Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mays Field by arnaudt (7-23-06)


Braves fans --

This is what we
call a full house

Braves fans = losers

A very satisfying 8-6 win tonight. A sweep would have been highly unacceptable because the
entire Atlanta franchise has been and continues to be a disgrace. There's really no room for debate on this. And it's not the Tomahawk Chop, the lingering embarrassment over John Rocker, the constant gagging in the postseason, the recent hypocritical endorsement of the dingbats at Focus on the Family or the overwhelming incompetence of announcer Skip Caray, who's been blowing calls forever. No, it's the Atlanta Braves "fans" who are the ultimate disgrace.

For 14 straight years, the Braves have made the playoffs. Yet the Atlanta fans continually act as if that's no big deal -- just something to pass the time while obsessing over the NFL Falcons and the college football George Bulldogs and Georgia Tech Rambling Wrecks or whatever they call themselves.

Capacity at Turner Field is 50,696. For Game 1 of the NLDS last year, attendance was 40,590 and for Game 2, it was 46,181. It's impossible to imagine that many empty seats at a similar game in San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, Boston or New York. Can you imagine what kind of reaction the folks in Pittsburgh would have to seeing playoff baseball? But it's a fitting legacy for the sordid start of the Atlanta Braves with Bill Bartolomay stealing away the Milwaukee Braves in 1966 -- the first time in MLB history that a perfectly healthy franchise city was abandoned.

Giants 5.5 games out in the NL West and 2.5 games in the Wild Card with 30 games left.

Mays Field by Troy McClure

Mays Field by lylpookie

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Arnold Hano goes to a Dodger game

West, the LA Times Sunday magazine, has a nice piece from Chris Epting (author of "Roadside Baseball") about spending the day at a Dodger game in the bleachers with Arnold Hano, who wrote the near-legendary book "A Day in the Bleachers" about Willie Mays' catch in the Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. Epting was particularly taken by Hano's reaction to Dodger Stadium's constant pressure on the stupidest fans in sports to "make noise" --

The stomp-and-clap introduction of the song "We Will Rock You" thunders through the park. Also, the electronic scoreboard implores us to "MAKE NOISE." Hano winces. I ask what he's thinking. "There's the big difference," he says. "The entertainment factor. All this stuff is so unnecessary. They just feel we have to be entertained all the time. But it's a distraction. Why distract from the game?"

The electronic histrionics found in most ballparks today eat away at what Hano believes is key to understanding and enjoying baseball: concentration. I offer that maybe it's the sign of the times, that more and more people are growing accustomed to near-constant sensory stimulation. He agrees. On TV, cellphones, computers—even in a ballpark—we are barraged with messages and entertainment. But is it necessary? Sure, some of it is paid for by sponsors. But a lot of it is not. A lot of it is simply a way to force you to pay attention.Hano argues that the game is enough stimulation for him, and I agree. Perhaps in a timed, highlight-driven sport such as basketball, hockey or football, the levels of intimacy are not as important. After all, bombast doesn't feel as out of place after a bone-crushing dunk, cross-check or tackle. But all of a sudden, hearing "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" after a ball four seems totally unnecessary.

Listening to Hano throughout the day reminds me that before there were flashy scoreboards and noisy entertainment, the game still worked beautifully and entertained millions of people. Baseball rewards patience and concentration with sparkling moments of elegance, intelligence and grit. Blink and you might miss the right fielder's early break to the ball, or the catcher hustling up the line to back up a throw.

"We used to talk between innings," he recalls. "About the game. About who was up next. About strategy. What's wrong with a little time to reflect? People are afraid to be bored for one second. And as for cheering, if you have to be told to yell when your team is trailing by a run, or when there are two strikes and two outs—what kind of fan are you?"

A wave gains traction in the crowd. Hano rolls his eyes. "The wave . . . I thought it was dead . . . I'd hoped it was dead." Once again, the electronic message boards begin blinking in big blue letters "Get louder!" The crowd responds. "Get Louder!" The crowd responds more. "GET LOUDER!" The crowd roars. The message disappears, and the crowd gets quiet. The three of us laugh—it is absurd. But being with Arnold Hano, it seems more ridiculous than ever. He is patient, he concentrates and he most definitely does not want to be told when to cheer. He clearly loves being here, but the environment no longer matches the character and simplicity of the game.

Apropos of nothing, Harry Belafonte's calypso chant "Day-O" is played to create a call and response. The crowd takes the bait. Animated auto races soon follow on the scoreboard, along with blooper highlights, movie commercials and more "entertainment." And while it never bothered me too much before at games, the fact that it bothers Hano bothers me.

HR 715 on YouTube

Mays Field by LuxLisbon

This just in from The Onion

Fake Outrage Over Steroid Use Reaches Fake Fever Pitch
August 24, 2006 Onion Sports
NEW YORK—In the aftermath of the Tour de France doping scandal, the failed drug tests of sprinters Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin, and the near-constant scrutiny of suspected steroid user Barry Bonds, the sporting community's fabricated attitude of anger and resentment toward athletes who are caught using performance-enhancing drugs has reached an all-time high. "This is absolutely ridiculous… Don't these players know that they are not only disappointing their rabid, blindly worshipful audience, but they are running the risk of ruining their sport in the name of even more widely publicized achievement?" said Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, whose mild stirrings of actual annoyance concerning the steroid issue turned into towering fake fury over six months ago. "Is doing anything you can to succeed, even acting under false pretenses in order to pander to what you think your audience wants, the example we want to set for our children?" Reilly then felt obligated to pretend to be upset about the lax drug policies in all the major sports including the Olympics.

Mays Field by bob e flower

The Atlanta Hypocrites

Well, that bites. Here the Braves and their stupid Tomahawk Chop finally have run out of luck after 14 straight NL East titles. Then the Giants give up 18 runs in two games and revive the Braves chances to get to the postseason. If there was ever a team that deserved to have a few breaks go against them, the Braves are that team.

What's particularly annoying is that the franchise -- apparently in a desperate effort to court football fans -- has been playing footsie with the right wing religious dingbats recently. First they schedule a Faith Day and invite the seriously deranged Focus on the Family, then they were apparently shocked -- SHOCKED -- when it turns out that FOTF used the opportunity to promote its gay-hating agenda. So FOTF has been dis-invited to future Faith Days.

I say "apparently" because the GUTLESS Braves organization never gave a reason for the dis-invitation.

MEMO TO THE BRAVES -- YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE A "SMART" FRANCHISE SO I'M NOT BUYING YOUR STUPID EXCUSE THAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT WHO THESE DINGBATS WERE. THEN YOU ARE TOO GUTLESS TO APOLOGIZE OR EVEN EXPLAIN YOURSELVES. YOU ARE BUNCH OF LYING WEASELS WHO DESERVE TO LOSE EVERY GAME.

Mays Field by Kalsey

Mays Field by Troy McClure

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Your tax dollars at work

I've been watching HBO's excellent 4-hour recap tonight on the impact of Hurricane Katrina -- "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," directed by Spike Lee. And I'm struck by several thoughts:

We have the most powerful government in the world and it twiddled its thumbs as more than 1,800 people died, even though many of those deaths might have been prevented -- if the levees been built properly and if the federal government had responded with any urgency once the storm began. And the performance by the federal government since then has been woeful. New Orleans remains a mess. "Somebody needs to go to jail," New Orleans jazz musician Terrence Blanchard said late in the show, referring to the failure of the levees.

But the feds have no problem with spending an endless amount of government resources and taxpayer funds in pursuit of attempting to prove that Barry Bonds perjured himself.

It's disgraceful.

The Count

Henry Schulman of the Chron does a nice job of reprising John "The Count" Montefusco's no-hitter from 1976 -- the last no-hit game by a Giant.

One of my fave memories from that year was the Count loading the bases and then striking out the side with pure heat against the Phils -- including Schmidt and Luzinski. And it always annoyed me that Vin Scully could never be bothered to learn the proper pronunciation of his name.

The Count's best years were his first four years in the Orange and Black. But he did manage to last 13 season in The Show.

Giants vs. Brewers, photo by ThinkDerek

Bonds and Soriano

The PEFA Commish at the excellent Sour Grapes site has posted a long analysis of who's going to be on the 2007 Giants. He predicts that Bonds, Finley, both Alous, Hillenbrand, Durham and Schmidt will all be gone. Cain, Lowry, Feliz, Vizquel, Alfonzo and Winn will be back. And Alfonso Soriano is going to be in the Orange and Black at 2B. Here are the two most interesting points:

-- Bonds – gone. I’ve heard Larry Baer discuss this indirectly, and it sounds like the Giants are just salivating over redistributing his contract money.

