Tag Archives: Pablo Sandoval

Giants stomp into South Philly as surprise Wildcard contenders

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Bruce Bochy is in his final season as Giants skipper

The Philadelphia Phillies (55-50) and San Francisco Giants (54-52) are each squarely in the hunt for a National League Wildcard playoff berth with just nine weeks remaining in the 2019 MLB regular season.

However, the two teams came to that race in very different ways. The Phillies bolted out to a hot start over the season’s first two months, leading the NL East Division into late May before stumbling.
The Giants, on the other hand, stumbled out of the gate. As late as June 29, San Francisco found themselves a dozen games below the .500 mark. With the second-worst record in the National League, they sat 8.5 back of a Wildcard berth, 19.5 out and in last place in the NL West.
But the Giants suddenly and unexpectedly turned their season around, and turned the playoff race on its head. They have won 19 of their last 24, moved to second place in their division, and are just 2.5 back in the Wildcard hunt, 1.5 back of the Phillies.
The franchise has won three World Series titles in this decade: 2010, 2012 and 2014. They also reached the playoffs in 2016, the last postseason appearance for the team. With an aging ball club that has finished a collective 60 games below .500 over the last two seaons, this winning burst has shocked most in the game. Can it continue? Can this team possibly sustain their recent hot streak?
On Wednesday, the MLB trade deadline arrives. It was expected that the Giants were going to be a seller. That was the general consensus as recently as three weeks ago. Now, could Farhan Zaidi instead become a buyer, hoping to inject just enough talent to push the Giants back to the postseason for another run?
The Giants offense has averaged just 4.37 runs per game this season, 25th of the 30 teams in baseball. Their 109 home runs are next-to-last in the NL, as is their .698 OPS. Their combined .237 batting average is the lowest mark in the league, and their 28 steals are tied for last. In other words, this is a team that even Phillies pitching without Aaron Nola getting a start should be able to contain.
On the mound, Giants pitching is middle-of-the-road with a .251 batting average against, and ranks 13th in strikeouts and 14th in OPS against. In other words, they should not be a major challenge for the Phillies inconsistent offense.
These two teams have played one another tough over the last three seasons, with the Phillies holding an 11-9 edge in those head-to-head meetings. They will meet again by the bay at Oracle Park in San Francisco in a four-game series during the second week of August.
This is a veteran Giants team that has suddenly remembered what it was like to win 7-8-9 years ago. Many of the position players were around with those title teams. That makes them tough while they are hot. But frankly, this is a team that the Phillies ought to be able to handle. This needs to be a series win, preferably a sweep for the home team.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Alex Dickerson (29/LF): .391/.454/.782, 6 HR, 19 XBH, 23 RBIs, 21 runs (traded to SFG from SD in mid-June)
Kevin Pillar (30/CF): .245/.275/.408, 12 HR, 38 XBH, 54 RBIs, 50 runs
Pablo Sandoval (32/3B): .266/.310/.510, 13 HR, 33 XBH, 38 RBIs, 39 runs
Brandon Belt (31/1B): .233/.350/.390, 11 HR, 30 XBH, 36 RBIs, 50 runs
Mike Yastrzemski (28/RF): .275/.322/.505, 9 HR, 22 XBH, 31 RBIs, 33 runs (grandson of Boston Red Sox legendary Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski is a rookie promoted 5/25)
Buster Posey (32/C): .264/.329/.396, 5 HR, 25 XBH, 29 RBIs, 32 runs
Joe Panik (28/2B): .232/.306/.313, 3 HR, 20 XBH, 27 RBIs, 33 runs
Brandon Crawford (32/SS): .234/.307/.376, 9 HR, 29 XBH, 44 RBIs, 40 runs

