Friday, October 31, 2008

Good news from Scottsdale; bad news for Fox

65 free agents; no Giants

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jeff Kent = dingbat

Jeff Kent's given $15,000 to the campaign to ban gay marriage in California. What a pathetic move. Maybe he's hoping to sign for one more unproductive season and is trying to impress some rightwing dingbat owner or GM.

I guess that this puts the kibbosh on any chance -- which was probably minimal, anyhow -- that the Giants would sign him.

Mike Jacobs not in the Orange and Black

Ken Holtzman sticks it to the Dodgers

Sports Illustrated's World Series coverage in the current issue is OK but a bit maddening. For example, it mentions that Blanton's homer in Game 4 was the first in the Series in 34 years but it doesn't say who. The answer is Ken Holtzman of the A's in this glorious 5-2 buttkick of the Dodgers in Game 4.

It was the only game of the series not decided by a 3-2 final. It also featured an amazing fake out of Steve Yeager by Reggie Jackson as he came home from second on a Jim Holt pinch hit. Reggie faked outside and went inside on his slide while Yeager was still reaching outside and looking like an idiot.

SI also delivers this incomprehensible nugget about the Phils -- The karma is so good that the team went nine games over 33 days without losing at home. I read that sentence 10 times and I still can't figure it out. Don't they have copy editors at SI?

Speaking of incompetents, this You Tube video says it all about the dingbat who will do anything to be President.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

107 days until pitchers and catchers report

Fox = enemy of baseball fans

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mike Jacobs in the Orange and Black?

No game tonight

Monday, October 27, 2008

Why I became a Phillies rooter tonight

I honestly had no stake in the outcome until I heard ESPN's Dave Campbell recap three -- count em, three -- instances in which members of the Rays (Carl Crawford on trying to field a catchable ball and Rocco Baldelli and Carlos Pena on basepaths) did not run at anything close to top speed. "Very disturbing," Campbell said as he wondered out loud about how a player cannot be going full out during the 5th game of a World Series. Perhaps it was the rain.... but I was surprised that Campbell was so emphatic. He literally could not believe what he had seen -- what he seemed to be saying is that in a game that ought to be the culmination of a pro's career, these guys were Cadillacing.

This isn't an easy call to go with the Phils, given how annoying Philly fans can be. A Florida columnist complains about Philly fans with unsourced anecdotes about children getting hassled and a 9-year-old boy getting doused with a beer. I'd be a lot more impressed if he had actually bothered to name names.

This brings up the whole issue of provocation. I'm always a little surprised when fans from opposing teams are surprised over getting harrassed when wearing their gear into the opposition's stadium. I stopped wearing a Giants hat to Chavez Latrine years ago.

Bud Selig's "plan" for 2009

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig decides to suspend tonight's rain-delayed game. All this might have been avoided were Bud willing to schedule a World Series or two during the day rather being slavishly devoted to ratings -- resulting in playing games in miserable conditions. As for next year, Dan points out that it's going to be potentially worse:

If you thought tonight's conditions in Philly were abysmal for playing baseball, remember this: next year, the World Series STARTS on October 28th. Game Seven would be played on November 5th.

I couldn't help but think of the 4-day rain delay before Game 6 of the 1962 Series could be played -- featuring another wonderful pitching performance by Billy Pierce. Unfortuantely, the soggy field prevented the Giants from scoring a run in Game 7 the next day because Roger Maris was able to get to Willie Mays' two-out double in the 9th in time to prevent Matty Alou from coming home. Back then, the idea of playing the World Series at night was unthinkable. It would be another nine years before that started.

RIP Tony Hillerman

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Six years later for Feliz and Eyre

Bern Marsh shot this in March

It looks like Pedro Feliz and Scott Eyre are about to get the World Series rings as Phillies that they should have gotten as members of the 2002 Giants. Thanks to Dusty Baker's egregious mis-management of pitchers (an over-reliance on Felix Rodriguez and Livan Hernandez, in particular), the Giants were denied. It was six years ago tonight that Dusty gave away the Series to the Angels by bringing in Felix to relieve Russ Ortiz, then sealed the deal the next night by starting Livan instead of Kirk Reuter.

What follows is the single saddest half inning that I ever saw (yes, I was there) in my 51 years as a Giants fan -- the bottom half of the 8th of Games 6. It marked the end of Series hopes and the end of Robb Nen's career, too.

Bottom of the 8th, Angels Batting, Behind 3-5, Tim Worrell facing 2-3-4
D Erstad Home Run
T Salmon Single to CF
Chone Figgins pinch runs for Tim Salmon batting 3rd
G Anderson Single to LF; Figgins to 3B; Anderson to 2B/Adv on E7
Robb Nen replaces Tim Worrell pitching
T Glaus Double to CF; Figgins Scores; Anderson Scores/unER
B Fullmer Strikeout Swinging
S Spiezio Intentional Walk
J Molina Bunt Groundout: P-1B/Sacrifice; Glaus to 3B; Spiezio to 2B
A Kennedy Strikeout Swinging

Well, enough of re-visiting the nightmare, other than to say Thanks a lot, Dusty! One interesting point about Eyre, who's now in his 12th year -- he's been in 458 regular season games and his MLB batting record is 2-for-13. Besides Feliz and Eyre, the only guys still active from the 2002 Giants World Series roster are Ramon Martinez (the ultimate benchwarmer), Rich Aurilia, Livan, Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt. I'm dubious that Schmidt is ever going to pitch again in the MLB and it would not be a surprise if Richie and Jeff have played their last MLB games. (Livan will probably catch on somewhere next season). And I have to admit that you can't really say Bonds is active any more.

