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Damn it feels good to be a gangster.

San Francisco Giants (Tim Hudson et al) at Kansas City Royals (Jeremy Guthrie et al) 8:07 p.m. Eastern
PECOTA odds of winning: 59% Giants, 41% Royals

Projected Starting Lineups

Giants vs. Guthrie (R)

Royals vs. Hudson (R)

Gregor Blanco (L) CF

Alcides Escobar (R) SS

Joe Panik (L) 2B

Norichika Aoki (L) RF

Buster Posey (R) C

Lorenzo Cain (R) CF

Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B

Eric Hosmer (L) 1B

Hunter Pence (R) RF

Billy Butler (R) DH

Brandon Belt (L) 1B

Alex Gordon (L) LF

Michael Morse (R) DH

Salvador Perez (R) C

Travis Ishikawa (L) LF

Omar Infante (R) 2B

Brandon Crawford (L) SS

Mike Moustakas (L) 3B

Injuries/Availability: At this point, we can assume everybody is available except for… let's see, Yordano Ventura, Jake Peavy, Jean Machi. Ned Yost might have an inning in him. Bruce Bochy is available as an emergency catcher. Jake Peavy is available–forget what I said a minute ago. If this game goes long, it has the potential for b-a-n-a-n-a-s. The only potential injury at play is Tim Lincecum's back, which hasn't been known to be a limiting factor, but one never knows once he's on the mound. (It's a decent bet he'll be on the mound.)

Outlook: There's some PECOTA odds up there, and maybe they're right, or maybe they're just slightly too blunt for the job, but it doesn't really matter. The season will come down to a game that is, basically, a coin flip, and we will all start looking at the clock from about 8:45 a.m. through the end of the day, waiting for the first pitch that will seem like the biggest first pitch of the season (because it is). It's somewhat ironic (maybe?) that we get to the most important first pitch of the season and it's going to be thrown by Jeremy Guthrie, a lousy starting pitcher, maybe the 120th best in the majors; and he will be matched up against Tim Hudson, a… well, he's probably below average at this point, maybe the 70th or 80th best in baseball. Such is October: For all the extra spaces it puts in between its games, allowing managers to lean ever more heavily on their two or three best starters and two or three best relievers, it inevitably wears down those very same rosters, and now we walk into Game Seven with a weird mixture of All Hands On Deck and Everybody's Kind Of Beat Down To Exhaustion. Regardless, Guthrie and Hudson will not be the final pitchers on the hill, and even if they pitch well, they're unlikely to walk off the mound in the sixth. Madison Bumgarner will pitch (if it's close). James Shields might pitch (if it's close). A LOOGY will appear in the fourth or fifth (if it's close) and Greg Holland could even pitch more than three outs (if it's close), though that's the least likely.

It's best to have your narrative ready to go before the first pitch, or else it's going to be too draining for you to start shifting mid-game. So pick a side: The Giants don't lose elimination games under Bruce Bochy, or the Royals are a team of destiny, America's favorites, 1985, too fast to fail. Truth is, neither team is flawless, as we've seen: The Royals have mediocre starting pitching (JEREMY ******* GUTHRIE IS STARTING THIS GAME!) and the Giants have a nasty habit of getting shut down by mediocre slop throwers (Jeremy ******* Guthrie, anyone?). These are flawed teams. Travis Ishikawa will start this game. The Royals' no. 2 hitter will be subbed out in the sixth inning because he's not good enough to play a full game. At the end of it, one of them will be the world champion, after a dominant run through October. The other will not be the world champion, despite a dominant run through October. These are not the two best teams in baseball. They gave us two extraordinary October performances. One deserves to win the World Series, and it will, tonight.

The other does, too, and it won't.

Eight oh seven eastern, and damned if I can wait that long.

Thank you for reading

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rawagman
10/29
Sam - you have the game 6 starting pitchers listed.
APJ74137
10/29
He's not Greg Maddux in his prime, but J-Guts has been very serviceable (dare I say reliable?) the past 6 weeks or so.
Tythelip
10/29
Go with the Eagle Scout for the win in Game 7!
greenengineer
10/29
Neither team deserves to be World Champion. They both finished second.
Dodger300
10/29
They faced different interleague opponents. Without an identical schedule your argument is invalid.
hotstatrat
10/29
I plussed him even though I disagree with his assertion. Why kill the discussion with a "boo"? He may have just been making a technical argument.

You can measure "best" in many ways: look at runs vs. runs against. Measure the difficulty of their opponents. Take a look at their 3 year record, etc. As fans we are entitled to look at it any way we want.

The rules are what they are, though. Offically the "best" is who wins the World Series. The wild card teams have an extra obstacle towards achieving that, so the system is reasonably fair. If a team can play to win the division, then they can play to reach a wild card slot.
ArseneLupinIII
10/29
I'm six for six so far in the office pool. Went Giants 5-1 for this one. I'm just rooting for something that doesn't make me leave the bar early, like games 1 and 6 did.

Vegas odds are currently +134/-144 in favor of KC which seems a little odd.
jdeich
10/29
Keep in mind that Vegas isn't interested in predicting the outcome of the game. They're interested in predicting the outcome of the betting.

If MLB fans believe the Royals to be favorites (rationally or otherwise), it's the job of the industry to create a line that shows the Royals as favorites.
bhacking
10/29
There is nothing that can make me leave the bar early unless they run out of beer.
ArseneLupinIII
10/30
The beer was way overpriced. $10 for a sierra nevada harvest pint.
sbnirish77
10/29
On what basis could Bochy's decision to leave Bumgarner in for 117 pitches during a blowout the other night be justified?

Even if Bumgarner pitches well tonight, he could of done it longer if he was removed the other night.

hotstatrat
10/29
You have a point, but when your pitcher is getting batters out so easily, it may not be all that much strain on his arm. If you take him out, anything can happen. I still have nightmares from the 2013 ALCS, when Boston would blast away at Detroit's relievers after Verlander, Scherzer, and Sanchez pitched gems to get them into the eighth or ninth innings.
quackman
10/29
Not saying that I agree with Bochy's decision, but it did leave his bullpen fresher for game 5 the next night.
Chomsky
10/29
Perez is starting over Ishikawa. Not that it matters that much.