Giants channel 2010 in historic sweep of Dodgers


Giants channel 2010 in historic sweep of Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The novelty of sweeping any team by holding them to zero runs is something to admire. Doing it to the team you hate, better. Doing it to the team you hate when they had the best record in your league, grander still.

And now, with a 3-0 win over Los Angeles to go with the 8-0 and 2-0 wins just before it, the Giants understand that the novelty is done, and the self-satisfaction ended when the cars pulled into the driveways.

That is the game even when you want to preen and have every good reason to do so, the workload is simply too great to allow it. Having comprehensively crushed the Dodgers, the Giants get to bask in it for . . . .

Well, actually, times already up. The second-best team is down and bleeding, but now there are four with Cincinnati, the third best team, and then three with Washington, currently the best team. The Giants, in sum, aced a midterm, and thats all.

Well, almost all. In relocating the best Barry Zito theyve ever known and watching Tim Lincecum resurrect himself, the Giants look as close right now to the team that closed 2010 as it ever has. The starting pitching looks deep again, nobody got hurt in holding the Dodgers to 13 singles and three doubles (although Hector Sanchez looked a but the worse for wear after Wednesday), and the players are convinced again that they are more than one-trick ponies.

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It isnt so much in what they say; they have mastered the art of the buttondown. Having seen the good times and the bad in back-to-back seasons, they have learned the value of equilibrium. And having played a few seasons, they know that exactly zero pennants have been won after Game 76.

At least thats been the case since 1882, and only Jeremy Affeldt remembers that season.

But shutting out the Dodgers thrice does send them a message, albeit a muted one, and it is this: Good teams can dominate bad teams any time, but the best teams can dominate good teams when they are down. The Giants had nothing that had to be done in this series except avoid injuries and maybe relocate their two wayward starters, but they throat-punched the Kemp-less Dodgers in a way they havent managed against any one team since 1954.

And we all know what happened that year, hint-hint-fake-harbinger-chickens-counted-before-hatching.

And shutting out a good team three times, while it is a novelty, also puts some go in their show as they head toward the All-Star Break. They knew they could be good, but this was the first time all year they saw how good they could be.

GAME RECAPS: Game 1, Game 2 & Game 3

Not will continue to be, because they are not without their flaws. They just have fewer of them than they did a year ago not as many outs in the orders, not as many distracted players living off the fat of the Series trophy, not as many injuries, etc.

And let us not forget that the National League is awash with flawed teams; the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp and went sideways, and now they are probably without Andre Ethier until after the All-Star Break. Washington hasnt figured out how to make all their pitching translate into dominance, Cincinnati is all fits and starts, and Atlanta, New York, Arizona, St. Louis and Pittsburgh are largely interchangeable at this point.

But the Giants proved with this series that they are capable of being every bit the unpleasant opponent they were in 2010. They may not recreate that season; only an idiot would venture such a stretch with the season not yet half over.

They have their nasty back, though. The Dodgers are the first team to truly feel its sting, and even if it is just an accident of timing, its an accident that left tire tracks all over the top end of the National League.

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

The real issue that lingers now that OJ Simpson is a free man

O.J. Simpson is free. The system as it is defined by those who run it in the case of the Nevada Parole Board, worked.

But the issue that lingers is whether we can free ourselves of him. That system is far more amorphous, arbitrarty and essentially unfair. And in its own revolting way, it works too.

The O.J. market has always been bullish. The old cliché that people can’t get enough no matter how much you shovel at them is more true for him than for any other sports figure of the last 50 years. More than Tiger Woods. More than LeBron James. More than Michael Jordan. More than all of them.

And now his parole hearing, televised and streamed by every outlet except Home & Garden Television, proved it again. He will never not be O.J.

But he is also 70. He is also planning to go to Florida and be with his family, based on what he told the parole board Thursday. He has assiduously avoided the media in his nine years in Lovelock, and if his family is providing the support it pledges, it will do its utmost to keep him from our prying eyes as he enters his dotage.

