Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Rolling Stones tell it like it is

This is a song written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in 1977 for the "Some Girls" album. I'm sure that reading the SF Chronicle's garbage stories written by John Shea, Burce Jenkins, Ray Ratto and Gwen Knapp would be far easier if you have this playing at the same time --

Lies, dripping off your mouth like dirt
Lies, lies in every step you walk
Lies, whispered sweetly in my ear
Lies, how do I get out of here?
Why, why you have to be so cruel?
Lies, lies, lies I ain't such a fool!

Lies, lies in my papa's looks
Lies, lies in my history books
Lies, lies like they teach in class
Lies, lies, lies I catch on way too fast
Fire, fire upon your wicked tongue
Lies, lies, lies you're trying to spoil my fun

Lies, lies you dirty jezebel
Why, why, why, why don't you go to hell?
Why, why you think me such a fool?
Lies, lies, lies honey that's ya rules!
Lies, lies, lies, lies, oh my lies, ...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What a lazy dingbat, part 4

The SF Chronicle/John Shea hate train just keeps chugging along. To show how blinded he is by hatred of Bonds, he doesn't even bother to call Bonds' agent Jeff Booris in his breathless story about the termination clause in Bonds' contract if Barry gets indicted -- which is largely cribbed from the AP's Ronald Blum.

The only problem is that the story again is WRONG, in terms of making it appear that this is a unique deal. Jeff Booris tells Barry Bloom of that 1. it's not as simple as the stories say because 2. termination clauses are standard in every player's contract -- a fact that's left out of the AP and Chronicle reporting.

Additionally, the stories insist that Bonds has given up the right to file a grievance if he's indicted -- which Booris denies and ridicules. "A provision like that is unenforceable," Borris said. "It's a right granted to every player under the Basic Agreement."

It can't be that hard to track down Booris but these reporters just don't feel like they have to try to make their story accurate.

And as long as I'm slamming John Shea for being a lazy hack, let me point out that he's never mentioned the other on-the-record denial in the Sweeney situation from Gene Orza on Jan. 12 -- "I don't comment on the drug program, and I've never heard Barry Bonds blame anybody for anything," Gene Orza, the union's chief operating officer, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Whatever the truth is, you can count on the SF Chronicle not to tell it.

They just can't stop lying

Gwen Knapp of the SF Chronicle decides to take the same shameful route as John Shea in today's pedestrian recap of the Bonds' signing. There's no actual reporting -- just yet another reference to the discredited NY Daily News story ("Evil Bonds blames Sweeney for positive greenies test") but a complete absence of the one undisputed fact that's come out since the story broke -- that Mark Sweeney has said explicitly that it's not true.

It's no wonder the Giants players give the Chronicle reporters nothing but canned quotes. If the Chronicle were a real newspaper, she'd be fired. Unfortunately, the Chron is not a real paper any more.

What a lazy dingbat, part 3

The San Francisco Chronicle's hatefest towards Barry Bonds and the Giants continues as the paper abandons any pretense of fairness, integrity and journalistic standards. If you don't believe me, take a look at John Shea's updated story on the Bonds' signing. Once again, Shea places more importance on an unsourced rumor (possibly fed to the NY Daily News by the commissioner's office) that Bonds accused Mark Sweeney of supplying him with greenies. And there's no mention in the story of Sweeney's explicit on-the-record denial. Shea had a second chance to get it right when he updated the story. Did he? Do you even need to ask? Here's the key part of the story from Shea AKA the lazy hack dingbat weasel --

The latest drug-related revelation came Jan. 11 when the New York Daily News reported Bonds failed an amphetamine test in 2006 and suggested it was because of a substance taken from teammate Mark Sweeney's locker.
After the story broke, the Giants considered backing out of the deal, club sources said -- in baseball circles, dragging a teammate into such a mess is considered more damning than a flunked amphetamine test -- but the Giants resumed negotiations after deciding the Bonds-Sweeney issue wouldn't bring down the team.
"Mark Sweeney never did anything wrong, period," said Bonds, who denied blaming Sweeney or taking any substance from his locker.

If you read that and didn't know that Sweeney had issued the denial of the article's allegation at the Jan. 19 fan-fest, you'd presume that Sweeney agreed with the allegation. Again, here's what Sweeney said -- Basically it's something that never happened," he said. "My name somehow got linked to it and it wasn't through Barry. I don't blame Barry for this and I don't know where it came from."

So we have the spectacle of the person who's in the best position to know 1. explicitly denying the story on the record and 2. getting ignored repeatedly by the hometown paper in favor of repeating a discredited lie.

Again, it's obvious that the Chronicle has decided to blame Bonds for the looming imprisonment of their BALCO reporters, Williams and Fainaru-Wada for refusing to answer questions about their sources -- even though it's clear that the actual blame is on the Bush Administration and its endless zeal to muzzle the media.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A dark day at the SF Chronicle

Despite the SF Chronicle's efforts, it looks like Barry Bonds will sign a contract for 2007 on Tuesday.

I must say that the Chronicle looks pretty damn silly now with its seemingly endless speculation over the past 6 weeks that the Bonds deal was going to fall through and its "reporters" like Bruce Jenkins insisting on believing that nice guy Mark Sweeney got thrown under the bus by Barry Bonds -- not because Jenkins had any actual evidence but because he truly believes Bonds IS Satan. So, in the Bruce Jenkins/John Shea/Gwen Knapp/Ray Ratto world, because a New York tabloid said Bonds did something wrong in an unsourced report, it must be true. So any actual evidence to the contrary is to be ignored.

Why am I going on about this? Has anyone else noticed how Sweeney's flat-out denial of the NY Daily News story has barely been acknowledged by the so-called journalists covering the story, outside of Henry Schulman? It's amazing that John Shea writes today's story as if Sweeney's denial had never taken place. Instead, he weasels out by saying Sweeney "doesn't have a problem" with Bonds. And he doesn't have the guts to write that Sweeney has said in no uncertain terms that the story is WRONG --

In baseball circles, dragging a teammate into such a mess is considered more damning than a flunked amphetamine test, and it gave the Giants another reason to sever ties with Bonds. But Sweeney's insistence that he doesn't have a problem with Bonds -- especially after Bonds issued a statement of apology -- prompted the Giants to resume negotiations.

Here's what Sweeney actually said, according Schulman's Jan. 20 story -- "Basically it's something that never happened," he said. "My name somehow got linked to it and it wasn't through Barry. I don't blame Barry for this and I don't know where it came from."

A nice thought about the new season

I wonder if they'll bring back "Woke Up This Morning" as walk-up music for Rich Aurilia? It would make sense, given that the final season of "The Sopranos" is starting. I heard it any number of times at PacBell Park as Rich came to bat and it never got old, unlike "Who Let the Dogs Out."

Here's some music trivia for you -- the song is performed by Alabama 3. And here are the lyrics --

You woke up this morning
Got yourself a gun,
Mama always said you'd beThe Chosen One.
She said: You're one in a million

You've got to burn to shine,
But you were born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.
You woke up this morning

All the love has gone,
Your Papa never told you
About right and wrong.
But you're looking good, baby,

I believe you're feeling fine, (shame about it),
Born under a bad sign
With a blue moon in your eyes.
You woke up this morning

The world turned upside down,
Thing's ain't been the same
Since the Blues walked into town.
But you're one in a million

You've got that shotgun shine.
Born under a bad sign,
With a blue moon in your eyes.

