Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Giants and Yankees: A Comparison of Today and Yesterday.

When this morning’s baseball standings were observed they showed the Yankees at 18 and 4 and the Giants at 17 and 4, basically identical. It is true that April is still with us and the season has a long way to go. Nevertheless, each team has put significant distance between itself and the most likely pursuers. A game won in April looks the same in the standings at the end of the year as a game won in October.

Click Read more and let’s talk about the Giants and the Yankees and their starts this season, let me know what you think of my analysis. The records of the two teams provoke one to ask, is there anything so similar about these two clubs that an explanation is provided to the query why are they so predominant in these early stages of the season?

Questions concerning the Yankees are easy to answer.

Over a season long 162 games they are clearly the best team in their league. They can afford to lose an outstanding player such as Jeter without missing a step. Thay have such a strong pitching rotation that they can play without Rivera and still have an 18 and 4 record. When they needed an outfielder they outbid everyone interested in Matsui. It was no contest. They had more starting pitchers than they knew what to do with but it turned out that the Red Sox, their perennial, in their shadow, losing rival, intended to sign a Cuban pitcher with a reputation, Contreras. In order to prevent that from happening the Yankees threw 32 million dollars over four years at him and signed him. Their need for him was so great that he is presently in their Tampa camp, “learning how to pitch”, in their words, before thay send him on to their farm club.

Questions about the Giants are not nearly as easy to answer.

The Giants haven’t lost a series this year. They came within a game of sweeping 6 games from a team which was supposed to provide major opposition, the Dodgers. At the beginning of the year they took 6 straight games from the Padres. The word then was that this was not meaningful since San Diego was such a weak team. However, if one examined the standings a short time later one would see that San Diego was 7 and 7 after playing LA. In other words, after leaving the Giants they had gone 7 and 1. Today the Giants are 17 and 4 with, apparently, glaring weaknesses. They have a third baseman, supposedly the man who was going to take up the slack left by the departure of Kent, hitting under .200. They have two outfielders in their five man contingent, Bernard and Rivera, who have shown over the years that they cannot be counted on to play at a major league level. Their shortstop has limited range and his hitting, formerly his strong point, has fallen off, the great Barry Bonds, altho still a predominant force, may be feeling his years, by his own admission. The pitching has held up despite the loss of their closer, Nen. No matter how you look at them, they don’t impress one as a team that is going to run away with the season, overwhelming everyone in their path.

There are still questions remaining concerning their success last year, a success that came within 8 outs of winning it all, despite having two completely inadequate starters in the rotation. Other than their pitching, without Kent, they do not impress one as a stronger team than last years. Their pitching, however, has been their strong point. Moss has done better than expected and may be a real find. Their bullpen, even absent Nen, has been consistently productive.

Looking at the two teams, Giants and Yankees, however, despite the similarities of the records today, one would be hard put to conclude that the Giants are a team as destined to succeed as the Yankees. Be that as it may, in comparing the clubs, why shouldn’t one ask, which is the more interesting team to watch and, as a fan, root for.

If one spent one’s formative years in the Bronx, that same question occupied one’s thoughts then and the answer was readily available. Not much has changed since those days. The Yankees were successful, the Giants struggled; occasionally successful, but, invariably, more interesting. Baseball has a way of mirroring life. Always a struggle, sometimes successful. but, we hope, always interesting and exciting. Did the Yankees ever come from 13 games back in August and win the pennant in the 9th inning of the last game of the season? Does anyone recall now that it was the Yankees who won the World Series that year in 6 games largely because the Giants had eaten up their pitching staff in their desperate run for the pennant? And who doesn’t remember that it was Bobby Thomson’s home run that won that last game in the 9th inning? Leaving history behind, although not without mentioning that in those formative years, despite living in the shadows of Yankee Stadium,one never stepped foot in the Yankees home except when the World Series demanded it, disdain for the Yankees being the prevalent feeling, does one feel today that the Giants are the more interesting team to live and die for on a daily basis?

This weekend the Giants start a three game series with Philadelphia. The Phillies have been rebuilding since the end of last year. They have a strong desire to win it all this year before they move into their new stadium next year. They have a strong hitting club. In this three game series the Giants intend to throw three very young pitchers aginst them, a 24 year old, a 22 year old and a youngster of 21 years. Combined they have a total of five starts in the majors. The youngster is coming up from Fresno to pitch on Saturday. This may very well be the most exciting thing that has happened in all of this baseball season to date. Watching the Giants, day by day, is a great deal like watching someone on a high wire without a net. You are never quite certain that they are going to make it. The Yankees, on the other hand, never go up without a net, the net being Steinbrenner’s money. No one cares about them. If they fall they cannot get hurt. The net is always there to catch them.

Who wishes to root for a team that cannot fail? That is not what life is all about.

Why should baseball be different? And to top it all, there is a sneaking, unexpressed thought that perhaps all three of these young pitchers will succeed this weekend, leaving the Giants with the delightful problem of what to do with 6, count them, starting pitchers? The likelihood of the Yankees, throughout the entire year, facing a series with as much interest as the Giants weekend series coming up, is remote. A word of caution, however. It should be understood that the above is written from the biased perspective of a 70 year devotion to the Giants.


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