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Tony Reagins Prolong Woes, So Angels’ Fans Might As Well Boycott

It’s as if spirit has suddenly vanished on Katella Ave.; almost as if the Angels couldn’t care less in revamping an inactive ballclub faced with tremendous emptiness and shame, unable to lure a blockbuster free-agent in an offseason attempt.

Before, the well-respected ballclub that resides near Disneyland was as popular as the other team in town and the city of Anaheim had been emblazoned with seas of red attire to adore the best baseball franchise in town.

At this point, the Angels are in oblivion, even if this is one of the main attractions in Orange County, even if this is one of the most mediocre clubs in baseball and even if Tony Reagins, the inept Angels general manager, is a toxic waste in a town that once was accustomed to postseason splendor.

These days, as the Halo in the parking lot of Angel Stadium doesn’t brighten the sky as much, the organization is failing so miserably to improve and helplessly transforms into dysfunction.

It was one of baseball’s well-operated businesses, until the owner Arturo Moreno purchased the franchise when the Walt Disney Co. decided to relieve itself of the responsibility in running a profitable business.

And just as much as he downplays the magnitude of becoming the first Hispanic owner, he pathetically denies to confess that he has sabotaged the Angels and disgusted devoted fans in a depress community, unless they drive down the street and spend countless hours at Disneyland to release all the disillusionment and affliction. 

Beyond the duplication of his failures as owner, so largely that fans are bickering in an outcry for losing on every bid this winter, it has lifted the insanity and the sport has strangely teetered.

For all the belief that the polarizing Bill Stoneman, the former general manager who built the Angels World Series championship team, wasn’t aggressive in reaching deals or assembling talent, he’s now truly missed since stepping down after eight years.

And yet, what turned into futility to expand upon the twinge of unsuccessfulness, the malcontent fans might as well just boycott the Angels next season, until Reagins is canned by his softhearted boss and until the Angels make adjustments, erecting a profound club and reinstalling exuberance.

The Angels are wrapped in tremendous disarray, until Moreno is reluctant in believing in Reagins’ horrendous implosions as a nugatory executive, relied on to renew a depleted and lifeless culture. Reagins, by further note, isn’t criticized of his botched inactivity after he hasn’t solidified or rehabilitated normalcy.

Whatever it is, he’s poorly tearing down the essence of Angels’ baseball, ruining a franchise that has plunged mightily and he is heavily not suitable for the task.

The Angels were never on the verge of pulling off a valuable deal to benefit long term, nor were they considered likely the favorites of the AL West, but blameworthy losers and could replicate another awful season.

Honestly, the deranged Angels couldn’t care less about winning a World Series, let alone spending wisely on a few leading candidates, losing on Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee.

What the hell?

It’s not particularly hard to notice that the Angels are cheesy in the way they run a lousy business, unless you are blind or either in denial. Every season, this time, it’s a suspenseful scenario and the Angels constantly keep the fans guessing on any potential upgrading pieces.

But in the end, while other franchises bid aggressively for the best slugger or ace available, the Angels are deprived of putting together the repertoire of necessary players, befitting for rising into top contention in a ripened division.

In all, it figured that the Angels were endangered of losing Crawford based on its history in the past, even if they informed other clubs he was a targeted free-agent amid the pursuit.

The most recent story in the midst of such a misunderstanding, around the time when teams are actively upgrading to add missing pieces, is that Reagins acknowledged he was busy calling other organizations. For now, it’s not easy to believe a damn thing and it feels sometimes as if he’s overwhelmed by a shortage of finances, unsure whether or not he desires to ensure a player of a long-term deal.

“I think when you hear the marquee names being shopped around or portrayed in the media as ‘that player is coming to your market,’ there’s an excitement level, and then when he doesn’t come, obviously there’s some disappointment by some.” Reagins said.

If you haven’t notice, he’s been saying the same thing repeatedly during his tenure and still, he hasn’t done anything to reform the defenseless Angels.

“But you have to go and play 162 games every year,” he said. And being able to add bullpen pieces are significant. When you don’t have those pieces and your bullpen doesn’t perform the way it can, it can really show itself. I’d rather have those pieces than not have those pieces, I can say that.”

I’d rather have a dignified player, too.

In an effort to not fortify a misplaced era, the Angels aren’t anywhere near returning to its usual form.

So the understanding, for some, is that the Angels prolongs an epidemic of woes, wrongly at a time when the high-market franchises are rebuilding and aiming to rightfully be the elites of baseball.

This is the town that Mark Teixeira was traded to as a rental and then hightailed his way to New York, where he signed a sizable deal with the Yankees.

This is the town that Paul Konerko turned down millions, just to stay in the Southside of Chicago, a place he gladly calls home.

This is the town that had a chance to bid for Lee and, at one point, had been in the sweepstakes to potentially finalize an unforeseen deal with the unhittable ace, but as usual the Angels lagged, allowing the Phillies to present a fitted amount and stun the baseball world by signing the peerless left-hander.

This is the town that was in the running for Roy Halladay in midseason, but opted to rebuff interest in grabbing the Cy Young winner. 

When it comes to baseball in a tepid town that has dysfunctional owners, oddly enough, fans tend to become furious with the lack of aggressiveness in adding a relentless texture.

There has been, on the other hand, gossip that teams from smaller markets with limited profit are forced to overpay to attract top-tier free-agents. And believe it or not, it’s very obvious these days.

The latest deal of insanity came on a $126 million contract for Jayson Werth that the Washington National foolishly gave to a role player who had a fairly superb season as an outfielder for the Phillies. 

Then, it was the Boston Red Sox giving Crawford a ridiculous $142 million deal. It was, by far, one of the most overpaid and mismanaged deals in baseball history, but reports were released that Moreno came close to proposing a contract within a pricey range.

Hell, the last time the Angels signed a top-notch free-agent happened two winters ago, when they brought in Torii Hunter, but since then the Angels famously become known for offseason blunders.

If what is destroying the Angels isn’t visible for people, then either the folks of Orange County are simply humiliated or could be unaware of Reagins.

What’s more important, for the moment, is the destruction and it has held the fans hostage, wondering if the Angels were ever coveted to obtain one of the finest free-agents on the market. 

The situation probably turns burdened for the well-respected manager Mike Scioscia. For now, at least, the responsibility of assembling a refinable aspect falls on the skipper.  

Just the other day, however, it was an amusing party that generated holiday cheers to more than 200 children at the annual Angels’ Children’s Holiday Party at Downtown Disney’s ESPN Zone, but so far, that is as much holiday cheer the Angels have treasured this offseason.

Don’t expect much, until Reagins is given his final paycheck. 

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Red Sox Controls Leverage With Blockbuster Maneuvers In Shopping Spree

The scene is outrageous in a town that charmingly adores the tasteful smell of delicious hot dogs sold at Fenway Park, one of the oldest venues in sports for which a fan intensely desires to bite into a frankfurter and then to drop the wrapper on the ground as it blows.

