Disrespected

And to think, I used to like Mike Matheny. Heck, he ended his career as a Giant and I have a bobblehead of him in orange and black. Well folks, that box gets scooted waaaaaaaaaay to the back in my display case after this week.

The 2014 Giants are a cute little story. Low expectations coming in, they roared out of the gate, ending up something like 22 games over .500. Then everything fell apart in June, as we all know. But with a little resugence here lately, they are only one game back of the dreaded Dodgers.

At the beginning of June, they were a lock for 4 or 5 All Stars. In the end, only two went, Pence and Hudson.
The issue I have with Matheny is his appointing Miguel Montero to replace Molina, rather than Buster. So you are telling me Mike, with Molina voted in, LuCroy, Mesarasco and Montero named to the team, that BUSTER FLIPPING POSEY IS NO BETTER THAN THE 5TH BEST CATCHER IN THE NL????? Are you on acid? LuCroy and Mesarasco lead NL catchers in OPS, with Mez on top with a smaller sample size and 26% K rate. The other 3′s OPS are from .751 to .760, not a huge difference. Buster has a better average than Montero and much lower K rate (21% to 13%). It’s not as though the D-backs didn’t have another All Star, Goldschmidt started and played most of the game. And they have spent most of the season in the cellar. But the Giants, in 1st most of the season, have 2 All Stars, one doesn’t play and the other plays sparingly. So WFT Matheny?

A little rant about Fox. Was there one mention of the Giants during the entire broadcast? Pence took RF in the 7th and there was no mention of the defensive change. As he has his one at-bat, the booth was talking with John Farrell, so his name was not even mentioned on the broadcast. I know this was the Derek Jeter lovefest, disguised as a baseball game. But C’mon Man! One of the NL’s glamour franchise, the team of Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Mel Ott, Bill Terry, Willie Flipping Mays, Willie McCovey and the greatest I’ve ever seen, Barry LaMarr Bonds, does not get just a whiff of respect from the national media.

That’s okay, you can apologize as you hand Larry Baer the trophy in November.

Two Perfect Games Ruined by the Left Side of the Dodger Infield

By now, all of us have heard about Kershaw’s no-hitter and how it would of been a Perfect Game if Hanley Rameriz doesn’t throw away a routine ground ball.  But that is not the first time the current Dodger infielders have caused this to happen.  With the Giants, Jonathan Sanchez’s no-hitter, the only blemish was an error by Juan Uribe, the Dodgers current 3B (when he is not injured, which is quite often).

Pitching and defense used to be the trademark of successful Dodger teams.  No longer.  Dodger stadium used to have some of the biggest foul territory in baseball.  Until the O’Malleys sold the team that is.  Dodger ownership knew back then that they had a built-in advantage.  But with News Corp and then the slimy McCourts as owners, they looked at the stadium and decided to trade 20 sheckels of silver for their souls.  They changed the configuration of the ballpark to put more seats in closer to the field.  Why?  Dollar-dollar-bills y’all.  So they neuter their stategic advantage for a little extra do-ray-mi.  In a stadium that seats 56k plus, and does not sell out BTW, they added a few hundred seats and sold their collective soul.  They only way to describe it is short-sighted.  That sound you hear is poor Walter O’Malley spinning in his grave.

While we are on the subject of the boys in blew, this was in USA Today -

Due to a negotiating impasse between Time Warner Cable and multiple TV providers in the area — including DirecTV — only an estimated 1.5 million of the 4.8 million homes in Los Angeles had access to the Dodgers’ new SportsNet LA network for all of Kershaw’s no-hitter.

Again, this proves that the Dodgers do not care if their fans see the games on TV or not.  3.3 million homes could only get the game on radio and if they wanted to see the last pitch, they had to watch it on SportsCenter.  Pathetic.  How can the 2nd largest market in the country deny fans access to the most popular team in So Calif?  For that matter, how can the 2nd largest market in the country HAVE NO NFL TEAM??? 

