As we actually contemplate the possibility of elimination from the postseason, here’s a sober, long entry, with criticisms, boosterisms and serious motivation for our Giants to say:
Victory Can Be Ours. Victory Should Be Ours. and finally, Victory Shall be Ours.
Defending the Dynasty With Attitude
Many of the champions of this team which won the first two world series titles for the City of San Francisco, are, for better or worse due to injuries and age, still with our team. What that means is that we are a Championship Unit.
Whether Matt Cain plays or not, he needs to be an essential part of what it will take to win because he has “playoff experience.” The same applies to Marco Scutaro and, to some extent, Tim Lincecum and Javy and Jeremy. Some of you guys may not be playing up to par or at all, but you are an essential part of our attitude in the dugout and bullpen these next few weeks. It can’t just be “The Preacher” – Hunter needs others to step up and motivate – Gregor, Pablo, you guys, too.
You have to maintain a Champion’s attitude, a Championship mentality. This means an acuteness of focus, concentration and desire. This is not a time for the loosey-goosey attitude that has sometimes taken us to victory in the past. We cannot be looking for lucky breaks like Hunter’s triple-kiss or Brooks Conrad’s brain farts.
If we want our World Series wins to be considered legitimate dominance, we have to show a fierce willingness right now to fight; to compete all the way to the end and to make this happen this year through concentration and will.
Attitude is what that’s about and older players like Scutaro, Cain and Lincecum can and must help everybody on this staff to tighten up their game. It takes 25 guys with one common goal: WIN TODAY. everyday from here on out.
The La Russa/Cardinals Precedent
In 2011, the year we ought to have had Buster and won our second WS, HoF Manager Tony La Russa faced a seriously uphill climb to the playoffs that ended in one of the most exciting last days in baseball in decades. From Wikipedia:
“At the beginning of [August] the Cardinals were 21⁄2 games behind the Brewers in the standings. However, they lost two of three to Milwaukee on the road Aug. 1–3, then did the same at home on Aug. 9–11, giving the Brewers a four-game lead in the NL Central. The team continued to stumble as the Brewers continued to win. Newly acquired shortstop Furcal hit only .240 for the month. The Cardinals went 2–4 on a six-game road trip to Pittsburgh and Chicago, then came home and were swept in three games by a bad Dodger team. After close of business on August 24, the day the Dodgers completed their sweep, St. Louis had fallen ten games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central standings and 101⁄2 games behind the Atlanta Braves (and in third place) in the NL Wild Card standings. Manager Tony La Russa said on the struggles: “I guarantee that the team you have seen the past few weeks is not the team we have, and I believe you will start to see our team tomorrow.” Chris Carpenter and other veterans called for a closed, player-only team meeting, which was held the day after the Dodgers series ended. St. Louis’ odds of making the playoffs stood at 1.3%.
We all know what happened next – one of the most epic collapses by Boston coinciding with a stunning final few weeks for the Cardinals and one of the greatest last days of a season anyone had ever experienced. I was watching four TVs that night, gripped – and the Giants weren’t even in it.
If we want to have that feeling over the next few weeks it’s time for a serious attitude adjustment.
So, I call on Hunter Pence, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson to call for a closed, player-only team meeting. It is time to charge this team up and get them to play with purpose, drive and meaning. We have to fight for the title. Nobody is just going to hand it to us, and it won’t happen at all if we maintain a lackadaisical attitude.
The Mistakes – admit them and fix them
It’s easy to say and hard to do and I wouldn’t be saying it if we hadn’t come out of the gate this season playing so well. We are wholly capable of great defense and turning double-plays consistently. We are designed as a shut down bullpen that follows starting pitching with command. We can do it. We just haven’t been doing it.
Fielding: There have been serious lapses in concentration in the field – Brandon Crawford, I’m talking to you and Panik and Duvall and the rest of the infield here. You have got to meditate, breathe, concentrate, organize yourselves. Realize we are in a fight from here on out. Tighten up guys. You have to cut down the mistakes and get back that easy flow that had you turning doubles.
Pitching/Catching: wild pitches galore! our once mighty bullpen looking like the wheels have fallen off. Again, the time has come to pause briefly, organize ourselves, take a deep breath and throw everything we’ve got at it. There is no time left for tweaking and experimentation. You have got to focus when the pressure is on.
Deny these batters. Shut these games down again. Buster, Andrew and Hector – we need you to take command of these games. George Kontos – this could be your redemption year. (Jeremy don’t worry about that last outing in Washington, blow it off – you had been having a great year and you are a great left handed reliever. Make. It. Happen.)
Hitting – Michael Morse, Buster Posey, Angel Pagan and Pablo Sandoval – you guys should be doing the heavy lifting at the plate. It needs to happen now. You have got to get back the mojo and do it quick. We need hits, runs, RBIs and homers. Come on guys, focus, take your time. Know your opponent. Study, research and own these opposing pitchers and get us some wins.
B-Craw, I just don’t understand what is happening with you at the plate. Sudden mad success against lefties and a bizarre collapse against righties? Seems like that’s a mental issue, not a physical one. I know you can concentrate, take some hitting practice with Wotus or Bam-Bam and get back your rhythm. We need you now, buddy.
Managing – Boch, your legacy is on the line here for better or worse. Many of us had/have issues with you leaving starters in so long and risking games with experimental lineups during the season. Then you won us two World Series and the second you achieved with masterful use of a bullpen by committee.
It is very important to note that Tony La Russa, in that 2011 season, became the first manager in the history of baseball to win a post-season playoff series in which the bullpen pitched more innings than the starters (50/49). This is significant because it represents how the game is changing and requires greater flexibility and a willingness to predict when a guy might fall apart. Can’t be leaving these guys in there to give up runs. It’s way past time of the season to start trusting the ‘pen and shuffling them more as necessary. Lincecum should be a great help in this. I know you can do it.
IMO, Boch, if you want finally to be considered a Hall of Fame manager, winning this year would seal the deal. But you are going to have to be even more flexible, even more adroit and hyper-attenuated to fading skills in our staff or players. It is going to require “GENIUS” level management to pull this off. Make it happen, Skip.
The same applies to you, Rags and Wotus. We have all been together for a long, long time and the good times have been really, really sweet. This has been an incredible ride and it is so rare to keep a staff that is so good together for so long. What a blessing you have all been to us.
But right now, with this team still together, with all we have spent and given up to keep so many of these guys here, we need you to coach/manage your asses off. You have got to assess more harshly, be quicker with the rope if necessary, criticize, push, motivate like you have never done before. Tighten that shit up, guys. Get these hitters hitting, get these pitchers focused. Study the opposition down to the minutiae. Make. It. Happen.
This may be our last time together as a unit to challenge for the World Series and I really don’t want to go down like punks. I know you guys can do it – I’ve seen you do it! Focus, concentration, drive, motivation, a willingness to give it all for the team. Clean up the mistakes. Study the opponents. Get a hold of the greatness in us and let’s win this thing.
SF Giants World Series Champions 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Victory Can Be Ours. Victory Should Be Ours. and finally, Victory Shall be Ours.