The former Freak just roots, stays prepared . . . and waits

Lincecum roots his Giants on and stays ready for . . .

Lincecum roots his Giants on and stays ready for . . .

Madison Bumgarner is hogging the headlines around the San Francisco Giants these days. Particularly after he dominated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game One of the National League Championship Series Saturday. (Though he got away with a rather obvious balk in the seventh that should have meant a run for the Cardinals.)

A small truckload of aces fell earlier and more often in this postseason, Clayton Kershaw especially, and Bumgarner himself out-dueled an ailing Adam Wainwright among those aces. And lurking amidst the hungering Giants is another former ace.

A better man than pitcher says goodbye to Giants fans with class

Barry Zito with his wife, Amber, as the Giants celebrated winning the 2012 pennant.

Barry Zito with his wife, Amber, as the Giants celebrated winning the 2012 pennant. Over a year later, he says goodbye with class.

You’ve heard often enough about professional athletes who learn to say hello when it’s time to say goodbye. But you rarely hear about those who know how to say goodbye when a fan base isn’t sure whether to laugh at him or demand refunds. Meet Barry Zito, whose 2014 option the San Francisco Giants, to nobody’s surprise, declined, in favour of a $7 million buyout.

They might not be Giants, after all

Bumgarner: Don't blame him.

Bumgarner: Don’t blame him.

At this writing, the defending world champion San Francisco Giants—as in, the twice-in-three-years-defending champs—are in a dogfight with the Colorado Rockies for the National League West’s sewer. Adding insult to further insult, the Giants were eliminated mathematically from postseason contention on 11 September. And the Giants’ ignominious collapse from the top of the heap to the bottom of the sea has been what the conspiracy theorists seem to wish the original 9/11 atrocity was, an inside job.

Zito Pitches and Lynn Plays Stoop Ball

Zito, blurring the Cardinals for almost eight virtuoso innings . . .

Alex Rodriguez in his post-American League Championship Series sweep grief vowed to come back like it was 2007. Barry Zito, starting Game Five of the National League Championship Series with his San Francisco Giants a game away from winter vacation, came out to the Busch Stadium mound in St. Louis Friday night and pitched like it was 2002 and he was nailing his Cy Young Award.

On to Vaudeville Wednesday

The Balfour declaration: We win!

Wednesday is when the regular season could end with a bang for two teams and a wild card settlement for one, after Tuesday ended with a wild card settlement for another team and a surety that Wednesday’s action merely ends the schedule for yet another.

Or: The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees could end up in a dead heat for the American League East; either the Oakland Athletics or the Texas Rangers will end up as the AL West champions; either the A’s or the Rangers will end up with the American League’s second wild card; and, the Los Angeles Dodgers watched what faint hope they had of reaching for the National League’s second wild card die in a center fielder’s glove in Dodger Stadium Tuesday night.

Yes, children—minus Strasburg, this Nats rotation DOES have good postseason chances

Let’s try this again.

Assume the Washington Nationals will stick to the script and implement, some time in September, the exclamation point of the Strasburg Plan. Period dot period. Assume, too, that there’ll be enough blue murder screaming over the Nats torpedoing their own postseason chances. Maybe even some conspiracy theorists demanding a formal investigation, perhaps into whether someone isn’t buying the Nats off bigtime to tank. (Would the conspiracy theorists surprise you, really?)

Now, shove all that to one side and look at the Nats’ rotation without Stephen Strasburg.

Zimmermann—Without the Stras, he won’t be leading a rotation of pushovers . . .