Thursday, April 30, 2009

Should it be "I Feel Good"?

The Giants are looking for a theme song -- apparently other than "Bye Bye Baby" -- to play after "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," according to Joan Ryan's "Inside the Giants Clubhouse" blog. I recognize four of the seven suggestions:

Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
Good Vibrations - Beach Boys
Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On - Jerry Lee Lewis
I Feel Good - James Brown


Manny Burriss suggested "Luck Be a Lady'' by Frank Sinatra but I don't recognize the Journey songs, Lincecum's suggestions and most of the other suggestions in the replies. Even though it makes me feel kind of out of it and elderly, this also strikes me as a pretty good idea for getting the fans involved. I just hope they pick a good song.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Franchise shows how

For a night, the Giants looked like the team that used to go the postseason all the time against a team that probably WILL go the postseason.

Tim Lincecum kept the Dodgers looking demoralized through seven shutout innings before he faded quickly in the 8th. I just watched Steve Lyons whine on the local Fox Sports Network about how the ump had "squeezed" pathetic Dodger starter Eric Stults, when the fact is that Stults isn't a particularly good pitcher given that he gave up 5 runs and couldn't even get out of the 3rd inning against the worst offense in MLB.

My theory is that Bengie Molina's continuing to knock the crap out of the ball -- at least compared to his teammates -- is being aided by having Pablo Sandoval in the lineup. He now has 4 HRs and 18 RBIs. Since he's batting cleanup, he has a decent shot at 100 RBIs for the first time in his career.

No trip to Fresno for you

"Can that be right?" I thought when I heard Eugenio Velez come into the game tonight. I thought he was due to spend some time in Fresno after being optioned so that the Giants could add Osiris Matos to the roster. Henry Schulman of the Chron reports that it turns out that he never made it to Fresno as the club needed a replacement when Andres Torres went down.

Velez pinch hit for Matos tonight in the 8th with 2 out and the bases loaded and struck out against Fat Broxton. He's gotten two singles in 14 ABs this year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Your offense-free San Francisco Giants

Tonight saw another nightmare loss to the Dodgers that underlined what a poor manager Bruce Bochy is. The Giants left men on base, ran the bases stupidly, failed to hit for power and saw Bobby Howry give away the game in the 9th. Howry has pitched OK to everyone else, but the Dodgers seem to have his number. Bochy has insisted on leaving him out to get hammered against the Blew Crew -- tonight, he gave up a double to Manny, struck out Martin, gave up another double to Ethier and then a triple to Kemp to put the game completely out of reach. Meanwhile, Merkin Valdez isn't getting used at all.

Bochy's coaches don't impress me at all. Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle notes that Tim Flannery's coaching at third base was particularly awful tonight. After Winn was called out at home in the 1st on what Jon Miller said was a crappy call, Tim failed to send Ishikawa home in the sixth despite the fact that he could have scored easily. Here's what Schulman said -- Ishikawa stopped at third as coach Tim Flannery did not appear to provide any emphatic direction.

But the guy who should be fired immediately -- well, along with GM Brian "Brain" Sabean -- is "batting" coach Carney Lansford, who's managed to get the team to be last in runs scored (65), RBI (61) and walks (51) along with being second to last in OBP (.304), total bases (232) and homers (11). After the Giants put up pathetic offense numbers last year on Lansford's watch, this should be a no-brainer.

Barry Bonds returns

On a night where the Giants won with small ball, Barry Bonds spectated at Mays Field. Chris Haft of MLB.com reports -- Asked if he had any interest in playing again, Bonds said, "The only interest I have right now is going to my seat and watching the Giants beat the Dodgers."

How did that taste, Dodger fans?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Wilson's lousy aftermath of a late night?

I can't tell what actually happened. According to Henry Shulman at the SF Chron's Splash Blog, Brian Wilson filed a twitter report that implied he was out partying late in Scottsdale on Saturday night, before blowing a save the next afternoon. Then he denied that he was out at all and insisted he was in his hotel room.

