Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sanchez stays

Setting the record straight 46 years later

Stu Miller's 1961 Topps card


The always-interesting Jay's Giants Blog notes that the Giants put out a press release recently that noted that Stu Miller was blown off the mound at the Stick during the 1961 All-Star Game. Miller's throwing out the first pitch on Tuesday. Jay says that it's not true that Miller was blown off the mound and includes the radio call and a quote from Miller about it to prove his point.

“Miller out of the stretch. And now takes a long look and delivers. Time has been called as the batter swings on and missed. Sam Landis called time. He might have called a balk. Landis called a balk on him. Miller had hesitated in his swing and a balk is called.”

And here's what Miller said later --

"I don't think any of the fans knew what happened. ... They were probably wondering why did those runners move up," Miller said. "Anyhow, the next day in the papers the headline says, 'Miller Blown Off Mound' ... I didn't move a hell of a lot. The papers made it sound like I was pinned against the center-field fence."

So how did this false version of events become such a certainty in peole's minds? I think it's simple -- the notion actually has credibility. I remember going to an August game in 1992 with my uncle and getting out of my car and literally getting knocked to the ground. It wasn't that windy at the game but it was gale force before it. The Giants got easily beaten by the Mets 4-1 as Doc Gooden regained a bit of his old form (he went 10-13 that year). And George Shinn received spontanteous applause for walking through the stands, as he had just announced he'd try and keep the team in SF rather than let it get sold & moved to Tampa Bay.

My point is -- if you went to enough games at the Stick, the Miller story seemed completely believable.

Final note: Miller was a damn good player in the six years he spent in the Orange and Black. He went 14-5 and finished 12th in the MVP voting in 1961.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Don't waste your money

Unless you have $5 to burn, I'd hold back on buying the new ESPN mag, which has Ryan Howard on the cover. Their scouting "reports" are worthless -- a triumph of style over substance, focusing on what team's have "fixed" and what needs fixing. They pick the Giants to finish fourth, saying that what's been "fixed" is Dave Roberts stealing bases on a team that only stole 58 last year and whose CFs hit only .242. Seeing as Roberts will probably hit about the same, the question to be addressed is -- what's Roberts OBP and does that mean the team will score more runs? ESPN doesn't have a clue, though it does say Roberts has a good clubhouse disposition. Well, so did Mark Sweeney but when you play like crap, the team loses games. And I would argue that the key addition this year is Barry Zito, who's likely to be a better pitcher than a fading Jason Schmidt.As for what "needs fixing," ESPN centers on Blownitez but never bothers to point out that he got into serious problems because he couldn't be bothered drop 30 or 40 pounds.

The Dodgers are picked for first and their write-up fails to mention Juan Pierre's egregiously bad OBP.

I checked out the Yankees write-up, which said the Yanks have managed to develop such players as Robinson Cano and Chien-Ming Wang, though it doesn't mention that Wang is starting the season on the DL for at least a month, and has a "bumper crop" of new guys. It concludes with the hackiest of hack lines -- an A-Rod blast: "That and not $25 million infielders, is the key to October glory."The Yankees have failed to win the World Series in the last six years for many reasons, but to hear the hack loser sportswriters, A-Rod is the one and only reason despite being a Hall of Famer for sure. At this point, I stopped reading.

Preview of coming attractions

At least, that's what Giants fans can hope for, based on Thursday night's results -- the Giants shut out Seattle and the Dodgers gagged to the Angels. Here's what Giantsfan9 had to say about Barry Zito as he concluded his stellar spring training blogging at Giants Jottings --

Barry Zito got his final exhibition start for the Giants. He was nothing short of exceptional. He gave up 3 hits, 3 walk and tallied 3 strikeouts while giving up no runs in 6 full innings. I thought his curveball was good in Arizona.......but tonight it was breaking 12 to 6 about 18 inches. Pretty darn impressive. I did not keep score.....but I have to admit I was surprised that Zito allowed 3 walks. I thought his control was excellent, as he threw 52 strikes in 90 total pitches. For those of you paying attention to managing differences........I have not seen a manager allow a Giants pitcher go 90 pitches in an exhibition game in San Francisco since.......well I don't know when the last time would have been. Bochy obviously believes more in working his starting staff more than did Baker or Alou.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

You'll be sorry

Best news of the spring -- Grady Little has convinced himself that Brett Tomko is a 5th starter. Any Giants fan who suffered through a Bomko start in 2005 knows that this guy will gag. Yet, the LA Times persists in proclaiming how wonderful the Dodger starting pitching is.

At least there's some demonstrated competence with the Giants' 5th starter, Russ Ortiz, even though he was scary bad last year.

Above and beyond the call of duty

AP's reporting that Barry Zito bought the Giants minor leaguers a catered steak dinner recently. He did so as a gesture of gratitude for his getting to pitch with the scrubs recently.

I don't know about this guy's pitching but he sure has a nice sense of PR!

A nice distraction during lousy games

Best news out of Arizona this week


Another great shot by Giantsfan9 of Matt Cain looking sharp Monday against the Chisox. Here's his recap at Giants Jottings --
Matt Cain started the game and continued the string of Giants' starters going 6 innings. He threw 6 exactly, giving up 1 run on 4 hits and 2 walks while tallying 4 strikeouts. Matt looked pretty darn good. If it wasn't for that pain-in-the ass Tadahito Iguchi.....he would have had a shutout. Iguchi is batting .250 on the spring, but is 5 for 9 with a single, 2 triples, 2 HRs and 6 RBI's in his last 2 games against the Giants. Take away the Giants and he is hitting about .190 for the spring with 3 RBI. He has 5 hits in the last 2 games against the Giants and only 9 hits for the rest of the Spring.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"He's not a joke"

Those deathless words were spoken by new Giants catcher Benjie Molina about Armando Benitez, showing that Benjie's an excellent teammate who won't undermine the guys in his own dugout -- which is exactly what Armando did mutiple times last year.

Andrew Baggerly of the San Jose Merc-News has a decent take on the evaporation of any Benitez trade any time soon -- given that the two most likely guys who would wind up being in Orange and Black, Jorge Julio and Yusmeiro Petit, in exhange for Benitez, just got traded for each other. Here's a recap of the trade.

The local media have been spectacularly clueless about just how deeply despised Blownitez is among the fans. To hear them tell it, the fans despise Barry Bonds -- which just goes to show what lazy hacks they are. The easily obtainable truth is that among Giants fans, Armando has entered the same realm of disdain as Johnnie Lemaster and Cody Ransom.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Some guys have all the luck

A-Rod in Orange and Black

The SF Chronicle's John Shea has an interesting -- and mostly snark-free - analysis of the possibilities that Alex Rodriguez could wind up on the Giants next year.

The article is notable as much for what it doesn't contain as what it does. It's amusing that Shea has the good sense not to even mention the possibility that Pedro Feliz could pull an Adrian Beltre-type year and suddenly hit 40 HRs, which would take away the need for A-Rod. Of course, there's also the possibility that the moon could fall out of the sky and George Bush could end the war in Iraq, but that doesn't get mentioned either.

