NL West

San Francisco Giants: 2014 Preview

Mar 12, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) is taken out of the game by manager Bruce Bochy (15) against the Chicago White Sox at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants have one mission for the 2014 season. The Giants hope to prove that the 2013 season was a fluke and that they’re ready to contend for not just a playoff spot but also another World Series title.

Here’s a preview of the Giants’ 2014 season:

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A Giants’ Fan’s Perspective on the Dodgers Winning the Division

June 25, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27) speaks to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) following the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The rivalry between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. I came out of the womb as a Giants fan, so, from a young age, I’ve strongly disliked the Dodgers. Over the years, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with a rivalry like this.

This season’s rivalry with the Dodgers was bound to be a competitive one. The Giants entered this season having won two World Series titles in the past three years. Meanwhile, the Dodgers were off spending tons of money of any remotely talented player they could find, because that’s the only way they could try to win a World Series title. They couldn’t compete with the Giants’ chemistry, so they had to use their checkbook instead.

Before this season started, Brandon Belt was asked about the Dodgers’ big spending, and he responded in a way that caused a little bit of controversy.

“All I can say is, you can’t buy chemistry,” Belt said.

Matt Kemp of the Dodgers responded to Belt’s comments and fueled the rivalry even more.

“We really don’t care about what people say or how they feel…” Kemp said. “We’re going to be good. We just have to go out there and do our thing. So let them go out there and say what they want.”

This back-and-forth banter was actually quite ironic because the Giants have had a poor season, and the Dodgers won the NL West. It’s also ironic that the thing that made the Giants so successful these past few years and what Belt was referring to was one of the reasons why they struggled this year.

Besides fatigue, the Giants struggled this year because of their chemistry. They play for each other, and when one of them started struggling, others started struggling. Then when it became a team-wide slump, every single player wanted to be the one with the big hit with runners in scoring position, the one to make the big defensive play, or the one with a strong pitching performance that would turn things around for the team. Unfortunately, that never happened.

The Dodgers won the NL West not because of team chemistry, but because they have the largest payroll in MLB. They have the same philosophy that the New York Yankees and Miami Heat have. All of these teams spend the big bucks to get superstars or whatever big-name players are available, because they believe that it will lead to championships.

Although this philosophy works at times, it’s not the respectable way to win. The Giants won because of their team chemistry. That’s the right way to win.

Not only do the teams have different philosophies, they play different styles. The Giants play as a team and for the love of the game, and the Dodgers play for the spotlight and the fame. For example, they signed Brian Wilson, who’s the poster boy for chasing fame. Many Giants fans were crushed when news broke out that he had signed with the Dodgers.

Sep 24, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson (00) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning at AT

However, he’s not worth mourning over. Yes, he was a big part of the 2010 World Series team, but that’s in the past. He needs to be forgotten. The Giants don’t need that egocentric maniac.

To add even more fuel to the fire, when the Dodgers clinched the NL West at Chase Field, they decided to jump into the pool out in center field to “claim their territory” or for some other dumb reason. Thankfully, the fans had already left, so there weren’t any witnesses…besides several camera crews.

They knew that this incident would be played on SportsCenter and other sports shows, and this gesture showed who they really are. The Dodgers always want to be the center of attention. They’re a bunch of drama queens who feel entitled to fame. Just look at Yasiel Puig and all his drama and theatrics. That’s also exactly why Wilson immediately fit in.

At the end of the day, this incident isn’t really that significant. However, it was disrespectful, and it proved how cocky and arrogant the Dodgers really are. Again, this just shows a different team philosophy.

The Dodgers deserved to win the NL West, because even if it’s painfully obvious to say if your a Giants fan, they were the best team in the division. The Giants dealt with injuries and struggled all season, the San Diego Padres played like the Padres normally do, the Colorado Rockies started off strong but faded, and the Arizona Diamondbacks were never better than just mediocre.

With that being said, that doesn’t mean the Dodgers will win the World Series this year. They don’t play like a World Series team, and there are other teams in the National League that have more experience and are more suited for a championship run, like the St. Louis Cardinals, for example.