In more definitive news, the Giants optioned Eugenio Velez to Fresno and brought up Osiris Matos.

"You officially hate the Dodgers now"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More crappy luck for Matt Cain

The Giants just lost a nightmare game in Phoenix, 5-4, after Matt Cain was his usual dominating self with only 1 run in 7 innings. Brian Wilson blew a 4-1 lead in the 9th, then Brandon Medders and Justin Miller let in the winner in the 12th. The Giants scored only 4 times despite getting 14 hits -- the only real impressive blow coming from Sandoval's 3-run shot in the 8th. The Giants are now 8-9, which projects out to 76-86.

The only good news is that the Rox stopped laying down. The Dodgers got humiliated for a change by the Rox on Sunday, so with Zito starting Monday night, I'm still saying BEAT LA!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"Overall, everything went pretty well except for me showing up to the ballpark"

Giants make it to back to .500, thanks to a 5-game win streak that's offset their 6-game losing streak. The quote is from The Big Unit after only pitching into the 4th tonight.

It's the first time this year that the Orange and Black have hit homers in back to back games. John Shea of the SF Chronicle notes that the Giants are the last team in the NL to get to the 10-homer mark. They're on pace to hit 100 homers and go 81-81.

The Cody Ransom saga rolls on

The former Giant just went on the 60-day DL, which may be the end of his days as a Yankees starter. Cody was pretty impotent this year, going 9 for 50. Hard to believe this marginally talented guy has racked up parts of seven seasons in the MLB and a total of 223 ABs.

The ace arrives in Arizona

If there was any doubt the first week of the season, it's pretty much gone now. Tonight's game showed that the Cy Young winner is back in form. Tim Lincecum was masterful tonight in Phoenix, twice pitching out of jams in which the Dbacks had runners on second and third and got zero.

The Dback broadcasters on XM were particularly impressed with his first inning performance, getting Mark Reynolds to strike out after he couldn't catch up to a fastball and then Chad Tracy to ground out. They also noted that Bengie still hadn't taken a walk this year and that Sandoval has walked only once. Sandoval got number 2 tonight but Bengie is still walk-free.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bochy safe for now

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News reports that the Giants front office isn't considering canning Bochy. I haven't been impressed with how he's handled the team -- particularly the offense -- during his three years and I'm still steamed at how poorly he managed the team during the 5-4 loss to the Dodgers on April 15.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hip hip hooray for Affeldt

Declining value of the Orange and Black

Forbes is out with its annual rankings of the value of MLB franchises, placing the Giants in 9th out of 30, with a 5% decline to $471 million. The timing is intriguing, just because it came on the same day as a record low attendance at Mays Field. Here's the key verbiage -- It just is not the same without Barry Bonds coming to the plate at AT&T Park. Attendance dipped 11% during the Giants' first Bonds-less season since 1992. The California economy has been particularly hard hit and as a result the prices of PSLs at AT&T Park have fallen about 60% over the past three years.

And a Giants Win hat tip to Lefty Malo for pointing out the story. Here are some of Lefty's key points:

-- It seems ominous that the Giants, despite being a marquee franchise in a jewel of a ballpark, lost value last year. It gets worse when you see what's becoming obvious in the first two weeks of April: It's hard to sell seats.

-- It's possible that the Giants will make a miracle run at the pennant, re-capturing the attention and dollars of the distracted masses and prompting Mayor Gavvy to light up City Hall in black and orange. It's more possible that the team will be interesting to geeks like me but fade by mid-year, with attendance regularly dipping into the mid-20K range.

-- And lest we forget, there's enough spare cash lying around to buy 25% of the San Jose Giants with an option to become majority owner at the end of next year. But the Forbes numbers scare me nonetheless. At the very least, a drop in value and continued fall in revenue from attendance and related stuff (concessions, advertising, merch, etc) might make Bill Neukom a little more skinflintish than he hoped for, especially when he squints into the next few years and sees the unmovable $30 M+ on the books for Zito and Rowand alone.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More gagging from the Dodgers

For the second straight day, the Dodgers lost and the Giants won. This time, the Dodgers had a one-run lead in the 8th but their pen gagged away the game. Even with the two games lost and the Giants winning three in a row, the Dodgers are still in first and the Giants are 3 and half out. But at least the gap's not as humiliating as it was a few days ago.