-- This is where Alfonso Soriano is going to end up. The Giants are believers in having a superstar to build the team around, and they like it for marketing too. They’ve got a nice spot at second base (where he wants to play) just waiting for him. And he’s got legitimate power: of his 41 homers, 20 have been at RFK, a notorious pitchers’ park. He’ll hit plenty of shots into those left field bleachers. And I don’t care about his crappy fielding. How do you think the Yankees feel now about the Soriano-ARod deal now? Six years at $18 million per. It’s in the budget.

Why not Bonds AND Soriano? I remain convinced that Bonds will give it one last try next year, hopefully at a discount, which would enable a Soriano signing, and particularly if the team makes it to the postseason and if he can get past HR 730 in the next 5 weeks. He's still more valuable than he's getting credit for. I keep pointing out this stat -- MLB LEADERS IN ON BASE PERCENTAGE

1. Bonds .453
2. Ramirez .442
3. Hafner .434
3. Mauer .434
5. Abreu .427

Monday, August 28, 2006

Another view of HR 715; photo by Gail

Matt Morris dominating on Friday


Photo by Artolog

The crybaby weasel lucks out

No matter how lucky some people get, there's a particularly obnoxious type who believes that they're actually entitled to their good fortune; and no matter how much they get, it's never enough. Case in point: Jose Vizcaino. Thanks to David Eckstein's going on the DL and Aaron Miles not being particularly effective, the Cards signed Vizcaino last week. He went 1-for-5, including a 2-run HR, and hasn't played since. Miles has gone 7-for-18 since then. This is the same guy who went out of SF whining about he wasn't playing despite being among this year's worst players with more than 100 ABs. This is also guy who's lucked into going to the playoffs six times and even getting a World Series ring in 2000 -- despite having a dismal postseason line of 23 hits in 104 ABs, .221 average, .239 onbase and .261 slugging.

MEMO TO JOSE -- WHY DON'T YOU WHINE TO LARUSSA ABOUT YOUR LACK OF PLAYING TIME AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS?

Stretch


Nice shot by Reveritas

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Revisiting HR 715


A great shot by Artolog

Giants sign another 16-year-old

Dusty and the Cubs

With Cubs sucking hard as usual, Chicago reporters are left to speculate about next year. I didn't realize it, but three weeks ago, Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times suggested that Dusty might head back to San Francisco next year.

Bruce Jenkins of the Chron shot that down five days later, saying it would be a "Titanic" longshot. It's a reasonably interesting column that covers a lot of ground, including suggesting that Brenly, Righetti or Matheny might replace Felipe next year and that the Giants might try signing Andruw Jones. I disagree with his contention that Bonds hasn't been a contributor (again, look at his onbase percentage leading all of MLB) because he hasn't been "in the middle" of important offensive rallies. That's just sloppy reporting.

Now the Chron's worthless John Shea has weighed in with a particularly pointless column that simply says Dusty's having a rough time. Showing what a lazy hack weasel he is, Shea buries the interesting info that USA Today disclosed that he's gotten death threats via mail (he also got them in SF, but not as many). My question -- doesn't reporting that kind of invite additional reporting such as -- has the FBI been called? How many threats have there been? Do all MLB managers get such threats? The column then concludes on an especially baffling note --
One big difference is, if Baker got the Cubs to the World Series, they wouldn't sever ties as the Giants did four years ago.

MEMO TO JOHN SHEA -- QUOTING STEVE MARTIN FROM "PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES" -- And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener.

That's what I'm talking about, part 2

What the hell happened to these guys in Orange and Black? Cain strikes out 9, gives up 4 hits; Bonds goes 3-for-3 plus his 100th walk; Hillenbrand has 3 hits; Finley, Durham and Feliz have 2 each. And they just out-scored the Reds 16-2 in the last three games. It's hard to believe this is the same team that went 3-16 starting with that horrific blown save by Blownitez on July 23 against the Padres. Am I still bitter? Do you even need to ask?

MEMO TO BRIAN SABEAN AND FELIPE ALOU -- I KNOW BLOWNITEZ HAD A 1-2-3 INNING ON FRIDAY BUT LOOK HOW WELL THE TEAM PERFORMED WHEN HE DIDN'T GET INTO NEXT TWO GAMES. DON'T. USE. HIM.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

That's what I'm talking about

Listening to the game today on XM in the 9th, it was easy to hear the excitement of the crowd at Mays Field as Mike Stanton pitched a 1-2-3 inning. I'm positive -- absolutely positive -- that more than a few were thinking, "It's about time that someone besides Blownitez got a chance to save the game."

There may have been a few who were wondering, "Where's Jonathan Sanchez?" In any case, it was Stanton's third save this year and the 79th of his career.

Duane Kuiper insisted that Feliz had made an exceptional play to end the game on Ryan Freel's grounder. If Kuip thinks it was good, then it must have been, since it was his glove that kept him in the game for over a decade.

The sour taste of the Rockies

Scummy hypocrite Rockies owner Peter Coors has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of driving while impaired after being busted for drunk driving in his own driveway. According to the AP --

The judge suspended a $200 fine, but ordered Coors to participate on a panel sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and to go through alcohol education courses. Coors' driver's license also was suspended for three months from the date of his arrest, and he must also pay $495 in court costs and fees.

I'd say he got off easy. No comment yet by the one-time GOP star as to how this is really all Bill Clinton's fault. What I still can't figure out is how this happened over Memorial Day weekend and then wasn't reported by the local media for nearly two months. It's just one more embarrassment for one of baseball's truly hypocritical franchises -- one that prefers to hire players of "Christian" character and then signs psycho headhunter Jose Mesa.

Dodgers choke in extras again

There's nothing better than a Giants win, followed by the Dodgers gagging away a game they should have won. NOTHING. (Are you listening, John Shea? I bet not.)

The Dbacks just won in 15 innings in Phoenix, thanks to Sele walking relief pitcher Brandon Lyon on 5 pitches even though Lyon had never batted in the bigs before. Aaron Sele got Byrnes for the 2nd out but Hudson then homered. Scully kept saying the Dodgers haven't won an extra inning game all year on the road. It was the 4th loss in a row for the Dodgers. They are now 1-7 in extras this year.

Giants now 3.5 games out with 33 left.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ledee -- that's French for "you suck"

The truly hateful Ricky Ledee has just been designated for assignment by the Mets, who have been scrambling for outfield help by trading for Shawn Green and signing Michael Tucker. Here's what the Mets website says --

Green pasture: With the addition of Shawn Green, the Mets had to make a move. Thus, the club designated Ricky Ledee for assignment. Ledee, who was claimed on waivers on Aug. 8 from the Dodgers, was 1-for-15 in 11 games with the Mets, batting .206 for the season.

I suppose that the Phils might take a chance on Ricky with Aaron Rowand out for the season. For any Philly fans reading this blog, be forewarned -- he's a gold-plated weasel.

What is it about Chicago fans?

Occasionally some dingbat in the Mays Field bleachers has reached out and grabbed a ball, depriving the Orange and Black of a possible extra base.

But it's nothing like the idiocy of Steve Bartman's grab of the foul ball from Moises in Game 6 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field. Do I have any sympathy for Bartman? No, not even a little. And tonight the Chicago fans were at it again, helping to lose another game, this time at U.S. Cellular Field on the last play of the Twins' 5-4 win. Here's key part from the recap at MLB.com --

Closer Joe Nathan found himself in a critical situation as Scott Podsednik stood at second base and Jermaine Dye was at the plate as the go-ahead run for the Sox with two outs. Nathan got Dye to pop up a ball near the first-base line seats. First baseman Justin Morneau looked to have a shot at the ball, but two fans appeared to knock the ball out of Morneau's glove. It was deemed fan interference and it sealed the Twins' win.

Where's that guy been?

It's been truly baffling how poorly Matt Morris has performed this year, given his career stats. Up to this season, he'd been 101-62 with a 3.61 ERA. During 2002, he went 22-8 with a 3.16 ERA.

I saw that guy show up on July 19 after a horrific first three innings against the Brewers when he gave up SIX runs in the first three innings. But Felipe decided to stick with him and then got four shoutout innings from Morris -- even letting him hit in the 6th when the Giants were down 6-4. Alfonzo homered in the 8th, Bonds led off the 9th with a pinch single, Finley doubled and Durham knocked in the game winners. Then he had a horrible start against the Nats, giving up 7 runs in less than 3 innings, then gave up no runs, 5 runs, 3 runs, 1 run, 5 runs and the 1 run complete game tonight.

The ESPN highlights showed Morris' curve working perfectly -- starting at the knees and finishing at the ankles. Henry Schulman's recap of tonight's game notes that the Giants haven't been scoring for Morris during the recent stretch.

