So awesome. So. AWESOME!

There’s something special about playoff baseball that just kicks so much ass.

The intensity goes through the roof! It doesn’t matter which team is playing, the ante is always higher the later and later we get into fall.

Last round, I went 0-2, dropping me to 3-3 this season. Good, I’m glad.

How unpredictable has this postseason been? Who knew the Rangers and Giants would be playing in the World Series as they send the Phillies and Yankees—the last two teams to win the Series, as well as the last two teams to participate in the last two seasons—home empty-handed?

I sure as hell didn’t. I said from day one, Phillies over Yankees in the WS. Glad I’m wrong. These playoffs have been incredible to watch. Fortunately, it’s the World Series. Unfortunately, playoff baseball is ending in 4-7 games.

Behold the schedule…in all its glory:

Game 1: TEX@SF – Oct 27 7:57pm
TEX: LHP Cliff Lee
SF: RHP Tim Lincecum

Game 2: TEX@SF – Oct 28 7:57pm
TEX: LHP C.J. Wilson
SF: RHP Matt Cain

Game 3: SF@TEX – Oct 30 6:57pm
SF: LHP Jonathan Sánchez
TEX: RHP Colby Lewis

Game 4: SF@TEX – Oct 31 8:20pm
SF: LHP Madison Bumgarner
TEX: RHP Tommy Hunter

Game 5: SF@TEX – Nov 1 7:57pm
SF: RHP Tim Lincecum
TEX: LHP Cliff Lee

Game 6: TEX@SF – Nov 3 7:57pm
TEX: LHP C.J. Wilson
SF: RHP Matt Cain

Game 7: TEX@SF – Nov 4 7:57pm
TEX: RHP Colby Lewis
SF: LHP Jonathan Sánchez

Game 1. Cliff Lee. Tim Lincecum. I’m not making this up. And if there is a god, we get to see this again in Game 5.

It’s going to be a *terrible* series for TV, but for baseball fans and enthusiasts, they’ve been salivating over it for days. Neither the Giants nor the Rangers were supposed to get this far, but both have proven they deserve it. The Giants are gunning for their first championship since 1954, while the Rangers are going for their first one ever. Both crowds are going to be bananas.

How’s this for karma? Coming into this season, the Giants have not won a World Series Championship in 52 seasons. The Rangers went 49 years without even a postseason series win, let alone a World Series appearance. These two teams account for two of the top four clubs with the longest World Series Championship droughts. Add them up, and what do you get? 101, the number of years the Cubs have been waiting. That damn goat!


We BeLEEve!

I’m going to throw some stats at you, just to show you how unfair this is.

In eight postseason starts, Cliff Lee is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA. Only Sandy Koufax and Christy Mathewson have a lower ERA among pitchers with at least five starts in the postseason.

He’s the first pitcher ever with three straight postseason games of at least 10 strikeouts. He has five 10-strikeout games in his postseason career; one more and he’ll be the only one ever with six, passing legend Randy Johnson. Lee had 30 strikeouts in between walks, another postseason record. There have been eight postseason games in history in which a pitcher has struck out 10 and walked none; Lee has four of them.

This dude is dirty. He’s got a solid fastball, jams hitters inside, and has an outstanding curve and cutter. You know he’s throwing strikes, but you can’t do anything about it. Lee will be on more than full rest for Game 1 (as per all starts), but can he go on short rest if he has to, something he’s never done in the postseason?



The Giants’ starting pitching is very good, but with one “Giant” hazard (so to speak): Jonathan Sanchez.  He lasted only two innings in Game 6. If he’s again caught up with the different release points of all his pitches, he’s going to be wild and will walk/hit a bunch. Such an issue is non-existent with the Rangers’ No. 3 starter, Colby Lewis, who dominated the Yankees twice in the ALCS.

Both teams had solid pens in the regular season, but the Giants get the edge in the postseason (the Rangers imploded against the Yankees, and the Giants relieved seven innings when Sanchez was pulled after two-plus).

RHP Brian Wilson became the fourth pitcher to win or save four games in one postseason series. His postseason game plan has been low, outside fastballs until he gets two strikes, followed by a breaking ball strike. He’s been lights-out.

Both teams have great lefty relievers, but the Giants will need help from their righty setup men—they were good in the regular season, but were unsteady by the end of the NLCS, thus, Lincecum’s relief appearance in Game 6.


How did THEY get here?

Many people are asking how the Giants got here.

