It may be 1:30 am, but I'm too excited to sleep.
It's partially because I just caught a 10:40 pm show of Taken 2. If Liam Neeson killing Albanians with his bare hands doesn't fire you up, then you don't have a pulse. Furthermore, if thinking about the Giants in the playoffs doesn't get your heart racing a little, then get the hell out of here, because you're not welcome.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, and I for one cannot wait.
Am I apprehensive? Of course. A little scared? Maybe. But that's what makes it so goddamned incredible. The playoffs are an emotional rollercoaster-- a gut-wrenching endeavor. It's a feeling nearly impossible to duplicate and I wouldn't trade my fanhood for anything. Just as we learned in 2010, it'll all be worth it someday.
I'm not going to break down the Giants-Reds series. There's no point and this isn't that kind of blog.
If you're reading this, you know our strengths and weaknesses. You've read articles already about the Reds. We've all studied our opponent, and they're going to be tough.
We likely won't sweep Cincinnati, and it likely won't be a smooth ride, but dammit, we are going to win this series. Our team is battle-hardened and hungry.
I can't think of a single player who will take this lightly-- everyone from Ryan Theriot to George Kontos. This is why they play the game, and I feel like this squad has the makeup of potential champions.
Don't compare this to 2010, because it's not all that similar. There wasn't the same expectation of winning two years ago. We didn't clinch the West until the last game. We didn't have a batting champion or a steroid suspension. There is no Brian Wilson or red thong.
This is a different team and it has a different feeling. Like 2010, our guys have heart and character, but there seems to be an aura of workmanship and a businesslike tendency that was missing from the happy-go-lucky misfits from back then.
They've been there. Those that weren't have learned from the rest.
Our pitching is no longer bulletproof. We can't rely on Lincecum anymore and that's depressing. Is that same guy in there somewhere? Absolutely. Whether or not we'll see him on any given day is about as sure a thing as putting everything you have on red while watching that little ball spin around the roulette wheel.
You hold your breath, say a silent prayer... and wait.
There are guys who have been quiet with the bats who have the capability to lift this team to an entirely different level of success (Pence, Panda, Belt, I'm looking at you), but we can't count on them to get the big hit.
What if Posey has a rough series or Scutaro doesn't get those seemingly inevitable clutch hits? What if Pagan gets shut down and doesn't get on base the way he has in the second half?
There is no sure thing in this series or with this team-- on either side-- and that is what makes it an intriguing matchup.
In fact, if you were to look at stats on paper, the Reds are the clear-cut favorites.
That's why we watch though. We've watched paper champions like the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Rangers fail to make it to the dance, while young ragtag nobodies like Oakland and Baltimore perform like well-oiled machines.
Baseball doesn't make sense sometimes, and that's why we love it.
I will leave you with these thoughts:
We've lived and died with this team all season. Throughout it all, we've been both disgusted and elated, confident and deflated. I don't expect that to change come Saturday at 6:37 pm.
This is our team and we know what we're in for. We can't fully explain how they've managed to get to this point, but does it really matter? How these men overcame a worst-case scenario season by an ace and the loss of our closer, the demise of the rally thong, and the crumbling of a testosterone-aided idol, I'll never be able to explain.
What I can identify in this 2012 team, is that they have "it".
It's the same "it" factor that we had in 2010 and that the Cardinals had in 2011. It's that very same "it" factor that I see in Oakland, Baltimore, and St. Louis this season. After all my years of watching sports, championships more often than not are won, not bought. For every bought and paid for New York Yankees ring in the last 20 years, there seems to be an equally improbable "it" champion-- teams that no one gave a chance.
Let's hope that the gift of "it" blesses us with another long run into the playoffs.
Prediction: Giants over Reds in 5
Other AL/NLDS predictions:
Cardinals over Nats in 4
Orioles over Yankees in 5
A's over Tigers in 5