And so the Premiere League has come to an end, with an exciting finish on the very last day of the competition. Arsenal somehow found themselves in third place, which means that we automatically qualify for the Champions League next year. We here at The Pitch & The Diamond have to say, we're pleased as punch to see the backside of this season... it was quite the impending disaster. We really could've cared less which of the two Manchesters won it all (the Scum -United- or the Mercenaries -City-? Blah blah blah) but that was an exciting finish, and in spite of the fact that we deeply resent Citeh for hyper-inflating the market by stealing and then overpaying players, we didn't really mind them winning because it afforded us the pleasure of watching all the United players and fans looking depressed and disappointed. Which makes us happy, regardless of circumstances. Plus, at the pub the other morning, during the final matches of the season, there was a lone Citeh fan going absolutely MENTAL when they won (he was an older dude who grew up a ManCity fan) so that was amusing. Arsenal just barely managed to scrape into third, a mere point ahead of the spuds, and with all of our injuries and massive defensive gaffes, we were lucky on more than one occasion to nab three points, or even just one... Thanks again Fulop; your ineptitude saved our asses. And Theo's quote a couple weeks ago about how we were "consistent... in patches" pretty much sums it all up. Quote of the season, that. So it was a horrendous start to the campaign, a rough patch in January/February, then we crack off a string of seven victories in a row, only to just barely limp over the finish line. We must say, though, that it was an exciting season, though not at all in the way that one would prefer. Far too many agonizing matches. Not entirely sure that we deserved third place, but then again, no-one else really earned the spot, and so we're quite happy that spurs, newcastle, chelsea & liverpool all finished behind us, but that had much more to do with their failings and missed opportunities than with our successes. Whatever; we'll take it. And now it's time to look forward to the Summer, both Transfer-wise and Euro-wise. We're excited about the tournament that starts next week; and you may find it interesting that we here at The Pitch & The Diamond are beginning to feel a bit of fondness for Deutschland, certainly in stark contrast to our previous attitude towards the German National Football Team in years past. And it's not just because Arsenal signed Podolski and we should have Mertesacker back next season, (so there's a good chance that we'll have a bit of Germanic influence on the training pitch) but also because the German team is young and talented and plays much more positive attacking football than the Germany of old. In the past, Germany played the most boring possible style of football, hyper-methodically organized, clinical and sterile, inevitably scoring a single, uninspiring goal and then subsequently shutting down and parking the bus for a win. Borrrrrrrr-ing. But now, that seems to have changed, and the German national side is playing dynamic, creative, attacking football. Fun stuff. Also, we Brazillionaires were in Berlin last summer, and that was awesome, plus, we've been watching a bit of the bundesliga this year, and it's been fun to catch. No, they're not our favorite by a long shot (that honor goes to Holland, as usual, with a soft spot for England, Ireland, and yes, France --- The Allies!) but we no longer despise the German national team as we once did. An additional upside to this recent shift in persuasion is that we can now reserve the entirety of our loathing and disgust for the Italian national side. Everyone needs a villain, we suppose, and as much as we love the Italian people, history, countryside, cuisine, art, fashion, design, motorcycles, sportscars, musical traditions, and culture, the Italian National Football team is the devil incarnate. Bring on the Euros!
In baseball news, Tim Lincecum faced Ian Kennedy of the D-bags last night. It was exciting, but mostly in the who-will-be-worse way, rather than the who-will-dominate way. Lincecum has had some fine moments thus far in the season, and seems to pitching well on the whole if you look at his strikeout rate, but either he's losing focus and concentration or battling himself or something, because he keeps having these blow-up innings where he gives up 4 or 5 runs and ruins his start. We heard J.T. Snow on KNBR the other day talking about pitchers, and about Lincecum in particular, and he said, "There are two types of pitchers in the league: Pitchers with 'Stuff' like a 95 mph fastball and nasty breaking pitches, and pitchers who know how to pitch." (So that is to say, pitchers who know how to out-think a batter and get him out with intelligent pitching.) Snow went on, "Timmy used to be a pitcher with stuff, but he's not anymore, and now he has to learn how to pitch." Interesting observation. Perhaps Timmy was listening to KNBR, too, because he seems to us to be pitching a little smarter, and he didn't have his blow up inning last night. (Whew!) He actually earned his second quality start of the season (6+ innings pitched, gave up less than three runs) but there are still worries. We do feel like Lincecum is turning a corner, though. Kennedy has had his problems as well this year, but last night Kennedy had the edge, as he totally shut down Cabrera and Posey. So the Giants lost last night, but Melky Cabrera is on fire right now like pissin with the clap. He. Is. Awesome. 51 Hits in May, tying a franchise record? Fantastic. And you gotta love the Melkmen (the guys in the stands that dress up like Milkmen and cheer wildly for Melky Cabrera.) You know, if we can miraculously avoid injury, and the heart of the order plays to their ability, we might just have a shot at it this year... that 2nd wildcard is gonna make things awfully interesting. And so far, even though we've had some ups and downs, we've been playing reasonably well, and we're showing signs of being a terrific team. Let's hope for health and prosperity, shall we? And just as an update, the de facto starting line up these days is looking like Posey behind the dish, Belt at 1st, Arias/Theriot at 2nd, Crawford at SS, Panda at 3rd, Blanco in RF, Pagan in CF, & Cabrera in LF. Not too far from our predictions of a couple months ago, and very pleasing to us here at The Pitch & The Diamond. We do like to see the youth out there, gettin all seasoned up. Unfortunately, Brian Wilson is out for the year with Tommy John surgery, & Guillermo Mota got busted for violating the league's juicing policy, but Casilla is doing a fantastic job of holding down the closers role. Yes, at the moment, Pablo Sandoval is still recovering from his (other) hamate bone injury, but he'll be back, crushing jacks soon enough. Fortunately, he only had two hamate bones, one in each hand, and now they've both been removed. He should be back in a couple weeks. Joaquin Arias has filled in at Third Base admirably, and in fact, Pablo's defense might be a slight downgrade from what Arias has been giving us recently, but it'll all shake out nicely. And as the most pleasant surprise of the year, Barry Zito is pitching exceptionally well, which is always a relief. We'll be shocked if that lasts past July, as his last few years have hewn to the "Quality 1st half of the season, Lousy 2nd half" program. But we'll take what we can get.
Allrighty, that's it for now. With Arsenal and the EPL out of season during the summer, we'll now be focusing on El Gigantes til late August or so, excepting a bit of Gunners transfer news here and there. It's an off day for the Giants today, but the Cubbies come into town tomorrow, and we'll be at the ballpark for at least two of the three games this weekend. So... LET'S GO GIANTS!!