Saturday, September 30, 2006

More on Omar

photo by Helfon

This from the Chron --

Willie Mac award: Shortstop Omar Vizquel has won the coveted "Willie Mac" Award, after being voted by his teammates, coaches and training staff as the most inspirational player on the team.

Established in 1980, the award is named after Giants legend and Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, and engraved on the plaque are the words "Competitive Spirit, Ability and Leadership," characterizing McCovey's -- and the winner's -- qualities."

"It's awesome that my fellow teammates notice the hard work and dedication that some of the players have -- obviously there's a lot of them -- and I'm really flattered that I was picked," Vizquel said.

"I think my good habits that I've done all the years have been showing up, the way I play the game at this age, and by the way I get the respect from my teammates."

Vizquel, 39, leads all Major League shortstops with a .993 fielding percentage (four errors, 592 chances) and entered Friday night's game vs. Los Angeles at AT&T Park with a .297 average. The Venezuelan native has won 10 Gold Gloves, including one last season.

Catcher Mike Matheny was the Willie Mac winner in 2005.

Some insight into 2007

photo of Bonds fans by guano

Typically, the SF Chron has offered next to nothing on providing insight into whether the team will re-sign Bonds for 2007 -- which, aside from winning the last 2 games this weekend, is the major question on fans' minds right now. Reading Henry Schulman's piece gives no clue, which is ridiculous. How is it that this guy still has a job at the paper if the best he can do is simply recap what Bonds, Bonds' agent, Magowan and Luis Gonzalez (?????) have had to say?

The lamest line of Schulman's piece has to do with the inevitable attempt to once again pump sales of "Game of Shadows" -- "Amid compelling evidence that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs, as reported in The Chronicle and in the book "Game of Shadows," the Giants must weigh the public-relations hit they would take outside the Bay Area by re-signing Bonds against the value of bringing him back, which would be cheered by a majority of Bay Area fans if they do not overpay to keep him."


Fortunately, John Ryder of the excellent Give 'Em Some Stankeye has posted an incisive take on what's going to go down. Here are some highlights --

-- The team is in a bit of a negotiating pickle. They'd surely like to retain Bonds on a deal in the low double digits, but if they can't agree to terms, the only remaining option would be to take Bonds to arbitration, which could be a disaster. Bonds is guaranteed at least $14.4 million if he loses; if he wins (and taking into account his history, it'd take like a Bill James/Alan Dershowitz super-tandem to beat him), the dollars could really skyrocket.
-- Bonds is pretty much in the driver's seat. What if he wants a deal worth $15 million for 2007? Is it worth it?My take is basically this: hell, the Giants are paying Bonds $5 million a year in deferred salary until 2011 anyway, so the team might as well pay him to go out there and play since he's going to get that money regardless.
-- Bonds is a big injury risk, obviously, but remember, it's not like we're talking about Ellis Burks or something, here. We're talking about maybe the best hitter of our generation, a guy who is right now tossing up a 1.000 OPS in a down year.For all the flak Bonds has taken this season, he's still ranked as the fifth best left fielder by BP's VORP, and second on the team behind Ray Durham in that category. I think that we can justify bringing Bonds back simply because his mere presence in the batting order makes the lineup better. Opposing pitchers still fear Bonds's power, and that leads to a ton of walks, and that means a lot of times on base, which means more opportunities to score, which is always a good thing, unless Pedro Feliz is batting.
-- Replace Bonds with even a hitter of the caliber of Moises Alou or something and this team is going to be hard-pressed to score 700 runs. So how many runs did the Giants score in 2004? 850, second (by just five runs) behind a Cardinal team that featured Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Larry Walker, and Jim Edmonds, and that was with Neifi Perez diseasing the lineup for half the season. This is how awesome Bonds is. His ability to create a ton of runs can turn a run-of-the-mill lineup into a force.
-- I think we can all agree that it'd be worth it to bring Bonds back just to see him retire as a Giant. Nobody wants to watch Bonds, maybe the greatest Giants player ever, break Hank Aaron's record in a Yankee uniform or something. The prevailing wisdom is that the Giants won't be very good next season. Having Bonds for one more year not only gives the team a better shot at winning, but also gives the fans something to go to the ballpark for. And hey, if the team still sucks, we can watch the big guy break perhaps the most iconic record in sports and also give him one last hearty send-off. With a lot of franchise players, this kind of sentimentalism usually trumps common sense for the worst, but in this case I just don't see how the Giants can not bring Bonds back, no matter what the circumstances.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Searching for good news

Photo of future Hall of Famer by ianakila

It took a while to find these but here they are --

-- Moises Alou is the first over-40 player in 8 years to steal home since Paul Molitor and
-- The Bay Area sportswriters have given Omar Vizquel their Bill Rigney Good Guy award for cooperation with the media, a few days after giving the A's version to The Big Hurt. Jose Mesa and Kenny Williams were apparently unavailable for comment.

Thursday, September 28, 2006



Giants Win has learned that God has demanded a trade from the Colorado Rockies following today's 19-11 loss to the stupid Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I've had it with my name being associated with this pathetic operation," The Diety said in an exclusive interview with Giants Win. "Even I, with all my infinite power, can't salvage this operation because it is so fundamentally flawed. What can you expect with an idiot like Peter Coors hiring a deranged dingbat like Jose Mesa?"

God said the Rockies' plan to limit the roster to Christian players has made the team a laughingstock in heaven.

"It's an embarrassment to the great game of baseball that the Rockies play it so poorly and I'm sick and tired of people making fun of me over this stupid franchise," He added. "I know ... believe me, I know ... that the Rockies owners don't care about putting a decent team on the field. And if people keep going to Rockies games, pretty soon the state of Colorado will be dumber than Texas or Florida."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Let's go, Rockies

Is it asking too much for Rockies starter Byung-Hyun Kim to win today over the Dodgers -- just like he did on Sept. 3?

After all, this guy has been moderately effective. One of his 8 wins this year came after he gave up HR No. 715 to Bonds, then proceeded to win the game. Would it kill him and the Rockies to not let this replusive Dodgers team sweep? Probably. We must remember that they are the Rockies, a laughingstock franchise if there ever was one.

Still, there's some good news out of Colorado. The L.A. Times reports today that the right-wing dingbats that have dominated Colorado -- including convicted drunk driver and Rockies owner Peter Coors -- may lose control in the upcoming elections.

The greatest 9th inning ever

With Dodger fans becoming more obnoxious by the day, it's time to remind them that their team has a rock-hard propensity for choking. Most Giants fans believe the biggest choke of all was in 1951 at the Polo Grounds when the Giants scored 4 in the 9th at home to win 5-4. But 46 years ago, the Giants managed to put up four runs in the 9th on the road as the Dodgers gagged away a pennant at Dodger Stadium by blowing a 4-2 lead in the final game of a 3-game playoff. Here's how it went down --

GIANTS 9TH: FAIRLY CHANGED POSITIONS (PLAYING RF); HARKNESSREPLACED HOWARD (PLAYING 1B); M. ALOU BATTED FOR LARSEN; M. Alousingled to right; Kuenn forced M. Alou (shortstop to second);MCCOVEY BATTED FOR HILLER; McCovey walked [Kuenn to second];BOWMAN RAN FOR MCCOVEY; F. Alou walked [Kuenn to third, Bowman to second]; Mays singled to pitcher [Kuenn scored, Bowman to third, F. Alou to second]; WILLIAMS REPLACED ROEBUCK (PITCHING);Cepeda hit a sacrifice fly to right [Bowman scored, F. Alou to third]; Williams threw a wild pitch [Mays to second]; Bailey was walked intentionally; Davenport walked [F. Alou scored, Mays to third, Bailey to second]; PERRANOSKI REPLACED WILLIAMS(PITCHING); Pagan reached on an error by Burright [Mays scored(unearned), Bailey to third, Davenport to second]; NIEMAN BATTEDFOR M. ALOU; Nieman struck out; 4 R, 2 H, 1 E, 3 LOB. Giants 6,Dodgers 4.

