This is what my buddy Tony Sackman had to say after the Giants clinched the NL Pennant:
I dont remember who I was talking to about this, it may have been you (it was). Before the NLCS, I was talking to someone about the Giants and how because they’ve been so torturous all season and through the division series that would be a strength for Giants. The Phillies, dissimilarly, beat up on the Reds relatively easy, with the one exception an error aided comeback win in the NLDS Game 2. I think the most stressful thing the Phils went through that whole series was in the late innings of Game 1, dealing with whether or not Doc was going to go the distance with a big fat zero in the hit column. It’s hard to say whether or not after that dominating performance in Game 1 the Phanatics were already looking to the AL scoreboard, and who they were going to face in the Fall Classic. Decisively beating up on the champions of the lowly NL central encouraged thoughts that the Phillies were going to cruise to the NL pennant.
Then when San Francisco came to town, they hit a road block in the form of a bunch of misfits know as the Giants. For the first time I am actually happy there is an east coast bias. Nobody knew who or what the Giants were doing in the playoffs, let alone the NLCS. In fact, I can guarantee that during the national playoff broadcasts, there were a lot of people outside of San Francisco asking, “Who are these players and what are they doing here?” I guess they can take a page out of the New Orleans Saints recipe book and say WHO DAT? But back to my original point, the "torture" the Giants put us (the fans) through all season turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Grinding out wins is what playoff baseball is all about. The Giants had played from behind, won 1 run games, and scrapped for runs every week of the season. This was nothing new for them and, I believe, a big reason they won. Great pitching will always neutralize great hitting.
PaapFly: I pretty much agree with everything Tony says here. The Giants did fly under the radar all season long. They always seem to. Aside from Lincecum, whose electrified baseball fans across the country with his wicked windup, barista/ skater kid appearance and back-to-back Cy Young awards, the Giants players have been pretty low key. I think their ability to know how to stay focused, not panic and always know that their pitching will keep them in games likely helps them when it comes to these October nail biters. This team is impossible not to fall in love with, plain and simple.
Now for some of his questions, and my initial thoughts:
Tony: Who do the Giants DH for the three games in Texas? I don’t think we can DH Burrell, even though he hasn’t been very formidable at the plate as of late. His history in Tampa Bay should negate any thoughts of doing so.
Me: I am going to have to disagree here. Not in that they shouldn’t DH Burrell necessarily, but that he can’t DH. I think he wasn’t comfortable in a sustained DH role, perhaps, for whatever reason. But, I don’t think it should affect a guy over just three games. But, two of three games in Texas will be against right handed pitching. Because of this, I think Bochy will probably go with Pablo as DH and the normal alignment otherwise. That will be against Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter. In game five, they’ll be up against Cliff Lee again. Maybe they’ll try Rowand in center, Torres - a hopefully healthy Torres, I might add - in right and Ross in left.
Tony: I also like the addition of Scheirholtz replacing Pat in late innings for defense.
Me: Me too. I can’t recall when it was, but there was a ball sometime late in the series that went near the outfield corner, I think. Anyway, Schierholtz raced it down and fired it back to the infield. Off the bat, I thought it might be a double. Luckily, with Schierholtz out there, that’s exactly what he can prevent. Earlier this season, Nate gunned down both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on attempts at doubles. Both were impressive, and the one on Howard was particularly enjoyable. Howard didn’t think Nate had a shot at him, and decided to loaf it in to second. Renteria, knowing it’d be close if Howard didn’t speed up his pace, acted nonchalant (i.e. like nothing was doing) and quickly snatched the ball and swipe tagged Howard for the out. It was an incredible play and throw by Nate and an impressive play by a seasoned shortstop. The Phillies never forgot that, believe me.
Tony: More on DH – Maybe they’ll DH Huff and put the better defender Ishikawa at first? I do not like this because Ishikawa is too valuable for his continual quality at bats off the bench in key situations.
Me: Now that you mention it, I sort of do like this alignment. Ishikawa has been putting in quality at bats each time out, I agree. I think this is more reason to put him out there where you 1) improve defense and 2) get several good at bats instead of just one per game. What’s more, Panda seems to put better at bats together off the bench than in a starting role, for whatever reason.
Tony: MORE on DH - I think that they will DH panda against RHP but I am not too sure what they will do against LHP, maybe Fontenot? Ok, as long as he is not at 3rd.
Me: I think Panda may DH against RHP. I think it will either be him or Ishi as the additional bat – but Ishi would play D in that scenario. On Fontenot against LHP, no way. Fontenot is a left handed hitter with very limiTed Power. I see the Giants going with Rowand or maybe even Panda against Lee and Wilson.
Tony: Lastly, how big has Bochy and crew keeping Guillen off the roster been? We might have been seriously swept. FP said it best (paraphrase) “for the first time as a Giant, Cody Ross could comfortably play right field without the notion that if he failed, the job wasn’t his the next day. He no longer had to look over his shoulder and the payoff has been remarkable.”
Me: Agreed. Getting Guillen, playing him every day, and continuing to play him every day made no sense whatsoever. It’s moves like that one that make you wonder, despite all.the success Sabean and Bochy had in finding and using diamonds in the rough this season: Do they get it? I more than assumed; I knew the Giants would go with Guillen for the NLDS – I even wrote a post: Giants Likely Going with Ghastly Guillen. When they didn’t, I was equally shocked and ecstatic. Obviously, the move paid off in a big way,
Tony: Unbelievable weekend! How fitting that as we near the holiday at the end of October, we have a bunch of misfits in orange and black running around AT&T park.
Me: Touche. Also, how fitting would it be after all the power houses they had in the 60’s with all those Hall of Fame players, and after having the best player in the game for 15 seasons in the 90’s and 00’s, for this team of all teams to go all the way and bring the first World Series to San Francisco. One can hope.