The Giants are heading to the World Series

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The Giants are heading to the World Series

From Comcast SportsNetSAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- After all the Giants had overcome to get back to the World Series, a late shower wasn't about to dampen their celebration.All right, it was a driving downpour.So reliever Sergio Romo danced through the raindrops, Tim Lincecum helped lead a soaked victory lap around the ballpark and Angel Pagan stayed on the field with his daughter long after his teammates took the party indoors.Hunter Pence got the Giants going with a weird double, Matt Cain pitched his second clincher of October and San Francisco closed out Game 7 of the NL championship series in a rainstorm, routing the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 on Monday night."The rain never felt so good," series MVP Marco Scutaro said. "We're going to the World Series, this is unbelievable."San Francisco won its record-tying sixth elimination game of the postseason, completing a lopsided rally from a 3-1 deficit.The Giants, who won it all in 2010, will host reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Triple Crown slugger Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 on Wednesday night.Verlander is set to pitch Wednesday's opener at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy insisted before Monday's game he had not planned any further in advance.Scutaro produced his sixth multihit game of the series and matched an LCS record with 14 hits and Pablo Sandoval drove in a run for his fifth straight game."These guys never quit," Bochy said. "They just kept believing and they got it done."After falling behind 3-1 in the series at Busch Stadium, the Giants outscored the wild-card Cardinals 20-1 over the final three games behind stellar starting pitching from Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Cain.They also benefited from some strange bounces.On Pence's double that highlighted a five-run third, his bat broke at the label on impact, then the broken barrel hit the ball twice more. That put a rolling, slicing spin on the ball and caused it to change directions -- leaving shortstop Pete Kozma little chance to make the play. Kozma broke to his right, figuring that's where the ball would go, but it instead curved to left-center."It was going to go in the hole and it ended up going up the middle," Kozma said.Injured closer Brian Wilson, with that out-of-control bushy black beard, danced in the dugout and fans in the sellout crowd of 43,056 kept twirling their orange rally towels even through rain in the late innings -- a downright downpour when Romo retired Matt Holliday on a popup to Scutaro to end it.Romo embraced catcher Buster Posey as fireworks went off over McCovey Cove beyond right field."It's just very fitting the way everything has gone for us this season," Romo said of ending in the rain. "The ups and downs, the injuries, the personal issues, whatever. What a ride for us all. It's very, very fitting that it rained right there."The NL West champion Giants won their first postseason clincher at home since the 2002 NLCS, also against the Cardinals.These 2012 Giants have a couple of pretty talented castoffs of their own not so different from that winning combination of 2010 "castoffs and misfits" as Bochy referred to his bunch -- with Scutaro right there at the top of the list this time around.Acquired July 27 from the division rival Colorado Rockies, Scutaro hit .500 (14 for 28) with four RBIs in the NLCS. The 36-year-old journeyman infielder, playing in his second postseason and first since 2006 with Oakland, became the first player in major league history with six multihit games in an LCS.Now, he's headed to his first World Series.The Giants have All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to thank for helping his teammates secure home-field advantage in the postseason -- while Cain was the winning pitcher the National League's 8-0 victory in July. Cabrera was suspended 50 games Aug. 15 for a positive testosterone test, then wasn't added to the roster by the Giants after his suspension ended.After rain fell on the Cardinals during batting practice, the skies turned blue and the weather cooperated. Anxious players on both sides hung over the dugout rails as the game began.Cain joined St. Louis' Chris Carpenter as the only pitchers with victories in two winner-take-all games in the same postseason. Carpenter, who lost Games 2 and 6 in this series, did it last year.Cain also pitched the Giants' Game 5 division series clincher at Cincinnati, when San Francisco became the first team in major league history to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a five-game series by winning three consecutive road games."I think to do it, the guys actually have to believe it can happen," Posey said.He delivered on an even bigger stage Monday as San Francisco saved its season once again. The Giants won their 20th NL pennant and reached their 19th World Series.Cain walked off the mound to a standing ovation when Jeremy Affeldt entered with two outs in the sixth. Affeldt then got Daniel Descalso to pop out with two runners on.Yadier Molina had four hits but got little help from the rest of the Cardinals, who went 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position over their final three games."It's about the team that's hot, and we went on a cold streak," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We got to this point by being that team that was hot and taking advantage of opportunities. But we just couldn't make it happen these last two games."Cain added an RBI single to his cause and got some sparkling defense behind him.The play of the game went to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who made a leaping catch of Kyle Lohse's liner to end the second inning with runners on second and third that would have been a run-scoring hit.In the third, Scutaro, the second baseman, made a tough stop on a short hop by Carlos Beltran, and left fielder Gregor Blanco ran down a hard-hit ball by Allen Craig in left-center to end the inning.Cain's second-inning single made San Francisco the first team in major league postseason history to have a starting pitcher drive in a run in three straight elimination games.Brandon Belt hit a solo homer in the eighth for his first clout of the postseason.It took production from everybody, even the pitchers, for these scrappy Giants to rally back from the brink one more time.Cain certainly did his part to keep the staff rolling.The 16-game winner, who didn't surrender an earned run during his team's title run two years ago, reached 46 pitches through two innings but settled in nicely the rest of the way to avenge a loss to Lohse in Game 3.Cain even got to repay Holliday for his hard slide into Scutaro at second base in Game 2 here a week earlier. Cain plunked Holliday in the upper left arm leading off the sixth, drawing cheers from the crowd.The right-hander escaped trouble in the second with runners on second and third when Crawford made his catch.Holliday returned to the lineup after missing Game 6 a night earlier with tightness in his lower back. He received loud boos when he stepped in to hit in the first from a fan base still angry about his slide that injured Scutaro's hip.Beltran is still left 0-fer the World Series, winless in three Game 7s during his 15-year career. And to think just last fall he was on the other side with the Giants as they missed the playoffs a year after winning the club's first World Series since moving West in 1958."If you look at the games we made a lot of mistakes and they didn't make any," Beltran said. "They took advantage of those. They were able to put things together, offense, pitching, defense, and we couldn't do that."The Cardinals went an NL-best 12-4 from Sept. 16 to the end of the season to earn the NL's second wild card on the second-to-last day of the season, then won 6-3 in a winner-take-all playoff at Atlanta to reach the division series. The Cardinals then rallied from a 6-0 deficit with a four-run ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals 9-7 in Game 5.Sandoval's run-scoring groundout in the first that put his team ahead gave him at least one RBI in five straight postseason games, matching home run king Barry Bonds' franchise record set in 2002.Now, Sandoval and the Giants get to play on."It's just surreal. The victory lap right there was the greatest thing," said Zito, left off the 2010 postseason roster for all three rounds but now a candidate to pitch Game 1. "We play best when our backs are against the wall."NOTES:The Giants snapped an 0-5 skid in deciding Game 7s. ... The Tigers and Giants will meet for the first time in the postseason.

