Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sleazy, sleazy, sleazy

That would be the excerpts about Tommy Lasorda from "Secrets of a Hollywood Super Madam," thanks to the site Sports By Brooks. Here's the best part from Tommy The Fat Hypocrite, who went out of his way to santimoniously bash Barry Bonds last year.

Sasha/Gibson: "How much time are you looking to spend?"
Lasorda: "I’m not sure, maybe an hour and a half. I don’ t have that much time. How much for that?"
Sasha/Gibson: "It’s $1,000 per hour. So that would cost you $1,500. You can visit her at her place. She lives in the Hollywood area."
Lasorda: "That sounds fine, Sash. I’m looking to get together this week. I’m thinking Thursday late afternoon. I’ve got to get home to the wife for dinner."

Best reactions from posters at McCovey Chronicles --
Moogeee -- Let's take a moment to extend our sympathies to the poor bedraggled skank who was assigned by Madame Gibson to service the Tommy account.
That's laying it on the line (or, more accurately, on the blubber.)
Truly, service above and beyond the noble call of her duty.


howtheyscored -- Lasorda puts the F-A-T in Fatuous.

Cain locked in for 4 years

What we've been waiting for


Shot of Tim Lincecum at Tuesday's intersquad game, from Giants Jottings. He got the side out on nine pitches with one strike out.

Dumb and Dumber

That would be the SF Chronicle and the LA Times baseball coverage. Despite having more resources than the Chron, the Times has easily managed to surpass the Chron's stupidity. Tuesday's T.J. Simers column was a new low, arguing that Maury Willis should be in the Hall of Fame. Here are his reasons --

-- his "impact" on the game.
-- the 1962 MVP, which was a thorough disgrace when you consider the season that Willie Mays had (130 runs scored, 49 HRs, 140 RBIs, 86 extra base hits, .615 slugging, 18 of 20 SBs) and the fact that the Giants went to the World Series. The MVP should have been re-named the Most Hyped Player in honor of Wills.
-- the 3 World Championships, which had much more to do with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale than Wills.
-- the fact that "most baseball people" that Simers has talked with believe Wills belongs in the Hall. He doesn't identify any of them and the only person he quotes in Maury Wills.
-- the fact that Wills says he should be in the Hall.
-- that "they couldn't catch him" when it's obvious that catchers began adjusting to Wills after 1962. He was thrown out 19 times in 59 attempts in 1963 and 24 times in 62 attempts in 1964, thus negating any value of his stolen bases.

Does Simers bother looking at Wills record? Don't make me laugh. Wills never had an onbase percentage over .359; never walked more than 59 times a year; got caught stealing better than 25% of the time, negating the value of his stolen bases; never had over 19 doubles in a year; and hit only 20 homers his entire career. And in the 1966 World Series choke, he was 1-for-13. He also made 284 errors in his 14-year career (40 in 1960!), compared with 176 by Omar Vizquel in 18 years. In other words, Wills was a badly over-rated out-making machine who parlayed his 104 SBs in 1962 into a career that was five years longer than it should have been.

Of course, the LA Times reporters also don't understand why Juan Pierre is held in such low esteem by people who are knowledgeable about MLB. With writers like Simers repeating such drivel, it's no surprise at all that Dodger fans are the dumbest in baseball, year in and year out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Another reason why Giants fans love Willie Mays

photo by Mark Pritchard

Willie has just said he'll be willing to follow the team around on the road as Barry Bonds gets near No. 755 and 756. That's the kind of teammate Willie was. Here's what Willie said in Henry Schulman's story --

"I don't know if I'll be involved," Mays said as he began his annual visit to camp, "but if the club feels they want me to go on the road and Barry needs some kind of companionship, I will. He might start feeling a little pressure when he starts getting close to that number."

Who would you rather see congratulating Bonds -- Selig or Mays?

"He had the other magic ingredient that turns a superstar into a super Superstar. Charisma. He lit up a room when he came in. He was a joy to be around.--Leo Durocher, Mays's first manager, Nice Guys Finish Last.

There's a great description of Mays' arrival before the exhibition game in George Plimpton's "Out of My League" in which Plimpton uses the same phrase to describe how the entire clubhouse lit up when Mays showed up.

New York Daily News columnist David Hinkley recently wrote, "If you were a 14-year-old kid in the summer of 1951, you couldn't just knock on Willie Mays' window at 9 o'clock in the morning and have Willie come out and play stickball with you. Well, actually, you could." In fact, the games were followed by a trip to the soda shop -- Mays's treat.

Lasorda says he's not a sleaze

Today's LA Times is reporting that Tommy Lasorda was a client of high-priced madam ($3,000) Joey "Babydol" Gibson, according to her new book, "Secrets of a Hollywood Super Madam." Here's Lasorda's response --

"I have never heard of this woman and don't know why she would accuse me of something like this," Lasorda said in a statement issued by his attorney, Tony Capozzola. "But if she prints these lies, I intend to sue."

Giants Win will keep you posted on whether the sanctimonious Lasorda folllows through on his threat.

Monday, February 26, 2007

A question for the LA Times

Here's the question -- why does your sports section suck? I'm not just asking because of essential evil that the Dodgers represent but due to the abysmal baseball coverage. The paper hired a guy from the Miami Herald, Kevin Baxter, as its beat reporter after several others left and he's turned out a long puff piece about Juan Pierre. Deep in the article, there's one mention of his pathetic onbase percentage -- but it still manages to completely mis-characterize his recent performance. -- Pierre's weak throwing arm and his aggressiveness at the plate — he has drawn more than 45 walks only once in his career, resulting in a .350 lifetime on-base percentage — have led some to argue that the Dodgers may not be getting the bargain they thought they were when they signed the 29-year-old free agent to a five-year contract.

HELLOOOOOOOOO!!!!! His OBP has been NOWHERE NEAR .350 in the last two years -- .326 and .330, among the worst in MLB for a leadoff hitter. And what about Pierre getting thrown out stealing 20 times last year in 78 attempts, pretty much nullifying the value of his 58 steals? It's as if it never happened.

No wonder Dodger fans are so ignorant.

A good question for the SF Chronicle

Jefferson at the always-entertaining Skaldheim, who doesn't post much but is worth a read when he does, makes several excellent points about the SF Chronicle's spring training coverage being inferior when compared with Giants Jottings so far. Henry Schulman has 2 stories today about Tyler Walker and Giants Idol, but I think Jefferson is being way too charitable when he says that you might get one-third as much info from the Chron. The actual percentage is far lower. Anyhow, here's most of this post and as usual, the boldface is mine --

In days of old, we had to read the newspapers to get any news from the desert. The only way to get first-hand, unfiltered information was to fly to Arizona yourself and watch spring training personally. Now, in the days of the World Wide Web, we have choices. We can still go to newspaper websites for that professionally filtered outlook, or we can go to blogs by fans who are actually there, without agendas. (I suppose catching some rays and drinking some beer is a kind of agenda, but don't distract me. I have a point to make, eventually.)

