgers by a half game in arguably the worst division in baseball, their fans and organization decided to stuff the ballots with their players names so they can represent their team in the All Star game. The Giants have 4 players starting the All Star game tonight, which is more than any other team, and only one of them have the stats to justify their placement.
Let’s start with the biggest travesty. David Wright, of my New York Mets, is having an MVP caliber start to the season and is arguably the best third baseman the game has to offer right now. Somehow he is not in the starting lineup for the NL because of those douche bags in San Fran. The Giants fans got their third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, a.k.a Kung Fu Panda, entered as the starting 3B which is an absolute joke. Sure, Panda is a good player, but he does not deserve to be starting in the All Star game. Wright is batting .351 with 106 hits and 11 home runs and 59 RBI’s through the first half while Pablo has an incomparable .307 BA with only 59 hits, 8 home runs and 30 RBI’s. Yes, you read that correctly, David Wright has as many RBI’s as Panda has hits. What a joke.
Both Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera are also starting for the NL out of the San Francisco organization. I won’t argue for Melky because he actually deserves to be where his based on his stellar start to the season, although we all know it’s a fluke. As for Buster Posey, he probably shouldn’t even be on the NL roster at all this season. Carlos Ruiz, of the Philadelphia Phillies, is having one of the best hitting seasons for a catcher in recent memory. Ruiz has 13 bombs and is batting a remarkable .350. Somehow Ruiz will be watching the first pitch of the All Star game from the dugout while Posey will be the starter with his .289 BA. As a matter of fact, Ruiz leads Posey in every major offensive statistical category and has struck out 16 less times than Posey. So how did Posey get the starting nod over Ruiz? Because San Francisco fans have nothing better to do than fill out All Star ballots and continue on their hippie ways.
The fourth Giants starter for the National League was not a product of their fans shitty voting, but rather a blunder by one of the greatest coaches ever. Tony La Russa, the retired coach of last years World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, decided to put Matt Cain as the man who will throw out the first pitch for the NL tonight. There is no denying Cain’s ability and I definitely thought he should be the third in rotation, but I and the rest of the world know who should be starting this game. R.A. Dickey has taken the baseball world by storm this season and has the best overall numbers out of any pitcher in baseball. He has the best stats and he has the best story and he plays in the best city, so why isn’t he starting? Because Tony spends most of his free time on the West coast and goes to a lot of Cain’s games. Sure Cain pitched a perfect game this season, but Dickey did something even more rare with back-to-back 1-hitters. Dickey took this decision very professionally but you can tell he was not thrilled about it.
“I’m not going to break down in tears over it, but at the same time I’m a competitor. I want to pitch. I want to start,” Dickey said Monday. “I feel like I had a good enough first half that I should be considered. But I’m not the boss. I don’t necessarily have to agree with him, but I have to respect it. That’s just the way it is.”
La Russa went on to say that the knuckleball is a difficult pitch to catch and Posey would have a hard time with it. So in some ways it is the Giants fans fault for stuffing the ballots with Posey’s name because if Ruiz was starting then La Russa wouldn’t have an excuse.
Regardless of the starters in tonight’s All Star game, I will still find myself cheering on my National League and when the deserving players on the bench make their way into the game I will applaud. As for the San Francisco Giants players in the game, I hope the American League starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, throws them some nasty chin music upwards of 100 MPH. I hope Bud Selig removes all voting privilege’s from the Giants fans for years to come because of the mockery they made of these year’s team.
Late last night, San Francisco Giants Ace, Matt Cain, threw the franchise’s first ever perfect game. 27 up and 27 down, Cain might have pitched the most impressive statistical perfect game ever. With the highest pitch count in a perfect game ever (125), Matt Cain becomes the 22nd pitcher to ever accomplish this epic feat of not allowing a base runner. In fact, Cain matches the most ever strikeouts pitched during a perfect game with 14, and he now finds his name alongside Giants greats Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry as a member of an exclusive Giants club that have thrown no hitters. In front of his sold out home crowd of over 42,000 screaming Giants fans, Cain threw his arms up as the Astro’s pinch hitter, Jason Castro, grounded out to third for the final out of the game.
“This is incredible right now,” Cain said. “It was unbelievable. The guys did a great job making it, in a way, kind of relaxing, because they were able to get on the board early.”
Cain was absolutely masterful from start to finish but he did have to be bailed out with a couple of great plays behind him. Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco both made unbelievable catches in the outfield to ensure that Cain would finish his historic night. And you will find out as you keep reading why a quality defense is essential to a perfect game.
“Those were unbelievable catches,” Cain said. “I mean that right there, that changes the whole thing.”
Usually a perfect game would dominate the headlines as there has only been 22 of them in the history of baseball, but last night the sports Gods provided their fans with nearly two doses of perfection. Across the country from where Matt Cain pitched his perfect gem, the New York Mets RA Dickey tried to make some history of his own. Just a couple of weeks removed from the Mets first ever no-hitter by Johan Santana, Dickey took the mound against the AL East juggernaut, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dickey threw a career best 12 strikeouts over 9 masterful innings. After the Rays first two batters of the game went down swinging at RA’s phantom knuckleball, BJ Upton hit a slow grounder to Wright at third that seemed to be playable but David mucked it and the favorable scoring of home field advantage awarded Upton with a hit. As I watched it I thought it should have been an error but since it was the 1st inning I didn’t really care too much. It turns out that was going to be the only “hit” that the NL’s leading Cy Young candidate would give up for the game.
Johan was credited with the Mets first ever no-hitter, but when Carlos Beltran hit a ball that was called foul (clearly it was fair based on the picture above), many fans wanted an asterisk placed on his no-hitter. Funny enough, the Mets are now appealing the hit/error by Upton and they are trying to get Dickey credited with the Mets 2nd ever no-hitter. In fact, Dickey didn’t walk anyone either, and without Gold Glover David Wright’s 2 errors (or 1 error and 1 hit however you look at it), RA might have had the Mets first ever Perfect Game, joining Cain in the Hall of Fame record books. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that while Dickey was pitching this superb game last night, he surpassed Mets great Jerry Koosman’s record for consecutive scoreless innings (31 2/3) by recording his 32 2/3 in the ninth.
Matt Cain’s night was perfect and RA Dickey’s was nearly perfect. Cain’s perfect game marked the 5th no-hitter of the season. This is also only the third year in baseball history that there were two perfect games thrown in the same season. What do all of these perfect games and no hitters mean to baseball? Are we looking at the year of the pitcher or are the hitters just getting worse? Maybe if you read NYBobby’s take on his anti-doping article you can see why hitting numbers are down. As a Mets fan I am thrilled with the lack of hitting against them, but as a sports fan I would love to see some of that flare from the McGwire, Sosa and Bonds eras.