A Miller-Morgan divorce?

The NY Daily News is reporting that ESPN may be breaking up the 19-year partnership between Jon and Joe. The story says Rick Sutcliffe would be Joe's replacement on Sunday nights.

Some people just get more stupid

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Not since Reggie Sanders and David Bell

Well, the Fox telecast was predictably awful tonight -- despite a fascinating World Series Game 3 win by the Phils, 5-4. Where do I begin? I suppose the worst was the constant hyping of Fox shows and Sunday's NFL schedule. I don't care what Joe "Boring" Buck thinks of "24," OK, Fox?

Fox did hit their high point in the 6th when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back homers, leading to the note that the last teammates to do that in a World Series came in Game 2 six years ago when Sanders and Bell went back to back. Giants fans, of course, know that the Angels won the game 11-10. Essentially, the Giants hit the hell out of the ball but Russ Ortiz gave up seven runs in less than two innings and Felix Rodriguez lost the game.

What brainiac at Fox -- which normally seems fairly attuned to keeping ratings up -- thinks that the Joe "I Don't Like Baseball" Buck-Tim McCarver team is a good idea in terms of attracting fans?

Back to 2002. Here's how it went --
Top of the 2nd, Giants Batting, Behind 0-5, Kevin Appier facing 4-5-6
B Bonds Walk
B Santiago Flyball: CF
J Snow Single to RF; Bonds to 3B
R Sanders Home Run; Bonds Scores; Snow Scores
D Bell Home Run
S Dunston Groundout: 2B-1B
K Lofton Single to CF
R Aurilia Strikeout Looking
4 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Giants 4, Angels 5.

Decent news out of Scottsdale

Dave Nelson took this nice shot of Emmanuel Burriss in May

Again -- why was Brian Bocock playing ahead of Burris at the start of the year? That's just plain dumb.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Six years ago today

"Omigod, it's raining rubber chickens."

That's what my sister said as hundreds of rubber chickens were joyfully thrown onto the field from the CF bleachers at the end with the score 16-4. So I threw mine too.

That oh-so-familiar Feliz feeling

Giants fans know it all too well. Pedro Feliz comes up in a crucial situation and swings at the very first pitch he sees -- usually with bad results. Here's what happened in the top of the 8th, with Feliz already 0-for-3, right after the Phils had scored their first run of the night.

Philadelphia - Top of 8th
David Price pitching for Tampa Bay
P Burrell popped out to third.
S Victorino grounded out to third.
E Bruntlett hit for G Dobbs.
E Bruntlett homered to left.
P Feliz grounded out to shortstop.
1 Runs, 1 Hits, 0 Errors

I mean, come on. You've got a rookie pitcher in a World Series game and he's just given up a homer to a guy who hit two all year. And you've got four outs left to score 3 runs. Feliz has actually regressed a bit in Philly from what was a pretty unimpressive level of performance for a corner infielder. Of the eight starters in Philly, he had lowest OPB (.302), the lowest number of walks (33) and the second lowest slugging average at .402.

Feliz put up decent power numbers in 2003 (.515 SLG) and 2004 (.485) but went into a sharp decline after that -- even though he continued getting to play every day for the next three seasons until even the Giants front office realized that it didn't make sense to sign Pedro as a free agent because maybe they (like most other teams) could get a lot better production from their third baseman. So with Feliz departing and with Kevin Fransden going down for the year, Brian Sabean decided to get a far worse player to play at third -- Jose Castillo. Castillo managed to put up am ugly .244/.290/.381 line for the Giants in 394 at bats -- among the most unproductive corner infielders in the game. In the meantime, Pablo Sandoval was tearing up the minors but didn't get called up until the middle of August. Now you know why I keep saying Sabean's an incompetent who should be fired immediately.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bill James likes Matt Cain

McCovey Chronicles has the Bill James projections for Giant pitchers in 2009, including a 13-11 record for Matt Cain. Lincecum will go 17-9, according to James.