The piece is a bit whiney in that it blames Scott Boras -- along with Bonds, the favorite villain of sportswriters -- for opt-out clauses that he's negotiated for A-Rod, J.D. Drew and Robb Nen. I say he's just doing his job and it's just too damn bad if the gazillionaires who own the teams don't like it.

Aside from that, it's a fairly sober analysis of where the team's headed, given that it wound up signing Bonds. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Chronicle's sports staff has been holding back a bit on what had been its constant "Barry Bonds IS Satan" theme even since the prospect of its Balco reporters going to jail disappeared last month. Indeed, after it became public knowledge that Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada had compromised their integrity by allowing their defense attorney source to manipulate the justice system, those kinds of attacks on Bonds may seem just a tad gratuitous.

Feliz goes yard



Great shots by Giantsfan9 of Pedro Feliz knocking it out of the park in Sunday's loss and then getting props from his teammates. I'm guessing it was a mid-thigh fattie. This is how Feliz has stayed in the league for six years -- killing mistake pitches. Take note of how chagrined the Padres catcher is in the second photo as if to say to the pitcher, "How could you have missed that badly with that pitch? It should have been goddam foot outside!" I'd be amazed if anyone actually decides that they'll throw Feliz a fastball over the plate.
More great photography and coverage at Giants Jottings.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What a pair of crybabies

Maybe it's the fact that St. Louis is home to Anheuser-Busch, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has just posted its second stunningly stupid column about Tony Larussa's DUI arrest. This time, Bernie Miklasz attacks the critics of LaRussa, concluding with a thundering put-down of anyone with the temerity to say anything negative about the incident, calling them "sanctimonious haters." Here's the last 3 grafs of this stomach-turning nonsense --

So you'll have to excuse me if I don't sign off on the opinion that La Russa is being handed a get-out-of-jail-free card because he's a baseball celeb. If La Russa were a sales manager or restaurant manager instead of a baseball manager, his arrest would have received no public scrutiny outside a small circle of family and friends. But La Russa's error in judgment became headlines, a lead TV story, fresh chum for sports-talk radio, and an increase in page views for Internet bloggers. A good but imperfect man made a mistake, and this stain of red wine will stick to La Russa's reputation for a long time. He's received a life sentence of insults and scorn.And so I ask the sanctimonious haters: Isn't that enough punishment for you?

For anyone who's read this far and wants to know what all the fuss is about, I direct you to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving web site at www.madd.org. Here's one item from the site --

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2005, 16,885 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes - an average of one almost every half-hour. These deaths constituted approximately 39 percent of the 43,443 total traffic fatalities.

RIP Ed Bailey

The catcher was 75. He made 5 All-Star teams and was a big part of the pennant winning 1962 Giants, splitting time with Tom Haller. He was the catcher in the final game of that year, when the Dodgers choked away the pennant. Bailey hit a 2-run HR in a 3-2 loss in Game 3 of the '62 Series in his only hit in 14 ABs.

He hit a lot of homers at a time when catchers outside of Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella didn't make much of an offensive contribution.

One of the All-Star appearances was in 1957 as a Red, when seven of the eight starters voted on by the fans were from the Reds. Bailey had hit 28 HRs and had 75 RBIs in 1956 so he really was the best hitting catcher in the league at that point. Here's Wikipedia's recap --

In 1957, fans of the Cincinnati Reds stuffed the ballot box and elected 7 Reds players to start in the All-Star Game. They were:
Johnny Temple, 2B
Roy McMillan, SS
Don Hoak, 3B
Ed Bailey, C
Frank Robinson, LF
Gus Bell, CF
Wally Post, RF
The only non-Red elected to start for the National League was St. Louis Cardinals' first baseman Stan Musial. While the Reds were known to be a great offensive team with many outstanding position players, most baseball observers agreed that they did not deserve seven starters in the All-Star Game. An investigation showed that over half of the ballots cast came from Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Enquirer had printed up pre-marked ballots and distributed them with the Sunday newspaper to make it easy to vote early and often. There were even stories of bars in Cincinnati not serving alcohol to customers until they filled out a ballot.
Commissioner Ford Frick decided to appoint Willie Mays of the New York Giants and Hank Aaron of the Milwaukee Braves to substitute for Reds players Gus Bell and Wally Post. In addition, Frick decided to strip the fans of their voting rights. Managers, players, and coaches picked the entire team until 1969, when the vote again returned to the fans.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Batting third for your San Francisco Giants....

Bochy's made it official -- Barry Bonds will bat third this season.

It's always made sense to me that the Giants should get their best onbase player to the dish as early as possible...especially given how shaky pitchers can be in the first inning, especially when they're still feeling their way in that very unique setting at Third and Townsend in San Francisco.

I also like that Bochy found a way to distract from the fact that the Giants had just lost to the Cubs, 3-2, with Bonds taking two called strike threes.

Astoundingly stupid

That's my reaction to a painfully bad column written in the St. Louis Post Dispatch by some no talent hack weasel idiot named Bill McClellan. He's decided that LaRussa's recent DUI arrest isn't a bad thing because now people in St. Louis won't regard him as a snooty outsider. Excuse me, but didn't the Cards just win their first World Series since 1982 and wasn't Tony the manager? So now you're telling me that winning the Series wasn't enough but somehow the arrest is what was needed to make the boozehound Cardinals fans really like him?

My guess is that it took McClelland about 10 minutes to write the column and that it was WUI (written under the influence).

This is about 1,000 times more stupid than Blownitez asserting Thursday that it will be a mistake if the Giants trade him. Because he's actually right, for once. It will be a BIG mistake for the team that winds up with The Fat One.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Who cares what Sports Illustrated thinks?

Not the fans in Arizona this time of year, that's for sure. The Arizona Republic reports that the Giants -- tabbed for last place by SI -- are the top draw in games in the Cactus League, thanks to the Barry and Barry show, followed closed by the Cubs. Both are averaging over 10,000 a game. The Mariners are a distant third at around 7,000 a game followed by the Angels and Dbacks. As for the Brewers, Chisox, Royals and Padres, the Republic doesn't even mention them.

Should be interesting when the Dodgers and their idiot fans show up in Arizona in 2009.

The best Giants bloggers


Giantsfan9 keeps up his amazing coverage of spring training -- including this recent shot of Bonds -- at Giants Jottings.
Sports Illustrated asked readers to vote on these 4 blogs -- McCovey Chronicles, Giants Cove, El Lefty Malo and Only Baseball Matters -- as to which has the best Giants info, as part of its fairly lame baseball issue. So I checked out the SI Giants site, which is pretty decent, I must admit. Then I went to the link listed in the mag to vote -- www.si.com/giantsvote -- but I kept getting getting on to the Baltimore Orioles page. I guess it's an understandable mistake, given that both teams have orange and black colors. Then I posted the link on this blog and it simply takes me to the SI Giants page with no voting for best of the 4 blogs. Still a few bugs on the Internet, I guess!
In my opinion, all four blogs all do solid work but Giants Jottings has excelled at spring training coverage. Lefty has a particularly entertaining post today about the Giants signing Jesse Foppert, noting that Foppert, Jerome Williams and Kurt Ainsworth were once the equivalent of Lincecum, Sanchez and Cain. And he notes that Sabean's 2005 trade of Foppert and Torrealba for Randy Winn has actually worked out OK -- largely unnoticed due to the ongoing fall-out from the Pierzitsky deal with the Twins.