When you woke up this morning everything you had was gone.
By half past ten your head was going ding-dong.
Ringing like a bell from your head down to your toes,
like a voice telling you there was something you should know.
Last night you were flying but today you're so low-
ain't it times like these that make you wonder ifyou'll ever know
the meaning of things as they appear to the others;
wives, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.
Don't you wish you didn't function, wish you didn't think
beyond the next paycheck and the next little drink'
Well you do so make up your mind to go on,
'cos when you woke up this morning everything you had was gone.

When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
Mama said you'd be the Chosen One.
When you woke up this morning,

When you woke up this morning,
When you woke up this morning,
You got yourself a gun

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What a lazy dingbat, part 2

Have you ever noticed that there's always someone at your job who manages to work on another job while they're at the office? Why would Giants Win mention such a strange thing?

The dozens of loyal readers of this blog may recall that Giants Win was particularly outraged over a pathetic column filed at the All-Star break last season by the SF Chronicle's lazy hack weasel John Shea, which called Nomar Garciaparra's performance with the Dodgers one of the "feel-good" stories of the year.

Flash forward six month to today. As I was scanning, I found a fairly glowing write-up of the Dodgers' prospects for 2007 by the same John Shea, who doesn't bother to note that the Dodgers overpaid badly for both Jason Schmidt and Juan Pierre in the face of easily obtainable evidence that they're both on the decline. In the meantime, he's filed next to nothing in recent weeks about the Giants since the Zito signing. Doesn't it seem a little odd that one of the writers on the Giants beat has time to file what's essentially a mash note for ESPN about the Dodgers but can't be bothered to dig up news on the team that the Chronicle readers have the most interest in, if attendance figures are to be believed?

How is this guy keeping his job at the SF Chronicle at a time when readership's declining and reporters are getting fired left and right?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Show me the money

Steve Finley laughs about ripping off the Giants. photo by jessicafm

Jay at the excellent Jay's Giants Blog picked up on Fred Claire's column on about how the Yanks, Giants and Red Sox are in the forefront of finding additional non-baseball revenues. We'll withhold comment on Claire lucking out as a Dodger GM in 1988 (largely due Campanis building the team plus career years from guys like Tudor, Stubbs, Hamilton and Shelby). Here are the pertinent parts of Claire's column --

In 1999, the San Francisco Giants took a creative step by forming Giants Enterprises, a business venture established to develop non-baseball uses for AT&T Park.
Recognizing that the Giants occupy the ballpark only about 85 days a year, Pat Gallagher of Giants Enterprises says the company is dedicated to exploring revenue-generating activities that compliment the team and the venue.
Recent events include a concert by Rolling Stones, the Emerald Bowl football game and a major soccer event.
"Our goal is to generate an annual profit and achieve predictable income," said Gallagher, a member of the Giants for 29 years and one of the most accomplished marketing people in the game.
The Giants' Web site states that, "Every area of AT&T Park is available for rental and our team of full-time professionals will see to very nuance, every detail, every last request."
The Giants declare that their stadium is perfect for everything from holiday receptions to seminars to theme parties to weddings and retirement parties.
And just about every service is offered from tours to decorations to appearances by former Giant players.

Claire makes the point that these additional funds made the Zito signing possible and he's probably right. But what's maddening -- when you're paying $55 for a decent seat, $20 to park and $30 to eat a meal at the park -- is the cheap-out route taken in recent years that leads to non-performers like Vizcaino, Niekro, Sweeney and Wright eating up plate appearances and innings. It's hard to believe that those were the best alternatives but they clearly were among the least expensive, even during the middle of the season. The worst was probably Finley getting 426 ABs last year and producing a total of 6 HRs and 40 RBIs, a .320 OBP and a .398 SLG, almost as if the Giants felt that they had to justify his salary by playing him every day. Meanwhile, Linden managed a .356 OBP and a .455 SLG -- nothing spectacular but far better than the $8 million man. With all this extra revenue coming in, what would have been so daunting about biting the bullet and admitting that Finley was done, DFAing him and either giving Linden a chance or finding someone for a couple of million bucks who's going to be more productive?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Linda Ronstadt said it best

There's yet another reason for the rest of the USA to think that Texans are dumb. And I don't mean George W. Bush's State of the Union address. No, it was the Texas Rangers deciding to sign Jamey Wright to a minor league contract. You would think after bombing out in San Francisco -- one of MLB's more pitcher-friendly parks -- that teams would think twice about signing a guy who's proven over and over that he's going to get hammered by big league hitters. In 11 season, he's has three years with an ERA under 4.87. You'd think that would be a red flag, especially with his posting a 5.19 ERA last year.

You'd be wrong. The Rangers are, after all, the franchise that signed Chan Ho Park to an insane mega-deal and was so anxious to give up on A-Rod -- one of the best players in the game -- that the club decided it made sense to eat massive portions of his salary so he could put up his usual big numbers for George Steinbrenner.

The Rangers must be insane to think Wright isn't going to be awful, especially in their hitter-friendly park. He'll probably pitch adequately in April, just like he did with the Giants, and then revert to form. Jamey must be a great clubhouse guy to have blocked so many minor league pitchers from getting MLB experience. At least with the Giants' signing of Russ Ortiz, there's the distant memory of actual competent performance (a 21-win season in 2003). To end this, I'm posting the lyrics of that fine Linda Ronstadt song to fully describe Jamey Wright --

Feeling better now that we're through
Feeling better 'cause I'm over you
I learned my lesson, it left a scar
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

I'm telling you now baby and I'm going my way
Forget about you baby 'cause I'm leaving to stay
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
Oh, oh no
You're no good
You're no good
You're no good
Baby you're no good

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What about Ichiro in the Orange and Black?

2004 photo by Andrew Martin

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times laments the Mariners' making no move to sign Ichiro to a deal. He's a free agent in 2008. Stone's basic points are as follows -- 1. Ichiro will be sought after in major markets like San Francisco and 2. he can't be that happy with the current situation. Here are the key passages --

Ichiro is a hugely valuable commodity, and if the Mariners decide not to pay him commensurately (or Ichiro decides not to accept their money), then some team out there — in San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or New York, or Chicago, all places where he would be a massive drawing card — will be clamoring to.

It's hard to imagine that after three excruciating last-place seasons, during which we have seen fleeting hints of Ichiro's discontent, that the additions of Jose Guillen, Miguel Batista, Jose Vidro, et al, have renewed his faith in the Mariners' grand plan.

How could anyone not be impressed with Ichiro breaking a George Sisler's record for hits in a season? What distinction does Sisler share with Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby? (They're the only players to hit over .400 more than once). After hitting .420 in 1922, Sisler actually sat out the entire 1923 season due to duble vision caused by sinus problems.

Amazing Ichiro stat from last year -- 49 SBs, 2 caught stealing. Here are the top 10 hit seasons (note that only two after 1930):
1. Ichiro Suzuki* 262 2004
2. George Sisler+* 257 1920
3. Lefty O'Doul* 254 1929
4. Bill Terry+* 254 1930
5. Al Simmons+ 253 1925
6. Rogers Hornsby+ 250 1922
Chuck Klein+* 250 1930
8. Ty Cobb+* 248 1911
9. George Sisler+* 246 1922
10. Ichiro Suzuki* 242 2001

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Whatever happened to that guy?