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Madison Bumgarner: Just as the Giants don’t have to worry about facing Aaron Nola, the Phillies will not face MadBum in these three games. Both aces went on Sunday for their respective teams. Bumgarner is 6-7 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.153 WHIP and 3.67 FIP thus far in 2019. He has made 23 starts, allowing 132 hits across 139.2 innings with a 140/29 K:BB ratio.
What makes Bumgarner relevant as this series progresses is the MLB trade deadline, which arrives on Wednesday afternoon at 4:00 PM EDT. For months now, Bumgarner has been one of the names subject to the most speculation. He will turn 30 years old on Thursday, the day after the deadline passes, and is due to become a free agent after this season.
Do the Giants really believe they can contend this season? Personally, I don’t. But if they do, perhaps Bumgarner stays. If Zaidi is as smart as I think he is, then a trade of the Giants longtime ace would be a major story right in the middle of this series.
In case you need a reminder of his résumé, Bumgarner was a National League All-Star and finished among the top ten in NL Cy Young Award voting each year from 2013-16. In 2014, the lefty was MVP of both the NLCS and World Series, helping earn his third World Series ring with the Giants. He was also named the AP Male Athlete of the Year for 2014.
Topping it all off, and important for a National League pitcher at this point, he can hit. Bumgarner took home a Silver Slugger in both 2014 and 2015. While teams acquiring him would certainly not be getting MadBum in his prime, they would indeed be getting a pitcher who can still pitch near the top of a rotation, one with tremendous, winning experience.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

TUESDAY – Tyler Beede (26/RH): 3-4, 4.85 ERA, 5.24 FIP, 1.477 WHIP, 66 hits over 65 IP across 13 games (11 starts) with a 62/30 K:BB
WEDNESDAY – Jeff Samardzija (34/RH): 7-8, 3.95 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.178 WHIP, 105 hits over 116.1 IP across 21 starts with a 102/32 K:BB
THURSDAY – Shaun Anderson (24/RH): 3-3, 5.06 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 1.487 WHIP, 85 hits over 74.2 IP across 14 starts with a 53/26 K:BB (as of the series opening his is listed as a TBD by the Giants, but it has been Anderson’s turn in the rotation)

THE SKIPPER

Bruce Bochy: Now 64 years of age, Bochy was actually born in Landes de Bussac, France while his father was serving in the U.S. Army. His family ultimately moved to Florida, and he became the first round draft choice at 23rd overall in the 1975 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros.
Bochy reached the big-leagues with Houston in 1978, beginning what would become a nine-season career as a player in Major League Baseball. A catcher, he was famously plowed into by Pete Rose, who was scoring what would prove to be the winning run in the top of the 10th inning as the Phillies rallied to tie up the 1980 NLCS at two games apiece. He was the backup catcher with the San Diego Padres team that won a National League pennant in 1984.
After his retirements as a player, Bochy was hired to manage in the San Diego minor league system. In 1993 he was moved up to the big club, taking over as the third base coach. Then for the 1995 season, Bochy was finally hired as manager of the Padres. Over 12 years as skipper in southern California, Bochy amassed a 951-975 record, guiding the Friars to four division crowns and a 1998 NL pennant.
Let go following the 2006 season, Bochy immediately caught on as manager with the division-rival Giants, and has been the skipper in San Francisco ever since. Over 13 years by the bay, Bochy has a 1,029-1,021 record and has led the Giants to three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. His 2016 team went to the postseason as a Wildcard team.
Overall, Bochy is now in his 25th consecutive season as a manager in Major League Baseball. He has a combined record of 1,980-1,996 between his work with the Padres and Giants organizations. He is just 28 wins behind Leo Durocher for 10th place on the all-time MLB managerial wins list, 60 behind Walter Alston for 9th place on that list. That top ten spot is his goal, as Bochy has battled health issues and has already announced that this will be his final season as manager.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

TUESDAY: It will be a hot time in the old town tonight. Real-feel for the 7:05 pm first pitch is expected in the mid-90’s with moderate winds and no chance of precipitation.
WEDNESDAY: It is going to storm during the day on Wednesday. Question is, how might it affect the game, if at all? Right now the call is for real-feel temps in the mid-80’s at the scheduled 7:05 pm first pitch. There is a 45% chance of showers and tstorms, decreasing throughout the night with light winds.
THURSDAY: For this first game of August, the 1:05 pm first pitch should see a real-feel in the mid-80’s with light winds. There is a slight chance of a lingering shower or tstorm, but nothing that should be a major factor.
South Philly forecast from The Weather Channel

Hanley and the Panda to Boston

The Boston Red Sox have agreed to longterm contracts with a pair of big name free agents, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval.

