I am writing this while winging my way to San Francisco in hopes of seeing the mastery of MadBum and the Giants in post season elimination games continue. Yesterday at the game was not fun–though I did meet three high basketball coaches from Ohio, only one of whom was a Cubs fan–who were seated next to me in the nosebleed seats. I was right behind home plate but almost at the top of the stadium. One of the basketball coaches was a big Reds fan who had attended the first elimination (Reverend Hunter Pence game) in 2010 when Homer Bailey pitched a one hitter and lost to the Giants. He remembered all too well—as should all of us– that it is very possible to come back from an 0-2 deficit. And the 2010 Giants did it winning three in a row on the road.
Wrigley Field, for all of it’s history (mostly losing for more than 100 years) is a terrible place to watch a baseball game–horrible sight lines, crowded passageways, limited restrooms with huge lines, and fans and vendors who clog the aisles. Of course my feelings about the place are somewhat impacted by the fact that the Giants have now lost 6 of 7 there this season. Though to be fair we should have won at least two of the regular season games, and the missed Hernandez swing strike may have cost us a tie in game one.
Also the Cubs fans are real jerks–even by Mets fans standards. When Bumgarner reached base on a smoked ball that went for an error, I actually heard a fan behind me say that he hoped that MadBum tore his Achilles tendon running the bases, so that he couldn’t pitch game 3. No kidding. But that also illustrates the false bravado and insecurity of fans of a team with more than a lifetime of losing. Giants fans over the last few years have the well borne out feeling that “just get us to a critical game and we’ll figure out how to win it,” while Cubs fans, for all their tough talk about their great young team, are just waiting for something to go wrong, so they can go back to their losing comfort zone. (See e.g. Steve Bartman). Obviously I don’t knows about the players, but my sense is that if we can figure out how to put the pressure on them–admittedly a big “if,” without scoring any runs– they will fold.
Again Cubs fans–delirious with two wins under their belts– felt that they had earned the right put their hands on me– to explain how the Cubs were kicking our butts. (Hmmmm, I wonder if they have been watching developments in the Presidential Race about inappropriate touching.)
Although most of you had a baseball off day today, I got to go to another game– the playoffs in the Fall League 9 years old and younger little league. My grandson pitched 3 scoreless innings (maximum allowed) letting up no hits, no runs, and striking out 4. He also went two for three, with the Stoppers winning 6-1 to advance to the finals next Sunday.
One of the discussions that I had with the basketball coaches is whether if we won game 3 would you pitch Cueto on short rest in game 4. They all said yes–but I say absolutely not. The point is to maximize your chances of winning 5 games, and winning game 4 but losing game 5 makes no difference to elimination. So Cueto on short rest reduces the probability that he is effective, and you would need another pitcher for game 5 anyway, so the short rest lowers the probability of winning both games–by a lot.
Then I was off to SFO and getting ready for two wins at home. We got them right where we want them, I was thinking to myself. MadBum is human (I think), and eventually at some point he is destined to have a bad game even in the post season. Let’s just hope it’s not Monday and I really didn’t think it would be…
NO CELEBRATIONS AT AT&T. Let’s live to fight another day… Unfortunately it was not to be…