Monday, July 31, 2006

It's not over

The Giants remain only 4 and half out with 2 months left. I am not going to give up, not even with an Official Clubhouse Cancer on the team.

One Saturday in 1975, I got in my Rambler and drove 100 miles to San Francisco to see the Giants play the Cubs. I was doing my first real job and didn't have a girlfriend, so the Giants were often my weekend recreation. That was a truly horrific Giants team. I believe I managed to attend both a 15-0 blowout by the Pirates (Richie Zisk hit for the cycle) and a 17-2 beatdown by the Cards that year.

There appeared to be more of the same that day. In the fifth inning, the Cubs were up 7-0. I forget how but the Giants then rallied for eight in the bottom of the 5th and held on to win. I went home elated and thinking, "Well, maybe that was the turning point." Obviously, it wasn't. That was back when the lineup went something like this -- Garry Maddox, Derrel Thomas, Gary Thomasson, Bobby Murcer (batting cleanup!), Gary Matthews, Chris Speier, Steve Ontiveros and Dave Rader. Jim Barr was probably the best starting pitcher. Ed Halicki threw a no-hitter that year.

That's the beauty of getting to be middle-aged -- you accumulate enough to good times to blot out the bad.

Still -- we've hit a new low with Blownitez. Ray Ratto of the Chronicle put it very well in the Splash blog today in a post titled The Doghouse Times 100 --

To call someone "a cancer" is to spoil for a fight, even if it's just a clever way to say, "This guy is hurting my favorite team." There's no takebacks from that one.
And yet, Armando Benitez has now maneuevered himself into such a place with the Giants that his very appearance throwing the bullpen gives off toxic vibes that cannot help but foul the atmosphere around him. He is, we daresay, in as low a place as he ever has been with the Mets, the team with which he first knew the sting of city-wide hatred.
Sunday's blown save, his seventh, was not particularly any ghastlier than any of the other six, but it was his third in barely a week, and second against a last-place team. As a result, the Giants return home to a fan base ready for blood, and a specific type at that -- AB, as in you know who. It makes a fellow wonder just how the people in Kansas City really feel about Ambiorix Burgos, or Milwaukee's relationship to Derrick Turnbow.
But the Royals and Brewers are dreaming, while the Giants are allowed by the profound mediocrity of the NL West and its wild card race to continue to dream. Why, if it weren't for Benitez, unfounded optimism would reign supreme.
Actually, now that we think about it, maybe he's doing them a favor. We just doubt that they see it that way, not with the glare from those torches and that gallows being assembled at the O'Doul Gate.

There were 18 posts in response, most of them complaining -- a la Glenn Dickey -- about the need to trade EVERYONE. However, one guy named SFGPAPA nailed it perfectly --

Benitez' performance has been awful, but what's worse is his attitude. If he was a man about it and said, "I let down my teammates, I didn't get the job of a closer done, and I failed at the worst time," fans would feel differently.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

This one's for you, Mr. Blownitez

Back-to-back-to-back Blown Saves by Blownitez. Is three in a row a record? It must be getting close at this point, because wouldn't most teams start bringing in someone else in a save situation?

I've decided to keep the song lyrics theme going so it seems appropriate to post the words to one of the Rolling Stones' greatest songs, one that never fails to cheer me up because it always reminds me that life is full of second chances and redemption. Particularly if one GETS. RID. OF. BLOWNITEZ. (I'm boycotting his other name, just like I'm boycotting AT&T and their insistence on including their slimy name on Mays Field).

I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right.

I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, It's a Gas! Gas! Gas!

I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,
I was schooled with a strap right across my back,
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right,

I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, It's a Gas! Gas! Gas!

I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead.
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled.
I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I was crowned with a spike right thru my head.
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas!
But it's all right,

I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, It's a Gas! Gas! Gas!

Jumping Jack Flash, its a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, its a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, its a gas
Jumping Jack Flash, its a gas


Saturday, July 29, 2006

On the Sunny Side of the Street

One of the great Swing Era songs, written by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields (they also wrote "I Can't Give You Anything But Love, Baby") at a time (1930) when people needed a bit of cheering up. It's been covered by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland and Billie Holiday --

Grab your coat and get your hat
Leave your worries on the doorstep
Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street

Can't you hear the pitter-pat
And that happy tune is your step
Life can be complete
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade with my blues on parade
But I'm not afraid...this rover's crossed over
If I never had a cent
I'd be rich as Rockefeller
Gold dust at my feet
On the sunny side of the street

I used to walk in the shade with them blues on parade
Now I'm not afraid... this rover has crossed over
Now if I never made one cent
I' ll still be rich as Rockefeller
There will be goldust at my feet
On the sunny
On the sunny, sunny side of the street

I just posted this as the Giants lost their 6th straight, 4-3. Singing this 76-year-old song to myself, I do feel better. And I'm still blaming Armando Benitez. I would contend that the two blown saves -- plus his subsequent childish outbursts -- have helped demoralize this team. But if you look hard enough, there's good news. There's a reason to be happy: the Giants aren't going to be on hook for paying Blownitez $1.2 million for winning the Rolaids Reliever of the Year award this year. Here's what his Fatness's current contract looks like, according to Cot's Contracts Page:

Armando Benitez 3 years/$21M (2005-07)
$7.4M signing bonus ($1.6M in 05, $2.6M in 06, $1.6M in 08, $1.6M in 09)
05:$2.5M, 06:$4M, 07:$7.6M
signed as a free agent 11/04
$1.2M incentive for Rolaids award, $25,000 All Star incentive

Hey, Salomon -- The feeling is mutual

Salomon Torres tells the Chron's Henry Schulman that he doesn't want to get traded to the Giants because of the bad memories. Fortunately, it looks like Brian Sabean has opted for trading a 19-year-old prospect for Mike Stanton as the best way to improve the bullpen.

Torres is a classic example of a guy who hangs on by playing for marginal teams that never contend. I had to laugh last night while listing to the XM broadcast of the game and hearing one of the Pirates hack cheerleader announcers -- I guess it was either Lanny Frattare or Greg Brown -- refer to him as "King Salomon" without a trace of sarcasm. Calm down, guys -- he's 3-4 with a 4.19 ERA. Listening to XM when the Giants are on the road truly makes one appreciate the professionalism of the Giants' crew.

As much as I detest Blownitez, I honestly can't say if I'd support trading him for Torres.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Maddux in the Orange and Black?

Rumors are flying that the Dodgers, Padres and Giants are making a play for Greg Maddux. Lefty Malo thinks it's a terrible idea --

I'm betting the crafty Sabes knows this, too, and he's just trying to make the Dodgers or Padres pay a super extra double premium for the last mediocre gasp of a Hall of Famer's twilight months. You old sly fox! You. Right? Brian?

My take is that it wouldn't be horrible if it were a straight-up trade for Fatso Blownitez.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Glenn Dickey BUSTED for being a hack

I guess it's not just me who thinks that Glenn Dickey became a parody of his grouchy no-talent self long ago. Apparently, he's writing -- as badly as ever -- in the Examiner. My first reaction was that the Examiner was merely trying to mimic the Chronicle. Now, I don't insist that the hometown papers be full-time cheerleaders for the Giants, but the Chron has taken the notion of presenting "opposing points of view" to an extreme in the last few years. I made this point a few weeks ago when the Chron's John Shea wrote a particularly lame All-Star break column about how Nomar Garciaparra's rebound on the Dodgers was one of the "positive" developments of the season. He couldn't even be bothered to mention anything positive about the Giants -- Cain and Schmidt's flirtations with greatness, Bonds hitting No. 715, Vizquel's brilliance in the field or Eleizer Alfonzo breaking into the bigs at age 27.

But the truth about Dickey is actually far more entertaining. Doug at Westwood Blues -- like me, a Giants fan stuck in Los Angeles -- has figured out that Dickey's simply recyclying the same columns over and over again. Here's his outstanding post:

Like the Swallows Returning to San Juan Capistrano...

It's late July, which means it's time for Glenn Dickey's annual column where he implores the Giants to have a firesale. Here is the 2006 version of Glenn Dickey's firesale column as printed in the Examiner. Wait, Glenn Dickey writes for the Examiner? Wait, the Examiner is still in business? Seriously?