Matt's record after four seasons in the MLB is 30-43 -- a testament to how crappy the Giants offense has been during that period.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Utley joins Bonds and Bathe

Chase Utley became the 34th player to homer in his first World Series at bat. Only Gene Tennace and Dodger "slugger" Andruw Jones have gone back to back. The Bill Bathe homer was a 9th inning pinch 3-run job in Game 3 -- 10 days after the Loma Prieta quake. Here are the others on an impressive list:

Dustin Pedroia, Boston, 2007
Geoff Blum, Chicago White Sox, 2005
Mike Lamb, Houston, 2005
David Ortiz, Boston, 2004
Troy Glaus, Anaheim, 2002
Barry Bonds, San Francisco, 2002
x-Andruw Jones, Atlanta, 1996
Fred McGriff, Atlanta, 1995
Ed Sprague, Toronto, 1992
Eric Davis, Cincinnati, 1990
Bill Bathe, San Francisco, 1989
Jose Canseco, Oakland, 1988
Mickey Hatcher, Los Angeles, 1988
Jim Dwyer, Baltimore Orioles, 1983
Bob Watson, New York Yankees, 1981
Amos Otis, Kansas City Royals, 1980
Doug DeCinces, Baltimore Orioles, 1979
Jim Mason, New York Yankees, 1976
x-Gene Tenace, Oakland A's, 1972
Don Buford, Baltimore Orioles, 1969
Mickey Lolich, Detroit Tigers, 1968
Jose Santiago, Boston Red Sox, 1967
Brooks Robinson, Baltimore Orioles, 1966
Don Mincher, Minnesota Twins, 1965
Roger Maris, New York Yankees, 1960
Elston Howard, New York Yankees, 1955
Dusty Rhodes, New York Giants, 1954
George Selkirk, New York Yankees, 1936
Mel Ott, New York Giants, 1933
George Watkins, St. Louis Cardinals, 1930
Joe Harris, Washington Senators, 1925

Bill James likes Pablo

Grant at McCovey Chronicles has gotten ahold of Bill James' projections for the 2009 Giants. Sandoval's numbers are by far the best on the team -- 17 HRs, 103 RBIs, .346 OBP and .500 SLG.

James also projects that Aaron Rowand's due to put slightly better numbers than he did this year, too (18 HRs, 79 RBIs, .339 OBP and .438 SLG). According to NY Baseball Digest, the Yanks may make an offer for Rowand. That blog speculates that perhaps the Yanks would trade Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui for Rowand and Matt Cain, but then concludes such a transaction is not likely.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The right place at the right time

That's the story for Pedro Feliz, who will get start most of the World Series games even though he put up the same kind of disappointing numbers this year that he did in San Francisco and has now gone 5-for-26 in the post season. The rest of the Phils lineup is so strong that it obscures Feliz' modest performance; he continues to play pretty good defense.

So this will be his second World Series; he went 0-for-5 in 2002. With any luck, he could be a later-day version of someone like Lonnie Smith, who wound up playing in five World Series for four different teams. Or Dave Justice, who played in six World Series -- three for the Braves and three for the Yanks -- and still had time to marry and divorce Halle Berry.

Of the current Giants, Omar Vizquel's the only one who's played in two World Series. Bengie Molina and Rich Aurilia faced each other in 2002; and Aaron Rowand was in the 2005 Series for the Chisox. Dave Roberts, believe it or not, did not play in the 2004 World Series for the Bosox, despite his historic steal in the ALCS that year.

Hey kids -- it's wacky rumor time!

Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports mentions deep within a story that the Giants may be bidders for Manny Ramirez. I don't mind saying that I think this is a bad idea, given how Manny crybabied his way out of Boston.'s Chris Haft reports in a mailbag item on the official Giants site that the Twins are willing to give Delmon Young for Matt Cain, but adds that he think it's not going to happen.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Fox -- home of bad baseball announcers

Nice shot by AaronCaldwell of the Ernie Harwell statue at Comerica Park

Here's hoping for a good World Series but expectations are pretty damn low for Fox's coverage with the incompetent Joe Buck and the boring Tim McCarver. Why in the world can't we hear the legendary Ernie Harwell -- who still sounds great on the air when he makes a guest appearance -- or Phils announcer Harry Kalas or Jon Miller or Bob Uecker or Denny Matthews or Lon Simmons or even Vin Scully? Hell, I'd even settle for Jerry Coleman.

Stephen Kaus at Huffington Post has this recap -- Joe Buck announces baseball as if it were a funeral. It is like trying to watch a game from the old Seattle Kingdome. You become depressed no matter what is happening. Combine this with Tim McCarver's incessant proctologic prattlings and you have a recipe for watching The Daily Show instead. Or just constantly refreshing the polls on Buck does not even like baseball, and it shows. His dad was one of the best. He is the absolute worst.
One of the comments notes that Buck was afraid to try the garlic fries in San Francisco.

Paulie at Give Em Some Stankeye weighs in -- FOX has maybe the worst collection of on-air personalities I’ve ever seen, in any sport. Luckily we were spared Thom Brennaman this postseason (thank you TBS for picking up the ALCS), but there was still plenty of mediocrity to spread around. Much ink has been spilled about how bad the Buck/McCarver tandem is but I personally can’t stand Kevin Kennedy on the pre-game shows. My goodness, his “analysis” consists of nothing but old-fashioned, tired baseball cliches that aren’t relevant anymore and all of his predictions turn out to be all kinds of wrong. I did love when Kennedy asserted after Game 3 of the NLCS that the beanball wars would fire up the Dodgers, then they went on to lose the next two games and the series.