If I were the editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, I would have to ask some hard questions of my sports department. I don't know how many full-time paid journalists the Chronicle has assigned to cover the Giants in Arizona. At least one, right? How can these pros get outdone on a daily basis by the unnamed "amateur" who at Giants Jottings? Look at the coverage at Jottings. He has photos of nearly every player he can see. The Chronicle, despite having a professional website with extras like blogs, doesn't give us very many photos. If we want to see for ourselves how Russ Ortiz is looking, we can either take the Chron's word for it, or we can look at the photos on Jottings.

Jottings also has the Chron beat when it comes to actual prose coverage. Jottings tells you who pitched batting practice, and who hit. He tells you how they did, how they looked, and any interesting or relevant comments the players make. He gives you a really good glimpse at the jokes, the fun, the camaraderie, and he leaves the jaded snark at home. The Chronicle might give you a third of that information, if you're lucky. The rest is jaded snark, sanctimonous proselytizing, or worse.

There is a place in the newspapers for opinion pieces, of course. In the main news section, however, there is at least an attempt to herd the opinion pieces into the opinion section, and the journalism into the forefront. Not so with sports. The lines there are much blurrier, and to the detriment of the fans who don't have another choice.Those of us who do have that choice should take advantage of it, and wrest our fandom from the hands of the jaded and the sour. All we ask for is information. It shouldn't be too much to ask from a newspaper.


Here's Barry!


Amazing what players do to build that team feeling! In this case, it's Rich Aurilia, Barry Zito and Randy Winn Sweeney as the "Giants Idol" judges to haze the rookies. Giantsfan9 shot this at Giants Jottings and Nick Peters of the Sacramento Bee has coverage (registration required).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why not pick on Finley?

As a follow up to my last post on the horrific Michael Ventre column, lazy hacks like Ventre never point out the kind of players where there might be a legitimate debate as to whether a player should retire if he's going to be blocking a prospect from the MLB. Case in point -- Steve Finley just signed a minor league deal with the Rockies after two incredibly unproductive seasons with the Giants and Angels.

I would say that Finley's pathetic performance last year and Felipe's insistence on giving him over 400 ABS was a major factor in how badly the Giants did although Ventre probably is part of the "It's all Barry's fault" contingent. I still say that if a player can get on to a roster, more power to him. How dare a dingbat like Ventre decree when it's time to hang 'em up?

I think Finley is a bit of a longshot to make the roster, given how lousy he's been and the fact that he'll be 42 soon. But given the ability of the Rox to torment the Orange and Black, I suppose there's a chance that Finley will make the team and do his usual subpar performance -- except against the Giants.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

What an idiot

Michael Ventre of MSNBC has written one of the worst columns I've seen recently, which is saying something when you consider the abysmal coverage out of the SF Chornicle lately. He decides, rather than doing any actual reporting, that it would be newsworthy to list six players that he thinks should retire because they've committed the transgression of "overstaying their welcome." As if it's any of Ventre's business as to when a player decides to retire.

The six are Bonds, Clemens, Juan Gonzalez, Bernie Williams, Sosa and Manny Ramirez. And disgusting is not too strong a word to characterize this column, which hack writers dust off periodicially. Late in his career, one of the idiot LA Times columnists asserted that it was time for Nolan Ryan to get out; then he pitched a 2-hitter in his next outing over 7 innings, even though he was 46 at the time.

I've always hated sportswriters who think that a player's decision to retire somehow should be the writer's decision. And they never pick a marginal guy like Neifi Perez. No, it's always someone who 1. was a star who used to be better on the field but is still a contributor and 2. is probably not a very good interview.

The Bonds watch


Giantsfan9 takes a photo of a photographer shooting Bonds. Great coverage of spring training every day at Giants Jottings.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lasorda makes little girl cry



Tommy
forgot to take the Beano.
by Moggeee on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 05:25:57 PM EST
Re: Lasorda makes little kids cry
I think her eyes are burning from seeing Lasorda stuffed into those uniform pants.
Some things should be banned.
by Furf Rocky on Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 05:25:58 PM EST

FCC investigating MLB deal with DirecTV

My guess is that the FCC will conclude that Bud Selig is a dangerous dingbat and that DirecTV is run by a bunch of sleazebags. In other words, a perfect marriage. Here's the AP story from yesterday --

WASHINGTON -- The government is investigating a proposed deal between Major League Baseball and DirecTV Inc. that has had fans in a tizzy.
MLB reportedly seeks to strike an exclusive deal with the satellite television provider to offer its "Extra Innings" baseball package. Disclosure of the Federal Communications Commission's investigation of any such deal came in a letter from FCC chairman Kevin Martin that Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., released Thursday.
The programming option allows baseball fans who live outside the markets of their favorite teams to watch them play for an extra fee. It is currently available to a number of cable and satellite television providers.
Kerry had asked Martin to investigate the "proposed $700 million television deal that could deny many consumers the ability to watch their favorite teams."
Martin, in reply, wrote Kerry: "I share your concerns regarding this proposed deal."
The chairman added that he understood the package had been available to 75 million cable and satellite viewers for the past several years, and would only be viewable by DirecTV customers if a deal were signed.
"I am concerned whenever consumers cannot purchase the programming they want or are forced to purchase programming they don't want," Martin wrote.
DirecTV has never confirmed that the widely reported deal even exists. Robert Mercer, director of public relations for DirecTV, declined to comment late Thursday.
Martin wrote that the agency has "contacted the parties and requested additional information about their proposed arrangement. Once we have this information, we will report to you on the deal's implications for consumers and any recommended changes to the law to ameliorate any harms to consumers."


Here'e the top of Richard Sandomir's story from the NY Times (registration required), along with a link to protest the sleazy/egregious behavior of Selig and DirecTV. I did not realize until I read this that the MLB deal on "Extra Innings" with DirecTV runs for SEVEN GODDAMN YEARS --

For five or six minutes yesterday, there was delicious speculation that Major League Baseball would officially announce its extremely pending $700 million deal with DirecTV to carry its Extra Innings package of out-of-market games.
It didn’t happen.
So another ephemeral slice of industry gossip subsequently sprinted into view, then dashed away with the greatest alacrity: that DirecTV’s seven-year exclusive grip on Extra Innings would lapse after three seasons.
If true, both would have riveted the fans who will lose Extra Innings on cable or the Dish Network once this season starts and who have been venting their fury in chat rooms, fan forums and columnists’ e-mail in-boxes.
“If major league execs want to rip this gigantic piece of Eden from me, I’ll be devastated,” read one of the newest of 4,041 responses on a petition opposing the deal, at
www.petitiononline.com/MLBCABLE/petition.html. “DirecTV is not an option. I like and prefer my home cable system.”
Letting the exclusivity lapse after the 2009 season might have eased a bit of the outrage. And, potentially, it might have softened the guaranteed fulminations on Capitol Hill when baseball and DirecTV officials testify sometime soon before the Senate Commerce Committee.
But according to executives familiar with the agreement who were not authorized to speak about it, the exclusivity will not be relaxed, at least not when the deal is announced. If it is eventually eased, DirecTV would surely reduce its payments, a savvy strategy if it believes it has converted a significant number of new customers and reached a ceiling of Extra Innings buyers.