Morris had to be thrilled with two early runs. He entered the game with the second-worst run support of any NL pitcher since the All-Star break and constantly has pitched from behind.
He surrendered plenty of hits early, including a pair of doubles that seemed magnetically attracted to the third-base line as the rolled into left field. But he frustrated Cincinnati hitters in RBI situations.
Morris and Alou seemed to make a statement in the third inning, when Griffey came to bat with runners on second and third with two out. Given he hit a ball 900 miles two innings earlier, one might have expected Morris to walk Griffey and face right-hander Edwin Encarnacion.
No dice.
Morris threw strike one and eventually got Griffey on a grounder to Ray Durham, who was positioned perfectly in a right-side shift.

Jonathan Sanchez, starting pitcher

Given the amount of space I've devoted to Jonathan Sanchez, it's instructive to read through the transcript of Brian Sabean's online chat today. Sabean says the top priority is to win the NL West but at the same time, he's devoted to converting Sanchez to a starter -- even if that means using him as a 6th starter down the stretch.

My question is still: "Why is it so important to do this right now -- to have a 6th starter -- when the team's biggest recent shortcoming has been the bullpen? And if you're so concerned about hurting his arm, then LIMIT THE NUMBER OF TIMES HE PITCHES. What's so hard about that?"

The transcript is here. And here's a particularly revealing exchange --

Base_Ball_2: Why did you acquire Mike Stanton when you already had a more effective pitcher in Sanchez on the staff?
Sabean: Great question. We were very worried that we could abuse Sanchez's arm pitching him out of the bullpen. He's too good of a young talent and we very much needed to get him to Triple-A to start so he can return to the Major Leagues as a starting pitcher.

SF not on list of drunkest cities

It looks like the days of getting blind drunk at the Stick are indeed a thing of the past. Or maybe it's the price of brew at Mays Field and the surrounding establishments that kept San Francisco off this list.

MILWAUKEE (Aug. 24) - Milwaukee has been ranked by Forbes.com as "America's Drunkest City" on a list of 35 major metropolitan areas ranked for their drinking habits.
Forbes said Tuesday it used numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to rank cities in five areas: state laws, number of drinkers, number of heavy drinkers, number of binge drinkers and alcoholism.
Minneapolis-St. Paul was ranked second overall; followed by Columbus, Ohio; Boston; Austin, Texas; Chicago; Cleveland; Pittsburgh and then Philadelphia and Providence, R.I., in a tie for ninth.
Rick DeMeyer, 28, said Wednesday as he was celebrating his birthday at G-Daddy's BBC he could understand Milwaukee's ranking. "I have had people stay with me from London and Chicago, and they can't get over how much we drink," he said. "I guess we do."
But officials at Visit Milwaukee, the area's convention and visitors bureau, contend that the city has come a long way in ridding itself of its beer-guzzling image. Milwaukeeans have plenty of other ways to entertain themselves without drinking alcohol, said Dave Fantle, a spokesman for the group. He noted a new convention center and baseball park had been built and the Milwaukee Art Museum expanded in recent years.
"We've gone from Brew City to new city," he said.

MEMO TO DAVE FANTLE -- GIVE ME A BREAK.

It's not just me

I admit it. I'm still steamed about John Shea's extremely stupid observation in the Chronicle last month that Nomar Garciaparra's rebound with the Dodgers was one of the "feel-good" stories of the year -- ignoring Vizquel's outstanding play, Barry Bonds' HR No. 715 and Eliezer Alfonzo's success after a decade in the minors. How does this guy keep his job???? This is why newspapers are perceived as being on the decline -- a rock-hard inability to understand who their readers are. Six weeks later, I'm still stunned -- How could anyone who knows ANYTHING about the Giants believe that readers of the Chron's baseball coverage would want to be told that anything about the Dodgers is "feel-good"? Tell us about Frank Thomas or Jonathan Papelbon or Big Papi; JUST DON'T INSULT OUR INTELLIGENCE. What's the Chron's agenda, then? Quite frankly, it still feels as if their reporters are trying above all else to pump sales of "Game of Shadows."

And it's not just me being cranky. Sour Grapes noted the same earlier this week after Alfonzo stepped against the Dbacks --

Eliezer Alfonzo was amazing. He had the key hits in both games, a two out double last night to drive in the go ahead run in the eighth, and a triple to right center in the seventh today to drive in the game winner. He only got one hit today, but he was absolutely mashing the ball in every at bat. He is one of the great, unreported stories of this season. A decade in the minors, and suddenly, finally, he gets his chance, and the result has been remarkable. He’s not just adequate, he’s good, very good. And now he’s added clutch hitting to his resume. He is surely going to be the starting catcher next season. When are those hacks at the Chron going to write a feature article telling the story of his glacier-like trip to the major leagues?

Speaking of Fresno....

Lance Niekro will be back in a Giants uni in a week -- underlining Brian Sabean's single biggest failure this year in his complete inability to come up with a productive first baseman. The PEFA Commish at the excellent Sour Grapes site recently posted this extremely astute observation so I'm posting the whole thing:

Here are a couple of stat lines for two hitters. Can you identify them?

Player A -- 28 G, 107 AB, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .215 BA
Player B -- 30 G, 120 AB, 14 HR, 28 RBI, .317 BA

Need a hint? OK, think Giant first basemen. Player A is Shea Hillenbrand since he arrived in San Francisco. Player B is Lance Niekro's stats for the Fresno Grizzlies.

Timing is everything.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What the hell is Jonathan Sanchez still doing in Fresno, part 2

Tonight's 6-3 loss was particularly frustrating due to the fact that it was a winnable game until the pen took over. The pitching stats say it all --

Hennessey 5 IP, 5 hits, 2 ERs, 2 BBs, 2 Ks
Bullpen 4 IP, 5 hits, 4 ERS, 4 BBs, 7 Ks

Correia, Kline, Chulk, Stanton -- all INEFFECTIVE AKA infected with Blownitezitis. Why Brian Sabean and Felipe Alou expect these guys to be the second coming of Sandy Koufax against a good-hitting team like the Reds is beyond me. In the meantime, Jonathan Sanchez and Brian Wilson pitch meaningless games for the Fresno Grizzlies.

Here's the Sanchez line from last Saturday's game:
Sanchez 4.1 IP, 3 hits, 3 ERs, 1 BBs, 6 Ks

MEMO TO BRIAN SABEAN -- GET. SANCHEZ. TO. SAN. FRANCISCO. NOW.

4.5 games out, 34 to go.

Trivia time

I actually came up with this one myself a few years ago and have been reminding myself to post it after making the observation a few days about the Mets desperately seeking outfield help. Amaze your friends!

Q. Who's the only player to have played for the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers and Giants? (Hint -- they are the only teams he played for)

A. Darryl Strawberry

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Barry & 2007

I complained recently about the SF Chronicle's generally abysmal coverage of the Giants, particularly on the issue of analyzing Barry Bonds' performance. Fortunately, Martin Lee at Obsessive Giants Compulsive had posted a very strong analysis of this very issue. Today, Ray Ratto made a half-hearted attempt to take on the issue of whether Bonds will back via The Chron's Splash blog. The responses are pretty unremarkable including several idiotic observations by Dodger fans but I decided to post this site's first poll. Here's Ratto's post, which feels a bit like it was ordered up by an editor --

Barry Bonds' latest "State Of The Me, For Now Anyway" address was interesting if only to note that he has invoked his family as the dealmaker/dealbreaker on his return for 2007, and to that we can only say, "Well, sure, if you want to look at it that way."
What we suspect, in fact, is that the biggest factor in his return was, is and will remain his proximity to Henry Aaron, and his home run Monday night has successfully placed him in that agonizing middle ground that Peter Magowan always feared -- far enough away that the next contract would have to be considerable, but not so far away that he couldn't do it at all.
Bonds sits at 725, 31 away from passing Aaron, and it is reasonable to project him, even in his troubled post-All Star game stretch, for five more, which would put him essentially halfway between where he was and where he wants to get -- 22 out, 26 left. And Magowan, who would like the decision to be a simple one -- thanks for the memories, but we've decided to afford someone else -- is now sort of stuck, as you know he would be.
Baseball logic suggests -- no, demands, really -- that the Giants move on without him, or at the very least reduce his base pay by about 80 percent and give him an incentive-loaded one year deal. But Magowan, playing coy as ever, also plays the dewy-eyed romantic, and would like to be assured that if Bonds hits 756, he will do so for Magowan as opposed to, say, John Fisher.
So while everyone assumes that this is the end of the road for Bonds in San Francisco, we suggest, "Whoa there, Old Paint."
As you knew would happen, Bonds has hit just enough to keep Magowan interested, but not quite enough to make him collapse in a puddle of his own drool. With all due respect to Bonds' family, they're not the ones with a bad case of buyer's advanced remorse.