I don’t care that the owner of the Boston Red Sox, John Henry, is disliked greatly by a whiny town in an urban community known as New York in which the population uses the lamest excuse and believes the Red Sox purchase their talent.

It’s one thing for a prominent franchise to squander money foolishly in these fragile economic times, especially if the franchise wasn’t successful in addressing its prerequisites or assembling a deluxe makeover that benefits the team’s fortune in the future.

It is simply a matter of overhauling a premier business to elevate the show business in Boston and keep the obsessed crowd appeased after each Red Sox devotee has been a financial advantage to a loyal ownership.

Much of this is a matter of competing with its nemesis the New York Yankees in every hostile meeting come next spring, of attaining the nod in arguably one of the most competitive divisions and of investing in hope that prosperity fosters.

This time, the Red Sox were blockbuster buyers and transformed into the smartest team of the offseason, stringing together valuable pieces to assemble a multitalented team.

In hindsight, consider it a shopping spree in the most convincing offseason in franchise history that the Red Sox, a team with architect Theo Epstein and intellectual team president Larry Lucchino, earned early Christmas presents.

It makes a better story, thus the franchise failed so badly in pulling off colossal deals in the previous winters, to identify the Red Sox as the masterminds of baseball, finally escaping the lampoonery era of being ridiculed for missing out on solidifying their stagnant roster.

While the Red Sox stunningly entertained a trade with the dynamic Adrian Gonzalez, acquired in a deal from the San Diego Padres over the weekend, the undaunted Boston ownership stole the top hitter on the market Carl Crawford and gave the star outfielder a seven-year deal, $142 million deal, the 10th largest in baseball history with an annual average of $20.3 million.

The timing was absolutely perfect for the Red Sox to express interest in the availability of Crawford, and as much as it sounds eccentric signing a precarious left fielder to the richest contract for an outfielder in history, it’s just unveils that the Red Sox know the importance of snatching integral stars as a way for ballooning ticket sales and, most of all, delivering multiple championships in a town that traditionally is accustomed to otherworldly talent.

Not all towns are baseball towns, but as we know, baseball is a proverbial trait and gratifies an entire culture, as the Red Sox are seen as the fabric of a championship-starved environment.

All of which Epstein, as we teased him for one of the weirdest Halloween stunts when he walked away from the team’s office wearing an expensive gorilla suit, is now a genius for pulling off the unthinkable.

In essence, he is the face of the franchise, not a laughingstock or a silly buffoon. By the time he returned, he was adored and welcomed back in a city while taking on his toughest task and regaining power for personnel decisions.

So far, his latest maneuver is accessible in the Red Sox revamping period and could have been the ingenious suggestion for renovating Boston as a way to match the intensity of the hated Yankees.

And he is, spending wisely and collectively, although he took a vast risk and spent an estimated $300 million on two players, each whom earned a seven-year deal.

He’s not a rare species from the Planet of the Apes, but an astute general manager with the art of structuring talent, persuading players by awarding the mega millions and sacrificing his sharp legacy as Boston’s master builder.

Rarely, if ever, do the Red Sox blend together a strong core of depth in their lineup, such a plot that better yet seems like a shopping spree.

In this, there was no need to walk into a Macy’s department store or Kay Jewelers to catch a bargain on a low-priced sale and find the suitable gift for this holiday season.

For weeks, there had been much speculation that Crawford was signing with the Yankees, and then reports swirled of him potentially signing with the Los Angeles Angels. In fact, at one point, he was close to accepting a contract offer from the Angels.

Upon hearing the gossip that the Yankees were bidding for the availability of Crawford, aiming towards stealing the top players on the market, he would have clearly settled in well wearing pinstripes.

It came as a shock to fans when his presence would have helped tremendously. For once, the Yankees failed miserably in getting Crawford and allowed the enemies within the division to declare him as a local resident in a town that gives much adoration.

Even if he had signed a long-term deal with the Yankees, the Steinbrenners and Brian Cashman were ready to trade one of its other outfielders, either Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson.

There’s nothing new, however, that the Red Sox and Yankees are disdained and face much envy for intimidating the league by signing every available star. Logic is, as Major League Baseball is an unbalanced league with a deadbeat, worthless commissioner by the name of Bud Selig, that they share the highest payroll in baseball.

The slight difference is, with the profit owners pocket in order to pacify their star sluggers or perennial aces, the Yanks and Sox are separated by an estimate $64 million, a value that transcended beyond nine ballclubs’ entire budget.

But now, since the Red Sox has relieved $40 million off its payroll this season, losing Adrian Beltre, Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez and lastly Julio Lugo, Boston had cleared enough salary cap space to please Crawford, a four-time All-Star and speedy base runner with a .299 batting average and a 3.40 on-base percentage.

In that span, he averaged 13 homers and had stolen 50 bases per year, but he comes to Boston with blemishes as Gonzalez, a first baseman slugger likely to sign a seven-year extension within the $20 million range, can fortified a batting order instantly with his powerful hits.

Crawford, a member of the much-improved Red Sox, has been criticized already and has accepted a wealthy contract many believe he’s not worth, given that he has never drilled as many as 20 home runs in a season.

As it stands, this was a courageous choice, but more than anything, a sassy move by one of the finest organizations.

The state of the Red Sox is that the team is relentless and steadfast with a left-handed lineup, comprised of a hittable lineup with enough ooze to stand as the superior franchise in the American League East, owners of five projected starters who are left-handed batters, which include Crawford, Gonzalez, J.D. Drew, David Ortiz and Jacob Ellsbury.

Rationality is that the Yankees, whom ironically aren’t centralized in all the free-agency bidding, are losing greatly for a variety of mistakes. That’s a good thing, because now it’s an annex to one of the greatest rivalries in sports.

Red Sox vs. Yankees.

And as it seems, the Red Sox have the leverage.

This is projected to be the best team, coming into next season, I believe.               

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Felix Hernandez Is Not Only Seattle’s Best, But Cy Young Winner

So now we declare royalty to Felix Hernandez, the kid with such raw talent that he immediately dazzled as the most exhilarating attraction this side of the Gateway to Alaska.

At the age of 14, he already had the essentials to reach the big leagues, and as the world’s most talented teenager, he exposed his otherworldly talent in a substandard baseball town that suddenly fostered and became magnetized to his work of art by tossing incredibly.

For a while there, we had a strong feeling he would be handed the monumental award in baseball, given his engagement and knack to inspire an inferior ballclub that was essentially out of the pennant race by early May. There’s a reason Seattle devotees appeared at Safeco Field, particularly on the nights or afternoons that Hernandez, who gave the Seattle Mariners life during the regular-season, just to witness a breathless and singular moment as King Felix delivered and clearly negated much of the mediocrity. Much as the population adored him, he made his presence felt on the mound and awed his amazed supporters, generating endless romance in a town that constantly watches raindrops fall from the sky.