Why the hypocrisy?

Tim Marchman of the New York Sun has posted a pretty good column which asks -- why is it that no one's particularly bothered by drug abuse among NFL and NBA players while getting sanctimonious about any hint of drug mis-use in MLB? Many people have been struck recently by how no one seems to care that Shawn Merriman is a steroids abuser. Here's the core of Marchman's take, titled "Why Baseball Is Singled Out on Drugs" --

Football and basketball are played mostly by young black athletes with whom the middle-age white men who account for most of the audience for team sports have nothing in common, and this has a lot to do with why no one cares about drug use in those sports. If the phrase isn't by now completely discredited, you might call it the soft bigotry of low expectations. Doubly alienated from the athletes, fans of the sports, many of whom view the players as no different than gang members, aren't outraged by drug use because they don't expect anything better.

Baseball's different. People don't find the players threatening. One may as well say it — the sport is culturally white and middle class in a way football and basketball aren't. Partly for this reason, baseball players are more widely expected to conform to ethical norms by its fans.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sports Illustrated hates the Giants

It's picked the Orange and Black to finish last in the NL West and the Dodgers to win the division but then lose the Series to the Angels. SI's idiotic Player Value Rank system doesn't include onbase percentage -- it's based on batting average, HRs, RBIs and SBs, plus an evaluation of whether the player will improve or decline and injury history. Pitchers are ranked by wins, saves, ERA and WHIP. Never let the facts get in the way of a cute ranking is the SI motto, I suppose. All you need to know is that the mag has concluded:

-- Juan Pierre is more valuable (PVR 67) than Barry Bonds (PVR 71) or J.D. Drew (PVR 72).
-- Brad Penney is more valuable (PVR 55) than Matt Cain (PVR 59), even though it was obvious that Penney was useless in the second half of last year.
-- Jason Schmidt is ranked as the 19th best player in MLB, ahead of pitchers such as Matsuzaka, Schilling, Bonderman, Lackey, Harden, Felix Hernandez, Brett Meyers, Dontrelle, or Adam Wainright. Anyone who saw Schmidt pitch down the stretch last year knows otherwise.

The mag was even scathing in its evaluation of Pierre but still thinks he's a better player than Chad Tracy, Nick Swisher, Joe Crede, Craig Monroe, Brandon Inge, Lyle Overbay or Dan Uggla. Here's what it said about the 204 hits by the Overpaid One:

204 -- Hits by slap-and-dash leadoff man Juan Pierre in 2006 for his former team, the Cubs, marking the third time in the last four years that he reached 200. His .333 on-base percentage, however, was second worst among every-day leadoff hitters in the NL, and he made 528 outs -- the fourth consecutive season that Pierre was in the top three in the league in that category.

I suppose that SI wants to help out fantasy league players on draft day but Pierre's SB total and batting average badly inflate his value in terms of contributing to Dodger wins. My only conclusion is that SI's as stupid as Dodger fans.

On the upside, SI didn't include the word "steroids" in its writeup of the Giants. It mostly asserted that the team was older (despite ditching Finley and Alou as starters and signing Zito, who's a lot younger than Schmidt). I did agree that they didn't get any offensive help for Bonds, though Roberts is certainly an improvement on Finley.

Bad news for Dodger fans

Frank McCourt has obviously been reading this blog and agrees with the characterization of Dodger fans as the most ignorant fans in baseball. He's jacked up the price of parking from $10 to $15 per game. Also, if you're not a season ticket holder, you have to leave by the gate you used to enter the ballpark.

For those of you in the dark, the parking lot at Dodger Stadium is already a nightmare and an outrage at $10.

Ten days until Opening Day for Big League teams and the Dodgers.

The Rangers do the right thing

photo of Mays Field in May 2006 by given2flym


Considering how many mistakes that the Rangers owners have made over the years, it's astounding for me to have just written that headline. But the club has renamed its ballpark and taken Ameriquest out of the new name -- Rangers Ballpark at Arlington.
Many thanks to Lefty Malo for pointing it out and to Mays Field for its ongoing campaign for a badly needed alternative in San Francisco.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Soft, soft, soft

The LA Times takes a softball approach in saying that the Dodgers are giving Grady Little a 2-year extension. Steve Henson mentions that doing so avoids the situation Little faced with the Bosox in 2003 as a lame duck.....but fails to note that Little's legendary mishandling of the pitching in Game 7 of the ALCS was the real reason he was fired.

With lame reporting like this, it's no wonder that Dodger fans are the most ignorant in baseball.

Who's closing?

The SF Chronicle said in the middle of its main Giants story on Monday that a decision will be made this week on Blownitez getting traded. and Chris at the always-interesting Bay City Ball has a smart, dispassionate analysis of who the top 4 candidates are this year -- Blownitez, Brian Wilson, Kevin Correia and Jorge Julio, who he believes is the most likely player to be gotten in a trade. Here's his conclusion --

Despite all the options, I do not think Benitez is the best pitcher to close for the Giants. Is this one of those scenarios where “addition by subtraction” actually works? Maybe, as the Giants management seems to be split on the topic. Moving out Armando would most likely do wonders for clubhouse spirit even if I’m not a firm believer in that line of thinking. Constant bitching and criticizing teammates has got to wear thin even on the strongest of nerves after three straight years.
When it comes down to it the Giants will have to make the move that they think will give them the best chance of winning ballgames. If Benitez is truly healthy and motivated by the contract year then he could put up good numbers. I don’t know if it’s the negativity that surrounds Armando but I can’t pump my hopes up too much for that scenario. Rod Beck could also park his RV out in the parking lot to close 9th inning home games. At this point each seems as plausible as the other.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Adios to the new faces

Here are the latest cuts, according to the Chronicle's game story. They include Fred Lewis despite his fine game on Sunday. My guess is that Linden and Ellison will open the season as the reserve outfielders --

The Giants optioned pitchers Billy Sadler, Pat Misch, Osiris Matos and Frederick Lewis to Triple-A Fresno and reassigned nonroster players Luis Figueroa and Justin Leone to minor-league camp. Lewis had a fine farewell. He hit a game-tying triple in the eighth inning and used his speed to turn a pair of infield hits, his and Jason Ellison's, and two errors into the winning run.

Lewis is an interesting case. He's still only 25 and he went 5 for 11 in MLB play for the Orange and Black last year.