Tim the Enchanter gets 2 awards

He wins The Sporting News and the Players Choice awards as the top NL pitcher -- with each voted on by the players. I'm still a bit skpetical about sportswriters voting him the Cy Young, given that Branadon Webb won 22 games for an actual contending team.

The Tampa Bay Giants?

A great shot of Mays Field by EricBVD from a balloon last year.

With the Rays going to the World Series, I can't help but be reminded that the Giants came close to moving to Tampa Bay in 1992. It was so strange to think back then that my 35 years of fandom might have been coming to an end. So I guess it's appropriate to thank Peter Magowan for buying the team from Bob Lurie, keeping it in San Francisco and getting a new stadium built. Thanks, Peter. I really mean it, though I'm sure you're going to regret not firing Brian Sabean for the crappy job he's done for the last 4 years.

Meanwhile, the Oakland A's are discovering that building a new park isn't as easy it might seem and that they may not be welcome in Fremont after all. One of the mayoral candidates is campaigning against the "Baseball Village" that's been proposed -- five miles from BART. It seems like another dumb idea.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Barry Bonds Hate Train rolls on

If you ever wonder why bloggers sometimes accuse mainstream sportswriters of being lapdogs for the MLB owners, this pathetic Bonds-hating column by non-talent Mike Lupica of the NY Daily News should tell you all you need to know. Lupica's decided that there couldn't possibly be any collusion because BARRY BONDS IS EVIL and the Worst. Teammate. Ever.

My guess is that Lupica believes that since neither of the New York teams made it into the postseason, it's not really worth writing about. I beg to differ.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Roger, Roger

Roger Murdock: We have clearance, Clarence.
Captain Oveur: Roger, Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
-- Peter Graves as Capt. Ovuer and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as Roger Murdock in "Airplane!"

I was going to post about how Giants prospect Roger Kieschnick is blasting the ball in the Hawaiian Winter League but got distracted by the cinematic memory. The Giants also have Waldis Joaquin and Steve Edlefsen in the HWL but neither of them are impressing so far. A Giants Win hat tip to El Lefty Malo for his recent post.

Thanks for ending the season on a high note

Terrific shots of Tim Terrific by the terrific Artolog on Sept. 29.

I must also point out that the 3-1 loss by the Dodgers was a portent of things to come two weeks later.

Friday, October 17, 2008

19 years ago today

Not since 1929

MLBPA wimps out on Bonds collusion

A valentine to Dodger killer Matt Stairs

Joe Posnaski has written a pretty good piece contending that Stairs is the best journeyman slugger of all time, what with having played for 11 teams and homering 254 times. That tops Todd Zeile, who also played for 11 teams, by one homer.

My favorite homer against the Dodgers has to be Joe Morgan's three-run bomb in 1982 off Terry Forster, followed Brian Johnson's game-winner late in the 1997 season and the Jack Clark three-run shot in the 1985 playoffs off Tom Needahomer. I'm also a big fan of Fernando Tatis hitting back to back grand slams in the same inning off Chan Ho Park in 1999.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Echoes of 2002

I had a weird sense of deja vu tonight as the Bosox stormed back from the dead to win Game 5 of the ALCS. The announcer on XM Home Plate even made the connection with the Angels comeback in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series during a conversation with Angel coach Ron Roenicke.

Anyone who says Giant fans aren't tough -- after enduring that heartbreak -- doesn't know what they're talking about.

Tonight's was the biggest deficit overcome in a postseason game since the legendary 1929 A's were down 8-0 to the Cubbies and won 10-8.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bonds still hoping to play

That's my read on Murray Chass' long column. Here's how it ends -- Borris, in response to a question, said he had not contacted teams about next season. Asked if Bonds’ career could be over, the agent paused for a few moments and then said, “Last night I watched the Bob Costas special with Aaron and Mays and Mays said he thought Barry has two or three good years left. I will defer to Willie’s opinion.”

Bonds' agent repeats his very believable claim of collusion -- “I am convinced that Major League Baseball will never let him put on a uniform ever again,” said Bonds’ agent, Jeff Borris.

Dodgers disappear without a whimper

The Dodgers laid down and played dead tonight -- a fitting end to a season that culminated in an over-rated and overconfident team being exposed as an utter fraud. Chad Billingsley pitched like garbage and Rafael Furcal managed to summon up the spirit of Willie Davis and make three errors in an inning in the 5-1 loss. The unaccountably overconfident Dodger fans somehow thought that they were entitled to the World Series after having the enormously good fortune of playing the Cubs in the NLDS -- always an experience that will convince teams that they're better than they actually are.

The Phils are looking like they have a pretty good shot to go all the way. NL teams have only won 4 of the last 12 World Series since 1996. And now, here's Dan with the final word on the Dodger image -- During the top of the ninth, Fox had a close-up of James Loney picking his nose at first base. Here's a big shout out to the Phils for ridding the country of the pestilence known as Dodger Blew.

Finally, props to Fire Joe Morgan for pointing out that not one of ESPN's 18 "experts" predicted two weeks ago that the Phils would be in the World Series.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Dodgers aren't as good as the Phillies

Ross Newhan, who was a far better baseball reporter for the LA Times than the crew that's in there now, points out the obvious -- the Dodgers are down 3-1 in the NLCS because they're nowhere near as good as the Phils.