Revenge on the Padres

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A glorious night for a change

It's the first time in nearly two weeks that the Giants have won and the Dodgers have lost on the same day. The Dodgers went down 8-5 in Houston, ending their stupid 8-game winning streak and the Giants whomped the Padres, 8-3. No matter what else went wrong, those two events always help elevate a day.

On the postgame show, Jon Miller noted that until Edgar Renteria's grand slam, Jake Peavy had not given up a grannie in 1,284 innings.

Tonight was a weird payback, too. I actually attended a game three years ago at Mays Field that was delayed for about 90 minutes due to the rain when Edgar was a Brave and Matt was the starting pitcher. Edgar homered off Matt, the Giants managed to come back to lead 6-4 and the bullpen gagged away a win by giving up 8 runs.

Manny and marketing

As much as I complain about how the Giants front office is run, the people in it deserve plenty of praise for how they keep coming up with ways to market the team and the ballpark. Tonight's game honors Filipino boxer Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao with a giveaway of bobbleheads for those who have bought special tickets, according to CNBC. This seems like another in a long string of solid ideas for attracting new fans and keeping current ones.

Monday, April 20, 2009

With a little bit of bloomin' luck

Steve Kroner of the SF Chronicle has a punchy little piece about how well Matt Cain has pitched against the Padres in his career: In 15 outings against San Diego, Cain has a 2.92 ERA. That's more than solid. Cain has limited the Padres to a .197 batting average. That's more than excellent. His lifetime record against the Pads? 3-5. But wait, it gets worse. In his last 10 starts against San Diego, Cain's ERA is 3.59. His record? 0-5.

So with Matt starting against Jake Peavy on Tuesday night, it's time to post the lyrics to the great song "With a Little Bit of Luck" from "My Fair Lady," by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Lowe:

The Lord above gave man an arm of iron
So he could do his job and never shirk.
The Lord gave man an arm of iron -- but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
Someone else'll do the blinkin' work!

With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of luck you'll never work!

The Lord above made liquor for temptation,
To see if man could turn away from sin.
The Lord above made liquor for temptation -- but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
When temptation comes you'll give right in!

With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of luck you'll give right in.

Oh, you can walk the straight and narrow;
But with a little bit of luck You'll run amuck!

The gentle sex was made for man to marry,
To share his nest and see his food is cooked.
The gentle sex was made for man to marry -- but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
You can have it all and not get hooked.

With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of luck you won't get hooked.
With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of bloomin' luck!

The Lord above made man to help is neighbor,
No matter where, on land, or sea, or foam.
The Lord above made man to help his neighbor -- but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
When he comes around you won't be home!

With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of luck, You won't be home.

They're always throwin' goodness at you;
But with a little bit of luck A man can duck!

Oh, it's a crime for man to go philandrin
And fill his wife's poor heart with grief and doubt.
Oh, it's a crime for man to go philanderin'-- but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
You can see the bloodhound don't find out!

With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of luck she won't find out!
With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of bloomin' luck!

He doesn't have a tuppence in his pocket.
The poorest bloke you'll ever hope to meet.
He doesn't have a tuppence in his pocket -- but
With a little bit of luck, With a little bit of luck,
He'll be movin' up to easy street.
With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of luck, He's movin' up.
With a little bit...with a little bit...
With a little bit of bloomin luck!

Dr. Willie Mays


photo by rgusick

San Francisco State has just announced that it will give The Greatest Giant of Them All an honorary degree next month. I think Dr. Mays has a nice ring to it. Here's part of the release --

"Willie Mays has been a tireless ambassador for the city of San Francisco and underprivileged youth in the Bay Area," President Robert A. Corrigan said. "We honor his work on and off the baseball field for inspiring so many and paving the way for underrepresented youth to pursue a college degree."