"This is an old team, vulnerable to injuries, with uncertain pitching and inconsistent hitting...Next year will be worse.The Giants' strategy the past six years has been to keep the nucleus of the team together and bring in, through trades and free agency, veterans who can supplement them. The strategy worked well for five years, but it is bankrupt now."

Ok, this was actually from the 2002 (yes, 2002) version of Dickey's annual firesale column, but he's basically written the same thing every year since then.

At the very least, in his 2004 firesale column, he acknowledges the Giants believe they would take a PR hit if they white flagged the season: "Sabean has made some excellent midseason trades in the past but he's never been in the situation of having to plug two gaping holes like this. If he makes a trade to plug one of these holes, it wouldn't be enough for this season and would be a further setback for the farm system.The fear of the Giants since moving into their new park has been that the fan base quickly would erode if the team was not competitive. That's fueled the almost frantic reshuffling of the team each season to stay in the hunt."

Whether or not trading Jason Schmidt (for Brandon McCarthy and Brian Anderson, as Dickey advocates) would be wise from a baseball standpoint is a debatable point. But I can't imagine that the Giants believe this would be a wise move from a business standpoint. Moreover, I can't imagine that Giants believe this type of move would be wise from a baseball standpoint, especially when they still consider themselves to be contenders in 2006. Sorry Glenn, no firesale for you!

This is how to man up

So what does Ray Durham do, after Blownitez deflected responsibility for yet another Blown Save by blaming Ray Durham for not fielding a ball that was hit so hard that it was scored a hit?

"It wasn't his fault," Ray Durham said. "I take full responsibility for it. It was his job to get a groundball, and he got it. I'm supposed to make the play and I didn't."


A bit of good news

It turns out that the Dodgers -- who have now lost 8 in a row -- have an even bigger crybaby than Benitez named Brad Penny. After Kenny Lofton lost a fly ball in the daytime glare from empty seats at Chavez Latrine, Penny threw a temper tantrum even though he was in the midst of giving up 6 straight hits. Here's part of the LA Times recap --

The last time the Dodgers had a worse stretch was in 1944, when the team was noteworthy for its combustible manager, Leo Durocher, and fiery second baseman, Eddie Stanky.Not that Brad Penny or Kenny Lofton were aware of the connection, but their dugout spat early in what became a 10-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday probably would have gained the approval of a manager nicknamed "The Lip" and a player nicknamed "The Brat." The fourth of six consecutive hits given up by Penny was a hustle double by Dave Roberts that Lofton said he didn't see well because of the sun's glare off the seats behind home plate at Dodger Stadium.Penny apparently interpreted Lofton's difficulties as a lack of effort because after that four-run third inning he pointed a finger at the center fielder and yelled as he approached the dugout.Lofton was restrained by coach Mariano Duncan and injured first baseman Nomar Garciaparra, then prepared to bat. He struck out, took a seat on the bench and didn't take his position the next inning until Penny was about to throw the first pitch.

This is what happens when you have Jeff "Clubhouse Cancer" Kent as a "team leader." Dodgers are now 47-55 and 7 and half out of first.

I hate to say it...

But I told you so. I've said it over and over and over. GET. RID. OF. BENITEZ.

And that's the only satisfaction I can take from another Blownitez Meltdown tonight in DC for back-to-back Blown Saves -- complete with his usual blaming someone else for his own incompetence.

"I needed to get a groundball for a double play. I got a groundball. I came back and got a groundball again. I did my job."

Let's review, shall we? He faced six batters -- walked Fick, got Soriano out on a lucky strikeout, gave up a groundball to Lopez that was hit so hard that it was scored as a hit, gave up another hit to Zimmerman, walked Nick Johnson and gave up the winning run on a long fly ball out to Kearns. Then, rather than take any responsibility, he blames Durham. I haven't detested a Giant this much since Ricky Ledee was on the team. He is a weasel.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

AT&T = garbage

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lucky 7 for the Dodgers

Yes, Giants fans, there's more good news from Chavez Latrine: The Dodgers lost again for a sweet seven in a row. McCourt is going to move the team to the Philippines and re-name them the Manila Folders. Thank you, I'm here all week.

And we get to point the finger at Ned "Benedict Arnold" Colletti. He's the one who assembled a team that's now 47-54. This is what you get for going with marginal stiffs like Odalis, Tomko, Cruz, Seo, Baez, Repko, Itchyzit and Hendrickson along with relying on guys who are likely to get injured like Nomar, Mueller and Gagne. And they have 6th highest payroll in MLB so it's not like they don't have the financial firepower. The bottom line -- DePodesta managed to put together a team that went to the playoffs 2 years ago and then got fired because the McCourts wanted to show that they knew better.

I would say they're getting less bang for the buck than any team on this list except the Cubs, who seem to have a knack for picking the wrong guys.
1 New York Yankees $194,663,079
2 Boston Red Sox $120,099,824
3 Los Angeles Angels $103,472,000
4 Chicago White Sox $102,750,667
5 New York Mets $101,084,963
6 Los Angeles Dodgers $98,447,187
7 Chicago Cubs $94,424,499
8 Houston Astros $92,551,503
9 Atlanta Braves $90,156,876
10 San Francisco Giants $90,056,419

I just don't get it

What in the world was Kevin Correia doing batting in the top of the 6th tonight with 2 outs? With the score 7-5 Nats and only 10 outs left, Correia struck out and then went out and pitched the bottom of the 6th and 7th.

I'm sorry, but it makes no sense to me to let the pitcher bat when you're only 2 runs down in the 6th. The Giants are carrying 12 pitchers right now and had an off day Monday, so it's not as if there was no one left to pitch. At that point, the Giants had Todd Greene, Mike Sweeney, Moises Alou, Todd Linden and Jose Vizcaino available to pinch hit. Even Vizcaino is a better option.

Felipe pulled the same stunt last Wednesday in the 7-6 comeback game at Mays Field, letting Morris hit in the bottom of the 6th even though the Giants were down several runs at that point. It didn't work then, either.

And now for an opposing point of view

Grant at the superb McCovey Chornicles site has a well-written calm-the-hell-down take on the Blownitez situation. Here's the core of it --

The second Armando is a competent reliever who was on a bit of a roll. He had saved seven in a row before Termel Sledge's home run. If he kept the rate he's been converting for the past month up, he'd be saving about 88% of his opportunities. That's not elite, but it's acceptable. For a while, it seemed as if acceptable was a beautiful and unrealistic dream.
Benitez still sulks and throws his glove around. He pounds his chest after getting lucky with a line-drive out. He'll blow the occasional save. But this Armando is clearly a different pitcher than the noodle who showed up to Scottsdale in March. Trustworthy? No. Not yet. Booworthy? I'd give the new `Mando a little more time on that as well.

I never ever boo a Giant. But I still say trade him while he has some value.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A thing of beauty from Chavez Latrine

The Dodgers have just lost 7-6 to San Diego in 11 innings. It's their sixth loss in a row and their 11th of the last 12, leaving them 47-53 after 100 games. Anyone still pushing for Ned Colletti to be named GM of the Year? The Dodgers are now 5 and a half games out. Tonight, Grady "Brain Surgeon" Little took out Derek Lowe just in time for Mike Cameron to break a 3-3 tie with a 3-run homer.

"But Big D," you may wonder. "Isn't it more important for the Padres to lose since they're in first place?"

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO. Except for a Giants win, there's nothing more beautiful than a Dodger loss.