Perhaps DirecTV believes it can expand the Extra Innings universe, which is pretty small right now. Last year, there were fewer than 600,000 subscribers, with cable accounting for about one-third, DirecTV nearly half and Dish the rest.
Despite the lack of public action by M.L.B. and DirecTV — who are also laboriously finalizing the details of the satellite service carrying baseball’s separate and new 24/7 channel to its 15 million subscribers starting in 2009 — something happened yesterday. The
Federal Communications Commission’s chairman responded to a request for intervention by Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, by saying the agency will examine the Extra Innings deal.
“I am concerned whenever consumers cannot purchase the programming they want or are forced to purchase programming they don’t want,” wrote Kevin J. Martin, the F.C.C.’s chairman. He said he had asked each side to give him information and promised Senator Kerry that “we will report to you on the deal’s implications for consumers and any recommended changes to the law to ameliorate any harms to consumers.”
Part of the response to Martin will certainly be that cable and Dish subscribers can switch (more easily than they think) to DirecTV, and can also watch the games for a lower price on
mlb.com’s mlb.tv service.
The answer will probably exclude the lesser satisfaction that is derived from watching a game on a computer screen.Baseball and DirecTV will undoubtedly remind Martin of an F.C.C. rule that says landlords and condominium or co-op boards cannot unreasonably restrict the installation of satellite dishes. But pity the fan who nails a dish to his terrace and still must battle his disbelieving co-op board in court. He might win, but his legal costs would exceed the $179 he would have paid DirecTV for Extra Innings.

Giant nicknames

McCovey Chronicles has a decent recent post about the best Giant nicknames, without even mentioning McCovey being best known as "Stretch" -- the name that any self-respecting Giants fan from the 60s and 70s recalls. Here are some other decent ones:

Billy "Digger" O'Dell
"Sad Sam" Jones
John "The Count" Montefusco
Orlando "The Baby Bull" Cepeda
Mike "Buffy" LaCoss
Jeffrey "One Flap Down" Leonard
Rick "Big Daddy" Reuschel
Don "Caveman" Robinson
Jack "The Ripper" Clark
Will "The Thrill" Clark
Candy "The Candyman" Maldonando
Roger "Humm Baby" Craig
Greg "Moon Man" Minton
Kirk "Woody" Reuter
"Ray Ray" Durham

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The SF Chronicle's reputation in tatters

I've read thousands of worlds about last week's disclosure of how defense attorney Troy Ellerman leaked the BALCO testimony to the Chronicle and then tried to use that leaking to get his client off. I'd say the best analysis comes from media columnist Tim Rutten of the LA Times, who makes the point that the journalists involved in using the "protection of sources" argument in the Scooter Libby case (Miller, Russert, Cooper) and the BALCO case (Williams and Fainauru-Wada) are themselves guilty of misusing their power and delusions of grandeur. Here are some excerpts; the boldface is mine --

Miller received support from journalists across the country when she resisted a federal grand jury's demand that she testify about how she came to know that the critic, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was married to CIA agent Valerie Plame. Her paper defended her right to protect her sources in litigation all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As it turns out, what she was concealing was not a confidential source but her own connection to a powerful and calculating manipulator out to ruin another man's reputation.

Russert came off looking particularly bad when, under cross-examination, it emerged that he made a public show of resisting a grand jury demand that he testify about his conversation with Libby, while secretly providing information to the FBI. Maybe that's how sophisticated Washington journalists navigate "the system," but an ordinary person with no more than the sense of right and wrong that they learned at Mother's knee would call his conduct what it is: sleazy double-dealing.The picture that emerges here is of a stratum of the Washington press corps less interested in the sort of journalistic privilege that serves the public interest than in the kind of privileged access that ensures prominent bylines and good airplay.

Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters — Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams — have made themselves poster children for advocates of a federal shield law by risking jail to protect the source who leaked them federal grand jury testimony by three professional baseball stars, including Barry Bonds.Thursday, we learned just who they were protecting when Troy L. Ellerman, a defense lawyer for one of BALCO's vice presidents, pleaded guilty to contempt of court, obstruction of justice and filing a false declaration with a federal court. Ellerman leaked the testimony to the Chronicle reporters, then went out and argued that the ensuing publicity would deny his client a fair trial. Worse, he actually filed motions with the court alleging that prosecutors had leaked the testimony and that charges against the BALCO official should be dismissed.The two reporters maintained their silence while all this occurred. Worse, Fainaru-Wada returned to the defense attorney's office to obtain still more leaked testimony after their source had lied in public and to the court.

To assert any form of journalistic privilege in a situation like that is something far worse than moral obtuseness. Conspiring with somebody you know is actively perverting the administration of justice to your mutual advantage is a betrayal of the public interest whose protection is the only basis on which journalistic privilege of any sort has a right to assert itself. Maybe this is how sophisticated investigative reporters navigate the ambiguities of "source management," but an ordinary person with no more than the sense of right and wrong that they learned at Mother's knee would call this conduct what it is: sleazy and contemptible.

There's more at stake here than just an abstract preoccupation with journalistic ethics or the trade-school mechanics of handling sourcing in news stories. Journalists consumed with a self-interest so strong that it makes them the willing dupes of manipulative sources report what they're meant to report and not the information the public has a right to know. In the Libby case, for example, while all these high-powered correspondents were busily lapping up anonymous tidbits about Wilson's marital status, nobody connected the dots. The public was not told what it needed to know, which was that the White House was engaging in a furious campaign to discredit a critic of its rationale for war.It was all of a piece with the cozy journalist-source relationships that made most of the serious news media's reporting in the months before we invaded Iraq all but useless.

The Barrys


Here's a shot of Zito and Bonds, as if you couldn't figure that out, on Tuesday in Scottsdale. What's not to like?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Another great move by Bud "The Brain" Selig

In his endless pursuit of one thing -- more money for the owners -- Bud Selig's decided to alienate some of the hardest of the hardcore baseball fans (230,000 of them) who were subscribing to the "Extra Innings" package at $179 per season via their cable companies or Dish. Instead, according to this AP piece by Jim Litke, you can only get the equivalent package by getting DirecTV or watching on your PC. He actually gets off a decent capper by proposing that the new slogan be "Baseball -- Love it and Leave It."