MEMO TO RAY RATTO -- I KNOW YOU DON'T WANT TO HURT SALES OF "GAME OF SHADOWS" BY SAYING ANYTHING POSITIVE ABOUT BONDS, BUT ISN'T IT WORTH NOTING THAT BONDS' CURRENT ONBASE % OF .451 IS THE HIGHEST IN THE ENTIRE MLB? (MANNY IS SECOND AT .445)

Dodger whining & gagging

After losing 13 of 14 and then lucking out with a 17-1 run, the Dodgers have gotten swept in San Diego and they went down in the usual Dodger style -- acting like pampered crybabies. They got butt-kicked 7-2 and saw Julio Lugo, Grady Little and Brad Penny all get tossed out -- Little for whining about being forced to remove Penny for going to the mound twice in an inning. Of course, most Dodger fans are divorced from reality. Here's one particularly embarrassing posting by someone named underdog at the Dodger Thoughts blog, who declares that the umps are "fascist" --

It actually started earlier in the game when Lugo was ejected after he tossed his helmet to the ground in disgust after being called out at that close play at first. He was very quickly tossed and seemed shocked - he and Duncan pleaded that he was just pissed he was out and wasn't showing up the umps. Then it escalated from there, with the home plate ump's very questionable strike zone, the aforementioned Grady Little double visit to the mound, and then the ump who followed Penny around when Penny was finally ejected and was being pushed off the field by his 'mates. Basically umps being a little fascist and quick-triggered, and erratic, and the Dodgers being frustrated at this series in general.

Giants now 4 out with 35 to go.

Nothing comes easy with these guys

Acutally, the only easy thing about today's 7-6 win at Mays Field was the Blownitez save with a 1-2-3 9th inning. I still would have rather seen Chulk, Sanchez, Kline, Correia, Beck or Nen out there.

4.5 games out, 35 games left.

This is how you man up

MEMO TO MR. BLOWNITEZ -- This is how adults deal with the kind of problems you're facing. When Steve Kline was asked about you, here's what he said:

"I feel bad for Papi," he said. "He's had a rough time here. He puts a little extra stress on himself. He comes into a situation up by four runs and that kind of hostility from the fans. It weighs on you as soon as you come to the ballpark. There are people out there actually rooting for him, but it's tough when people hate you. I'm in Papi's corner. We need him if we're going to make a run here."

Are the Mets insane?

Even though they are running away with the NL East, they signed Michael Tucker two weeks ago and just traded a prospect for Shawn Green. Now comes word via SI that they still want to trade for Moises Alou but that the Giants aren't all that keen to give him up, given that they still have a decent shot at the postseason --assuming Blownitez isn't given any more chances to lose games. (Notice how Fatmando's name never comes up in trade rumors?)

My take is that the Mets have no confidence in rookie Lastings Milledge and that Cliff Floyd, who's on the 15-day DL, must be done for the year if the Mets are still interested in a brittle 40-year-old outfielder who's been in only 69 games this year with 247 at bats. Who would have thought that at this point, Barry Bonds would have played in far more games (102) than Moises?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What the hell is Jonathan Sanchez doing in Fresno?

That was one UGLY 7-6 victory tonight at Mays Field. The Orange and Black's pitching line says it all --

Cain: 7 ip, 7 hits, 1 bb, 7 k's, 1 ER
Bullpen: 2 ip, 6 hits, 1 bb, 3 k's, 5 ER (1 hold, 1 win, 1 save)

Stanton, Blownitez and Kline were all culpable though Kline did manage to get the last out. I contend that Fatmando's crappy pitching and attitude has infected the entire pen. At any rate, there's plenty of live arms in Fresno like Brian Wilson and Jonathan Sanchez, who actually looked like he could pitch in the MLB. There are some other familiar names on the Grizzlies roster -- Niekro, Ellison, Merkin Valdez, Brian Cooper -- but Sanchez is the one who should be in San Francisco. NOW. Not a week from now. BUT NOW. The Giants are 5 back with 37 to go.

MEMO TO BRIAN SABEAN -- GET RID OF BLOWNITEZ NOW. JUST PUT HIM ON THE DL FOR A SPRAINED BRAIN MUSCLE AND BRING UP SANCHEZ. DO. IT. NOW.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Shades of Billy Martin

Not since Billy Martin was alive has a manager been duking it out with players but John Gibbons of the Blue Jays has apparently decided that it's OK to punch out your guys if they bother you. A month after going after Shea Hillenbrand and getting him traded to the Orange and Black, Gibbons was at it again by assaulting Ted Lilly, who had refused to leave the game after giving up 5 runs in less than 3 innings.

My point -- maybe Shea isn't the jerk that everyone made him out to be. Sportswriters take the side of management when it comes down to dissecting these kind of disputes, even when the manager is out of line.

I still like Omar

I noticed that the two players who played shortstop for the Giants for 13 straight seasons -- Royce Clayton (1991-95) and Rich Aurilia (1996-2003) were starting for the Reds tonight at SS and 1B. Neither is close to being the fielder that Omar Vizquel is, even at the age of 39. And his improved offense has been the one of the few pleasant surprises this year along with Cain showing he's moving into the top tier, Alfonzo's solid play and Durham's offense. Clayton is a non-entity on offense; Rich's defense has always been suspect. I must say that the Giants probably would have been better off with Aurilia at 1B all year.

Splash Hit No. 41

Barry Bonds got the Giants first Splash Hit of 2006 tonight off Livan Hernandez and 41st in the history of McCovey Cove, where there were no kayaks waiting. It turned out to be the only run the Giants needed as Noah Lowry was magical with a 3-hit shutout. Bonds had been in a 1-for-20 slump, which must be one of the worst stretches of his career.

According to this compilation the Giants web site, it was Bonds' 33rd Splash Hit. He got 23 of the first 25 (Felipe Crespo, of all people, got the other two). Michael Tucker also got two; Jose Cruz Jr., Randy Winn, J.T. Snow and A.J. Pierzitzky got the others. The Splash Hit was pretty scarce last year -- Bonds, Tucker and Winn had one each. Among opponents, there have been 13 HRs into the Cove -- 2 each by Cliff Floyd and Carlos Delgado. Fittingly, Brett Tomko is the only pitcher to have given up two such homers -- both as a Giant.

The Mets still have more Splash Hits (Delgado and Floyd got them in April) this year than the Giants. Hopefully, that's going to change soon.

Thanks to the Dodgers gagging tonight, the Giants are 6 out with 37 left.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I don't get it

Hey, Felipe -- What the hell is the point of keeping Matt Morris out there today in the 8th in a 3-0 game so he can give up a long double to Lofton and a longer 2-run HR to Garciaparra and put the game completely out of reach? Morris, who finished the 8th with 111 pitches, hadn't gone into the 8th since July 2. With Sept. 1 only 11 days away, I'm baffled as to why you would want to save the bullpen in a game that WAS still winnable. It's especially painful given the fact that Giants managed to get the winning run to the plate in the 9th after Bonds walked. And are Pedro Feliz and Eleizer Alfonzo EVER going to learn to hit a curve?

Actually, the game was closer than it should have been, thanks to a truly bonehead play by Rafael Furcal in the 5th. Lowe doubled, Furcal singled and stole second, then fell asleep when Lofton grounded to Hillenbrand at first. He was inexplicably 20 feet off second, so Hillenbrand threw to Vizquel for a double-play.

The only real bright spot was Jeff "Clubhouse Cancer" Kent gagging, going 0-for-4 and botching two consecutive grounders in the 9th -- the second a perfect double-play grounder by Vizquel that went right through the wickets, giving a little false hope and two runs at the end.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What's up with Barry?

One of the frustrations of following the Giants this year has been the utter lack of any coherent analysis of Barry Bonds' offensive performance. The Chronicle has been particuarly remiss; one would think that the paper would want to bend over backwards to find something positive to report other than continually hyping sales of Game of Shadows. It's a somewhat disgraceful situation, given that the two key questions for the Giants are -- can they still make the 2006 post-season?; and is Barry going to play in 2007 for the Orange and Black?

There's no help at Barrybonds.com, which hasn't been updated for a month. Instead, it's left to the so-called blogosphere to work it out. So on the one hand, he's leading of all of MLB with onbase percentage with .444, just ahead of Joe Mauer at .439 (though if you go to MLB, he won't be listed because he doesn't have the requisite average of 3.1 PAs). But his average is at an all-time low of .236 with 16 Hrs and 50 RBIs. He looks like he'll wind up with numbers somewhat similar to 1989, when he had 19HRs and 58 RBIs.

Martin Lee at Obsessive Giants Compulsive has a strong in-depth analysis that shows Bonds' skills may be declining at 42, but he remains formidable. Here are some key points --

-- He is putting the ball in play at the same percentage of first pitch, just down slightly (13.4% vs. previous three seasons of 14.4%, 16.4%, 14.3% or 1 AB per 100).

