SAN FRANCISCO – For a team that has tried for decades to distance itself from a past full of negative karma, this might be the time to introduce some of it.
You can go back to 1984 for a practical example of why the Cubs can’t feel safe with a 2-0 lead in a five-game series. Thirty-years ago the Cubs broke a new generation of hearts when they dropped three straight games in San Diego and fail to end what at that point was a modest 39-year World Series drought.
That has since ballooned to 71 years as the Cubs once again have won the first two games of a playoff series. One win makes it two-straight appearances in the National League Championship series for the first time in franchise history. For older fans the memories of 1984 have returned to top of mind and one can’t blame them for doing so.
For a new generation of rooters, however, it may be easier to relate not to the Cubs’ past but rather recent history for the Giants to understand the need for pause before jumping to conclusions. Don’t just look at the three World Series championships or the fact they’ve been won in every even year since 2010.
Look at what a Bruce Bochy team does when elimination is staring them in the face. In 2012 they lost the first two games of the NLDS to the Reds then went on the road and won three-straight games. They did it again in the NLCS against the Cardinals when they fell behind 3-1 – beating St. Louis in the final three contests by a combined score of 20-1.
In 2014 they won Game 7 of the World Series on the road in Kansas City. Last Wednesday they beat the Mets 3-0 in the NL Wild Card Playoff Game – again on the road.
That’s nine-straight times the Giants have stared elimination in the face and kept their season alive or won a championship. If you weren’t around to understand what happened in 1984, than you can certainly see why this NLDS is far from over even thought the Cubs are one win from taking the series.
“That’s what I talk about, be present, not perfect. We would be foolish to be overconfident about this situation,” said Maddon on Sunday as the team worked out at AT&T Park. “They’re really good, they have done this before, that is a group that is just dripping with tested veterans and a manager that’s outstanding.
“So you never take the Giants for granted. Never.”
Especially with Madison Bumgarner on the mound. The pitcher is the perfect representation of poise under pressure in his MLB career having pitched 23-consecutive shutout innings in elimination games. That includes nine on Wednesday in the win over the Mets at Citi Field.
“This club has a history. That’s what you like about what’s going on now, of finding a way to win that game they had to win and moving on,” said Bochy of the team’s past resiliency working to their advantage. “And that experience, that’s so vital to draw on. And if you don’t have that, you may not have that belief that can you do it. Well, they know that they have done it.
“And we’re going against a very good club here. We have our hands full. Good pitching, balanced lineup and all that. But back in 2014, 2012, whatever, we faced very, very good clubs then, too. So, it’s all about believing.”
Jason Heyward believes the Cubs can finish off their first clean sweep of a series in franchise history on Monday (The Cubs won the 1907 World Series 4-0-1 with Game 1 being declared a tie in extra innings due to darkness).
But will you get him to say talk about a quick trip to San Francisco? Not a chance.
“We’re not thinking, we’ll see what happens with the game,” said Heyward when asked about the possibility of the team returning home Monday night with a series win in hand. “It’s one day at a time and regardless of what situation we’re in the during the game, until the game is over with we will be pushing to trying to do what we can to win that game.”
Think that is a cliché? Ask the 2012 Reds and Cardinals, the 2014 Royals or the defending NL champion Mets.
They’re well versed in the history of Monday’s opponent.