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UPDATED: World Series an anti-climax? SF Giants must top that Game 5 NLCS finish; Ishikawa home run legendary for so many reasons; And will we ever see Tim Lincecum again? UPDATED 10.21. WS-GAME ONE, MADBUM MAKES ROYALS LOOK PLEBEIAN; UPDATED 10.22. WS-GAME TWO–What a difference a Madbum makes; and a Lincecum sighting. UPDATED-10/23/GAME THREE BUZZ–KC PITCHER AND ISHIKAWA HAVE SOMETHING IN COMMON

(SEE UPDATES BELOW)

I am still buzzed about that dramatic home run by Travis Ishikawa. I wrote about it on the AALDEF blog here.

I was in the stadium that night and took this picture as Ishikawa was approaching home.

IshikawagreetedbyariasHe’s slammed down his helmet in exuberance, and is confronted by one of the runners who scored ahead of him, Joaquin Arias.

But notice the player in the left corner.

It’s Tim Lincecum, heretofore, the most incredible Asian American native born major league player of part-Filipino heritage ever.

He’s never been on the margins in his career. But he is now.

Lincecum hasn’t pitched an inning in the post-season. And in those times when his number would be called, it’s been someone else. Petit, most notably. But also Strickland. And the specialists like Lopez and Affeldt.  Lincecum can’t get in the game. Manager Bruce Bochy has him slotted where he can be trusted. Top of a fresh  inning where any damage due to Lincecum’s control issues can be minimal. But the longer Lincecum goes without pitching, you wonder how ready he’ll be for any situation. You kind of hope he doesn’t get in, because it means the Giants’ starter was ineffective, and the team is losing. Meanwhile between injured Cain’s $20 million a year, and ineffective Lincecum’s $17 million, that’s nearly $40 million on the Giants’ bench.

And the team’s still winning.

From having talked to Lincecum in the past, I know his attitude is, “I’ll pitch whenever they tell me.” He’s always positive; always a team guy. He’s never had his status fall like this. But I think, he’ll use this to come back stronger than ever.

I’ve always said he had an Eckersly like career arc forming. If he uses this period to get his mechanical issues straightened out, the man who never ices his arm, could find there’s a formidable second act in his future.

Just an odd thing to catch him on the edge of the frame, watching Ishikawa–who has never been  a star, always a marginal guy. But in Game 5, he was the man of the hour. And for more than just baseball reasons. See the AALDEF blog for that story.

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UPDATE/ Pre-game buzz GAME 3  10/23/ 9pm PDT  More Lincecum; Guthrie and Ish

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said Tim Lincecum was getting an MRI this afternoon, but added that the pitcher indicated he felt fine. Lincecum, the guy who doesn’t ice is arm, should be ready to be a bullpen weapon on Friday. Bochy said Lincecum has to feel confident about pitching, after his first appearance in 23 days on Wednesday.  “I know we do,” added Bochy. “He could play a bigger role now, if he’s healthy.”

When I saw KC starter Jeremy Guthrie, I just knew the guy was at least half-Asian. Sure enough, his mother is Japanese American, born in Hawaii. Guthrie was born in Oregon, and went to BYU and Stanford. He is a fourth generation Japanese American.

He told the Japanese ball players blog that he speaks no Japanese, and has never visited Japan. But his  favorite food is Shrimp Tempura. “I feel a strong tie with Japanese culture, but I don’t know why. I feel close to Japanese players,” he said. The blog added that  Guthrie “feels there is a sense of “Japaneseness” in him that is different from most Americans.”

The Giants game 5 NLCS hero, Travis Ishikawa, is also a fourth-generation Japanese American.

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UPDATE GAME 2  10/22/ 8:45 PM PDT

What a difference a Madbum makes

Without the 25-year old ace, the Giants looked like the Royals did on Tuesday.  Ordinary.

They sent out Jake Peavy for Game 2, and Peavy has a thing about the 6th inning in post-season.

He doesn’t get out of it. True to form, he didn’t.

The game seemed to start off like Game 1, with the Giants pouncing. Facing 99 mph fastballs from KC’s Yordano Ventura, the Giants didn’t buckle. Leadoff man Gregor Blanco hit a line drive homer to right for a 1-0 lead.

When the Giants score first this post-season, they’re 5-0.

But Peavy was rocky in the first, as the Royals tied it when Billy Butler singled in Lorenzo Cain.

They went ahead in the 2nd on doubles by Infante and Escobar.

But the Giants came back in the 4th when Brandon Belt doubled in Sandoval.

It was all tied at 2, and then came that 6th inning.

Peavy had retired 10 in a row and looked to have settled in. But after a single to Cain and a walk to Hosmer, Peavy was gone.