I lost my Extra Innings last season after Paul Allen's Charter Communications decided that it couldn't make a deal. I'm still steamed. So I can only imagine how all these people are going to feel when they discover that the package is no longer available. And it gets worse. According to Litke, DirecTV sealed the deal by promising to save a spot in its basic programming tier for a 24/7 channel MLB plans to launch by 2009. Which means that instead of the 75 million homes that could have ordered "Extra Innings" through cable, Dish Network and DirecTV, only the 15 million on DirecTV will even have the option.

Sounds pretty stupid to me!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Barry's ready


No doubt about it. After taking Matt Cain deep today, he said, "I'm ready," provoking much laughter. Both Giants Jottings and McCovey Chronicles -- excellent places to find out what's going on with the Orange and Black -- pointed out that he's much trimmer this year. I would contend that the multiple operations and forced inactivity of 2005 led to his slow start last year.
In the 2nd round of BP, Bonds hit two more homers. Here's what Giantfan9 reports --

Bonds looks great, by the way. He appears to be in the best shape he has been in 2 or 3 years. The belly is pretty much gone and his legs and arms look solid. He walked without any sign of the limp he had early last year. I could close my eyes and tell you when Bonds was at the plate. The ball just has a different sound coming off his bat. Not the normal "crack"........more of a loud "crunch".Another good Barry/Barry story that I must tell. After the first round of batting practice, both Barry Bonds and Barry Zito disappeared into the dugout/clubhouse. A few minutes later, they both came out, side-by-side, each wearing almost identical t-shirts. Both shirts were black with orange printing on them. Both said "Don't ask me, ask Barry". Under the printing there was an arrow......pointing to the right on Zito's shirt......and pointing to the left on Bonds' shirt.......so that the arrow was pointing to the "other Barry" who was not wearing that shirt. Funny stuff......very funny stuff. I was down the line and was unable to get a photo of the shirts.........I am sure it will be in the papers tomorrow (or on the internet tonight). Yep....that Giants clubhouse just has no fun at all.....always at each others' throats.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The return of Giants Jottings


San Francisco Giants Jottings is a fine spring training blog written by Giantfan9 with a comprehensive run-down of everything that's going on in Scottsdale, including all kinds of photos such as this one of Kevin Frandsen. Note the two hands -- my Little League coach would approve!

The blog only appeared through spring training last year so I never included it in the links but I'll add it now. Here's part of his report for today --
Newly arriving players today (or at least the first time I have seen them) were Ray Durham, Randy Winn, Omar Vizquel and several others that I couldn't recognize without uniforms. Even though I do this every year......it takes me awhile to associate the faces with the players. I need the uniforms to help jog my memory the first couple of days. More players took infield today and most took some work, out of view, in the batting cages. Live batting practice was limited to just 1 group of three catchers. None of the early arriving position players were allowed to take BP.....although I saw several trying talk the coaches into it. Again.....the position players seem to be in very good shape as were the pitchers. So far it looks like they are all ready to play.By 10:45 am, the workout was over.
When I left the only baseball work that was going on was Kevin Frandsen fielding groundballs. Every time I have seen Frandsen workout he is on the field before everyone else and is the last to leave. No one comes close to taking as many groundballs as him except for maybe Omar. Practice is usually very short on reporting day, but I think today's was even shorter than usual due to the rain. One other thing I have noticed is that Barry Zito is going WAY out of his way to be very fan friendly. He won't come over during practice (as none of the players will) but at the end he will sign autographs as long as there are people there asking him. He must have signed for 10 minutes while I was still at the park and he was still signing when I left. I have also been told that he will sign in the morning when he arrives and also when he is on his way out of the stadium at the end of the day. Personally, I don't get autographs....I think they should be for kids only......but it's nice to see a player taking the time time to sign for all comers. Pretty rare these days.

Remembering Robb

The Giants are planning to hire Robb Nen as a special assistant. It's hard not to feel a special affection for a guy who did so much to get the Orange and Black into the World Series five years ago and then hurt his arm so badly in the post-season that he never pitched again.

What Giant fan who was at PacBell during those years doesn't get a bit of a chill on hearing "Smoke on the Water" on the radio, even at this late date?

Robb totaled 314 saves in 10 years, about two thirds of those in the five years he spent in the Orange and Black. He came in 4th in Cy Young voting and 12th in MVP voting in 2000, when his ERA was 1.50.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The real deal

Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle has already decreed that the Tim Lincecum story is going to be a major story of the Giants Spring training. And Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Merc-News reports that Bochy's open to the idea of Lincecum joining the rotation. Here's the most interesting part of Andrew's piece --

Zito's new mechanics might have startled Giants officials Thursday, but he's got nothing on Lincecum -- a 5-foot-10, 160-pounder who makes up for his lack of size by using an unorthodox, highly leveraged delivery. It's the creation of his father, Chris, a former semipro player who drew inspiration from studying film of Sandy Koufax and Bob Feller.
``It works well with my body, it's kept me from getting hurt, and it helps me get as much as possible from my slender frame,'' Lincecum said. ``(Coaches) always shied away from trying to help me because of how unorthodox it is or they say it is. They really haven't tried to change me at all, anywhere.''
The Giants won't start. By decree of Giants vice president Dick Tidrow, coaches are forbidden from tinkering with Lincecum's mechanics.
Those mechanics allow Lincecum to generate power. His fastball hit 98 mph in a playoff start for Class A San Jose, and some scouts say he has the best curveball of any drafted player since Kerry Wood.
Other scouts say they believe he is an injury risk because of his size -- a view the Giants don't share.


An optimistic poster on the Chronicle's Splash blog named Kar120c goes so far as to say that Lincecum reminds him of a young Doc Gooden. I specifically remember how good Gooden was back in his rookie year, even outdeuling Fernando Valenzuela in this 2-0 game for his 3rd victory on May 11 by striking out 11, including closing out the game by striking out the side in 9th -- Terry Whitfield, Pedro Guerrero and Mike Marshall. It was wall-to-wall heat from Doc all night long. Anyhow, here's Kar120c's post --

He has dominated everywhere he has been since his sophomore year at Washington U. He has a whip for a right arm, and his delivery is definitely unorthodox (reminisent of Luis Tiant, less 80 pounds). His situation reminds me of Dwight Gooden in 1984 (before they strated calling him Doc). He was fifth pick in Round #1 of the 1982 Amateur Baseball Draft (Shawon Dunston was the first pick, Barry Bonds went 10th in the second round that year). Gooden went thru the minors like a meteor in 1983, and by spring training in 1984, he was knocking on the door of the rotation with the Mets. The Mets were loaded with good young arms at that time (Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Bruce, Tim Leary, Calvin Schiraldi, Jesse Orosco, Walt Terrell) and did not want to rush Gooden (he was just 19 years old). But he dominated in spring training and Davey Johnson had no choice but to put him in the rotation. I saw him pitch that year on numerous occasions, and it was one of the few times in the last 25 years I have seen even the best MLB hitters overmatched all year long. The book on Lincecum is much like the one on Gooden - overpowering fastball and knee-buckling curveball - a tough combination for even the best hitters. If Lincecum dominates in camp like he has everywhere else, he will be tough to keep out of the rotation.