MLB sources have told the Boston Globe that both deals are for 5 years, with Ramirez’ in the $90 million and Sandoval in the $100 million range.

This is as clear a sign as any that the Bosox are not happy with having followed up their 2nd World Series title in 3 years in 2013 with their 2nd last place finish in 3 years in 2014.

While the adding of big name free agents is exciting for a fan base, the more important factors involve how those players will actually fit your current needs. The fact is that the Red Sox already owned a number of exciting offensive options, both in established players and in high-ceiling prospects.

The acquisition of both Ramirez and Sandoval brings a ton of risk to the organization at great monetary cost without addressing their most glaring need.
They still need at least two more established, talented starting pitching options than they currently possess. And they could use more reliability in the pen as well.

The risk side involves both players physical ability to perform through the contracts. Hanley, who turns 31 years old next month, has missed big chunks of 2 of the last 4 seasons with injuries, not including a piece of this last 2014 season. Sandoval, one of the game’s proven “clutch” postseason hitters, is limited offensively over the course of a 162-game season. He also has a chronic weight issue that is only going to affect him more as he approaches and passes age 30.

Ramirez is going to play left field, and Sandoval will play 3rd base. With Cuban signee Rusney Castillo expected to take over the everyday role in centerfield, and with Yoenis Cespedes in right, this creates a blockade for a number of young players and prospects deserving of and ready for increased playing time.

Mookie Betts is clearly ready to play every day. He can play 2nd base, where Dustin Pedroia is entrenched, or in the now-jammed outfield. Jackie Bradley Jr is perhaps the best defensive outfielder in the game today. He has not yet shown he can hit on a consistent basis, but he appears ready for at least a shot at an every day role.

Catcher Blake Swihart just before and 3rd baseman Garin Cecchini just after Opening Day each turn 23 years old, and are both nearly ready. Will Middlebrooks is 26, and certainly ready for an everyday 3rd base role. Every one of these 5 youngsters is now blocked for the foreseeable future. Panda blocking the 3rd sackers, and 24-year old Christian Vazquez as catcher.

Kung Fu Panda joins Hanley in beefing up Bosox lineup

There is much speculation that with these signings, that the Red Sox may renew pursuit of a pitcher, such as the Phillies’ available ace Cole Hamels. If they led such a deal with young shortstop Xander Bogaerts and included any 2 of these other 5, the Phils likely pull the trigger. 24-year old pitchers Matt Barnes and Allen Webster are two other potential prospects figuring in such trade talks.

Some Boston fans would love the Phillies to take Cespedes for Hamels. That is a pipe dream. Cespedes is indeed talented. However, he turned 29 last month, and becomes a free agent after next season. Neither of those things fits into the Phillies stated rebuilding plans. If he were to agree to an affordable extension, then perhaps he works as a piece along with a couple of the prospects, but that is not likely to happen.

Whatever happens with the Phillies and Red Sox, Boston clearly needs to do something big, probably a couple somethings, involving the addition of pitching if it truly wants to come back immediately to Series contention from it’s last place finish in what is becoming an increasingly competitive division and league.

What they have shown with the signings of their one-time prospect Hanley Ramirez and the Panda are that they are not content to wait for the dice-roll development of admittedly talented kids. Now we likely will see which of those kid prospects they are willing and able to part with in order to fix the remaining pitching holes.

Giants Continue to Confound Me

Hunter Pence and Giants crush Royals in Series opener

I have nothing against the San Francisco Giants. I just don’t think they are as good as they have been playing this month. I may be wrong.

The Giants continue to confound me with their high level of play, and last night’s opening game of the 2014 World Series continued that streak.

San Francisco crushed the previously postseason unbeaten Kansas City Royals, on the road, with the Royals top starting pitcher on the mound. They did it the way that they’ve been doing much of their winning this October.

The Giants basic formula in their best games is to have ace Madison Bumgarner pitch a gem, shut the opposition down, and allow the clutch bats of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence to come through with enough offense at some point to win the game. That is exactly what happened last night.

