Every Major League Baseball team has questions and issues going into the 2011 season. Even the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the St. Louis Cardinals it’s all about Albert Pujols and his nonstop appointment with free agency (but don’t worry– Pujols will look great playing first base for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012 and the following nine years). For the New York Yankees it is the simple fact that they do not have enough quality starting pitching to keep up with the Boston Red Sox in 2011 (the Yanks are gambling that during the season they can bully one of the poverty line teams to get the starting pitching they need).
But no Major League team faces the haunting dilemma confronting the Los Angeles Dodgers: which side will be forced to take Tommy Lasorda in the upcoming owners’ divorce settlement, Frank McCourt or Jamie McCourt? (attorneys for both sides cite Lasorda’s enormous food bill, including hundreds of pounds of crab cannelloni and cheese stuffed Kobe sausages, which sources say costs the team several million dollars a month).
Since winning the 2010 World Series, the San Francisco Giants have their own questions, which can be summed up in the following familiar loop: Do you think you can repeat? Do you have enough offense? Why didn’t the front office improve on last year’s team? The answers should be obvious to the national baseball media, but maybe a thick fog of East Coast bias has clouded their 1970s aviator glasses.
The Giants were two different teams in 2010. There was the team that looked up on July 4, 2010, and saw themselves with a 41-40 record, sitting in 4th place in the National League West. Then there’s that other Giants team, the one that went 51-30 after July 4th and rode a firestorm of pitching and clutch hitting straight through the playoffs and World Series.
What happened? The Giants made all the significant changes they needed to make at mid-season last year. You know the players’ names and what they accomplished. That July 2010 team is the one that kicked National League butt the second half and went on to absolutely dominate in the playoffs and World Series. And that Giants team will be one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 baseball season because they will be together as a unit for the entire season, not just two or three months, and they will score a large number of runs.
The sports networks, web media, and newspapers will refer to the 2011 Giants’ offense as “one of the biggest stories of the year”, and commentators will opine “sure they have the best pitching in the game, but who knew they would also hit so well and score so much?” Well, for starters, you knew because you read it here.