Friday, February 16, 2007

An exception to the media's Bonds hate-fest

Baseball Primer's newsblog linked to a very readable Joe Posnanski column talking about his uniformly pleasant experiences interviewing Barry Bonds. Joe is the author of the upcoming book "The Soul of Baseball" about the late Buck O'Neill. Here's part of the column --

I don't mean he's been semi-nice or tolerable. He's always been nice -- really, really nice. The first time I interviewed him, I was a kid columnist in Augusta, Ga. Nobody was nice to me then. The security guards on the field hassled me. The people working the concession stand mocked me. Barry Bonds was nice. He talked to me for an extended period of time, answered every one of the questions, never showed even the slightest sign of being annoyed or grumpy at all. I can remember sitting next to one of the Pittsburgh writers in the press box that night and saying, "Hey, that Barry Bonds is a pretty good guy, isn't he?" The writer glared at me as if I had said "You know, Stalin had his good points."

A new era

Matt Cain announces he's taking the number 18, which Moises Alou wore the last two years. This is the kind of perfect spring training story that gets everyone in the mood for the upcoming season, even though we're still 2 weeks away from actual exhibition games.

Matt also talks about his turnaround last year from 1-5 and points out the May 16 game where he threw 2 perfect innings in relief. Though he didn't say so, that game was memorable for a far different reason -- it was the night of a 14-3 blowout by Orange and Black which featured Russ Springer throwing at Bonds and the Stupid Astros fans cheering a head hunter. If ever there was a game showing why the Astros deserved to get wiped out by the Chisox in the 2005 World Series, that was it.

Remembering Bobby


This is a shot of Bobby Bonds in better days.
Bobby Bonds played seven seasons with the Giants -- his best year was probably 1973 -- and then played the next seven seasons with seven different teams. Josh Wilker at Cardboard Gods has an excellent recap of the Bonds-Murcer trade and what it meant at the time along with its launching Bonds as a vagabond, highlighted by some non-Giant Bonds cards from the era. He starts by quoting the part of the lyrics from the song "Man of Constant Sorrow," which got some recognition from the fine film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Here's the whole song --
I am a man of constant sorrow
I've seen trouble all my day.
I bid farewell to old Kentucky
The place where I was born and raised.
(The place where he was born and raised)
For six long years I've been in trouble
No pleasures here on earth I found
For in this world I'm bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now.
(He has no friends to help him now)
It's fare thee well my old lover
I never expect to see you again
For I'm bound to ride that northern railroad
Perhaps I'll die upon this train.
(Perhaps he'll die upon this train)
You can bury me in some deep valley
For many years where I may lay
Then you may learn to love another
While I am sleeping in my grave.
(While he is sleeping in his grave)
Maybe your friends think I'm just a stranger
My face you'll never see no more.
But there is one promise that is given
I'll meet you on God's golden shore.
(He'll meet you on God's golden shore)

Fun with Buttmando Blownitez!


Amidst a discussion over Blownitez' role, a poster named PacBellBoozer posted this at McCovey Chronicles with the comment -- I'm more troubled that nobody else noticed his new after-workout snack sponsor.
I'm laughing every time I look at it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Bonds signs -- can the Chronicle can go back to being a real paper?

Bonds has just signed his deal. I'm sure the Chronicle is disappointed after its constant campaign against him.

But the source of the grand jury leak (a defense attorney) in the Balco case has given himself up, which means that SF Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada no longer face prison time. Here's hoping that the Chronicle's hate-fest against Barry Bonds might let up just a tad. If they can write glowing stories about Blownitez, (and ignore the fact that Buttmando got himself into this fix by over-eating and getting out of shape) would it be that much to expect a break from the constant Barry Bonds IS Satan stories?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Days Are Here Again!


Zito with his game face on. photo by nosaints10

Yes, pitchers and catches reported today. Barry Zito, he of the $126 million deal, is in mid-season form when it comes to making AP reporters jobs easy with fine quotes, such as --

-- "Barry and I have a good relationship," Zito said. "If I can somehow lighten the load off of him, so you guys can just take a hard right when you're going to his locker and start talking to me."
-- "It's been pretty seamless," he said of the adjustment. "It feels good. It feels natural. I feel like I know most of the people in the clubhouse just because I've played against them and played with a couple of them or at least know some off the field."
-- "Ever since the press conference I've been just wearing my Giants hat around everywhere in L.A., just getting used to it and preparing myself to have it be natural," Zito said. "I would just wear it my car, not going out."
-- "Hmm, just details," Zito said (of Bonds). "I saw him at UCLA a few times working out. We caught up there and kind of shot the breeze a little bit. He looks amazing. He's ready to go."
-- (of his .034 -- 2-for-52 -- career batting average during seven seasons with Oakland) "I just haven't ever taken it seriously. I may get criticized or whatever but it's not something I had any integrity of doing," Zito said. "There was no reason to take time out of my day to get five at-bats a year. Now, I can make a difference in every game I'm in."


Giants Win is officially damn happy that spring training has started, when all things (such as the Dodgers losing all 162 games, Nomar going on the 60-day D.L., Derek Lowe and Stan Conte getting arrested for stabbing Tommy Lasorda with a pasta fork, and Jason Schmidt going 0-14) are possible. How happy is Giants Win? Happy enough to post the lyrics to the Rolling Stones song of the same name. On Valentine's Day, I hope you are happy with your life and your loved ones --


Well I never kept a dollar past sunset, It always burned a hole in my pants.Never made a school mama happy, Never blew a second chance, oh no


I need a love to keep me happy, I need a love to keep me happy. Baby, baby keep me happy. Baby, baby keep me happy.


Always took candy from strangers, Didn't wanna get me no trade. Never want to be like papa, Working for the boss ev'ry night and day.


I need a love to keep me happy, I need a love, baby won't ya keep me happy. Baby, won't ya keep me happy. Baby, please keep me


I need a love to keep me happy, I need a love to keep me happy. Baby, baby keep me happy. Baby, baby keep me happy.


Never got a flash out of cocktails, When I got some flesh off the bone. Never got a lift out of Lear jets, When I can fly way back home.


I need a love to keep me happy, I need a love to keep me happy. Baby, baby keep me happy. Baby, baby keep me happy.