Post for an off-day

This is from the latest issue of The Onion --

PITTSBURGH—After five years of serving Pittsburgh as their state-of-the-art sporting facility, PNC Park, the home of the rundown, poorly maintained Pirates, said Tuesday it is threatening to leave Pittsburgh unless a new team can be built within the next three years.
"I love the city of Pittsburgh, but the Pirates are an old, dilapidated club built from other teams' spare parts, and its very foundation is rotting away," the stadium said to reporters assembled in its press box. "I had every intention to stay here for the duration of my career as a ballpark, but given that I haven't seen any realistic long-term plans for improving my resident team's ramshackle condition, I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about taking my services elsewhere."
The young stadium, regarded as one of the best of the recent crop of real-estate development projects throughout the league, added that "after this year's All Star Game, I have learned that a ballpark of my caliber deserves to host that kind of play every day."
"The Pirates have become such an eyesore that I've even had to resort to bringing in different teams each week to play in me," the stadium said.
Although Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy said he is doing everything in his power to keep the park in Pittsburgh—attempting a rebuilding process every few years, making small free-agent additions, and erecting a new six-foot-tall outfielder in left field—the stadium dismissed the moves as nothing more than "a fresh coat of paint on a team that's in danger of collapsing under its own weight."
Mets owner Fred Wilpon has been vocal about his interest in bringing PNC Park to New York for the 2007 season so that it may take over for an aging Shea Stadium.
"The New York Mets have all the necessary components in place to fulfill PNC Park's needs," Wilpon said. "We have a gleaming new shortstop in Jose Reyes. We have a visually stunning, jaw-dropping player in Carlos Beltran. And the infrastructure of our minor-league system is designed to ensure that PNC Park will be inhabited by great ballplayers for years to come."
"Also, PNC Park has already established a good rapport and budding friendship with this year's Home Run Derby runner-up David Wright—the bedrock of our team's stability," Wilpon added.
Though PNC Park would not elaborate on its relationship with Wright, it did say that Wright mentioned how much he enjoyed its dimensions, especially those in left and left-center.
Pittsburgh fans were irate upon hearing news of the stadium's possible relocation.
"If that ballpark left, this city would be devastated," said Pittsburgh resident Howard Valinsky. "I make a point of taking my kids down to the stadium during Pirates away games so they can stand outside of it and marvel at the rugged limestone and the blue steel—both of which have had an excellent year despite rainy conditions."
Valisnky added: "The fact that McClatchy hasn't given this stadium the sort of beautiful, well-designed team it deserves is a travesty. Let's face it, the Pirates have been falling apart for years. Frankly, I find myself wondering if it's even safe for fans to be near them."
The stadium echoed Valinsky's sentiments, saying, "The fans have been so great at being there for me. But if I can't hold a team that can compete, then what's supposed to hold me here?"
In a last-ditch effort to keep PNC Park, a citywide referendum will be added to this year's midterm election that, if passed, would draw from a property-tax fund to aid McClatchy in assembling a new, state-of-the-art team by 2010.
PNC Park, however, is not convinced.
"When I came here in 2001, they promised me a championship team," the stadium said. "I was warned by venerable and much-beloved Three Rivers Stadium—which imploded soon afterwards, as you know—that I should look elsewhere, that this team was set in its ways and not focused on rebuilding, that they were simply using me as a means to make money," the stadium said. "I was young and brash and I didn't listen. Now that I am more mature and have settled a bit, I realize I have to do what is best for me and my family."
In the event that the Pirate organization does not have the financial wherewithal to meet the park's demands, there are contingency plans in place to attract other stadiums to the city. While the league has said it frowns on the idea of putting an expansion stadium in the Pittsburgh area, some have floated the idea of bringing over old Tiger Stadium, which went into forced retirement in 2000.

At least the Blownitez whining has stopped

I'm sure it's only temporary. Here's how the Chron recapped Armando's 5th blown save to a guy (Sledge) who hadn't homered previously this year --

Given how strong his fastball looked -- just ask Josh Bard about the 96-mph job he swung through to end the ninth with the go-ahead run at third base -- one has to wonder why, on a 1-2 count, Benitez threw a splitter, not his strongest pitch now.
"I was upset with myself because you know when you make a mistake," Benitez said. "I made a mistake. I threw a splitter and he got me. The guy came in and hit the ball. One mistake you make costs the game. I've got no excuses. He beat me."
As Sledge rounded the bases, Benitez did something several teammates privately called unprofessional. He flipped his glove high into the air then batted it to the ground. Upset as he was, though, he prevented the go-ahead run from scoring after two more Padres reached base.

MEMO TO BRAIN SABEAN - Again, it should be obvious that this guy is not the one you want closing. He can't handle it and he's a big crybaby. Get rid of him if you can.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lou Seal!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I like Lou Seal. Thanks again to my sis for a fine shot from Section 219!

Ray gets it done

My sis took this fine shot of Durham making a terrific catch in right field in Wednesday's game against the Brewers, a few innings before his game-winning single in the 9th.

He's probably been the best player on the club for the past month.

What's that sucking sound to the south?

About an hour after the Giants moved into first place, the Dodgers lost 6-1 to the Cards and are now 1-9 since the All-Star break. JEFF WEAVER beat them. The Dodgers managed six hits and a run off one of the worst pitchers in baseball. Perhaps they thought they were facing Jared Weaver.

About a month ago, the smart guys at Sports Illustrated declared that the Dodgers were the team in the NL West, thanks to pheenom Matt Kemp, who they gave that issue's lead photo to. Kemp succumbed to the SIKOD (the Sports Illustrated Kiss of Death) and stopped hitting, to the point that he's now in the minors again.

The Dodgers have pretty much stopped hitting. While it is a thing of beauty, it also won't last forever, but hopefully Ned Colletti will pull the trigger in the next week in desperation on a hare-brained trade like Andre Ethier for Tony Womack.

Jon Wiseman at Dodger Thoughts notes the Dodgers are in such a power drought that they're in danger of not hitting 10 HRs in a full month for the first time since June 1992, when they hit eight. "The 1992 season featured the three worst Dodger home run months in recent history: August (10) and September (11). The team managed 72 home runs that season.
So far this month, Olmedo Saenz and Nomar Garciaparra have each hit two home runs and Andre Ethier one. The rest of team has gone 471 at-bats without hitting one out.
No, I don't have a joke here."

Judge to AT&T: Go to hell

AT&T lost a motion on Thursday to dismiss a case in which its shareholders have sued it for shredding privacy rights. Judge Vaughn Walker told AT&T to stop whining like Dodger fans. And as I've said before, because of the corrupt conduct of AT&T, this site will NOT refer to the Giants home as anything other than Mays Field.

Shea Hey!

Hillenbrand (and Vinnie Chulk?) for Accardo. Bad news for all the other starting first basemen -- Lance Niekro, Jose Vizcaino, Travis Ishikawa, Chad Santos and Mark Sweeney. Good news (I think) for everyone else. Maybe we'll see a few more 8-2 victories like tonight. And Giants fans everywhere are thinking one thought about Accardo -- "Please don't let him turn into Joe Nathan."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

HR Number 722

Barry Bonds may be rolling again, as Jon Miller pointed out in the 5th inning tonight when the Giants scored 3 via small ball (walk to Santos, SF bunt by Lowry, a "hustle" 2B by Winn, steal by Winn on Chan Ho and Piazza, squeeze by Omar, hit-and-run by Moises, SF fly by Bonds). Miller noted that Barry had hit the first pitch and not pulled; he simply hit a warning track fly to LF to score the run. "When Barry starts hitting like that, good things start to happen," Miller noted.

So in the 8th after Piazza dropped Barry's pop-up, Bonds hit No. 722 to straight-away CF, followed by back-to-back jacks by Ray and Pedro off Brian Sweeney before Sweeney finally struck out Chad Santos, losing a chance at MLB immortality. Yes, there's only one pitcher who's given up 4 straight homers -- Paul Foytack of the LA Angels in 1963 to the Indians: Woody Held, pitcher Pedro Ramos (his second of the game), Tito Francona and Larry Brown.

Foytack is an interesting guy anyhow. He got profiled in one of my fave books ever -- The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book by Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris. They made the point that Foytack was truly a .500 pitcher -- thanks to two seasons of 15-13, one of 14-11, one of 5-5, one of 14-14, one of 11-10 -- and noted that Foytack was probably trying the best he could rather than just reflecting the mediocre status of the teams he played on, the Tigers and the Angels. His final record was 86-87.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

We all make mistakes

For example, I actually bought a pair of platform shoes in 1974. I have owned a Rambler, Ford Granada and a Ford Escort. And I once thought that Johnnie LeMaster was an adequate MLB player.

