Thursday, April 23, 2015

Giants sweep LA and find their footing

There are few things more satisfying than neatly piling up dust, debris, and various garbage, then unceremoniously removing it from the ground in which is lays. Sweeping they call it.

Indeed these Giants, weirder and more unpredictable than ever, managed to remove blue pieces of trash from their unsullied yard in their first three game set of the year against LA.

I for one, did not see this one coming.

But hey, baseball is a funny game, sometimes a team needs to hit the road for two weeks or face a tough rival while at their lowest to get their minds right.

Certainly this team has major holes, but sweeping the dreaded Blue Bastards before hopping a flight to Denver could certainly be what the doctor ordered. Being on a team means rolling with the punches, lifting each other up, and celebrating when things go well.

I'd say a sweep including back to back walkoffs, followed by a happy flight is a helluva good way to get some revenge on the Rockpile and get this ship sailing in the right direction.

Thoughts about stuff

  • This Justin Maxwell sure is helping us out. It's going to be a shame that he'll likely ride pine once Pence comes back.
  • Same with Matt Duffy. When does he play? Who loses time? Do you simply rotate him through the infield giving guys a day off?
  • Belt is looking better, but we need him to get hot. We've been waiting so long for this guy to have a complete breakout year, and he's struggling horribly. Hopefully this Thursday performance will help get his confidence up. He's streaky, remember?
  • Casilla is not exactly inspiring much confidence right now, but he's not doing horribly. I'd say a couple blown saves puts him on the hot seat, but that hasn't happened. If he does continue to walk this tightrope and starts to fail, Bochy will probably just go back to Romo, which sounds even less enticing. I'd almost rather have Affeldt do it if it comes to that. Fingers crossed he gets his affairs in order.
  • Lol Don Mattingly. I love when he gets mad.
  • Who the hell is this Alex Guerrero guy? Whoever he is, I just picked him up in both my fantasy leagues. Sorry, gotta take a chance.
  • Nothing could screw up this Dodger-sweeping high like going to Denver and having the New Blake Street Bombers light up all our starters leading to an obliterated bullpen. Again. Fingers-crossed. Those guys can hit.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Giants can't score

I looked up from my sushi at the TV briefly. I had lost track of time getting back from work and stopping home. The Giants were on already. Damn, I'd missed the beginning!

Then I squinted across the restaurant at the score.


First thought that popped into my head? Honestly?

"Ah shit, that's all the Rockies are going to need, isn't it."

And it was.

Then I took a swig of my Sapporo, the only beer on draft, made a disgusted face and thought, "Ugh. Seriously??" That stuff is gross. Truly awful beer, but at least it's not Kirin Ichiban. That stuff should be illegal. I think if I ever go to Japan I'm going to order anything but Japanese beer (unless Aoki buys it for me).


Sure we're only a few games into a marathon and they've had injuries, but there's really no good excuse for a capable team like this being so offensively inept. Capable of winning a game every now and then by feathering the ball into the gaps or stealing a base mind you-- I never said they would hit any home runs.

(Unless you own a 41 pound cat and are named after a fringe Simpsons character).

No one is here to freak out, but this team has too many guys that have started out cold.

Pagan (.378), Aoki (.375, 6BB, 3 SB), and Duffman (.333) are the only guys on the roster hitting over .250 right now, and save for Buster who has 2 HR with a .219 avg., no one is doing much of anything. I mean look at these guys below.

It's totally gross. Belt is hitting .118.

These guys really need to figure it out if this team is going to stay afloat-- let alone succeed.