As they say to the noble one…

Long live King Felix.

By now, the masses in the Pacific Northwest have fallen in love with Hernandez. Rightfully so, he won the American League Cy Young Award on Thursday, and not by a tight margin, capturing 21 of 28 first-place votes. All along, he was the fruitful ace in the majors, despite that the Mariners were never in contention for winning the American League West division.

By now, in our insatiable society, he represents charmingly a wonderful story for a region that hasn’t witnessed enough happiness in a long time, and beyond posing as the most gifted teenager, he is the symbol of Seattle and has simply hypnotized the citizens into watching because of his subtlety and craft. The crazy twist is that Hernandez, after he was advertised as the world’s most talented teen, was lazy and complacent until he turned 21-years old and improved his work ethic, performed with diligence, and finally reached a climax by the individual accolades of his flourishing profession.

For once, as of which many were shortsighted of his unforeseen accomplishments, he was distinguished greatly for pitching far more superior in 10 starts. Within all his starts, he was paramount and had either shutouts or held his opponents to a mere run, but had been mostly in oblivion for the Mariners valueless hitting all season.

“This confirms the Cy Young award is a not only for the pitcher with the most wins, but the most dominant,” an emotional Hernandez said while he celebrated and gathered with relatives in Venezuela.

Whatever impact was made in Seattle, it was very heartfelt and enough to change the minds of voters, although he finished 13-12 this season for the Mariners. It was a universal discernment, vividly unanimous for voters to end a controversial AL Cy Young Award race in which Hernandez’s candidacy was neck-to-neck with David Price, who finished 19-6 this season and came in runner-up for the award or CC Sabathia, who settled for third place after a masterful season with the New York Yankees.

The beauty of such an exalted award, you might recall, ultimately favors a pitcher who win games and lead its team to the postseason, and Hernandez never had an opportunity to guide the Mariners to a postseason birth, simply for pitching on a mediocre club. To his credit, it is a well-deserving award and he is now rightly honored.

But the argument of the majors lies solely in a worthwhile debate, a nation puzzled as to how various voters can acknowledge Hernandez’s inferior 13 wins streak, brainwashed by his astounding feats and preferred to neglect the Sabathia’s 21-7 season or Price’s convincing year with the Tampa Bay Rays. Still, either way, he deserves the award because of his rare difference on the mound that isn’t seen frequently in the majors, especially from a developing ace.

All season, he led the league in a 2.27 ERA, along with 249 2/3 innings pitched in 34 starts. On worst imports, nonetheless, the Mariners scored merely 513 runs, less than any ballclub in the American League. Within a short span, the discontent front office was unhappy with manager Don Wakamatsu, and wasted no time in firing him as the Mariners began the season poorly and disappointed all believers that were optimistic Seattle could win the division.

Not surprisingly, he won the prize for which he threw more innings than anyone. Also, he finished second in the AL in strikeouts and even pitched better than most pitchers this season, but struggled from the most wretched run support. So, this is why it’s hard for some to make the assessment that he is worthy of the biggest award in baseball.

What we are witnessing here is the archetype of the best pitcher. And after all, he was capable of being given the award even if he didn’t earn plenty of victories, an issue that could have hindered him from winning it surrounded by an ineffective roster and limited depth.

Greater than ever, he received votes on all 28 ballots, an indicator that most of the voters weren’t so oblivious or bias and voted based on the dominance Hernandez exhibited this season. It’s all a prototype of Zack Greinke winning the Cy Young award last year, with just 16 wins and he ranked seventh in the AL. But this time around, Hernandez ranked 18th and still won it. This means anything is possible in the majors.    

From my viewpoint, I think he deserves it, and I believe he earned it as well. 

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Giants Withdraw Torture, Anguish by Winning a Gorgeous Treat

An entire city gathered collectively by the beautiful bay in celebration of its first ever baseball championship, waving pom-poms, wearing the fake beards and popping corks in the gorgeous streets of San Francisco.

It’s clearly a myth to refer to the San Francisco Giants as misfits or castoffs, two words that seem irrelevant after the ballclub stunned the world and awakened the Bay Area in the midst of an improbable journey, now rejoicing a memorable moment in a magnificent sporting town. In the twilight of a bona fide team, the Giants rehabilitated in the second decade of the 21st century with excellent talent, from the pitching staff to the brilliancy of Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria.

Are the Giants still misfits? Are they still castoffs? All of that is trivial.

An elated franchise that has more victories than the New York Yankees won their first World Series since 1954 and first since departing New York with a 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 5 Monday night.

As all great stories eventually come to an end, the Giants redefined their identity and erased the horrid memories of Series droughts, engraving an incredible tale in baseball with a core of humbled and crafty big leaguers.

The turning point in the Giants rebirth happened at this moment. Earlier in the postseason, just as during the regular season, there was a dubious notion that the Giants weren’t mandated as the ideal pick to win the pennant for their oddity and uncertainty in the past.

With the breathless warmth in a city that cherishes its baseball team and shares similar trends, the healing process cemented adoration in a town that ignited parties and rowed their watercrafts in the McCovey Cove, a waterway alongside the gorgeous ballpark near the bay.

The renewal gimmick launched, when Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Buster Posey, all centerpieces in the Giants rebuilding plots, delivered on the biggest platform of their flourishing careers in the big leagues. In reality, as good as the new generation of players has elevated a sense of pride and aspiration for an avid sports community, the Giants can release the agony and torture.

The irony of the ballclub that no one ever imagined is that Lincecum was invincible and unhittable in the championship-clincher and will go down in history for leading the Giants to their first ever World Series title in a beloved town.

The long shaggy-haired ace uplifted his legacy on the mound, once the Giants were crowned champs following a nifty finish to conclude an exhilarating San Francisco Treat. At age 26, he has accomplished more than the ordinary pitcher, winning nine of his final 11 starts and now owns a World Series trophy with two Cy Young awards.

“You know what it is? It’s called being a gamer,” Lincecum’s catcher, Posey said. “Walking into the clubhouse today, the guy’s as loose as can be, joking around. Same old Timmy. You’d have no idea he had the opportunity to go out and win Game 5 of the World Series and win us a World Series championship. You saw it from the get-go. He had swing-and-miss stuff all night. Cruz hit a pretty decent pitch out. And he bounced back and got us out there.”

A startling performance from Lincecum had Willie Mays and Barry Bonds smiling. The Giants had to play for a playoff spot on the last day of the regular-season, but now celebrates a shred of unparalleled history and compelled the wildest fans, roaring from the streets.

Every night, the Giants were well-balanced and featured a different star. From here on out, as long as San Francisco keeps Cain, a resemblance of Larry from the Three Stooges, and Lincecum, the Freak in baseball, then the Giants could be a viable frontrunner in the National League for many years to come.

By the end of the night, Renteria was named the Most Valuable Player of the series, he caressed the ball in his hands, he shed tears of joy and he celebrated with his teammates inside the clubhouse. It took five games, to dispatch the powerless Texas Rangers, a team with the inability of hitting in the World Series. It was telling that the Giants pitching staff was far more superior.