A bit of inspiration for Monday morning


Giantsfan9 posted this shot on Giants Jottings at the start of Sunday's 6-5 win over the Royals. He was particularly impressed with Fred Lewis. The boldface is mine --
Offensively, the Giants didn't have much until the last half of the game. They were behind 5-0 after 3 1/2. They erased that margin with 2 in the 4th, 2 in the 6th and 1 each in the 7th and 9th. Fred Lewis pretty much stole the game with his hustle and heads up play. Fred is fast......no question about it......but the word "hustle" is usually not used in conjunction with his play. Today was an exception that I hope becomes a rule. Lewis got an infield single with 2 out in the 9th. He beat the throw cleanly, but the throw was slightly high and bounced of the firstbaseman's glove. The ball didn't get more than 20 feet away from 1B, but Fred never hesitated, he continued around 1B and was easily safe at 2B. I am not sure any other runner on the Giants could have accomplished that......especially not so easily. The next batter (Ellison I believe) hit what should have been the 3rd out of the inning and should have sent the game into the 10th inning. Once again the ball was off the mark at 1B and got away. Once again it wasn't all that far away from the firstbaseman......but Fred just kept on running and didn't stop until after he crossed home for the winning run. This is the type of play I have been waiting 3 years to see Fred make. Oh.....he also was 2 for 2 with a triple and an RBI. Considering he didn't enter the game until he pinch hit for Kim in the 7th......not a bad game for Lewis.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Remembering Bowie

Dave Zirin of ZNet has written an excellent appraisal of Bowie Kuhn's tenure at MLB Commissioner, called "Death of a Baseball Reactionary." He points out Kuhn's disgraceful response to Curt Flood's refusal to accept a trade to the Phillies. Here's the key part --

The truth is that Kuhn "presided over" a game that saw players as bonded labor to be bought and sold. He also "presided over" the ignominious routing of the Major League plantation system. The reserve clause, on his watch, was swept into the dustbin of baseball history alongside the color line and the spitball.

The man who stood up to Kuhn, and opened to door to free agency was named Curt Flood. In October 1969, the St. Louis Cardinals traded Flood to Philadelphia and the All-Star centerfielder just said no. Flood contacted Kuhn directly, writing, "Dear Mr. Kuhn after 12 years in the major leagues I do not feel that I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system that produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and a human being. I believe that I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decisions. I, therefore, request that you make known to all the major league clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season."

It sounds polite but at the time this was political TNT. Kuhn didn't take Flood seriously at all replying: "Dear Curt: I certainly agree with you that you, as a human being, are not a piece of property to be bought and sold. That is I think obvious. However, I cannot see its application to the situation at hand."

The great columnist Red Smith wrote in response to their exchange, "Thus the commissioner restates baseball's labor policy any time there is unrest in the slave cabins. 'Run along, sonny, you bother me.'"

The union took up Flood's cause. Although he lost, and sacrificed his career, Flood's stand opened to door to the era of free agency.

As Players' Union leader Marvin Miller said, "To me Flood epitomized the modern player who began to think in terms of union, to ask questions like, 'Why should we be treated like property?' 'Why am I a $40,000 a year slave?' Basic questions that had gone unasked."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I don't really believe him

Bochy says Blownitez is the closer. I say he's just being a good salesman in trying to hook a team that's looking desperate for a closer. As for the Fat One, he's already in midseason form .... in terms of making excuses --

Benitez, who has been pressed to defend himself on multiple occasions, again cited his injuries as a factor that fans sometimes ignore. "People don't understand about what happens with your knee and hamstring," he said. "You can think whatever you want, but it's been real tough. It's been real painful. Now it's different."

MEMO TO BLOWNITEZ -- MAYBE YOU WOULDN'T HAVE THESE PROBLEMS IF YOU DIDN'T KEEP EATING YOURSELF OUT OF SHAPE, YOU DINGBAT.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Time + tragedy = comedy


Giantsfan9 at Giants Jottings has posted this shot of Shae Hillenbrand flailing at a pitch during the Angels-Giants game this week with the insightful comment --
Anyone recognize this swing and miss? It's everyone's favorite ex-Giants' firstbaseman, Shea Hillenbrand. Shea was 0 for 3 but reached base on Omar Vizquel's 2nd error of the spring in the 1st inning. Gee.....Shea Hillenbrand.........0 for 3.........who would a thunk it.
I think the Angels are out of their minds, given the signings of Shea and Matthews Jr.

RIP Bowie Kuhn

Former MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn has passed on. Though people are saying respectful things, of course, I remember Bowie for the following --

-- Battling the players union on free agency ferociously, leading to 4 strikes, including the disastrous 1981 strike.
-- Eliminating day games for the World Series.
-- Banning Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle for taking jobs at casinos.
-- Attempting to ban publication of "Ball Four."

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tatis still tormenting Dodgers

Tatis fouls one back last year with the Orioles. photo by Larry Coor


Dodgers GM Ned "Benedict Arnold" Colletti is reduced to incoherence by trying to explain why they released a guy who went 3-for-19 and then refused to report to minor league camp.

"We released Tatis because we released him. That's all I want to say about that right now," Colletti said Wednesday.

What a little crybaby. What's so hard about just saying, "We're sorry it didn't work out"? Sounds like Ned is afraid Tatis is going to burn down Dodger Stadium or break Rafael Furcal's arm or stab Tommy Lasorda with a spaghetti fork. Tatis is, after all, part of the pantheon of Guys Who Remind Us That The Dodgers Suck, thanks to his two grand slams in an inning 8 years ago at Dodger Stadium.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A sign of hope for the Orange and Black

Tim Marchman of the New York Sun has a fun piece about who will be the worst players in MLB this year. Fortunately, Russ Ortiz, Pedro Feliz, Mark Sweeney and Matt Morris aren't on it. Marchman believes Craig Biggio leads the pack of the baddies, noting that the Astros are letting him stick around out of sentiment rather than merit to get the 70 hits he needs for 3,000. Jose Vidro, Sammy Sosa and Doug Mientkiewicz are also candidates. What, no Steve Finley?

Mr. 3000

Bonds is saying he'd like to get 3,000 hits, which would probably mean playing in 2008. Andrew Baggerly of the Contra Costa Times has a nice writeup but doesn't mention how many guys have gotten to 3,000. The answer is 26 --


1. Pete Rose# 4256
2. Ty Cobb+* 4189
3. Hank Aaron+ 3771
4. Stan Musial+* 3630
5. Tris Speaker+* 3514
6. Carl Yastrzemski+* 3419
7. Cap Anson+ 3418
8. Honus Wagner+ 3415
9. Paul Molitor+ 3319
10.Eddie Collins+* 3315
11.Willie Mays+ 3283
12.Eddie Murray+ 3255
13.Nap Lajoie+ 3242
14.Cal Ripken+ 3184
15.George Brett+* 3154
16.Paul Waner+* 3152
17.Robin Yount+ 3142
18. Tony Gwynn+* 3141
19.Dave Winfield+ 3110
20.Rickey Henderson 3055
21.Rod Carew+* 3053
22.Lou Brock+* 3023
23.Rafael Palmeiro* 3020
24.Wade Boggs+* 3010
25.Al Kaline+ 3007
26.Roberto Clemente+ 3000

RIP Charles Einstein

The Newark Star-Ledger has a nice obit on Charles Einstein, who authored several books about Mays including the excellent "Willie's Time" and "A Flag for San Francisco," a book about the 1961 team. Here's what Mays had to say --

Mr. Einstein, Mays and producer/director Lee Mendelson also collaborated on "Born to Play Ball," a documentary that followed Mays from his Alabama childhood to 2000.
"Charlie and I spent a lot of time on that book," Mays recalled. "He was a professional, I was an amateur. I knew what I wanted to say, he put it into words. When I saw the title (of the documentary), I knew that was the perfect name for it. All I ever wanted to do was to play ball. I knew Charlie for a long time -- 40, 50 years. He was a nice man."