-- There is a slight increase in the number of AB and PA in 0-1 counts, though again about the same as before (43.3% vs. 42.6%, 40.2%, 31.0% AB; 37.9% vs. 36.1%, 29.3%, 29.4% for PA). So I was correct that there were more strikes that he is either taking or swinging, but that is only 1-2 AB/PA per 100, not a really big change and certainly not big enough to drop him from a .350+ hitter to a .250 hitter.

-- So no "conspiracy" as I had suspected, probably either just old age affecting him or perhaps he couldn't prepare for the season like he normally does that that threw him off his game/batting stroke.

--Batting average, OBP, and OPS has been in a general downslide each month of the season. The only plus is that his SLG is up this month but it was down horribly last month, to low .400; for contrast, that's where Vizquel's SLG is for this season!

-- Managers are still afraid of him: he's still getting close to the same percentage of intentional walks as he was in 2003 (9.8% vs. 11.3% of PA) though nowhere close to 2004 (19.8%). That's still a lot because for any other batter, a TOTAL walk rate of 10% of PA is very good and here he's being given these IBB at that rate and he still gets his other walks, some of which eventually become intentional but are not recorded as such.

-- He has hit way better at home (.256/.474/.545/1.019) than on the road (.226/.426/.425/.851). So perhaps the road fans are getting to him more than he lets on. And with a nice 9 game home stretch from tonight (after Giants beat dem Bums! 7-3!), his stats will look a lot better by the end of the month than it does now.

-- So it looks like time has finally caught up with him, just like it did with his godfather, Willie Mays. Mays went from hitting .288/.368/.556/.924 with 37 HR when he was 35 to hitting .263/.334/.453/.787 with 22 HR the next year.

Whatever happened to Tsuyoshi Shinjo?

Outside of the fine fielding plus the novelty factor, I remember that Tsuyoshi Shinjo's season with the Giants was something of a disappointment -- he only got 24 walks in 398 PAs, leading to a very low onbase percentage (.298) and had little power (.370 slugging). Once Lofton arrived at the trade deadline, Shinjo didn't have much to do. He got one hit in 6 ABs in the World Series. He'd had a decent season in 2001 with the Mets (.320 OBP, .404 SLG) ; I suppose that the hope was that he'd be the second coming of Ichiro; instead, he turned out to be no better than Calvin Murrary or Marvin Benard. He had an even worse season with the Mets in 2003 and that was the end of his MLB career.

So I was checking in on the usual Giants links and Lefty Malo has posted an intriguing link at the top of his blog titled "Never Mind Whatever I Do!!! Fan Is My Tresure!!!" It turns out it's a YouTube link, so I click on it -- turns out, as best I can figure since it's in Japanese, Shinjo's bizarre appearance in a recent All-Star game. At any rate, it's guarantee to entertain!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Penny meltdown

It's always immensely satisfying to see the Dodgers get butt-kicked. It's even more satisfying when it's against their alleged best pitcher.

Brad Penny has been dining off his two 2003 World Series victories for a long time. He's got an inflated reputation that led to his starting the All-Star Game this year. He's now gone 3-4 since the All-Star break; his ERA's gone from 2.91 to 3.70 as the Giants put up 6 runs against the so-called ACE OF THE DODGERS.

Q: What kind of pitcher gives up a 2-run HR to Omar Vizquel at Mays Field -- only his fourth of the year and his first in 266 ABs?
A: One who's gagging and running out of gas.

This just in -- Giants spend $2.1 million on 16-year-old

Here's a translation of an AP Spanish-language report filed earlier tonight about the Giants' signing, courtesy of a poster named richrifkin at the Baseball Primer newsblog --

SANTO DOMINGO (AP) - Will Angel Villalona be the next Dominican jewel in the big leagues?The San Francisco Giants are betting a $2.1 million pay out for the 16 year old prospect.The youngster received the second highest bonus in the history of the Dominican Republic, surpassed only by the $2.3 million that the New York Yankees granted to Wily Mo Peña in 1999"This means a lot to me. It's a dream made into reality," said Villalona in a telephone interview with the AP.Villalona stands six feet and three inches of height (1.92 meters) and weighs 200 pounds.According to the talent scouts responsible for his signing, his potential is enormous."This youth has some tremendous abilities, he has enormous power, good hands and an above average arm," said Pablo Peguero, head scout of the Giants for Latin America.In fact, Peguero went so far as to compare the prospect with stars that today serve in the Big Leagues."I signed Adrian Beltré at 16 years old; Raúl Mondesí at the same age and nearly had Vladimir Guerrero and Alfonso Soriano and none of them had the abilities of Villalona at his age," affirmed the veteran talent scout.Villalona expressed that the Giants were not the team that offered the most money, but their dealings with him convinced him.One of four brothers of divorced parents, Villalona comes from La Romana, in the East of the country.He will travel to the United States in September, and the Giants already have in mind a date for his debut in the Big Leagues."This youth is going to be like Beltré, and in three years I believe that he's going to be in the majors," sustained Peguero.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

If you don't like it, then get out of here

The tens of readers of this blog may be wondering why I don't allow un-moderated posting. It's simple -- I don't want to deal with sociopaths. The only time I've ever not posted comments was when some weasely Padres fan tried to post a profanity-tinged tirade about my take on how Padres fans are a bunch of crybabies.

MEMO TO PSYCHOTICS -- GO AWAY. IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, LEAVE. AND GET A LIFE WHILE YOU'RE AT IT.

Suh-weep!

The San Diego Padres are getting what they deserve -- a four-game sweep by the Giants -- as karmic retribution not just for cheering their pitchers throwing beanballs at Bonds and acting like a bunch of spoiled crybabies back in early July. But it's also for retiring Sleazebag Steve Garvey's number.

For those of you with short memories, the LA Times published a great piece on April 9 on the Garv, AKA The Biggest Weasel in Baseball. The story showed he's a serial liar and ripoff artist who steals from everyone -- so much so that his lawyers were DEMANDING to be paid up front. It's no longer available for free online. Here's an excerpt --

At the website promoting him as a motivational speaker, it says that Garvey's "playing field has changed from the baseball diamond to corporate boardrooms and lecture halls, but the integrity, intensity and the devotion for which this future Hall of Famer is famous for is the same." A promotional DVD shows him standing at a lectern in a sharply pressed suit, the picture of success. In speeches laden with baseball analogies, he talks about teamwork and setting goals. But that image is at odds with Garvey's financially turbulent private life. A review of more than two dozen court files in California and Utah shows that he's had money troubles dating back at least a decade.

The Garveys drove luxury cars, shopped in upscale boutiques and traveled extensively even as they were pursued by creditors. Garvey’s gardener took him to small claims court to recover $1,773. A mirror installer did the same over $809. A caterer received a court order to seize valuable artwork from the Garveys until they paid her $14,000 bill.
Garvey owes attorneys more than $300,000, according to court records.
Many a former athlete has fallen on hard times, but Garvey — known during his Dodger days as “Mr. Clean” — is different. As his own financial troubles deepened, he continued to cast himself as a principled and accomplished businessman, charging up to $10,000 to give motivational speeches.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How long can this go on?

That's the Blownitez we know. After lulling us with saves Monday and Tuesday, he faced his first batter -- some loser named Ben Johnson -- and gave a homerun in the 10th to blow yet another save. How can Felipe keep doing this? It's amazing that the team managed to gut it out for a 7-5 vic in the 13th, capped by a bases-loaded walk by Feliz, the last guy you'd expect to deliver that outcome. "Now the moon will fall out of the sky," I thought.

The whole Blownitez situation reminds me of good-looking women with lousy personalities. They still get plenty of attention because guys can't help themselves even though deep down they know they should move on.

MEMO TO FELIPE ALOU AND BRIAN SABEAN -- LISTEN TO THE WISDOM OF THIS SONG CALLED "WHY ME" BY DELBERT McCLINTOCK. THEN GET RID OF THIS LOSER.

I met her in a night club over on the lower east side
I was workin' with my head down tryin' to keep the groove alife
She looked like a bunny out of Playboy magazine
I just had to meet her; she was the cutest thing I'd ever seen

She had high heel boots, blonde hair and big blue eyes
The way she was movin' to the music had me hypnotized
I ran up to her, said "Baby, what's your name?"
I should've known better; now I've only got myself to blame

I said why, why, why me?
Fallin' like this is the very last thing I need
If I had any sense, you know, I'd turn right around and leave
I said why, why, why me?

Started drinkin' champagne, makin' every joint in town
Bam! A hundred dollars every time I turned around
'Bout the time my money ran out, you know, my honey was gone
And I was cryin' out loud to myself, as I was walkin' home

I said why, why, why me?
Fallin' like this is the very last thing I need
If I had any sense, you know, I'd turn right around and leave
I said why, why, why me?