It just goes to show that the owners of the Dodgers and the NFL, DO NOT GIVE A RAT’S ASS ABOUT THE LA FANS.  You could argue that point but you would be wrong.  My take is simple on their fans, they get what they deserve.  Arrive late, leave early, more interest in doing the Wave than the game on the field, they are TERRIBLE fans for the most part.  There are a few long time fans that don’t deserve this treatment, but there are so many more that do, that they deserve any issues they have.  Couldn’t have happened to better group of losers. 

Weekend with my Girls and a Special Moment for Morse

I was lucky enough to go to the games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon with some of my favorite people.  On Saturday night, my daughter and I attended Wine Fest 1 and had a great time.  She spotted a old friend of mine, Tom W. and his wife Terri.  It was great to see them and spend a little time with them, while enjoying the fruit of the grape.  The game did not disappoint either, with Vogie spinning a gem.  On Sunday, I went to the game with my niece Zan, a high school teacher in the city.  She is also an ordained minister and has been named department chair at her school.  Another great game to watch, with MadBum dealing.  So after both games I turned both of these young ladies over to their husbands with an elevated blood alcohol level, being sure no one was driving drunk.

I believe it was the 5th inning of the Sunday game, Giants were up 4-1, bases loaded, none out.  It looked like they were going to break the game open.  But after Buster struck out and the Panda popped up, it came down to Michael Morse to have to get a hit to get any runs.  And he did deliver, a three run double, basically putting the game away.  Of course, the crowd went nuts as “one run will score, two runs will score, they will all score!”  I love bases clearing hits, it is so exciting.  As Morse was standing on second, the crowd had not died down completely and they showed him standing on the bag on the big screen.  Then something truly special happened.  The crowd rose back up and started cheering louder, not for the runs scored, not for the team, but for that one moment, they cheered for Michael Morse.  And they kept cheering.  He didn’t know what to do but he could not stop smiling.  Can you imagine how that felt?  Morse, an MLB nomad, between stints in Seattle, Washington, Baltimore, comes to SF and the fans embrace him with an ovation that was impossible to ignore.  After all those years of not having a MLB home,  AT&T rises up and says, in no uncertain terms, THIS is your home, big boy.  I looked over at Zan and said, if there are baseball gods out there, Michael Morse will never play another game in another uniform.  I sure hope that turns out to be true, because we LOVE him and I think that he feels the same way about our wonderful Giant fans. 

There is no free lunch

Sorry kids, but there are a few indisputable truths out there.
Life is not fair.
Nice guys do not finish first.
We all do not have an equal opportunity to succeed.
And….there is no free lunch.
Todays blog concerns the hissy fit going on between the Dodgers, their new cable deal and the availability of broadcast games to their fans. If you go to the LA Times website, there are banners on every page showing a Dodger player with the heading “Don’t Miss This”, with a 800 number to call your provider.
LA fans were ecstatic when Magic and his well-heeled buddies bought the team from the scumbag McCourts. They were thrilled when this new ownership group brought in a number of big money players, extended their best guys, ending up with the highest payroll in MLB. The world looked pretty flipping rosy for the Dodger faithful.
That is, until the bill became due.
The biggest economic trend in baseball are the HUGE new local TV contracts that are being signed. Based on those deals, teams are locking up their young stars and trading for high-priced talent from other clubs.
That’s great right? Until the bill becomes due.
Folks, that is exactly the basis for the viewership dispute in LA. Time/Warner cable spent billions, with a big B, for the rights to broadcast in the LA market. Did we expect them to lose money on their deal? Of course not. But unless they can get an inflated rate from other providers, this stalemate will not be resolved.
A personal gripe. We have DirecTV at home and while we are 225 miles from LA and 200 from SF, we are in the LA market (somehow). As such, we get blacked out in our Extra Innings package from the SF feed and only have the LA feed available. In past years, it was kinda okay, at least we had Vinnie to listen to. This year however, nothing, nada, zip.
The fact that Time/Warner covers roughly 30% of the LA market, means 70% of Dodger fans cannot get the games. Vin Scully, when he is at home in the valley and the team is on the road, can’t get baseball on TV.
There is no end in sight to this dispute. Cable contracts and coverage areas have been contractually negotiated for years in advance. T/W may increase their coverage a little, 3-5% maybe, leaving 2 of 3 fans out of luck. DirecTV will not cave to higher rates, they have to think of the entire nation. So this will go on and on.
And this is the first salvo in a long battle between teams and their fans. As these new cable/local contracts are signed for big bucks, this scenario will continue to play out across the country.
By the way, the Giants have a stake in their local provider, CSN Bay Area. Those teams with these types of arrangements can dictate terms and will not alienate their fan base.
In my mind, and obviously not Bud Selig’s, MLB is doing a great disservice to the fans in this situation. They have not considered what happened to the NFL in LA. Once teams left and the area got used to NOT having local teams, the LA market has adapted and just doesn’t care anymore.
Just goes to show, everyone hates LA fans, even their team.

