Update 10/7: Unfortunately the wild card game went according to script, with Cubs ace Jake Arrieta blanking the Bucs and ending their season. One of those rating guys had the Pirates at 10th of 10 teams in the playoffs, but mostly because they were facing Arrieta. If they'd won this game, they would have been rated 2nd. Which by the way is where they finished in the majors in number of games won. So now a lot of pure baseball fans, and possibly Giants fans, will be rooting for the Cubs to go all the way, because they haven't in such a long time. Not me. I've got enough Pittsburgh still in me to wish them ill, particularly after they put one of the Pirates hitting stars on the disabled list, and after Arrieta plunked two hitters Wednesday. He's riding high now, so he has a "winning attitude" but he seems like an asshole to me. Go, Toronto. Anyway, my baseball season is really over now.
10/4:It went down to the wire but the Pirates won their final regular season game to get home field for the wild card game on Wednesday. Their loss to the Reds Saturday along with the Cubs win meant they had to win Sunday to host the game, which they did. With the likelihood that it's going to be a tense pitchers' duel, home field might mean nothing or it might mean everything in a low scoring game.
This is the third straight year the Pirates will play the wild card game, with a record of 1-1. It's not a fair system, especially when the team with the second best record in all of the Majors--the Pirates--can be eliminated by one bad game, while other teams with a worse record (like the Dodgers) get a series. This is the third year for this system, and though it produced the World Champs last year, it is due for an overhaul.
But where I am, the season is effectively over, because it's over for the SF Giants, and therefore their broadcasters. So the dials on the radios return to the classical station instead of the one that plays really awful country music when it isn't carrying the Giants games.
I doubt I can go cold turkey though, so I'll probably spend some recreational time watching selected games from last year's postseason on YouTube. I'll stick with the Pirates live this year in any medium I can, of course, as long as they're in it.
Saturday at the ball park on the Bay, Tim Hudson was honored, and Sunday it was Jeremy Affeldt, with the astonishing postseason record of 22 consecutive game appearances without giving up a run, including the seventh game of the World Series last year. In the postseasons he pitched in every inning except the first and the ninth.
The best part of the game was the return of Matt Cain, who started and pitched 5 scoreless innings. That was a good transition to next year, though the outcome of the game wasn't--the Giants proceeded with a lead and a shutout throughout the game in some majesty, giving pitchers a few batters and a bow, until with one out in the ninth the Rockies erupted and won the game.
It was Star Wars day on Saturday, so the Giants victory--on 425 foot homers by Marlon Byrd and Brandon Crawford, and an inside-the-park homer by Kelby Tomlinson, who finished the year with a .301 average--was witnessed by a number of Wookies. Jake Peavy pitched another stellar game and got the win.
Sunday was fan appreciation day, and several Giants talked about the unique qualities of Giants fans, and how this combines with the team, from front office to clubhouse. Ryan Vogelsong said it best: "I don't know where I'm going to be next year, or what name is going to be on the front of my uniform. But I do know this--I will always, always be a Giant."
I'm sure lots of teams and cities claim that their fans are the best of all, but in my limited observation, the Giants have a good claim. Pittsburgh fans are passionate, and though that passion extends to the game itself (football or baseball), it is all or nothing, depending on winning or losing. There's deep loyalty but such mood swings of adulation or disgust. Giants fans are more about the fun of the game, loyalty to the team they know, and just constant support. It's probably a class thing but I don't want to get into that now. It adds up to a different kind of excitement. I've seen lots of Pirates games but I've never felt the electricity in the stands as I did in San Francisco.
Most of all, and not surprisingly, I'll miss the announcing team. They've utterly spoiled me. I can't listen to anybody else without wincing. Well, some of the national TV guys are bland enough not to matter, but for radio, nothing like the fab four.