Plate discipline and Carney Lansford

John Shea of the SF Chronicle notes deep in his game day story about Sunday's glorious 2-0 victory that the Giants have the fewest walks in MLB and the third most strikeouts. Here's the key part -- Sandoval, Travis Ishikawa and Bengie Molina have combined to strike out 31 times and walk once. Before the series, batting coach Carney Lansford met with the offense and addressed discipline. "I don't want to come off as negative, but we're chasing a lot of bad pitches," Lansford said before the series finale. "We have a lot of really aggressive - sometimes overly aggressive - hitters, and they need to be more selective. Especially young guys. When they're struggling, they tend to press instead of relax. I keep trying to stress to them patience."

That's just fine, I suppose. But is this really the guy to be the Giants batting coach again this year -- given that the Giants were the same low OBP/no power outfit a year ago under his tutelage. And Lansford was hardly a model of working walks in his career. His season high was 60. His career OBP is .343 and his slugging is am unimpressive .413 even though he played a power position at third base (and had a very good defensive reputation).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Loving the Big Unit

The 13K-no walk Orange and Black club

A well-done writeup by Rick Eymer on MLB.com notes that Tim Lincecum became only the 5th SF Giant to strike out 13 guys without walking anyone. The others -- Sam Jones (1960), Bobby Bolin (1963), Ray Sadecki (1968) and Jason Schmidt (2002).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fire Brian Sabean -- right now

Oh, I could have written something about how great it is that Tim Lincecum is back to his good old self with 8 innings of shutout ball and 13 Ks. But the continuing disgraceful performance by the offense and the set-up guys in the bullpen leaves me no alternative but to point the finger at MLB's most incompetent General Manager. The team is now 3-8, projecting out to a 44-118 record.

Kevin Marquez at The Cha Cha Bowl notes that Sabean apparently ignored how Edgar Renteria had turned into a crappy defensive player before signing him to what looks like a ludicrous 2-year, $18.5 million deal.

AP's story notes that it's the 12th time Lincecum has struck out at least 10.

New and improved Brian Wilson

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Gee, but it's great to be back home"

After a horrific six-game road trip, the Giants do what they do best -- win low-scoring games at home as Jonathan Sanchez delivers serious quality pitching in a 2-0 win. Sandoval and Molina got the only run needed on a double and single in the 4th, then Andres Torres homered in the 8th for the first victory in a week. In honor of this wonderful event, it's time to post the lyrics to the fine Simon and Garfunkel song "Keep the Customer Satisfied" --

Gee but it's great to be back home
Home is where I want to be.
I've been on the road so long my friend,
And if you came along I know you couldn't disagree.

It's the same old story
Everywhere I go,
I get slandered,
Libeled,
I hear words I never heard in the Bible
And I'm one step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,
Satisfied.

Deputy Sheriff said to me
Tell me what you come here for, boy.
You better get your bags and flee.
You're in trouble boy,
And now you're heading into more.

It's the same old story
Everywhere I go,
I get slandered,
Libeled,
I hear words I never heard in the Bible
And I'm one step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,
Satisfied.

Eugenio and the Dbacks

I suggest that Eugenio Velez get some at bats in the series against the Snakes. My reason is simple -- one of the great highlights of last season came during the last previous game that the Dbacks played in San Francisco, when he drove in all four runs in a glorious 4-3 victory, including a walk-off 2-run triple on a 2-strike pitch. Here's how it went --

P. Sandoval Groundout: SS-1B (Weak SS-2B)
B. Molina Single to LF (Ground Ball thru Weak 3B)
Ryan Rohlinger pinch runs for Bengie Molina (C) batting 4th
T. Ishikawa Groundout: 3B-1B (Weak 3B); Rohlinger to 2B
A. Rowand Walk
E. Velez Triple to CF (Fly Ball to Deep CF-RF); Rohlinger Scores; Rowand Scores

Eugenio only drove in 30 runs all year

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Where's that silver lining for Giants fans?