Morse Code

A week into the new season and the Giants are 5-2, all on the road, oh and by the way, first place in the NL West.

With this type of start to the season, you would have guessed that the starting rotation has been lights out.  Well, not exactly.  MadBum has had one good and one terrible start.  The Cainer has had two bad starts, Lincecum and Vogelsong have been lacking in ther starts.  Tim Hudson is the only starter that has held up his end of the bargain.

So how have they been winning?  By bashing of course.  Pagan is on fire, Belt has 4 HR already, Brandon Hicks (who?) is the latest in a long line of under-the-radar pickups that has done well.  But in my opinion it comes down to the new free agent LF, Mike Morse.

Have you seen this guy?  He is big, burly, somewhat hairy and there is no doubt what he wants to do to the baseball, crush it.  It takes about a minute of watching him to know what he is about, power.  I think the impact he has on the other hitters in the lineup is not being discussed enough.  With a big bat in the lineup, the other guys do not have to press to provide power.  Pablo, Pence and Posey are generally line drive hitters that can occasionally go out of the park.  All three of them should be concentrating on hitting gap-to-gap, high average at bats that keep the line moving, because they know that Morse is sitting there waiting to drive them in.  It effects the opposing pitcher too, as he is the one guy in the lineup you know can go out on any swing.  Which means the guys up when Mike lumbers into the on-deck circle will get a lot of fastballs.

My nickname for the big guy, The Bouncer.  You may not want him to but he will take you out of the building.  Plus, he has a striking resemblance to many of the guys that have thrown me out of bars (allegedly).

This is a great start to the season for the orange and black.  After all, it is an even numbered year, OUR TURN!!

