clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2014 World Series preview: None of this makes any sense

New, 833 comments

The Giants and Royals are in the World Series, so there's no point pretending like we know what's going to happen.

Elsa

Because Travis Ishikawa hit a pennant-winning home run for the 2014 Giants, I rode on a blimp.

I wanted to open my World Series preview with that sentence as a way to highlight the absurdity of it all. After typing it, I couldn't finish the preview. I wanted to do one. I was looking forward to it. Here are the pitchers on the Royals. Here are the hitters on the Royals. Here's how they stack up against the Giants. Sam Miller's preview is one of the best, of course, so just go ahead and read that one instead. Maybe I'll try again later. But ...

Because Travis Ishikawa hit a pennant-winning home run for the 2014 Giants, I rode on a blimp.

Those words are a spiritual successor to "If it wasn't for my horse, I wouldn't have spent that year in college" -- the random string of words that became a famous Lewis Black bit before they crawled in his brain and killed him. Because Travis Ishikawa hit a pennant-winning home run for the Giants, I rode on a blimp. Even knowing a little bit of context -- Ishikawa is a baseball player, and my job is to write about baseball players -- doesn't help. Because Ishikawa is on the fringes of baseball. He shouldn't be near a pennant in 2014. Also, the part about the blimp.

More context: The DirecTV Blimp was sticking around town after the NLCS because the Giants were going to be in the World Series, and someone somewhere thought it made sense to invite me aboard for an hour. Maybe they thought I could help their #brand by writing about it. Whatever the reason*, it was fun. It was neat. And it happened because of Travis Ishikawa winning the pennant, years after he was demoted by the Giants and allowed to walk away.

* Don't you think it's a little odd that I omitted the Rob Lowe commercials from my rundown of commercials here? I could be hiding something. This could be something with a -gate suffix, just waiting to happen. Ethics in baseball blogging are no joke, people.

With the full context, it starts to make a little sense. Okay, because this baseball player did a baseball thing, the timing was right for an mostly unrelated opportunity involving a blimp that was there for baseball reasons to begin with. The more you know, the more you get used to the words.

Long story short: That sentence is, like, a metaphor for baseball, man.

Right now, we're used to the idea of Yusmeiro Petit being some weird mop-up man/fireman hybrid. We're so used to the idea of Ryan Vogelsong existing again, that we take him for granted. We laud him or complain about him, as if he's a normal pitcher with a normal story. We might even be used to Ishikawa starting in postseason games because we saw the progression. We saw what led to it. Angel Pagan got hurt, Michael Morse got hurt, Juan Perez never looked comfortable at the plate, Gary Brown didn't hit his way out of Fresno, Mac Williamson was hurt ... it all accumulates over time, and eventually Ishikawa looks like the kind of player that can help a team without a lot of alternatives.

Before the season: "Travis Ishikawa will hit one of the most famous home runs in Giants history" is something that's written in Kevin Spacey's notebooks in Seven. Right now: It makes a modicum of sense because you saw how it happened.

That's what's going to happen to any postseason predictions, any proper preview. Matt Adams can't hit lefties, so of course he's going to take Clayton Kershaw deep. The Giants aren't much of a pitching team, so of course they've allowed one of the lowest batting averages in postseason history. And at the end of each postseason series, it somehow makes a little sense. You'll have tricked yourself into accepting baseball's lies. You'll get a sentence that's not unlike the one with the blimp.

Because Yusmeiro Petit was masterful until the 18th, the Giants slipped past the Nationals.

Because Matt Adams embarrassed a Kershaw curve ball, the Giants met the Cardinals in the NLCS.

Because Travis Ishikawa hit one of the greatest home runs in the 132-year history of the franchise, the Giants are in the World Series.

Because Joaquin Arias tried to steal home with two outs and the bases loaded, the Giants (won/didn't win) the World Series.

Or something like that. There's going to be word confetti that would melt our synapses if we knew the sentence ahead of time. "Boy, it sure seemed like the momentum of the series changed with the Lincecum double in Game 2," someone will say in two weeks. But, wait, isn't Game 2 in an AL ballpark? Why is Lincecum in the game? How did he hit a double? Explain. Explaaaaaaaain.

So I can go through the Royals pitching and itemize their lineup as best as I can, but it will have a shelf life of about seven hours. Instead, here are some vague worries and gut feelings about this Series. All of them will be wrong, give or take. A backup catcher will have the biggest hit of a World Series between two teams with excellent catchers, so what's the point? Just gimme the baseball already.

Vague worries and gut feelings:

  • James Shields is going to annoy the Giants in a way that Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander couldn't. They'll have a chance to overcome it if Madison Bumgarner is just as good, but I'm keeping my eye on Shields.

  • The Giants will get to the Royals bullpen in at least one game this series. By "get to," I mean a run. That run might get them closer, but not close enough. That run might make the difference in the game. But I'm picturing at least one Neshek moment, where the unhittable isn't.

  • The Royals will get to the Giants bullpen, too. Perhaps early, perhaps often. My faith in the bullpen is at an all-season low, which makes no sense, considering how danged good they've been in the postseason, Strickland dingers aside.

  • Travis Ishikawa will probably hit two more walk-off home runs.

  • Whenever Yusmeiro Petit gets in a game, it'll make us say, "GEE. WHY WASN'T HE STARTING IN THE FIRST PLACE?"

  • Clayton Kershaw will not allow an earned run.

  • The Giants pitchers will do a good job holding runners on, and the stolen bases won't be nearly the factor everybody is anticipating. Until Terrance Gore gets into the game and Herb Washingtons the place up, that is. That guy is liquid vrooom.

  • It will be fun.

  • You will not feel your toes.

  • If you cannot feel your toes for more than four hours, the game is probably in extra innings, and seek medical attention whenever it's over.

The Giants are in the World Series. That's not a sentence that would have absolutely stunned you in March -- surprised, thrilled, sure, but not stunned. The exact path they've taken would have stunned and confused you, though. Marco Scutaro's back never got better; Angel Pagan's back cost him the postseason. Matt Cain was pretty bad before he was out for the season. Jake Peavy's on the team now, I guess? Joe Panik is the starting second baseman. Sergio Romo isn't the closer. Tim Lincecum isn't in the rotation. And starting in left field, you'll never believe this, but ...

I was in a blimp because of Travis Ishikawa. You might be atop the ladder of a fire truck because of Juan Perez in a week. The future is a pile of Lego, and when you see the artist build a robot cactus eating a pineapple, brick by brick, it makes sense. Until then, it's good that we don't know what the future bizarre-yet-normal sentence will be about the 2014 World Series because it would probably make us curl up like a hedgehog and hide in the refrigerator.

Here's hoping that it's a sentence as empirically beautiful as "Travis Ishikawa hit the pennant-winning home run." The postseason has already given both teams so much. It's time to get greedy.