Man, there wasn't much good to report out of Chavez Latrine -- Zito got hammered for six runs in a disgusting 7-2 loss and Tim Lincecum was sent home sick with symptoms of bronchitis, which might explain his two subpar performances this season. However, according to Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News, he'll still make his scheduled start on Saturday.

As to tonight's game, the good was largely limited to this: Emmanuel Burris finally hit the ball decently with three hits (giving him five for 26 for the season) and Pablo Sandoval got two hits. Here's how rotten it is now for a longtime Giants fan like me -- I was actually a bit glad for a second or two to hear that Dodger pinch hitter Doug Minkiewitz (it's pronouncedMin-Kay-Vitch and I'm guessing on the spelling) separated his shoulder with the bonehead decision to slide headfirst into second. Now, I feel very guilty, of course. A few players like Vizquel can get away with the headfirst slide, but for most, it's a stupid and reckless thing to do.

I do feel like a big jerk for having taken even the smallest momentary pleasure in a Dodger getting injured. That's just not right and I admit it freely. There's no justification for feeling that way. And I wish guys would stop doing headfirst slides. A separated shoulder's no joke.

MLB.com's Ken Gurnick, who's been around a long time, notes in his writeup that the headfirst slide was "unnecessary."

Bochy -- Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

The always interesting Lefty Malo dissects how Bochy blew last night's game. His post has already generated this response from a poster named Jefferson -- I can't believe Bochy will last the year without getting fired. It may not take very long, either. I do believe Sabean and Neukom were expecting much, much more out of the team than this.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fire Bruce Bochy now

Memo to SF Giants managing partner William Neukom --

Dear Bill, I'm just back from Chavez Latrine with the taste of bile in my mouth. I'm resigned to the fact that this is a poorly constructed team that's been handicapped by General Manager Brian Sabean's insistence on overpaying for veterans on the downsides of their careers. I expect this team -- now on pace to go 40-122 -- will lose at least 90 games. That said, it's disgusting to watch manager Bruce Bochy lose a game that's actually winnable.

If you read Henry Schulman's deadline story in the San Francisco Chronicle, you'd simply conclude that the key facts of the game are 1. Matt Cain and Brian Wilson walked in the first and last runs of the game and 2. the Giants didn't hit much and struck out a lot.

Here's what the story doesn't really say, even though it ought to -- Bruce Bochy is as stubborn as an ox. He decided to use Bobby Howry (allegedly the Giants' veteran presence in the 8th inning) without being replaced while he got hammered with three hits in the 8th inning for two runs to tie the game, then allowed Howry to go out in the 9th and give up two more hits so that Wilson could come in to face a bases loaded no-outs situation. I'm unclear as to why Bruce Bochy believes he had to save the other arms in the bullpen.

Here's the deal -- you're in the 9th inning and you're tied. You HAVE to get the Dodgers out to win the game. This is the question I want a reporter to ask Bochy: What in the world are you doing to send out a guy back out in the 9th after he has been pitching like garbage in the 8th? What are you trying to prove? There were four other pitchers out there -- Hinshaw, Medders, Miller, Valdez -- who could have been used. What are you saving them for, you dingbat?

Bill, this is the same kind of Dusty Baker-style stupidity in mis-handling a pitching staff, in which a manager goes by "hunches" and ignores the obvious evidence that a pitcher's just plain lousy that game. Dusty decided in Game 2 of the 2000 NLDS to have Felix Rodriguez pitch the 9th so that the Mets' lead went from 2-1 to 4-1. JT Snow tied it in the bottom of the 9th with a miracle homer. Then Dusty decides to bring out Felix for the top of the 10th so that he could give up another run. So the Giants lost that game, 5-4 -- the same score tonight. Bochy's just proven that he's as stupid as Dusty.

What about Dallas?

Frankly, my dear....

Well, that was my reaction to reading the piece by MLB.com's Chris Haft about how the veteran Giants are great "clubhouse leaders" -- even though two of the guys mentioned (Renteria and Aurilia) have stunk so far.

