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10/28 Postseason Review: Improbable Cause

Giants 9, Rangers 0 (San Francisco leads series 2-0)

I admire baseball because it has patterns and regularities in the long term while being totally unpredictable from day to day. Over the course of a full season, some teams and some players are very obviously better at certain things than others. However, all of that knowledge is useless at predicting the outcome of a single pitch or plate appearance. Baseball is like the edge of a knife: you can easily tell how sharp it is by holding it in your hand, but if you were ten nanometers tall, the blade would have more hills, valleys, and craters than the surface of the moon.

The Giants are, charitably, a mediocre offensive team, yet they dumped 13 runs on a respectable pitching staff in two huge innings this week. Really incredible stuff. Awesome stuff. The fact that I know it's really unlikely makes it amazing to watch, like those YouTube videos of people draining many consecutive three-pointers from the wrong end of the court. Of course, Jayson Stark had to get all boogy-woogy about it:

In our hearts, we know it can't possibly be intangible stuff like fate that determines who wins the World Series. Right?

It can't be destiny. It can't be biorhythms. It can't be mystical forces in the heavens that suddenly converge to change the outcome of postseason baseball games. It can't be about cosmic spookiness in any shape or form. Right?

But there is something going on these days by the shores of McCovey Cove that can't possibly be explained by any Baseball Prospectus computers, or by Bill James, or even by Jon Miller.

I know, I get it. It's just a hyperbolic lead for the rest of the story, although mentioning Jon Miller in the same breath as Bill James is more of a mixed metaphor than "Jello Biafra is more punk than Iggy Pop, Sid Vicious, or even Olivia Newton-John" (did I do that right? I'm not a punk, but I'm playing to the crowd). Of course Stark goes on to explore some explanations for what he's already set up as inexplicable, falling back on, you know, "grinding it out" and stuff.

Come on, Jayson, why so serious? I'm as sober a baseball fan as you'll find, but there's no point chasing explanations here. This just is. Nowhere else can you witness the kind of long-term regularity with short-term chaos we're seeing in this series, except maybe on the stock market. In only one of them do your kids still get to go to college after a serious downturn.

Enjoy the awesome while it lasts, and hope it lasts long enough to send the Rangers packing. I mean, how about this for awesome: the Giants paid about $45 million this year--nearly half their total payroll--for players who are filling minor roles on their postseason roster, or aren't on it all, because they either (1) suck too much (2) got released (3) are under federal scrutiny (4) had known health issues when they signed with the team (5) are playing for the Rangers. That's right. And you thought the Angels flushed a ton of money this season.

That same team has a pretty nice headstart on their opponent for a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. How wild is that? It would be on YouTube if it weren't for the ridiculous DMCA. Save the grit and destiny and just savor the improbability. Feels like I'm witnessing a once-in-a-century volcanic eruption from a lawnchair in my backyard. Except in that particular fantasy, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver aren't standing next to me, but tied to a stake right at the summit.