There is nothing we have that can do him any good. We have eaten all the forms of O.J. there are, culminating in the Emmy-award winning documentary on him, and finally, his release from prison. If he is wise as well as smart, here’s nothing left of his life but re-airs.

So the question becomes not so much whether he can leave fame alone, or whether fame can leave him alone. Our national appetite is poor on the topic of leaving people be, let alone deciding enough is enough. The fame we make for people gorges, purges and gorges again, in a hideous cycle that demeans all involved.

In sum, O.J. Simpson can, if he is paying attention to the value of normalcy, end his addiction to fame. I have far more serious doubts about fame and its addiction to him.

Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations


Quietest time in sports yields a pair of idiotic fascinations

Some time not that very long ago, someone in sports management who will almost certainly spend all of eternity bobbing for razor-studded apples in a pool of lava saw an opportunity in the phrase, “The quietest time in sports.” And decided to fill it with filth.
It is believed to begin right after the end of the NBA Finals, although that artificial start date has been extended through free agency now that the NBA’s principal entertainment vehicle is the burning of money. It used to be right after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, though now it has been extended backward. And it ends roughly at the beginning of NFL and/or college training camps, depending on where you live and which of those two beasts you profess your God to be.
But let’s get back to the management succubus who has set us on the path that has led inexcusably to the current point. The idea that baseball no longer holds the interest or attention spans of the young, cool and inadequately trained in the value of money is now accepted as fact, and as any marketing nitwit will tell you, nature abhors a vacuum.
So here’s what we’ve got. Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in what is very simply a lazy-stereotype-laden comedy tour that isn’t funny let alone even mildly convincing. They have both been on the stage too long, with a month still to go before the final shame-off August 26, where they simply enter the arena, stand with their backs to each other at the ring rope and spend 45 minutes trying to target-spit into the eyes of the high-rollers. Why the promoters didn’t just muzzle Mayweather and McGregor and use actual professionals like Key and Peele and Aisling Bea and Ed Byrne to work the crowds for a million per is simply a lack of imagination at work.
Here’s what else we have. Our idiotic fascination for Lonzo Ball’s two best Summer League games being achieved wearing shoes other than those promoted by his father/huckster as though his skills and intelligence are all in his feet.
What this actually is, of course, is people using Lonzo’s momentary and mostly microscopic achievement to call LaVar a tedious swine without ever using his name or his product catalog because he, like McGregor and Mayweather, beats down crowds and calls it entertainment, and people have signed on in a weird backdoor way – by finding reasons to like the son as a weapon against the father.
Thus, Lonzo Ball gets to learn how to be a professional athlete of note while carrying the load of his father’s impression upon the nation as well as the loads of those who believe that sins of the father must revert to the son. Popularity’s dominant property is its corrosion, and Ball will have to have very fast feet and well-constructed shoes indeed to dance away from the rising tide of a bored fan base with an ax to grind.
It isn’t as instantly gratifying a train wreck as Mayweather-McGregor, but it is a triumph of the new marketing strategy of wholesale idiocy that diminishes the watcher as well as the watched.
Neither of these events are in and of themselves interesting. Mayweather-McGregor is simply a kangaroo boxing a bear because circus entertainment no longer has circuses as venues, and Ball’s summer bears almost no relationship to the true test of his career – how to be the best player on a terrible team and then make the adjustment to being the third best player on a rebuilding team.
Ball has a longer shelf life because of that single useful component, but it is made less rather than more interesting by the presence of his father, who is now indelibly part of the tale at a time when most parents leave their children to find their fortunes by the virtues of their skills and wits.
McGregor-Mayweather has the sole benefit of being cringeworthy both before, during and after the event, a month-long smear of degradation that reduces all involved, including those who buy the fight, into penitents, into rolling apologies. It is an event in which nobody gets out with any shred of dignity, with the single revolting example of the grisly accountant-beasts who will take the Internal Revenue’s cut immediately after the fight.
And if that isn’t Satan winning, then you don’t know how to score a game in which Satan plays on all the teams at once and sees to it that the game is scheduled in the middle of July because some client of his told him it was the best time of year for personal and professional disgrace with a scoreboard on the end of it.