“This is for everybody who has ever worn a Giants uniform,” club president Larry Baer said, “for every fan who ever froze at Candlestick, for every person who ever voted for a new ballpark, for every person who listened to our games on the radio.

“It’s on behalf of 53 years of waiting.”

Thirteen-years ago, Renteria was on decline in the twilight stages of his career, but delivered the game-winning hit in the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins. As he continues to thrive in the later point of his proud livelihood in the majors, he smashed a three-run home run into the stands in the seventh-inning Monday night that gave the Giants a 3-0 lead.  

By the time Giants closer Brian Wilson retired the ninth on a strikeout of Nelson Cruz, the Giants poured onto the mound from the dugout, filled with tremendous felicity. By the time it ended, Posey hurled his mask and rushed towards Wilson and embraced a touching moment.

“You know, it’s a euphoric feeling that’s so hard to describe,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the euphoric moment. “For us to win for our fans, it’s never been done there, and with all those great teams…

“And what was neat through all this is Willie McCovey and Willie Mays, Will Clark, J.T. Snow, Shawon Dunston, all those guys that played on World Series teams, they were in the clubhouse, they were pulling for those guys.”

Well, they weren’t exactly in the clubhouse. In other words, they were rooting for the Giants.

Finally, the Giants erased the horrid, formidable memories of World Series droughts including losses in 1962, 1989 and 2002. This time, it was more empathetic and emotional and the Giants perfectly prevailed in the heaviest turnaround among a storied franchise, coming on a night when the team faced Cliff Lee, a pitcher who had been unhittable until this series.

He succumbed to Renteria in an elimination game, when he drove a cut fastball 397 feet into the left-center field stands and silenced a sellout crowd. Since then, the night turned somber. Since then, the Giants grasped a sense of aspiration.

In the history of the game, he’s the most clutch shortstop, if not the most clutch slugger.

In the past, the Giants were bothered by many imperfections for putting together a bizarre roster after a few erroneous decisions in which they endured mediocrity for keeping Bonds too long and lavishing Barry Zito with a $126 million contract. As a new era emerges, the Giants cast are flawless and have lifted into the spotlight for their surge in the postseason.

From the sensational hitting by Cody Ross, the rodeo clown, to Aubrey Huff, to Andres Torres, to Freddy Sanchez, to Juan Uribe the Giants were built as a championship-caliber team and drove through the postseason as darlings before being labeled champs.

Is it worth noting that Cain had a 0.00 ERA in three postseason starts?

Because of the dominance in the pitching staff, the Giants shut out Texas twice in five games. And much of it happened because of the invincibility of Lincecum and Cain. In the event that you weren’t paying attention, the rookie sensation Madison Bumgarner pitched eight shutout innings in Game 4.

The eight-inning, three-hit, 10 strikeout showpiece defined a breathtaking moment, but more telling, was that Cain proved dominant in the postseason. This team has done something special that McCovey and Mays and Juan Marichal has never, ever accomplished in the pinnacle of their careers.

“A lot of guys have been praying for this day who came up short in the early 2000s,” Lincecum said.

After years of failures, the Giants finally capitalized and transformed into champs. And seemingly, after a team endured futility and failed to win championships with Mays and McCovey or even with Bonds in 2002, which left the town mourning in despair, now they can jubilate and put the misery behind them.

On Election Day, San Francisco is dancing in joy.

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World Series 2010: San Francisco Giants’ Matt Cain Treats City To Party Near Bay

In a town that really knows how to party, Giants fans are throwing an after-party by the bay, thrilled by the San Francisco Giants‘ captivating turnaround. In every sense, the city has been a lively, festive place with Halloween looming ever closer and die-hard fans wearing costumes or rowing into McCovey Cove, the waterway near the gorgeous ballpark at the bay.

Every night has felt like a party in the Bay Area, and it has been fun to watch the World Series generate action-packed drama and a beautiful tale. On another pleasant night, the Giants ignited yet another party and continued their World Series awakening with nearly every swing. It’s no coincidence that the Giants are the best ballclub to return to the Fall Classic, hitting the Texas Rangers, a ballclub that shed the misery and gruesome memories of postseason failures, harder than ever when much is at stake.

The wildest and most raucous fans in the majors waved orange pom-poms in the stands and were even more exhilarated to cheer on a 9-0 shutout over the Rangers that gave the Giants a 2-0 series lead. For once Thursday night, the Giants were taken seriously and capped one of the most lopsided wins in recent World Series history.

What we learned after this game is that Matt Cain is the latest version of Mr. October. His curly hairstyle reminds us of Larry from the Three Stooges, but his untouchable pitches remind us of a Most Valuable Player. For six-plus innings, he looked spectacular and too lethal to outduel with his usual fastball and incredible calmness on the mound. He could easily be named the next World Series MVP courtesy of his superb pitching in the postseason if the Giants win a title.

The Rangers were 0-7 with runners in scoring position against Cain, who made a vivid statement that he is the best pitcher this fall, clearly better than Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum. As baseball’s next legend ripens before our very eyes, Cain is more than a talented pitcher, but a gifted pitcher within a franchise suddenly relishing a fascinating moment in recent memory.

As for Cain, of course, it was merely another flawless start, and he is still untouchable without allowing an earned run in the postseason. What should be memorable for the average Giants fan is that Cain has an astonishing 0.00 ERA. That is, of course, a rarity in the fall, but not when Cain is capable of throwing his fastballs on both sides of the plate, not when he wears an intimidating stare and shuts down the powerful lineup.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good situation,” said Cain. “We’ve just got to take that confidence and some of the good approaches that we’ve had into these last two games and take them down to Texas with us.”

When he left the game following 7 2/3 sterling innings, to be anointed with a standing ovation, he tipped his cap to the energized fan base, and one fan hoisted a sign that read, “Cain’t touch this.” There was even a sea of pom-poms wildly swinging to string together the craziest frenzy. Cain is barely 26, but is already close to winning his first World Series. He’s barely in his prime, but his legend is growing rapidly with a franchise that could eventually lavish him with an enormous deal.

With all the drama, he’s more valuable than Lincecum, the ace of the Giants who really isn’t the noteworthy ace but overshadowed by a more superior starter in the rotation. And finally this year, Cain, the longest-tenured Giant, is pitching a gem, not any longer relying on luck or talent. Last season, Cain was mentored by Randy Johnson, who taught him about being a starter. Cain must have listened; he is arguably the best pitcher on the Giants alongside Lincecum and the frightening closer Brian Wilson.

“He did a really good job of emphasizing to stay deep in the game…instead of trying to change the ball in different guys’ hands,” Cain said. “Not trying to say anything…but sometimes those guys might not be feeling good.”