Fernando Tatis has signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers, who must still remember the total humiliation he visited on them in a game eight years ago.

This guy is a prime "flash in the pan" kind of player. It's also somewhat amazing the steroid hysterics have not seized on the 1999 season (34 HRs, 109 RBIs) as an example of a guy "who must have been dosing," particularly seeing as he played on the same team as McGwire.

What's certain is that he was completely non-descript except for that one year and especially that one day. He managed to hit two grand slams in the 3rd inning of a game at Chavez Latrine, both off Chan Ho Park. It's astounding to think that Davey Johnson decided that Park should be in a position to give up a 2nd slam to the same guy. Here's how the inning went --

-- D Bragg Single to RF
-- E Renteria Hit By Pitch; Bragg to 2B
-- M McGwire Single to RF (Line Drive to Deep 2B-1B); Bragg to 3B; Renteria to 2B
-- F Tatis Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF); Bragg Scores; Renteria Scores; McGwire Scores
-- J Drew Groundout: 1B-P (1B)
-- E Marrero Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF Line)
-- Placido Polanco pinch hits for David Howard batting 7th
-- P Polanco Walk
-- J McEwing Walk; Polanco to 2B
-- J Jimenez Fielder's Choice /Sacrifice Bunt; Polanco to 3B; McEwing to 2B; Jimenez to 1B
-- D Bragg Reached on E3 (throw) (Ground Ball to Weak 2B-1B); Polanco Scores/No RBI; McEwing to 3B; Jimenez to 2B
-- E Renteria Single to RF (Line Drive to Short RF Line); McEwing Scores/unER; Jimenez to 3B; Bragg to 2B
-- M McGwire Flyball: RF
-- F Tatis Home Run (Fly Ball); Jimenez Scores/unER; Bragg Scores/unER; Renteria Scores/unER; Tatis Scores/unER
Carlos Perez replaces Chan Ho Park pitching and batting 9th
-- J Drew Foul Popfly: 3B (3B-C Foul)

Here's hoping that Tatis keeps on creating misery and suffering for the Dodgers by doing something like making Jason Schmidt break his arm during spring training.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Sometimes, it's better to be lucky

One of the great things about baseball is that occasionally, your team gets lucky. To prove it, I take you back to one of the worst Giants teams in memory, the 1996 version, and the July 20 game at the Stick against the Dodgers. Thanks to the invaluable Baseball Reference site, the details of that game came back. I attended this joyous event and was struck by two things in the bottom of the ninth being key -- both LUCKY:

-- a choke by Tim Worrell's brother Todd as he picked up a sacrifice bunt, decided to get the lead runner and threw the ball 20 feet over second base and into centerfield.
-- a seeing-eye dinky 2 RBI game winning hit by Robby Thompson, who was on his last legs as a player at that point.

Here's the recap --
Bottom of the 9th, Giants Batting, Behind 5-6, Todd Worrell facing 7-8-9
Todd Worrell replaces Mark Guthrie pitching and batting 9th
-- S Scarsone Single to RF (Line Drive)
-- J Cruz Fielder's Choice P/Sacrifice Bunt; Scarsone to 2B; Cruz to 1B/Adv on E1 (throw)
-- K Manwaring Bunt Groundout: P-3B/Forceout at 3B; Cruz to 2B
-- M Benard Single to RF (Line Drive to Short RF); Cruz to 3B; Manwaring to 2B
-- R Thompson Single to LF (Line Drive to Short LF); Cruz Scores/unER; Manwwaring Scores

What in the world prompted me to think of a game 11 years ago tonight? This story out of Minneapolis. I dare you to read it without laughing --

By Tom Ford
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - A 29-year-old man who was apparently horsing around with some friends crashed through a window and fell 17 stories at the downtown Minneapolis Hyatt Regency early Saturday morning.
His most severe injury? A broken leg.
The man must have "an angel on his shoulder or something," said Minneapolis police Lt. Dale Barsness. "He's a lucky guy."
The man, identified by a police report as Joshua Hanson, landed on a roof overhang near the hotel's main entrance, police said.
He was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. His condition is unknown. He could not be reached for comment as of early Saturday afternoon.
A resident of Blair, Wis., Hanson had come to Minneapolis with several friends to take part in a dart tournament at the hotel this weekend.
According to the police report, Hanson and two other friends had been in St. Paul, Minn., drinking at bars before they came back to the Hyatt on Saturday about 1:30 a.m. in a taxi.
They might have been horsing around as an elevator brought them to the 17th floor where they were staying, Barsness said. For some reason, Hanson ran out of the elevator and took off down a short hallway of rooms toward a floor-to-ceiling window, he said.
He then apparently lost his balance and crashed through the glass, he said.
It appeared Hanson fell forward from the side of the building a few feet and then landed through the awning of the overhang, which is a floor up from the street. Shards of broken glass were littered around the collapsed area where he fell.
When rescue crews arrived, firefighters had to first extricate him from the awning and metal grating while paramedics worked to stabilize him, said assistant fire chief Ulie Seal. He was strapped into a backboard and brought down to the street in a fire truck basket, he said. Hanson was conscious and communicating as he was taken off the overhang, according to the police report.
"This has never happened before," said Tom Mason, general manager of the Hyatt.
The window was double-paned, and there was a safety bar in front of the glass, he said. Hotel officials will be investigating the windows there and "will take whatever steps we have to do to ensure safety," he said.
Of Hanson, Mason said that "we wish him a full recovery."

It's a new world

If you thought the Barry Zito deal was excessive, look at the new Chase Utley deal -- a player with far less of a track record has just signed a 7-year deal for $85 million. He'll be 34 in the final year.

Utley got married on Saturday and signed the deal on Sunday. Aside from the usual thank you notes for the wedding gifts, the new Mrs. Utley may also want to send off a few more thank you notes to Alfonso Soriano, Gil Meche, Juan Pierre and Barry Zito.

A lying liar at the Chronicle

That would be Chronicle hack Ray Ratto. On Jan. 12, he accepted as absolute gospel the New York Daily News story about the evil Bonds throwing lovable Mark Sweeney "under the bus" by blaming Sweeney for the positive amphetamine test. He blasted the Giants and wrote a column called "SPEED TRAP -- Don't expect team to show any pride" -- and made fun of those who don't subscribe to the Chron's "Bonds IS Satan" campaign. Here's part of Ratto's purple prose --

How much more public humiliation and brand shame the Giants can bring upon themselves by trying to extract the last available dollar out of the left fielder's husk.
The answer so far has been, "More embarrassment than you have to give," because that last dollar seems so very important to managing general co-dependent Peter Magowan, faithful sidekick Larry Baer and the investor/underlings. And when the "Mark Sweeney Did It" story plays itself out, the answer may still be the same. It is a hell of a valuable dollar, after all. It must be. But this new development, leaked by someone in a position to know to the New York Daily News' T.J. Quinn (who may be named after a trendy Indianapolis nightspot but is one of the most reliable reporters on the Bonds/BALCO story), puts Bonds in a poor light even for those folks who believe that he never violated the sanctity of the field or the clubhouse.