Unlike Brian Sabean, I'd like to have some guys on the team who can hit. Sorry to be a soupuss -- particularly on April 15 -- but these sorts of stories just obfuscate to hide the fact that the Giants front office is incompetent. Maybe I'd feel differently if the team weren't performing so poorly.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is the Dodger-Giant rivalry dead?

Ray Ratto of the SF Chron thinks it's certainly on the decline, noting that Dodger broadcasters were actually sympathetic during yesterday's hammering. Here's the key verbiage -- It is a reminder that this rivalry, once so overheated, has lost a good deal of its reciprocal steam over the years because the Dodgers regard their northward brethren with barely more virulence than they do the Padres. It's as if the Dodgers long ago left such trivial concerns for larger vistas, and the Giants have been left to fan a flame that blows only one way.

More on The Bird

The incomparable Josh Wilker weighs in -- He’s that moment when you’re a kid and you start laughing about something and you don’t think you’ll ever be able to stop.

Monday, April 13, 2009

RIP The Bird

Mark "The Bird" Fidrych dies far too young at age 54. One of the most fun-loving and exciting players ever. As a rookie, he went 19-9 in 1976, made the All-Star team and led the league in ERA at 2.34.

The game that made him famous was played on June 28, 1976. The Bird completely dominated the Yanks on a Monday Night Baseball Game on national TV and went to 8-1.

Ugly, ugly, ugly

That's about all there is to say about today's 11-1 loss at Dodger Stadium. AP's recap, focusing mostly on Orlando Hudson hitting for the cycle, notes that the Giants haven't taken a walk in three games. I feel compelled to point out that Hudson was signed to a one-year deal for $3.4 million, while Sabean decided to give Renteria a two-year deal for $18.5 million.

The SF Chron's Henry Schulman notes that the Giants have gone homerless since hitting three opening day while the opposition has now hit 10.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sickening series in San Diego

After its hopeful opening series at home against the Brewers, the Orange and Black have gone into the tank and gotten swept by the Padres as last year's Cy Young Award winner took the loss today. How bad are things a week into the season? So bad that Brian Wilson came in to pitch the 8th, just because he hasn't had any save opportunities. Wilson managed to keep the Padres from extending their 5-run lead.

Even worse was how Bochy handled Lincecum in the 6th. After giving up a run on a triple and a sac fly, Tim gave up a single to pitcher Chris Young, a walk to Jody Gerut and a single to David "I'm So Pumped" Eckstein. All I can say is "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?" What in the hell are you doing keeping a guy in the game after he's given up a hit to the opposing pitcher and is near 100 pitches? What are you trying to prove?

Dave Roberts retires

Jeff Fletcher at Bay Bridge Baseball had the story a few days ago and says he's going into broadcast work. Jeff believes Dave will be good at it.

I would guess that Dave will always be remembered as a member of the Bosox for stealing second in Game 4 of the LCS in 2004 rather than for the extremely lousy $18 million, three-year deal he signed with the Giants.

Charity for the Padres

What is about marginal guys like Henry Blanco and Scott Hairston that makes the Giants pitching staff fall apart? I just read the MLB.com story on last night's disgraceful 6-3 loss in San Diego and was struck as to how Hairston has killed Orange and Black pitching in recent years.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Summing up your 2009 Giants

The team's top-paid player gave up three runs in the bottom of the first to one of the worst lineups in the MLB. That's what this team has to overcome and it looks like more of the same in the third year of Barry Zito's $126 million deal. How can Brian Sabean still have a job? Here's part of the refreshingly honest appraisal that Henry Schulman of the SF Chron wrote during the rain delay --

The guy has pitched so poorly in April (5.16 career ERA for the month) throughout his career, it's useless to expect better. He let the Padres bat around in the first inning, when he threw 39 pitches. It completely deflates a team when the starter does that. Zito looked much better over his final three innings before he was pulled for a pinch-hitter, and he did strike out four, but that was little consolation. The stuff and velocity (88 mph) were there. He just didn't get pitches where he wanted them.