This postseason, no one can match Cain’s resiliency and invincibility. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in his last 21.1 innings and owns a 2-0 record in his first three postseason starts. Thirty-five year old Edgar Renteria drove a fastball off C.J. Wilson over the left-field wall for a fifth-inning solo home run. But the real damage came in the eighth inning, the one inning that seemed to be a nightmare from Hell.  As Wilson was removed from the sixth with a blister, Cain found his moment to shine.

“He’s probably been our most consistent pitcher,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “He’s such a bulldog…He should be recognized.”

By now, he’s recognized.






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2010 World Series: Suddenly Cliff Lee Is Beatable In a Bizzare Catastrophe

If he’s not impeccable in the strike zone or doesn’t attack the plate with his breaking balls and vicious curveballs, then he’s not a godlike specimen. Every so often, he exposes his human side and misses the strike zone or allows unearned runs in a perplexing fashion.

It was absolutely a nightmarish night in San Francisco, at a moment when much was a stake. Very rarely does Cliff Lee diminish on the mound amid the grandest stage in baseball.

It couldn’t have come at a worse time near the Bay in one of the most demoralizing World Series games, a contest that Lee desires to erase eternally, a contest he badly blundered and a contest where vulnerability revealed a rampant turn of events.

This, of course, wasn’t the time or place to perform the choke job, but it simply happened and he suddenly threw abnormally. Sometimes, the ripple effect of his customary command isn’t nearly dynamic, but it’s eccentric anytime he surrenders hits against his opponents. Sometimes, it just isn’t the night to be an invincible ace on the mound.

So what happened to the unhittable Lee?

He simply stumbled in the electric confines of AT&T Park, with the crowd waving orange pom-poms. Texas manager Ron Washington yanked arguably the best pitcher in baseball, in the middle of the fifth inning when Lee wore a distraught, solicitous stare.

This was, after all, the most scrutinized outing in his near-perfect career, serving as a significant element in the Texas Rangers‘ beautiful story and turnaround season.

On a shaky night, he allowed the Giants to compile double-digit runs and steal Game 1 in a decisive 11-7 win.

Without his flawless command, he was bullied on the mound and never had rhythm of his pitches, partly for falling behind in the count and having trouble executing his scintillating, hanging curveball.

Nolan Ryan left the ballpark speechless, confounded after a mysterious game that had everyone wondering what exactly happened to Lee. It was his first postseason loss in nine starts in which the Giants assembled brilliant hitting and took advantage of Lee’s bungles.

Was this a hangover? Maybe.

But more frightening was Lee’s inability to retire his opponents, leaving pitches in the middle of the strike zone or giving up walks on his frequent misses over the plate.

The biggest disappointment for the most intriguing pitcher in the majors happened so quickly in the fifth. Moments later, an erratic performance turned disastrous as Lee continued to have difficulty locating his fastball, had defects in throwing his cutters, and had glitches tossing his unpredictable and unhittable curveball.

“I was a little erratic and trying to find it,” Lee said. “For whatever reason, I couldn’t get consistent locating pitches. That’s the games where you’ve got to go to Plan B and battle, and that’s what I was trying to do. They made me throw a ton of pitches, and in that fifth inning I’ve got to do a better job with damage control.”

He has to locate his fastballs and stay composed, too. Or else it will be a long series for a ball club that has endured four decades of anguish, now aiming to win its first World Series in franchise history.

Before the opener of the Fall Classic, Lee was impressive and extraordinary of throwing the ball over the plate to strike out his opponents. He was divine during the regular-season and had never been described as dazed or confused on the mound, as if he was a minor-leaguer trying to find his way in the big leagues.

His numbers in the regular season were staggering alone, but in the Fall Classic he wasn’t careful in the strike zone and had a disastrous fifth inning. However, in the regular season, 71.2 percent of his pitches were strikes, the highest number for any starter in 11 years. Prior to the World Series, in three postseason starts, he was spectacular and threw strikes 71.3 percent of the time.

Rarely did an opponent assemble a remarkable shred of hitting. Rarely, if any, did Lee surrender seven earned runs in a game. His earned run average was 1.26, trailing only Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson, until he pitched poorly in the World Series and now has an ERA of 11.57.

“This is exactly what we wanted,” outfielder Cody Ross said. “We wanted to beat him.”

And they did just that.

“We wanted to beat whoever was on the mound,” he said. “It could have been Cy Young.”

He certainly didn’t have Cy Young stuff on this night.

Either way, that is, Lee is just as beatable as the next big-name ace. Never has there been a horrifying scene this horrendous, but on this occasion, he was hittable subsequently for giving up seven runs on eight hits, including five doubles.

At the end of the season, he’ll be the hottest free agent on the market and has already been in consideration of signing an eight-year, $160 million deal from the Yankees.

But after the left-hander morphed into a defenseless ace and had trouble revoking danger, he has to prove that he’s still worthy of pocketing valuable cash by next spring. Which I still believe he is targeted as a top free agent in the market this offseason and could fittingly suit a developing rotation. Assuming he’ll stay in Texas next season, Lee is a reliable ace even if he had one formidable outing.  

“I expect to be successful every time I take the mound,” Lee said.

I’d imagine, especially in his contract year.

“Everybody has such high expectations of Cliff,” Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton said. “Cliff has such high expectations of himself. We know what kind of pitcher he is. We know he can dominate a game. But he’s human, too. He didn’t have a bad performance tonight. He had a normal pitcher’s performance, but he’s not a normal pitcher either.”

True, he’s not a normal pitcher. No one is for that matter. But he is expected to perform brilliantly as if he’s an unhittable perfectionist. For a change, the Giants hit Lee harder than ever.

Along came the fifth inning, when they shredded him and manufactured runs to quickly erase the Rangers’ 2-0 lead, he saw his night shrink and end all so miserably. Of all the games, after he hadn’t allowed a run in 16 innings, he blew it. His relief Darren O’Day suddenly stepped onto the mound and blew it, too, and yielded a three-run homer to Juan Uribe.

As for the Giants, Freddy Sanchez had three doubles in his first three at-bats, not to mention that Huff finished 2-for-3 against Lee and Cody Ross had an RBI single. Even worse, the Giants were 5-of-10 with runners in scoring position against Lee.

What a strange night.

He failed to tie Bob Gibson. But it clearly wasn’t about individual feats, and was instead about prevailing in an urgent game. He couldn’t last seven innings for the first time in seven starts. For all we know, he could have been a bit fatigued and worn down.

“You’ve got to give credit to their hitters,” said Lee. I didn’t work ahead in the count…I was missing with my fastball. I was missing with my cutter…I missed out over the plate…It’s not acceptable.”

For a guy who is very hard on himself, he sure seems ready to rebound from such a devastating blow. Knowingly, he won’t have an encore of meltdowns.

It was just a bad night. After all, he is human.