Bumgarner was fabulous. He went 7 innings, allowing just 3 hits, striking out 5, walking just one, and yielding just a single run. That run came via a 7th inning homer by Salvador Perez, my pick at the start to win World Series MVP honors. The Giants ace threw 106 pitches, 71 for strikes.

Meanwhile, the Posey-Panda-Pence combination all struck first inning blows, with the capper being a blast by Pence to dead centerfield. His homerun put San Fran up 3-0 on Shields, who struggled the entire game.

The Royals ace, nicknamed “Big Game James” during his time with Tampa Bay, was acquired by KC to push their young team to the next level. Mission accomplished. But he was also acquired, once there, to deliver in these biggest of games. So far this October, that has not been the case. Just 40 of his 71 pitches went for strikes, and he was gone after 3 innings.

Shields did not pitch the big game that the Royals needed

If there was one saving grace for the Royals, it was that they didn’t burn out their starter or their vaunted bullpen in this one. Shields 71 pitches will easily allow him to return for a rematch with Bumgarner in a Game 5, should the Series last that long. Manager Ned Yost used 3 relievers, but none of Danny Duffy, Tim Collins, or Jason Frasor are among the group that have made a real difference in the Royals success.

As I’ve stated a few times already in evaluating them, the Giants did not fare well in my final regular season Power Ranking. They finished just 17 of 30 MLB teams despite reaching the playoffs as a Wildcard. The PR doesn’t factor a team’s record. It is purely a reflection of their statistical performance in the areas of Hitting, Pitching, and Defense. The GMen were rated so low because, at least during the season, their defense was mediocre and their pitching often poor.

I did pick them to beat an overrated Pittsburgh team in that one-off Wildcard game. But since then, I had them losing in the NLDS to an all-around superior Washington Nationals squad, in the NLCS to a slightly better LA Dodgers team, and here in the World Series to a hot Royals squad .

What has happened is, the Giants have drawn on the experience of having won in October in both 2010 and 2012 to produce more consistently than any of their opponents in the increased pressure of playoff baseball. It is clear that, once a team reaches October and starts to get on a roll, you can toss the regular season statistics out the window.

Experience and momentum are clearly at work this Fall for the San Francisco Giants. The Royals are a very talented ballclub. They can still recover and win this thing. But if those two factors stay intact for the Giants for just a few more days, KC’s talent won’t matter a lick.

For the Royals to recover from the Game One debacle, they need to quickly develop some tough skin of their own. There is no magic button to push in order to make that happen. Someone, probably at least a couple of players, need to step up and make it happen. Someone needs to lead the Royals in voice, and more importantly, in deed. If not, the Giants will continue to confound me, all the way to their 3rd World Series title in 5 seasons.

World Series 2014: These Wildcards Are No Jokers

Greg Holland and the KC bullpen should emerge victorious

A year ago when I made my prediction of the Boston Red Sox defeating the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series, it wasn’t a difficult prediction to make.

Despite the fact that the 2013 Series featured the best teams by record in both the NL and AL for the first time in 14 years, I felt that Boston was clearly the better team. This time around, I found it much more difficult.

In 2014, we don’t have the best regular season teams involved in the World Series from either league. Not only that, but we also don’t have a division winner. Both the Kansas City Royals, who finished a game behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central, and San Francisco Giants, who finished 6 back of the LA Dodgers in the NL West, were Wildcard teams.

This marks just the 2nd time since the concept was introduced for the 1995 season that two Wildcard teams will faceoff in the World Series. In the only other such meeting, the then-Anaheim Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants in a dramatic 7-game series in 2002.

It’s my call here that these current San Francisco Giants will again fall short in the Fall Classic to their AL Wildcard counterparts. I am going to call it Kansas City in 6 games.

The Giants have overcome more than the Royals to get this far. Back at the beginning of October, in the final 2014 MLB Power Ranking, San Fran was ranked just 17th of the 30 teams in baseball. Poor pitching and mediocre defense were the main reasons.

But that was the regular season, and frankly, that matters little right now. The Giants are a battle-tested group that has a number of key players still around who won the World Series in both 2010 and 2012. In the increased pressure of the postseason, winning experience can make a difference.