Back to Congress?

SI's John Donovan says former MLB Commisoner Fay Vincent is predicting that George Mitchell's steroids probe will wind up back in Congress. As usual, SI does a crappy job of overlooking the obvious questions, which is --

With the Bush Administration doing everything it can to --
-- oppose efforts to stop global warming.
-- build a bogus case to start a war with Iran and
-- keep US military deaths increasing in Iraq to support a war based on egregious lies by rightwing dingbats like Scooter Libby and Douglas Feith

Doesn't Congress have better things to do than demonize professional athletes once again? Apparently not even though I don't recall a single candidate running on that issue last fall, either.

Perhaps they should call on Carlos Delgado to testify and he could talk about what it was like to be booed by Yankee fans for expressing his feelings against the war in 2004 and whether anyone boos him now for being antiwar. Here's what he had to say -- "I think it's the stupidest war ever."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

45 days til Opening Day


Photo of Mays Field by greg_ 2199

Monday, February 12, 2007

Bobby Murcer's two years in the Orange and Black


Even a hardcore fan like me had to look this up when I saw this Bobby Murcer card posted on Josh Wilker's outstanding Cardboard Gods site. I was trying to remember how long Murcer played for the Giants. And Joe Ferguson out of a Dodger uniform?

It turns out it's a 1977 card, so Murcer wasn't even on the team at that point. He'd already gone over to the Cubs. Bobby was a pretty decent player who spent the 1975 and 1976 seasons as a Giant after the Yanks swapped him for Bobby Bonds. He complained about playing for the Giants, who were pretty bad back then, and was then traded for Bill Madlock six weeks before the 1977 season started.

Josh figured out that the picture is from a game on July 18, 1976, extrapolating that it was the only time that Ferguson played in a road game against the Giants that year. The Giants lost the game 5-4 in extras and Ferguson got 3 hits while Murcer went 0-for-4. By the way, Josh's post notes that Murcer's currently recovering from a brain tumor but he's hoping to back in the broadcast booth by Opening Day.

New York, New York, New York

Wallace Matthews of Newsday has a pretty good column about the notion of getting a third MLB team into the New York area. He argues that the New York area populace is actually under-served and suggests the Jeffrey Loria might move the Marlins, given the distressed state of the franchise. I imagine that the owners of Tampa Bay and Kansas City have considered similar steps. What would probably make more sense is adding two more teams to the American League -- one in New Jersey and the other in Las Vegas or Portland. Here's the top of Matthews' piece:

New York is a baseball town. Always has been, always will be. How much do we love baseball around here?
Last year, more than 7.5 million people went to baseball games in New York. This year, the figure will be closer to 8 million. But when the new ballparks for the Yankees and Mets open in 2009, the raw numbers will go down - there will be something like 20,000 fewer seats available between both parks - and so will your chances of getting in to see a game.

Demand drives the engine and supply tries to keep it running. Right now, the demand for baseball in this town may be stretching the limits of the supply.So why can't New York support a third major-league baseball team?
For 54 years, we did it quite well, of course, and in 1947, the best cumulative attendance year the Yankees, the Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers ever had, a total of 5.6 million people paid their way into Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds and Ebbets Field.That is still nearly 2 million fewer than went to the two remaining ballparks in New York last year.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bruce Jenkins = hack loser


photo of Alex Rodriguez by JLovely
One of the great things about the Internet is that it's possible to back up such a statement quickly. Today's Bruce Jenkins column in the Chronicle is truly breathtaking in its stupidity. He decides that it's time to weigh in on how the Yankees should have dumped A-Rod because he's a "phony." Here's the key portion of the article --

Shouldn't it be enough that the man has produced 119 homers and 357 RBIs in his three years with the Yankees? Not when other numbers come forth, such as his league-leading 24 errors at third base last year (the A's Eric Chavez had 5) or his routinely dismal postseason hitting (5 hits in his last 46 at-bats). Those numbers reflect a man at odds with himself and his surroundings, a great natural talent trying too hard to impress. With every fan and journalist in town just waiting for him to fail, why should things be any different this year?

So the team almost gets to the World Series and it's all A-Rod's fault that they don't, according to Jenkins, because he's "trying too hard to impress." As anyone who watched the Tigers win over the Yanks in the ALDS last fall knows, the real reason's pretty simple -- Yankee pitching is in disarray; they're a middle-of-the-pack team in ERA. Meanwhile, they've had a great offense for the 3 years he's been in New York (and led the AL in runs scored last year); the 24 errors by A-Rod don't strike me as much of a reason why the Yanks didn't go all the way last fall.

What's really idiotic about this is that everyone knows that 1. The Yankees are starting off the year as the fave to go the World Series at 7-2 (the Cards are 9-1) and part of that is due to A-Rod and 2. the Yankees aren't going to get rid of A-Rod. There's no plan by the Giants to trade Matt Morris and Pedro Feliz to the Yankees for A-Rod because the Yankees aren't that stupid.

Baseball Think Factory, which does a great job of offering a chance to respond to this kind of nonsense, had a nice succinct post about Jenkin's idiocy today --

willcarrollsux--> Posted: February 10, 2007 at 11:03 AM (#2295230)

ARod's career as a Yankee so far: .305/.386/.573.
Homers per year: 40.
SB/CS per year: 21/5.

Oh, but I'm ignoring he's non-clutch, right?
2006 OPS, with:... Bases empty: 888...
Runners on: 939...
Runners in scoring position: 939...
Runners in scoring position with 2 outs: 970...
Bases loaded: 1289

I really wish people would get off his case.

Just to show he's actually working for a paper in San Francisco, Jenkins does make one extremely obvious observation about Blownitez, though his real agenda appears to be get in yet another cheap shot about Bonds -- So Armando Benitez's attitude has been "great" so far? In February? What does that have to do with anything? It's a simple fact that the Giants can't open the season with him on the roster. They have enough of a public-relations problem with Bonds; they don't need to hear people booing Benitez on Opening Day ...

It's that time of year

If you have money to burn, I suppose now's the time to get it down on your favorite team winning the World Series. Bodog.com lists the Giants at 12-1 and the Dodgers at 15-1. Some British outfit named Bettair lists the Giants at 66-1.

This is in no way an endorsement of betting or of Pete Rose, who, if he ever gets into Cooperstown, should be enshrined in a pay phone booth.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Another reason why Bud Selig is scum

I had forgotten about Bud's worst transgression in light of his most recent Bonds' bashing. A poster named Twinfan pointed it out on the Chronicle's Splash Landing blog (the boldface is mine) --

Now take a good long look at Bud. And listen to him. This is a guy who tried to eliminate the Twins, a far more successful franchise than his ever pathetic Brewers. And he did it for one reason only: to try to steal the entire Upper Midwest fan base for himself. As the old chestnut goes: if he shakes your hand, be sure to count your fingers when it's over...Selig is a dyspepsic old fool who now fancies himself the guardian of all that is holy and good. And what is holy and good: the Color Green. If he thought Bonds breaking the record would put money in his pocket, he'd juice the baseballs to make it happen. And throw a parade...

