Baseball rarely works like you expect, he wrote to an audience comprised mostly of people who’ve spent six months with one of the most erratic baseball teams in history. Teams like to zig when you’re loudly talking about them being the zaggingest team in the sport. The 2016 Giants, in particular, have been like a box of chocolates: They’ve melted in your hands, and now they’ve ruined your nicest shirt. Also, there’s a weird goo in most of them that you can’t place. Let me start over.
The Giants are finishing a memorable season, in which the word "memorable" can be an epithet just as easily as an adjective. There’s still some time to write the story of the season, though. In a decade, we might remember this as simply as the 1998 Giants — contended, played a game to see if they could move on, went home, still a decent season. Or we might remember them fondly, the team of idiots that stopped being a team of idiots just in time to make a memorable postseason run.
Or we might remember this as one of the most disappointing Giants teams ever.
If you’re writing the script to this, and you want to put an exclamation point on the disappointment and regret, you would probably bring the Dodgers in for three games in the third act. If you’re expecting this to be a Lars von Trier movie, this series has obvious ramifications. The Dodgers can ruin everything in the final series of the year, just like they did on the last day of 1993. They’re starting their three best pitchers because of course they are.
You’re right to be scared. The Giants stepped over the one pitcher they wanted to in 2010 to make the postseason (Mat Latos) and they stepped over him again in 2012.
Right, right, that was the one. And it would follow that in a just universe, where the lines of good and evil blur depending on your perspective, that the Dodgers stepping over the Giants on the final weekend of the season would be a perfect way to punctuate a possibly brilliant season and postseason.
Did I mention that you’re right to be scared? Well, perhaps it’s time for optimism, then. Here are reasons not to worry so much about this weekend.
1. The Dodgers probably aren’t going to push their starting pitchers that hard
Rich Hill, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenta Maeda seem like an annoyingly effective trio, and they are, but they’ll also be unlikely to pitch into the seventh or eighth inning. Hill is still dealing with blisters, Kershaw is more interested in building up strength than throwing a shutout, and Maeda isn’t likely to be worked hard either.
The Dodgers have built an impressive bullpen on the fly, but it’s easy to make a little too much about the starting pitchers. The Giants should get their chances against other pitchers at some point.
2. The Giants haven’t lost a series to the Dodgers at home in two years
The Giants, being a generally sound team that plays well at home, are a formidable opponent. Don’t forget that part while you’re rooting for them to play into the postseason for some reason.
3. Ryan Vogelsong is pitching against the Cardinals on Sunday
An old friend, parachuting into the end of the action movie. "Remember me?" he growls, chewing on an unlit cigar and kicking the door open. Unless he leaves a bunch of cutters over the plate against the homer-happy Cardinals, but c’mon, what are the odds of that?
4. Madison Bumgarner and Matt Moore are still left-handed
I would assume Ty Blach gets the start on Saturday, too. Forget about the last series, with Bumgarner ending a brilliant start with confusion and regret, and Moore getting slapped around something fierce. The Dodgers are average at best against left-handed starters, and the Giants have a chance to line up three starters with wildly different looks against them.
5. Gordon Beckham deal is an anagram for "Oh, Dodger can balk me"
This is admittedly a stretch, but it’s not like I’m running out of ideas and getting nervous, ha ha, no sir and/or ma’am.
6. The Dodgers are going to be more interested in mixing and matching as a quasi-audition for their postseason roster
Brandon McCarthy, passive-aggressive nemesis, inserted as a middle reliever, just to see how it all flows? Could happen. Pinch-hitters at strange times. Platoon advantages ignored. The Dodgers have more important things to worry about, which makes this so much different than 1993.
7. Even if the Giants lose, there’s a chance the Cardinals could lose, too
Uh, that’s not really what we’re going for h
8. No, think about it. The Giants have never won a World Series in San Francisco without being swept at home by the Dodgers and you feeling like all is lost
Look, it’s getting late, and we should probably wrap this
9. What would be more even year? Winning the division with the best record in baseball, never stressing about the regular season? Or losing three games against the Dodgers while the Cardinals lose two of three to force a one-game playoff on Monday, which might send the Giants to New York on Tuesday, which would send them to the home of the best team in baseball to start the NLDS, which would send them to either the Nationals or Dodgers, clearly superior teams, for the NLCS, which would send them to a World Series against someone that doesn’t deserve to have their heart broken, like the Blue Jays or something?
I guess when you put it that way ...
10. There are ways for the Dodgers to ruin the season. But there’s still hope. And I’d take this spot over being down 0-2 to the Reds in 2012 and needing to win three in Cincinnati. Or facing elimination and relying on Barry Zito.
Okay. I get it now.
11. Long story short: Stop being such a weenie, and BEAT LA! BEAT LA! BEAT LA!
Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!
Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!
[drinks to get taste out of month and also to forget]
Beat LA! Beat LA! Beat LA!