Tag Archives: World Series Champions

Linceblog: SF Giants home opener, Zito’s Cy Young Anonymous, and the drama of pre-game ceremonies

When you’re a fallen, award-winning pitcher, a tad off from greatness, it’s not like you can work things out by going to a Cy Young  Anonymous.

So it’s a good thing Tim Lincecum can savor teammate Barry Zito’s miraculous comeback from the massive albatross known as the $126 million contract.

Zito was a master of craft and timing in leading the Giants to a 1-0 victory in the AT&T 2013 home opener.


He  kept  the Cardinal hitters off-balance  in such a way that just when you thought the Cardinals were getting to him, they weren’t — as in Yadier Molina’s towering drive to left that was just west of the foul pole in the fourth inning.  Zito would simply make Molina put the ball in play, and then timely defense saved the day,  in this case, an inning ending 5-4-3 double play courtesy of the reigning heavyweight third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

Once again, it’s the way modern Giants victories are made.

Good pitching, with timely good defense, and timely good bases-on-balls.

That was the Giants’ offense. The team walked all over the Cardinals.

The Giants’ fourth inning was like a Little League special. A Blanco walk, a single from Crawford, a bunt by Zito to load the bases, and then an RBI walk from Pagan.

But Zito, with bullpen help from Affeldt and Romo made it stand.

When it was over, I realized Giants fans have seen Zito do this time and again over the last year, and not just in the post-season when he faced the Cards and shut them down.

Perhaps it was the perception after the big contract, but Zito was considered a pariah for the longest time as he searched for a way to be great again.

But then, in a slow, almost uneventful way, he has built a new resume that is more spectacular than it may have appeared.

Going into the home opener, the Giants have won all of Zito’s last 14 starts, where the lefty went 9-0 with a 3.46 ERA. Make that 15 starts, 10-0. Who knew?  And it all adds up.

It may not have looked like much while it was all happening. But the Cardinals know.

They were Zitoed. Again.

Soon to be 35, Zito is still a young guy compared to Jamie Moyer, who in 2012 was the oldest at age 50 to win an MLB game. Zito has said he’s modeled himself after Moyer, and so maybe Zito is just coming into his real prime.

With baseball, it’s always helpful to go back to kid terms, when the game was really fun. Zito is six years older than Lincecum. That’s  like a junior high kid watching the high-school varsity senior. It’s hard not to imagine Lincecum taking notes as he watches the evolution of Zito.

Like I said,  it’s not like you can get support from a Cy Young Anonymous.


Lincecum back in the dugout as Opening Day game begins


That was the home opener, but the circumstances of the game were preceded by massive pomp, too.

In this case, the Giants were bringing home the World Series trophy, and raising a championship flag again.


Bochy and team blessed by gleam of the World Series trophy



Sabre me with all the stats and numbers and make it a science all you want, but the game is really about heart and corn.

So while it’s become somewhat fashionable to pooh-pooh a game day celebration (they can’t all have the drama of a Lou Gehrig farewell), I say the Giants do corn as well as anyone.

With the stadium filled with the kind of orchestral music used to spur emotion in bad films, the ceremony began. (Later, Bochy would say the pre-game indeed elicited a few “tears” among  some players).

When the flag came into McCovey Cove on fire boat, I wondered who would raise the flag? Captain Hook? (Or Captain Morgan? Thankfully, no one thought of product placement).

Some  pre-game rumor had it that maybe the flag raiser would be a past player, perhaps a Bonds return?

But the flag raiser(s) would be six veteran members of the team, Lincecum among them.

Lincecum seemed to beam with genuine pride as he jogged to and from centerfield to raise the flag.

That’s why it’s hard to imagine him not being a Giant forever.


Giant forever?



Oddly, two players who were not in the group of flag-raisers were the battery of the day. Zito looked like he was meditating or something on the bull-pen mound as coach Dave Righetti stood by.


Celebration? “I’m Barry Z. , and I am a Cy Young winner.”


And there was the new face of the team, Buster Posey, putting on the so-called “tools of ignorance” watching but focused on the opener.


Posey in pre-game warm up watches the flag-raisers



Posey gets his due with the MVP ceremony in game two of the series.

See my tweets @emilamok


Baseball’s poetics: Down the stretch with the “2-1″ Giants, and then Velez scores

I have refrained from commenting too much on the Giants this year. I’ve watched or listened to every game, and lived and died with every one run victory.

Last night may have been the last straw for this SF native.  

Maybe the difference was that it was the Dodgers and Lincecum was on the mound for us. These are always meaningful games beyond the standings. Once again, Timmy was brilliant. But for a Giants pitcher to win a game by himself, he has to be brilliant plus.

The Giants staked him a 1 run lead.

A one-run-lead should be like giving salad to meat-eaters. It’s just the appetizer, right?

For the Giants, it’s the whole meal.

It takes four runs for the Giants to be bullet-proof. Unfortunately, this season it takes them four games to score that many.

Last night the Giants barely got three hits.

For this reason, I dub the 2011 team  “2-1” Giants.  No typo, it’s “Two to one.”  It’s emblematic of the ideal score and the most vigorous display of team offense this year. When we win, that is. Otherwise, it’s 2-1, Giants lose. Like last night.

We have been talking about this lack of offense for the last 5 years at least.  

“Get a slugger” has long been a refrain since the lament, “When Benjie Molina bats cleanup you’re in trouble.” But the Giants have always managed to be entertaining.  Hapless, nerf-bat swinging, not so-giant Giants.  I watched, I rooted, I cried. Losing was the norm. Close, but not close enough. Whatcha going to do? Root for the A’s?

Then 2010 came and the timely hitting and the luck played out. I went to every post-season game, to the parade, bought every T-shirt, the works.

Our reward in 2011 has been  a return to pre-2010. No laughers here. It’s baseball by the pitch. When you have a pitching team, that’s the way it is. You score one run, and your pitchers have to hold.  Makes for a tense,  frustrating game, because arms can’t score.

Love the K’s. But you can’t throw the ball over the fence and call it a home run for our side.

And when the defense fails and a cheap run for the other team scores, a pinprick turns into a dagger.

That happened last night with the Dodgers and their pinch-runner, Eugenio Velez.

Velez was part of those pre-2010 Giants teams,  the ones that made us sift and sort the Giants of the future. Would it be Bowker? Would it be pre-panda Panda?  Freddy Lewis?  Velez? Who would be Giant enough?

Velez had his shot. He did things with his bat and his speed, then he  undid most of it with his glove.  He had his time as a stick-figure lovable hero.  Amy G had him on. I was always bothered by how they pronounced his name. “Ay-you-henio? ” “You-henio” seems more like it. “Gene”?  “Gino”? The guy didn’t get to nickname status. No panda, no baby giraffe. No gazelle (for his speed).

When he was out of a job and found guys like Burriss and Ford back, it must have been tough for him. How oddly satisfying it must have been for him to put his spikes on home plate and score the run that would put the Giants eight-and-a-half games back.

That’s baseball’s poetics, folks. The tragedy has a beginning, middle and end.

The Giants were like a mythic tale last year. This year, they’re still an entertaining  page turner, but just a summer read, and now not likely at all to go deep into October.