Different Paths

The Cardinals are headed back to the World Series, congratulations to them. A year after being handled thoroughly in Game 7 at AT&T, the birds gave it to the Dodgers in similar 9-0 fashion. St Louis is becoming one of the premiere dynasties in the game. It’s bittersweet stuff, I tell you what. But think of it this way: if not for Zito, Scutaro and the Rev. Pence, we’re watching the Cardinals in the Series for the 3rd year in a row. We Giants fans won’t ever give back the memories, but the gold standard has clearly been set in St. Louis over the past 10 years. This is what we expect in Giants’ nation too. Make it so, Sabes.

Flashback to June 2012 – the Cardinals are on the board for the 19th pick in the first round. The orange and black crew are right behind them, ready to snag one of two right-handed college aces: Michael Wacha or Chris Stratton. Wacha, 6-foot-6 Texas A&M Aggie, goes to St. Louis at 19. Solid pick for a solid organization. Not long after, Stratton falls off the board to Los Gigantes, another solid pick from another solid organization. Fast forward to May 2013. Wacha tosses a 2-hitter over 7 strong… in his big league debut… less than a year removed from his college career. Fast tracked to the show. Stratton is still in low-A, working on a two-seam and sacrificing some velocity. Two guys, drafted one pick apart, on such different roads. Remarkable.

Back to present day, the Dodgers are all set to play for a shot at the Series. Cy Kershaw on the bump for game 6… against a rookie? Put that one in the bag. But wait a minute… 2-hitter over 7 for Wacha Wacha Wacha – 7 earnies on 10 hits for Kershaw, and a 48 pitch 4th inning! Baseball is a humbling game, folks. If you saw this one coming, you’re either lying through your teeth, or your crazy. This blog was not created to put down teams or players (even the Dodgers), and it’s hard not to feel for Kershaw. Make no mistake, he’s one of the elite, and he’s going to be a major thorn for the Giants for many years. But he didn’t have his stuff tonight, and he got no help from Mr. Puig, who was humbled quickly tonight. A great season for the Dodgers, but I think I speak for all of Giants Nation when I say we can exhale a bit. There will be no rings in LA this year, but there’s much work to be done if the Giants want to compete in the west next year.

Back to Wacha, rookie and now NLCS MVP. The Cardinals just keep finding these guys. The Giants have their next wave of arms waiting in the wings. Not as many 97-98-99’s on the gun as these starters St. Louis is running out there, but a group that’s starting to gain recognition in its own right. Crick, Blackburn, Escobar, Mejia, Blach… Stratton? Where does he fit in? Every player develops differently, but it’s hard not to question why the #1 pick from an SEC school spent his entire season in Augusta. There talent above him in the organization is great, but I think it’s up to the Giants now to give Stratton a challenge. Forget San Jose – get him a Flying Squirrel’s hat and see how that fastball/slider combo look in the Eastern League. He’s not getting any younger, and the guy taken one pick ahead of him is playing for a ring… in the show.

Stratton

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