Bonds Stock is Up

Barry Bonds is at Giants camp this week.  Yesterday, there was a slew of articles about his arrival, with some of the comments not necessarily positive.  Any comments from the Giants was overwhelmingly supportive.
This creates a huge divide between the Bonds supporters and his detractors.  It is unfortunate that most sportswriters tend to lean to the detractors side, including CSN Bay Area’s own Andrew Baggerly.
It seems like the press was expecting Barry to come to camp with a full confession of his sins.  All the articles I read had some verbage about ‘the face of the steroid era’ or ‘disgraced former star’.  I read an online article from AFP (whoever or whatever that is) that was titled ‘Drug Cheat Bonds in Giants Camp’, ignoring the basic fact that when (or if) he did use PEDs, it was not illegal in MLB. 
Bonds did not respond, to his credit.  He is still appealling his Obstruction of Justice conviction and could not answer PEDs questions, even if he wanted to.  Did you hear that Baggs?  Ratto?  But still they insist he pull a McGwire and sob into the camera.  Hogwash.
Barry owes the media NOTHING.  He never was on great terms with them anyway, mostly because he never forgave the way they treated his father.  I don’t know about you, but if a close family member of mine was run out of multiple cities for perceived off field issues, especially given the immense talents he had, I would not treat them very well either.
Barry was the best hitter I ever saw, bar none.  No one was pitched around on a night in and night out basis that he was, yet he still produced numbers no one has ever matched.  He might get 1-3 strikes a NIGHT when he had 5 plate appearances.  For goodness sakes, he was intentionally walked in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded and his team down 2.  And it worked, just ask Buck Showalter.
I was lucky enough to be at some of his great games, the night in 1993, when a local sports-hack said he should be traded, then he tied the game with a double in the 9th and won it with a HR in extra innings.  There for 660, with Willie meeting him at the plate, not a dry eye in the house.  There for 715, when he became the best left handed HR hitter in history.  And finally, when he did pass Aaron, the classy way that the Hammer congratulated him on the video board, while Bud Selig watched with his hands in his pockets, like the Used Car salesman he is.
One thing I have learned over the years is that personal experience trumps what someone has to say every time.  A friend of mine followed the Giants on a roadtrip to Arizona one year, staying where the Giants did.  She came down to the lobby and in a setting area off the lobby was Bonds, with 3 or 4 friends, chatting away.  Ever so politely, she asked him for an autograph.  Based on what was being written about him at the time, she expected him to bite her head off.  Just the opposite, he was very accomadating, gave her the autograph, even had one of his homies snap a pic of the two of them, both with huge smiles.  A copy of that picture is one of my most treasured Giants keepsakes.
Todays news from camp was the way Bonds went around, talking htting with the Giants players.  The comments from Crawford, Pence, Morse and all were like kids that had just seen Santa, they could not believe how fortunate they were.  I just wish the media understood that sentiment.
 

Second base is not second fiddle

Two things caught my attention over the last few days. 

First was an interview with Marco Scuturo.  Man o man did that guy sound down in the dumps.  He was talking about his various injuries from last season and how they have carried over into this spring.  Apparently, they have been working on his ‘core’ muscles and he has yet to pick up a bat.  Opening Day is a little over a month still, but that is worrisome.  Don’t forget what Marco did for the Giants in the 2012 postseason, so he deserves every benefit of the doubt.  But he is 38 this season, range has been reduced at a key IF position and it is anyone’s guess how his bat will play.

Second thing I saw was that the Mariners are looking to move their 2B, Nick Franklin.  The article said that the Mets and others were looking at him as a SS.  He came up as a SS, was not good in that role, moved to second and did a lot better.  He was a rookie last year, poor average but good power, 12 HR and 20 2B in 369 AB.  In the same article, it said the Mariners were looking for starting pitching, with Iwakawa out and Walker not expected to start the season with the team.

Hello?  Yusi Petit!  I know, the Giants want to keep him as depth, but the Filthies just let Chad Guidan go, so pick up the Chadster again for swing man, spot starter.  He excelled in that role for SF last season.  Or trade them one of the jillion bullpen arms I have been reading about.  Another thing that the Mariners were looking for was right handed hitting.  Hello, Juan Perez and or Tony Abreu.  Or even Hector Sanchez.

In any case, it seems logical for Sabean to check into this.  The Giants have a great utility man in Arias, make Franklin everyday 2B, which will improve your IF defense and when Scoots is healthy, maybe a platoon or move Nick to the bench.  He would be a nice LH bat with a little pop off the bench.  It also provides insurance in case

a}   Pablo leaves for free agency at season end, move Scuturo to 3B

b}   Pablo gets hurt or

c}   Marco isn’t ready for a while

A bench with Arias, right handed batter and Franklin, left handed batter would work if everyone is healthy.

To me this makes way too much sense to at least not consider.  Go get ‘em Sabs.

Back in Black (and orange)

Alright all, I am back at it with my blog. Going to be a lot more active with it and appreciate any and all comments.

The Giants and the Dodgers. Two teams that have been at each others throats for more than a century. As we enter the 2014 season, the Dodgers are the division champions and my guess is that they will be heavily favored to win it again. After all, their payroll is over $200 million and they may not be done shopping.