But 3 days ago Mark Sweeney said the story was nonsense. So does Ray Ratto acknowledge that perhaps he might have made a mistake not actually doing some reporting? He does not, which is disgraceful, since Sweeney seems intent to explain what actually went down.

Instead, he writes a meandering Sunday column full of speculation -- WITH ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SOURCED TO A REAL PERSON -- that says the amphetamine test isn't important anymore, that it's all about the money. Is there any actual reporting? It doesn't look like it but who can actually tell with this hack loser dingbat? Here's a sample --

Thus, the contract argument is not about any sense of shame or disappointment the Giants might feel (that ship sailed long ago, as we all know), but about how much money Bonds can bring in as opposed to how much he might chase away. This may seem like an obvious answer to you or me, but the Giants have actuaries and calculators and bean-counters of every stripe and solid working the problem down to the last garlic fry.

There's no mention that this is a direct contradiction from what he wrote a week ago. Why should we take this guy seriously if he won't even take his own reporting and writing seriously?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Hall of Fame slugger debates

Juan Marichal -- who's something of an expert on dealing with a hostile public and news media -- says Big Mac is worthy of the Hall of Fame.

And Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods has another great post about just how scary Jim Rice was as a hitter.

As for me, I saw McCovey in his prime at the Stick and I saw Stargell hit one on the right field pavillion roof at Chavez Latrine on night in 1973. I saw Reggie Smith take Vida Blue deep one August night in 1978 where the ball hit 30 feet up on the back wall of the LF bullpen. I saw Rod Carew once line a bullet that never got higher than 15 feet to straight away center that left the yard in about half a second in early 1980s against the Royals at Anaheim Stadium.

Still, the most impressive homer I ever saw was from Jim Rice at a spring training game in 1987 in downtown Miami against the Orioles. It was a line drive that was still going up when it hit the left field light tower about 75 feet up outside Liberty Park. It was so surreal that I almost doubted it had happened.

So Josh is right about Rice.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wrong again

Brian Giles tells former teammate Mark Sweeney how lame the fans at Petco are. photo by timmer82

I lost track of the number of articles & columns that presumed that the New York Daily News had been absolutely correct when it asserted -- without a named source -- that Barry Bonds had blamed Mark Sweeney for his positive amphetamine test. Taking what a New York tabloid says as gospel is pretty stupid but many journalists did exactly that. The SF Chronicle "reporters," in particular, couldn't stop writing about how 1. this proved Bonds is Satan because 2. he had "thrown Sweeney under the bus" or some variation of that cliche.

There was only one problem -- Sweeney said Friday it wasn't true. Here's what Henry Schulman attributed to Sweeney in today's Chron: "Basically it's something that never happened," he said. "My name somehow got linked to it and it wasn't through Barry. I don't blame Barry for this and I don't know where it came from."

Again, I still think what happened is what Will Carroll in Baseball Prospectus pointed out over a week ago: Bonds probably got a positive because he was taking some kind of supplement to keep his weight down and ease the strain on his knees. Even though that's the most logical-sounding scenario, it doesn't fit with the commonly held view of Bonds among a significant number of sports reporters -- who are among the most guilty of hysterical over-reaction and of being incapable of sober and measured reflection.

It's not really surprising that sports reporters are feeling defensive, with the Chron's BALCO reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada facing jail for simply doing their jobs. But the fact that Sweeney took as long as he did to address the Speedy Bonds issue explicitly is -- in my opinion -- a reflection of the deep mistrust that the Giants players feel toward the news media and its hysterical approach.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Adios, Mike

May 2006 shot of Mike Matheny by ianakila

Lefty Malo points out today's sobering New York Times piece about the suicide of Andre Waters (registration required)and the possible link to brain damage he suffered in the NFL. Lefty makes the excellent point that this should make it clear just how potentially lethal concussions can be and notes that this should definitively mean that Mike Matheny's not coming back. Matheny seems like a very smart guy; I'd be stunned if he gave it another go in light on the latest revelaton. AP has picked up the Times story.

Mike had his best offensive year by far in 2005 in SF -- 34 doubles, 13 HRs and 59 RBIs and a slugging average over .400 for the only time in his career.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nothing but fun!

The KNBR-Giants Fan Fest is this Saturday at Mays Field from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. I can't imagine anything more fun at this time of year, when all things seem possible!

Here's a list of who will be there -- Bochy, Aurilia, Cain, Ellison, Flannery, Flemming, Frandsen, Gardner, Krukow, Kuiper, Lefebvre, Lewis, Linden, Lowry, Miller, Misch, Morris, Munter, Ortiz, Righetti,Roberts,Sadler, Schierholtz, Sweeney, Taschner, Threets, Vizquel, Wotus, Zito, Fuentes, Rueter, Santangelo, Snow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Q: Who do you love?

A: Not Armando Blownitez.

The excellent Bay City Ball noticed within a report in the Miami Herald that the Fish still are interested in a deal with the Giants for the Fat One and the Giants are willing to eat most of the 2007 salary. Here's the key part --

Giants closer Armando Benitez, 34, has been the Marlins' No. 1 bullpen target, and a trade remains possible. The Giants appear willing to cover all but $1 million to $2 million of his $7.6 million salary.
But the Giants want a Marlins starter or top reliever ( Taylor Tankersley), and the Marlins won't do that. The Marlins might be willing to give up Yusmeiro Petit or Sergio Mitre. Benitez, who saved a Marlins-record 47 games in 2004, comes off knee surgery but will be ready for spring training, his agent said.

MEMO TO NEW FANS -- Translation of "ready for spring training" -- "Maybe he'll be under 300 pounds."

What's truly amazing to me is that the "reporters" for the Chron and Merc write over and over and over about how much the Giants fans hate Bonds. That's a lie, partly because they're ignoring the fact -- and it is a fact -- that the fans actually do seriously hate Blownitez, who's single-handedly managed to turn the last two seasons into fiascos. He's been the one most responsible individual for the crappy results and has responded by acting like a drunk 6-year-old.

Oh well. Part of this is just an excuse to post Bo Diddley's immortal lyrics to "Who Do You Love" --

I walked 47 miles of barbed wire,
Used a cobra snake for a neck tie.
Got a brand new house on the roadside,
Made out of rattlesnake hide.
I got a brand new chimney made on top,
Made out of human skulls.
Now come on darling let's take a little walk, tell me,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love.

Arlene took me by the hand,
And said oooh eeeh daddy I understand.
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love.

The night was black and the night was blue,
And around the corner an ice wagon flew.
A bump was a hittin' lord and somebody screamed,
You should have heard just what I seen.
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love.

Arleen took me by my hand,
she said Ooo-ee Bo you know I understand
I got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind,
I lived long enough and I ain't scared of dying.
Who do you love
Who do you love,
Who do you love,
Who do you love.

US Attorney in SF "resigns"

The SF Chronicle is reporting that US Atty. Kevin Ryan, who has prosecuted the BALCO case, has resigned along with a bunch of other US attorneys who apparently don't meet the Bush Administration's litmus test for being right-wing dingbats.