What a bunch of hypocrites

As long as I'm hammering the Chronicle for incompetence, I should link to its delusional editorial of Feb. 15 in which the paper offers no apology whatsoever for its reporters assisting a Balco defense attorney in manipulating the judicial system. Instead, the paper insists that its reporters "stood tall" against the overreaching abuses of the Bush Administration when they did no such thing. You can say that about people like Seymour Hersh, who exposed the Abu Graib scandal, but certainly not these guys. Again, here's part of what Tim Rutten of the LA Times wrote in response a few days after Troy Ellerman admitted he had been the leaker --

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.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The SF Chronicle buries the Blownitez news

If you managed to slog through John Shea's report on Fatmando Blownitez pitching a scoreless inning Sunday while still looking unimpressive, there was some fascinating news deep in the story. In the second sentence of the ninth paragraph, Shea gives us some actual news --

Most recently, the bullpen-depleted Red Sox were said to have inquired about Benitez, who regularly got booed by Giants fans and is entering the final leg of his three-year, $21.5 million contract.

There's no elaboration on this news, either, just some silly comments from Blownitez. My question is -- why isn't that in the lead paragraph of the story? It should be because it actually tells us something that we didn't know already. But nooooooooooooooo, as John Belushi would have said. Instead, we get to bathe in Shea's endless blather, obviosity piled on obviosity. Here's the actual lead --

If the Giants' purpose is to trade Armando Benitez before Opening Day, they need him to keep taking the mound. It's tough to deal a guy out of the trainer's room.

Thanks a lot, John, for stating the obvious and ignoring the interesting, such as who the Giants might get (Kevin Youklis?) or who (Pedro Feliz?) they might have to give or how much salary ($5 million?) they might have to eat -- anything to give us an idea of whether or not this could be actual. Instead, you've shown once again that you're a lazy hack and that the SF Chronicle is written and edited by people who have contempt for their readers.

The AP is also trying to drive me crazy


Giantsfan9 at Giants Jottings posted this fine shot of Tim Lincecum on Sunday and noted astutely that the rook has an extremely complicated but effective delivery. Here's his report on the 3-inning outing --
Tim gave up 2 weak singles, one of which didn't even make it out of the infield. He also struck out 4. The batters, for the most part, looked over matched and he faced several "real" Major Leaguers, not just non-roster types. He threw 42 pitches.....29 of them strikes.Look at how contorted his body is right before his release. Most pitchers are at least balanced by the time they reach the release point. He has the most complicated delivery I have ever seen. You would think it would be hard for him to throw strikes.....but that doesn't seem to be the case. Also look at how far he launches himself down the mound. The kid is only 5'10" (maybe) and his landing point was farther down the mound than any Giants pitcher of the day. Tim sure gets the most out of that little body........but I worry if that delivery ever goes sideways.........it will take forever to get things right again.Great outing by the kid. I can see why everyone is so excited. By the way......if his fastball is as straight as some have said...........you sure couldn't tell it by the batter's swings.
Could you get that kind of detail from John Shea's game story in the Chron? Are you kidding me? The story is not a total waste of time in revealing that Lincecum is probably not going to be on the Opening Day roster, according to Bochy, though that's not a huge surprise.
What's really astoundingly stupid about Shea's story and this lame AP write-up that says Brad Hennessy wants a definite role rather than being a swingman is that both assert that Russ Ortiz will be the No. 5 starter without mentioning that 1. Bochy has said no such thing and 2. spring training is a long way from over and 3. Russ has been one of the worst pitchers in MLB for the past two years with ERAs of 6.89 and 8.14 -- so horrific that the Dbacks are eating something like $20 million of his salary. And to not point that out is just lazy hack reporting.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Good news for Linden, Lewis & Ellison

Jeremy Burnitz has retired, according to his agent. Given just how old the Giants are and Sabean's propensity for signing guys who used to be decent but are on the downside (Ryan Klesko), it must be a bit of a relief to the guys competing for the fourth and 5th OF spots -- Todd Linden, Fred Lewis and Jason Ellison -- that Burnitz isn't going to come swooping in and take a roster spot.

Burnitz played for 7 teams, had 315 HRs and, at the time he retired, possessed the longest career of any active MLB player who hadn't played in the post-season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick notes in the story that it looks like Brian Jordan, Phil Nevin and Eric Young aren't going to make it on to MLB rosters this year either.

Baseball Prospectus notes in its writeup of this year's team that the 2006 Giants were the oldest ever in MLB history at 34.53 years, weighted by plate appearances. And it sounds as they'll break this record in 2007 -- Aurilia's 5 years older at 35 than Hillenbrand was last year; at 32, Benjie Molina's five years old than Eliezer Alfonzo was last year at 27. Fortunately, BP notes, the pitching staff is in much better (and younger) shape.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Here's what I don't get




Here are two nice shots by Giantsfan9 at Giants Jottings: The first of Pedro Feliz swininging wildly at an outside pitch and the second of Barry Zito pitching in today's 13-9 victory over the Rangers. Zito threw 78 pitches and gave up 4 runs & didn't look too sharp.
So my qustion is -- Would it kill the SF Chronicle, or the Contra Costa Times, the Merc News or the Sacramento Bee to post a few photos of how the Giants are looking? The answer is that Yes, it will kill them. The Merc has a few old shots of Barry, the Bee has nothing and the Chron has one shot of Linden and two of Feliz from previous games. Meanwhile, Giantsfan9 has ELEVEN shots already posted from today's game.

Barry on Barry by Barry

That would be Barry Zito talking about Barry Bonds to MLB.com's Barry Bloom about how Zito plans to divert the ever-present media seeking comment from Bonds. Given the level of hatred towards Bonds among sports reporters, what Zito is doing is not a small thing.

Meanwhile, it's particularly revealing how upbeat the SF Chronicle's has been recently. Witness this relatively snark-free piece by John "I love Nomar Garciaparra" Shea about Bonds hitting his first HR of spring training. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Bonds haters at the Chronicle have cooled it for the time being, now that the Chron's designated journalistic heroes Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada found themselves publicily disgraced for enabling a Balco defense attorney to abuse and manipulate the judicial system. I'm sure that as Bonds gets closer to HR 755, we'll see the return of Bonds IS Satan stories by hack losers like Ray Ratto and Bruce Jenkins. You can count on Giants Win to point out that the paper's holier-than-thou stance on the need to do the right thing has been seriously compromised, to say the least, by its own disgraceful conduct.

One other note -- the Sacramento Bee's (registration required) Nick Peters reports that right after giving up Bonds' homer, Loaiza left the game with tightness in his shoulder. I would bet that's not the first time that's happened after a Bonds HR.

Friday, March 09, 2007

The SF Chronicle is trying to drive me crazy

Henry Schulman's story today on Pedro Feliz's new -- and supposedly more patient -- approach at the plate was kind of interesting, but then fell flat on its face like Dave Kingman striking out. Here's where it gets insane --

Feliz had a career-high 98 RBIs in 2006, but also saw his average fall to .244 from .250 the year before and .276 in 2004.

There's no mention of Feliz' pathetic .281 onbase percentage, his 18 GIDPs and his 33 walks in over 600 ABS last year -- in other words, his inability to learn the strike zone and stop making more outs than anyone on the team. Is it asking too much of the Henry Schulmans and Murray Chasses to write about something besides batting average in evaluating offensive contributions?