But should they be the favorites over the Giants? I decided to do a little position-by-position analysis of the two teams, looking at the 16 most impactful spots on the rosters. I know, I know, rosters are 25 deep but since most of the other 9 guys are considered ‘depth’, I did not look at those. So here is my look (albeit somewhat biased) at how the two teams stack up.

Starting Pitchers
Kershaw vs MadBum
Kershaw, of course, but by not as much as you think. Both are big, young, lefties who are still developing. My thinking is that MadBum will continue to improve but where can Kershaw go from here, except down.
Greinke vs Cain
Note I am not matching #1s here but guys who are somewhat comparable. Both are solid starters but Cain has done a little more. All Star starter, perfect game, spectacular postseason record withTWO, count ‘em, TWO World Series rings. Plus he’s a horse, I think if he would of run into Carlos Quintin, it would have been Carlos on the DL not the Cainer.
Ryu vs Hudson
Ryu had an impressive first year in LA. But has the league figured him out and he did wear down towards the season end. Hudson (another Timmy! joining the Freak and Flannery) has a long track record of success and is somewhat more of a proven commodity. I could go with Tim here, but I will be generous and call it a wash.
Haren and Beckett or ??? vs Lincecum and Vogelsong
If you think you can predict how any of these guys will do in 2014, you’re nuttier than a Payday. Haren and Lincecum have had two years in a row with poor results. Beckett is always hurt and Vogie is close to 40. No way to call these, both washes.
Relief Pitchers
Jannsen vs Romo
Gotta go with the All Star closer, Romo. He will only keep getting better while Jannsen has kinda reached his apex. The postseason work by Serg plus his commercials tip the scale to him.
Wilson vs Casilla
Going to look at three relievers, the closers and the set up guys. Both guys here are maddeningly inconsistent. Both have the ability to strike the batter out. And other than the strange things that Wilson does, there is little difference in the two, other than Casilla being considerably cheaper. Wash. No, not a tie, Wilson needs to wash himself more often. But yes, a wash.
Rodriguez vs Affeldt
I don’t believe that this is close at all. Paco is a thrower, not a pitcher and Affeldt can get both lefties and righties out. His experience and ability to pitch in any situation gives the edge to him.
1B
A-Gone over Belt.
Brandon is an up and comer but too much experience with Adrian.
2B
Scuturo over Abreu
Not enough known about the Cuban import to say he may be better than Marco. .300 hitter and good defense carries the day.
Rameriz-Crawford, wash
Looking at a small sample size, you would pick Hanley but this will be a 162 game season. Rameriz is ALWAYS hurt, three DL trips last year. Brandon is on the field every day and IMO a much better fielder. His hitting was much improved, especially early in 2013 and he is a great situational hitter. If you were to guarantee 140 games from Hanley, I would change this but don’t bet your house on it.
Panda over Uribe
Let’s see youth, hitting, defense and a cool nickname. I think that covers it.
Busta over whoever….
Don’t make me laugh.
Kemp over Pagan
This is probably closer to a wash, but I decided to be generous again. If you take out Kemp and put in Ethier, Pagan wins on defense, OBP and better hair. It would surprise me to see Kemp for more than 100 games.
Crawford over Morse
Just because we don’t know how Morse will fit in. But Crawford is way overrated anyway.
Puig-Pence, wash
Can Yasiel keep it up? Will Pence bust out with a 40/40 year (my fantasy team hopes so)? So many questions with both these guys, it is hard to call this anything but a wash.
Final tally? Giants 6, Dodgers 4, with 6 ties. While this is just one man’s opinion, I think my logic is sound.
Your thoughts?

The Hall of Fame Vote was a Joke

One of the biggest stories of the offseason was the HOF vote. As you should know, if you follow sports at all, is that the HOF elected no new members this year. I’ve been following the reactions of the leading sportswriters (Verducci from SI, Rosenthal from Fox Sports among others), the Commissioner and the President of the Hall itself. In a propaganda blitz that would make the Fuerher proud, the message was the same, No need to panic, one year abberation, not a big deal, the HOF process isn’t broken, blah, blah, blah, almost like they were all reading from the same script.