The return of the sucking sound

The Marlins clobbered the Dodgers 15-4 this afternoon at Chavez Latrine -- hopefully putting an end to the worshipful tone of local sports "coverage" of recent vintage. Those with weak stomachs may want to look away. Here's Ben Bolch's lead in the LA Times from last night:

It may not be long now before the Dodgers are partying like it's 1899. They'd certainly settle for 1988, the last year they won a World Series title, but with a cast of new and unlikely heroes continually emerging to lead this charge, there's no telling how deep historians might have to plunge into the record books before this season ends.

MEMO TO BEN BOLCH -- I GOT A HEADACHE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR LEAD MEANT. WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT YOUR TWIST ON SOME LAME PRINCE SONG? YOU ARE A HACK AND A WEASEL.

"Good times never seemed so good"

Henry Schulman reports in his recap of tonight's 3-2 victory over the Padres that the Giants -- led by Mark Sweeney -- actually serenaded reporters in the Petco visitors clubhouse after the game with Neil Diamond's cornball but catchy "Sweet Caroline." Is Sweet Caroline the name of Jose Vizcaino's wife? If they keep the streak going will they sing it after every game? Should we demand that it be the entrance music for Armando Blownitez?

I guess I could learn to like the song. At least, it's an improvement on "We Are Family," which the 1979 Pirates drove into the ground. For you optimists out there, here are the lyrics:

Where it began
I can't begin to knowin
But then I know its growin strong
Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along
Hands, touchin hands
Reachin out
Touchin me
Touchin you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I
Look at the night
And it dont seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurtin runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I'm with you
Warm, touchin warm
Reachin out
Touchin me
Touchin you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
To believe they never would
Oh, no, no
Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I've been inclined
I believed they never could

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The last straw

Kevin Roderick at the excellent LA Observed blog posted earlier today that Vin Scully (who may have declined slightly but remains miles ahead of Rick Monday and Charlie Steiner) had seen the Vizcaino ouster coming --

Vinny called it: In the top of the 9th during Sunday's game, Vin Scully observed the pitch-by-pitch rise in Giants manager Felipe Alou's unhappiness with pinch hitter Jose Vizcaino. The score was 0-0 and the Giants had a guy on, so Vizcaino was supposed to bunt. When he took a good pitch, Scully caught that Alou was not happy. Same when Vizcaino fouled one off. We could all see Alou's disgust when Vizcaino finally bunted so poorly that pitcher Brett Tomko got the lead runner at second base. Vizcaino was cut the next day. Wouldn't surprise me if the Dominican ex-Dodger's pretty nifty career (for a .270 hitter with no sock) is over after 18 seasons and 1,804 games. Jose has played for seven teams, including L.A. twice, and had 104 post-season at-bats. Twice he was traded with Jeff Kent, to the Indians and the Giants.

Monday, August 14, 2006

GIANTS START WINNING STREAK!!!!!

Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
Let us sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

Altogether shout it now!
There's no one who can doubt it now
So let's tell the world about it now
Happy days are here again

Your cares and troubles are gone;
There'll be no more from now on
Happy days are here again
The skies above are clear again
Let us sing a song of cheer again
Happy days are here again

-- Jack Yellen (1929)

What a pair of crybaby weasels

As I listened to the Padres-Giants game on XM tonight, Padres hack announcer Ted Leitner (who, along with Jerry Coleman, is inexcusably bad) decided he was going to bash Bonds by saying, "If you talk to Giants players off the record, they'll say they're sick of Bonds." So it's come to this, where any loser in a third-rate market can make up anything about Bonds without any accountability.

MEMO TO TED LEITNER -- IS THIS LIKE THE WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IN IRAQ? ARE WE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THAT A LOSER WEASEL LIKE YOU IS SO TIGHT WITH GIANTS PLAYERS THAT THEY WOULD SAY ANYTHING TO YOU? WHY DON'T YOU JUST RETIRE AND DO US ALL A FAVOR? I HEAR YOUR BUDDY STEVE GARVEY HAS A GREAT INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU.

And even if the Giants lose tonight, it's a good day. Jose Vizcaino has finally been designated for assignment so that Kevin Fransden get another try at hitting MLB pitching -- something that Jose could no longer do. However, he went out whining like a baby after driving in a grand total of 5 runs and wasting 119 ABs this year. Here's part of the story from MLB.com:

Veteran Vizcaino admitted frustration over lack of playing time, getting only 119 at-bats, but thought the move was a good thing. "I don't care if they do that to me because I'm not playing here," he said, moments after Alou told him the news. "I've never been on a team where I'm playing every two weeks. I didn't want this to happen, but I'm very happy it happened. I was not happy here." Vizcaino, who has played for seven teams in his 16-year career, was hitting .210 for San Francisco over 64 games and only .118 in his last 10 starts. As a pinch-hitter, he was 2-for-21. "If you don't play, you don't show what you can do," said Vizcaino, who lives in San Diego and has already scheduled golf dates this week. "I didn't ask for it, but I was not surprised. How can you help a team sitting on the bench doing nothing?"

MEMO TO JOSE VIZCAINO -- LET ME LAY IT OUT FOR YOU, MAN TO CRYBABY: THE REASON YOU WEREN'T PLAYING IS THAT YOU SUCK. WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It Hurts Me, Too

This current 3-15 stretch by the Giants has been about as agonizing a period for fans of the Orange and Black as I can remember. Of the 15 losses that started with the 6-5 loss to the Padres on July 23 featuring the first of three consecutive blown saves by Blownitez, 10 of the 15 losses have been by one run. I would like to think that bad breaks -- such as Greg Maddux' lucky snag tonight of Bonds shot in the first inning tonight -- have contributed somewhat this ongoing awfulness. It also means that the Padres are about to suffer big time.

So, as the tens of readers of this blog know, another Giants loss means another posting of appropriate song lyrics -- "It Hurts Me, Too" by Elmore James:

You said you was hurting, almost lost your mind,
And the man you love, he hurts you all the time.
When things go wrong, go wrong with you, it hurts me, too.

You love him more when you should love him less.
I pick up behind him and take his mess.
When things go wrong, go wrong with you, it hurts me, too.

He love another woman and I love you,
But you love him and stick to him like glue.
When things go wrong, go wrong with you, it hurts me, too.

Now you better leave him; he better put you down.
Oh, I wont stand to see you pushed around.
When things go wrong, go wrong with you, it hurts me, too.



55 years ago

After winning the first game of a doubleheader against the second-place Giants on Aug. 11, 1951, Brooklyn led by 13 1/2 games. The Giants then closed with a 37-7 run that included a 16-game winning streak and won a 3-game playoff, culminated by Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard Round The World.

TRIVIA TIME -- WHO WAS ON DECK AT THAT POINT? A 20-year-old rookie named Mays.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Aren't we funny?

One of the more painful aspects of living in Los Angeles -- which does indeed merit the label of entertainment capitol of the world -- is the sense that many people are in a constant audition to be discovered as talented, entertaining and witty even though they are none of those. I've come to this conclusion partly due to thousands of encounters with Dodger fans at Dodger Stadium -- they do one thing well, which is sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Other than that, they are truly the stupidest sports fans anywhere, obsessed with batting around beach balls (play stopped half a dozen times today), doing the Wave even when the other team is up (Vizquel drove in the Giants 5th run today while the crowed was doing the Wave), mis-understanding strategy (such as the need to walk the No. 8 hitter with a man on 2nd and two out) and leaving well before the game's over even on Friday nights and Saturday days. What's truly pathetic, though, are the feeble attempts at humor such as today when Bonds was up in the 7th and someone in Loge 119 yelled out, "How's your father, Barry?" followed by appreciate chuckles from his seatmates. Readers of this blog will be hard-pressed to believe that my opinion of Dodger fans could go any lower, but it has. MEMO TO THE "COMEDIAN" IN LOGE 119: I WISH IT WERE WITHIN MY POWER TO HOOK YOU UP WITH BARRY SO YOU COULD ASK HIM THAT QUESTION TO HIS FACE.

