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NLCS 2010: 10 Ways Tim Lincecum and Giants Send the Phillies Packing

The 2010 NLCS has but a short time left before evolving into The World Series, here are ten ways Tim Lincecum and company can expedite the process.

Game Five of the script-busting NLCS begins this afternoon, promptly at 4:57pm.

The skies above AT&T Park will be mostly cloudy and cool, moving into chilly and cold as expected on a Thursday night in San Francisco, October baseball.

The Giants faithful will not blink or suffer a shiver to deter them from witnessing what is about to happen.

The Embarcadero will be a jostling sea of eager and anxious fans clad in orange and black, ebbing towards the grandest stage of all the San Francisco venues, #24 Willie Mays Plaza.

McCovey Cove will be alive as well, welcoming ferry after ferry of arriving Giants fans. The evening breeze begins to fan the hordes, the ripples in the cove bending as the flotilla kayaks and rafts take up position just beyond right field.

The board is set. The pieces are in motion. The game is waiting to be played.

Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants are but a tick away from making a World Series Appearance, and here are ten ways they can make that happen.

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NLCS 2010: Panda Sighting In Game 2, Pablo Sandoval Returning To SF Lineup?

The 2010 NLCS showdown between the Philadelphia Phillies and the San Francisco Giants is underway in earnest. With the series tied at one game apiece, the NLCS almost takes on a 5-game set feel.

Game Three of this exciting series will be every bit as pivotal as Game One promised to be. With the series even again, both teams will be vying to take the advantage.

The Phillies would love nothing more than to ambush the Giants on their home field, taking the series lead and establishing big time momentum rolling into Game Four.

RHP Matt Cain will stand ready to fend off the Phillies in the third and possibly most epic of the 2010 NLCS to date. The task will be no easy one, as the Fighting Phillies found their offensive stride and gashed the stalwart Giants pitching for six runs in their last meeting.

If the Phillies are indeed beginning to erupt in the batters-box, the Giants will need to mount their own offensive charge and let the battle become a war in Game Three.

Is it time to take the Panda off ‘Time-Out’? Has Pablo Sandoval served his penance? 

Sandoval, the furry face of the San Francisco Giants, at least in the advertising and marketing campaigns between the 2009 and 2010 – has been patiently waiting for this shot to contribute.

Patiently is no under-exaggeration either. During the 2009 regular season, Sandoval only managed 47 walks in 563 plate appearances. With only six at bats in the post season, the patient Panda has already walked twice.

Let us trace the Panda tracks back a bit – the portly young slugger wowed the National League with his ability to drive just about any kind of pitch into play. Sandoval hit a very respectable .330 average in his first full season with the Giants.

The Kung-Fu Panda hats were made, commercials were shot, merchandising schemes rained down, San Francisco was ready to celebrate another outstanding season from their young star.

As if shy of the big stage, the Panda went into hibernation shortly after the 2010 season opened up. Sandoval’s struggles at the plate this season have been widely regarded as something more concerning than a sophomore slump.

Sandoval not only lost his feel at the plate, slowly but steadily his fielding also declined. He led the team in errors (13) during the regular season.

Mike Fontenot was acquired from the Chicago Cubs during the mid-season mayhem that was the Giants front office. Fontenot proved to be a steady and dependable utility infielder. Fontenot didn’t give you exciting, he gave you consistency.

Whatever Fontenot was selling, Manager Bruce Bochy was buying. He was now able to remove the struggling Pablo Sandoval and inject a sturdy Mike Fontenot onto his starting lineup card for the NLDS and NLCS.

With Fontenot starting, and Sandoval barely able to get into the Championship series, we must take a look and make sure we aren’t keeping crucial runs off the board by making the safe choice in starting Fontentot.

First of all, how safe is Fontenot? Fontenot made a very rare but crucial bad throw in Game Two. He just got out of being charged a second error in the game after letting an unclaimed pop-up drop four feet in front of him.