The article is marvelously unclear as to what's actually going on. So Giants Win would like to go on the record as stressing that if the Bush Administration does something, it's probably a bad idea -- even though Ryan has been egregiously wasting taxpayer dollars in the BALCO case, especially in his attempt to put two SF Chronicle reporters in jail for doing their jobs.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Kiss it goodbye -- the scoreboard, that is

2006 photo of scoreboard by karule

The Giants announced today that they're installing a new Mitsubishi Diamond Vision scoreboard that will be over 100 feet long and 30 feet high with high-definition video. Best part of it will be recapturing Omar Vizquel's fielding gems; the worst will be seeing shirtless guys blown up to being 30 feet tall during day games. Here's part of the press release --
"AT&T is excited about giving Giants fans an unmatched video experience at AT&T Park and Bay Area consumers an unmatched video experience at home," said Melba Muscarolas, AT&T vice president and general manager for the San Francisco market area. "During the upcoming season, we plan to demonstrate our innovative new services to AT&T Park visitors and why AT&T is the only communications and entertainment company the Bay Area will ever want."

Monday, January 15, 2007

What's not to like?

While the San Francisco Chronicle wallows in its ongoing hate-fest of all things Orange and Black, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a nice upbeat story about Tim Lincecum. Most of it has to do with reminding readers about the awesome stats he's racked up but there are some other interesting points --

Lincecum has a freakishly resilient arm. There were reports he was throwing long toss the day after a 190-pitch outing. But despite his heavy workload and the fact he doesn't even ice his arm (which is unheard of), he's never had an arm injury.
Scouts spent most of the year following Lincecum around like baby ducks. When he pitched, dozens of them were in the stands with radar guns and notebooks. The Kansas City Royals, who held the first pick in the June draft, assigned a former major leaguer to follow Lincecum all season.
As the draft approached, there was plenty of speculation about where Lincecum would fall. Given his college experience, broad repertoire and durability, there were thoughts he could end up in a major league bullpen by the end of the season, and for a while, it was believed he'd be the top pick.In the end, Lincecum fell to No. 10, apparently the victim of concerns about his size and unorthodox delivery and training methods.

Non-baseball post for MLK Day

And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.
--Martin Luther King, Jr., "A CHRISTMAS SERMON" 24 December 1967

The countdown starts

Pitchers and catchers begin reporting one month from today for all big league teams and the Dodgers. The Giants start on Feb. 15. has full details but is not yet disclosing the date when Nomar Garciaparra goes on the D.L.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Who spilled the beans?

Jim Salisbury at the Philadelphia Inquirer has a decent non-hysterical column today about the Bonds situation. Bottom line -- it's extremely odd that this has come out now. He then ends by noting the massive investment teams have been making in players over 40. Here's the last half of the column --

Regardless of where the leak originated, the timing of it is noteworthy. Bonds agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract with the Giants (the only team that wanted him) in December, but the deal is still unsigned as the two sides work out language involving how much of Bonds' entourage is allowed in the clubhouse. Could the new information on Bonds scuttle the unfinished deal, leaving Bonds with nowhere to play in '07? Could that have been the intent of the leak, wherever it came from? Or is someone just trying to antagonize Bonds into saying he's had enough and walking away? You have to wonder.
It's just too strange that after the first year baseball has tested for amphetamines, we only know of one player who got caught and that player is someone a lot of people would like to see go away. At a time when Major League Baseball would ordinarily begin hyping a record quest like this, more dirt is coming out.

On Baseball OVER-40 LEAGUE
At age 43, Randy Johnson got another year and $10 million added to his contract as a trade from the Yankees to Arizona was completed last week. Johnson will pitch at least through 2008 and earn $26 million in that time.
Moving Johnson opens the door for the Yankees to sign Roger Clemens, who will turn 45 in August. Clemens will also be pursued by the Astros and Red Sox. Look for him to once again pitch an abbreviated season - about four months at a cost of about $4 million per month.
It pays to stay healthy and productive into your 40s, especially if you're a pitcher. Johnson and Clemens aren't the only fortysomethings to make big financial scores this off-season. Check out some of these signings, which began in October when the Phillies re-upped 44-year-old Jamie Moyer for two years and $10.5 million:
Roberto Hernandez, 42, Indians, one year, $3.5 million.
Greg Maddux, turns 41 in April, Padres, one year, $10 million.
Jose Mesa, turns 41 in May, Tigers, one year, $2.5 million.
Mike Stanton, turns 40 in June, Reds, two years, $2.5 million.
Woody Williams, 40, Astros, two years, $12.5 million.
Tom Glavine, turns 41 in March, Mets, one year, $10.5 million.
Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, 41, Mets, two years, $12 million.
Several position players in their 40s also received notable deals:
Moises Alou, 40, Mets, one year, $8.5 million.
Craig Biggio, 41, Astros, one year, $5 million.
Kenny Lofton, turns 40 in May, Rangers, one year, $6 million.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Much smarter than this blog!

Alex at Lefty Malo has posted part of Will Carroll's take about Speedy Barry from the subscription site Baseball Prospectus. Bottom line -- Bonds was probably trying to keep his weight down. Here's most of Lefty's post --

Carroll speculates that the source of the positive test was unlikely a pure "greenie" but more of a sophisticated nutritional supplement such as AMP. It's legal, easily available, has a BALCO connection, and has questionable ingredients. "AMP was found to contain substances that were very much like amphetamines. In a May 2006 article, Amy Shipley of the Washington Post talked with Don Catlin, a steroid researcher who works with WADA and was involved in the BALCO case, about AMP. Catlin found that the active ingredient was not listed on the label. Methylhexaneamine, like many of Arnold's substances, was a re-concocted version of a previously existing compound, this time one invented in the 1940s as a nasal decongestant. Catlin described the drug as similar to amphetamines and ephedrine." Carroll writes: "Why would Bonds take these substances? One source suggested that it wasn't performance enhancement, but weight management. Amphetamines and similar substances are often used in weight loss and weight management. The appetite-suppressant effect would have helped Bonds in two ways. First, his knees were under a lot of pressure carrying additional weight. The knee problems were part of a cycle--Bonds couldn’t work out with his normal intensity so he gained weight. When he gained weight, his knees hurt more. Add in that supplements like AMP are specifically designed to help "cut"--take off body fat and water weight--and there’s a twofold effect before we even get to possible performance enhancement."Finally, Carroll says it's "laughable" that the Giants didn't know about the test results. The Giants released a statement last night saying this was the first they'd heard of it because of the drug program's privacy rules; Carroll says teams always know because they need to be in the administrative loop.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Speedy Barry

Barry Bonds has been crucified for years for alleged steroid use, so I'm amused that when he actually tested positive, it was for speed. That wasn't enough for the dingbats at the New York Daily News -- they had a decent scoop but insisted on some unattributed source saying that Bonds was blaming Mark Sweeney. Which turned out to be untrue.

I'm sure there will be more hand-wringing in sports pages and TV shows about how Bonds has 1. permanently damaged the impressionable youth of America and 2. is Satan. As for me, I think all that needs to be said about going overboard on stimulant use got said about 37 years ago--

CAN'T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING (M. Jagger/K. Richards)
Yeah, you got satin shoes
Yeah, you got plastic boots
Y'all got cocaine eyes
Yeah, you got speed-freak jive
Can't you hear me knockin' on your window
Can't you hear me knockin' on your door
Can't you hear me knockin' down your dirty street, yeah

Help me baby, ain't no stranger
Help me baby, ain't no stranger
Help me baby, ain't no stranger
Can't you hear me knockin', ahh, are you safe asleep?
Can't you hear me knockin', yeah, down the gas light street, now
Can't you hear me knockin', yeah, throw me down the keys
Alright now

Hear me ringing big bell tolls
Hear me singing soft and low
I've been begging on my knees
I've been kickin', help me please
Hear me prowlin'
I'm gonna take you down
Hear me growlin'
Yeah, I've got flat-ten feet now, now, now, now
Hear me howlin'
And all, all around your street now
Hear me knockin'
And all, all around your town

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Impress your friends and win bar bets!