Thoughts and stuff

  • How good is Nolan Arenado? Just another all-world talent that is going to waste away in a Rockies uniform. I'm developing a serious baseball crush on him. Sorry, but you can't deny how good he is. Just think what this cat is going to make when he's a free agent if Doofus Sandoval got what he did. Speaking of cats...
  • I'm already tired of hearing about Matt Duffy's giant cat, and yet I've brought it up like six times in this post. I'm part of the problem.
  • Tim Lincecum didn't look horrible in his debut, which is good. What's bad is that he gave up that dong to Arenado early on. This team already has problems scoring runs, it doesn't need first or second inning deficits to worry about. 4 runs is too much to overcome these days.
  • How do we keep Matt Duffy's bat in the lineup once McGehee returns? It's pretty clear that the Duffman means business. My thought? Put him at 3B, move McGehee over to 1B, and sit Belt down vs. LHP until he shows any signs of life. It's too early to declare any sinking ships, but we're leaking already. Or sit Crawford. Or Panik. Sit them all.
  • This whole 14 days in a row thing is rough on the Giants. Even though they haven't had to fly much and started the year 20 minutes from their Spring Training facilities, it's a difficult thing to be thrust into two straight weeks with no off days. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals have already had 3 off days. CONSPIRACY. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Great Hesto Presto saves the day

I still find myself thinking Chris Heston's name is Hansen or Hester. I almost have to write it on my arm so I remember who this guy actually is. That's how little I knew of him before his callup and subsequent victory over Arizona Wednesday.

Of course you could point to my lack of obsession with our unexciting farm system as the culprit, but I don't care. What I do care about is that this dude could turn out to be something.

Based on his interesting mix of breaking/sinking stuff and composure during a rough 1st inning, I'd say we could have possibly found a back of the rotation guy for the future.

NOW, this is based on one start following an unexceptional minor league career and 2014 callup. So let's do our best to reserve judgement for awhile. With Heston scheduled to toss the Giants' home opener next week, his level of gusto should be on pretty good display sooner than later. What's nice about his '15 debut is that he got to get his feet wet in front of 20,000 quiet people against a beatable Diamondbacks team. Kinda different than a home opener with 42,000+ nuts and a flag raising ceremony. He'll be nervous alright, but let's see how he buckles down. It's a good litmus test.

Notes & Stuff

-- Nice to see Casey McGehee get off the schneid so soon and dong that HR on Wednesday. People ripped the Aoki/McGehee moves as unexciting and weak, but they are the type of players that win ballgames. Think back to some of the hackers we've had on this team over the years. Pablo/Pedro Feliz/Brandon Hicks types that swing at the first pitch and take more poor ABs than good ones. Not a problem with these two. They don't care if they reach on errors every game, take a HBP, or single a Texas leaguer up the middle. They just love playing and contributing. They are perfect Giants. I don't care if it's only 3 games in. They're my kind of players. WAR be damned.

-- Matt Duffy rules. 

-- I like that the Duffman is getting into the lineup and contributing, but I hate to see it at the expense of Joe Panik's ABs. Something will have to give at some point. Maybe Duffy will replace Joaquin Arias as our go-to utility guy and he'll end up playing more. I just like his energy.

-- Last year, I painstakingly made this Duffyman picture by hand-coloring his cape and hat orange and his boots black. I also added little 'y's to all the things that say "Duff", including the beers on his boozebelt, his chest, and hat. My S-Pen got a good workout that night. Please tell me you love it and it was worth my time.

-- For those of you that listen to KNBR in the morning, how nice has it been that Gary Radnich has been on vacation? Hate to say it, but Pauly Mac on vacation has been nice too. Anything that gives us less filler and more susbstance-- aka more Kate Scott, is good. Same goes for Ray Ratto on Mr. T. They really need to shake up some of these pairings.

Brian Murphy, Kate Scott, Larry Krueger, and Tolbert should be kept. Fitz and Brooks is awful (mostly due to Rod Brooks, Fitz is okay) and needs to be re-done or cancelled. The guy that needs more daytime exposure is Ray Woodson. He gets banished to Sportsphone 680 or fill-in duties, and he's just so much better than some of th
e guys I mentioned.

The other guy who no one talks about is Ted Ramey, who took over for Damon Bruce over on 1050. Since Fitz and Brooks is so painful to the ears, I listen to Ted Ramey a lot on my lunch break. I'm glad he got a shot. He deserves to be on 680 doing something.

If they only make one move over at The Leader though, it has to be canning Radnich. He is the worst kind of entrenched curmudgeon. Completely un-listenable, out of touch, uniformed, obnoxious... I could go on forever. Do people actually listen to him? If so, why?

-- At least we don't have that issue with our announcers. I can't tell you how nice it's been to get regular doses of Kruk/Kuip/Miller/Flem again. Best in the business.

