On Saturday Night, SF Giants Were One and Done

Celebration!
Celebration!

The San Francisco media began its “magic number” countdown about a week ago — the magic number being the number of wins required to clinch a playoff spot, regardless how well/poorly the runner-up team (i.e. the LA Dodgers) performs.  By Thursday morning, the San Francisco Giants’ magic number was five.

Because I had tickets to both Saturday’s and Sunday’s games against the San Diego Padres, I did more math than is advisable for a history major, trying to pinpoint the likelihood I’d be at AT&T Park to see the Giants win the National League West.  It’s not really about statistical probability, of course.  Barring some kind of Red Sox-style collapse, it was only a matter of time before they clinched.  But how MUCH time would depend on how much torture the baseball gods chose to inflict.

The gods were merciful, and the Giants beat the Padres handily on Saturday night to win the division.  Nervous energy hung in the air like the Bay Area marine layer, but the team played like vets who had been there before.  No torture necessary.

When Angel Pagan caught Mark Kotsay’s pop up to end the game, the place went insane.  It’s hard to describe the electricity and elation in such an enormous venue, where everyone is pulling for the same thing (or, “on the same rope” as Zen master/GM Brian Sabean likes to say). Everywhere you looked, fans were smiling, high-fiving and hugging, and no one was rushing for the exits to beat the traffic.  I stuck around until Giants’ president and CEO Larry Baer got hold of the microphone, and began his shameless plug for playoff merchandise.

The fact that starters – including my particular favorite, Tim Lincecum – didn’t play on Sunday was a bit of a disappointment, although no one could begrudge them their day off.  It gave the rookies some valuable playing time.  It also allowed people like me, who have been laser-focused on the playoffs, to just relax in the stellar weather, unclench our jaws, put down our cameras…. and enjoy the game.

 

1,281 Reasons My Arm Hurts

Barry Zito
Barry Zito

Buster Posey called Monday’s extra-innings victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks possibly the best San Francisco Giants win of the season. Fitting that it happened on Labor Day because it was, at times, pretty laborious. The sixth inning in particular, when Barry Zito blew a four-run lead, felt like breaking rocks.

Of course, the Giants’ comeback starting in the eight inning — and punctuated by a Posey-Scutaro one-two punch in the 10th — was made sweeter because so many fans bailed in the seventh to beat the traffic, L.A. Dodger-fan style.

Not me.  As my southern Baptist relatives would say… Oh, ye of little faith.

Knowing that the Dodgers had probably watched the Giants struggle, and smirked and puffed up as they imagined themselves closing in on first place in the NL West… well, that was pretty enjoyable too.

I took a record-high 1,281 photos at the game.  I could blame a digital camera that shoots eight frames-per-second.  But instead, I blame Zito and the Giants’ shaky band of middle relievers.  After Barry got the hook, it took six of them — Mota, Kontos, Loux, Penny, Machi (who did great, going 1-2-3 in his first inning in the big leagues) and Romo — to finish off the Diamondbacks.

Of course, as is my custom, I had to photograph them all.  My forearm ached from holding my camera, and pushing down on the shutter-release button for hours.

Whatever.  I rubbed some dirt on it.  It was totally worth it.