Friday, June 22, 2012

Territorial Pissings - Previewing the Bay Bridge Series

Oh, how quickly things can change.It was only yesterday that I flipped on 95.7 The Game just in time to hear that Yoenis Cespedes walked off the Dodgers with a 3-run shot in the 9th inning to complete the sweep.  This was sweet news to my ears - after all, the Giants had all kinds of trouble getting anything going against the Angels, and they need all the help they can get trying to catch the Dodgers.Giants fans wake up today with a much different feeling.  As if all the "You're welcome, Giants fans" posts on social media weren't enough to grind gears, tonight is the first game of the final 3-game set between the two Bay Area squads and, quite frankly, this one feels like it has a little more juice than in years past.

Here's what I see

 A's fans are feeling mighty cocky after sweeping the Giants' interstate rivals, and as well they should be.  They did the Giants a favor and they looked good in the process.  They're also a little critical of the Giants, who pretty much got owned by the Angels this week and by the AL West as a whole in 2012.

Giants fans know that they need every win they can get their hands on if they're going to give the Dodgers a flat tire on the way to the playoff chow line.  It doesn't matter who they get the wins from, but hey - if they come from the Athletics, that's all the better.
Then there's the whole issue of territorial rights, something that probably pisses off the teams' respective ownership groups more than their respective fan bases.  Giants fans could probably care less one way or another where the A's play.  My guess is that most A's fans would rather not see their team moved to San Jose, in which case they're most likely rooting, not necessarily for the Giants ownership, but more against Lew Wolfe & Co.  Regardless of your feelings on the territorial battles, there's bound to be some added tension, as both teams are in conflict with one another - more so off the field than when they're actually playing.
The Giants took 2 out of 3 from the Athletics when they showed up at AT&T Park in May, which means that it's the A's turn to show what they got in their own digs.  Sitting 9 games behind the first place Texas Rangers, it's hard to imagine the A's roaring back to win the division.  But Oakland is only 2 games under .500, meaning they aren't just playing for bragging rights anymore (especially with the extra wild card now in place).  Should the A’s complete a sweep, they’ll pop out on the other side of this series with a winning record.
The Giants would be leading the NL West easily if it weren't for the high-flying Dodgers, so there's no mystery what's at stake for them.  There's no way to paint a June series as monstrous, but this one just FEELS more important.

Without further ado, here's what we're looking forward to

Tonight: Tim Lincecum vs. Jarrod Parker
7:05 PM
What to watch for: The fate of Tim Lincecum rests on this start tonight. With a ballooning ERA of 6.19 and confidence at an all time low, Major
League Baseball's eyes will be on the two time Cy Young winner.  Should he have another bad outing, manager Bruce Bochy may look to skip Lincecum's spot in the rotation, or worse.  It will be interesting to see how Timmy handles facing Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban defector that has exceeded expectations for the Athletics this year.  The Giants avoided facing the A's most dangerous bat the first time around, but they won't be so lucky this time, as Cespedes is healthy and raking.  Will Timmy be able to bottle up Cespedes, or will we see a Paul Goldschmidt redux?

Saturday: Madison Bumgarner vs. Tyson Ross
4:15 PM
What to watch for:  Madison Bumgarner will look to build on a spectacular 2012 resume vs. a very unfamiliar A's offense.  Only three players in the Athletics' line up have faced Bumgarner in the past - Seth Smith (0-3), Brandon Inge (0-2), and Jonny Gomes, who is 1-5 - with that 1 being a 3-run homer.

Sunday: Matt Cain vs. Brandon McCarthy
1:05 PM
What to watch for: The A's will trot Brandon McCarthy and his 2.54 ERA (4th in the AL) out to the mound to take on Matt Cain in his second start since the perfecto.  Considering that neither team is really destroying the baseball right now, perhaps this is a good time to throw 100 bucks on the under and sit back, prepared to watch a pitcher's duel. Both McCarthy and Cain have been excellent in 2012 - there's no reason to think that it won't continue on Sunday.


  1. I find the territorial rights a funny issue. How easy it is for most Giant fans to forget that in the early 90's it was the Haas family, owners of the A's, that gave the Giants that terroitory to begin with to prevent them bolting for Tampa Bay. Now the ball is in their court and they are taking it and going home.

  2. I don't have a huge A's fan following (honestly, Dan you may be the only one), but I'd love to see how many A's fans actually WANT to see their team move to San Jose. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if many hold with the same belief, that the A's did the Giants a favor and now the Giants are being indian-givers with something that they don't even want in the first place (San Jose). Do you want the A's to move to SJ, Dan?