-- Anyone excited for this Padres series? I know they went out and got themselves a team all the sudden and we want to dismiss them as hype, but you can't.

I personally love it when the West is competitive. It's so much more fun when these games matter. September in Denver, San Diego in April, they all matter, baby.

-- When Madison Bumgarner retires at age 46, he clearly needs to be our Head Groundskeeper/Seagull hunter/Security/Criminal beater-upper.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Good thing the Giants re-signed Vogelsong, huh?

Scarcely a day has passed in this ODD YEAR, and things are getting really weird already (See the title of my Opening Day post).
Cain giving the finger to his pitching arm.

No one quite knew the state of Matt Cain, but we were all expecting him to pitch in Phoenix this week. The excitement of his triumphant return has been quashed, like cow shit shoveled by a rancher onto an out of control burn pile. No, he's not set for Tommy John, but my God does that cow manure fire smell terrible.

That fire smells even worse now because a bunch of animal hair blew into it, and it's all Jake Peavy's back's fault.

Vogey is getting chainsaw angry.
Downwind of this shitty hair fire started by Cain and Peavy stands Ryan Vogelsong, the King of Shoulder Chip Mountain, calmly eating an enchilada, nostrils flaring, intense eyes burning-- not due to acrid smoke, but because he's ready to prove everyone wrong for the 417th time.

This fragile, inconsistent, aging rotation (minus Bum of course) was an issue from day one. Fortunately the Giants have a solid quantity of potentially quality arms ready to step in and piss on a few fires. Vogelsong, who thought he was destined to a season of long relief, becomes the first man up during the first series of the season.

No one knows whether he's going to be a guy that can rack up more quality starts than not, but as we know, he seems to thrive on doubt and pressure. He wills himself to get big outs, and has resurrected his career more times that anyone can count.

I love Vogey's fight and his spirit. Hopefully, we will love his pitching, as he attempts to fill the void left by Cain and Peavy, however long it may last.

Thoughts and stuff

  • HAY PABLOO! HAVE ANOTHAH LOBSTAH ROLL YA BASTAHD! (Pablo went 0-3 with a Silver Sombrero in his first game as a Sawk. Good.
  • Unfortunately, Pablo's BFF Hanjob Ramirez hit two home runs. Can't win em all I guess.
  • I feel like Game 1/162 is going to be a microcosm of 2015. Everything from the Romo double to Roberto Kelly's stop sign, to...
  • ...the top of the order being AWESOME. How bout those OBP machines Aoki, Panik, and Pagan?? Yeah!!! I can't tell you how nice it is to have a team that gets hits. I don't even care that they just hit a bunch of singles. We've had years when we don't even get THAT.
  •  I'll take a team that hits a bunch of consistent singles than a team that hits a HR once a game.
  • It's ironic that a guy that is just so awesome is referred to as "Bum" so often.
  • Anyone see how the Marlins had a rain delay in their retractable roof stadium? Apparently how they judge whether to open or close it is based on three executives who check apps on their phones and let stadium staff know. Perhaps it's time to consult an expert. Good luck getting Jeff Loria to sign off on that.
  • List of new Dodgers that we have to hate: Jimmy Rollins, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, and Joc Pederson. 
  • I was watching the Madres-Doyers game at work yesterday and Jimmy Rollins hit a 3 run homer because Shawn Kelly and Yonder Alonzo couldn't figure out where first base was. Rollins is on my list now, whether we like it or not. It's a shame.
  • Also a bummer that we have to hate Brett Anderson and Brandon McCarthy, who absolutely OWN Twitter. McCarthy just called some Yankee fan a "tit" the other day. Gold Jerry! Gold!
  • Classy move by Arizona to honor Lon Simmons. Kuiper was surprised that they did that, because he has been retired for some time and didn't have connections to Arizona. But, Kuip forgot that Lon Simmons has connections to the Oakland A's, and Tony LaRussa and Dave Stewart now run the Diamondbacks. So classy move, TLR and Old High Voice.
  • When new Cubs manager Joe Maddon hit Jon Lester 8th on Sunday, do you think Tony LaRussa called him to congratulate him or did he ask for royalties? #PitchersHit8th
  • Casey McGehee and Nori Aoki will be fan favorites almost immediately. Guaranteeing it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

So the odd year begins, may it be weirder than ever

Sometimes you just run out of things to say.