Get well soon, Joe

Joe Martinez has three hairline fractures and the Giants have placed him on the 15-day DL and called up Justin Miller. This is a reminder to all of us fans -- No one should ever accuse any MLB pitcher of being cowardly.

Matt Cain -- 1-0

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sobering moments at Mays Field

Eric Gilmore of MLB.com does a nice job of recapping the unnerving line drive from Mike Cameron that knocked Joe Martinez in the side of the head in tonight's otherwise glorious 7-1 victory. Fingers crossed that Martinez is OK -- for the crowd, seeing him walk off the field under his own power was a major relief. Those of us in Section 221 were impressed that several of the G-men provided words of consolation to Cameron out at second. Cameron obviously felt badly about what had happened....and it underlined that this is a game with real danger on it with a real fraternity among those who play as professionals.

Back to .500 in nothing flat

My friend Carl, who goes to perhaps 2 games a year and is as smart as they come, attended last night's 4-2 loss with me in Section 222 and noted how amazingly fast the feel of a game can change -- after Yovani Gallardo's 3-run homer. "One moment, everyone's fired up and the next, they are so quiet," he said.

The game was distressingly familiar to anyone who's watched the Giants struggle to put up runs as they managed only six hits all night.

The night ended on a good note, however. In a bit of ingame promo, a couple rode around in Lou Seal's cart with the guy making a successful marriage proposal during a 6th inning break. I happened to run into the couple later at Pete's Tavern and was able to offer the charming bride-to-be my congratulations.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Master of the Obvious on San Jose

Bruce Jenkins of the SF Chronicle chimes in -- five days after the Merc-News reported the same fact -- that the Giants' decision to buy 25% of the San Jose franchise is a power play designed to prevent the Oakland franchise from moving. He asserts that the boatload of top prospects in San Jose (Bumgarner, Alderson, Posey, Gillapsie) will be a help in reinforcing the Giants' status compared to the A's. It sure looks like Bruce is comfortable in his role as chief apologist for Brian Sabean.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Kids Are All Right on Opening Day

A glorious Opening Day win at Mays Field with the young Giants -- Sandoval, Ishikawa, Burris and, of course, Lincecum -- doing their level best. Lincecum lacked command throughout his 3-inning outing, even giving up a double to the opposing pitcher, but still struck out 5. Damon Bruce on KNBR said later in the evening that Lincecum's relatively poor outing was of little concern, given how his routine was thoroughly thrown off.

And some serious power shown with the vets -- Winn, Rowand, Molina -- all going yard, taking advantage of the breeze going out all day. Some vet savvy here: Winn was the first batter David Bush faced; Molina hit the first pitch Seth McClurg threw. And when Ishikawa hit his 3-run triple to deep right center (a homer in every other MLB park) in the first, the excitement was contagious with the Fan Mind thinking, "Maybe this is the year." That mostly dissipated over the subsequent innings as the Brew Crew went ahead but then the much-criticized Rowand hammered one out to go up 6-5 in the 5th.

And in Club Section 232, you'll be happy to know that the "What's the matter with (insert opposing player's last name such as Cameron)? He's a bum!" cheer got plenty of enthusiastic play. It was a two-orders-of-garlic-fries kind of day.

Go Giants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Giants Win will be in attendance at Opening Day, which looks like it will be a bit wet.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Empty seats at Mays Field

The recession is here to stay.

John Shea of the SF Chron notes the smallish crowds in San Francisco and -- especially -- in Oakland and predicts that Mays Field attendance for the Orange and Black will continue going down, after dropping to 2.9 million last year. Shea notes that there's never been an announced attendance at a Giants home game under 30,000 since they moved out of the Stick a decade ago but predicts that day may come soon.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Giants 3, Dodgers 1

Cardboard Gods gets a deal

A book deal, that is. I've been a big fan of Josh Wilker's site, which is featured in today's New York Times, for several years so I'm delighted over this news. Here's part of what he wrote today about the story and the difference between Saturday, when he got to play Little League, and Sunday --