This is the answer to a trivia question. photo by NY Times.

The Giants seem to be determined to make me re-live 2002 with the signing of Russ Ortiz yesterday and Tim Worrell retiring today. While other bloggers have filed some very pleasant memories of him, I can't do that because I was there in Anaheim on that night four years ago for an unforgettable little trip to Hell. Here's how Tim was involved --

WORRELL REPLACED EYRE (PITCHING); Eckstein flied toright; 3 R, 4 H, 0 E, 1 LOB. Giants 5, Angels 3. GIANTS 8TH: J. MOLINA REPLACED PALMEIRO (PLAYING C ); DONNELLYREPLACED RODRIGUEZ (PITCHING); Santiago walked; Snow flied tocenter; Sanders struck out; Bell struck out; 0 R, 0 H, 0 E, 1LOB. Giants 5, Angels 3.ANGELS 8TH: Erstad homered; Salmon singled to center; FIGGINSRAN FOR SALMON; Anderson singled to left [Figgins to third,Anderson to second (error by Bonds)]; Bonds picked ball infoul ground and fumbled it; NEN REPLACED WORRELL (PITCHING);

But rather than dwell on Tim's unfortunate performance in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, let's move forward in a quest for more knowledge. And with Tim having retired, the stage is set for a nice trivia question --

Q: Which brothers have combined for the most saves?
A: The Worrells. Todd had 256 (24th on the list) and Tim had 71.

That should lead to another question --which brothers have the second highest total? The first response might be "Trevor and Glenn Hoffman" but that's not right because 1. Trevor has more saves than anyone and 2. Glenn never pitched (it could be argued that he never hit, either).

The answer is Lindy and Von McDaniel. Lindy had 172 saves and Von had zero. Von is truly one of the strangest stories ever -- as an 18-year-old in 1957, he went 7-5 for the Cards, threw two shutouts and captured the nation's imagination as a prodigy but then in 1958 completely lost the ability to pitch, something akin to Steve Blass or Rick Ankiel.

In a 2001 piece on Ankiel for the NY Times magazine, Pat Jordan (who himself was a hot pitching prospect who failed and wrote a fine book about it called "A False Spring") referenced the bizarre tale of Von McDaniel --

In 1957, at the age of 18, Von McDaniel signed with the Cardinals for a $50,000 bonus on the strength of his smooth, seemingly effortless delivery, his exploding fastball and his sharp curveball. He was described by all who met him as a sensitive, intelligent and religious youth. The Cardinals brought him directly from high school to the major leagues, where he won his first four games. McDaniel pitched 19 consecutive scoreless innings, including a one-hitter, a two-hitter and a perfect game for six innings. He finished the year at 7-5 with a 3.22 E.R.A. and -- with the exception of two disastrous innings in 1958, during which he walked seven batters -- never pitched again in the major leagues.
McDaniel's sudden failure had nothing to do with physical injury. What happened to him is the stuff of Greek tragedy. Despite his blinding talent, there was something in his nature that fated him to fail for reasons neither he nor anyone else has ever been able to explain.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Guess who's coming to spring training?

photo of Tim Lincecum pitching for San Jose last year by jimrat201
Amidst all my bewilderment over the Russ Ortiz signing, I missed the real news of the day -- the Giants have invited Tim Lincecum to spring training. They're also inviting Sun Woo-Kim, Damian Moss, Tyler Walker and Eddy Martinez-Esteve but Lincecum is by far the the most interesting. He held hitters to a .127 average last year so no one has figured out how to hit him yet.

Jonathan Mayo rated him the 26th best prospect in the minors last year and said this -- If the Giants want to put him in the pen, he could help out next season. As a starter, it may take a little longer, but he's got nasty stuff either way.

How's this sound for a rotation -- Zito, Cain, Lowry, Morris, Lincecum?

Seriously ugly

photo of Russ Ortiz during the 2006 spring training by Beauty Playin Eh

Maybe it's a chance to give fans of the Orange and Black a dose of the warm fuzzies from the World Series appearance in 2002, although his final appearance in a Giants uniform is one of the most painful in memory as it came with Dusty deciding to take him out of Game 6 in order to bring in Felix Rodriguez.

That's about the only explanation I have for Tuesday's announcement of the Giants' signing of Russ Ortiz. I'm sure he's a nice guy and he apparently pitched OK in the fall league but that recent record has been seriously ugly.

For those of you that have been ignoring Russ for the past few years, he's become one of the worst pitchers in the MLB with an 0-8 record and an 8.14 ERA in 2006. He's completely forgotten how to pitch since going 21-7 in Atlanta in 2003.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stretch's return

I got to thinking about how tough it was to be a fan of the Orange and Black in the 1970s and early 1980s. What got me marching down Memory Lane was yesterday's postings about Willie McCovey and a fascinating post today by Josh Wilker at the Cardboard Gods site ("Voice of the Mathematically Eliminated") about the 1973 wife-swapping between pitchers Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson. Yankee GM Lee McPhail said in response at the time, "We may have to call off Family Day."

For me, the prototypical 1970s player was Dock Ellis, who admitted that he'd taken LSD before pitching a no-hitter. He had not really planned to pitch while high but apparently, he was confused about which day he was due to start. He endeared himself to me once by hitting every single member of the oh-so-smug Reds to start a game -- Rose, Concepcion, Perez, Bench -- before the umpire finally tossed him.

In those days, crowds at the Stick were often under 5,000. After the 1971 NL West division win, the Giants proceeded to cut costs in the guise of a youth movement by trading away Willie Mays (for Charlie Williams and $50,000), George Foster (for Frank Duffy), Gaylord Perry (for Sam McDowell), Bobby Bonds (for Bobby Murcer), Willie McCovey (for Mike Caldwell) and Garry Maddox (for Willie Montanez). What was left behind? Guys like Gary Thomasson (the 1975 opening day first baseman) and Steve Ontiveros (the '74 opening day first baseman). The Giants had one winning season (1973) in the six between 1972 and 1977; Labatts Brewery had a deal in early 1976 to move the team to Toronto before Bob Lurie and Bud Herseth bought the team for $8 million -- less than half what Zito gets this year. Well, that was a lot of money back then.

In the meantime, McCovey spent 1974, 1975 and 1976 in the ridiculous brown and gold unis of the Padres and 24 ABs at the end of 76 in the A's green and gold. Montanez and Murcer both whined about how they didn't want to play in SF. So the Giants signed Stretch as a free agent at the start of 1977 and he won Comeback Player of the Year at age 39 with 28 HRs and 86 RBIs. By the next year, the Giants finally had a contending team. I managed to attend the third game of the 1978, when McCovey hit the team's first homer of the year in a 7-5 win over the Pads. On the home opener of the next year, Stretch hit a pinch single with two out in the ninth, followed by a pinch hit walk-off HR by John Tamargo. For anyone wondering why there's a McCovey statue overlooking the new park, it was games like those two.