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World Series 2010: San Francisco Giants Prevail On a Scary, Tense Night

It really is a mesmerizing ballclub, not because the wildest crowd in San Francisco swings orange towels to erupt in a crazed frenzy, and not because the Giants closer Brian Wilson wears a beard to initiate a catchy mantra that has fans chanting “FEAR THE BEARD,” but they are an amazing ballclub because the Giants comprise of all the components to produce an epic classic.

Even in this culture where baseball is seen as an uneventful sport, the Giants captivated our attention with postseason dominance and a glamorous cast. With all the star power in these playoffs, the Giants clinched the National Championship Series, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in a compelling, dramatic masterpiece at Citizens Bank Park.

In the end, as elated as the Giants were, the guys darted into the clubhouse and celebrated a remarkable win. It was a mammoth celebration inside the clubhouse, as the players popped the corks and were drenched with champagne to rejoice in triumph. The storyline eventually emerged as a miracle, and the Giants managed to outweigh the Phillies and accomplished the improbable, one nobody expected this postseason.

Once it all ended, the Giants gathered collectively in the infield, hugging and celebrating wildly over winning the pennant. Instantly, a nerve-racking, horror night turned into a mournful night at the ballpark where an enthusiastic crowd went silent. Never mind the nightmarish scene in the bottom of the third from Jonathan Sanchez. Never mind that the benches emptied and heads exploded when the left-hander had no outs in the third, and unintentionally hit Phillies second baseman Chase Utley on an errant pitch.

From there, the Giants rushed to the mound as well as the Phillies to provoke an altercation in the infield. Even though Sanchez lost composure and yelled at Utley, the Giants somehow avoided a nightmare when manager Bruce Bochy yanked Sanchez only two batters into the third inning as the game rapidly started to unravel. With the score tied 2-2, Jeremy Affeldt was summoned and cleaned up a disastrous episode.

It was the smartest transition to call on the bullpen, successful in rescuing the Giants from a jammed inning when Affeldt fanned two Phillies in two perfect innings of relief. It wasn’t long before Bochy summoned another reliever to keep the contest within scoring distance, and decided to call Madison Bumgarner to the mound, putting tremendous pressure on the 21-year-old left-hander who escaped with two scoreless innings.

Much of the night, Bochy gambled and juggled with his bullpen and even brought in his starter Tim Lincecum. It was a reckless move, given that he had thrown 104 pitches two nights before. In the closing moments, Wilson, the most underrated closer in the game, ended the Phillies season. This time, he viciously stared at Ryan Howard and struck out the Phillies star looking on a fastball. These days, however, Howard’s inability to drive in runs remains obscure.

“I wanted it to be like that,” Wilson said. “I want to face their best hitter and (be) one pitch from possibly losing.”

But either way, the credit still goes to the Giants.

It wasn’t pretty, but they still prevailed. It wasn’t expected, but it was possible. And it happened.

In clarity, the Phillies produced 97 wins in the regular season for the most wins in baseball, and the Giants defeated arguably the best team in baseball. The Phillies won the National League pennant last season, and the Giants delayed a charming moment. In this series, the power vanished, the home runs descended, the vulnerability increased and the Phillies stumbled. It happened instantly in the eighth inning for the Giants, a moment they witnessed glory when Juan Uribe belted a home run to take a 3-2 lead.

“I feel good when I hit the ball,” Uribe said. “I know the ball go [when hit to right field].” 

It wasn’t a chaotic dispute that took place, but a moment of solidarity and no one exchanged punches.

Fairly, the Giants are no longer tortured, but near-invincible after Saturday night. They are now the National League champs, winning their first pennant since 2002. There will be thousands waiting at the beautiful ballpark in San Francisco, to embrace a refreshing moment for a franchise that has channeled emotion and assurance.

Who ever thought the Giants would reach such a climax, after having to play for a playoff berth on the last day of the season. What they have overcome is truly unbelievable, considering that the Giants almost missed out on all the excitement and fun this postseason.

“I can imagine the streets of San Francisco,” Wilson said.

Yes sir, the streets are wild near the shores of the bay.

Amazingly, the Giants are seeking to win their first World Series since 1954.

It’s possible.  

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Believe It, the Polished San Francisco Giants on Verge of Superiority

There are moments, often times in the postseason that legends are born and stories are written, when a team is most noticeable for assembling a spectacular sequence in October. Just a few weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants were seen in a tight, tense race with the San Diego Padres, but clinched a playoff berth and since then the club has been a magical story in a wonderful reemergence.

It’s nice to envision a potential World Series involving the Giants, a polished ballclub located near arguably one of the most famous bridges and nearby the hilly streets where trolleys roam. If this has been a dull season, it certainly seems as if the Giants enriched the essence of a sport in oblivion. It would be the most epic narrative in baseball, bigger than the exhilarating joyride in 2002 when Barry Bonds anchored the coolest lineup in team history, if the Giants are successful and arouse us with a miracle.

It can happen, now that San Francisco controls its own destiny in the National League Championship Series, to place fear in the hearts of Philly fans who believed in the Philadelphia Phillies for building a vicious pitching staff. The most successful project, nevertheless, turns out to be incompetent for the Phillies, while the rest of us ignored and underestimated the Giants collection of a talented pitching staff.

The night eventually ended when Juan Uribe hit a game-winning sacrifice fly off reliever Roy Oswalt with one out in the ninth inning, and suddenly a distressing night erupted in the wildest, craziest, and electric towel-swinging celebration in the stands. Filled with elation, the crowd witnessed a San Francisco Treat on the night the Giants inched a game closer to immortality, one win away from returning to the World Series for the first time since 2002.

At game’s end, the Giants secured a 6-5 win in Game 4 of the NLCS that gave the ballclub a commanding 3-1 lead. If there was something striking during the contest, it was the Giants capability to dauntlessly outplay the Phillies on Pablo Sandoval’s go-ahead double in the sixth. The powerful bat of the Kung Fu Panda is truly a component to the Giants in order to survive and possibly win a title, and certainly his lethal hitting contributed in a dynamic finish.

It wouldn’t be fair to deny that San Francisco exhibit parity and vividly has sturdy weapons to withstand the challenge this fall. Suddenly, the Phillies are vulnerable of losing and looked unbeatable coming into the NLCS with three unhittable aces in the top of the rotation.

But as it seems, the Giants rotation has outdueled the Phillies high-profile aces, untouchable with a pair of aces in Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, the Freak of nature who had a sensational 14 strikeout extravaganza in a Game 1 win. The Giants had a stretch of 18 games allowing three or fewer runs, the longest streak since 1917. And on such an astonishing night, the reliability of an unmatched pitching staff prevailed as well as the splendid hitting.    

He’s known for swinging wildly at every pitch, but it was one particular at-bat that may have been enormous for rediscovering his swagger and producing some runs. If he was in the twilight of choking in the greatest series of his lifetime, Sandoval finally vanquished a displeasing slump. For once in the series, he sizzled on the most exciting hit, he had his ebullient demeanor and he came alive with a championship on the line. For once, he played as if he was a ferocious Panda, fiercely anxious to eliminate the Phillies in an unimaginable story.