The case for the Giants begins with their bats. Buster Posey at catcher is one of the best and most valuable players in the game today. He is joined by 3rd baseman Pablo ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Sandoval and right fielder Hunter Pence in a dynamic, clutch middle-of-the-order.

Posey, Pence, and Panda pace the Giants offense

While those three are the engine that drives the Giants offense, the club must get production from supporting players if they want to win this series. In Mike Morse, they will have a true DH-type option when the series opens in KC. Guys like Gregor Blanco, Joe Panik, Brandon Belt, Brandon Hicks, and NLCS walkoff hero Travis Ishikawa are going to have to step up.

On the mound, Madison Bumgarner will start Game 1, and he is a true legit shutdown ace. He has the ability to win at least two games all by himself. Behind him, the Giants must continue to receive fountain-of-youth performances from veterans Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. Ryan Vogelsong, likely in his last hurrah with the team, will start Game 4.

The Giants bullpen has been coming through in the postseason where it was a bit inconsistent in the regular season. Starters Yusmeiro Petit and Tim Lincecum lengthen that pen now, and the back end will feature the combination of Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jean Machi, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, and J.C. Guiterrez.

Trout’s July All-Star MVP performance gave Royals home field 

Meanwhile, the Royals will have home field advantage thanks to Mike Trout. Back in July, Trout was the MVP of the All-Star Game, leading the American League to a 5-3 victory and giving it’s representative the home field. So baseball’s best player has had an effect on the World Series without even playing in it.

They Royals have hitting, but let’s face it, talk about their dominance begins with their pitching, defense, and speed. Kansas City finished at the very top of the final MLB Power Ranking thanks to the game’s #5 pitching staff, and with the top defense in all of baseball by a wide margin. That defense has been electric so far in the postseason.

On the pitching front, the bullpen back-end of closer Greg Holland setup by Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera has been as impenetrable as the “Massey pre-nup”, and been just as intolerably cruel to opposing hitters in the postseason as they were in the regular season. These guys just don’t allow anything, meaning you had best do something with the Royals starting pitchers if you want to beat them.

Those starters are no slouches themselves. It all starts with lead man “Big Game” James Shields. While he has been a bit up and down this postseason, he has the experience and repertoire to match Bumgarner pitch-for-pitch, at least for the 6 innings that he needs to last. Yordano Ventura is a power option in the #2 spot, while both Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie are reliable workmanlike 3-4 starters.

On offense, the Royals have emerging star Lorenzo Cain in the outfield, an All-Star catcher of their own in Salvador Perez, and a quartet of organizational veterans in leftfielder Alex Gordon, DH Billy Butler, 1B Eric Hosmer, and 3B Mike Moustakas. They also have solid contributors in Omar Infante, Nori Aoki and Alcides Escobar. Perez is a star in-the-making, and my choice to emerge as the World Series MVP.

Catcher Salvador Perez: my choice to emerge as MVP

Perhaps the most interesting decision for manager Ned Yost will come right up front. Does he continue to carry the blazing speed of Terrance Gore, perfect for an AL series but limited for 3 possible NL-city games, or does he turn to veteran Raul Ibanez off his bench?

That managerial matchup again appears on paper to be a significant advantage for the Giants, who have the highly respected, 2-time World Series-winning skipper Bruce Bochy calling the shots. Some of Yost’s calls this postseason have been so unorthodox that he has received extreme criticism. Unfortunately for all his critics, his way has resulted in a World Series appearance.

Ned Yost continues to confound his critics, every single one of whom I trust will talk about how Kansas City won despite, not because of, the decisions made by their manager. Their defense remains air-tight, their bullpen remains impenetrable, and their offense and starting pitching remain competitive. The Kansas City Royals give their fans a treat, winning at home in the 6th game.

NLCS: Cardinals over Giants

Managers Bruce Bochy & Mike Matheny meet again in NLCS

For the last four years, either the Saint Louis Cardinals (2011, 2013) or the San Francisco Giants (2010, 2012) have won the National League pennant.

The Giants in both their winning years, and the Cards in 2011, would ultimately also win the World series.