Perhaps another factor is at work -- the Sports Illustated cover jinx aka the SIKOD (SI Kiss of Death). Manny was on the cover of the Oct. 13 issue, which contained a laudatory Tom Verducci story about him, mostly breathless accounts of how well he's been playing. However, there was one line deep in the story guaranteed to disgust all Bosox fans: "Scouts have clocked him at 4.4 seconds running to first base, a speed not seen from him for years."

This is why SI drives me crazy. A statement like that begs for a followup such as why in the hell wasn't he running at top speed in Boston while pulling down $20 million a year? Suddenly, all the stories about Manny dogging his way out of Boston via a lack of interest and a lack of hustle have a lot more credibility. But SI decided years ago that Barry Bonds was their Designated Evildoer, while Manny is just a wacky guy -- a big overgrown kid -- and isn't it just great that he plays for the Dodgers? Since he's a backstabbing slimy weasel who crybabied his way out of Boston, I'd say he and the Dodgers deserve each other.

By the way, a Dodger fan tried to submit a comment to this blog about how great the Dodgers are because they've won a World Series more recently than the Giants. For any of you demented Dodger fans reading this, don't waste your time submitting your nonsense comments. I'm not interested in publishing your idiotic rants. If you don't like it, then leave.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Six years ago tomorrow

Oct. 14, 2002 -- The Giants close out the Cards, 2-1, to make it to the World Series for the first time in 13 years. I had the good fortune to attend that game, which looked a bit grim as the Giants came up trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the 8th. My sister insisted that I put on her Giants windbreaker to change the luck vibe. And here's what happened:

Bottom of the 8th, Giants Batting, Behind 0-1, Matt Morris facing 9-1-2
S Dunston Strikeout Looking
K Lofton Single to CF
R Aurilia Single to LF; Lofton to 2B
J Kent Hit By Pitch; Lofton to 3B; Aurilia to 2B
B Bonds Flyball: LF/Sacrifice Fly; Lofton Scores; Aurilia to 3B
B Santiago Groundout: 2B-1B
1 run, 2 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB. Cardinals 1, Giants 1.

Top of the 9th, Cardinals Batting, Tied 1-1, Tim Worrell facing 8-9-1
M Matheny Flyball: CF
M Morris Strikeout Looking
F Vina Single to 1B/Bunt
M Cairo Strikeout Looking
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Cardinals 1, Giants 1.

Bottom of the 9th, Giants Batting, Tied 1-1, Matt Morris facing 6-7-8
Ramon Martinez pinch hits for Tim Worrell batting 6th
R Martinez Foul Flyball: C
J Snow Flyball: LF
D Bell Single to CF
S Dunston Single to CF; Bell to 2B
Steve Kline replaces Matt Morris pitching and batting 9th
K Lofton Single to RF; Bell Scores; Dunston to 2B
1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB. Cardinals 1, Giants 2.

How did that taste, Dodger fans?

I bet that was mmmm-mmmm good. That's what you get for applauding your no-class headhunting "mighty" Dodger Blue last night. I call it karma, particularly since it was the guy who nearly got beaned who put a stake through the Dodgers' pathetic hopes.

The Dodger bullpen gagged away an eminently winnable game tonight, giving up back-to-back two-run HRs in the 8th to Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs. It's one thing to lose to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley but to lose a huge game to marginal guys instead exposes what a fraud this Dodger team is. It was a nice touch to see the final play involved two ex-Giants as Kent lined out to Feliz.

As for the class-free beachball-obsessed Dodger fans, they continue to dazzle with their stupidity. Here's what was filed by ESPN -- The players, managers and coaches may say the right things, that the problems between the Dodgers and Phillies are behind them after the Game 3 shouting match that followed a high, inside pitch from the Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda at the Phillies' Shane Victorino. Fans aren't over it.A few seated in the upper deck, which is where the auxiliary press box is located at Dodger Stadium, shouted "Hit him in the head" and "Kill him" when Victorino came up to bat in the first.

ESPN's Jayson Stark also came up with this gem -- The last time the Dodgers gave up a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later of an LCS game: Jack Clark's fabled game-winner off Tom Niedenfuer, in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 NLCS.

A bit of good news out of Arizona

Emmanuel Burris is hitting decently in the Arizona Fall League. He went 2 for 5 in Saturday's game and is batting .389 after 5 games. He's 7 for 18 in 5 games.

Here's his line out for the rookie year -- .283/.357/.329 in 240 ABs. At 23, he's got a decent upside. What I don't understand is why the Giants felt it was a good idea to give so much playing time to the offense-free Brian Bocock early in the season.

Uggla in the Orange and Black?

MLB Trade Rumors says Dan Uggla, Derrick Lee and Paul Konerko are the three guys the Giants are considering. The site's source is Phil Rogers of the Chicago Trib, who says the price would be either Jonathan Sanchez or Matt Cain.