The injury of his painful left wrist kept Uribe out of two games, but he wasn’t bothered by the soreness and somehow swung on a fastball to notch the game-winning hit. It happened to be a bone-chilling night at AT&T Park, but the feverish spectators weren’t quivering from the chills. Instead, the Giants faithful were intensified and impressed of rookie catcher Buster Posey. Each time he appeared at the plate, he was very disciplined and had patience, and had four hits batting in the cleanup spot.

It certainly was the best game of his impressive career, in a contest he drove in the Giants first two runs with two outs in the first and third inning to set the tone early, even though they lost the lead at one point. As he clearly changed the complexion of the game in the late innings with a critical hit in the ninth, Posey lifted his batting average from 0.91 to .313 and stopped a run from scoring on a dramatic play at home plate in the fifth. As it happened, center fielder Aaron Rowand perfectly threw on a short hop to Posey and tagged out Carlos Ruiz at home. What a night, a night indeed of a growing team, which could very well muster a dynasty just as they manufacture runs.

“What a great night he had,” Bruce Bochy said of his rookie phenom.

So he really is part of the Giants future arrangements after all, a versatile catcher with strength in his bat and speed to run the bases. So are Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, two studs who gave the Giants runs earlier in the series. There is a sense, of course, that Ross is the slugger of this team, the man who dreamed of being a rodeo clown as a kid. But instead, he’s most famous in the majors, the accidental star claimed off waivers in recent weeks, and wasn’t nearly as transcendent or valuable in the Giants lineup.

Once it ended, Uribe felt relieved and surely endured the pain. And the win alone may have eased the pain a bit, heckled by ecstatic teammates as the fireworks brightened up the clear skies. At the age of 31, Uribe, who was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, won a crucial one for the Giants and Posey was needful in many ways. As a newborn player, he was the first Giants rookie to muster four hits in a playoff game since Freddy Lindstorm in 1924.

Asked about his emotions following the game-winning hit, he clearly was overjoyed and celebrated the moment with his teammates.

“I got a whole lot of happy,” he said.

Sure, he did.

On the brink of elimination, the Phillies are sending Roy Halladay, who incredibly pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds and piloted Philadelphia past the first round. But then, Lincecum will take the mound against the Phillies ace and will try to close it out at home. It wasn’t too pleasant for the Phillies to glimpse at Aubrey Huff on third base and suddenly watch a 5-5 tie vanish in the favor of the Giants in the ninth.

For the moment, it is sensible to assume that the Giants will win the series, unless a major collapse happens. You never know. Given the prior history, though, the Giants win.

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NLCS Game 3: Matt Cain Evolves Into Unhittable Surprise as Giants Seem Worthy

From the moment the orange towels swung wildly in a city that hasn’t tasted this much gratification in some time now, the San Francisco Giants terrified their opponents and survived in a scoreless display to convince the world.

On a Tuesday afternoon at AT&T Park where the clamorous crowd roared crazily and witnessed the improbable, the home run king Barry Bonds watched and cheered from a front-row seat, along with the obnoxious mascot Lou Seal bustling above the Giants’ dugout. It was intensely a sensational duel between two of the most dominant pitchers in the postseason, but only one survived and outdueled his counterpart in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

When it was over, Matt Cain had delivered a transcendent outing and retired opposing batters early with three scoreless innings to shut out the Phillies and capped a 3-0 win for a 2-1 lead in the series. If anything, it would be an understatement to discount the Giants, fortunate to have a resplendent pitching rotation with a trio of unhittable hurlers Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Cain.

But now, after controlling an inconceivable lead in an endearing series, after startling the Phillies with a fiery swagger to perpetuate the upper hand and after outpitching arguably the most successful rotation in baseball, the Giants veered into position to fulfill the unthinkable.

But easily, the Giants are the scariest ballclub in the majors anytime Cain takes the mound and throws heaters to cause misery. Suddenly, now is the time to worship the Giants for incredibly putting fear in the hearts of the Phillies. Twice in the postseason, the emphasis of the undaunted Cain has changed the framework and solidified the rotation, playing a critical role in the Giants quest to World Series.

And yet there is a shred of reality that San Francisco can prevail, as well as pull off the miracle in the World Series, Cain will likely be a favorable candidate to win the Most Valuable Player award. And such a feat is possible, of course, as long as the Giants win. If not for Cain, the team from the Bay Area probably wouldn’t own the lead in this series. The repertoire of solid pitching and enough oomph in the hitting department is all the needed ingredients to survive in a series as underdogs.

Coming into the series alone, the Giants were expected to lose, but with a glimpse of positive vibes and momentum, they won’t go down without a fight. Fueled by a rodeo clown’s otherworldly hitting, Cody Ross shifts the dynamics and enriched upon his incredible legacy in the postseason. Simply put, he’s a true baseball star more than a rodeo clown, a reliable and durable slugger who is keeping the Giants’ sluggish hitting alive each time he appears at bat.

Each time he deposits a fastball into the stands or drops a single into the field, he is credited for rescuing the Giants, considering that Cain saves the day pitching adequately. As it seems in each game, he has sizzled and drilled three homers in the first two games in Philadelphia, including an RBI single in Game 3 to break a scoreless tie. It never felt as if the fans were witnessing a circus, but instead it had an electric buzz as enthusiast chanted “Cody! “Cody!”

“He plays with no fear,” Giants manager Bruce Botchy said. “That’s what you like about the guy.”

But even greater, it was a signature win in a masterful game for the 26-year-old right hander. All of his pitches are nasty, vicious and unhittable, and as it turned out, he delivered in a critical game to vanquish the Phillies and outrival Hamels. What fun it is watching a ripening star in the Giants future arrangements, and fittingly a tandem alongside Lincecum. What fun it is for Giants faithful to cheer on the spectacular thrower.

“He went about his business because Game 3, as everyone talks about, is the most important game of a [seven-game] series,” Giants closer Brian Wilson said.

And he certainly was all business in a seven-inning, two-hit shutout. When he took the mound in the first inning, he furiously looked unbeatable and tough to hit. Clearly, he’s the hottest right-hander in these playoffs and won seven of his last eight starts, and 12 of his last 15.

That’s flawless.

Even more flawless is that he ranked sixth in the NL this year, holding opponents to a .221 batting average. His teammates gave him the nickname “Shotgun” a long time ago, and indeed he throws heaters on the mound and could be very intimidating. In the third inning, he allowed a one-out single to Carlos Ruiz and then accidently nailed Shane Victorino in the ribs with two outs, but controlled his command of pitches when he forced Chase Utley to ground out to shortstop.

The next inning, he yielded a one-out single to Ryan Howard, and walked Jayson Werth on the following play. But he still managed to avoid a disastrous inning and made Jimmy Rollins fly out to left, and then struck out Raul Ibanez on his breaking curveball. Finally, he snapped his horrid numbers lifetime against the Phillies, ridding a 0-3 record with a 6.23 ERA.