Statistically, they don’t belong—they’re not a good defensive team. They aren’t patient at the dish, and they don’t steal.

They’ve got good pop from No. 1-8 in the order, but is that it? They don’t get many hits, but the ones they do get are key, critical base knocks at exactly the right time.

Proof? They’ve won six games by one run in this postseason, tying a record for the most one-run wins in a single postseason. But that’s exactly the way their team is built—the team is primarily composed of castoffs and misfits from other teams. As third-base coach Tim Flannery says, “They’re Street Fighters.”


Oh…well then, who invited THEM?

The Rangers’ offense has been the primary reason why they’ve gotten to the Fall Classic. In this postseason, they have hit 17 home runs and stolen 16 bases. They’ve homered in 11 consecutive postseason games, one short of the record set by the Astros in ’04 . They beat the Yankees four times by at least five runs, the second team ever to do that in a seven-game series.

They’ve got a ton of pop, too–OFs Josh Hamilton hit four bombs in the LCS, and Nelson Cruz has five this postseason.

The big thing that I’ve been stressing for years is finally being showcased—speed wins ballgames! Take Rangers’ SS Elvis Andrus for example. He runs constantly. Even if he doesn’t steal, his speed intimidates pitchers and throws them off their game, as they constantly have that stolen base threat staring right at them. Andrus even scored on an infield ground out while at second base. And it doesn’t end there: Cruz, Hamilton, Kinsler, Murphy, Francoeur and Young are all good-to-excellent runners, just to name a few.

This team runs the bases exceptionally well, and they’ve even managed to turn C Benjie Molina into a (more) aggressive runner. And what does poor pitcher concentration lead to? Poor pitches. And what do poor pitches lead to? See Hamilton and Cruz, above.

Finally, the Rangers have scored 59 runs in 11 postseason games. They scored 36 runs against the Yankees in the ALCS. San Francisco has scored 24 runs this entire postseason.


Cody Ross 4 Prez

Fate, destiny. Whatever you want to call it, it’s thrown around a lot. But the Giants can certainly make a claim for being the team of destiny.

It’s hard to explain, but sometimes when the bounces go your way, the bounces go your way. And when they don’t, they don’t—you can’t do much about that, either.

The Giants have been lucky to get a lot of little benefits throughout the 2010 postseason. Case in point: Game 6 of the NLCS against the Phillies, where Andres Torres got a perfect bounce off the center field wall to stop Jimmy Rollins from scoring.

If you’re talking destiny, let’s look at Cody Ross’ story—he’s claimed on waivers because the Giants didn’t want him to go to the rival Padres, essentially a blocking claim. He drove in seven runs in 73 at-bats with an over-crowded Giants’ outfield. Then he hit four home runs, two in one game off Roy Halladay, and drove in eight runs, slugging .794 in the postseason with a .362 average against changeups.  I defy any rational explanation for this.

Stories like Ross’ are so incredibly rare in every other sport—there’s no way the 11th man on an NBA team ends up as the best player in any playoff series—but in baseball, it happens constantly. He’s been the reason why Giants have made it this far. Key hits at the right time. Oh yeah, Ross wanted to be a rodeo clown as a kid.

But, Cody Ross isn’t going to hit a home run every night. The unlikely NLCS star is great at breaking up no-hitters, but nobody else is getting on base in front of him. All four of Ross’ home runs have come with the bases empty.


Final Thoughts

The true winner: Benjie!

The rotund backstop gets a World Series ring regardless of whether he wins or loses. Talk about having your “bases” covered! He is about to become the first catcher in baseball history to appear in the Fall Classic against a team he played for earlier in the season.

Molina, with the Giants since 2007, played 61 games for San Fran in 2010, was then dealt to Texas for RHP Chris Ray and a minor leaguer, then played 57 games for Texas during the regular season.

He’s also been solid in the postseason, batting .333 with two homers and seven RBIs in nine games. He belted a three-run shot against the Yankees in Game 4 of the ALCS that helped propel them to the big dance.

Ray, a reliever who pitched well for both teams, could also end up with a ring regardless who wins, although the Giants haven’t put him on their playoff rosters. Does Molina hold a wild card when it comes to knowing the Giants’ pitching tendencies?

The team of destiny is the Lone Star. I’ve doubted them from the beginning, and they continue to make me look stupid. This ends now. I keep looking for a reason to think the Giants are going to win, and I keep coming up empty. This is going to be an outstanding series, an absolute thriller, but Texas comes out on top.


Pick: Rangers in 7

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