What can you say that hasn't already been written or said about the Giants and these last 5 years? It's simply mind-boggling what they've accomplished, and I'm still pinching myself from 2010, let alone the other two.

As this team heads into another odd year with yet another unexpected ring in tow, they have the unique distinction of having more questions than answers, and having two teams in their division significantly favored over them, fair or not.

I say "unique" only because, you know, it's the Giants.

What other team could win 3 in 5 and be considered a 3rd place team before the season starts with so few changes?

The lost Pablo. Okay. Sort of a big deal.

Sometimes Pablo was great, but let's be honest, he was good for about 3-5 streaks a year and a great postseason performance (after he got his life together post-2010). They'll miss 3 HRs against the Tigers and all those singles from 2014.

The honest to God truth of the matter is though, that he was just a little bit better than average. Larger than life, and a marketing department's dream, yes. A regular season superstar however, he never was.

Look at 2014's regular season. .279 with 16 HRs and above average defense. That's a solid player, that's a  a good player, but that's not a great player.

I am not downplaying his contributions to this team, especially in the postseason. I am not downplaying his impact on the fanbase or on the bottom line. He was a great Giant overall, but a great player, he was not. He was the 11th most valuable 3B last year according to WAR, and he had a lower batting average, on base percentage, and only scored 8 more runs than his cheap and scrappy replacement, Casey McGehee.

Again. Not saying we're not going to miss him at all, I'm just saying that he wasn't truly great, and all that shit he said on the way out left a sour taste in everyone's mouth. Adios Pablo, and good luck with Boston being sympathetic to your cold streaks and new lobstah roll addiction.

Other thoughts

-- Tell him goodbye. Rest in peace Lon Simmons. Although your heyday was well before my time, there's no question you were an absolute legend. What I wouldn't give to sit down with our Giants broadcasting team with a couple other legends and hear the stories they'd tell. Hell, invite Vin Scully while we're at it. Maybe this can be arranged once we're all dead because of ISIS or Al-Shabab and we'll all meet up in heaven. It's a plan.

-- Get well Hunter Pence. This team's OF will probably account for 35 HRs combined WITH Pence. Without him, as I read somewhere, "this OF has so little power, it's comical". Where have we heard that one before? Oh yeah, like almost every year.

-- OH YEAH! Duffman returns. Get your Duff and Duff Light ready, because Matt Duffy made the roster with a .361 Spring over the perpetually lame Ehire Adrianza. I will be glad to see Adrianza finally off the roster, as he is out of options and will probably be grabbed by some desperate team of jerks. Adrianza was a poor man's Manny Burriss. I'm glad to see Duffy rewarded for his play, and I'm also looking forward to him playing all over the diamond to get into the lineup. Then he will take advantage of a random injury, gain 5 position fantasy eligibility and will become the new Ben Zobrist.

I guy can dream, right?

-- If Gary Brown gets cut and claimed by the Cardinals and assigned to AAA Memphis and no one cares, does he make a sound? The answer is no, because that happened, and no one talked about it once. I wish him well, but it's safe to say, he was a complete waste of a 1st round pick.

-- The rotation possibilities are endless, because we don't know who's good and who sucks. Who will join Bum, Peavy, Cain, and Hudson in the rotation for the long haul? Or will it be a constant revolving door of maybes, has beens, and spot starts between Lincecum, Petit, and Vogelsong? Spring training numbers told us they all looked pretty bad, with Peavy having a near 10.00 ERA. If I had to wager a guess, they'll trot out Lincecum until we've all had it with him, then Vogelsong will end up in there with Petit mopping up innings and spot starting due to injury.

Then there's the what ifs related to injury. Will Matt Cain regain his form or will he be a gopherballer with diminished velocity? Is Hudson done? Is Peavy done? Is Lincecum done? Is Vogelsong done?

Hahaha. Patterns and speculation are fun!