At last night's game, despite having pretty good field level seats, I completely missed Mark Sweeney's failure to score in the 2nd inning with 2 outs on Alfonzo's long blast to the CF fence. However, PEFA Commish at the excellent Sour Grapes site didn't. Here's the post --

OK, they finally won one last night. Here is what you didn’t read in the Chronicle this morning.I was there in FC 109, which is behind the first base dugout looking out through the infield toward left center. It was the perfect place to be sitting to observe Mark Sweeney’s bonehead blunder in the second inning.Situation: score tied 1-1 after Sweeney grounded into a fielder’s choice, Durham scoring. Sweeney was on first, two outs, Alfonzo at the plate. The kid ripped a lazer beam into left center over the centerfielder’s head, and it bounced to the wall. I followed the ball and then looked at Sweeney approaching second base. He had slowed up and was watching the fielder to see if he was going to catch it. As soon as the ball cleared the fielder’s head, Sweeney turned on the jets, but he was held up at third base, Alfonzo stopping at second. No run scored.What the hell was Sweeney thinking to slow up approaching second? Here’s what he was thinking: there is one out, and I may have to go back to first if the fielder catches it.Hey, Mark, there are two outs. Run your ass off at the crack of the bat. Put your head down and pump. You’re a veteran, you’re not supposed to make this mistake.There is no doubt, he should have scored there. All the people around me in FC 109 saw it and agreed: he forgot how many outs there were. When Jamey Wright struck out for the final out of the inning, we all thought, “If the Giants lose by a run, this will be the reason.” Now, a little irony: between the second and third innings, the Giants showed a Mark Sweeney collage on the scoreboard.Let’s now move to the bottom of the sixth, Brewers up 3-2. With one out and Feliz on first, Sweeney singled to right, Feliz moving to third. Alfonzo struck out (not a good night for the kid with runners in scoring position). TWO OUTS. Moises Alou stepped in as a pinch hitter and drove the ball to almost the exact same spot as Alfonzo hit it in the second inning. Feliz scored, but this time Sweeney was tearing ass around the bases, turned third and headed for home. The cutoff man rifled the ball to the plate a little high and a little to the first base line, and Sweeney slid around the tag for what would be the winning run.Do you think Sweeney was aware of how many outs there were? A little more irony: walking out through the Field Club, Kruk and Kuip were interviewing game hero Mark Sweeney on the tube after the game. The sound was turned down, but I don’t imagine they asked him about what happened in that second inning. They probably were kissing his ass and telling him how great he played.This morning in the Chronicle they talked about the players’ meeting before the game, which Sweeney himself called in order to set up a Kangaroo Court. It turned into a grievance airing, which beat writer Henry Schulman credited for the win. I’d like to nominate game hero Sweeney to be the first to drop a Benji into the Kangaroo Pot for blowing that run in the second last night. From all accounts Sweeney’s a good guy, and I’ll bet he’d be hard pressed to disagree.

Veteran poise

It was a day when the old guys delivered the goods and the young guys gagged.

I'm just back from one of the finest games ever at Mays Field with a stirring 7-6 victory in the 9th that was due in no small part to Barry Bonds' clutch pinch hit single to lead off the inning -- a day before he's supposed to be indicted if the New York Daily News is to be believed.

The Brewers, who had led 6-1 at one point, looked rattled. After Omar Vizquel couln't get down a bunt and struck out, Steve Finley got a bit lucky with a chopper up the middle that Bill Hall and Richie Weeks both managed to avoid catching. I say that a vet like Vizquel makes that play just about every time but it looked to me that the young guys hesitated just an instant. So it goes for a double, leading to Alou getting intentionally walked and Ray Durham knocking the ball past Weeks -- after Turnbow gloved it -- for the game-winner.

Watching for Club 219 with the count 3-2 on Bonds, I had to laugh as someone in back of me yelled "Come on, Lamar!!!" Given the result, maybe it'll catch on.

Fire the headline writer

The Giants got back to .500 tonight, thanks to clutch performances by the bullpen, the inflield, Barry Bonds, Jamey Wright, Moises, Mark Sweeney .... just about everyone. I had the good fortune to attend on another gorgeous night at Mays Field, except that the booing was pretty much limited to the umpires. So I just got online and read the Chron's recap by Henry Schulman, which was pretty accurate. But the headline wasn't --

Giants manage to breathe life into a rapidly faltering season

That's an idiotic characeterization of a season where
1. The team is at .500 -- a level it's been around for most of the year
2. They're playing in a division where that's nearly good enough to get to the postseason.
3. To be 3 and half out with 68 games left is not a "rapidly faltering season."
4. If the Giants were to do what the Braves just did -- win 7 in a row -- they'd likely be in first place, rather than 9 games out, as the Braves are.

MEMO TO CHRON SPORTS STAFF -- I know that you have your reputation staked on "Game of Shadows," but can you please take a deep breath and stop covering the team as if it represents the harbinger of the Apocalypse?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Setting a bad tone

I have no idea what the rest of the Giants think of Jose Vizcaino but it couldn't be very much after tonight's 10-1 blowout at Mays Field.

Jose started off doing the one thing he does well -- getting a walk -- as the Giants leadoff hitter tonight, then went to third on Omar Vizquel's double. Randy Winn then popped out to CF and Jose the Brainiac decided to tag up and go home EVEN THOUGH BARRY BONDS WAS UP NEXT. He was out by 10 feet. Is it just me, or isn't the whole point of playing a veteran who's not cutting it offensively -- a severe under-statement here -- to take advantage of his know-how? This is the same guy who got thrown out trying to steal third last month with two outs.

I actually attended the game and you could somehow sense that Vizcaino's bonehead play would set the tone for the rest of the night. And it did, especially after Bonds then smashed a ball into short right & got thrown out at 1st base for the third out of the inning, rather than being a run-scoring grounder.

Vizcaino then grounded out weakly in his next 3 ABs. It's hard to believe that a team that's still in a pennant race is batting a less intimidating -- and more brainless -- player in the leadoff spot.

Though it was a gorgeous night at the park, the mood was sour by the 7th inning stretch -- following no runs scored by the Giants in the 6th from bases-loaded and no outs, plus awful pitching by Schmidt and Correia & errors by Feliz and Chad Santos. So the poor guy who sung "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" got booed, I guess for singing too slowly. Next thing you know, the kids who announce the Giants lineup in the 3rd inning will be getting razzed, too.

The good news -- Schmidt looked pretty good til he fell apart in the 6th; Bonds looked fine tracking down fly balls; and Durham should be back today. I wonder what they'd say at the ticket window if I demanded a refund for having to watch Vizcaino. "Hey, George, we got another one!!"

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The amazing Mets

The Mets just scored 11 in the 5th with 2 grannies by Floyd and Beltran and a 2-run HR by David Wright. For Dusty, it must be vaguely reminiscent of the 2000 playoffs. As I watched the carnage at Wrigley, I half expected to see Felix Rodriguez warming up.

Dusty's saddled with a tuly awful team with Neifi, Juan Pierre and Jaque Jones. Jon Miller just pointed out that Jaque is 0-for-54 this year when has an 0-2 count on him.

Anybody but Jose

Rather than celebrate Barry Bonds' 721st homer or the Dodgers being swept in St. Louis, I'm obliged to post about the less-than-worthy state of rest of the Giants offense, which contributed next to nothing in today's 6-2 loss at Mays Field. What's truly alarming was seeing Ray Durham, who also homered, go out of the game with a shoulder injury and get replaced by Jose Vizcaino. Talk about waving the white flag.

MEMO TO BRIAN SABEAN -- Is this the Edgardo Alfonzo Memorial Roster Spot? What are you trying to prove by hanging onto to that washed-up loser Jose Vizcaino? Here he was wasting two more ABs today at Mays Field -- including one in the 9th -- to push his line for the year down to 24 for 103 with 3 doubles, 1 HR and 4 RBIs. As much as it pains me to say it, Neifi Perez would be an improvement. If you're serious about trying to win the NL West, which shouldn't be that hard, here are some simple suggestions of decent middle-infielders who should be available and would be a significant upgrade in games when Durham, Vizquel or Feliz need to sit:

Craig Counsell, Damion Easley, Ramon Vazquez, Rich Aurilia and Jose Hernandez. Check them out. PLEASE!!!!!!