Between the playoff season of 1971 and the rebound season of 1986, there were a grand total of four winning seasons -- and that counts the strike year of 1981. I went to McCovey's last game in the middle of 1980 at Dodger Stadium, when he graciously gave a speech saying that he felt he had to get out to give Rich Murray a chance to play. He then drove in a go-ahead run with a pinch hit sac fly in the 8th in his last AB. The Giants won 7-4 in 10 as Steve Howe gagged.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

McCovey and Drysdale

photo of the McCovey statue by early skies

Jay at Jay's Giant Blog has a wonderful post today about Stretch pretty much owning Drysdale for the first six years he was in the league. The final career stats were 43 hits in 128 ABs, 12 HRs, 31 RBIs, .680 SLG and 21 BBs.

For those of you who weren't around, the 3-run pinch hit homer in August 1962 was as big a hit as you'll ever find, except perhaps for May' 8th inning homer on the last day of the season in a 1-0 victory. Here's how Jay describes the Aug. 11 game --

This was the controversial game that earned skipper Alvin Dark the nickname “The Swamp Fox.” Matty Schwab and his ground crew spent a little extra time with the watering down of the infield. Dark explained to the reporters the watering was necessary due to the Candlestick winds kicking up the dust, particularly strong this day. The Dodgers complained the effort was excessive and done to slow down the speedy Maury Wills.
Coming into the weekend series, the Giants had won five of six (69 and 41) but the Dodgers matched it to maintain a five and a half game lead over their rivals. On Friday night, in front of 40,304, Billy O’Dell cruised to his 14th of the season. The Giants sent Johnny Podres to the showers with a six run sixth inning.
On Saturday, 41,268 gathered for the second game. In the third inning, with Los Angeles ahead 3-0, Wills was tossed for arguing with the umpire. Wills and Alston had protested the muddy conditions the inning before. Umpire Al Forman ruled the field playable.
With the Giants behind 3 to 2, they rallied in the sixth. With two out and Felipe Alou on second and O’Dell on first (ran for Davenport), McCovey, who had not played in a week, came to the plate as a pinch hitter for Pierce.
Coming into this contest, McCovey had blistered Drysdale to the tune of .500 (15 for 30 with 5 home runs). Dodger skipper Walter Alston walked to the mound and looked to the pen. He later told reporters he contemplated bringing in lefty Ron Perranoski, but he stayed with his veteran ace.
With the count full, McCovey sent Drysdale’s high fastball over the right field fence. The blast was estimated at 440 feet and landed in the right field bleachers, three fourths of the way up. Bob Stevens wrote it was "one of the most dramatic home runs in San Francisco’s big league history.”
Billy Pierce picked his 200th win and Stu Miller recorded his 15th save. The Giants pulled to within three and a half. Drysdale’s record dropped to 21 and 5. The loss ended his 11 consecutive wins streak.

The worst time of year for baseball fans

Bonds hits No. 726 in Atlanta. photo by guano

That would be right now because we're subjected to a seemingly endless stream of the same warmed-over hack coverage with no news. The latest is Ann Killion's column in the San Jose Merc that makes two points -- 1. Barry Bonds is Satan and 2. Barry Zito's a nice guy. What's NOT stated are the real points, which are 1. Barry Bonds blows reporters off and 2. Barry Zito is willing to talk to reporters.

What makes this column especially worthy of the Hack Hall of Fame is the constant analogy that Barry Zito is like the Orkin Man. Don't believe me? OK, here's the opening -- Barry Zito put on his black Giants cap and held up his cream No. 75 jersey last week, but he might as well have donned coveralls and a respirator and held up a fumigator. Because Zito was hired as much to be the Orkin Man as he was to pitch baseball games.
Actually, even more so.
This Barry has been hired to rid the Giants of their infestation from the other Barry.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Felipe's back

Felipe Alou shakes hands with Bruce Bochy at the Padres 2006 home opener as Bonds and Feliz look on. photo by eichelberger_greg

The Giants have given Felipe Alou a job as a special assistant -- a classy move, in my opinion. The recent death of Pat Dobson opened the slot. Felipe's MLB managing record is 1,031-1,023 despite being stuck with subpar teams in Montreal and for part of his SF tenure.

The sentimental side of me enjoys the fact that guys like Stretch, Felipe, Cepeda and Mays are still affiliated with the club.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Blue skies

Giants Fan at Inside Giants Baseball likes the Zito deal a lot -- partly for what appear to be the same reasons that people like David Eckstein -- he seems like a genuinely nice guy and a great teammate. I've heard similar nice things about Pedro Feliz but a .281 onbase percentage cancels out a lot of warm fuzzy feelings.

Fortunately, Zito's a real front-line player. But there's more to it in terms of what it means to the team, Giants Fan goes on to argue. The post contends that Zito's absolutely crucial in getting the Giants into the post-Bonds era. Here are the key parts --

Giants management deserves more credit than they have been given so far. The Barry Zito signing brings them three priceless rewards that are included in the young lefty's large price tag.
One, they had to make a splash this offseason to replace Schmidt and Zito gave it to them. They inched closer to their original gameplan of getting younger and averted the non-stop negative publicity from the Bonds agreement the month earlier.

Two, Zito will sell tickets not only to Giants fans, but from Oakland as well. I promise you that Zito's quote on A's fans "coming accross the bridge" when the A's are out of town was something that was fed to him. It is no secret Oakland plans on building a stadium further south which will open a completely new fanbase to China Basin. Who better to usher them in than the former member of their big three.

Most importantly though, the Zito signing made a statement to future free agents that the San Francisco Giants organization is willing to spend dollars to win. Beyond the cash that teams like New York, Boston and Texas spend to cement premier players to longterm contracts, players are just as attracted to a winning organization when pursuing their options. Certainly a Zito-Cain one-two punch is something to build on.So what are we supposed to see in Barry Zito? A kid who works hard, has class and who wants to win. Whether that is worth 126 million dollars has yet to be seen. Either way, it's nice to know the Giants signed a ball player that values not just winning, but how its done.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Adios Armando and lying liars

Andrew Baggerly of the Contra Costa Times reports -- deep within a notes story -- that the Marlins still want Blownitez and would be willing to pick up some of The Fat One's salary. Here's the key info:

Embattled closer Armando Benitez has told teammates that he wants a change of scenery, but Sabean said it's unlikely the club would trade him until he proves his health by throwing off a mound.
Benitez is progressing in his knee rehab work in Miami but has not begun doing any baseball activities, Sabean said.
"Until I know his exact health, I can't presume what somebody else would think," Sabean said.
The Giants have talked with Florida Marlins officials, who would welcome back Benitez and even take $1 million to $2 million of his $7.6 million salary. According to an industry source, Florida would consider giving up young right-hander Yusmeiro Petit.

If you didn't know much about the Giants and simply read the recent coverage in the Chronicle, you would have concluded that Bonds is the player who's despised by the team's fans. But anyone who's been to a home game or talked to fans would know that the most hated Giant of recent vintage is the stupid out-of-shape pig Armando Blownitez. It's a reflection of how lazy reporters -- especially the no-talent liar Bruce Jenkins, who recently said that fans had reacted to the Bonds signing this way: .... there was a stunning torrent of rage. I couldn't believe the e-mails, one after another, trashing ownership and team philosophy and especially Bonds. I was going to devote an entire column to the fans' viewpoint until the Zito signing -- a pure stroke of brilliance, whatever the cost -- gave people at least some hope for next season.