DODGERS 9TH: BOWMAN STAYED IN GAME (PLAYING 2B); PIERCE REPLACED NIEMAN (PITCHING); Wills grounded out (third to first); Gilliammade an out to center; WALLS BATTED FOR BURRIGHT; Walls lined tocenter; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Giants 6, Dodgers 4.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hey Dodger fans -- remember gagging in '97?

photo of Barry Bonds -- the Dodgers' nightmare -- by Kevinrushforth

Let's not forget the 12th inning Brian Johnson walk-off HR on Sept. 18, 1997. And Dodger crybabies are still whining about Barry Bonds' doing a 360 turn at home plate after crushing a 1st inning HR off Chan Ho Park the night before in a 2-1 win. The second victory put the Dodgers in a tie with the Giants, who went on to win the NL West; the Dodgers wouldn't make the postseason until 2004.

Here's a recap of the Sept. 18, 1997, HRs: Snow (26,4th inning off Candiotti 0 on 0 out); Bonds (35,5th inning offCandiotti 2 on 0 out); Johnson (10,12th inning off Guthrie 0 on 0 out).

Given that Johnson hit only 48 other HRs during his entire 8-year career, this one was probably the high point. He wound up his career in 2001 with 3 games as a Dodger, going 1-for-4. I'd like to think he then retired out of disgust over wearing Dodger blue.

Giants baseball on Monday?

In addition to having the chance to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs, the Giants may be able to pay back the Cards, too. Houston has won 7 in a row; Cards have lost 7 straight. Houston's now 79-78 with 5 left; Cards are 80-76 with 6 left including the Sept. 17 rainout against SF. So if Houston's up a half game on Sunday night, the Giants will have to go to Missouri on Monday for the makeup game.

Thanks, Mo!

photo of Big Mo by Jared Kelly

Moises Alou has just hit a walk-off HR for the Giants at Mays Field and I couldn't help but wonder if that's going to the last homer he hits for the Orange and Black. Even though he's been brittle, he's also been effective with 22 HRs and 74 RBIs in just 333 ABs. He's had 28 Ks and 28 BBs so he's still hacking; from what I've seen, he still crushes mistakes, even at age 40.

Consensus seems to be his dad won't be back and it's far from certain that Moises will return. I would imagine someone will take a chance & offer a one-year $5 million deal. If he decided to hang it up, he'll have 319 HRs and 1,225 RBIs; better than his dad even though Felipe's 206 HRs and 852 RBIs looks pretty decent, taking into account that Felipe played in a lower-scoring era.

My prediction -- Big Mo gets 3 HRs and 10 RBIs this weekend against the Dodgers.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hey Dodger fans -- remember Trevor Wilson?

Just to remind the Dodgers that they are doomed

Joe Morgan -- Oct. 3, 1982 -- destroying the Dodgers hopes with an epic 3-run homer.

``I still remember watching Joe between first and second base,'' said teammate Duane Kuiper. ``He raised his right arm as if to say, `If we're not going to win it, you're not either.' ''

Mystery Train

photo of the still-under-rated Elvis Presley from jesruiz101

What a disgusting game as the Giants did their "making a fifth-rate garbage pitcher look like Cy Young" thing tonight to Edgar Gonzalez, who joins Ian Snell as the least likely pitcher to embarrass a major league team ... until he faces the Giants. Edgar Gonzalez lifetime stats: 4-13, 7.19 ERA, 16 starts.

With the Giants officially eliminated from even Wild Card contention tonight, thanks to a brutal 7-1 loss to the Snakes at Mays Field, it's time to bid the 2006 season goodbye except for ruining the Dodgers season this weekend. And I can't think of a better way to do that than by posting the lyrics to Junior Parker/Sam Phillips' immortal "Mystery Train," covered by Elvis, the Band, Paul Butterfield and Emmylou Harris --

Train I ride is sixteen coaches long
Train I ride is sixteen coaches long
Well, that long black train take my baby and gone

Mystery train rolling down the track
Mystery train rolling down the track
Well, it took my baby, feel they won't be coming back

Train, train, rolling round the bend
Train, train, rolling round the bend
Well, it took my baby, feel they won't be back again

Went down to the station
To meet my baby at the gate
Ask the station master
If her train is running late
He said no if your waitin on that old 44
I hate to tell you son
But that train don't stop her anymore

Train train rolling round the bend
Train train rolling round the bend
Well it took my baby
Away from me again

Heard that whistle blowing
It was the middle of the night
When I got down to the station
The train was rolling out of site
Mystery train rolling round the bend
Mystery train rolling round the bend
Well it took my baby
Away from me again

Dusty's last week in Chicago

photo of Darren Baker and J.T. Snow by Mustangsally_82
photo of Moises Alou and Steve Bartman by Jordan Cole

Here are the most memorable moments from Dusty's career in San Francisco and in Chicago, where he seems resigned to get canned in a few more days, if the Chicago Trib is to be believed. The Cubs have been a far bigger disappointment than the Giants; I would contend that Baker's managing hasn't gotten better with the passing of time and now he's worse than Felipe Alou.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

To honor Bud Selig

Ichiro nearly bursts out laughing at Bud Selig's incompetence. Photo by silee
It's only appropriate that the Giants season has come to its current pathetic state in Milwaukee, home of the worst commissioner in sports. Nothing like buying a "Selig Sucks" T-shirt to recognize the Giants' desolate play after being swept by the Brewers, who will forever maintain the Selig Stench.

Please don't bother telling me about the Brewers new ownership and Miller Park, which managed to see several construction workers killed. To defenders of Selig -- let's re-examine the dismal state of MLB's venture into Florida. And thanks again for canceling the 1994 World Series, Bud!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

What's going right for the Giants

Photo of Barry Bonds by goinslo

Barry hit his 25th of the season and drove in 6 runs in Friday's fiasco. It's his 9th HR in 26 games. At this rate, he has an outside chance of tying Teddy Ballgame's record for highest HR season by players who were over 40. All of these were at age 41 except for Yaz, who did his at age 42, and Fisk, who did his at ages 42 and 43. Darrell Evans holds the record for 40 year olds with 34 HRs in 1987 -- the last time the Tigers got to the postseason -- though Barry hit 45 HRs in 2004, when he turned 40 in July. I'm not completely sure how Baseball Reference determines these rankings, but Barry's not listed as the record-holder for players in their 40-year-old season.

1. Ted Williams 29 1960
2. Darrell Evans 22 1988
3. Dave Winfield 21 1993
4. Stan Musial 19 1962
5. Carlton Fisk 18 1990 and 1991
6. Carl Yastrzemski 16 1982
Graig Nettles 16 1986
8. Reggie Jackson 15 1987
Willie McCovey 15 1979

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ron "Mea" Kulpa strikes again

photo of Milton Bradley, who called Jeff "Clubouse Cancer" Kent a racist and got traded for doing so, by BigWillieStyles

I'm too annoyed to write anything coherent about the Giants' 13-12 loss so I'll just rant on how much I hate showboat umpires. It's as if Ron Kulpa's decided that people are nostalgic for Eric Gregg and his stupid approach to umpiring -- acting as if people pay their hard-earned money and use up their scarce free time to see the umpires. Tonight, Kulpa tossed Milton Bradley in the 11th inning as BRADLEY WAS WALKING AWAY FROM HIM.

Here's Kulpa lame excuse -- "It was a 3-2 curveball and he didn't like it," Kulpa said. "He said something and I took off my mask and told him, 'If you want to stay in the game, walk away,' which he did. Then he called me something he shouldn't."

This is the same guy who threw Bonds out on Aug. 3 in the bottom of the 9th in the middle of an at bat after baiting him and the same guy who decided to start bumping Carl Everett. Perhaps this is a redneck ump going after African-American players? Or just an incompetent jerk?


Giants to honor Danny Flores


Giants Win has learned that the Giants will each take a shot of tequila to honor the late Danny Flores before tonight's game with the Brewers. Here's the AP obituary on Flores --

Danny Flores, who played the saxophone and shouted the word "tequila!" in the 1950s hit song "Tequila!", has died. He was 77. Flores, who lived in Westminster, died Tuesday at Huntington Beach Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Kathleen Curran. In 1957, Flores was in a group that recorded some work with rockabilly singer Dave Burgess. One of the songs was based on a nameless riff Flores had written. He played the "dirty" saxophone part and repeatedly growled the single-word lyric: "tequila!" The next year it appeared as the B-side of a single, credited to The Champs. Flores used the name Chuck Rio because he was under contract to a different record label. "Tequila!" went to No. 1 on the Billboard chart and won a Grammy in 1959. Flores continued to play it for the next 40 years.

You can fire Dusty and Bill Plaschke!