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

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USATSI

GMs have taken all the fun out of Trade Deadline day

The NHL trade deadline came and went Monday night when the Washington Capitals went chips-in on St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

(For the record, the actual details of the trade are so absurdly complicated that all you will be permitted to know here is that the Caps got Shattenkirk).

But the fact is that, yet again, all the air rushed out of Wednesday’s trade deadline balloon for the hockey media, and the poor sods on set to babysit all the deal-lets and non-deals will weep bitterly as their phones spit out hour after hour of non-information.

At least that’s the way it is playing now. Maybe Pittsburgh will finally close that long-rumored (well, by me, anyway) Sidney Crosby-for-Phil Di Giuseppe deal, but that’s not the way to bet.

But the trade deadline has been slowly but surely dying as general managers find far greater advantage in making their deals away from the time crunch and the persistent phone calls from other general manager, agents and worst of all, media weasels.

For example, the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans broke the NBA trade deadline as well as the All-Star Game by doing the DeMarcus Cousins deal four days early and midway through the first half, in that order.

And though this wasn’t actually a trade, the Golden State Warriors broke the market back in July by maneuvering their way for the prize of the summer – Zaza Pachulia.

Oh, and the other guy.

In short, the general managers seem to have figured out the simplest way to foil the pressures of the trade deadline – by ignoring the deadline and acting ahead of time, creating their own spoiler alerts by spoiling everyone’s fun before they were fully alerted.

And that leaves the rest of us faced with an empty day of blather after we’ve all gone to the trouble of doubling down on beer and chips.