Calling J.T. Snow

As I watched JD Drew's hard grounder get past Shea Hillenbrand in the 8th inning of last night's game at Chavez Latrine, I couldn't help but wonder -- How could the Giants be any worse off if they had just decided to opt for the fine infield defense of J.T. Snow? As a Giants fan, it was impossible not think that J.T. would have snagged it, even with having to backhand the ball. As it turned out, that hit led to the dismal Julio Lugo driving in the winning run. And what's particularly bothersome is that it's hard to believe Snow would have contributed less offensively than the combination of duds (Lance Niekro, Jose Vizcaino, Mark Sweeney and Shea) that have wasted plate appearances when they've started at first base this year. I'm still a bit baffled as to why Travis Ishikawa wasn't viewed as a viable option. It looked like he was able to hit MLB pitching, unlike Vizcaino. For those of you who haven't kept up, J.T.'s time this year with the Bosox was a minor fiasco. So now, according to this story filed about a week ago by the Chron's Henry Schulman, he's hanging out at home in Hillsborough and saying he'd like to give it another shot in 2007. I say -- sign him in 3 weeks when the rosters expand and stick him in for defensive situations like last night.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The wisdom of Bill Veeck

After the 1964 season, when Sports Illustrated really was a premiere publication rather than the monument to obviosity that it's become, the mag ran a fascinating five-part series by Bill Veeck that was later turned into The Hustler's Handbook. The part that stuck with me all these years was his description of the events leading up to the Yankees' loss to the Cards in the 1964 Series.

Veeck's key point was that Ralph Houk, who had been kicked upstairs to be GM that year from the manager's slot, was ill-suited to perform the task. He noted that the very qualities that made Houk a good manager -- devotion to a set plan and ability to inspire loyalty among the players -- were not very helpful to a GM, whose key role is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Veeck argued that changing one's plan wasn't a sign of weakness but a sign of real leadership. The Yanks unravelled in 1965 and Veeck looked like a genius.

I recalled this due to a brilliant post today at McCovey Chronicles by someone named howtheyscored in reaction to the 5-3 loss to Arizona. Outstanding analysis!

It's what I call the Marquis Grissom effect.
See, the last year and a half that Grissom was a Giant a funny thing happened. 1) He was getting older, 2) he didn't adjust his game to the fact that he couldn't run or hit for power anymore, and 3) with guys on base he'd try to get the hits that he wasn't physically capable of getting with regularity (homeruns, doubles, triples).
The result was that he'd overextend his swing and drop weak ground balls to the shortstop every time. Funny thing is that when nobody was on base, he'd approach the at bat like he was trying to hit an easy line drive for a single, and a lot of the time he'd even end up on second.
Pedro Feliz doesn't really fall into this because 1) he's not quite old enough and 2) he's always been privy to the GIDP, but guys like Durham (when he's not red hot), Alou, and Finley are all falling serious prey to the Grissom Effect. To have one guy who GIDP like it's his fix and three guys who do it because they're not adjusting their games to their ages, plus a cleanup hitter who is striking out and popping up more than he ever has in his career, your team is doomed to being crippled by the useless out/double play ball.
Interestingly enough, Omar Vizquel has really come on strong in this second half and I attribute it to the fact that he knows he's older, he knows he's not going to hit for power, and he knows that as his body gets farther into a season he won't be able to leg out the doubles or the triples quite as well. As a result he's approaching every at bat like he just wants to get on base and he is consistently getting line drive singles back up the middle, like a real, smart baseball player who understands his body and his age and the importance of baserunners to score runs would do.
If the Giants would go through an inning getting five solid singles and three runs based on the Omar Vizquel Antidote to the Grissom Effect, we might start winning ballgames.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

GIDPx5

How does a team get 15 hits and only score 3 runs? By grounding into 5 double plays. Moises managed to do it twice tonight; Pedro, Shea and Eleizer were the other offenders. Every team must have one or two games a year like this but the timing on this one stunk.

TRIVIA TIME -- WHO HOLDS THE MLB RECORD FOR MOST GIDPs? The answer is Joe Torre with four. As a Met, he managed to turn the trick after four straight Felix Millan singles.

Dodgers starting another losing streak

The Dodgers managed to end their stupid 11-game winning streak tonight by gagging in a variety of exciting ways --
--Jeff "Clubhouse Cancer" Kent popped up with the bases loaded in the eighth inning.
-- The Dodgers appeared to have Matt Holliday caught in a rundown between third base and home on a double-steal attempt, but Russell Martin gagged and couldn't handle a flip from third baseman Wilson Betemit and Holliday scored.
-- Julio Lugo was picked off first base in the first inning and thrown out attempting to steal home in the fourth.
--J.D. "Crybaby" Drew left in the fourth inning because of a mild strain in his left quadriceps suffered when he charged in on a fly ball an inning earlier. Without a trace of irony, the LA Times said "Drew was listed as day to day but said it was too early to determine if the injury was serious."

MEMO TO THE LA TIMES -- SINCE YOU'VE OBVIOUSLY BEEN EDITING THE PAPER FROM A CAVE, LET ME POINT OUT TO YOU THAT IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATE TO MENTION THE NUMBER OF DISABLED LIST VISITS BY J.D. SINCE HIS NAME GOES WITH THE D.L. LIKE "TOMMY LASORDA" WITH "FAT AND OBNOXIOUS."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ledee: that's French for loser

Having never been a particularly good baseball player, I respect how hard it it is to play at the big league level and the kind of effort it takes. Though MLB players make it look easy, it becomes clear if you watch long enough that the game requires maximum effort. That's why I greatly respect most MLB players. Except Ricky Ledee, who was just picked up by the Mets. Ricky decided to dog it when he got traded to SF in 2004 for Felix Rodriguez. He whined about how he didn't like it in SF and then guaranteed that he wouldn't come back by going 6 for 53 with 4 RBIs. That's a .113 batting average in a year when the Giants were in the race for the postseason until the day before the regular season ended (thanks again, Cody Ransom). If you check out his career stats, they're nothing out of the ordinary but they're also way above his two months in the Orange and Black. The Mets are so far ahead this year that he probably won't have much impact anyhow.

AP's story on the Mets' signing Ledee was a typical boring AP hack job that failed to mention anything about his dismal performance as a Giant and his crybaby behavior.

MEMO TO RICKY LEDEE -- YOU ARE A LAZY JERK AND A WEASEL WHO'S HAD WAY TOO MUCH GOOD LUCK, PARTICULARLY GIVEN THE WAY YOU DECIDED TO SCREW OVER THE GIANTS AND THEIR FANS IN 2004. IF THERE'S ANYONE WHO DESERVES TO HAVE A SEASON-ENDING INJURY, IT'S YOU.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Livan out the important stuff

Bad joke in the headline here ... I'm trying to make a pun on Livan getting traded and how the AP story leaves out the important stuff rather than making a reference to a song by The Band that includes the lyric "He shall be Livan."

The tens of readers of this blog may not know it, but tonight's Associated Press story is very indicative of why AP is often barely adequate. Here's the key paragraph --

Hernandez has been a workhorse since he entered the majors in 1996. He is on pace to make 30 or more starts for the ninth consecutive year and regularly surpasses 200 innings. He was the World Series MVP for the champion Florida Marlins in 1997 and later pitched for the San Francisco Giants.

A decent reporter might have added the phrase --"and was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series." But AP, which is run as a nonprofit cooperative, is nothing if not bland. It just goes to show that if it's a story about the Giants, but it doesn't involve Bonds, sportswriters don't really care since it's NOT about the Yankees, Red Sox or Cubs. Even though reporting such a fact about Livan's inconsistency and his gagging in a big game might partly explain why he's not exactly a hot commodity anymore.

As I understand it, the Dbacks have burned out their pen. So their solution is to get a guy who's fallen apart since the middle of last year, has an ERA well over 5.00 and has gotten his 50 wins over the last four years by playing for a team that was never anywhere near a playoff berth. Sounds a good deal less than brilliant.

By the way -- thanks again, Livan and Dusty, for gagging the Giants out of the World Series.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Thanks MLB for not having a blast

A friend asked me about the Willie Mays blasting cap PSA on YouTube, which I posted a link to in June, so I looked back for it and found that it's been pulled by request of MLB for violation of copyright.

Silly me. I thought MLB had other things to do besides let us have some fun watching Willie smash the ball and then tells kids not to play with blasting caps.

Here's the link if you want to check it out.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

It's not over for the Orange and Black

No way, not even after the horrific 1-11 stretch we've just seen. Hopefully today's 6-2 thumping of the Rockies, thanks largely to ace-like pitching by Cain and Chulk, will give the Giants some momentum on this road trip. They are only 5 games behind the Padres.

John Perricone at Only Baseball Matters makes this very point in a posting today --

The division is so bad that the Giants actually still have hope. However, the team is so bad that, even if it made the postseason, it would take a miracle to make any noise. They would be underdogs, in some cases, huge underdogs to any team they faced. But, and it's a big but, anything can happen in a seven-game series. Any team can beat any other team.
All that's left for Sabean to do is to scour the waiver wire reports in the hope that somebody makes a big mistake and leaves a decent hitter or pitcher or whatever out there for him to scoop up on the cheap..... AAA--HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!


It's worth noting that Cain struck out 12 and walked one; Chulk has now rung up five 1-2-3 innings since joining the team two weeks ago (According to one poster at McCovey Chronicles today, Blownitez has managed six 1-2-3 innings all season). Should the team somehow get to the playoffs, that kind of pitching is often what wins games.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A win on Sunday? Why not?