-- The Padres have a lot of good players

-- The Dodgers have a lot of good players

-- I think we're still good, but I'm not sure

-- Tell me the last time a paper champion won a World Series. 2009 Yankees? 2007 Red Sox? The point is, it doesn't happen very often. Good luck trying to buck that trend, Doyers and Madres.

-- I predict that Belt, Posey, Pence, Panik, Crawford, McGehee, Aoki, and Pagan will hit a combined 100 HR. We'll get another 20 from randoms, and that puts us at 120. That is 12 down from last year's total of 132, which would have put us at 25th in the league. No Morse, no Panda, makes a little too much sense, right?

Don't feel too bad about our return to the bottom of the power rankings though. Kansas City hit 95 HR last year-- which was worst in baseball. So, we can still make it to the World Series and lose, right? Pretty good for an odd year.

-- Bochy and Sabean are locked up until they're really old. Good for them, they've earned it. I have no issue with that. Also good to see Bobby Evans named General Manager. He's been the guy behind the contracts and scouting for a very long time. Sabean made the decisions, but Evans was the one talking to the agents, drawing up the contracts, and doing the research. He was the man behind the man, and now he is the man. Truly proving that in the right situation, hard work pays off. Plus, he's a very candid interview to listen to. Wonder who he got that from...

Once Pagan and Belt go down with their annual injuries, can we find a way to trade for Allen Craig please? Boston is literally not using him this year. Maybe being close to his old stomping grounds at Cal will help him find his mojo. Just a thought.

Speaking of Belt, how many more years of snakebitten disappointment are we going to sign up for before it's time to cut bait? It's the same thing every year. Freak injuries or lack of confidence do him in one way or another. I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a goddamn 150 game, 30 HR breakout season. He's well overdue and I'm tired of waiting.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A dynasty is born, just like we all predicted

Ha. What a lie. No one saw this coming. Well except for me, kinda.

I think once the ball got rolling during the NLDS though, we were all convinced that the Giants would take these playoffs and make them their bitch.

It's been the story all three times-- unfolding differently, yet the same. They just get rolling, the pitching shows up when it needs to, and the rest is history.

Of our three World Championships though, this one was the least expected, and the closest contested. Sure 2012 required multiple massive comebacks in the NLDS vs. Cincinnati and the NLCS vs. St. Louis, but the World Series was a 4-0 breeze against Detroit.

There were no such breezes in 2014. In fact, it was nothing but a strong and steady headwind.

The way in which this team ground out series wins one after the other, how they won big games on the road, and how they bounced back after tough losses was nothing short of incredible.

The way this mix of young and experienced players gelled together and turned this into another winner was unexpected, and a joy to watch.

Between Bruce Bochy's steady hand, Panda's consistency, and all the clutch plays-- Ishi's NLCS Walkoff, Panik's insane double play, Morse's unexpected contributions... it's just hard to put it all into words. But hey, that's October for ya.

This cute Colorado isn't worthy of Madbum.
And is there anything else you can say about Madison Bumgarner that hasn't been said already? He is a monster among men, a pillar of strength, and the type of dedicated, broad-shouldered, fearless man on which this country was built and why it has prospered.

High enough praise for him? Probably not.

Just like his World Series MVP present, the mid-sized Chevy Colorado. It could never be enough.

This is a metaphor for Bumgarner. Ford or Ram work too.
Get that man a Silverado 3500 dually 4x4 with the Duramax Diesel. Madison Bumgarner ain't no sissy gas engine. He's a big ol' American diesel capable of pulling 20,000+ pounds of steer. He has the torque and dependability to pull an entire organization and city with him. Without his brute force and excellence, this team would've been stuck on the side of the road in Pittsburgh.

If Bum is the truck, Bochy's driving, Pence is the fuel, Panda is the dual heavy duty batteries, and Buster is the tires. The rest of the players make up various parts, and Hunter Strickland is in the trailer passed out drunk and being carried along as dead weight. But enough of all that nonsense.

We'll all remember each World Series title for different things. For obvious reasons, nothing will top the feeling we got for the 2010 title. The delirium and euphoria of the first time could never be replicated. 2012 was the one we all got to enjoy, the icing on the cake. 2014 will forever be etched as the title that clinched the Dynasty-- the Madison Bumgarner World Series; the "House Money" run that no one expected. It is as unique and beautiful as the other two.

