Only one good thing happened to our Bay Area teams this weekend, unless you count the A’s sweeping the lowly Mariners as a memorable moment that will warm your heart through the winter months. But oh, what a grand moment it was, and I was lucky enough to watch it happen from Sec. 125, Row 25. And after starting the morning at Zeke’s and then moving on to Paragon (good beer selection, plenty of places to sit and no Packer fans) before heading to the park, if I posted anything about my experience last night it probably would’ve had some similarities to Tim Lincecum’s post-game comments to Amy G.
(Side note: I had absolutely no idea Zeke’s is a Packers bar, and my future brother-in-law Nick and I were horrified to see all the green jerseys throughout the place, along with Packers/Lions TVs outnumbering 49ers/Falcons screens by a 2-to-1 margin. In fact, one of the women wearing a Aaron Rodgers jersey actually got up from her table and asked me to move out of the way because we were in her line of sight — even though there was nowhere to sit in the bar and barely any room to stand, and she could have turned her head about 15 degrees to watch the Packers game on another TV. God, I hate Packers fans, their stupid “Go…Pack…Go” chant and the way they act like they invented football. After one drink, we couldn’t get out of Zeke’s fast enough. And I’ll never set foot in that place ever again. It’s bad enough that their bartenders aren’t the friendliest, but I’m used to that in SF bars, along with the whole “cash-only” thing. But I can’t support a Packers bar. Sorry.)
I’m absolutely exhausted. I couldn’t talk at all last night due to my vocal cords getting absolutely destroyed over a three-hour span. I passed out at 8:30 pm, which led me to wake up at 5:30, which is when I finally watched highlights of the Division-clinching game on the MLB Network and zoomed through a recorded version of the contest (I record all of them) so I could see Sanchez’s triple, Casilla get out of that sixth inning jam and Buster Posey’s homer, along with the celebration.
I can’t think of a game that could symbolize this Giants season so perfectly. Solid pitching by two young NL West starters who may well add a little something different to next year’s Cy Young race. Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell hitting balls all over the place. Posey reminding everyone who the best position player on the team has been since his call-up. And a virtuoso performance by the bullpen, capped by Blackbeard’s Delight.
The crowd was solid, and at times spectacular. The best part: the place was packed the entire time, even the view reserved section in left field (although yesterday was neither the time nor place for a “FREE JOHANNES MEHSERLE” banner on a boat stationed in McCovey Cove). The place shook during Wilson’s game-ending strikeout of Will Venable, although there could have been a little more energy from the patrons during 2-strike counts on Padres hitters earlier in the game. But I’m being a little picky there (and bitter over being asked to sit down during one of those situations in the second inning). Overall, the crowd was awesome, as they have been for quite some time. Not quite enough Latos-hate in my section, but not everyone heard his silly comments from a week ago.
I wasn’t happy when Sanchez was removed from the game, but after watching the game from my couch early this morning, fully removed from the emotions felt at the time, Bruce Bochy made the right call. The pen was rested, and Sanchez could’ve lost the game in a matter of minutes. As excited as I was all day yesterday, I wasn’t thinking clearly when Bochy removed my favorite pitcher on the team. Still, what a game for Sanchez. He will have games in the future when he doesn’t know where his fastball’s going, but worrying about his mentality or his focus is passe. You wouldn’t have gotten many people to believe Matt Cain would get shelled on Friday two nights before Sanchez won the biggest game this team has faced.
The main thing is the Giants are in the playoffs, and this region gets to enjoy some postseason action for the first time in forever. Since starting this blog in January of 2008, the local pro (non-Sharks) teams have these records:
Giants: 252-234 (.519)
A’s: 231-254 (.476)
Warriors: 83-130 (.389)
Niners: 15-21 (.417)
Raiders: 11-25 (.306)
Total: 592-664 (.471)
It’s been a rough go, to put it lightly. But the Giants took over the town this season, leading to bedlam after yesterday’s game. Horns honking, people driving by hanging out of sunroofs with rap music blaring on car stereos.
One last thing before we wrap up our NL ROY Tracker: rally rags are cool because it’s the one promotion that the team can’t restrict to the first 20,000 fans. That would kind of defeat the purpose. Alright, let’s finish up Heyward v. Posey. I’m going to miss this segment.
Final stats: .277/.393/.456, 18 HR, 11 SB, 6.2 UZR/150, 4.9 WAR, 33.3 VORP
Final series: 3-for-12, SB, 2 R, RBI.
Heyward must have done something amazing in the field, because according to Fangraphs his UZR/150 somehow doubled over the weekend, which apparently along with his stolen base and his first extra-base hit since Sept. 17 (a triple yesterday), raised his WAR by 0.5. So I included VORP this time because I have a feeling Fangraphs had a little bit of a hiccup (Update: according to David Cameron, data for UZR is compiled every couple weeks or so, not every day.). That’s the flawed thing about judging this race from both sides — since I’m not strictly a baseball writer I don’t have the time to watch every Giants game AND every Braves game. The reports don’t list Heyward showing unbelievable range, but maybe he did. I don’t know. His Range Runs above average (RngR) finished at 10.3, third among right fielders behind Jay Bruce (19.5) and Ichiro Suzuki (16.4). Just don’t ask me to explain how those numbers are determined.
Trending: Flat (because of what Posey did yesterday more than what Heyward has or hasn’t done)
Chances of winning NL ROY: 40%
Final stats: .305/.357/.505, 18 HR, 0 SB, 23/62 CS, 3.9 WAR, 32.5 VORP
Final series: 1-for-13, HR.
Posey knocked the ball around quite well against the Padres, but his BABIP was .083. But in his final at-bat of the season, he crushed a ball to left field that caused me to high-five everyone within a 15-foot radius. I think I frightened at least a couple high school girls behind me. It left Posey tied with Heyward in home runs in 180 fewer plate appearances.
But most of all, Posey’s home run left the kind of lasting impression that will resonate with voters. This morning when I was half asleep and watching the MLB Network highlights, Harold Reynolds shouted out “Rookie of the Year” as they showed Posey rounding the bases. Reynolds isn’t a voter for the NL ROY (one would hope, anyway), but just like the home run Posey hit on Thursday against the D-Backs, yesterday’s tater came at a time when the whole nation was watching.
This debate will center on what the voters think is more important. Playing 34 more games or having the best month anyone in the NL had all year besides Troy Tulowitzki’s September? OBP or SLG? Speed or power? Incredible range or calling pitches for a great staff and flashing one of the best arms of any catcher in baseball?
It’s not going to be about whose team did better since they’re both going to the playoffs, which makes this battle all the more interesting. Even though I’m biased, I’m still confident that the images of Posey putting his fist in the air while rounding first, and then jumping into Brian Wilson’s arms about 20 minutes later, will push him over the top.
Chances of winning NL ROY: 60%