Jason Schmidt resists the urge to punch Dusty Baker. Photo by jimcchou.

Yes, you can finally set things straight with Dusty Baker for losing the 2002 World Series and get rid of Bill Plaschke, the worst sports columnist ever. HOW?

It turns out the Tribune Co., owner of a bunch of media properties including the LA Times and the Cubs, has decided to "increase shareholder value" -- meaning that it's all for sale. The Tribune has been menacing the Times in recent days with threats to cut staff from 940 to 800 as a way of keeping profit margin at 20%. I have several suggestions as to who might be good candidates for firing (faux sportswriters Plaschke, TJ Simers and Tim Brown for starters).

By the way, I've got plenty of company as to judging Plaschke the worst ever.

2006's saving grace

photo of the Fat Psycho Loser by Cracker Bunny

For the Giants, that would be Omar Vizquel. He's not only played like a Hall of Famer; he's also made the baseball world aware of what losers the Rockies are for employing a psycho like Jose Mesa, who Omar quite justifiaby blames for losing the 1997 World Series. Mesa's response was to threaten to kill Omar. Clint Hurdle's response, even though the Rockies are out of contention, has been to pitch Joe Table against Omar whenever possible. Omar still managed to get a hit off Joe Table on Monday. Here's a very astute post by The Chron's often-hack-like Bruce Jenkins from The Splash blog about Mesa --

The Rockies just don't get it, and they never have, and here's why they've never had a chance this season: They signed Jose Mesa. Only a front office full of buffoons does that. He's the biggest fraud in the game, a joke under pressure, a head-hunter who should be driven out of the game this winter and told never to return. The Rockies had no real reason to retaliate for Holliday; hell, the man did it himself, and it hadn't been any kind of "message" by Cain. But no, Mesa has to be the big macho enforcer. Two out in the eighth, 0-2 count on Mark Sweeney, Mesa decides he'll go head-hunting. Not the sensible type of retaliation pitch to the butt, abdomen or lower back, but something right around the skull. It was fascinating to watch the inning unfold on Mesa; before anybody knew it, Jeremy Affeldt was facing Bonds with only a four-run cushion and the bases loaded. Maybe a loss would have clued in the Rockies as to Mesa's oppressive negativity. This is the guy who would have hit Omar Vizquel 18 straight times if it were up to him -- all with pitches aimed to kill. I loved Duane Kuiper's remark when pitching coach Bob Apodaca came out to visit Mesa. Kuiper surmised Apodaca saying, "Don't be an idiot, like you are."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How Many More Times?

The Giants' discouraging 9-4 loss to the Brewers tonight felt oh-so-familiar -- the early-inning meltdown by Matt Morris and the incompetent middle relief by Jamey Wright. Felipe Alou's handling of the situation, in which every game the Giants play now is a must-win, feels like a choice made because it's familiar even though it's obvious what the results will be since neither Morris nor Wright has performed at a major league level recently.

It reminds me of having a lousy girlfriend who used to be nice to you. Or what it must be like to be a woman with a lousy boyfriend who was once a good guy. We've all done it -- all around you, your friends are wondering why you keep hanging around this loser as they treat you just well enough to keep you hoping that they'll magically turn things around.

It actually reminds me of an early Led Zeppelin song "How Many More Times" --

How Many More Times, treat me the way you wanna do?
How Many More Times, treat me the way you wanna do?

When I give you all my love, please, please be true.
I'll give you all I've got to give, rings, pearls, and all.
I'll give you all I've got to give, rings, pearls, and all.

I've got to get you together baby, I'm sure, sure you're gonna crawl.

I was a young man, I couldn't resist
Started thinkin' it all over, just what I had missed.
Got me a girl and I kissed her and then and then...
Whoops, oh Lordy, well I did it again.
Now I got ten children of my own
I got another child on the way that makes eleven.
But I'm in constant heaven.
I know it's all right in my mind
'Cause I got a little schoolgirl and she's all mine
I can't get through to her 'cause it doesn't permit
But I'm gonna give her everything I've got to give.
Oh, Rosie, oh, girl. Oh Rosie, oh girl.
Steal away now, steal away
Steal away baby, steal away
Little Robert Anthony wants to come and play.
Oh why don't you come to me baby?
Steal away
Well they call me the hunter, that's my name.
They call me the hunter, that's how I got my fame.
Ain't no need to hide, Ain't no need to run.
'Cause I've got you in the sights of my..........gun!

How Many More Times, barrelhouse all night long.
How Many More Times, barrelhouse all night long.
I've got to get to you, baby, baby, please come home.
I"ve got to get to you, baby, baby, please come home.
Please come home
Please come home

Lowry Lite

photo of Lowry by gunslinger49

Lefty Malo notes that the Giants have brought up Noah Lowry clone Patrick Misch, who's been lights out at Double A.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dodger crybabies living in the past

photo of Salomon Torres by webcoderguy

Despite winning only 4 of their last 10 games, the Dodgers are clinging to their luckout win on Monday night even though no one cares any more. As the Dodgers were in the midst of losing again to the Pathetic Pirates, hack Dodger announcer Charlie Steiner was going on and on and on about how Julio Lugo's bat had been sent to the Hall of Fame. I think I can safely assert that this is going to be the only way Lugo gets into Cooperstown.

Anyhow, the game ended with Jeff "Choker" Kent striking out with the bases loaded against Salomon Torres, of all people. That gave Kent an 0-for-4 -- way to burnish Hall of Fame credentials, Choker. And thanks for finally doing something right in Chavez Latrine, Salomon, even if it is 13 years too late.

It looks like another year for the Dodger fans to forget the present and return once again to their nauseating luckout in 1988.

Moises Alou gets it done

photo by sjgardiner

At a time when the Giants season was in shambles, Moises delivered a clutch 2-run pinch hit HR today at Coors Field. It was, thankfully, the final game with the detestable Rockies this year.

We told you so

photo of Nostradamus statue by Boyner

We hate to say we told you so about the Giants starting a 12-game winning streak. But we told you so. We didn't know that it would be a glorious comeback victory but we can't know everything.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


BREAKING NEWS -- Giants Win has learned that the SF Giants will end the season with a 12-game winning streak after tonight's 12-4 loss to the Rockies. When asked about his sources for the news, Big D replied, "My sources are beyond question but if I told you who they were, I'd have to kill you." In other news, the Dodgers reverted to form at Chavez Latrine after lucking out Monday night and got butt-kicked by the Pathetic Pittsburgh Pirates. (photo of Nostradamus sculpture by ColForbin)

Another nicer park than Chavez Latrine

With the Mets clinching the NL East, it's a good time to post a rendering of their new park, due to open in 2009.

Are you ready for a miracle?

I would say the Giants -- now at 74-75 thanks to the 20-8 loss to the Rockies -- have everyone else just where they want them: lulled into complacency, thinking they'll just play out the string. Instead, the Giants will now finish the season with a 13-game winning streak, started by Matt Cain tonight. He's the last Giants picture to win a game.

Are you ready for a miracle
As ready as I can be
Are you ready for a miracle
The spirit will set you free
Are you ready, ready, ready, ready
I'm ready, I'm ready for a miracle

Jesus went unto the well and made the water wine
Raised up Lazarus from the dead
Restored sight to the blind
Jesus man of Galilee
He walked across the sea
He said Greater than this shall you do
Gave the power to you and me

Are you ready for a miracle
As ready as I can be
Are you ready for a miracle
The spirit will set you free
Are you ready, ready, ready, ready
I'm ready, I'm ready for a miracle

Jesus taught the lame to walk;destroyed the Devil's plan
Healed a leper feed five thousandwith just one command
Said, He who has ears, let him hear,He told the multitudes
And blessed be the pure of heart for they shall see the truth

Are you ready for a miracle
As ready as I can be
Are you ready for a miracle
The spirit will set you free
Are you ready, ready, ready, ready
I'm ready for a miracle

Blessed be the ones who mourn for they shall find their peace
Blessed be the ones who thirst and blessed be the meek
Now are you ready, ready,
Are you ready, ready
Blessed be the innocent for they shall all be free
Blessed be the miracle that's made for you and me
Now are you ready, ready
Are you ready, ready

Are you ready for a miracle
As ready as I can be
Are you ready for a miracle
The spirit will set you free
Are you ready, ready, ready, ready
I'm ready, I'm ready for a miracle

Lyrics by Patti Labelle (performed in the 1992 film "Leap of Faith")

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dodgers salvage Sunday by gagging

Thanks to Giant killer Terrmel Sledge, the over-rated and over-paid Dodgers choked away a winnable game in the 9th inning today to the Padres at Chavez Latrine. The Dodgers have apparently realized that they don't belong in first place, having gone 4-6 over their last 10 games.