How about the batting? Fontenot in the post season has had 12 at bats. He has a single and a triple, and scored a run. Fontenot has also walked once and struck out three times. His average is .167 so far in October.

Pablo Sandoval is also hitting .167 so far in October, in six at bats.

What we were supposed to be getting in Fontenot was a better glove at third base, and more consistent at bats. Sure he was never expected to have the pop that Sandoval packs, but he was expected to produce a base runner more often.

So far with some glaring mistakes by Fontenot, fueling big innings instead of vital outs for the Phillies, are we getting what we benched Sandoval for?

Again, in six at-bats, Sandoval has actually walked twice. Whether he learned his lesson, had time to reflect on his approach or just needed some time out of the big lights – I think it’s time Bochy gave Sandoval a shot in Game Three.

Cody Ross is hitting home runs like they are going out of style. If Sandoval can run into a few of those pitches, the thump the Giants have been looking for may be found just in time.

Pablo Sandoval’s numbers against Cole Hamels: .333 average, 1 double, a homer, and 1.178 OPS.

Mike Fontenot’s numbers against Cole Hamels: Zilch, in two at-bats.

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NLCS 2010: Do The Giants Have Enough Thump To Take On The Mighty Phillies?

As the 2010 post-season delves further into October, the San Francisco Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies are the last two National League teams standing.

The National League Championship Series between these two clubs will begin on Saturday, October 16th – in Philadelphia.

The Phillies jumped all over Joey Votto and the Cincinnati Reds, sweeping Dusty Baker and company right out of the playoffs. While it may be tee time in Cincinnati, the Phillies are resting, laying in wait for the Giants.

In San Francisco there lies another brand of baseball. The Giants secured their NLCS ticket in four games, sending Atlanta home for good in 2010. Shipping off Bobby Cox was no easy task, each game being decided by a single run.

On paper and before your eyes, the Phillies have been the team to beat coming into the playoffs. They feature top notch pitching, a fearsome lineup, and oodles of playoff knowledge in the dugout.

One thing is for certain with the Giants, they can pitch. It is the other things like hitting, and oh maybe more hitting that are less certain.

The Giants squeaked by the Braves, getting just enough runs to win by the narrowest of margins. This will not fly against the Phillies. If the Giants want to have a chance against a true juggernaut like Phillie, they will need certain players to step up and deliver big time.

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San Francisco Giants: Five Things They Need to Do to Win the Series in Colorado

By the time the San Francisco Giants take the field in Colorado Friday night, there will be nine regular season games left.

I’m not sure there is anything regular about them. In these remaining games, the Giants will face the Colorado Rockies who are very much in the hunt AND the division leading San Diego Padres.

Through today (9/23), the Rockies are 3.0 games out of first place, and dropping three in a row to Los Angeles and Arizona.

The Giants and Rockies clash for three games over the weekend. If you are starting to see a trend here, you nailed it.

When you consider the importance of the final three games against the Padres next weekend, do not under appreciate what is about to happen in Colorado.

A sweep by the Rockies this weekend will leave the Giants all but out of the playoffs for certain.

San Francisco must win this series if they want to keep San Diego in their cross-hairs for next weekend.

In order for that to happen, there are five things the Giants must do….

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San Francisco Giants Once Again an Unbalanced Team With 10 Games Left

The State of the Union for the San Francisco Giants is slightly north of bleak.

With 10 games left in the pennant race, it looks like two, possibly three teams stand in the way of the Giants and their first playoff appearance since 2003.

What is probably closer to the truth, the Giants are also standing in their own way.

At various points throughout the 2010 season, we have already seen the “here today, gone tomorrow” offense, no matter who seemed to be in the lineup.

Now it seems like someone has hung a sign around the lineup card saying, “Be back in April, maybe.”

Over the past seven days, the Giants are third to last in runs scored in the National League with 21. If you eliminate Jose Guillen’s six RBI contribution, San Francisco would be dead last, and possibly dead in the race.