Well folks, despite what is being said by those guys, this Hall of Fame vote is nothing more than a cruel joke on the fans of the game. Speaking from a fan’s point of view, how can the writers of the BBWAA intentionally not vote in anyone from a class that contains the best hitter and the best pitcher in the last 50 years. Not to mention the best hitting catcher ever, with no PEDs connections at all. And to try and pass it off as an anomoly is insulting, at least to those fans who are paying attention.

Ver-douche-i has stated publicly that he will not vote for any players from this era. Rosenthal is making his own protest in purposely not voting on the first ballot for any new candidates. This is not in the rules, nowhere in the character clause does it say anything about not voting for a whole decade of players or withholding votes on the first ballot, then changing the next year. Selig’s corpse’s reasoning was just as shallow. The BBWAA writers have taken huge liberties with their voting responsibilities and have proven they are not up to the task laid upon them.

As a fan, I am extremely ticked off. You might think it is because of Bonds with the SF connection but no, I am more upset about Piazza. Never a mention of PEDs around him, not on the Mitchell report, no reports of him slinking off with a slimy ‘trainer’ to a back room. He was a big guy when he came up and his body never changed. So what is the excuse on that one BBWAA? There isn’t one.

Bottom line, the HOF, the Commissioners Office, the BBWAA has told baseball fans across America that they run this game, this process and we could care less what the fans think. You and I spend the money at the ballparks, follow it in print and online, pay for parking, subscribe to MLB Extra Innings, buy hats and jerseys and programs and the people that run the game have just shown you how much they value what you think. Not at all.

As my daughter said recently, all these great players she saw as she grew up are suddenly not up to the standards of the HOF? And it is not because they weren’t good enough, it is because the BBWAA has decided to make a political statement, expressing their perceived moral superiority. Hog-fing-wash.

There is not much we can do as fans, unfortunately. I had thought that if enough fans feel as I do, we could start a petition campaign at MLB parks that recommends to the HOF that the BBWAA’s role in electing players be diminished. Instead of just the writers, it could be a combination of writers, managers and coaches and a large percentage from the fans. Included on the petition would be a promise to not visit the HOF until this inequity is addressed. I was planning a visit to Cooperstown but now, no way. If enough of us stay away from the joke that is the Hall, maybe someone will notice.

Farewell Jingles

A friend of ours took his life this week. 

Known by most as The Rally Pumpkin, by his friends as Jingles, by fewest by his given name, Craig.  He was a friend of the family that had fallen upon hard times and could not pull himself out.  He had a number of friends that were concerned about him and did their level best to keep him as upbeat as they could.  Unfortunately, it was not enough and Jingles did what he felt he had to do.

I could wallow in the sadness that envelopes this situation but I choose (on this blog anyway) to think about the good times we had together.

A few years ago we took a road trip to Chicago to see the Giants at Wrigley, with Jingles part of the party.  We had a great time at the ballpark and the bars around the ballpark.  We went to Harry Caray’s restaurant and had a little fun with Jingles.  Jingles loved to get prime rib when he went out, his favorite thing to order.  So before the waitress took our orders, we took her aside and told her to tell him they were out.  She did and he went OFF.  As he was stomping out the door, muttering unkind words about Harry himself, we stopped him and told him the joke.  The waitress made sure he got the biggest slab of prime rib they had and even made a big production about serving it to him, with one of the chefs coming out.  He was glowing.  Something about profound happiness cannot come without first having profound sadness seemed to apply there.

Loved going to ballgames with him.  He soaked up the attention from his Rally Pumpkin persona, taking pictures with everyone.  He was most at home at AT&T, that is without question.

Farewell Jingles.  We hope you are in a better place.  You will be missed.

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