Uggla's got problems on defense as anyone who saw this year's All Star game will remember. But he's 29 and will be less likely to decline than Lee, who will turn 34 next year or Konerko, who will be 33 next season.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dodger crybabies

Head Dodger crybaby and the world's worst sportswriter Bill Plaschke of the LA Times decides that it's a good idea to encourage a beanball war. What a stupid dingbat, a deserving shill/apologist for a class-free organization that condones headhunting and reveres Don Drysdale, probably the least deserving Hall of Fame selection of all time. I've just watched the talent-free Hiroki Kuroda throw a pitch at Shane Victorino's head with a 5-run lead.

Plaschke's now written a stupid follow-up column attempting to make Kuroda into a hero rather than the slimy weasel that he is. My stomach's still churning.

Just so there's no mistake -- I deplore headhunting. Cowardly pitchers like Kuroda who deliberately throw at a batter's head should be kicked out immediately and suspended.

UPDATE -- Kuroda got fined $7,500; a laughable punishment

CC isn't coming to SF

At least, that's what John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks. He rates the Orange and Black as a 10-1 shot to sign him, given the fact that the Zito signing leaves the front office 1. cautious about another big deal and 2. lacking the financial firepower to make such a deal. Shea believes the Dodgers are the most likely destination, followed by the Angels, Mets, Yankees and Bosox.

What the article doesn't say is this -- the Giants had decent starting pitching but the second worst offense in MLB this year with three more runs than the Padres and one fewer run than the Nats. So that's probably what the team's going to focus on when they're pursuing free agents although when Brian Sabean's in charge, doing the smart thing isn't always a given.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Scottsdale Scorpions win their first game

Alex Hinshaw blew the save but got the Scorpions' first win in a 3-2 vic over the Phoenix Desert Dogs. Burris and Fransden were in the one-two slots and each got a hit. Attendance -- 567. The Scorpions had lost their first 3 games.

Meanwhile, the Giants dumped Tyler Walker, Kevin Correia, Brad Hennessey, Ivan Ochoa, Scott McClain, Gino Espinelli and Eleizer Alfonzo. They can re-sign Ochoa and McClain. They also lost Travis Denker to the Padres. For the guys on the margins, it would seem that if you weren't asked to play on the Scorpions, your job was in jeopardy.

Here's where the MLB playoffs should be

Great shots of Mays Field by The West End, taken two months ago

The Dodgers went 84-78; the Giants went 72-90 this year. Here's hoping for a reversal in 2009.
The Giants are the only team in the NL West not to have been in the postseason in the last three years. They played their last postseason game at Mays Field five years ago -- a disgusting 9-5 loss to the Marlins, thanks to crappy pitching by Sidney Ponson and Joe Nathan, of all people. The only guy who's still on either club is Rich Aurilia, even though he took detours through Seattle, San Diego and Cincinnati.

Friday, October 10, 2008

More Dodger choking

The Scottsdale Scorpions

That's the name of the Arizona Fall League team that's got a bunch of Giants on it -- most notably Ryan Rohlinger, Emmauel Burris, Alex Hinshaw, Osiris Matos and Kevin Fransden. The Scorpions have gone 0-3 so far. I guess this stuff is for serious fans -- I never seem to hear about the AFL until it's over months after the fact.

I only found out about it now because of this story on the official Giants site: Fransden tells Chris Haft of that he's starting to get his timing back.

Jim Walsh of the Arizona Republic does a nice report on this week's opening day of the AFL, noting that a crowd of close to 1,000 at Hohokam for the Mesa Solar Sox opener was there but adding that the crowds were less than 300 at the other two games. It sounds like serious fun. I wish Giantsfan9, who does an incomparable job tracking the Giants in spring training at Giants Jottings, were there to provide some coverage. I'm adding the link off the site to the link list.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Dodgers choke at last

On a day when everyone was wondering where their retirement money had gone, the Phils finally provided some good news -- helping the Dodgers gag their way to an NLCS playoff loss.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The vague new Giants Way

Bill Neukom delivers his first vision of what the Giants will be, which sounds like an aggregation of business cliches. There seems to be no recognition that this team, despite its financial firepower, has just gone through four consecutive losing seasons. Key points, from the Merc-News' Andrew Baggarly --

-- Neukom said he envisions putting together a team that is competitive next season, with an eye toward contending in 2010 and consistently beyond. He is looking for incremental improvement, which will be vital in determining whether he recommits to Sabean and Bochy when their contracts expire after next season.
-- Neukom said the Giants would prioritize scouting and player development but he authorized Sabean to look at all options for improving the club, telling the longtime GM that an $80 million payroll is more of a placeholder than a rigid figure.

-- Neukom said he sees the value in advanced statistical analysis and wants to integrate certain ideals of the "Moneyball" approach.
-- "We just have to outwork people," said Neukom, "whether it's in the conditioning room, down the dirt roads in middle America or in front of the (computer) screen."