We have seen the Giants slump together occasionally. It happens to every team, and granted, it probably happens to the Giants even more. San Francisco is ranked 10th in the NL with 649 runs scored. With runners on base, they are 12th.

What is happening now, is a good deal more alarming than a slump. The Giants are collectively shutting down on offense.

Is it a lack of effort? It doesn’t appear to be. When the Giants faced Carlos Zambrano on 9/21 they were shut out against him. But at least in this game, they worked counts, took pitches and made Zambrano toss 116 pitches by the sixth inning.

Whatever the cause may be, the Giants are in danger of slipping out the race if they continue to fail at the plate.

Up and down the lineup, everyone is guilty. Freddie Sanchez had two hits last night against Randy Wells, but he is still guilty by association at this point. “You broke my heart Freddo!”

You really have to salute the mental fortitude of the pitching staff. They have done an incredible job of keeping their composure in this drought.

Over the past seven games that the Giants offense has “gone fishing” the pitching has been incredible.

San Francisco’s staff has put up a 1.36 ERA in the last seven days. That is a ridiculous ERA when you consider they have played six games in that time. Even more ludicrous – the Giants have a 3-3 record.

With 10 games left to play, the Giants pitchers just cannot be expected to do more than they have already. Runs have to be scored. Which means the bat has to find the ball, and something good has to happen.

The unbalanced play in San Francisco at this point in the season is a little foreboding, even if they do reach the playoffs. It’s a little hard to win with zero points scored – but the Giants keep trying.

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1989 San Francisco Giants National League Championship Team: Where Are They Now?

The 1989 San Francisco Giants will always be a special team. They were the first Giants squad that I had the rare privilege of watching play in a World Series.

This Giant team had a potent lineup, they could hit for average and power. They featured a good rotation and solid relievers. They also had a repuation for being able to pick it on defense.

With players like Will Clark, Mike Krukow and Candy Maldonado, the 1989 Giants also had some spunk and swagger.

Unfortunately, the Loma Prieta earthquake during the warm-up for Game 3 would be the only excitement for Giants fans in the 1989 World Series.

The Oakland Athletics fielded their own dangerous team in 1989, and met the Giants in the first and only Bay Bridge World Series to date.

Although the Giants were swept by the A’s in four games, this was a team San Francisco fans will always remember fondly.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the players from that 1989 World Series Team, and ask: “Where are they now?”

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Cries In San Francisco: ‘C’mon Barry, Don’t Zito Us, Not Now!’

Do you remember being excited about rooting for a Giant named Barry? I remember getting stoked about the idea that the Giants now had two Barrys to root for.

As one Barry faded into the San Francisco mist, another joined the team. Heralded as the face of the franchise, we threw benjamins at his feet, and lined his wallet something thick.

Circa 2007: “Oh we just signed Barry Zito from the A’s??” Fist pump!

Isn’t it amazing what four years can do to a sentiment? I think in Zito’s case, one half season proved to be enough time to deflate any would be parade balloons.

Enough with the name game, let’s get down to brass tacks.

Barry Zito is a Cy Young Award winner, who enjoyed success as a left-handed starting pitcher in Oakland. He began his stint in Oakland in 2000. Now 10 years ago isn’t exactly considered Jurassic for a pitcher, but if your last winning record was posted four years ago, you are maybe a little petrified.

Zito’s contract is as we all know, ridiculous. Even if he performed at respectable level, like I don’t know hmm…say a positive win/loss record for once—it just isn’t worth that kind of money. It’s not Barry’s fault he got paid national deficit numbers, so we’ll try to see past that and look at what he brings to the table:

  • He’s got a blistering fastball (84 mph – downhill in a hurricane) that would stymie most batting cage goers in any amusement park.
  • Add location to that fastball that is unpredictable (to everyone) and it’s just dangerous (wild pitch).
  • A changeup who refuses to change. Even after Dear Barry letters from GM Brian Sabean.
  • His curveball once called a 12-6 in prehistoric times, has so much bite, it doesn’t even have to show us its movement.
  • His pitches are most of the time just too intimidating (intimidatingly bad) for hitters to even offer a swing. They need a walk to clear their minds, straight to first base.
  • A spiritual zeal that any would be a welcome addition to green party/dungeons and dragons club.
  • And finally, the high socks look. A nod to players of previous generation. Striped socks were added to instill fear and confusion (look at a spinning barber sign long enough…) into the hearts of batters.