Deja vu all over again

Hard to believe that the Giants duplicated their worst beating of the year today at Mays Field with the 14-6 loss to the Phils, a day after a stirring come-from-behind 2-run victory. They also lost 14-6 on April 7 to the Braves, a day after a stirring come-from-behind 2-run win. And Moises Alou hit homers in both games that put the Giants ahead temporarily. I only know this because I attended the April 7 game, which was delayed by rain for nearly 2 hours. Big difference was that Matt Cain was decent as a starter that night 3 months ago, while the pitching today was consistently bad. "It looks like a 49er score," said Lon Simmons as the Giants were going down in the bottom of the 9th this afternoon.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Closers will drive you crazy

For me, Trevor Hoffman's back-to-back blown saves underline how crazy it can be to get the last outs of the game. Armando Benitez had been sucking horribly and blew 4 saves; now he's converted 5 saves in a row, says he's fully healthy and acknowleges he's on the hot seat: "I hear a lot of noise, like Benitez needs to be traded. Now it's time to see what Benitez can do. I'll show everybody."

I still say: Trade him while he has some value.

It doesn't surprise me that the last time that a player got attacked on the field by a fan, it was a closer. (I don't count that strange incident in 2002 in Chicago when a father and son attacked the Royals first base coach). It was 11 years ago that some Cubs fan (big surprise!) named John Murray lost it and ran on to the field to beat up Randy Myers after Myers had given up a homer. What was particularly memorable was how his wife saw it happen while watching on TV. Here's a recap excerpted from The Sporting News --

At home, Lucy Murray zapped her way through the TV channels until she came across the Cubs game. There she saw an odd thing. She saw a fight at the pitcher's mound that wasn't your basic baseball brawl featuring a dozen uniformed brats. This one included a man in street clothes. "I had no idea who it was," Lucy Murray told the Chicago Tribune. "I just saw some guy rolling around on the ground with Randy Myers. I thought for a fleeting second that it night be my husband, because I knew he was at the game, but then I said, `No way.'" Though John Murray has not explained himself, circumstantial evidence suggests he did not like Randy Myers' late-inning relief work that day. Myers gave up a two-run homer. Before the next pitch, Murray left his seat to have a word with Myers, who responded with a forearm shiver and glowerings of menace followed by a schoolyardy roll in the dirt. Police arrested Murray for assault and disorderly conduct. His wife said he'd never done anything like that before: "He's probably embarrassed."

Suffer, baby, part 2

Trevor Hoffman proved that blowing the All-Star game wasn't a fluke, blowing a 9-8 lead in the 9th to the Braves. Atlanta eventually won 15-12 in 11 -- truly a heartbreaking loss for the Dads. Perhaps it's karmic payback for the disgraceful behavior earlier this month by the foregettable Padre pitcher who decided it would be fun to hit Bonds and the fans who cheered like maniacs.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Welcome back, Lon and Stretch

What a treat to hear Jon Miller chatting with Lon Simmons and Willie McCovey in the radio booth tonight, while the Giants went up and down in the 2nd -- Bonds pops up, singles by Durham & Sweeny and a Feliz DP. They talked about a homerun Stretch hit into the light tower in Philadelphia -- "If it hadn't hit one of the lights, it'd still be going," Lon said. McCovey, who may have been the most engaging player ever to wear the Orange and Black, talked a bit about his speed on the basepaths and his relative prowess as a leftfielder in the early 1960s, including making the one tough play in Marichal's no-hitter.

Most fans have a mental picture of slowed-down Stretch at the end of his career during the late 1970s but as a young man, he was actually pretty quick.

Suffer, baby

Other than a Giants victory, nothing makes me happier than watching the Dodgers suffer. NOTHING. In addition to two losses in row in St. Louis, Odalis Perez is now whining about how badly he's being treated. After giving up a game-winning home run to Albert Pujols in the 14th inning on Thursday night, he accused his team of treating him like “trash.” He's in the second year of a three-year, $24 million contract and in his fifth season with the Dodgers. He’s been banished to the bullpen except for one start since mid-May, has been used only twice since June 28 and is 4-4 with a 6.79 ERA. “I don’t know why I’m in this situation,” Perez said. “I’ve been here for the last five years and I’ve never been in a situation like this. If I’ve done something wrong, let me know, tell me. I want to know. I’ve been treated like trash. What did I do to these people? I’ve cried a lot of times about what I did wrong to these people. Why have I been treated like that? I want an answer, I want the truth, I want to talk to somebody."

MEMO TO ODALIS PEREZ -- Let me lay out for you, man to crybaby: You're being treated like you suck because you actually do suck. Lefthanders are hitting .365 off you; righties are at .353

A far better post than mine!

The always-astute Lefty Malo has a great post on Grady Little's decision last night to have Odalis Perez pitch to Pujols in the 14th, titled Blue Is the Color of Stupid. It makes the point that no matter how badly Felipe Alou manages, it's hard to believe he'll be as flat-out dumb as Little. Here's the first part --The Giants' second half of the season has gotten off to a great start, and they don't even play until tonight. Last night in the Dodgers-Cardinals game, Grady Little let Odalis Perez pitch to Albert Pujols in the bottom of the 14th inning with one out and no one on base. Perhaps Grady thought it was Luis Pujols at the plate. It was late, and perhaps Grady had flown all day from Patagonia, where he was fishing during the All-Star break. I don't know if that's true, but how else to explain his decision not to give Pujols the four-finger salute, a.k.a. The Royal Barry? Sure, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds were next and would get to hit with a man on first, but, ahem, Grady, did you check the Internet before the game started? I'm not even a major-league manager, and with a few simple clicks I found this: Albert Pujols lifetime vs. Odalis Perez Before last night: 9 for 14, 4 home runs. After last night: 10 for 15, 5 home runs.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Colorado Hypocrites

The Denver Post just reported that Peter Coors, one of the owners of Rockies, was busted for drunken driving seven weeks ago .... in his own driveway. I can only guess that perhaps he got a little testy with the cop who was busting him. The story doesn't address why it took the paper nearly two months to find out that this had gone down even though Coors is about as prominent a Denver resident as you can find -- he heads the beer company and he ran for the U.S. Senate (and lost) a few years on a back to the Stone Age platform. Like most other far right-wingers, he'll probably eventually get around to blaming his problems on Bill Clinton.

It's just one more embarrassment to the Rockies franchise, of which Coors is a part owner. It's worth noting that two weeks after the bust went down, USA Today reported a remarkable story that the Rockies have been seeking only players who have "Christian" character -- an assertion that's laughable, given Jose Mesa's 1996 arrest for rape and his promise this year that he would try to kill Omar Vizquel, then followed through by beaning him.

USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale had the good sense to ask the question -- Is it possible that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians just to stay in the team's good graces? Yes, former Rockies say. "They have a great group of guys over there, but I've never been in a clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose," says San Francisco Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, a veteran of seven organizations who spent 2003 and 2004 with the Rockies. "You wonder if some people are going along with it just to keep their jobs. "Look, I pray every day," Sweeney says. "I have faith. It's always been part of my life. But I don't want something forced on me. Do they really have to check to see whether I have a Playboy in my locker?"

Not a lazy dingbat

That would be Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury-News, unlike John Shea of the Chronicle and his recent "I love Nomar Garciaparra and I'm going to ignore Bonds' breaking Ruth's record" recap on the season so far. On the day after the All-Star break, when sportswriters have to write an "advancer" about the rest of the season, Tim delivered an informative yet entertaining analysis of the Black and Orange's prospects for the rest of 2006, leading off with this assessment of the Barry Bonds situation.

Informed people seem positive that Barry Bonds will be indicted on either federal perjury or tax evasion charges or both in the next few weeks.
Wait, you say, that's not positive.
But think about it: An aggrieved Bonds produces the best Bonds baseball, and what could set him against the world more rabidly than the government trying to imprison him?
Assuming there's anything great left in that 41-year-old chemical stew of a body, and assuming he will continue to play while the legal struggles heat up (a good bet), this could be the thing that snaps him out of his doldrums one last time.
I'm positive Bonds won't be back in a Giants uniform for 2007.
Again: Doesn't sound positive, right?
An indictment would end any sense of Giants debt to Bonds, even by the longtime Bonds supplicants in the Giants' organization -- and by that I mostly mean you, Peter Magowan.
That means Bonds and the Giants can spend these next few months saying goodbye to each other, free of psychodrama, though I doubt Bonds will use the time gracefully.
Who knows, the Giants might even win a bunch of games, get Bonds into the postseason one last time, and wouldn't that be interesting come October?
That also means the 2007 Giants will finally be able to drop the Bonds agonies and become a normal baseball team, which is a titanic bonus.