Ultimately the idea behind the coverage of a trade is to break the news of the trade whenever it happens. And the idea of the trade from the general manager’s view is to better the team and minimize the chance of being fired.

All laudable goals, by and large.

But a trade deadline without some recognizable trades is just another day when you can’t fake working, and who needs that?

What’s needed here then is a trade deadline with teeth and real tangible punishments for everyone involved. I mean, we have chips and guacamole to think of.

For instance, there is no reason why the leagues couldn’t install rules that say that no trade can be announced even to any of the principals (players, agents, medioids, et. al.) except on the day of the deadline. Any teams involved in a deal that breaks the embargo is fined a massive amount of the owners’ (as in both teams’ owners) money.

To make this work, the teams would have to agree no trade could be made between, say, Thanksgiving and the deadline. Or Christmas, depending on how you feel about tryptophan overdosing. But the point is, nothing could get done until the agreed-upon deadline, and it could only be announced to anyone on the day of the deadline.

This is profoundly unfair to the players, of course, but that little issue has never bothered management before when the alternative was money.

It is also not much fun for the media, which has to twiddle its opposables floating rumors that can’t be proven or disproven except on that one day when everyone works from midnight to midnight, wired to the eyelids on six-buck coffee and enough green tea to turn a gall bladder into a souvenir ash tray.

No, this is about making a worthwhile and ironclad trade deadline for the good of the sport, and the business.

Okay, this is about our amusement.

We all like trade deadlines. It gives order to the market, and it centers everyone’s focus on one hyper-adrenalized day to watch out for double-, triple- and quadruple-crosses from general managers wanting to jump each others’ action in search of their own personal Shattenkirks.

It spikes Verizon stock, it makes lots of business for movers and real estate vultures, it provides cheap and disposable fame for about two-thirds of the players in the league, and it makes everyone involved look like twitchy red-eyed zombies on television.

It beats the Bachelorette every time, because among other things it looks a lot more like parents do when they’ve been up all day and night with the colic farms.

In short, a trade deadline is a precious thing not to be discarded just because it’s inconvenient for a few suits and about-to-be-moved employees.

So yeah, Kevin Shattenkirk could have held another day or so. You know, for the good of the game.

 

Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

Curry blames weatherman for career-worst 0-for-11 from 3-point range

In the wake of a 119-108 Warriors win over the 76ers Monday night in Philadelphia, Stephen Curry had a ready explanation for his 0-of-11 shooting 3-point distance.

He didn’t properly account for the change in weather.

“The weatherman said it’s like a low-pressure system that was coming in (and) I forgot to adjust to the thickness of the air,” he told reporters at Wells Fargo Center.

Curry’s comment may open to interpretation, but it was clear his sense of humor remained intact even after a career-worst shooting night beyond the arc.

He wasn’t the only Warrior finding it difficult to score from deep. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green combined to go 5-of-20. The Warriors were 6-of-29 from deep, their second-lowest total of the season.

“It’s weird,” he said. “Not to discredit anything they did. The first half we had a lot of open looks that didn’t go in. Klay made a couple down the stretch. KD made one. Draymond made one from the corner.

“Other than that we still took really good shots that didn’t go in. But for us to still have moxie to withstand that and still pretty much have the lead the whole game and allow our defense to get us a win tonight was kind of our M.O.”

Given that Curry owns the single-game record for triples (13) as well as the single-season record (402), it was most alarming that he couldn’t find at least one. And he had opportunities.

“It happens but you have to try and find other ways to impact the game,” he said. “I was trying to get to the paint a little bit more and just try to make plays. One thing is I don’t get down on myself. Obviously, that’s why I got 11 of them up. I still have confidence the next one is going in and that will stay the same tomorrow.”

The Warriors face the Wizards Tuesday in Washington. In Curry’s last appearance at the Verizon Center, last Feb. 3, he went for 51 points. He was 11-of-15 from deep.

“What I love about Steph is he went 0-11 tonight from three but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at his face,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He never loses confidence; he never hangs his head. It is a sign of a guy with ultimate confidence in his ability and the awareness that it is one of those nights.

“He is likely to come out tomorrow and make about seven in a row at some point. So that’s what I love about Steph. He keeps playing.”