Excellent news for the Giants

That would be KNBR's announcement today that Jon Miller's just signed for six more years. I must point out that Miller's a major reason why I happily susbscribe to XM Radio. The lead guys for the local teams -- the declining Vin Scully for the Dodgers, who's having a hard time getting anyone's name straight, and Rory Marcus for the Angels -- pale by comparison.

Here's the top of KNBR's announcement -- Insuring that he will remain the "Voice of the Giants," the San Francisco Giants have signed broadcaster Jon Miller to a six-year extension through the 2012 season to work on KNBR radio and selected television broadcasting, club Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer announced today.
"Jon is perhaps the leading baseball broadcaster in the country. We are extremely fortunate to have him calling Giants games for the forseeable future," said Baer. "His knowledge of baseball and the game's history are unsurpassed, and his rich descriptions of Giants games paint a vivid picture for our fans. Jon combines a tremendous wit with a flair for the dramatic, which makes listening to his radio and television accounts such a joy for baseball fans."

Stay away, Bud

AP is reporting that Bud Selig's not sure if he'll show up if Barry Bonds is on the verge of hitting HR No. 756. Let me make it simple for you, Bud. Stay home and think about your sins for a change such as --

-- having canceled the 1994 season and World Series.
-- having allowed the Montreal Expos, Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays to become embarrassments to the game.
-- having a conflict of interest by continuing to own the Brewers while commissioner.
-- calling the All-Star Game a tie and then resolving the situation with an even stupider solution of World Series home-field advantage to the winning league.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Blownitez is still a big fat idiot

Don't believe me? Here's part of Bruce Bochy's interview today on KNBR --

Question to Bochy "How much do you know of Benitez' conditions; his physical well-being right now?"
Bochy: "Well, I've spoken with Armando and he's in Phoenix. We had a trainer that went down to see Armando and uh, uhm a couple, I'm saying a few pounds overweight, and thats not a shock at this time of year. We do have seven weeks to get these guys in the best shape possible for the season. He has started his conditioning program, and it is important that he take a little weight off, to take some stress off his knees and legs."


So here's a guy who's been one of the biggest free agents busts in recent years and a truly horrible teammate -- partly because he's so out of shape. GET. RID. OF. HIM. NOW.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'll be back

No, this is not a post about the idiot Governator. Barry Bonds has told SI's Tom Verducci that he plans to keep playing in 2008. Verducci manages to make himself into an idiot by asserting that the Giants failed last year because of Bonds rather than bothering to look into the real reasons (Blownitez, Finley, Vizcaino, Morris, Sweeney, Niekro, Feliz and Wright). Here's where it gets especially dumb --

I wondered why the Giants, who finished in third place with a losing record last year in a season in which Bonds stayed off the DL, would want Bonds back even for one year. The team needs to get younger and more athletic and is in danger of writing off a third consecutive losing season as a prop to the management and maintenance of one aging slugger.

Well, Tom, let's put aside the economic argument about getting people to show up at Mays Field. Instead, let's take a look at whether or not Bonds was a contributor last year. If you'd bother to look at the stats, the answer's actually pretty simple -- Bonds was by far the best player on the team last year and one of the best alternatives available for 2007. Just because he's not the same player he was five years ago, Bonds-hating sportswriters have been falling into the trap of showing they're idiots by saying he's ineffective and can't field when there's plenty of evidence that he's still a damn good player. As for getting younger, let's not forget that Lance Niekro and Pedro Feliz managed to hurt more than help.

As far as Bonds is concerned, his season last year had the 2nd highest HR total ever for a 41-year-old along with the highest walk total (115) and OBP (.454), the 4th highest RBI total, 3rd highest runs created and extra base hits, 2nd highest OPS and slugging percentage, 5th highest runs scored. In Onbase percentage -- one of the areas which best measures a player's contribution, since it's not impacted by the performance of teammates -- Bonds led the entire MLB last year. There have only been 7 other 41-year-old players who managed to finish over .400 in the entire MLB history. Here's the roll of honor:

1. Barry Bonds .454 2006
2. Ted Williams .451 1960
3. Luke Appling .423 1948
4. Stan Musial .416 1962
5. Cap Anson .415 1893
6. Brian Downing .407 1992
7. Paul Waner .401 1944
8. Willie Mays .400 1972
9. Ty Cobb .389 1928
10. Davey Lopes .381 1986

Would it be asking too much for a Bonds hater and lazy dingbat like Tom Verducci to check these stats out? Of course it would.

Please, please, please

No, that's not another James Brown tribute. Instead, I found RotoTimes writer Ted Carlson asserting that Blownitez may be traded before the season starts. That's why I am saying, "Please, please, please." He also said the Giants are training in Bradentown, Fla., and open their exhibition season with a game against the Reds, so you may want to take what he says with a grain of salt. He says Brian Wilson may have a breakout year --

Wilson had an inconsistent 2006, due in part to strained oblique issues, but the Giants love his stuff. He went to Puerto Rico this winter and dominated. Wilson tied for the league lead with 14 saves, posted a 0.00 ERA and .094 BAA, allowed only five hits, and struck out 21 batters over 16.2 innings. The Benitez situation will heat up once pitchers and catchers report, and Armando could be traded. Even if the veteran sticks around, Wilson stands to take over sometime this season.

As I've said before, the writers covering the Giants have it all wrong about how the fans hate Barry Bonds. My guess is that they're swayed by 1. the looming jail time for Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams and 2. the fact that they flat out hate Bonds. But if they bothered to ask the fans who they actively dislike and don't want on the team, it's FATMANDO BLOWNITEZ, not Barry Bonds. It's as if the writers weren't at Mays Field last year. I can't recall a Giant ever getting booed like that in his home park.

It all reminds me of when Willie Crawford was on the Giants. Yes, it's true. He got traded by the Cards at the end of the 1976 season along with John Curtis and Vic Harris, then traded away to Houston during the 1977 spring training. A lifelong Giants fan put it this way during the four months that Crawford (who'd been on the Dodgers for 12 years) was on the team -- "It's going to be tough to get used to this guy."