This also doesn’t mean that the Dodgers will win the NL West next year. The Padres certainly won’t be in contention, because they are still in re-building mode. The Rockies are so dependent on everyone being healthy, but their star players, such as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, are injury-prone. The Diamondbacks could contend for the NL West title but most likely won’t win.

Next season’s NL West title will come down to the Giants and Dodgers. The rivalry will be better than ever, because both teams will have something to prove. The Dodgers will want to show why they’re reigning NL West champions. The Giants will want to prove that their World Series titles weren’t flukes, and that they are prepared to get back to the playoffs and win another World Series.

The Dodgers might have won the NL West this year, but I’m just going to sit here and enjoy my team’s two World Series titles in the past three years.

San Francisco Giants: Are There Any Distinct Hopes of a Second Half Comeback?

Oct 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (center) huddles with his team prior to the game five of the 2012 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

At the beginning of the season, it seemed as if the San Francisco Giants had the perfect recipe to repeat this season as World Series champions. First of all, they basically have the same roster that they did last season, minus a few players who are injured.

Second, despite the struggles they’ve endured this season, they won six elimination games to stay alive in the playoffs last season, so they’re a resilient team. Because of these facts, you would think the Giants have what it takes to make a miraculous comeback and somehow sneak into the playoffs at the end of the season, just like they did in 2010.

However, that would be an incredible feat, bordering on impossible and closer to extremely unlikely. The Giants have an incredible ability to never give up, but the numbers alone might prevent them from going to the playoffs this season.

First of all, they currently have a 50-61 record and are 12 games back from the Dodgers in the NL West. They’d have to go 31-20 the rest of the season, just to reach .500. However, reaching .500 is rarely good enough to make the playoffs.

The Giants are currently in last place in the NL West. Even though the NL West has been a little disgraceful this season, there is still very little chance the Giants could win the division. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 62-49, the Arizona Diamondbacks are in second at 56-55, the San Diego Padres are 52-60, and the Colorado Rockies are 52-61. The Dodgers, unfortunately, will most likely be representing the NL West in the playoffs.

The Giants would have a rough time making the playoffs though even in a wild card spot. The Atlanta Braves will most likely win the NL East, and there isn’t much competition for a wild card spot there since the second-place team is the Washington Nationals, who have a 54-58 record right now. There are three incredibly talented teams in the NL Central though, so two of them will most likely take the two wild card spots. The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently first with a 67-44 record, the St. Louis Cardinals are second with a 65-46 record, and the Cincinnati Reds are third with a 61-51 record.

Since the starting pitchers are doing well right now, Ryan Vogelsong is coming back soon, the rest of the division isn’t making a strong push to the playoffs (besides the Dodgers), Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig are dealing with injuries, and with this current series against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, the Giants would’ve had an opportunity to turn this August into a meaningful month.

However, the Giants are still 12 games back, which is a significant amount of games to overcome, even if the NL West is pretty awful. If the Giants had had a good homestand against the Miami Marlins, the New York mets, and the Chicago Cubs, they could’ve had a shot at coming back.

Instead, the Giants went 3-7 and basically eliminated all hope at making a second half comeback. The Giants have failed to meet expectations all season, and they’ve had several chances to at least stay competitive too.

For example, on this last road trip against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays, the Giants went 3-3. Although this doesn’t sound like a poor record, the Giants could’ve easily finished the road trip with a better record. Their starting pitching was excellent and they started getting more offensive contributions from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. However, they lost two one-run games to end the trip, so what could have been a quality road trip turned into a disappointment.

The Giants tried to be sellers and trade Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence, or Javier Lopez at the trade deadline. They shopped them in order to try to get back a major league-ready starting pitcher in return, which they will need next next season. Even though the Giants didn’t end up trading any of those players, the Giants made a statement to the rest of MLB that they wanted to focus on next year and move on from this season.

Until it becomes mathematically impossible, the Giants are always going to believe that they can come back. This is valid, given their success in last season’s playoffs. Even though it’s unlikely the Giants will make a second half comeback, fans around the Bay Area and the nation have to admire their “never say die” attitude.