Dodger misery doesn't eliminate Giant misery but it makes it much easier to take. Here's to the Dodgers losing their last 13 games for a sparking final record 2006 record of 78-84.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A much nicer stadium than Chavez Latrine

With the Dodgers gagging 11-2 tonight to the Padres, it's a good time to show a place that will be far nicer to attend than fast-aging and over-rated Chavez Latrine (with its 25,000 of its 55,000 seats with truly crappy views, acres of parking lots, no mass transit, impossible access and traffic chaos before and after the game). This is an artist's rendering of the new Washington Nationals stadium, which borrows from the great idea of recent stadiums -- no more than 40,000 seats, decent access and an emphasis on integrating the facility into the downtown area.

All indications are that Frank McCourt is too cheap and too leveraged to build a decent new baseball stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

The other Matt

That would be Matt Morris. What is it about this guy that's made him incapable of pitching a decent first inning? Of the 104 earned runs he's given up this year, 30 have come in the first, including the four today. Felipe Alou's been willing to leave him in into the 7th inning all season long but perhaps it would have been a good idea to get him out in the first inning as a wake-up call today.

With the Giants needing to win pretty every game to stay alive, the approach needs to be different from a mid-July game against the Brewers.

Can it get any worse?

No, not the Giants season, though today's 6-1 loss was pretty hard to take. With a 74-74 record, the Giants have little margin for error any more. They'll have to go 12-2 or 11-3 during the rest of the way to make the postseason.

But for me, the truly disgusting part of today's game was listening to the idiotic Mike Shannon on the XM radio. He's as bad as the supremely stupid Ted Leitner in San Diego. It speaks to how serious the Cards fans are about the team that they would put up with Shannon, who sounds drunk all the time, and his incoherent garbage for decades. During the 7th inning, as Chris Carpenter was blowing the Giants away -- groundouts by Alou & Feliz, strikeout by Alfonzo -- Shannon apparently felt that the outcome of the game was so certain that he began running down college football scores. He got about a dozen scores, commenting about several games, before the Giants ended the inning while John Rooney occasionally inserted some fact about the Giants-Cards game.

I can't fully express how much this annoys me. It's such a slap at baseball fans, essentially saying, "We who know best know that this baseball game isn't interesting enough for you." It ought to be obvious that baseball fans aren't listening to a broadcast to find out how the Northern Iowa's football team is doing. I don't know when it started but I put the blame on the evil Rupert Murdoch and Fox's continually annoying MLB coverage, which is constantly cutting away to pimp other Fox shows and other Fox-broadcast sports. Fox has apparently convinced itself that MLB is just a losing cause that can't be remedied with interesting announcers. Otherwise, why would they employ Tim McCarver and Rex Hudler? Fire Joe Morgan has a great description of McCarver in its glossary --

Tim McCarver
The Fox Network’s #1 color commentator. And, without question, the worst color commentator in the history of the world, in any sport. By my estimation, Tim McCarver has said 94 of the 100 dumbest things anyone has ever said about baseball, and worse, he tries constantly to be poetic and witty in his speech, a skill I assure you he does not possess, so what you end up getting is a lot of weird puns and aphorisms spewing forth in a lackadaisical Southern drawl. His broadcasts remind me of a bad wedding toast given by a drunk family friend who’s a high school English teacher.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Don't hurry back, part 2

Despite the awfulness of the Giants relief pitching in the two most recent losses, the non-performance hasn't been as aggravating as it was when Blownitez was doing his feeble imitation of a MLB player. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, El Loco was put on the 60-day DL with vague promises from Stan Conte that he'll lose some of the excess 50 pounds he's lugging around. FAT CHANCE. John Ryder at Give 'Em Some Stankeye has an excellent recap --

-- At this point, if the Giants cut him and eat the final year of his contract, who's going to complain? $7 million being paid to a ghost is better than $7 million being paid to keep trotting out a fat bastard who blames his defense and the radio announcers for his inability to hold three-run leads.

--Five of Benitez's blown saves turned into losses, with of course the most memorable one being the Termel Sledge incident against the Padres. He probably would have blown even more in the past month if Felipe hadn't yanked him in a few games before hell could really break loose.

--The thing is, this disaster was very foreseeable; it's just that no one (including me) wanted to admit it. When Benitez was signed in 2005 (coming off a year where he had a 1.29 ERA), most Giants fans were ecstatic, ignoring the fact that Armando had been run out of like three cities already and his peripheral stats were in the midst of a major decline. Me? I thought his 2004 was a fluke, and I never like paying closers a lot of money, but after watching the Giants' disgrace of a bullpen single-handedly give away the division the previous year, I didn't care. Any sort of stability was welcome, no matter what the price. No more Wayne Franklin on the mound with the season on the line.

--Sadly, stability has been the last thing the Giants have gotten from Benitez. His sinking K totals in '04 proved to be no illusion; his stuff just isn't that good anymore. He doesn't throw as hard as he once did and his formerly fearsome splitter is now basically flat as a pancake. To top it all off, he has the temperment and mound composure of a ten-year-old boy raised by beatniks. He's not a team player and has proven to be the worst kind of cancer.

-- Now the Giants get to test out, the hard way, the theory that you don't need a "proven closer" to close out games. Mike Stanton has been getting the save opportunities in Benitez's stead, but Billy Sadler or even uber-prospect Todd Lincecum could step in and give it a go. Stanton has been a major coup for Brian Sabean. I'm still not going to be happy if Shairon Martis turns into something good, but it may have been worth it if Stanton helps the Giants make it to the playoffs. It's the Doyle Alexander/John Smoltz argument all over again. Stanton has been nothing but solid since donning a Giant uniform. I kinda dismissed him as a good-for-nothing LOOGY from the outset, but he's impressed me with his ability to handle multiple innings. He still has good enough stuff to get hitters out, so he probably won't pull a Matt Herges on us down the stretch.

Unlucky 7 twice

With a total meltdown tonight, the Giants bullpen has given up a 7-run inning twice in the past 3 games. Jamey Wright was involved in both. The Chron reported yesterday (at the end of Benitez story) that Brian Sabean has decided to shut down Tim Lincecum for the rest of the year -- after all, he'd already pitched in the oh-so-vital playoff series last Saturday for San Jose. Here's the story --

It's Sadler, not Lincecum: The Giants will add another right-hander, Billy Sadler, to the bullpen in the wake of Benitez's departure and injuries to Vinnie Chulk (right groin) and Brian Wilson (right oblique). Chulk is expected to be available today. Sadler, a sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno, earned a combined 21 saves with 79 strikeouts in 552/3 innings for Double-A Connecticut and Fresno. Lincecum, the Giants' top pick (10th overall) in June, has thrown enough pitches (in college and the minors) for the equivalent of 35 starts, according to Sabean, who'd prefer not to overextend his prized prospect.


Barry Bonds = Ted Williams

photo by zk523

Martin at the always-interesting Obsessive Giants Compulsive has posted a very solid analysis about Barry Bonds' batting strategy and concluded that it's similar to the Ted Williams' approach, which was spelled out in The Science of Hitting. Here are the major points:

-- Williams always took pitches in his first AB to learn what pitches were working for the pitcher and the speed he's throwing them at plus to add to his pitch count.

-- He zoned off the strike zone into premium hitting zones and poor hitting zones, that is, where you are most likely to get a hit. Up and in, if I remember right, he labeled in the high .300 range (with a small .400 zone or square in his diagram, he checkerboarded the strikezone, down and away I think in the low .200 range), so, in other words, not all strikes are the same.

-- Ted also advocated hitting for homers. Thus you swing with an elevated swing so that the plane of your swing is maximized in the intersection with the plane of the pitch, and therefore maximized the odds of you hitting the ball squarely. And you pull the ball, because typically the foul line is the shortest path for the homer.

-- A couple of years ago, someone noted in an article that Bonds had an incredible batting average EVEN WHEN HE HAD 2 STRIKES ON HIM. When most people suck hitting with two strikes, Bonds still had a batting line that any hitter would love to have. This result, I believe, is the residue of this type of strategy, of getting pitchers to throw into your key hitting zones or you take balls or certain strikes.