During these last four years in which the two franchise’ have dominated the NL postseason, they met just once. The Giants edged out the Cardinals in 7 games in the 2012 NLCS, rallying after falling behind 3-1 in games.

The two clubs took different paths to this 2014 rematch. The Cards again won the NL Central Division crown for the 2nd straight season, and for the 8th time in the last 15 years. The Giants got in as an NL Wildcard team after finishing 6 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West race.

Despite their different methods of reaching the NLCS, both are here again, and that can likely be attributed to their previous recent playoff experience. Both of these teams, their managers, and many of the individual players are used to competing in the increased glare and under the added pressure of October baseball.

The teams met twice during the regular season. Back at the end of May, the Giants took 3 of 4 at Busch Stadium. Then at the very beginning of July, the Cards travelled to AT&T Park and took 2 of 3. So the GMen owned a 4-3 edge in the regular season series. It’s my pick here that this series will be decided by that same margin, just as their 2012 NLCS. But this time, Saint Louis comes out on top.

The Cardinals finished as the 3rd best team in the National League, and at #9 overall, in the final Power Ranking back at the beginning of October. The Giants meanwhile finished just 17th overall in MLB. The belief here is that the holes causing San Fran to finish that low will ultimately prove the difference between these battled-tested squads.

Cards’ ace Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in baseball today

The difference makers between the teams are team pitching and defense. While the Cards were the 5th-ranked team in all of baseball in the Fangraphs WAR team defensive rankings, the GMen finished just 16th. Now especially missing injured outfielder Angel Pagan, the Giants lineup is even more challenged.

On the mound, the Cards staff rated out at #18, not an impressive finish at all. However, the Giants at #28 had some of MLB’s worst-performing overall pitching. Saint Louis should be able to parlay those pitching and defensive edges to a victory in the series.

As for the offense, the Giants 6th-rated offense gives them the old “puncher’s chance” against a Cardinals offensive group that finished as MLB’s 11th-rated WAR group. But again, injuries have weakened San Fran on offense as well. Not just the loss of Pagan, but an oblique strain has made slugger Mike Morse’ ability to contribute questionable at best, sapping the Giants of some clout.

Historically, these are two of the most storied, successful teams in all of Major League Baseball, and in the National League in particular. The Cardinals have won 19 NL Pennants and 11 World Series crowns, most in NL history and 2nd only to the Yankees overall. The Giants have won 22 NL Pennants, a league record, and 7 World Series crowns.

There is star power to be had here, with the Giants led by the hitting trio of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence, and the Cardinals hitters by Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Matt Carpenter.

“The Big Panda”, Pablo Sandoval, is a proven postseason clutch performer

On the mound, the Giants rotation has a true young ace in lefty Madison Bumgarner, and they also rely on unflappable veterans Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. Yusmeiro Petit has developed into a reliable option as well. For the Cards, it’s righty Adam Wainwright as the ace, with Lance Lynn a solid #2, Carlos Martinez emerging as a strong 3rd option, and either John Lackey or Shelby Miller also likely to see work.

The bullpens of both clubs can be schizophrenic, with the Giants having changed from Sergio Romo to Santiago Casilla in the closer role, and with Cards closer Trevor Rosenthal alternating between dominant and erratic. The Cards have a tremendous arm in Pat Neshek in reserve. He may be the best reliever on either team. Both clubs have an assortment of options that run hot and cold.

The best chance for the Giants would be for Bumgarner, Peavy, and Hudson to all be at their best through the series, giving their veteran bats a chance to win it with clutch hits. For the Cards, it should be simply about playing to their full potential as an overall team.

Posey (L) and Molina (R) may be two best catchers in baseball today

Perhaps the biggest highlight of this series will be the showdown between two of the best all-around catchers in the game. Posey led the Giants to titles when he was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010 and the NL MVP in 2012. Molina, widely considered the best defensive catcher in the game, is a 6-time Gold Glover and All-Star.

The Cardinals will have the home field advantage here. While I don’t think that is necessarily a very big factor in the playoffs, I do think that in the end it will be those Saint Louis fans at Busch Stadium who are witnessing their team in a victorious pileup after a win in that ultimate Game 7 next weekend.