And it's not even hard to find. The new issue of Baseball Prospectus notes in its comments on Feliz that Giants third basemen (Feliz played 155 games there) had a cumulative .277 onbase percentage in 2006 -- the worst in MLB BY THIRTY POINTS.

Bud Selig is a liar and an idiot

The MLB deal with DirecTV is a disgrace, more so for Bud Selig belittling the concerns of some of the biggest fans -- those who subscribe to the Extra Innings package and are now being forced to subscribe to DirecTV or get nothing. Selig essentially was saying that there are hundreds of games available already. Of course, that's groovy if you're a Braves fan or a Cubs fan or if all you want to see is Angels and Dodgers games if you live in LA. But if you're a Giants, fan in LA, too bad. And please stop complaining. Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports has a very good column about it. As usual, the boldface is mine --

Besides being hell bent on infuriating its best fans and having less people watch its games, Major League Baseball would also prefer if you stop calling to complain. If the FCC and Sen. John Kerry would stop threatening to investigate them, that would be good too.
Other than that, it’s full speed ahead for MLB, which appears to have offered a virtually impossible to complete proposal (and a tight deadline to do it) to the consortium of cable and satellite providers that distribute the Extra Innings package to die-hard and displaced baseball fans.
If that option isn’t met by March 31, then DirecTV will get exclusive rights to Extra Innings and all the hundreds of thousands of fans that Bud Selig called “ridiculous” two weeks ago will be out of luck when it comes to watching out of market games.
As long as they stop complaining to MLB President Bob DuPuy, no one in New York seems to care what happens with them.
“I hope that those fans who have been directing their concerns to us over the last several weeks will now encourage their cable carriers to in fact enlist for this package,” DuPuy told the Associated Press.
Actually, DuPuy is just trying a weak public relations campaign. He must consider his customers morons if he thinks they are falling for his attempt to shift the blame for this debacle off MLB and onto cable providers who almost certainly will fail to make a deal that was designed to fail in the first place.
The nearly completed exclusivity would cut the availability of Extra Innings from 82 percent of U.S. households to 16 percent. The reason why MLB would do this is far more confusing than the regular baseball fan should have to try to figure out.
That person is someone from, let’s say, Cleveland, who now lives in Atlanta but still wants to watch his Indians so he can enjoy an emotional attachment to his father, his sister and his boys back home. He is gladly willing to shell out $179.95 to do so.
Only now, he won’t be able to, unless he switches to DirecTV.
There is virtually no chance the current consortium of cable and satellite providers (InDemand) can maintain access based on baseball’s smoke-screen offer.
It isn’t just money – the difference between the offers was less than $1 million per year, per team. It mostly hinges on clearing prime space on cable systems for The Baseball Channel, which isn’t scheduled to launch until 2009.
If that means a guaranteed spot on first-tier basic cable, then forget it. The Baseball Channel promises to draw even more anemic ratings than the NFL Network since baseball isn’t even as popular as football. It would be ludicrous to bump a higher-rated channel in favor of one that isn’t yet created and promises to do far worse.
Robert Jacobson, president of InDemand, said in a statement the “conditions for carriage that MLB and DirecTV designed (will) be impossible … to meet.”
The only other hope is intervention by the federal government. But don’t count on Congress telling 30 billionaires they can’t do something. Plus, baseball will probably have better luck confusing politicians with this “it’s the cable operators' fault” smoke screen. “This should help enormously in that area,” Selig said. Yeah, no kidding.
Regardless, it seems that MLB has the right to freeze out and anger its customers if it wants. This is the Land of the Free and MLB is free to be arrogant, duplicitous and money-hungry if it so chooses.
And it so chooses.
Earlier this month Selig, whose customer-relations skills were clearly honed during his days as a used car dealer, called fan protests about the rumored deal “ridiculous” and just “a slight controversy, in some places.” Then Thursday DuPuy asked fans to stop complaining to his office and instead tell it to those helpful folks at the cable company.
I swear, long before steroids or misbehaving athletes kill sports, these supposed genius businessmen who care about dollars but have no sense will have ruined it.
Last year over half a million people subscribed to Extra Innings and MLB just sold them out for $2 a head, per team per year. So there’s the price of fan loyalty, a small Coke at the stadium. The league is pushing the “television” package on its website but it’s laughable to suggest watching a game on a computer equates with television.
So, essentially, it looks like DirecTV or nothing for Extra Innings viewers.
What Selig can’t understand is that while there are plenty of people out there who take television very seriously and are willing to compare and switch providers based on slight improvements, there are exponentially more who don’t and won’t.
They will always stick with what they have either out of loyalty, convenience or laziness. Maybe their wife and kids prefer the current system. Maybe they can’t afford a whole new package.
Maybe they are among the five percent of households that can’t use DirecTV at all, or the others where the reception is awful. Or they think a dish is ugly. Or maybe they live in an apartment and while, sure, there is a federal law allowing them to install something on the roof, this being the real world their landlord is against such a practice. And he can make life miserable.
Then there are the young or transient, who move every year or so and just aren’t going to invest in satellite.
There are a million reasons why they aren’t switching and a million more why they shouldn’t have to.
Yet baseball is not just trying to make them, Selig and DuPuy are saying they don’t care about them, their concerns or their past loyalty.
This is what happens when you listen to the suits and not the fans because a spreadsheet can’t measure passion. This is what happens when your commissioner likes to play the part of dopey every man, but is actually just dopey and out of touch like the rest of the rich guys.
MLB is selling its fans out for the price of a utility infielder, which is pretty stupid. Although not as stupid as Selig and DuPuy think you are.



And to further show off his finely honed sense of PR, Bud's also scheduled a Civil Rights Game for March 31 and selected the Cleveland Indians to play the Cards. Since the Indians persist in using the Chief Wahoo logo, the game's sure to provoke what are certainly justifiable protests from Americann Indian groups.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

A key performance by Lowry


Giantsfan9 continues to deliver outstanding coverage of the Orange and Black at Giants Jottings, complete with terrific photos like this one of Noah Lowry. I get a better sense of how things are going with the team through this site than any other source.
Lowry's performance today was a good sign. He's obviously not in top form yet but doesn't need to be for three more weeks. Zito and Cain are expected to be top of the rotation guys but Noah's the key guy, in that he can truly elevate this team. We've all seen him mesmerize teams -- one of my fave games of 2005 was the second game after the All-Star break at Chavez Latrine when the Giants embarrassed the Smodgers 6-0 on a 2-hit shutout (Eyre closed it out).
Giantsfan9 had this to say about Lowry's pitching today --
Noah Lowry pitched well, giving up 2 runs on only 2 hits. Unfortunately the two hits were a solo HR to Johnny Estrada in the 2nd.....and a 2-out double in the 3rd that was followed by an error by Eugenio Velez, which allowed an unearned run to score. Lowry then picked the runner off of 1B (1-3-6) to end the inning. Lowry threw 46 pitches, including 6 pitches to Prince Fielder before the pickoff got him out of that AB. Lowry did not go to a full count on any batter. His pitches seemed to have quite a bit of zip on them. He threw a few changeups.......but I don't remember seeing any of those really silly swings that you see when Lowry's changeup is really on.
I'm acutally amused that after providing all this useful and interesting info FOR FREE, Giantsfan9 actually concludes the post by apologizing for not doing more. In my opinion, this guy's a prince --
Our dinner reservations are in 20 minutes so I have to get going. I will try to get back later this evening to detail how the offense looked. I have my son and daughter-in-law out here through Monday, so I will not have as much time to spend on this blog for a few days. Since the photos take, by far, the most time; I am taking less photos and posting them without captions. I will try and put a little more detail into the narrative to compensate.