-- If you are only willing to swing for a hit when the pitch is in the zone to maximize your chances of hitting, then of course your batting line is good even with 2 strikes, because you are only swinging when your chances of getting a hit is maximized.That's why he has refused to swing to take advantage of the shift and get an easy hit going the other way. He has a game plan and he sticks to it, like Ted Williams stuck to his game plan. And I have found that to be true in life as well, people do much better with a plan, the old "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail" saying.

Schmidt & Cain & pray for rain

photo of Warren Spahn statue at Turner Field by Harry Applebag

John Perricone at the excellent Only Baseball Matters has come up with that as variation on the memorable ditty "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain." I like it a lot as the Giants veer into the must-win phase of the schedule. But I disagree with him about rooting for the Dodgers to beat the Padres in order for the Giants to advance in the Wild Card standings. I just can't EVER root for the Dodgers.

Even with just 4 hours to go, the Giants are uncertain whether Jason or Brad Hennessey will start tonight in St. Louis. Ray Ratto of the Chron says Morris and Sanchez will pitch the next two. UPDATE -- The Giants say Schmidt is shelved for but should be ready by next weekend.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Matt Cain vs. Brett Tomko

Photo of Matt Cain at Dodger Stadium by wamadden4

For all my complaining about how the Giants, I must admit -- at least the Giants did two things right this year --

1. dumping Brett Tomko from the rotation and
2. getting Matt Cain into it. That was clearly evident today as Cain blew away the Rockies in a must-win game and Bomko gagged away a lead to the Cubbies to help the Dodgers choke again at Wrigley.

Nothing is better than a Dodger choke. NOTHING.

Ode to Jamey Wright

As Noah Lowry melted down in the 5th inning tonight at Mays Field, one could feel the deep dread as Jamey Wright walked in from the pen to put the game out of reach (even though the Giants would score 8 runs) with a stunning display of ineffectiveness -- at one point, pitching the ball so wildly that it bounced in front of the plate, bounced off Todd Greene and over the screen & into the stands.

Fans are not nearly as stupid as sportswriters think they are. Everyone was thinking the same thing -- WHY DOES THIS GUY EVEN HAVE A CAREER? He's had bouts of adequacy but he's essentially always going to be utterly unreliable. Just look at his 10-year record -- 61-88 and a 5.13 ERA. That's serious suckage.

Again, it's stupid to have Tim Lincecum going lights out in San Jose while Jamey Wright blows another winnable game. And there's only one song that's appropriate to describe Wright: "You're No Good," written by Clint Ballard Jr. and popularized by Linda Ronstadt in 1975 --

Feelin' better, now that we're through
Feelin' better 'cause I'm over you
I've learned my lesson, it left a scar
But now I see how you really are

You're no good, you're no good, you're no good
Baby, you're no good
I'm gonna say it again
You're no good, you're no good, you're no good
Baby, you're no good

I broke a heart, that's gentle and true
Well, I broke a heart over someone like you
I'll beg his forgiveness on bended knee
I wouldn't blame him if he said to me

You're no good, you're no good, you're no good
Baby, you're no good
I'm gonna say it again
You're no good, you're no good, you're no good
Baby, you're no good

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Don't hurry back

Henry Schulman of the Chron reports that the Giants still want to get Blownitez back before the end of the year while trainer Stan Conte admits that the excess weight is causing a problem.

I would say "disaster" is a better description of what the extra 50 pounds has caused for the Giants, to say nothing of the impact of Blownitez' crappy attitude. Or am I the only one who's noticed that once Stanton arrived and became the closer, the Giants began playing a lot better?

Rich Draper of is also reporting that Blownitez may be out for the year on the Giants web site.

Cubs not C.U.B.S. in "Completely Useless By September." No, it was the Dodgers who gagged tonight. Despite playing out the string in a dismal season, making six errors and a facing a 7-0 deficit in the 6th, the Cubbies managed to beat the Dodgers 9-8 in extras thanks to a hit by former Dodger Cesar Itchyzit. Big cheers at Mays Field as the RF scoreboard posted the final late in the Giants game.

The radio crew said on the postgame show that it was the first time the Cubs had made six errors in a game since 1982 in a 13-12 loss to the Phils, which employed Mike Krukow at the time. Krukow said he didn't remember that game.

Correia, as in clutch

photo by Timmer82

Truly one of the best games of the year tonight at Mays Field. Even though this team has been maddeningly inconsistent, they've been playing far better over the last 3 weeks -- which is the right time to get hot. Every single starter made a significant contribution (one must count Alfonzo's handling of the pitchers making up for his lack of offense) but none as big as Kevin Correia's 3 and a third innings of no-hit relief, stopping the Rockies in their tracks. Though the 8th inning bases-loaded battle between Omar Vizquel and Jose Mesa -- with Omar knocking in a run -- was a close second.

But Omar's gamemanship has been a given all year. Correia's performance was a particularly major development, given that Chulk left the game with a groin injury in the 9th, requiring Stanton to come in and get the last 2 outs. According to Damon Bruce on KNBR -- what an improvement on Larry Krueger, by the way -- Felipe Alou told the reporters in the clubhouse that Tim Lincecum is joining the team as early as tonight.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sports Illustrated embarrasses itself

I've just added Fire Joe Morgan to the links, largely due to the site's outstanding glossary & excellent analysis of SI writer Jon Heyman's lame attempt to explain why "Moneyball" isn't any good -- even though it looks like the Oakland A's are headed for yet another post-season despite lacking the resources of the Mariners, Rangers and Angels. Essentially, Heyman insists that the book is fallible because other teams are having problems imitating the Billy Beane strategy. "It's the man, not the methodology" is his perfunctory lead sentence but Heyman then badly misreprents what that methodology is.

Here's what FJM says in response -- "Moneyball" isn't really a style. If he would just read our glossary, he would find out that the book is really about exploiting market inefficiencies and finding baseball-playing value where others are missing it. Again, what Moneyball is not: Finding guys who walk a lot. Finding guys who are fat. Finding guys who hit a lot of home runs. Drafting only college guys.

Monday, September 11, 2006

What the hell is Tim Lincecum doing in the minors?

photo of Tim Lincecum by Tom Clifton

Despite the need to win every game and the obvious deficiencies in the bullpen -- Blownitez and Wilson are injured and Munter is sucking -- the Giants continue to pitch No. 1 pick Tim Lincecum in the California League playoffs. Lincecum struck out 10 and hit 98 mph on the gun on Saturday.

I suppose there's an argument that the team doesn't want to burn up an option and start the arbitration clock on him. And that's lame. Lincecum isn't going to be shuttling back and forth between the minors and Mays Field. The sooner he begins to learn how to perform at the MLB level, the better.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Devil Rays fire John Tamargo

photo of Mays Field from McCovey Cove by franciscophile

I don't really feel like saying anything about tonight's 10-2 loss except that the Matt Morris signing -- 3 years for $27 million -- continues to be troublesome. Instead, I saw this story about Durham Bulls manager John Tamargo getting fired by the Devil Rays after a season in which he was suspended for 10 games and one of his players (Delmon Young) was suspended for 50 games. It turns out that Tamargo, who played two seasons for the Giants, has been managing for 16 years in the minors, including the last nine with the Devil Rays organization, and has a pretty unmemorable 976-937 record.

Whatever his faults as a manager, however, John Tamargo holds a special place in my heart due to the opening day of the Giants 1979 season. There are very few games that I can remember specifically details about but this one remains crystal clear. My grandmother -- a true Giants fan -- had been hospitalized in the East Bay but I managed to convince my uncle that she would want us to attend opening day. So we did. Hopes were high off a solid 1978 season. Strangely enough, the MLB umps were on strike and I remember chatting with Ed Montague outside the stadium. We got decent seats and ran into Lon Simmons -- who was simply spectating -- for the only time in my life and had a very pleasant chat with him. Here was the lineup against the Padres, who had the ugliest unis in the MLB in those days --

1. Bill North CF
2. Terry Whitfield LF
3. Bill Madlock 2B
4. Jack Clark RF
5. Darrell Evans 3B
6. Mike Ivie 1B
7. Marc Hill C
8. Roger Metzger SS
9. Vida Blue P

The Padres scored early but the Giants tied it with two in the 6th. It was still tied in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs when Joe Altobelli brought Stretch up to pinch hit to massive cheers. Stretch lined a single and Max Venable ran for him. Altobelli brought in Tamargo to pinch hit. I can still see Tamargo blasting a long high "no doubter" HR to right field, resulting in pandemonium at the sold-out Stick. I would have to guess it was the highlight of John's career, given that he hit only 4 HRs in 244 ABs over 5 MLB seasons. And when I visited my grandmother that night, she was completely delighted with our recap of the day.