It’s no secret that Barry has been miserable with his turmoil. I applaud the guy for keeping a humbled brow and taking ownership of his failure. So he wears big boy pants, and admits to his faults, does this mean we keep giving him another try? This is pennant race baseball, not bring your kid to work day.

It was tough enough to watch Zito implode when not so much was riding on it. We took that like it was an acceptable level of disgust, displeasing but not abhorrent.

Better or worse—Zito began the 2010 season pitching lights out. He had a 5-0 start right out of the gate. Supposedly the best start of his career. We all began to pull for him.

He even had an ERA under 3.00. Did the stars align correctly? Did he get a new sea-horse? He then sported 6-2 in ten starts. Nice! Finally! Right? (insert whoopee-cushion sound)

Just as quickly as the house of cards was built, it blew down. Zito would go on to win only one game in June, and one in July. He has not seen a win since.

Since July 16th he has lost eight out of 11 games. Six of those losses are consecutive, and to date. What’s worse is that in those three games where he has a no-decision, the Giants won. Smacks of “just get this dude outta here, we’ll do the rest Coach.”

Yes I am being hard on the guy. Maybe some of this angst should be redirected at manager Bruce Bochy or Sabean for sticking with him. But isn’t blaming a committee a little apathetic? Besides that, Zito did show us he can pitch this year, and pitch well.

Where is it when we need it most? This is not the time of year to be messing around. Get it done, or get gone.

Tonight Barry Zito will face the Dodgers. The Dodgers are not in contention, but they do stand in between us and the vital wins needed to win the NL West. The Dodgers would love nothing more than to torpedo our playoff chances.

Zito is 6-7 against the Dodgers lifetime, with an ERA of 4.01. I would love nothing more for him to make me sorry I ever wrote this piece. Come on Barry, don’t Zito us! Not now!

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San Francisco Giants NL West Chase: 10 Key Things to Watch Down the Stretch

The Giants’ season-long chase after the San Diego Padres has finally paid off. San Francisco is half a game back of the Padres.

Getting here has been a lengthy and remarkable pursuit marked by the resilience and dedication of the boys in orange and black.

And it isn’t over. Much will depend on how the Giants play their last remaining games.

And yet there are some things beyond the Giants control that may happen to hamper their run at NL West Pennant.

Let’s take a look at 10 key things to watch for down the stretch for the Giants.

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The Top 100 San Francisco Giants Players of All Time

The New York Giants were established in 1883. In 1958 the club moved out west, becoming who they are today – the San Francisco Giants.

Along the way, there have been many fun players, many great players. Some players we hated, and loved to boo and heckle. Many players stuck around for a season or two at best, while others played their entire career for the Giants.

Who is your favorite Giants player?

Giants’ fans everywhere have their own opinion about how they would rank their favorite players.

Who is number one? What about number 2? 3? This list can go on. How do you rank these players?

When you think of the all time great Giants, are you including the New York Giants?

In the pages to come we will discuss my list of The Top 100 Giants of All Time.


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Do the San Francisco Giants Have a Shot to Win the NL Wild Card?

As the 2010 Regular Season is drawing to a close, the National League Wild Card Hunt begins in earnest.

The San Francisco Giants have been trying to catch the division leading Padres all season, without success.

Up for grabs is the NL Wild Card, and there is a host of very strong teams competing for this post season pass.

Do the Giants have what it takes to beat out the rest of the clubs and claim the NL Wild Card for playoff berth?

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