My take on the Bonds situation -- I'm not sure. Apparently the two key witnesses are a jilted former girlfriend and a guy Bonds turned in for forging Bonds' name and stealing from him. That hardly sounds like a rock solid case.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Not AT&T Park

AP is reporting that San Francisco officials are investigating AT&T's alleged cooperation with the National Security Agency and considering possible "consequences" the company could face in its extensive municipal contracts here if it is violating civil liberties, Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. "If what I'm reading is true, I've got some serious problems as a San Franciscan, as a taxpayer and as mayor," Newsom said in interview with The Associated Press. "And I don't like it."

This site will never refer to the home of the Giants as AT&T Park. It's always Mays Field.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thanks a lot, Brad & Trevor

When the Giants make it to the World Series this year and don't have home field advantage, they'll know who to blame -- Brad Penney, who let Vlad homer, and Trevor Hoffman, who channeled Armando Benitez with 2 out in the 9th. Everyone else who pitched for the NL managed to avoid letting in any runs. One can only hope that Hoffman's meltdown in the 9th portends more of the same.

Hoffman's choked before in a big game. I was actually at Qualcomm for Game 3 of the 1998 World Series when he came in to protect a 3-2 lead in the 8th and gave up a 3-run HR to Scott Brosius. That essentially ended the Padres' last chance to get back into the Series.

I'm still bitter about Hoffman beaning Robbie Thompson in September 1993 and cutting short Robbie's career. Plus, he's the brother of the Dodgers third base coach -- in all, thoroughly evil.

Monday, July 10, 2006

What a lazy dingbat

Many baseball writers have done their first-half recaps of the season -- usually a mildly interesting exercise (Isn't Albert Pujols something? Don't the Angels/Braves stink?) that's not overly difficult. However, John Shea of the SF Chronicle wasn't up to the task. Stunningly, he decided to list as one of the three "feel-good" stories so far this year is that Nomar Garciaparra has "revived" his career with the Dodgers. Then, just to rub salt in the wounds of Giants fans, he mentions the success of former Giant Nelson Liriano as another "feel-good" story. Well, I don't care that much one way or the other about the Twins but the Dodgers are a different matter. If he couldn't find anything "feel good" about the Giants, it means he didn't try; if he's desperate for a non-Giants "feel good," how about Jim Thome or Frank Thomas? Predictably, his only mention of Barry Bonds is in the "off the field" category about the legal situation with still another plug for "Game of Shadows." There's no mention of HR No. 715; it's as if it never happened, which would be almost comical in a recap of the first half of the year were it not so incompetent. OK, so the Chron's put itself in a position where it can't really acknowledge Bonds' achievements any more. But it seems to me to be over-compensating and frankly insulting when it decides that something good for the Dodgers is a cause for "feeling good" for its readers -- most of whom are Giants fans.


All-Star disasters

Jason Schmidt is saying he'd be OK with pitching in the All-Star game, which is certainly righteous of him after pitching 7 innings Sunday. But given his recent history of injuries, I'd just as soon that Phil "The Weasel" Garner find someone else. The Giants have plenty of problems already; an injured Schmidt would leave them doomed.

I've never cared much about the All-Star game, perhaps because when I started paying attention, they were having two games each year. I've only seen one in person -- the 1980 game at Chavez Latrine. All I remember is the 100 degree plus heat; a fantastic catch in RF by Ken Landreaux who was with the Twins at that point; and LA Fire Dept. helicopters in action out by the Police Academy for most of the game after the extensive pre-game fireworks set the hills on fire.

The three most memorable games I've seen on TV: 1961, when Stu Miller was blown off the mound at the Stick, cementing its rep as an awful place to play; 1973, when Pete Rose gave us a glimpse of his psychotic loser side and decided to run into Ray Fosse standing up, effectively ending Fosse's career as an All-Star caliber player; and in 1968, when Mays scored the only run via a single, a botched pickoff & wild pitch by El Tiante and a DP groundout by Stretch. If ever a game epitomized a year, that was it. It was around the time of the first heart transplants and a fan got off a good line after Harmon Killebrew was waiting to be carried off the field after he did the splits at 1B on a fielding play and got stuck in pain on the ground with his legs still split. So after a few minutes of Killebrew lying motionless, some leather-lunged fan bellowed on national TV -- "GET HIM A TRANSPLANT!!!" My 16-year-old mind thought it was hilarious.

Then there was the 1937 game, when Earl Averill lined a ball off Dizzy Dean's foot, breaking it. Dean came back too early that season and was never the same player. He was 26 at the time and would only win 13 more games before retiring with a record of 150-83 and an ERA of 3.02 in an era where the ball was what was juiced.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Almost legendarily bad

Aneel at Trapped in LA makes the painful but excellent observation about the 2003 Pierzynski for Nathan, Liriano and Bonsor trade and contends that the swap could go down as one of the worst ever. Assuming Liriano is the real deal, the trade has the potential to be as bad as:
-- Babe Ruth for $125,000
-- Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz
-- Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson
-- Jim Fregosi for Nolan Ryan
-- Orlando Cepeda for Ray Sadecki
-- Gaylord Perry for Sam McDowell
-- George Foster for Frank Duffy
-- Danny Cater for Sparky Lyle
-- Delino DeShields for Pedro Martinez
-- and Jason Schmidt for Armado Rios, Ryan Vogelsong and John Vanderwal.

Little sticks with a crappy hand

The Giants basically won today's game in the first inning when their first four batters took it to Derek Lowe like this.
Top 1ST B:4 S:1 O:0Randy Winn walks.
Top 1ST B:3 S:2 O:0Omar Vizquel singles on a line drive to center fielder Matt Kemp. Randy Winn to 3rd.
Top 1ST B:2 S:2 O:0With Moises Alou batting, Omar Vizquel steals (11) 2nd base.
Top 1ST B:3 S:2 O:0Moises Alou singles on a soft fly ball to left fielder Jose CruzJr. Randy Winn scores. Omar Vizquel to 3rd.
Top 1ST B:2 S:0 O:0Ray Durham homers (12) on a fly ball to right field. Omar Vizquel scores. Moises Alou scores.

It was oddly reminiscent of the first inning of Game 4 of the 1981 World Series when the Yanks opened the game like this --

Randolph tripled to right; Milbourne doubled toright [Randolph scored]; Winfield walked; Jackson singled to left [Milbourne to third, Winfield to second]; GOLTZ REPLACED WELCH.

It was about the only positive thing Winfield did in the series. And the Yanks still managed to lose the game, 8-7. And it shows how the stakes are so different in the series in that you'd replace a guy four batters in.

It's a good thing for the Giants that Little didn't feel the same way today as Lasorda did in 1981. After Durham's HR, Feliz singled but Lowe managed to get the side out. So Little decided to stick with Lowe into the 5th, even though he gave up 3 more runs. Lowe clearly didn't have it; Charlie Steiner said as much on KFWB. With the All-Star break coming up, what the hell was he saving the bullpen for?

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dodgers fans = losers

I'm in a truly crappy mood after having had my wallet stolen by some depraved dingbat -- probably a Dodger fan -- earlier in the day and then watching the Giants lose 9-7 at Chavez Latrine. So it's time to bag on MLB's stupidest fans. How can I say such a thing?

-- Stopping the game the dozen times by throwing crap (beach balls, paper airplanes, napkin parachutes) on the field.
-- Prolonged booing of any usher who has the temerity to try confiscating a beach ball being batted around in the stands.
-- Doing the wave while the Giants were at bat in the 8th.
-- The oh-so-original "Barry sucks" chant at a time when their former best player (Gagne) looks suspiciously like a steroid abuser. At least Gagne had the guts to pitch to Barry; even in his almost-42-year-old state, most Dodger pitchers are too chicken to pitch to him, walking him twice. Barry also hit HR No. 720 about 450 feet and drove in a run in the 9th.
-- Booing Steve Finley (Steve Finley!)
-- Cheering wildly for any ball hit in the air, even routine popups to short.
-- As usual, Chavez Latrine was half empty before the game was over, even though the Giants had the tying run at the plate (OK, it was Pedro Feliz, but still...). I am not entirely unsympathetic about having to bail on weeknights but what's the big rush on Friday night?
-- Supporting any team that employs Jeff Kent, Tommy Lasorda and Ricky Ledee.