Even though the year would wind up as a disappointment, it felt like anything was possible for the Giants that day.

Bonds hits No. 731

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bruce Bochy gags at Mays Field

photo by mioi of a Feliz HR on Aug. 28, 2005

Wasn't it amazing that in the 11th inning with one out and Durham on third, Bochy decides first to walk Moises intentionally and then follows that with an intentional walk to Pedro Feliz rather than trying for a DP?

Feliz has been solid on D and marginally improved his strike zone judgment this year but still....He's walked a total of 30 times this year; he's tied for 6th in the NL in the grounded into DP category with 18; and he's notorious for swinging at pitcher's pitches. Plus, he's gone 5-for-31 over the last 10 games and hit .176 over the past month. He hasn't homered since Aug. 24. Plus, he can't hit Rudy Seanez. Why would you opt for pitching to Mark Sweeney, who knows how to pinch hit? What kind of numbskull can't figure this out?

It wasn't just me who noticed. Here's what an astute poster (calling himself Orlando Cepeda) at the Chron's Splash blog noted -- Who in their right mind gives Pedro Feliz an intentional walk, especially when he's gone 0 for 7/four strikeouts against a guy? Bruce Bochy deserved to be picked as one of the Giants players of the game on the post game wrap up.


Dodgers gag in New York

The Dodgers just gagged in the clutch by losing a winnable game in the 9th, 3-2, with El Duque topping Greg Maddux. They lost it stupidly with the no-talent Jason Repko getting thrown out trying to steal second for the last out just after Fat Olmedo Saenz struck out on Ball 4 from Billy Wagner.

Giants now 3.5 games out in the NL West and 2.5 out of the Wild Card with 21 left.

The hate tower

I've started another poll (you can vote for multiple choices), mainly because I continue to be dazzled by the brilliance of Grant at McCovey Chronicles. On Thursday, when the Rockies gagged away a game to the Padres, he noted the news thusly:

The Colorado Rockies had a chance to help the Giants last night, but failed to win. You may return to your lives.
As a piece of surprising news, it ranks somewhere between Paris Hilton getting
busted for a DUI and a fern turning carbon dioxide into oxygen. The Rockies exist on this planet to bother the Giants. Even though they started dunking the balls in dry ice, or whatever they're doing now to suppress scoring, there still isn't a sane person that can enjoy baseball in Coors Field. In an update of Dante's The Divine Comedy, anyone and anything associated with the Rockies would certainly get their own circle. The comments section is open for what ironic and creative punishment they'd have to endure.

In a poll between the Rockies and Marlins as to which team is more loathesome, the Fish were slightly ahead (17-14) as of mid-day Saturday. The comments section is both smart and laugh-out-loud funny. Some of my favorites --

-- Rockies fans are jackasses. Other reasons include the Rockies self-righteous uber-Christian clubhouse, their godawful uniforms (only marginally worse than the Marlins), the dumbass white-trash cowboy-up attitude, and the fact that those bastards in Denver can buy beer IN THE STANDS! The Rockies sole purpose seems to be only to annoy me. (metzgerssaw)

-- Rockies are more hateable, hands down. Fake baseball. Fake stats. Helton's a fake star. (ilykeitlykedat)

-- And I hate the Padres for giving away Fred McGriff to the Braves in 1993 for nothing, NOTHING, not one of their top 10 prospects, how stupid was that!!! And then McGriff sets the Braves on fire and they beat us by one game, you can't tell me that the trade didn't cost us the title and a beautiful first season under Magowan's ownership. Instead, it symbolizes how we seem to be cursed to come close but always coming up short in some bad awful way: McCovey line drive, Maldonado's "catch", Torres' Dodger start, Marlins (twice), Livan "I pitched well all those other games, we wouldn't be there otherwise so you fans suck, give me a break" 7th and last game. (obsessivegiantscompulsive)

-- Oh I hate the Rocks. Dante Bichette POSEUR GIGANTE if there ever was one. Franchise ruiner of pitchers. Park named after shit beer. Cigar-box baseballs. Butt-ugly uniforms. Faceless rosters year in and year out. I just wish they and the Dbacks would just go away. Can't we trade them to the AL West for the Angels? (E)

-- Marlins. No contest. It's a utilitarian thing. A Giants no-hitter would be one of the great moments of my life; a World Series title just might be the greatest. Meanwhile, the fairweather fans in Miami average a no-hitter every three years and a title every six or seven. And somehow they're looked at as victims: "Oh, those poor Marlin fans... how awful it must be to have your World Series winners dismantled like that?" Christ, if the Giants win the series they can publicly behead the entire 40-man roster on Thanksgiving and I'd still be ecstatic. (Pants Man)

-- Teams I hate:1 - Dodgers (always number one on this list. Evil incarnate. Except Jackie and Sandy and ... oh, heck, Tommy Lasorda and Steve Garvey are Evil Incarnate.)2 - Yankees (the smug bastards in pinstripes should be near the top of everyone's list) (Sayhey)

-- You can also add that Florida is a heinous place with the median statewide IQ hovering b/w that of a moldy orange and a remedial manatee. Given this, the avg Floridian will not know the meaning of 'heinous' so they won't come after me with cocktail spears. (leewhee)

-- The Florida Marlins, however, are the most despicable and most diabolical franchise in all of baseball. Their payroll is far lower than their income from revenue sharing, even though they are meant to put the revenue sharing money towards fielding a competetive team. It's sickening. But moreover, they constantly try to blackmail the taxpayers into giving them free money. Say what you will about our ownership, but they paid for the stadium themselves. The one good thing about the Marlins current and unexpected success is that it shafts Loria completely. No longer can he say "We can't be competitive unless you give us free money." Ha! Swivel on it. The Marlins ownership have absolutely no interest in contributing towards the revenue streams of baseball as a whole, but simply leech off the good work of others. They are a puss-filled abscess on the face of baseball. She used to be so beautiful, but what man would want her now? (salemicus)

-- The Red Sox Nation thing makes me want to vomit, it became utterly intolerable after 2004. Although for me they still take a backseat to the Dodgers in the hate department. (bondsapologist)

-- 1-123. The Dodgers(one for every year that they have been in exsitence).
124. Angels (First for being a Los Angeles team, Second for 2002)
125. Marlins (jealousy is the breeding ground for hatred)
126. Rockies (they have killed us by sucking against the wrong team year after year)
127. Diamondbacks (Snakes in a Clubhouse)
128. Red Sox (annoying)
129. Tommy Lasorda

Cain = clutch

photo of Matt Cain's autograph by Sleepy Sluggo

On a cold night like tonight at Mays Field, a fireballing pitcher like Matt Cain has a definite advantage. More than that, he's stepped up. I managed to have the misfortune of seeing the Aug. 12 blowout at Chavez Latrine, featuring Cain giving up 10 hits and six earned runs in 4 innings. Since then, here's Matt's line over the five games, with wins in all but one --

34 IPs, 17 hits, 1 earned run, 14 walks, 36 Ks.

Here's a great postgame post from the McCovery Chronicles gameday thread from The Mayor of 311 which he called Report from 311town:
GREAT game tonight, everyone. The feeling at the park was... well, not electric exactly, but only one step short of that. Everyone seemed to appreciate Cain's performance-- he got much applause at all appropriate times, including after the first hit the stinking Clergy got. There really wasn't any of the nagging doubt about the game after we went up 3-0, the way there usually is at the park (and here, frankly). It was just a night of appreciation and wonder.
I don't know that Cain's ready to be a staff ace, and I don't know that it's wise or necessary to put that tag on a soon-to-be 22-year-old, but it's a matter of time-- and not much time at that. Maybe he'll be the #1 by late summer 2007, maybe even midsummer 2007. But if it doesn't happen until 2008, then so be it; it's still great to see it happening before our eyes.
Memo to Brian Sabean: Thanks for reading McCC. Please lock up Cain long term as you did for Lowry. I mean, lock him up contractually. Please lock up Benitez physically.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ryan Howard moving up the list

photo by samtwofive

Ryan Howard has just become the 12th player to hit at least 56 HRs in a season --

