Monday, July 13, 2009

Using the "M" Word: Finally It's Our Time Now

I've taken Tim Kawakami to task over the years for a number of articles he has written and ideas espoused, but I think he's a smart guy and his recent column about this being a Magical season for the Giants was spot on.

Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter is "just the latest sign of Giants magic", Kawakami's headline noted:

Maybe this is just going to be one of those miracle, unexplainable, unfathomable seasons for the Giants.

What else is there to think after watching Jonathan Sanchez, of all people, throw the Giants' first no-hitter in 33 years?

I totally agree. I did not actively or consciously think that before reading Tim's great column, but I think that is correct, this has been a magical season for the Giants. Who could imagine that the Giants would be 49-39, with one of the best records in the NL West, NL, and majors? I thought that the Giants were capable of being better than .500, but not this good, and certainly not given all the problems they have faced this season.

Some of it makes sense - Cain finally being the great ace he had shown glimpses of, Sandoval being the real deal, Sandoval starting to hit for power, Rowand hitting like he can, Ishikawa finally showing what his minor stats showed - but some of it is inexplicable - like how are we 49-39 when Randy Johnson has a 4.81 ERA, Zito has a 5.01 ERA, and Sanchez has been lost this whole season until the no-hitter, when Molina is hitting so poorly overall, when Buriss, Downs, and Frandsen at 2B duplicated the horrible stats that Giants shortstops did last season, when Renteria had another poor hitting first half, when Fred Lewis suddenly reverted back to little league Freddie Lewis and couldn't hit to save his life, when Randy Winn has clearly started his career decline phase, striking out too many times from April to June and having his worse season since the beginning of his career, when Aurilia was MIA for a couple of months offensively, when Jesus Guzman couldn't save his MLB tryout? These are all items that a Giants fan could point to as problem or worry areas but inexplicably, we are 10 games above .500 and in the lead for the Wild Card spot.

Maybe it is magic, maybe it is a miracle, as Kawakami astutely wrote. It is also a lot of good hitting and pitching:
  • Sandoval has a hit in 8 of his last 9 games, hitting .382/.432/.824/1.256 with 4 HR in 34 AB, and since June 4th, has hit .376/.440/.737/1.177 with 12 HR and 35 RBI in 133 AB and 37 games.
  • Ishikawa just ended a 10 game hitting streak, where he batted .351/.351/.568/.919 with 2 HR in 37 AB, and since his May 10th "demotion" has hit .312/.368/.528/.896 with 7 HR and 20 RBI in 125 AB and 36 starts (41 games).
  • Winn has started hitting like his old self in late June and we can use that production the rest of the season: .339/.371/.458/.829 since June 27.
  • Molina since June 29th has hit .342/.317/.526/.843 with 8 RBI in 38 AB and 10 games - maybe his wife being pregnant has been weighing on his mind.
  • Rowand since May 16th has been hitting .321/.367/.515/.882 with 7 HR and 27 RBI in 196 AB and 48 starts (50 games), and from June 19th to July 11th, .291/.349/.481/.830 with 3 HR in 79 AB.
  • Renteria since June 23 has hit .322/.354/.407/.761 with 11 RBI in 59 AB and only 8 K's.
  • Uribe since he started starting regularly on May 23, has hit .308/.336/.515/.851, with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 130 AB, 35 starts (38 games).
  • Schierholtz, since he started starting regularly on June 11th, has hit .323/.363/.473/.836 with 3 HR and 13 RBI in 93 AB and 23 starts (30 games).
  • And, of course, all the great pitching! Particularly Cain, Lincecum, and the bullpen, plus now the no-hitter.
They have averaged 4.8 runs per game in July, 4.5 runs per game since Bochy started kicking some butts on May 10th. They have hit 47 HR in the 59 games since May 10th, a 129 HR season pace. Since the start of June, when Pablo and others (Ishikawa, Schierholtz, Rowand)started hitting more HR, they hit 37 HR in 39 games, or 154 HR season pace.

The pitching staff has been likewise great. Since May 10th, they have allowed 3.5 runs per game, with a 3.31 ERA and 7.9 K/9 and 2.5 K/BB with 1.24 WHIP. We have been 34-25 since then. Since June began, they have allowed 3.3 runs per games, with a 3.13 ERA and 8.0 K/9 and 2.6 K/BB with 1.16 WHIP, with a 24-15 record. That accounts for most of our record over .500. Though Johnson is out, if Sanchez is back to his early 2008 season form, our starting pitching should be improved, as that would be better than what Johnson was doing plus Sadowski looks like he can easily beat what Sanchez had done for us up to the no-hitter.

Not that any of this means that we will even make the playoffs, let alone win it all. But it has been a great season for those of us who enjoy such things, not so much for those clinging to the past or expecting the other shoe to fall next. I think it is better to enjoy the moment, however long it lasts.

And as Ray Ratto noted this weekend, the Giants just should say "screw it" and give renewal contracts to both Sabean and Bochy. Now.

Go Giants! Congrats on the great first half, keep up the good work! As Scott Ostler aptly noted, cautious optimism is the codeword for the Giants second half.

Giants Signature Song

In this vein, I would propose that the Giants use the song, "It's Our Time Now" by the Plain White T's as the their signature song in the 7th inning. Joan Ryan has written about this in her blog here and here about how the Giants need a signature song but the D-gers stole Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" as ironically Journey's Steve Perry is a huge Giants fan. She asked for fan's suggestions and this is what I suggested there and now bringing it to the attention of readers of my blog.

I think this song is the perfect song and band for the Giants signature song, at least for this season, if not for this generation of Giants, almost akin to the "You Gotta Like These Kids" slogan that defined the Will Clark era. If you listen to the song and the lyrics, it is very peppy, very up-beat, very appropriate to some of the feelings we have about our next generation Giants. Following are some lyrics, not all of them, but some I think are appropriate regarding the Giants:

"There will be no rules tonight...
Nothing's gonna stop us now...
Nervous hands and anxious smiles...
I can feel the butterflies...
This is right where we belong...
These are the times that we'll remember,
Breaking the city's sight together,
Finally, it's our time now!"

And the lead singer looks a little like the Kid, Timmy Lincecum (Lincecum is better looking, though), so the Giants could do something like copy the band's music video and have Lincecum lip sync the song and do a dance for the video. Or if he don't want to do that, perhaps the Giants could commission a special video with the band and Lincecum together doing something, or, even better, perhaps change some of the lyrics to make it Giants specific, just shell out some of that money they were thinking of spending on Manny. They could even have them come in after a game for a concert, extra for the fans.

Here are two YouTube vids of the band, for your viewing pleasure:
Video One shows lyrics
Video Two shows lyrics
Official Music Video inspired by "The Graduate" with its iconic ending

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