(Warning -- potentially offensive and tasteless commentary) The Giants have to win again sometime. Why not today? These are the Rockies, AKA the Colorado Hypocrites, after all -- a team that prefers players of a specific religion, bans Playboy from the club house, and are owned by a right-wing beer baron alcoholic who managed to get busted in his own driveway for drunk driving. I'm sure the Rockies feel like God is on their side, so perhaps after their services, they may be a tad overconfident, particularly given their 10-7 record so far this year in Sunday games.

I'm no expert in theology but I'm pretty sure that if God is watching baseball games, God doesn't really care who wins.

Kulpa = Blownitez

Ron "People Are Here to See Me" Kulpa, Aug. 4 -- "Barry didn't like strike two," said Kulpa. "He thought it was down and I told him it was not down. It was a good pitch and I've been calling that pitch all night. We talked ... it was getting heated. I gave Barry a lot of rope in that situation, as it was a big part of the ballgame. He crossed the line, and when you cross the line, I have a job to do."

Armando Blownitez, July 26, after back-t0-back Blown Saves -- "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."

MEMO TO ARMANDO AND RON -- I HAVE A JOB FOR BOTH OF YOU, THOUGH I'M SKEPTICAL EITHER OF YOU CAN HANDLE IT. LET'S START YOUR TRAINING WITH A KEY PHRASE: "WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT?"

Friday, August 04, 2006

In memory of Eric Gregg

I hate showboat umpires. They are the ultimate in unprofessionalism. I do not spend my hard earned money and limited leisue time in hopes that I get to see an umpire take over a game. That's why I've been delighted over the installation of Questec machines in recent years to weed out the guys who can't call strike zones. I knew this was a good move when Curt "Crybaby" Schilling started whining about it.

So I've always detested Eric Gregg, who became a legend for essentially giving away Game 6 of the 1997 NLCS to the Marlins with his super-wide strike zone. He was everything an umpire should not be -- not only incompetent but far worse, he made himself the center of attention, rather than the players. He was a truly pathetic hack, complete with made-to-order quotes for lazy sportswriters.

Unfortunately, umpires still feel the need to show up players as Ron Kulpa did tonight in the bottom of the 9th when he tossed Bonds on a 2-2 count -- after making a crappy call on a 2-1 pitch, jawing the Bonds, letting him get set for the next pitch and then deliberately delaying the game so he could brush the plate, toss a few more insults at Bonds and throw him out. That led to an 11-minute delay as fans littered Mays Field with debris. My take -- had Kulpa been correct about how he handled the situation and had Bonds been truly out of line, the umps would have forefeited the game at that point. So it's telling that they didn't.

The Chronicle's Splash blog has two takes on it -- Mike Wolcott says Kulpa was a jerk and Bruce Jenkins says Bonds "blew it" and is a jerk. I vote for Kulpa being a jerk. Congratulations, Ron -- you're headed for Eric Gregg immortality as a complete loser.

MEMO TO BRUCE JENKINS -- YOU ARE A WEASEL. THE GAME IS ON THE LINE AND THE UMP BASICALLY GOADS BONDS INTO VERBAL RETALIATION. DOESN'T IT SEEM REASONABLE THAT AN UMP -- AFTER MAKING A CRAPPY CALL -- SHOULD CUT A PLAYER A LITTLE SLACK WITH THE GAME ON THE LINE? AND BY THE WAY, CAN YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES AT THE CHRON PLEASE STOP SEIZING ON EVERY POSSIBLE OPPORTUNITY TO ATTACK EVERYTHING THAT BONDS DOES? YES, WE ALL KNOW THAT YOU HAVE TO PROMOTE "GAME OF SHADOWS" BUT DOING IT THIS WAY MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE EVEN MORE OF A HACK THAN YOU ALREADY ARE.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Good old boys

The Giants announced today that Mike Matheny's out for the rest of the year due to lingering concussion problems. He may be forced to retire at the age of 36 and that's a shame.

When I started rooting for the Giants in 1958, that was seriously old for a ballplayer. With only 16 MLB teams, it wasn't uncommon for guys to stop playing once they got to 35. The injuries were often debilitating. In 1951, Joe Dimaggio had retired at 36. Ralph Kiner retired in 1955 at the age of 32. Al Rosen was done in 1956 at the age 34. Rocky Colavito -- finished at age 34 in 1968.

But Matheny's certainly not that old these days -- at least, not in comparison with the rest of the team. You probably know that the Giants have MLB's first 40-plus OF in history (Bonds, Finley, Alou) but there's more -- every position player on the team except Linden and Alfonzo is over 30; Vizquel and Stanton will be 40 next year; Durham will be 35; five of the other pitchers are over 30 (Schmidt, Morris, Kline, Wright and Blownitez).

Aside from Vizcaino and The Fat Weasal, veterans are usually supposed to equal poise and clutch play but a poster named +mia on the Only Baseball Matters site makes a good point that Brian Sabean may be a bit too enamored with the idea.

It is no accident that so many Giants happen to have San Francisco as their last stop before exiting MLB. Tucker, Reuter, JT. Snow, Alfonzo, and Grissom, represent the class of 2005. Five starters in 2005 are now out of baseball. Thats right; Five starters from 2005 are now out of baseball. Include relievers Jason Christiensen, Jeff Fassero who are unemployed, and Jim Brower who is in AAA in that head count and you have more than 1/3 of a major league roster, that are now out of the major leagues.
Only J.T. Snow was not signed under Sabean's watch. That is stunningly bizzare.
Next year threatens to be almost as bizzare with Matheny, Bonds, possibly Moises Alou, Steve Finley, and Jose Viscaino and possibly others hanging it up within the next 12 months--either voluntarily or involuntarily.

The KEY move of the game

So with the score 8-6 with 2 out in the 9th after Hennessy gave up a 3-run HR, Felipe decides to torture Giants fans a bit more and bring in Blownitez. Fortunately, he quickly realized the error of his ways. Let's recap, shall we?

Top 9TH B:0 S:0 O:2Pitcher Change: Armando Benitez replaces Brad Hennessey, batting 9th.
Top 9TH B:4 S:2 O:2Austin Kearns walks.
Top 9TH B:0 S:0 O:2Pitcher Change: Mike Stanton replaces Armando Benitez, batting 9th.
Top 9TH B:0 S:0 O:2Offensive Substitution: Pinch hitter Alex Escobar replaces Ryan Church.
Top 9TH B:0 S:3 O:3Alex Escobar called out on strikes.

Shea hey?

I hope that Aneel at Trapped in LA isn't correct but he makes an excellent point that Brian Sabean may have been overly dazzled by Shea Hillenbrand's excessively strong performance against the Giants. It's hard to believe that the Giants were in first place when Shea arrived 10 days ago. Now they're in last place. Here's the key part of Aneel's post --

Hillenbrand has been a monster when he plays the Giants, batting .432 (19-for-44) with a .510 OBP and 10 RBI in his most recent 12 games against San Francisco. Never mind that his career OBP is .327, or that he's never hit more than 20 home runs or walked more than 26 times in a season."Get that guy! I've never seen him play poorly!" Well, perhaps that's because you've never seen him play anyone besides the Giants.Well, we've all seen him play poorly now... he's 0-for-10 with RISP since joining the Giants, and oh yeah, SF is 1-8 in games he's played.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tomorrow is another day

As much as I might want to wallow in misery over the 9-game losing streak, I want to remind the tens of readers of this site that there's another game tomorrow afternoon. And since Blownitez pitched tonight -- getting a meaningless 1-2-3 in the 9th with the score 4-1, then doing a "bring it on" gesture to the booing fans at Mays Field -- perhaps he won't pitch tomorrow if there's a save situation.

Since no one's complained about the song lyrics theme, I've decided to post the oh-so-appropriate words to the Allman Brothers great song "Whipping Post."

I've been run down and I've been lied to.
And I don't know why, I let that mean woman make me a fool.
She took all my money, wrecks my new car.
Now she's with one of my good time buddies,
They're drinkin in some cross-town bar.
Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,
Like I been tied to the whippin post.
Tied to the whippin post, tied to the whippin post.
Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin.

My friends tell me, that I've been such a fool.
But I had to stand by and take it baby, all for lovin you.
Drown myself in sorrow as I look at what you've done.
But nothing seemed to change, the bad times stayed the same,
And I can't run.
Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,
Like I been tied to the whippin post.
Tied to the whippin post, tied to the whippin post.
Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin.
Sometimes I feel, sometimes I feel,
Like I been tied to the whippin post.
Tied to the whippin post, tied to the whippin post.
Good Lord, I feel like I'm dyin.