1. Barry Bonds 73 2001
2. Mark McGwire 70 1998
3. Sammy Sosa 66 1998
4. Mark McGwire 65 1999
5. Sammy Sosa 64 2001
6. Sammy Sosa 63 1999
7. Roger Maris 61 1961
8. Babe Ruth 60 1927
9. Babe Ruth 59 1921
10. Jimmie Foxx 58 1932
Hank Greenberg 58 1938
Mark McGwire 58 1997
13. Luis Gonzalez 57 2001
Alex Rodriguez 57 2002
15. Ken Griffey 56 1997
Ken Griffey 56 1998
Hack Wilson 56 1930

This just in from The Onion

Alex Rodriguez Placed On Emotionally Disabled List
September 7, 2006 Onion Sports
NEW YORK—After suffering through much of the year with an aching heart, shattered self-image, and severely hurt feelings, Alex Rodriguez was placed on the 15-day emotionally disabled list, though the Yankee slugger did not rule out the possibility that the emotional wounds he has had to endure this season "may never truly heal."
Enlarge Image
"There is an intense, burning pain deep within me, accompanied by a sinking feeling of complete and total emptiness inside," said Rodriguez outside his locker Monday night, moments before throwing his tear-stained jersey to the ground and burying his head in his hands. "It's just too much. I wish it would all just go away."
"It hurts more than anyone will ever know," Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez—whose thin skin, remarkable sensitivity, and vulnerable nature have made him susceptible to chronic emotional problems—had been exhibiting the telltale signs of mental weakness all season, marked by temporary rapid swelling of the ego followed by alternating bouts of extreme coldness and unusual soreness. However, the incident that triggered the "major, irreparable damage" to Rodriguez's psyche occurred during last Saturday's game, when fans booed him for striking out to end the seventh inning.
"When it happened, you could just see in his face that something was wrong, that he was trying hard to hide the pain he was feeling on the inside, but then he just audibly snapped—you could hear it all the way from the bleachers," said teammate Bobby Abreu, who watched from first base as Rodriguez "came apart right there on the field."
"It was painful to watch," he continued. "[Rodriguez] started flailing around, rocking back and forth on the ground, crying uncontrollably… I had to look away. Frankly, I was disgusted."
A team of Yankee therapists immediately rushed onto the field and administered a series of soothing, reassuring hugs, to which Rodriguez was unresponsive. Rodriguez was then transported to a nearby psychiatric hospital, where he remains in unstable condition.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said that Rodriguez will be emotionally unavailable for this weekend's series, and possibly for the rest of the season.
"A-Rod had been working hard with his mental-skills coach all season to strengthen his resolve, toughen his mind, and build up his self-esteem, but in the end, he applied too much pressure too early, and he just broke down," Torre said. "I just want A-Rod to know that we all think he's a very, very good baseball player, and that he's been doing a great job as a New York Yankee."
Rodriguez is set to begin an offseason rehabilitation program, which includes following a strict regimen of mental conditioning, taking mind-strengthening medication such as Prozac, and believing in himself.
However, Yankees assistant emotional-healing coach Lee Mazzilli was skeptical of the possibility of Rodriguez making a full recovery, saying that it would be "a miracle" if Rodriguez ever gets over the hurt he is feeling right now.
"Comprehensive tests and quiet, understanding questioning seem to indicate that A-Rod has been playing all season long with a broken heart," Mazzilli said. "It's possible that if he didn't overextend himself, his heart would've healed on its own, but to keep going out there and opening yourself up to that kind of constant abuse and harsh, brutal stress each night… He could've torn it right in half."
"It's possible his broken heart may never mend," Mazzilli added.
Rodriguez's spot on the roster will be filled by Gary Sheffield, who on Friday is eligible to be activated from the 60-day mentally disabled list.

It's about time

Several months after complaints surfaced -- at least in the Giants blogosphere -- that it was ignoring this story, the San Francisco Chronicle has finally gotten around to writing a piece about how it took Eliezer Alfonzo a decade in the minors to get to the big leagues. At one point, he explains that some teammates were telling him he should go back to boxing. His response --

"I said no. The thing is, boxing is hard. You get a lot of punches in your face."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dodger crybabies

Photo by Beauty Playin 'Eh

What did the over-rated and overweight Brad Penny say after giving up 7 earned runs on 10 hits to the Mets on Thursday?

"It could have been a totally different line. My changeup was the best in my career. The fastball feels good. I don't care about the numbers. It's just the way the ball bounces sometimes."


Giants 4 games out in NL West, 3.5 out of the Wild Card with 22 to go

Durham saving the Orange and Black

Photo by Eddie Dickey

This photo was shot at the end of the July 19 game, in which Ray drove in the tying and winning runs in the 9th. Henry Schulman of the Chron has a nice piece today about Ray leading all MLB second basemen in RBIs and crediting Bonds for his power surge.

Skimpy SI baseball coverage

The current 114-page issue has a dearth of baseball coverage. Longest piece is 3 pages on the Weaver brothers; second longest is a perfunctory review of the Curt Flood bio. As part of the 9/11 anniversary coverage, there's a very depressing cover story about Pat Tillman.

A thing of beauty

Photo by Troy McClure

This was shot near the end of the Aug. 18 game, the Giants' 5th straight victory, as they were digging themselves out of the hole brought on by a 3-16 stretch. That game put them at 59-63; since then, they've gone 11-7 to get back to .500 at 70-70. And yes, that is Blownitez on the mound in a non-save situation.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jonathan Sanchez comes back, big time

Distressing news about Noah Lowry's elbow, but still, what a validation of the faith in Sanchez in today's 3-2 victory with 7 strikeouts. Let me say that again -- 7 strikeouts. The Reds announcers on XM had to admit he was lights out.

As I was listening to Sanchez carry a no-hitter into the 5th, I thought of Bill James once writing that it's somewhat pointless to keep legit MLB players in the minors for extended periods. His major thrust was that the sooner a guy learns how things work at the MLB level, the better.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

This is when I think about the 1935 Cubs

Photo of Gabby Hartnett on opening day, 1930 from dcabear720

Anyone remember the 1935 Cubs? I didn't think so. Long before the Cubs became a national punchline, they actually went the World Series somewhat regularly. Between 1929 and 1938, they went every three years; then they went in 1945 for the final time.

Anyhow, the 1935 Cubs have always held some fascination for me, mainly because they wound up the season by winning 21 straight games. That's the second-longest win streak of all time, trailing only the 1916 Giants with 26. The 2002 A's had 20; the 1906 White Sox and the 1947 Yankees had 19.

The Cubs lost the second game of a double header on Sept. 2, 1935, to the Reds and were 2 and half games back of the Gas House Gang Cardinals at that point. They then won 20 straight games, clinch the NL pennant in the first game of a doubleheader with the Cardinals, 6–2, beating Dizzy Dean, won the nightcap, then lost the last two games of the season and lost the World Series to the Tigers. Only once during the winning streak did the Cubs pitchers given up more than three runs. Cubs owner Phil Wrigley was the first to broadcast all of his team’s games on the radio. And it was the last Cubs team to win 100 games in a season.

Glancing at the roster, it looks like Gabby Hartnett, Augie Galan and Billy Herman were the top offensive players though the lineup looks fairly solid all the way around -- Stan Hack, Billy Jurges, Chuck Klein, Phil Cavaretta, Frank Demaree. Klein, Hartnett and Herman are in the Hall of Fame as are reserves Kiki Cuyler and Freddie Lindstrom. The starting pitching was quite good with Lon Warneke and Bill Lee both winning 20 and Larry French winning 17.

Do the 2006 Giants have it in them to win 21 in a row? Probably not, especially after tonight's embarrassing 3-hit shuout by Bronson Arroyo -- his first ever. What is it about this team that makes them paralyzed against guys who have been undistinguished during the rest of their careers? They also got shut out this year by the immortal Ian Snell and Kip Wells, both of the Pirates.

But you never know, especially now that Bonds is hot and Blownitez isn't being allowed to lose games.