Right now, the only thing to like about Blownitez is the 3-run homer he gave up to JT Snow in Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Just trying to annoy Dodger fans


How? Simply post a shot of Barry Bonds and Juan Marichal hanging out together in the off-season. It seems that Marichal hosts a charity golf event and Barry felt he should show support. This photo is from the Official Barry Bonds Web site and shows Barry, President Fernandez, Marichal and Dr. Luis Jose Asilis at a recent event in the Dominican Republic.
I must admit that I don't really care whether or not Barry breaks Aaron's record. I just want the Giants to Win. That's why this blog is named Giants Win. But I must also admit that one of the advantages of having Barry Bonds on the Giants is observing just how much he manages to endlessly annoy crybaby Dodger fans, who have no problem supporting swindlers (Garvey), cokeheads (Howe and Strawberry), drunk drivers (Mondesi and Drysdale), drunks (Lowe), annoying self-aggrandizers (Lasorda), probable steroid abusers (Gagne and Beltre) and racist liars (Kent). Posting a photo of him AND Marichal -- probably the leaders on the Dodger fan hate list -- is a thing of beauty.
In hopes of further bothering any Dodger fans reading this, I'm now going to post what Barry said on his site after agreeing to sign for this season. Don't bother commenting if you have something snarky to say because I will reject it and you will have wasted your time. To put this in language you can understand: if you don't like it, then get out of here. Anyhow, here's Barry latest --
January 29, 2007
Dear Fans,
I am excited to announce that I will be playing baseball in a Giants uniform this season. I have always said, and continue to say, that San Francisco is my home and where I want to be. I am committed to the organization and I am looking forward to a championship season with my teammates.
My trip to the Dominican Republic was awesome. The Juan Marichal Golf Classic was a great success and I love spending time with the Marichal family, telling stories about the days when Juan, Willie and my dad played. I have to give a heartfelt thanks to Dr. Luis Jose Asilis and the Marichal family for their hospitality during my stay in the DR.
Right now I am enjoying being home with my family, working out and preparing for Spring Training. See you all in February.
Later,

The countdown starts

Now that the Super Bowl is over, it's just 10 days until pitchers and catchers report for major league teams and the Dodgers.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Super Bowl & Mike Matheny

It seems appropriate to post a link to Gwen Knapp's well-written story about the long-term impact of Matheny's retirement in today's SF Chronicle. I think it's great that the Chronicle published this story on Super Bowl Sunday because it's a reminder of how much risk pro athletes face, particularly with concussion injuries. It's also nice to see the Chronicle finally write something positive about the Giants, who appear to be taking the lead in pushing for awareness and treatment in this area. Here's a key part of the story --

Because every concussion makes the next one worse, players were taking a big risk any time they shrugged off a headache or dizzy spell. And even if they didn't get hit before the previous injury healed, simple exertion could aggravate the problem.
Matheny would put himself through cardiovascular workouts -- "brisk walking on the treadmill'' -- to test his recovery, and the increased blood flow to his brain triggered three days of pain and disorientation. On Dec. 28, he took his last test, and the recovery time had dropped to a day and a half. Doctors have reassured him that he should be fine in six to nine months.
By then, maybe all of MLB will have some form of cognitive testing to track "invisible'' brain injuries.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Real speed

Roberts beats the pickoff throw as Nomar gets ready to go on the DL. photo by malingering

That would be Dave Roberts, who seems to be the key player that Bruce Bochy wanted to get into the Orange and Black, if we're to believe his gushing quotes for Contra Costa Times columnist Eric Gilmore. Even though everyone remembers him best for the Bosox playoff Game 4 steal in 2004, what's as impressive was his 33 SBs and ONE caught stealing with the Dodgers that year.

Last year, he was 49 out of 55, compared with 58 out of 78 for Juan Pierre. He and Pierre also tied for 3rd in the MLB last year behind Jose Reyes and Carl Crawford with 13 triples each. I don't have the math skills to figure out how beneficial that kind of disruption is for the rest of the lineup, though I personally think that a Bonds homerun is probably going to be more damaging to the psyche of a pitcher.

Hopefully, the lousy 2005 stealing stats -- 23 SBs in 35 attempts -- were a fluke. He did hit a career-high 8 HRs that year.
The column is OK though there's inevitable whiney cheap shot at Barry Bonds with a self-centered hack reference to Roberts' counterbalancing the "relentless gloom" Bonds brings, which I assume means that Gilmore doesn't have the smarts to get a decent quote from Bonds.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If you have a lemon, make lemonade

It's hard not to think it's a damn shame about Mike Matheny -- who seems like a first-rate person -- being forced to retire due to concussion problems. I'm impressed that he refuses to feel sorry for himself and is trying to make the best of the hand he's been dealt, reflected in this part of a nice write-up by Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Mercury-News --

Matheny earned a reputation for toughness over 13 seasons, playing through broken ribs, broken teeth and the daily bruises that come with his position. But in the days leading up to May 31, Matheny took several foul tips that affected him more than normal. He recalled almost falling asleep on the bench and, in one instance, forgetting the pitch he'd called for right-hander Matt Morris.
Giants trainers began to log every pitch to and noted all head trauma to Giants catchers. They sent out surveys to hundreds of major and minor league catchers. The results showed concussions were widespread. Matheny lauded their efforts and said he hopes the sport will set baselines for head trauma similar to those in football and hockey.
``I think all of baseball has taken notice of Mike's case and is going to learn from it,'' Giants General Manager Brian Sabean said.

Life is full of surprises

In this case, it's a well-written Glenn Dickey column posted on his own site about the Local Media's hatred for Barry Bonds. It's a bit self-agggrandizing but it's also pretty decent reading after all the thousands of column inches devoted to asserting that Bonds IS Satan. In case you're wondering, the boldface is mine. And just to stay true to his curmudgeonly image, Dickey predicts Zito won't live up to expectations. Here's the top part of the column --

WISHING DOESN’T make it so, as the many, many media critics of Barry Bonds learned this week when Bonds and the Giants finalized their deal for the 2007 season.

The deal shouldn’t have come as a surprise. As I noted in my Examiner column last Tuesday, it made sense for both sides. In a note in my website column a week ago, I wrote that the Giants wanted to make it happen.

But the incessant ranting from others in the media never seemed to let up. There were the stories that the Giants were trying to back out of the contact, which was never true.

And, of course, there were several local columnists who kept writing that the Giants should let Bonds go. Why? Because they don’t like him.

I have never seen the level of hatred for an athlete that exists with Bonds in the local media. What bothers me is that writers, especially, let this hatred color their work. A writer should be able to separate his personal feelings with his professional work, but the Bonds-haters seem totally unable to do that.

They’re simply unable to realize how much he’s meant to the Giants, both by his on-field production and his box office appeal.I’m not close to Bonds in any way. The last time I had a one-on-one interview with him was when the Giants were still at Candlestick. Bonds was more accessible in those days, but it was always on his terms. But superstars are often that way. By any measure, Joe Montana is a nicer person than Bonds, but anybody who covered the 49ers in Montana’s heyday can tell you he was never very cooperative with the media.

But I don’t base my writing on how an athlete or coach/manager deals with me personally or the media in general. I let performance be the criterion.