Jean Machi came in relief. And true to his poor form of late, Machi gave up a single to Butler, who again delivered an RBI single to put KC ahead 3-2.

Machi left to be replaced by the home-run inducing Hunter Strickland. He began with a double to Salvador Perez, which made the KC lead 5-2.

And then Strickland did what Strickland does. A home run ball to Omar Infante to left, put KC ahead 7-2.

The Giants’ bats were stymied by the KC bullpen.They hit the ball hard, but struck out 6 times and never could mount a rally.

One good news/bad news situation was the appearance in relief of Tim Lincecum, the first time in 23 days he’s seen action. Lincecum came on in the 7th, pitched 1.2 innings and struck out two batters. But he hurt something in his lower body as he delivered a pitch and was forced to leave the game. Still uncertain how serious the injury is and if it will prevent him from future action.

The series now goes back for three games in San Francisco, and if the Giants win Games 3 and 4, they could conceivably close it out in 5 with another start from their ace Bumgarner.

But the Royals showed what they had in Game 2. And they showed how the series can easily come back to Kansas City.

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UPDATE on GAME 1        10/21/14 9:45pm pdt

You can’t underestimate the value of game one of the World Series.

The winner of the first game has won 69 of 109 series, including 15 of the last 17.

So the Giants winning 7-1 on Tuesday night gives them a real edge.

This game was over early as the Giants shut up the crowd scoring 3-runs in the first, including a two-run shot by Hunter Pence into the right-centerfield seats.

The Giants bats were alive all night with 10 hits. Pablo Sandoval extended his post-season on-base streak to 24 games, and went ahead of Lou Gehrig into 5th longest of all time.

Lou Gehrig. That’s enough to make you forgive Panda’s physique issues.

But the streak of Bumgarner’s was more impressive. He entered with a record for road shutout innings pitched in the post season, 26.2 innings. He went 6 and 2/3rds more before giving up a home run to Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the 7th.

That’s 33 and 1/3 innings of shutout innings pitched on the road in the post-season.

And MadBum is just 25-years-old.

The only threat from the Royals came in the 3rd when Brandon Crawford’s error, followed by a Moustakas double, and a walk to Cain (in a contentious at bat) loaded the bases. But Madbum struck out two and got the Royal’s slugger Eric Hosmer  on  a grounder t0 second base.  That was it for the Royals.

Game Two on Wednesday puts more pressure on the Royals. They don’t want to go into San Francisco down 2-0.

But the Giants have the momentum now. And Jake Peavy on the hill.

The Royals may have better luck against the Game 3 pitcher, Tim Hudson, whom they beat last August.

If the Giants win Game 4, that sets up a repeat of Game 1—Bumgarner against the world for the series in Game 5.

Tuesday was more than a peek into the future.

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UPDATE  10/21/14  1:00 pm pdt

Game one about to start and I’m noticing how the Nation seems to be turning Royal Blue, backing the Cinderella team from Kansas City. Why? They haven’t been there in nearly 30 years and there’s a real sense of underdog entitlement. Like that makes sense in sports? People are all meritocratic and hard ass in sports and then get soft because the team in blue hasn’t been good enough in three decades, let them have a chance?

That’s not how sports is played. Rec league soccer for kids maybe, but this is hardball.

The Giants aren’t really all that great. They are good enough to be great when they have to. That’s the 2014 team. I watched them all year, suffered through June. Got really disgusted with their play late July and early August. But what do you know. They hung in there. Didn’t beat the Dodgers, but made it to be the worst qualified team in the NL.

The Royals were the least qualified on the AL side, and have come on strong in the post-season, but I think the fairy dust runs out in this Wild Series.

If you’re going to go with underdogs, the Giants are the more deserving among dogs. The Royals have a nice team, but I saw them play  Oakland in the summer. If the Giants starting pitching is sharp, and the Giants big bats wake up, then this is over in 5.

What people seem to respond to in the Royals is sympathy and nostalgia. The Giants had that a bit in 2010 too. But they were better than the Texas Rangers.

The sympathy vote for the Royals makes them slightly more lovable to some. And that’s the problem the Giants have. They are not villainous by any means. But their lovability factor for some reason seems low.

Doesn’t anyone out there notice those darn Panda hats?

I think the hats and the Panda himself are the key to this series. Pablo Sandoval had that huge 3-home run game in 2012. I was there. I still don’t believe it. But he has it in him. And he’s been fairly quiet with the bat. High average but no pop. I think he’ll be ready to pop this week. It’s his contract year, and he’s motivated. I’m looking for him, Posey, and Pence to make the difference. I won’t say sweep, but it would be nice to get in the full three game set in SF and win it all at AT&T on Sunday the 26th.

