2010 SF Giants – The Giants Win Respect As Lincecum Out-duels Halladay

2010 SF Giants

It doesn’t get any better than Roy Halladay vs Tim Lincecum in game one of the NLCS.

Most of the chats I have about the San Francisco Giants happen on Twitter. Fans by nature can be fickle. But on Twitter, you get to see a play-by-play (or thought-by-thought) account of what fans think. Some of it is really smart analysis. Some of it is reactionary one-liners that don’t really make sense. And there’s a lot of in between, including more fickle than you can shake a stick at.

The reason I enjoy it is because you get an entire spectrum of thoughts from fans. If I want to see how the die-hard fan sees a situation or move, I can see that. If I want to see how a casual fan sees the same situation, I get that too. And if I want to see how an angry fan who hates the manager, general manager, and every offensive player not named Buster Posey sees a situation, I get that too.

Once I knew the Giants were playing the Phillies in the NLCS, I knew the national media coverage for the team would be lacking on the Giants end, and favoring the Phillies. Most of those Giants fans on Twitter saw that situation the same way. They took it as a sign of disrespect of their favorite baseball team. And they should’ve.

The reason why the East Coast media doesn’t know much about the Giants is because Giants games can end after 2AM their time. If you’re an East Coast writer and have to get up early to get a jump on the next day’s news, how can you ever watch the Giants? There’s almost no way.

My advice to Giants fans was that the way the Giants would earn respect from the national media is to win baseball games. That’s it.

Of course, very few of the baseball media did choose the Giants to beat the Phillies. In fact, on FOX’s pre-game show, former Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros picked against the Giants. Of course, as a former Dodger, you knew he would. Mitch Williams, who once lost a battle to Will Clark in the 1989 NLCS and had his best seasons with the Phillies chose his former team. Of course, you knew he would too.

FOX billed Roy Halladay against Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum like a heavyweight title fight, which is kind of funny because Big Time Timmy Jim weighs but a-buck-oh-five. (Ok, maybe he’s over 160 by the time the game starts.) Halladay, after his no-hitter in his first ever playoff game against the Reds, all of a sudden became the universally loved best pitcher in baseball.

But he only started getting his just due recently because he played for the Toronto Blue Jays for so many years. Die-hard baseball fans knew that if Halladay was on the mound, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox might not be the favorite to beat Toronto on those days. But now? He’s the end-all-be-all for baseball media.

In his first season in the National League, he was brilliant. Most knew that it was possible he could be even better in the National League getting to face a hitting pitcher a few times a game rather than a designated hitter like in the American League. He posted a 2.44 ERA, won 21 games, had an incredible WHIP of 1.041, and an even more incredible strikeout to walk ratio of 7.30. In short, he dominated.

What better way could the Giants earn their respect from everyone who followed baseball than to beat the 2008 World Series champs, and beat them in their house, with the universally loved best pitcher in baseball on the mound? And they did just that.

The Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum had a solid year that was up, down, way down, and then way up again. He was the bi-polar rock and roller. (Apologies to Mauro Ranello for that one.) But he’s been his best when it counted late in the season and in the playoffs (so far). In his first playoff start against the Atlanta Braves, he might’ve been too good.

One of Lincecum’s go-to pitches against the Braves was a slider that he hasn’t even really perfected yet. But he threw it a lot because it was on fire, and it became a big reason as to why he had so many swing-throughs on that night, which helped him reach fourteen strikeouts.

One thing about the slider is that you throw it with the seem, which means your middle finger grazes the stitch on the baseball and creates friction. Since Lincecum didn’t throw it a whole lot during the season, his finger probably wasn’t calloused enough and it gave him a blister.

Tonight, he didn’t seem to trust throwing the pitch because of the blister, or maybe the blister made the grip uncomfortable. Whatever it was, he didn’t use the pitch all that often and went back to being a two-pitch pitcher, throwing fastballs and change-ups. Because his change-up is so good, he can usually get away with it. But these Phillies are one of the best hitting teams in the game, and they looked to jump on anything he threw straight.

(I was hoping the national media would pick up on the coincidence of their full names. Halladay’s full name is Harry Leroy Halladay. Rather than go with Harry Halladay, he shortens Leroy and goes with Roy. I probably would’ve done that too. Lincecum’s full name is Timothy Leroy Lincecum and I could only wish he chose to go with Leroy Linecum. How much more epic would he be with the name of Leroy Lincecum?)

Lincecum’s line wasn’t stellar, but he battled. There are times when I think that he can be flakey, with the mechanics excuse he uses when he doesn’t throw well, or because it seems that his dad is still his preferred pitching coach, but he showed his true colors on this night. He gave up two home runs that would’ve been outs in his ball park, walked three, and gave up six hits. But he finished the seventh inning and handed it over to the bullpen with a one-run lead. That’s all you can ask from your ace, especially when he’s facing the universally loved best pitcher in baseball.

I can’t believe I’ve made it this far without mentioning the Giants’ offensive star. He was the offensive star in their NLDS clinching win. And he’s dashing. Dashing Cody Ross hit two long home runs into the left field seats off Halladay, surprising everyone, except for maybe Giants fans who watched him do this against Atlanta. He gave them an unbelievable lift and some major confidence, especially hitting those home runs in Philadelphia against the universally loved best pitcher in baseball.

Closer Brian Wilson had to torture Giants fans because that’s how he does it. But he was effective in striking out Jimmy Rollins to end the eighth (after giving up a base hit to Jayson Werth) and closing out the ninth by striking out the side (though he did hit Carlos Ruiz and went to a 3-0 count on Shane Victorino before striking him out to end the game).

The Giants did their usual dance in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and only one out. All Andres Torres really had to do was lift a ball in the air, but the one thing he couldn’t do was strikeout. Of course, he struck out badly right before Freddy Sanchez flew out to end the inning. A lot has been made of Torres’ great season, and rightfully so, but outside of the numbers, his approach in these situations can be all or nothing, and you can’t have that battling for a championship.

The Giants will have to continue winning to open up eyes across the baseball world. But on this day, in the home park of the defending National League champions, facing the universally loved best pitcher in baseball, they earned some respect. Now, they just have to go out and do it again.

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