My comment -- Not impressed so far. Obviously everyone else is working hard -- what makes some teams better is that they're either occasionally lucky or have a better strategic approach than overpaying for on-the-fade vets like Blownitez, Zito, Alfonzo, Roberts and Rowand. I agree with what a poster named Snapper at Baseball Primer Newsblog has to say (boldface is mine) --

Your competition also works hard. It's a push. Something everyone can do is not a sustainable source of advantage. I'm sure Sabean and Bavasi work/worked hard. They just had a fundamentally flawed approach. To have a sustainable advantage, you have to be smarter in some systematic way, or have more money, or have players want to play for your team for some non-easily duplicated reason. SF should have sustainable advantages in money, ballpark, the history of the franchise, and being a really nice place to live. Now, all they have to do is not be so stupid.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Give the Angels some cheese and crackers.... go along with all that whining. Josh Alper has a terrific post on AOL Fanhouse about how the Angels (John Lackey and Tori Hunter) aren't willing to admit that they blew it.

And there's another great post about how the over-rated Mike Scioscia gave away Game 4 by over-managing. Pat Lackey (wonder if he's related to John Lackey?) observes sagely -- There are a million things that can go wrong on a squeeze play. Try to imagine Terry Francona making the same call. You can't do it. Now remember that Francona's teams are 9-1 against Scioscia's in the playoffs. There is an old baseball adage that applies here; bad managers lose far more games than good managers win. Mike Scioscia lost Game 4 for the Angels last night.

Defensive Indifference also has a great post about the whine-fest. Here's how it ends -- The Angels should be banned from complaining about other team’s celebration as long as Francisco “Fist Pump / Acknowledge God / Treat Every Save Like the Game 7 of the World Series” Rodriguez is closing out games. As it turns out, that might not be too much longer. Whining is unbecoming, John. Enjoy your winter on the golf course.

My comment -- this is a little bit of payback for the 2002 World Series, where the Giants had an even more self-absorbed and hubristic manager than Scioscia.

Manny won't be a Dodger for much longer

Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News reports that the Dodgers won't meet his asking price -- $85 million for 5 years. My early guess is that the Yanks might make a run as part of their "Let's stick it to the Red Sox" strategy.

The NFL's free pass on steroids

Allan Barra of the Wall Street Journal writes that no one cares that NFL players -- particularly linemen -- routinely abuse steroids.

He makes two points: 1. Pro football gets a pass in the public eye because no one really cares about statistical accomplishments like they do in baseball and 2. the NFL doesn't have to worry, like MLB does, about losing its antitrust exemption

Monday, October 06, 2008

Why the Angels loss is bad news for the Dodgers

Late in tonight's TBS telecast of the Bosox-Angels game 4, Buck Martinez made the point that the Angels' record in the late season wasn't as impressive as it seemed since they were playing the AL West rivals -- the Rangers, Mariners and A's. Meanwhile, the Bosox were battling in a far tougher division, going up against the Rays, Jays and Yankees. His point was that the Angels weren't at the top of their game, which makes sense given the Angels' inability to get the big clutch hit when they needed it throughout the series.

For their part, the Dodgers were in a tougher situation since they weren't as far ahead as the Angels. But they were also playing lousy teams late in the season -- mostly against the NL West, the worst division in baseball with the fading Dbacks, the Giants, the Rox and the Padres. They also had a late-season series againts the Pirates. As I've already said, the Cubs were so crappy that it's impossible to assert that the Dodgers proved much of anything during their sweep. Hopefully, the Phils will expose the Dodgers as frauds by this time next week.

King Kaufman of Salon defuses a dumb theory that Tom Verducci put out that the Cubs lost because they were so well-scouted. That's obviously not true. Kaufamn puts it simply -- the Cubs are cursed.

As for the Angels, they put the "suicide" into suicide squeeze tonight as Mike Scioscia tried to psychoanalyze the go-ahead run home in the 9th, only to find that Erick Aybar couldn't execute. It underlined how over-rated the strategy of running the bases like maniacs is. Besides, what was so hard about hitting a simple grounder to the right side? Frankly, Scioscia's move reeks of the kind of hubris that comes from believing one's own press clippings.....and from playing for the Dodgers.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Cubs are the Cubs

Silly me -- forgetting that the Cubs are doomed to be the Cubs. Unfortunately, they've given the Dodgers a boost of confidence that's hopefully about to be deflated by the Phils.

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune explains that Ted Lilly's uninterested in the notion of expanding the division series to seven games then notes that being the regular season victory leader among teams sure doesn't mean much -- The Cubs become the ninth team in the last 14 seasons to lead their league in victories and not advance past the first round. Only five of the No. 1 seeds went on to win the World Series, making it almost twice as likely for a regular-season powerhouse to go the way of the Cubs than to win a championship.

Pertinent example -- The 2003 Giants won 100 games, the Braves won 101 and the Marlins won the World Series.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

How's this for a Giants rotation?

Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Barry Zito and Noah Lowry. Maybe that's a stretch but the SF Chron reports that Lowry's surgeries went OK and that he's hoping to be ready for spring training.