Bonds at Mays Field


Bonds now trails Hank Aaron by 25 HRs

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hail Omar

Photo by Bash209

I get along pretty well with my brother in law even though he's a huge Dodger fan -- partly because he's really smart. "Vizquel is the best player on the Giants this year," he told me today. "Every game, he makes a play that's just unbelievable."

I never paid that much attention to Omar in Cleveland but we Giants fans have learned over the past two years that the hype about his defense was quite real. He helped turn two DPs today; he has 3 errors all season. He also hit two triples Sunday to give him 10 for the year -- the most he's ever had in a season. Career batting average before this year was .274.

Now THAT is a closer, ladies and gentlemen

Photo by Rocket1124

What was so hard about giving the closer job to someone who can actually do it? Three saves in three days for Mike Stanton ever since Blownitez acted like a crybaby at Wrigley Field. Can you imagine how demoralizing it is for 10-year-plus veterans like Bonds, Alou, Durham, Vizquel, Schmidt and Finley to put with BS like that? Anyhow, let's recap how Stanton handled the Reds in the 10th --

Pitch 1 - In play, out(s) recorded
Brandon Phillips flies out to right fielder Randy Winn.

Pitch 1 - BallPitch 2 - Swinging StrikePitch 3 - Swinging StrikePitch 4 - BallPitch 5 - FoulPitch 6 - FoulPitch 7 - Called Strike
Jason LaRue called out on strikes.

Pitch 1 - Swinging StrikePitch 2 - FoulPitch 3 - BallPitch 4 - Called Strike
David Ross called out on strikes.

Giants 4.5 games out in NL West, 2 out in Wild card. 24 games left.

The LA Times embarrasses itself

Readers of this blog may know that I'm pretty disgusted with the coverage of the Giants in the SF Chronicle but Tim Brown of the Los Angeles Times had a particularly lame piece today insisting that the Dodgers and/or the Angels are going to pick up Alex Rodriguez in the off-season because of 1. Steinbrenner wanting to cut payroll and 2. the mean New York fans. It's sort of stupid speculative reporting that runs on Sunday with no basis in fact. I suppose the idea is that A-Rod's not having a monster season but what's particularly embarrasing is that in the games Thursday and Friday, he went 6-for-9 with 3 HRs and 5 RBIs, which OF COURSE wasn't mentioned by Tim Brown. Then he went 3-for-5 with 2 HRs on Sunday. Further embarrassment comes from the only source quoted in the story being Jeff Kent as some kind of an expert on knowing how tough things are in New York. Maybe someone needs to point out that 1. Kent hasn't played in New York for over a decade and 2. Kent has played for 6 teams in 13 years and is hardly an authority on what it takes to get along in a particular city. He's expert in other areas -- one of the few MLB players to be accused of racism by a teammate, getting into fights with the best player on his own team and lying about a motorcycle injury that led to missing half a seaon. He's apparently also an expert in sucking up to sportswriters.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

You've got to be kidding

Photo of Bonds 500th HR by dvwtwo

It turns out that the Giants, via Rich Draper's story on, expect us to believe that Blownitez is suffering from arthritis and THAT's why he won't be pitching for awhile. I'm sure that's what happened -- if you mean arthritis of the brain.

Let's recap what happened Saturday: He gets one out from the four guys he's face and isn't even enough of an adult to wait for Alou to show up, flipping the ball to Alfonzo and bailing. So after dis-respecting Felipe Alou -- never a good idea, according to this recent positive career recap at -- we're supposed to believe that Blownitez has just come down with arthritis from the extra 50 pounds he's been lugging around for the last five years?

So, instead of subjecting Giants fans to the inevitable Blownitez melt-down late in the game today, Felipe was forced to use Mike Stanton to close again. Result -- Stanton got a second straight save. Maybe we can now focus on how Bonds is raking the ball right now and up to HR 729 with today's blast to left center. Here's his line for the last 11 games, since Aug. 21 --

32 ABs, 11 runs, 16 hits, 5 HRs, 10 RBIs, 11 BBs, 2 Ks (both in the last 2 games)

Giants 5.5 games out in NL West; 2.5 out of the Wild Card. 25 games left.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bobby Bonds first at bat

Any true Giants fan knows that Bobby Bonds launched his big-league career in June 1968 with a pinch-hit grand-slam off the Dodgers. Bobby had a very solid 14-year career -- the best of it in San Francisco -- and led the league twice in runs scored and once in total bases.

Tonight, Bobby got some company when Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Indians hit a slam on the very first MLB pitch he saw.
It turns out that first-at-bat slams have happened only two other times -- Jeremy Heredia last year for the Marlins and Bill Duggleby back in 1898.

Photo by cardcrazy85.

The Colorado Lay Downs

What a pathetic team the Rockies are -- doing their usual late-season lay down, thanks to a seemingly endless procession of has-beens like Vinnie Castilla, Jose Mesa and Kaz Matsui and never-weres like Clint Barmes, Yorvit Torrealba and Jeremy Affeldt. I just got back from Chavez Latrine, watching the Dodgers whomp them 14-5.

Here's what's truly aggravating -- even though the Rockies obviously stink (62-73), they're not doing anything about it by making any September call-ups for right now so their current roster has only 26 players. They're saying they want to wait until the next homestand to expand the roster -- despite the obvious deficiencies of the team. Barmes, in particular, has no business playing major league baseball with a .220 average and no defensive skills. He got given one error (his 17th) on a throw home from shortstop which should have Jeff Kent out by 20 feet and instead short-hopped Yorvit. He should have had at least 3 other errors -- one where he raced in front of Matsui and knocked the ball into rightfield and another where the ball banged off his glove -- but the Dodger scorer was more interested in fattening the Dodger averages. Clint also struck looking to put a stop to the 5-run rally.

The only positives from the evening were an even deeper appreciation for the skills of Omar Vizquel and witnessing the ongoing crash-and-burn of one-time Dodger wunderkind Matt Kemp, whose two months in Vegas haven't taught him anything about hitting offspeed pitches. He returned to MLB and went 0-for-5 with 3 strikeouts. I guess all the hype was just that.

Please, please, PLEASE

Now that the Giants have some bullpen depth, can't Felipe please, please, PLEASE stop bringing in Blownitez? Let's recap The Fat One's 9th inning performance today, shall we?

Derrek Lee homers (5) on a fly ball to left center field.
Jacque Jones singles on a line drive to right fielder Randy Winn.
Henry Blanco grounds out, second baseman Ray Durham to first baseman Shea Hillenbrand. Jacque Jones to 3rd.
Ryan Theriot walks.

In just four batters, the winning run -- in what had been a 4-1 game -- was at the plate. Stanton then came in and picked off Theriot and struck out Ronny Cedeno.

The Giants now have 15 pitchers on the active roster, with the addition of Brian Wilson, Scott Munter and -- Glory Hallelujah, there is a God after all -- Jonathan Sanchez. There's absolutely NO EXCUSE for using Blownitez in anything but blowout games. It's obvious that he doesn't have it any more. Here's his line for his last 5 games --

4 IP, 7 Hits, 5 Earned Runs, 2 BBs, 4 Ks

Much smarter than me, part 2

John Ryder's always-entertaining Give 'Em Some Stankeye blog has returned after a 3-month hiatus. Before the start of the Cubs series, he explained clearly why Dusty Baker is a doofus. Some highlights --

-- Dusty Baker was a good manager in his ten seasons with the Giants, but his bizarre hunches and insane insistence on playing Marvin Benard and Shawon Dunston way more than was ever needed could be exasperating.

-- With the Cubs, though, he's basically Public Enemy #1 in the Windy City. Just ask
this guy.Baker's crimes are particularly evident in his mishandling of the lineup. He has notoriously given too much playing time to the likes of Jose Macias and Neifi Perez (who robbed Derrek Lee of last year's MVP), and continues to put low-OBP speed guys at the top of the order.

-- This year's leadoff man, Juan Pierre, is hitting an anemic .283/.328/.386, but hey, he's fast and has stolen a bunch of bases, so he must be OK, right?When recently asked about why the Cubs were dead last in the league in On-base Percentage, Baker's reply was this:"On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage. Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."

John's also been nice enough to link to two entertaining Youtube videos -- what he correctly calls a "gushing" (but still enjoyable) tribute to J.T. Snow and Michael Barrett's punchout of A.J. Pierzitsky. And have any of the lazy hacks at the Chronicle bothered to ask Stan Conte what he thought about the incident?