The Giants investing in a promising ace in the first-round of the 2002 draft, the year the Giants last appeared in the World Series, certainly paid off for a team on a mission.

Thanks in large part to the young right-hander.      

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NLCS 2010: Cody Ross Not a Clown, But a Gigantic Star for Misfit Giants

It’s easy to cheer when your team is the Giants, a town awaiting a charming moment, a town awaiting a miracle, a town awaiting a celebration in the Bay Area. Earlier this season, when a refreshing moment hardly seemed far-fetched, the San Francisco Giants mounted into a premier ballclub with the grandest turnaround as an uneventful sport enticed a large crowd near the Golden Gate Bridge.

As good as this season has been for a team riding an impressive journey, which redefines the promise of a coveted ballclub, the recent progress in terms of reaching a pinnacle is entirely a feel-good story. Now that the Giants are capable of stunning the world, the uncertainty of hope dwindles while the certainty of tangibility becomes rational.

A night that a pitching duel generated much hype as the most exciting matchup wasn’t as anticipated some of you were wishing to witness a superlative duel between two marquee pitchers on a night the Giants managed to secure a 4-3 win at Citizen Bank Park.

The significance of this win can be described as an understatement, even though it was only the first game of the best-of-seven series and a convincing win that can be the Phillies worst nightmare in the end.

Even if the duel between former Cy Young winners Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum were actually meant to tell a tale in October, however it was very telling that the Giants told a remarkable tale.

Weeks ago, the Giants weren’t considered to leap into contention nor were they expected to beat the Phillies, a team that were swept in the division series three years ago. It wasn’t long ago when the Phillies won its first World Series title in 28 years.

But after one game, the Giants seem as if they are the franchise that can smudge the Phillies’ dream of celebrating another championship. In a contest that the Phillies were heavily favored, the Giants were resilient.

They were aggressive on the bases, bravely seizing control in a hostile environment. They were dominating offensively, compiling runs off Phillies ace. And lastly, they were intimidating and weren’t terrified of Halladay, the most convenient addition at the front of the Phillies rotation.

Even as the vast majority believes the Phillies can survive this series, the Giants believe just as much now that they’ve had a productive outing against Halladay, the probable NL Cy Young winner who had a perfect game earlier this season and a no-hitter in his most recent outing in the Division Series against the Reds.

If you somehow gather runs against an unhittable ace in Game 1 of the NLCS, it gives your team confidence. So this, by far, gives the Giants hopefulness as Game 2 looms ever quickly. But the greater story is essentially Cody Ross. It seems the accidental Giant isn’t a mistake after all.

Six weeks ago, he was accidentally claimed off waivers to keep him from joining San Diego. And not long ago, he took much criticism following a game against Colorado, when an awkward triple sailed over his head to cost the Giants a pivotal game. It wasn’t quite long ago when he spent ample time warming the bench, used as a spot starter, pinch-hitter or pinch-runner.

Shortly after, he substituted in right when Jose Guillen sustained an injured neck. To his credit, he was informed that he’ll be the everyday right fielder and has been exemplary ever since. It was clear that Giants manager Bruce Bochy trusted in his outfielder.

For now, at least, he isn’t the rodeo clown but a beneficiary in a sluggish lineup, currently lacking production at the plate. But it wasn’t the pitching duel worth witnessing, not on a night when Ross homered with one out in the third for a commanding 1-0 lead and snapped Halladay’s 12th consecutive hitless inning streak.

In his second at-bat, Ross crushed a homer again to give the Giants a 2-1 lead. Unbelievably, he connected in each of his plate appearances and belted two home runs off Halladay, the perfectionist in baseball. As the No. 8 hitter in the batting order, Ross desired being a rodeo clown when he was a kid, but even greater, he became a valuable piece to a team on the mission to win a World Series title.

Beyond all the captivating debates about a dynamic pitching duel, Ross was the turning point and has been surging of late, with three homers and an RBI single in four consecutive plate appearances. While all the hype circles Lincecum vs. Halladay, Ross has given the Giants the lead three times and tied one of the games in the postseason.

At the beginning, Halladay was unhittable and had solid throwing mechanics and command of his pitches, forcing Andre Torres to fly out to center field. The first seven batters were retired, but then eventually Ross crushed a fastball into the stands in left-center field.

With an endearing upstart for the Giants, the Dodgers and Marlins are feeling sorry, no doubt. Ross, coming off a momentous week in the NLDS, had imprinted his signature in a must-needed win.

There weren’t any similarities like in Lincecum’s last outing, but he still lasted seven innings and surrendered six hits and three walks and struck out eight. A remarkable, strikeout performance wasn’t necessary for capturing an imperative win, but the Giants relied on Ross’ sizzling hits.

As for Lincecum, he arrived in his first ever postseason start and fanned 14 batters in his Game 1 NLDS win. It was almost forgotten early with his inability to locate the mound and keep control of his command, and although he never had his best stuff, somehow he still managed to retire opposing batters.

It was very foolish of the Dodgers and Marlins to give away a valuable hitter in Ross, formerly known as a utility outfielder, now known as an everyday star. By now, we realize a star is born. Just like that, quicker than a fastball traveling at 100 mph, Ross has emerged into stardom.

“We thought it would be a close game, which it was. It’s a long series here. And it’s a start. And that’s all it is right now,” Bochy said after his Giants surprisingly won in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

The decision to obtain Ross was very surprising, and happened as soon as the Marlins lost interest in which he wasn’t an element worth holding onto, basically for his blunders and hitting deficiencies that have improved mightily. The requests increasingly were made by the Padres, who expressed interest in the outfielder, but since San Diego had been trailing in the NL West, the Giants denied the Padres of acquiring Ross.

With much at stake, Pat Burrell and Ross were said to be insufficient and useless, but the impact both are having in the postseason is hard to imagine. Earlier this season, Burrell was ineffective and degenerating, sent to Triple-A and Ross was still a member of the Florida Marlins.

By the time the Rays released Burrell in May, he was hitting .202 with two homers in 84 at-bats. And now, as the Giants are verified as underdogs, Burrell has hit .266 with 18 home runs in 289 at-bats with San Francisco. Greater than the recent progress of Burrell, Ross has enhanced to .288 with three home runs in 73 at-bats as a member of the Giants.

Midway in the contest, Halladay gaffed after he retired the first two batters, but strangely lost his command of the strike zone and his cool on the mound in the sixth inning. Next thing, he yielded a single to Buster Posey and eventually Burrell smashed an RBI double that drove to the left field wall, which extended the Giants’ lead to 3-1.

A beloved icon is evolving before our very eyes in San Francisco. He’s the Freak with the long hair and fast delivery to intimidate his batters, as he did against the Phillies potent batting lineup.

But as of now, everybody should be raving about the rodeo clown who is now known as more than a rodeo clown. He is known as baseball star.

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