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Giants/Cubs series preview

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The Cubs are about to finish a heartbreaker of a season. As a history buff, I can’t help but be reminded of something historically significant that happened in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1975, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970, 1969, 1968, 1967, 1966, 1965, 1964, 1963, 1962, 1961, 1960, 1959, 1958, 1957, 1956, 1955, 1954, 1953, 1952, 1951, 1950, 1949, 1948, 1947, 1946, 1945, 1944, 1943, 1942, 1941, 1940, 1939, 1938, 1937, 1936, 1935, 1934, 1933, 1932, 1931, 1930, 1929, 1928, 1927, 1926, 1925, 1924, 1923, 1922, 1921, 1920, 1919, 1918, 1917, 1916, 1915, 1914, 1913, 1912, 1911, 1910, and 1909 when I read that sentence. There were wars, inventions, speeches...fascinating years, all.

The Cubs weren’t supposed to be an all-universe juggernaut, but they were supposed to contend. And then, suddenly, the Cubs. You might be waiting for a verb to show up in that last sentence. I think it works fine as is. And then, suddenly, the Cubs. Hey, I’m not trying to be a jerk. The Giants were about to win a World Series, they were five runs up in the seventh inning, and then, suddenly, the Giants. It works for a couple of teams out there.

But the Cubs are still a professional baseball team, and those have been known to tie Giants hitters up in knots. If the Brewers series taught the Giants a lesson, it’s that the Giants can’t just assume they’re going to outplay an under-.500 team just because of the year-to-date records. There’s just no way the Giants should look past the Cubs to the R...

Oh, man. That’s right. There are three games coming up in Coors Field. Dang, that makes my stomach turn. But, you know, if the Giants were able to win three of four in Petco, maybe we shouldn’t have such a defeatist atti...

Dammit. That’s what I’m talking about. The Giant can’t look past the Cubs. The Cubs might have had a miserable season, but they’re hot right now. They’ve won eight of their last nine -- all road games -- and they’ve seemingly turned on a switch in September, kind of like the R...

Whoa. The Rockies. That’s right. The Giants play three games in Coors Field. Can we appeal to a governor for clemency? How is this fair? Baseball’s a crazy game, though, so I’ll just hope that bloops fall in the spacious Colorado outfield, and that Bochy realizes that, grand slams or not, it’s a bad, bad, bad idea to start Guillen and Burrell in the same outfield when the...

Aarrrrgh. I did it again. Look, the Giants have to play the Cubs as if the Cubs are the ‘98 Yankees. If the Giants want to make the playoffs, they can’t take anything for granted. They have to assume the Cubs are hitting their stride right now. The Giants have to assume that the Cubs are going to play hard. They have to assume that Carlos Zambrano, Randy Wells, and Ryan Dempster are going to pitch them like they were vintage Wood, Prior, and, uh, Zambrano. They can’t just...wait, the ‘98 Yankees? That reminds me of the ‘98 Cubs, who shouldn’t have had the chance to make the playoffs if it weren’t for Neifi Perez and Coors Field.

Coors Field is coming. Coors Field. We are a fair maiden tied to the train tracks by a man in a top hat and a Rollie Fingers moustache, and...no. No. I will not give up on the Giants before the series even starts. This is a different Giants team. Everyone’s complaining that it’s home runs or nothing this year without acknowledging that last year it was nothing and nothing. The Giants can do this. The...

Dammit. Don’t look past the Cubs. The Cubs are playing well. The Cubs have pride, and they have some young players who would do well to impress the organization for next season. Just beat the stupid Cubs. Please.

Hitter to watch:

Geovany Soto -- who apparently really was in the best shape of his life this spring -- is out with an injury. I don’t even know who the backup catcher is, but I’ll assume he’s creaky and swings the bat like a hobbled Rick Wilkins. Heck, it might even be a hobbled Rick Wilkins. This backup catcher will get an RBI at some point. Watch.

Pitcher to watch:

Carlos Zambrano’s start really is the bellwether of the series. If the Giants make him disembowel some sort of dugout contraption, it’ll be a good series. If the Giants flail at out-of-the-zone nonsense, it’ll be a series in which the Giants flail at out-of-the-zone nonsense in at least one game. Science.

Prediction:

Starlin Castro will not be traded for Aaron Rowand in a waiver-wire deal.