 

 

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SF Giants’ Lincecum still has homer-itis, but keeps team in game till it decides it wants to win in 12th; After nearly five hours, Giants beat Dodgers 3-2 on Jackie Robinson Day

 

On the night when all the heroes wore No. 42, it was too bad the San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum couldn’t get the win.

On Jackie Robinson Night, the Giants sent Lincecum, the premier Filipino American player in baseball to the mound. The Filipino fan favorite pitched well enough to win. In a 93 pitch performance in 5 innings, he struck out 5 and had zero walks. The Dodgers managed just five hits, but that included a solo home run in the 2nd inning to former teammate Juan Uribe. On a full-count, Lincecum challenged with a slider, and Uribe pounded it half-way up the left field bleachers.  The Dodgers coasted on that run most of the night. By the time the Giants tied it on a Brandon Crawford sac fly that scored Hunter Pence, Lincecum was out of the game–but off the hook.  He’s still looking for his first win, but so far he’s got 17 Ks and 1 walk in 15 innings pitched, indicative that the mustachioed Lincecum isn’t plagued by some of the control issues he had last year. Indeed, this year, he’s not wild, just prone to the fat pitch and the homerun ball—he’s given up 5 in 15 innings.  Uribe got him on this night. After the Dodgers took a2-1 lead, the Giants tied the score again  in the bottom of the 9th, but left the bases loaded ( as they did three times in the game). The game went into extras, past midnight. Nearly five hours after the start, the Giants finally pushed through a winning run when Hector Sanchez singled in Brandon Crawford for the 3-2 final. The walk-off win gives the Giants a first place tie with LA in the NL West.

 

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Pacquiao-Bradley 2 (#PacBradley): Here’s how I see it, as it happens…

 

When we get past the undercard and all the pre-fight festivities,  I will type my impressions and score the fight in real time here.

Strange to hear Pacquiao described as the “challenger.” But he is.  Bradley is 31-0 and the WBO Welterweight champ.  Pac looks all business. No smiles. Bradley has his game face. The rumble begins.

Round 1: Pacquiao and B trade shots, P commands center of ring early. Both fighters keeping their distance while trying to show aggression. Bradley toward the end comes on with :12. Round goes to Bradley, 10-9.

Round 2:  Bradley pushed back on hook, recovers. Pacquiao aggressive, throws combination and B goes into ropes. B comes back with body punches, doesn’t give in. B. with hardshots to P head. B not backing down.  Close, but I’ll give that to P for getting B on ropes, 10-9.

Round 3: Pacquiao lands combo early. At 1:57, P lands solid lefts to B. B has P against ropes and lands to the body. P landing left to B.  B counters with rights to the body. Flurry of punches in this round, give it to P, 10-9. Compubox numbers on HBO give P the edge with 22 powershots, 7 more punches landed.

Round 4: Bradley gets in a shot that rocks Pacquiao. B needed that  as P was landing shots early. :30 left B shows he’s unrelenting. The B. right gives him edge here. Bradley, 10-9. Replay shows P lifted off his feet.  Punch stats still show P. landing more.

Round 5: Minute left, the round still contested with both fighters trading jabs. B had arms down in last :15 and Pacquiao may have stolen the round with action in the last seconds. Pacquiao, 10-9.

Compubox totals from HBO: P 14/42, B 11/46,  Powershots, P 9, B 8.

Round 6: Much slower round than previous. :40 left and seems even. A coasting round. P throwing pinches on ropes. B coaxes P to punch him, but round ends. End theatrics give round to P, 10-9. HBO Compubox totals, P- 12/53, B 8/50, P with  10-8 powershot advantage.

Round 7: Pacquiao gets a left in. Bradley lands a hard right, and some body shots. Tempo back to that of early rounds. Combos by P with :44 left. P adds more with B in corner. Big round for P. as B tries modified “rope-a-dope.” But P. tees off. Pacquiao wins that, 10-9.

Compubox gives P 26 landed out of 75 thrown. B, 14 of 56.

Round 8: Pacquiao cruising, but lands with his left several times. B. tries to mug, to show he’s not hurt. Not sure if that’s working. B. coming up top with the right. Close, but ring generalship gives round to P, 10-9.

Round 9:Compubox numbers have P ahead with 119 punches landed to 90-plus for B thus far….  P. rocks Bradley into ropes and seems hurt. Off-balance twice so far. P. with rights and combos to B.  B. is throwing 1 to P. 5 punches, it seems. Pacquiao wins the round 10-9, decisively.

Round 10: Pacquiao in last round had 14/24 to B 10/24 punch edge. This round starting with P. in command at the center and B. backing up.  B looks to be trying to find a knockout punch, but missing. P counters with combinations that have him outpointing B.  P with left seems to stun B and B counters wildly and misses. Pacquiao wins round, 10-9.