At least there's some justice -- the stupidest fans get the worst concessions and service in MLB. Even a loser like Bill Plaschke of the LA Times had to admit the service was disgraceful. Don't ever order the garlic fries unless you like them swimming in grease!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Atlee Hammaker's All-Star adventure

The Chron's Splash blog has an interesting post about the 23rd anniversary of Atlee Hammaker's All-Star game meltdown yesterday, which was "highlighted" by Fred Lynn's grand slam. Hard as it may seem to believe, Hammaker had been outstanding during the first half of the year and actually deserved to start the game. But he finished the year at 10-9 and wound up his career with a 59-67 record, though his ERA was a not-too-shabby 3.66. The posting asserts that he was never the same after the All-Star game. I recall that he was kind of brittle and wound up being used in multiple roles during his decade-long tenure in the Orange and Black. For example, he got five saves in 1988.

What I have the most specific recollection about the 1983 All-Star game is that it marked a sort of beginning of the end for the Giants after the very promising 1982 season, which culminated in Joe Morgan's 3-run HR of Terry "Fat Tub of Goo" Forster on the final day of the season. In 1983, the Giants lost 83 games, followed by 96 in 1984 and 100 in 1985. Those were dark days at the Stick, indeed, with Chili Davis and Bob Brenly being about the only reasons to cheer. I recall going to one Saturday game in 1984 or 1985 with only 5,000 people there on a gorgeous day. That's what made the 1986-89 period so satisfying. Strangely enough, Atlee Hammaker may have been the only player to have been on all those teams between 1982 and 1989.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Fat Frenchie goes down

Following the obligatory whining over the Dodgers 5-4 loss to the Giants on the postgame show on KFWB, the hosts revealed that Eric Gagne is probably done for the year. Here's what AP says --Dodgers closer Eric Gagne might need back surgery. After being hospitalized Wednesday because of lower back pain, an examination Thursday revealed two herniated disks, trainer Stan Johnston said, adding a decision on surgery will probably be made by the weekend.

I never want to see a player suffer an injury, though if someone has to, it's nice to see Jeff "Clubhouse Cancer" Kent unable to suit up tonight at Chavez Latrine. But doesn't it seem damn suspicious that Gagne all of a sudden began to throw 100 mph about 5 years ago, then a few years later began breaking down big time? Yet never a skeptical word has been written about Gagne by the local sports media lapdogs.

It is to the eternal credit of the LA Times that they've provoked the ire of George W. and his sycophants by printing the truth about warrantless spying, eavesdropping and accessing bank and phone records of American citizens. But apparently it's hands off when it comes to reporting tough stories about the Dodgers.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

No respect

Daily Variety reported today that ESPN's baseball ratings are up 15% this year due to the "more marquee teams on Sunday night and fewer primetime blackouts on Monday." ESPN paid 51% more in rights fees for an eight-year renewal, which prompted critics to say ESPN had overpaid, especially since HRS were expected to decline due to tougher penalties for steroid users.

So why no baseball on ESPN on the Fourth of July? Philip Michaels at Idiots Write About Sports had an excellent post about this --

So I called up the TiVo programming guide this morning in order to record the Germany-Italy semi-final while I was at a barbecue. Here’s what you can expect to see on ESPN today:
• the 2006 hot dog eating contests.

• two hours of 2005 poker championship reruns
• the aforementioned World Cup game
• the usual hour of sportswriters shouting at each other
• even more poker still
Notice a sport missing there? Involves a ball, a bat, some fielders, and many hours of free time? No, no, not cricket. Please try and make reasonable guesses.
OK, maybe it’s the World Cup that’s throwing off ESPN’s schedule. Hard to program around a two-hour block of soccer. Let’s see what’s over on the Deuce:
• Wimbledon

• what my wife has just called “that &#!@ing hot dog eating contest?!!!!”
• The Best of Mike and Mike in the Morning — somehow they managed to find an hour’s worth of footage
• Sportswriters (and Jay Mariotti) Shout at Each Other
• a replay of that soccer game
• Stephen A. Smith’s scream-fest, just to make you hate the freedom of speech that our country offers.
So, across the ESPN family of networks, not a single pitch of baseball will be shown today. (Not even on ESPNClassic. You’re telling me you can’t cue up footage of
Dave Righetti’s no-hitter just for old time’s sake.)
I don’t know who’s brilliant idea this was — ESPN’s? Bud Selig’s? Scooter the Talking Baseball’s? But to have no national baseball telecast on the Fourth of July makes me think we’ve been overrun by the Soviets.
Meanwhile, apple pie has been replaced in the ESPN cafeteria with key lime. ESPN employees are also forbidden from calling Mom today

To paraphrase the late great Rodney Dangerfield, we baseball fans get no respect. Here's one of my favorite Rodney lines -- I'm getting old. I got no sex life - why, if I squeeze into a parking space I'm sexually satisfied!

Wright is wrong

Jamey Wright continued to imitate Jeff Weaver with another ugly outing tonight at the joke that is Coors Field.

Jamey Wright, first 9 starts:63.1 IP >> 56 H >> 22 BB >> 33 SO >> 1.22 WHIP >> 3.84 ERA
Jamey Wright, last 8 starts:47.0 IP >> 61 H >> 21 BB >> 21 SO >> 1.74 WHIP >> 6.70 ERA

I defended Wright for awhile but now I am feeling stupid. I guess we're supposed to feel sorry for him because he's spent his whole career in pitchers' parks (KC, Coors and Milwaukee) but here's a guy who came into the season with a 61-88 record and a 5.13 ERA. What in the hell did we expect?

Meanwhile, Brad Hennessey is 3-1 with a 2.47 ERA. What's so hard to figure out about who should be the 5th starter?

Meanwhile, the Jeff "Choker" Weaver saga continues. The Cards are so desperate that they just gave up a prospect to the Angels for him.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What a weasel!

I was listening tonight on XM Radio to the resumption of the Giants-Rockies game after the rain delay so I got to hear the Rockies radio announcer Jeff Kingery, who's truly awful. He couldn't stop giving plugs; he wouldn't give the score or the inning; and he was ignorant. After Garrett Atkins homered, he proclaimed, "He may not be an All-Star, but he plays like one." So I looked up Atkins stats -- .304 average, 10 HRs, 55 RBIs -- which is decent enough production given that he plays half his games in the joke that is Coors Field. But, it's a lie that he deserves a spot, given that there are already 4 far better third baseman on the NL roster -- Wright, Rolen, Cabrera and Freddy Sanchez, who's hitting .362 and slugging .527 without the benefit of playing half his games at some stats-distorting stadium like Coors or Wrigley. It's lying dingbats like you, Jeff, that lead to washed-up has-beens like Vinnie Castilla still getting ABs they don't deserve, still dining off far better Coors seasons in the past than Atkins' current year. You are a weasel! Am I bitter after tonight's loss? Do you even need to ask?

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are idiots, part 2

It's not that goofy name, either. What's hard to believe is that an MLB team with serious aspirations, an owner willing to spend and a legitimate superstar (Guerrero) could have started the season with a more washed-up pair of players than the Angels did with Edgardo Alfonzo and Jeff Weaver. They spent over $16 million for the priviledge. Alfonzo got released after going 5-for-50 and Weaver -- who has been one of the whiniest players ever to play the game despite racking up an 81-97 record -- has been designated for assignment after going 3-10 with a 6.29 ERA, 18 HRs and an opposing batting average of 3.09. There's already speculation that the Cards and Dodgers are so desperate for pitching that they'll give Weaver a shot. (New Dodgers hotshot Chad Billingsley lost again on Sunday with Orlando Cabrera stealing home off him).

What's good about this for the Giants? The best thing is that Jeff Weaver won't be in the Orange and Black this year. On the Fourth of July, I remain thankful not just for the enormous sacrificies of our founding fathers but also for the fact that I won't be forced to root for Jeff Weaver. Whatever the other defects are for the team, starting pitching doesn't look like one of them, particularly now that Morris is justifying his $9 million salary. Gwen Knapp of the SF Chron wrote on the Splash Blog that the radio crew mentioned that Morris' performance on Sunday may have been the turning point of the season, then added an interesting analysis that argues in favor of making a trade in the next few weeks.

