Peaks and valleys and millions of Chicken Littles, folks. Welcome to October baseball.
After Tuesday's game, Giants fans, the national media and everyone but the Pope were practically ready to thrust the winners of Game 1 into the heralded circle of the unvanquished and invincible. But terrible starting/relief pitching and a few dropkicked balls in the field in Game 2 suddenly plummeted Felipe's troops into a gorge filled with man-eating Marlins, or so the legions of naysayers and pessimists would have you think.
A day can make a difference, can't it? Well, that all depends on reality vs. perception. The perception of every sports scribe, talking head on the networks and the drunk at the end of the bar is that the Giants are in serious trouble. Take this to heart, Giants fans: That's their job, especially the drunk. More importantly, that sentiment is just part of the territory come playoff time. Managers will be second-guessed, every pitch is all-important, the winning team of any game is on its way to the Promised Land and the loser might as well pack its bags. Each one of those makes for intriguing perceptions.
After Jason Schmidt flambéed the fish with fiery fastballs on Tuesday, the Marlins showed enough gumption to upend the Giants in their house. Helping their cause was Sidney Ponson who looked like he'd rather be anywhere other than a pitching mound in a playoff game. Then the trio of Benito Santiago-Marquis Grissom-Jose Cruz nary made a loud out, let alone the impact they need to make as Bonds draws free passes to first in almost every at bat.
You didn't expect this to be easy, did you? The wire-to-wire first place finish is as easy as it's going to get since the three other NL teams (not to mention the remaining four in the American League) who can either sit ‘em down in grand fashion or knock the ball way, WAY out of the yard. The road to the World Series is one of the most formidable ones to date, with balanced and determined teams littering all of the lanes. Again, the 2003 World Series will be no easy feat.
So stop stressing, Giants fan brethren! Relax, and undo your hangman's noose or drop that vile of arsenic. The reality is that there are still at least two games to be played and the Giants could very well take both of them. Although the idiot and disgruntled/jealous Dodger fan by the water cooler at work today may have told you otherwise, a series is never over at 1-1. Not even 2-1, for that matter. And take this to heart: Dusty won't be in the visitor's dugout kissing the charm on his necklace instead of competently managing. Veterans and a hungry Alou will be there.
A veteran like Barry Bonds understands the current reality of the team's situation as they embark to what will be a suddenly sold out Pro Player Stadium. "You can't worry about home field advantage,'' the future Hall of Fame slugger said. ``If you can't win on the road, you shouldn't be playing."
Exactly. It's 1-1. Now calm down.
Keith Larson writes for SFDugout.com because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at email@example.com, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.
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