What nonsense. The reason why Bruce didn't write that column is because if he actually bothered to talk to fans instead of Ned Colletti, he'd find out that the fans really despise someone else whose name starts with a B. Could it be that I am just making this up, too? Well, I'm not.

If reporters would bother to read these blogs, maybe they'd learn something about how the team's fans feel. If you go to McCovey Chronicles, for example, you can find nearly 100 comments in less than a day on this aspect of Baggerly's story and NOT a single one in support of Blownitez. Not one. Here's a well-written one by a poster named oldrips -- I've said this before, but if we could get a bag of garden mulch in return for Buttmando, we should make the deal. Getting Petit would be the steal of the century....even if he blew out his arm in the very first outing.
Why isn't Sabean held accountable for leading the Giants into many years of mediocrity???

The two Barrys

Here's a whimsical and fairly amusing Scott Ostler column in the Chronicle about the two Barrys. I suppose that I have been pretty brutal about the Chron and its insistence on running Ray Ratto and Bruce Jenkins' insanely lame copy recently so it's a bit refershing to see some decent reportage/analysis from Ostler in the wake of Zito's news conference on Wednesday. My fave passage --

Zito says he and Bonds get along well. When their teams have met in the past, Zito said, "I'd rap out with him behind the cage, 15-20 minutes."
Zito and Bonds might seem polar opposites, but they have much in common. Both Barrys have become big stars through a supreme -- and extreme -- dedication to high-tech physical conditioning. You don't have to worry that Barry or Barry will show up for work with a hangover.
Both are great students of their craft, mechanics who can tear apart the engine and rebuild it. In varying ways and degrees, both share that sacred knowledge with teammates.
Both Barrys have expressed interest in acting, though both acting careers have been put on hold.
Both men are patrons of the arts. Zito plays guitar. Bonds once blew me off for a postgame interview because he was late for the opera.
Both are left-handers who believe that the outside world, and much of the inside-baseball world, doesn't understand them.
And cynics be damned, both men voluntarily joined Your San Francisco Giants because they like it here. Some will call Zito greedy, but it's at least possible that his choice was a brilliant one, not based on money. If he goes to the Mets or Yankees and they win, Zito is merely another high-priced toy on a crowded shelf (see: Jason Giambi). Win with the Giants and Zito has helped create something magical.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Speaking of gutless....

Newspapering is not an easy gig -- especially if it's done professionally -- and it doesn't pay very well for the amount of work required to do it more than adequately. So I'm always sort of amazed at reporters' ability to sympathize with the problems of billionaires while turning into pit bulls over the temerity of anyone who poses the slightest problem for the super-rich. In this case, the Chronicle's pathetic loser/columnist Bruce Jenkins writes what appears to be singing the praises of Barry Zito. But it's actually a bunch of time-wasting nonsense as it has the usual hysterical insanity: 1. Zito's not under any pressure; 2. Barry Bonds is Satan and so is Magowan; and 3. J.D. Drew is "sad" and "gutless" for having spurned the Dodgers and gotten more money from the Bosox.

Let's get real. Would Jenkins use the same words -- "sad" and "gutless" -- to describe some office worker who told the boss "I'm not going to work here anymore unless you pay me more money" and then had the guts to go out and get a better-paying job elsewhere? How in the world is the Drew situation any different?

What's actually going on is that Jenkins apparently feels the need to shill for Traitor Ned, who he asserts is a man of "dignity," and Dodger owner Frank McCourt, who's worth several hundred million dollars. I guess that this column is payback for Ned returning Bruce's phone calls. But who among the Chronicle readers who know anything about Colletti and McCourt have anything but disinterest and contempt for them? Again, I assert -- the Chronicle sports page is being written and edited by stupid people who don't give a damn about their readers. Here's that part of his disgusting reportage, which should have said "Ned Colletti contributed to this report" --

The Giants should feel fortunate that J.D. (100 RBIs) Drew, acting upon Boras' advice, used an "out" clause to escape his contract with the Dodgers. It was a sad, gutless move, only intensifying GM Ned Colletti's disdain for Boras. The Dodgers should have been big players in the Zito sweepstakes, but Colletti decided to retain his dignity.

My favorite take on Zito

That would be from the always-entertaining Bleeding Black & Orange, who has a memorable picture of John Belushi from "Animal House" on the front page. For those of you who have ignored movies for the last 30 years, here's the relevant dialogue --

Babs: That boy is a P-I-G pig.
Bluto: See if you can guess what I am now. [puts mashed potatoes in his mouth, chews it, hits his cheeks with his fists and spits it out]
Bluto: I'm a zit. Get it?

Here's some of the "Giants get a Zit" post -- Sure, he's not gonna be the ace that he was in 2002. He's probably not going to win 20 games with this offense and bullpen. He's not going to strike out 200 again. His peripheral numbers are less than stellar.

But he's still GOOD. He's durable, having never missed a major league start. He's consistent. And, to top it all off, he's actually got a personality! From his wikipedia entry, he collects stuffed animals, enjoys barking with seals and is heavily into Zen & Yoga. He also plays guitar and provided guest voice acting in the Adult Swim show Venture Bros.

That being said, he now joins Omar Vizquel as the only Giants with actual personalities.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Glenn Dickey -- an even bigger hack than Ray Ratto

Who's the most hackezoidal sports writer around? It's probably a tie between the LA Times' Bill Plaschke and the SF Examiner's Glenn Dickey. The latest lame offering from Dickey is his take on the Zito signing, almost a week after it happened. There's nothing new -- just the usual concerns over declining strikeout rates and increasing ERA -- but what caught my eye as worthy of the Hack Hall of Fame was this paragraph --

But the Mets reportedly offered only five years and $75 million. Zito would have had to apply for the federal food stamp program.


Monday, January 01, 2007

The SF Chronicle -- snide and wrong

The San Francisco Chronicle continues to show off the limitations of the talents of its sports staff. The latest is a Ray Ratto column that offers up the expected snide tone -- a basic take that the addition of Zito isn't enough to win the NL West. That's fine to make that assertion if you can back that up with factual evidence. But here's what Ray has to say --

Indeed, the Giants, who needed more new faces, will have but the two, Zito and, for roughly $118 million less, manager Bruce Bochy, while the A's, who won 93 games and came within a brutally clinical beating by the Detroit Tigers of reaching the World Series, have already dramatically re-rostered, and may not yet be done.

I'm really not that interested in the "re-rostered" A's. But it's a flat-out LIE to say there's only two new guys in the Orange and Black, given the very recent signings of Klesko, Molina, Aurilia and Roberts. I guess Ray figures that none of these guys will make a difference but it's not as if the Giants haven't been significantly "re-rostered," to use Ray's oh-so-cute term.

One thing the Chronicle never seems to get is that its readers are a lot more interested in the Giants than the A's, as even a cursory glance at attendance figures would demonstrate -- if the covered third deck at the A's home games hadn't already driven home the point. This column is just more evidence that the Chronicle's sports page written and edited by people who don't give a damn about their readers.