Morris' rebound from a horrible start has been the best development for the Giants in a long time. At this point, the team has two genuine stoppers, and as the trade deadline gets closer, that should put them in the buyers', not sellers', market. Well, truth is, Brian Sabean has never been much of a seller, not even last year, when the season fell apart so quickly. The difference this year is that there is reason other than the residual greatness in Barry Bonds to make this a go-for-it year.The starting pitchers, if they keep up their pace, make this Giants team a worthwhile investment when management starts looking at the trade market.

It also doesn't hurt that Pedro Feliz and Omar Vizquel are mashing these days and Armando Benitez has stopped whining, though I'm sure the latter development is temporary. Feliz has now hit 4 HRs in the last 5 games, including tonight. He's 9th in the NL with 58 RBIs.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Why most fans are idiots

Excluding Giants fans, of course, who understand the value that Barry Bonds brings even when he's not hitting HRs. He's still getting on base at a far greater rate than anyone else -- a stat that obviously influenced next to no one in the All-Star voting, even though getting on base is the single most important contribution a player can make. Driving in runs is a close second, though the opportunity to do so varies greatly from player to player. My point is virtually no one can tell you who leads MLB in OBP. So I will--1. Bonds (.480); 2. Hafner (.453) 3. Abreu (.441). So it's no surprise that none of them were named to the All-Star teams, though Travis and Bobby may get on via the slightly embarassing 32nd man vote. Most fans are always slightly insane about All-Star voting. In 1957, the Reds fans went crazy with ballots and named seven Reds to the starting NL All-Star team, including Frank Robinson, Johnny Temple, Roy McMillan, Wally Post, Gus Bell, Ed Bailey and Don Hoak. Stan Musial was the only non-Red starter. The commissioner kicked Bell and Post off the team, though Alston named Bell to the team as a reserve and he hit a 2-run double.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Vote for Pedro?

I suppose it would be nice for Feliz to get recognized as the extra All-Star, particularly after crushing a 3-run HR today at Petco that put the game out of reach. He's now got 13 HRs, 56RBIs. But he's only walked 14 times (.302 OBP) and has 57 Ks. He's also played every inning of every game, so he probably can use the time off. No one outside San Francisco knows who the hell Pedro is, so he's not going to be voted the "32nd man." It'll probably be some loser in a major media market like Jeff "Clubhouse Cancer" Kent. (Editors note -- Turns out I'm wrong about that; the 5 NL candiates are Abreu, Capuano, Garciaparra, Wagner and Chris Young).
I see where Phil Garner's selected Jason Schmidt to be Giants sole rep at the All-star Game. This is the same numbskull who ordered Russ Springer to hit Bonds in the midst of the Giants 3-game blowout of the Astros, then denied he had ordered Springer to do so, so it's probably just as well that Bonds isn't going to get in a position where Garner can abuse him some more. Sportswriters and broadcasters have been on the "Bonds is done" bandwagon all year but I saw him 1. blast off from first to third Saturday night on a short single and 2. make a perfect throw from the LF corner to Pedro, followed by Pedro's perfect throw to the plate for an out to end the 8th inning of the Saturday day game.

I think it's safe to say that Phil The Weasel will duplicate his World Series brainlessness and mis-manage the NL to another loss. Hopefully, he won't call on Schmidt.

Hey, Padres fans -- TTMU!

What does TTMU mean? If you listened to Jim Rome, you might have guessed that it means "Time To Man Up."

In the case of Padres fans, it means time to stop acting like crybabies. Time to grow up. In this case, I'm talking about their disgusting behavior during today's day game at Petco when they cheered like maniacs when some hack pitcher named Mike Thomson hit Barry Bonds with a pitch. Then they stopped play several times during Bonds' subsequent AB by throwing his foul balls back on the field, nearly beaning Josh Barfield at one point. So it was SWEET to watch these crybabies suffer in the 10th inning of the nightcap as Alan Embree gagged the game away to the Giants, especially after wimping out by putting Barry on intentionally to pitch to Ray Durham. Ray then singled home a run to make it 3-1.

Here's the equivalent situation -- let's say the game were at Mays Field and SF fans cheered over Mike Cameron getting injured by running into the wall after a Lance Niekro double (which is exactly what Cameron did in the 7th inning of the Saturday day game)? Wouldn't that seem stupid and classless?

Actually, I'm probably wasting my time addressing any Padres fans. After attending 3 games Friday and Saturday, I assure you that Petco isn't a place with much baseball knowledge. Just lots of drinking. If you go to the Gaslamp District adjacent to Petco, good luck at finding a newstand or bookstore -- just bars, bars and more bars. And I assume that if I pressed a Padre fan as to why it's OK to cheer a fifth-rate rate loser like Thompson trying to injure Bonds, they'd respond with righteousness about upholding the "dignity" of the game by putting Bonds in his place.

So let's review the "contributions" of the Padres during the 38-year history of the franchise, shall we?

-- Ugliest uniforms in the MLB, year in and year out.
-- Gagging big time in the World Series with one win in 9 games.
-- Retired the number of Garvey -- a "holier than thou" serial scam artist who's cheating people out of their money to this very day and has been the biggest hypocrite in MLB of the last 40 years after Pete Rose.
-- "Stars" have included three drug addicts who are now dead (Eric Show, Alan Wiggins and Ken Caminitti). Show was also the loser who was part of the John Birch Scoiety and beaned Andre Dawson, breaking his cheekbone, after Dawson had homered off him 3 times in 5 ABs.
-- Biggest "star" (Tony Gwynn) limited his power and effectiveness by staying out of shape for most of his career.
-- Also retired the number of Dave Winfield, who fled San Diego as soon as he could. It's almost never mentioned but Winfield was part of the thuggish beating, led by Ron Behagen, by the Minnesota basketball team against Ohio State in the early 70s.
-- Its best closer, Trevor Hoffman, managed to pretty much end Robby Thompson's career with a beanball late in the 1993 season. Thompson was never the same after that.

I could go on but I imagine you get the point. Despite the fine weather and pretty park, the Padres franchise has always been embarrassing. And its fans are a bunch of losers and hypocrites, no matter how lucky the team might get this year.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Piling on

I only started this site after thousands of views of the other sites on the links list on this page. For me, it's nothing but fun to check in on the latest postings. If it's listed, it means I am a big fan so let me just say "thanks" to all of you site operators.

The always astute & witty Bleeding Black and Orange site has joined in on the piling on over Benitez & his disgusting behavior. I like the post so much that I'm running the whole thing. But you should still link to it because of the very funny photos mocking the Fat Loser --

Armando Benitez has lost his job.

Well, it's in serious jeopardy. After blowing four of ten saves, Armando complained about his fielders, his broadcasters, his elbow while fans just complained that he was fat, he sucks and he's an asshole.

Now, Jeremy Accardo seems to be filling in fine. Sure, he's young and wild at times. Sure, he'll give us all heart attacks, but that's what all closers not named Mariano do.

Meanwhile, Armando will be stuck on the bench, again. But this time it's not because he's injured. It's because the brass has finally found out how bad he sucks.

We hate to admit it, but Mets fans were right.

So, now it's time to fool some other club into taking him. Luckily, his ERA is still misleadingly good. Word is that the Atlanta Braves are desperate for a closer. It's too bad they're out of contention for the first time in a millennium.

Whatever happens, Sabean would probably take anything he can get for him. Even Matt Herges would be an upgrade, and that's saying a LOT!

"It's part of the game"

That's how Jeremy Accardo responded after the blown save last night at Petco Park. No whining, no blaming Omar Vizquel like Benitez would have done. Here's what I am hoping happens -- Armando comes back and is marginally effective enough to sucker another team into a trade.

Back to Accardo. The Padres won by dinking the ball over the infield. Here's what Jamey Wright told the SF Chronicle: "He's been doing a great job. He gave up three bloop hits. I don't think they hit the ball real hard the whole inning. I like having Jeremy Accardo out there. He goes right after guys."

I attended the game at Petco, which is a fairly nice place except that one wonders -- where's the scenery, of which there's plenty in San Diego? The family playground in back of center field is nice but Petco's getting hemmed in by high-rise condos. And it seems a little nervy for the Padres to charge $45 for a Toyota Terrace seat that's 350 feet from home plate.