Will Underdog Card Be Giants' Trump?
If Lincecum is in any way unable to offer his freakish best, the team will be written off before tomorrow's Game 1 vs. Philadelphia. Athletes often thrive off of the "Nobody believed in us! But WE believed in us!" mantra. If so, the Giants couldn't be in a better place right now.
First, the obvious: On paper, the Phillies are indeed a superior team to San Francisco. Both teams have exquisite pitching and normally reliable bullpens. But Philadelphia's lineup stacks one hitter after another. They're not the '27 Yankees, as so many locals seem to think, but they're plenty good. This is the type of team that goes deep into the playoffs; if there's a gaping weakness in that lineup, it's hard to spot. Philly is not heading to its third consecutive National League Championship Series based on its good looks alone.
So, it makes one appear conventionally intelligent to choose Philadelphia. They're the better team -- an excuse that holds even if the Giants win. Philly may or may not beat San Francisco best four out of seven -- but they'd near certainly take the Giants 51 out of 100. So picking them is easy -- and safe.
With this Giants team, however, short series predictions are near impossible. The team scores few runs except on the occasion it scores many. The pitching is so lights out that it can make up for anemic performances at the plate -- except when it doesn't. The bullpen is lights out -- except when Sergio Romo suddenly loses his mojo. In all my years of watching good, bad, and ugly Giants teams, I've never seen so dichotomous and unpredictable a squad.
Perhaps that's part of their charm.