Round 11: Pacquiao outpunched Bradley 26-12 in previous round. P starts out round with solid left. B seems to be tiring as he’s not throwing as many punches. Pacquiao the aggressor, Bradley backing up. P lands a left with :40 left.  Round ends with B retreating and missing. Pacquiao wins round, 10-9.

Round 12: Compubox numbers continue trend. Pacquiao landing. Bradley’s head turned. Bradley never has had a KO past the 8th round, so unlikely here. P good defense catching B’s best. 1 minute left, B misses right. P at center in control :30 left. Time out due to accidental head but with :12 left.  B starts working but it ends. B lifts arms up, but why? I’ve got P winning this 10-9.   And have P winning 11 of 12 rounds. (Correction: On recount, I gave the 4th round to Bradley based on the “lift-up” punch he landed on Pacquiao. Wasn’t a knockdown, but was impressive.  So Bradley won 2 rounds, Pacquiao 10, in my estimation).

Bradley was tough early. But didn’t do enough by my eye.

Final scoring: Unanimous for Pacquiao. All three judges.

HBO’s numbers show P landed 198 to Bradley’s 141, and landed 35percent of his punches to Bradley’s 22percent.

Pacquiao also threw more power punches 148-109.

The placement of the punches: Pacquiao landed 176 of his punches to Bradley’s head.  Bradley landed 98 t0 Pacquiao’s head.

Bradley landed 43 punches to P’s body. P just landed 22 body punches to Bradley. Pacquiao was clearly going for a head snapping KO. Bradley tried, but that really isn’t his game.

In the end, Bradley good, but Pacquiao is just better.  Bradley is a toe-to-toe guy, not a knockout guy. Pacquiao may not have the kind of power he showed when he clicked off  Ricky Hatton, but he’s got a lot left.

This is a $20 million guaranteed pay day. And a relatively soft spot for Pacquiao.  He said he wants to go 2 more years. It may take that long before Mayweather stops ducking him.

That’s it for this live blog experiment. Check back for more analysis later.

SEE MY COLUMN in the  Philippine Inquirer:

http://globalnation.inquirer.net/102128/pacquiao-should-box-on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pacquiao Bradley II: That’s not your prep school classmate, that’s the boxing match HBO can’t seem to hype enough

When I saw Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley fight for the first time on June 9, 2012, I was like most of the free world: Dumbfounded by the results.

Pacquiao clearly dominated the fight, though Bradley seemed to finish strong. Still, it wasn’t enough for a rally that actually could win the fight. How do you say: “Peex.”

Who needs an undercover camera? It was there for all to see. We knew who won the fight two years ago.

And now Pac Bradley 2 is back before Easter. For redemption?

Jim Lampley, the HBO announcer/sportscaster, on one radio show recently said the fight  wasn’t about a fix, but more about “bad judging.”

Lampley’s a good guy, but he has his biases working for the network that has a monopoly on the live fight.

There was something smelly about that fight, and two years doesn’t sufficiently deodorize the matter.

But we’re going to have to wait for someone’s deathbed confession before we get the real truth.

In the meantime, Pacquiao needs money. He’s motivated by taxes, and the peso/dollar exchange rate. And he has a whole barangay for an entourage.

ESPN has both fighters getting $6 million, but Pacquiao gets a guaranteed $20 million according to a report last week.

We also don’t have much time left to admire Pacquiao, in all honesty.

I’ve been saying he should retire now. But he’s on record saying “two more years.”

So for curiosity sake, I will lift my moratorium.

Pacquiao is the Filipinos’ alter ego, and I’m willing to suspend my disdain for pro boxing to watch him—just to see if he has anything left. The fight might be closer with two years for Bradley to get better and Pacquiao to get older.

Consider a graph with two lines:  If P is at a high level but  arcing down, and B is at a lower level but still rising, if the fight is taking place where the lines intersect it could be a toss up. If the  lines are close but not intersecting, then P should still have enough of an edge. That’s where I think we are.  Based on the last fights of both, Bradley gave Provodnikov a good fight. P gave Rios a beating. Based on that Freddie Roach puts Bradley as similar to Rios. But that Provodnikov fight of Bradley was better than that.  And let me not forget that Bradley/Marquez fight, where Bradley fought a completely different style. It all points to Bradley getting better, whereas Pacquiao is getting older. So we may be close to that P/B intersection, but not quite to make it a toss-up.

Prediction? Lots of rounds 10-9 Pacquiao, with Pac the ultimate winner.

(Live tweeting here at www.amok.com and on twitter@emilamok

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