On Saturday there was literally an order, a batting order, and my name was in it, and when it was getting close to my turn I moved out to the on-deck circle to get ready. On Sunday there was no order, just that island of the sports section. In the years to come, the “nervous light of Sunday” (to use a term coined by one of my literary heroes, Frederick Exley) would spread beyond the borders of its day to all days. Meanwhile the feeling of being a distinct name in a knowable order diminished.
The boy in this picture had begun to see this diminishment. This was, after all, one of the last little league games he’d ever play. What happens when this Saturday version of the boy disappears? I don’t know, but as I continue to try to keep that Saturday version of that boy alive, it’s a nice feeling to see that his name shows up at least this once on a Sunday.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Matt Cain's ready for some good luck

He pitched well enough to win, as usual, but the Giants lost their second one-run game in a row to the A's today. He's gone 15-30 over the past two years with many of the losses due to crappy run support.

SI sticks it to Barry (Zito)

Sports Illustrated is out with its baseball issue and its PVR rankings with Tim Lincecum rated second only to Albert Pujols. The mag suggests that the Giants need to find a way to move Zito next year when Tim Alderson and Madison Bumgarner arrive. It's a reminder of how Brian Sabean should have been dismissed long ago, given the lack of value of his most expensive long-term-signings. Brian Wilson is at 27 and Cain gets a 41 ranking, followed by the Big Unit at 43, Randy Winn at 65, Renteria at 98, Bengie at 110, Jonathan Sanchez at 115, Pablo Sandoval at 125, Fred Lewis at 140, Aaron Rowand at 180, Zito at 191, Ishikawa at 206, Howry at 224, Affeldt at 252, Burris at 273, Velez at 294, Schierholtz at 300 and Aurilia at 313.

Here's how SI makes the case for its "modest proposal" about getting rid of Zito next year -- "Rather than employ an $18 million-a-year sixth starter, the Giants have to trade him for anything they can get -- payroll relief, bench help, a distressed mortgage or two. Starting him ahead of any of their better pitchers will chip away at their chance to have the game's best rotation as early as next year."

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Giants keep sticking it to the A's

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Madison blows away the Dodgers

Bruce Jenkins = dingbat, part 130

Haller's brother runs Earl Weaver

Giants fans of a certain age remember Tom Haller as a respectable contributor to the team for six seasons in the 1960s. One of the oddities of that period was that his brother Bill was an AL ump at the same time. Baseball Think Factory has posted a highly entertaining profanity-filled clip of Bill running Earl Weaver over a balk call against Mike Flanagan in the first inning. Weaver never stops cussing and Haller doesn't hold back either. At one point Haller says, "Oh you're gonna be in the Hall of Fame? Why? For fuckin' up the World Series?"

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Middle of the pack outlook for the Orange and Black

David Pinto of the respected Baseball Musings site forecasts the Dodgers will win the NL West, followed by the Dbacks, Giants, Rox and Padres. Here's his Giants forecast (boldface is mine) --

The Giants easily run out the best rotation in the division, even with Barry Zito. Matt Cain is good, Randy Johnson is good and Jonathan Sanchez could be good if he finds his control (maybe Johnson can tell his story about finding his control). Tim Lincecum is great, but he’s also the spot in the Giants rotation most likely to regress. He’s a prime candidate for the Verducci effect, unless the mechanic Tim developed with the help of his father really do make a difference. If so, the Giants won’t allow many runs this year.
So they may kick themselves for not signing Manny Ramirez. Imagine the Giants with Ramirez in left instead of Fred Lewis and the Dodgers with Juan Pierre in the outfield instead of Manny Ramirez. That four win turnaround makes the Giants the best team in the division, not the Dodgers. For an organization that hasn’t won a World Series in 55 years, the $25 million should be worth it. Now, if they get a four win upside from Ishikawa and Sandoval, that just brings them even with Los Angeles instead of way in front.
Expect a ton of close, low-scoring games from this team. With a little luck, they can win more of those than they lose and compete in the division.

Giants 10, Dodgers 8 -- I'm loving it

Hasta la vista, Kevin