I'm writing this at the point where the Dodgers are up 3-0 on the Cubs in the 6th; maybe if I ignore the game and go to the movies, the Cubs will start playing like an MLB team.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A fountain of embarrassment from Chicago

The LA Times gets credit for a fine headline -- Dodgers Beat Cubs, 10-3, at Wrigley (No) Field. LA Times columnist Patrick Goldstein gets off a nice movie comparison -- As someone who sees all things through the prism of cinema, I always thought that this season, the 100th anniversary of the last time the Cubs went to the World Series, would be our equivalent of "Field of Dreams," our version of "Angels in the Outfield." But after last night, the Cubs looked like they were auditioning for a bad remake of "I Walked With a Zombie."

The profoundly awful play by the Cubs in the their two "games" against the Dodgers has provoked several fascinating responses. First off is this comment from Sabermetrati as just how bad things are for Cub fans --

But the negativity surrounding this team is palpable: fans don't cheer when they're behind, the players take on all the expectations of finally being "the one" that they inevitably press and try too hard, and inevitably as well, lose. Game after game. Home field advantage or not, they lose. As the game goes on, rather than trying to calm down and get good at-bats, they swing at pitches in the dirt like single-A minor leaguers. Pitchers overpitch and end up walking everyone they face. If you're a Cubs fan, that is the most pathetic thing to be. In the Cubs' sabermetric world, the usual saying is the same, except let me put it in mathematical notation: Wait 'til Next Year = Cubs + October + (Win Expectancy > 0) = ∞ / 0

Steve Springer of the LA Times points out today -- a week late, unfortunately -- how embarrassing it was to watch the local Fox Sports outlet "cover" the Dodgers' clinching the NL West. He noted that TBS is a far better place than Fox for watching baseball and got off this fine description of the no-talent Steve Lyons and Kevin Kennedy --

Sitting in their outfield perch, Steve Lyons, Kevin Kennedy and Jim Watson were literally toasting the Dodgers' achievement, openly celebrating while pouring freely from a bottle we were assured was alcohol-free cider.Lyons even added an extra touch of homerism by wearing one of the division-champion caps handed out to the players. Guess he didn't have time to run down and get the full Dodgers uniform.

The Cubs do have Rich Harden going Saturday so there's still hope. Guest contributor Dan checks in with an appeal to the Cubbies --

To The Cubs:

Gentlemen: you have been assigned the task of performing a public service by eliminating the Hated Blew Crew from the postseason. To this point you have failed miserably.

Would it be too much for some competent fielding from your infield and some timely hitting from your lineup? I know that you have the weight of a century's worth of failure, but you're going to have to win this without the aid of a bogus call a la the Fred Merkle play in 1908.

This Saturday at the Latrine, you have the chance to beat the most pretentious team in baseball. The country, nay the World, is counting on your club eliminate the pestilence known as Dodger Blew. Remember, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing Tommy the Fraud LaSorda crying Crocodile Tears over a Dodger defeat.



Thursday, October 02, 2008

TBS = the anti-Fox

King Kaufman at Salon has a great column about how much better it is to watch playoff baseball on TBS rather than Fox --

TBS points some cameras at the game and has its announcers discuss it. There are very few sound effects or graphics intended to do anything but offer insight into the game. There are no sponsored fan polls or stunts promoting TBS shows, though of course there are so many "Frank TV" commercials that even Frank, in one of them, makes note of it.

There's no overarching slogan that the various announcers keep repeating, something like "You can't script this." There aren't any high-concept opening montages narrated by movie stars. The game announcers don't spend a lot of time working out their limited comedy chops. Any off-topic silliness is left to the boys back in the studio, though even they're a lot more serious than Johnson and his cohorts Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith are on the TNT basketball show.

I'm posting this just as the TBS crew's doing a nice job of describing the 2 extended atbats by Brett Myers -- extending 19 pitches -- off CC Sabathia without Fox's inevitable hyperventilating and the combination of condescension and stupidity from Joe Buck.

Proving my point about abusing pitchers

Loyal readers of this site will know that I've hammered Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy over their abuse this year of Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, because the franchise's most valuable assets were being severely over-used in meaningless games down the stretch. Not only does the risk of injury increase exponentially, but the pitchers become less effective.

Now I feel a bit vindicated after watching the Phils take apart CC Sabathia in the 2nd inning today after his coming back on 3 days rest for the fourth time. When ANY pitcher leaves a fattie over the plate to the very marginal Pedro Feliz (who's still happy to chase pitches out of the strike zone but managed to get a bit of glory by doubling), it means he's worn out.

Look, I would probably have done the same thing if I were managing the Brewers, and the Phils were smart enough to realize that he wasn't sharpy and started laying off Sabathia's pitches out of the zone. But it's a disgraceful way to treat your pitchers when you've been out of the race for weeks. And I get so tired of idiots like the SF Chron's resident dingbat Bruce Jenkins insisting that the game is somehow better when pitchers are being abused into early retirements, like Mark Prior and Robb Nen.

Adios, Omar and Peter

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The whole Orange and Black coaching crew's back

Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle says the entire coaching staff has been retained for next year -- which is kind of disgraceful, given the 72-90 season that just closed.

One real sore point for me -- How can Sabean and Neukom possibly justify keeping Carney Lansford on as the "hitting" coach?