I remember Kong

photo from Wikipedia

I had forgotten about one of the few games I attended during 1971 at the Stick, but I actually got to see Dave Kingman's MLB debut on a Friday night in July. For some reason, he was inserted late into the game for defensive purposes to replace Stretch and he and Chris Speier managed to turn a very nice 3-6-3 DP that was helpful in getting the 5-2 victory over the Pirates. It's odd that people went away from the park that night thinking "That big new kid can really pick it," in light of the subsequent horrific defensive rep he developed. I never saw him play enough after that to know if it was justified but he did wind up with 174 errors, which doesn't seem like a huge amount for someone who played 17 years.

The Giants traded him to the Mets for $150,000 in 1974 after four years -- the last three of which featured OBPs of .303, .300 and .302. He immediately hit 36 HRs for the Mets in 1975 but they got tired of him pretty quickly and he wound up playing for four teams during 1977. He had a pretty good year in Chicago in 1979 (48 HRs, 115 RBIs, .613 SLG) but the best part of his Cubs tenure was the year before when Tommy "Whore Chaser" Lasorda went ballistic over Kingman's 3-HR game, which included a great sliding catch when he was on the Cubs. Here's the whole thing, courtesy of Wikipedia --
"What's my opinion of Kingman's performance!? What the fuck do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was fucking horseshit! Put that in, I don't fucking care. Opinion of his performance!? Shit, he beat us with three fucking home runs! What the fuck do you mean, 'What is my opinion of his performance?' How could you ask me a question like that, 'What is my opinion of his performance?' Shit, he hit three home runs! Shit. I'm fucking pissed off to lose the fucking game. And you ask me my opinion of his performance! Shit. That's a tough question to ask me, isn't it? 'What is my opinion of his performance?'" -- in response to a question from reporter Paul Olden about slugger Dave Kingman's hitting three home runs during a May 14, 1978 10-7 victory by the Cubs over the Dodgers. The "censored" version of this diatribe, with the many "beeps" adding to its humorous effect, can be heard on one of the Baseball's Greatest Hits CD's.[1]

He also got into only one postseason -- as a rookie with the Giants, going a useless 1-for-9. That was a painful playoff against the Pirates. The Giants got bombed twice, giving 9 runs both times, and couldn't score in the game Marichal started, losing 2-1. The appearance of Kingman, in other words, marked the start of a rough period for Giants fans, who saw only four winning seasons (1973, 1978, 1981, 1982) over the next 14 years. All this came rushing back at me on Josh Wilker's fine write-up of Kingman at Cardboard Gods. Here's part of Josh's post --
Throughout his career, Dave Kingman’s at-bats ended in a strikeout more frequently than anyone who had ever preceded him onto a major league field. (By the time of his retirement, his contemporary Gorman Thomas had edged in front of him for the all-time lead in worst strikeout percentage.) Dave Kingman (unlike Gorman Thomas) was an atrocious fielder, once inspiring Phillies broadcaster Richie Ashburn to remark, during a break in play devoted to the repair of Kingman’s glove, "They should have called a welder." Kingman’s lifetime batting average was .236, and, because he seemed to lack both the ability and the will to draw a walk once in a while, his lifetime on-base percentage was an even more depressing .302, the same mark posted by Fred "Chicken" Stanley and lower than the success rates of, for example, Billy Almon and Shooty Babitt. He also had the reputation of being a detriment to the collective psychological well-being of his teammates, a characteristic most pungently described by one-time fellow Cub Bill Caudill, who said, "Dave Kingman was like a cavity that made your whole mouth sore." Teammates weren’t the only ones subject to his malevolent demeanor: He once gift-wrapped a box with a dead rat inside it and presented it to a female reporter, apparently a Neanderthalic protest to the presence of women in the locker room.At the time of Dave Kingman’s retirement, however, only four men in baseball history had a higher percentage of home runs per at bat, and their names were Ted Williams, Harmon Killebrew, Ralph Kiner, and Babe Ruth.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Even more Giants blogs

I managed to find not one but two new Giants blogs this evening -- both pretty decent:

-- Beat LA has much better graphics than this blog PLUS very snappy writing. Best thing, though, is the purity of its disdain for the Dodgers and their idiot fans, right at the top of the page -- Dedicated to all who do not come in the third inning and leave in the seventh, throwing beach balls all the while, at a cookie-cutter abomination with an all-you-can-eat right field.

-- It's an Old Team After All has a bit of a strange look with an apricot background but, again, it's very readable with quick smart takes on the Giants. It's described as "The Official Blog of Garbanzo Enterprises; San Francisco Giants Division." Best of all is the theme song --

By El Person
Sung to the tune of "It's A Small World"

Chorus:It's an old team after all
It's an old team after all
It's an old team after all
It's an old, old, team

It's a team of veterans
A team of cheers
It's a team that's gruesome
A team of jeers
There's so much that they did
But can't do any more
It's an old team after all

[Chorus]

There is just one cove
That can hold the blasts
From the bats of Bonds
Of many years past
Though the young guys give hope
That Armando's a dope
It's an old team after all

[Chorus]

Monday, March 05, 2007

Cry, cry, cry

Four months after it happened, Crybaby Dodger GM Ned Colletti can't stop whining about how J.D. Drew went back on his word in pursuit of a far better deal with the Bosox. Hey, Ned -- if you wanted J.D. Drew so badly after he carried the team into the playoffs, why didn't you re-negotiate his deal? In the article, Drew says he asked for a complete no-trade clause but Colletti calls him a liar --

"J.D. had a limited no-trade clause. The question was never asked of me, 'Would you give him a complete no-trade clause?' " he said. "That was never a question that was ever asked. So it was never a point of negotiations."

Back in November, Colletti took several potshots at Drew and said he felt ambushed that Drew had exercised his option. "I know J.D. is a spiritual guy and a man of his word," Colletti said at the time. "I guess he changed his word."

Sounds like Colletti is trying to show what a rough tough dude he is and cover up the fact that he replaced Drew -- the best player on the team last year -- by over-paying for Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre. I think it's appropriate to post the lyrics to Johnny Cash's great song "Cry Cry Cry," which reminds us that some things are worth crying over --

Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down.
I think you only live to see the lights of town.
I wasted my time when I would try, try, try.
When the lights have lost their glow, you're gonna cry, cry, cry.

I lie awake at night and wait 'til you come in.
You stay a little while and then you're gone again.
Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie.
For every lie you tell, you're gonna cry, cry, cry.