I can say that no matter what happens for the rest of my life as a Giants fan, that my life was made-- THREE TIMES-- and no one can ever take that away. Even if they never sniff another title as long as I live, I'm satisfied.

But I'll always want more. Let's do it again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

San Francisco Giants dynasty status four wins away

How did we get here?

I'm not sure I can answer without shaking my head incredulously and rambling uncontrollably. I'm not sure if the Giants themselves can answer that question. Although the simple answer may just be "Champion Blood".

To put it more simply, they just have "it".

"It" could mean anything. Difficult to define, but you know it when you have it. In the Giants' case you've got a great mix of players-- many of whom have won a World Series in San Francisco before. You have an excellent, and successful coaching staff-- one of the best in baseball. You've got a home field advantage, chemistry, an electric atmosphere, and a little bit of luck. It's in many ways, a perfect storm.

Kansas City may have "it" too though. They don't have the experience, the coaching staff, the big names, or the success. What they do have, however, is an exceptional mix of young players, who literally don't know any differently-- which could be a huge advantage. Fearlessness is something is to be feared by an opponent.

Furthermore, KC's style of play is conducive to winning close games-- much like the Giants. Bunts, stolen bases, hit & runs and the like all put pressure on defenses, on pitchers, catchers, and everyone else.

A single by Lorenzo Cain or Jerrod Dyson is more than a single. That single has the potential to take scoring position by force. Any further hits have the potential of driving in a run when a similar hit would only move most runners up. Couple that with a nasty bullpen, excellent defense, and timely hitting... well... the Royals start sounding a bit like the Giants.

As similar as these teams are in some facets, the Giants have a distinct advantage overall.

The advantage isn't about Bumgarner or Posey. This advantage isn't an intangible such as experience or chemistry. In fact, it has nothing to do with players at all.

The Giants' most significant advantage over the Kansas City Royals is Manager Bruce Bochy.

If you're reading this, you know I'm right. You've seen it, just like I have. You saw Bochy's steady calloused hand guide this mess of ship with a scurvy-afflicted crew and tattered sails straight into the World Series.

When this team started taking on water halfway through the season, his only response was, "Steady as she goes."

When people started jumping overboard and giving up. He didn't flinch.

Instead, he found a way to plug the holes with a Petit, a Peavy and a Panik, and made it into the Wild Card round to face Pittsburgh-- doing so without Matt Cain and Angel Pagan. He did so saddled with an ineffective Tim Lincecum, an injured Mike Morse, and Travis Ishikawa playing left field.

Even with this seemingly desperate situation at hand, his low, gravelly vocal chords barked out,  


And they haven't looked back.

After distinctly outmaneuvering and carving up inexperienced ex-Giants Matt Williams and Mike Matheny in the NLDS and NLCS respectively, the Giants' fearless old captain has Ned Yost squarely in his sights.

People who know things about baseball know that the Royals have accomplished what they have at times in spite of Ned Yost, not because of him.

Think of how we got here in the first place. Ishikawa hits a HR off of young starter Michael Wacha, who never should have been put in the game by Mike Matheny. Bochy never makes that move in a hundred years.

Well Yost made the same boneheaded move earlier in the playoffs with his young starter Yordano Ventura, who'd never made a bullpen appearance and was pitching on two days rest.

Again, the Royals are here in spite of Ned Yost.

I'm not going to sit here are tell you he's the worst manager ever and that he's useless. His players love playing for him, and his aggressive NL-style small ball parade has been successful.

I just know that Bochy knows what he's doing, and nearly everything he touches in the postseason turns to gold.

This will be the biggest difference in this series, and you would have a helluva time trying to prove me otherwise. With this unthinkable third World Series on the horizon getting closer and into view, the Giants have the Royals exactly where they want them. Forget the numbers, forget the talking heads. Remember where this team has been, and where you know they're going.

They're about to pull into port and raise that third flag; he flag of the Giants Dynasty.

The Giants didn't come this far to lose, and they're not going to. We have that Champion's Blood running through us, so let's saddle it the hell up. We're burnin' it down.