A few days ago, the Los Angeles Bums punched their ticket to the playoffs. Just saying that makes me want to brush my teeth with soap. I hate those Dodgers.
The Giants, meanwhile, still have some work to do. To get a better sense of what the Giants face, let's refresh our memories of how the new cockamamie playoff system works. First, recall that there are two leagues, the National League and the American League. Within each league, there are three divisions, the West, Central, and East divisions with five teams per division. The teams that win each division are guaranteed passage into the playoffs. Easy.
But we need a fourth team!
Enter the wild card. Er, wild cards. Starting in 2012, the playoff format changed from having one wild-card team to two. Now, the two non-first-place teams with the best records will be the wild-cards and will face each other in a one-game, wild-card playoff, the winner of which will fill the fourth spot in the playoff-playoffs. Get that? Me neither.
Just know this: Right now, after 156 games, the Giants are 85-71, in second-place in the National League West, 3.5 games behind the Bums. Now, we can hope against hope and believe the Giants can still win the NL West, but realistically, nah. That means we need to look at the wretched wild-card spots. And right now, it looks like those two teams will be the Giants and the Pirates.
But to hell with all of that. There are still six games left. The Bums' magic number is still sitting at 3. Korean tacos are still a thing. Anything is possible!
Last night, the Giants took their first step in their late-season push to take down the Bums, by, well, taking down the Bums. After 13 innings, the Giants emerged with a 5-2 victory. They go at it again tonight. The Giants have to win. If the Giants lose tonight and tomorrow night, the Bums clinch the NL West, at home, at Chavez Ravine, and the Giants will have to watch as the Bums circle around the field to give high-fives to the dozen or so fans that stayed past the 7th-inning stretch. This can not happen. It will not happen.
I have never lived in another city, nor have I ever rooted for a non-Bay Area sports team (except for Tottenham Hotspur, but that's soccer and so no one cares), and I do not know how much love other fan bases heap upon their sports heroes. I like to think they do so a lot, because I know we do. The Bay Area has produced and hosted an incredible panoply of athletes. And we love them all.
Among the most beloved, someone who sits at the highest echelon of adoration, is Willie McCovey. Stretch. Willie Mac. He debuted in the Majors with the Giants in 1959 and took his last at-bat as a pro with the Giants in 1980. Very few SFist readers have probably ever seen him play, but he has loomed large in our minds much as he did when he stepped into the batter's box. When you look at the right-field wall and see the list of Giants who have hit over 500 home runs, you'll see Big Mac's name there. When you look over the right-field wall, you'll see McCovey Cove. Look out further still and you'll see McCovey's statue keeping guard over McCovey Point. And each year, the Giants players select one of their own for the Willie Mac Award, the highest recognition given by the team.
Willie McCovey is a treasure, full-stop.
He is also in ill-health. He is 76 years old and was hospitalized last week for complications from an infection. The team says he is recovering. Here's hoping that he does.
The final week of the regular season:
Mon: at the Bums (WON)
Tue: at the Bums
Wed: at the Bums
Thu: home against the Padres
Fri: home against the Padres
Sat: home against the Padres
Sun: home against the Padres