You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll cry alone,
When everyone's forgotten and you're left on your own.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry.
Soon your sugar-daddies will all be gone.
You'll wake up some cold day and find you're alone.
You'll call to me but I'm gonna tell you: "Bye, bye, bye,"
When I turn around and walk away, you'll cry, cry, cry,

When your fickle little love gets old, no one will care for you.
You'll come back to me for a little love that's true.
I'll tell you no and you gonna ask me why, why, why?
When I remind you of all of this, you'll cry, cry, cry.

You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll cry alone,
When everyone's forgotten and you're left on your own.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry and you'll want me there,
It'll hurt when you think of the fool you've been.
You're gonna cry, cry, cry.



RIP Gene Oliver

If you were a Giants fan in 1962, the name Gene Oliver is burned into your memory. After the Giants had beaten the Houston Colt 45s on the last day of the season 2-1 on a Willie Mays homer in the 8th, Oliver came up in the 8th and homered for St. Louis to beat the Dodgers 1-0 in LA. and force a 3-game playoff.

The Giants had been 4 games out with seven to go. The Dodgers lost 6 of the last 7 in one of the biggest chokes in history, then blew a 2-run lead in the 9th at home to lose the final game of the playoff. The monumental gagging was overshadowed two years later by the Phils blowing a 6.5 game lead with 12 games left.

Anyhow, this story out of Iowa makes it seem like Gene Oliver was a pretty decent guy, on and off the field. I'm not surprised, given the huge part he played one of the most glorious seasons for the Orange and Black. At any rate, he was a decent hitting catcher in the early to mid 1960s at a time when pitchers were starting to dominate the game. Best season for Oliver was probably with the Braves in 1965 with 21 HRs and 58 RBIs in 392 ABs.

I like Ishikawa


All told, he went 7-for-24 last year with 3 doubles and a triple, and he was only 22 at the time. I'd say he was a helluva lot promising even at that young age as a first baseman than the Niekro/Sweeney/Vizcaino/Hillenbrand fiasco.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The New York Times embarrasses itself

About a week ago, Murray Chass of the New York Times (registration required) wrote a thoroughly stupid "don't bother me with the facts" screed that sneeringly attacks anyone who actually can define VORP aka Value Over Replacement Player.

VORP, developed by Baseball Prospectus, is actually a very useful stat, as anyone who's tried to win at fantasy baseball will tell you. But Chass is such a lazy hack that he decided he didn't need to do any actual reporting or analysis that day. Rather than perhaps explore why more famous stats like batting average and pitching wins aren't regarded as being as useful as they used to be, he simply goes on the attack. Here's the last part of the column:

To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know. I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that’s their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein. People play baseball. Numbers don’t.

Junior at Fire Joe Morgan and Jason Snell at Idiots Write About Sports have both weighed in with insightful comments as to why the top baseball writer at the nation's top newspaper has decided to be so willfully ignorant. Here's part of what Jason posted, which sums up my feelings better than I could have --

It’s one thing for a professional journalist to write a column that unfairly castigates the men and women who are working hard to give baseball fans a much more nuanced and interesting view of what makes good baseball players good and bad ones bad. It’s quite another for a professional journalist to profess his colossal lack of intellectual curiosity about his chosen area of expertise in public. It’s an embarrassment, not just for Chass, but for the Times as well.

Fast, fast, fast

Joe Posnanski at The Soul of Baseball has a long but fascinating post about how to measure speed in baseball and concludes that Willie Wilson was the fastest player in baseball for the last 50 years, based on this "speed score" metric to gauge the effectiveness of a player's speed, worked out by Bill James:

1. Stolen bases.
2. Stolen base percentage.
3. Grounding into double plays.
4. Runs scored.
5. Triples.

Interesting to note -- Dave Roberts ranks as the most effective speed player in the game for 3 of the last 4 years. Best score in the last 50 years was Wilson's in 1979. Here's what Posnanski writes --

Here we go, the greatest speed score of the last 50 years – and perhaps the greatest in baseball history. Willie scored a 9.8. Look at this year: He led the league with 83 stolen bases and was caught 12 times. He was third with 13 triples, sixth with 113 runs. And get this: He hit into one double play in more than 600 plate appearances. I’m not sure if Bill’s data considers this, but Willie also hit FIVE inside the park homers this year.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Stay away, Bud

So Bud Selig happens to show up the Giants game today so he can 1. see the Giants get whomped 21-2 by the Brewers and 2. issue his usual idiotic comments, this time saying he's not clear whether Bonds will cooperate with George Mitchell's investigation. Gee, Bud, everyone else on the planet who's given this 2 seconds of thought has probably been able to surmise that the George-Barry get-together isn't going to happen.

So Bud took a meaningless game and made it even more irrelevant, which sort of sums up what Selig's all about. It's no surprise that he also had nothing to say about the Gary Matthews Jr. story. Here's hoping it's the last Giants game that Bud goes to this year until the World Series.

Russ returns to the Orange and Black

photo by giantsfan9 at Giants Jottings.
Well, it's been nearly five years since Russ Ortiz last pitched for the Giants on that fateful night in October. Had Dusty Baker not been his usual idiotic self, I might be talking about how Russ had sewn up the Series at Anaheim Stadium. Instead, the intervening years have seen almost everyone involved that night -- Russ, Dusty, Felix Rodriguez, Tim Worrell and Robb Nen -- become a good deal less successful although Russ had the good sense to go out and get some real money, to the point that even though he's been one of the worst MLB pitchers in the last two years, he's still getting paid $10 million or so this year by the Diamondbacks.
So even though it's a spring training game and even though it's against the eternally screwed up Cubs, Russ's performance Thursday was a small step toward easing the lingering bitterness of 2002. Here's Giantsfan9's recap of Ortiz' day --
Russ pitched 3 innings, facing the minimum number of batters on only 36 pitches. The Cubs really didn't hit anything hard off of Ortiz. I remembered Russ as a fly ball pitcher but 5 of his 9 outs were on ground balls, 3 were on strikeouts (2 looking) and only one out was recorded by a ball hit into the air....and that was on a foul popup to 3B. Russ was corner pitching very effectively, as his 2 called strikeouts attest. He also had several swing-throughs on fastballs. Hard to tell from my location......but I believe the reports that his fastball is 4-5 MPH faster than the last couple of years....it sure looked like it anyway. I also remember Russ as not a great control guy.......but he had only one 3 ball count and only two 2 ball counts. Who is this pitcher and what did he do with Russ Ortiz?As if that wasn't enough, Russ also was the hitting star of the game. In the 6th inning, Russ came to bat with the bases loaded and 1 out. I thought Bochy would send up a pinch hitter, since Russ had already thrown 2 innings, but that was not the case. On a 2-0 count, Russ rapped a bases clearing double, for a sweet 3 RBI. He really didn't hit the ball hard, he just hit it where it was pitched and found an open area in the alley. All in all........not a bad game for Russ.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The countdown starts

The official 2007 season starts a month from today for major league teams and the Dodgers. The Giants begin Cactus League play today against the Cubs.

Also, there's a MUCH LONGER countdown starting as to when Tommy Lasorda will sue Joey Gibson over Chapter 12 in her book. How about Never? Does Never work for you, Tommy? His attorney said earlier in the week that he'd sue; now Lasorda admits that he probably won't.