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.
A-Gone over Belt.
Brandon is an up and comer but too much experience with Adrian.
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.

The Wave

I was in the park on Sunday when the wave started out in the bleachers, late in the game.  I was appalled.

Folks on the KNBR postgame radio show were asking questions like where did start, what is the harm, my kids love it, yada, yada, yada.  I am here today to straighten this out, as the facts seem to have been forgotten.

The Wave is an insiduous group action that fans do who are not paying attention to the game.  They are bored.  They want to do something else other that watch the play on the field.  The Wave is an indicator of how involved a team’s fans are in the game. 

Make no mistake, The Wave does not come from soccer, from high school, from good natured fans wanting to have a little fun.  The Wave was formed in the darkest depths of the bowels of hell for any Giant fan, Chavez Ravine.  Dodger fans are proud of the wave, they see it as their right to do anything they want, they paid for the seat.  Get there in the 3rd inning, leave in the 7th, have a little fun making fools of yourselves, a typical Dodger outing.  Who won?  Who cares!

Is that how you want to be viewed Giant fans?

Of course not.  Giant fans care about the game, about the team and especially about winning or losing.  Dodgers fans care about being seen at the park, getting home early, playing around with beach balls and the wave, beating Giant fans into comas in the parking lot and not much else.  Losing the game?  Oh well, at least we don’t have to worry about postseason tickets. 

This has to stop at AT&T Park and stop now.  Do not do the wave, watch the game.  If you don’t want to watch the game, give your tickets to somebody who will.  My response on Sunday was to raise both my hands in the air, while sitting, with my middle fingers extended.  Sorry to the folks behind me with kids. 

Please do not do The Wave anymore, San Francisco.  Preserve your dignity.

Lucky in LA

Back again folks.  If you follow this blog, which I doubt because nobody does, you will note that I will be offering opinions a lot more often this season.  It is somewhat therapeutic, being able to spill your guts with little or no consequences.

First off, did you see the “triple play” by the fodgers the other day?  Although it is right there on the box score, so it was a triple play, I put it in quotes, because if I am a Padres fan, I disagree wholehardedly.  But the LA fans have to smile about the play, with a big, full-toothed grin, as they got away with one.

Runners on base during MLB games look to the home plate umpire when there is a fair or foul call on a batted ball around the plate.The pods baserunners did just that, when the play happened, did it or did it not hit the bat, they relied on the ump to make the call.  He IMMEDIATELY raised his hands in the air, indicating a foul ball, then did it A SECOND TIME.  Then he started pointing to fair ground in front of the plate.  The SD runners were both confused, as they both raised their hands in the air, not understanding the incongruity of the call.  These baserunners were 90 and 120 feet from home plate and they had no perspective on where the ball landed.  That is why they depended on the ump’s call and were hosed by doing so. 

San Diego had two men on, no outs, in the 9th inning of a tie game.  This spectacularly terrible call cost them the game in my opinion.  For the home plate umpire, his gestures were at best inconsistent, at worse, incompetent.  I consider him a coward for not taking any blame in this, as the pods and Buddy Black deserved better.

Dang lucky fodgers.

Opening Weekend in SF

Spent the weekend at the ballpark and I have a few observations.

Opening Day was Matt-tastic, Cain-a-licious or whatever goofy appellation you would like.  There was no doubt who was in charge.  Strike one, strike two, all day long.  A few of the Buccos squared up the ball but not many.  If anyone wanted to know why the Giants extended the Cainer, they had their answer. 

A side note on the opener, the calendars are great!  Bigger than last year, better presentation, all around a nice deal. 

Saturday was a classic, back and forth, with the Giants winning on an errant throw by Clint Barmes.  If Pittsburgh thinks they have a solution at SS, wait and see how many times you see the terms “on an errant throw by Clint Barmes” as a significant part of the story when they lose.  This will cost this young team a LOT through the course of the season, IMO.

One comment about the fireworks.  Early in the life of SBC park, the fireworks nights were less than stellar.  But over the last few years they have really upgraded the fireworks they use and that was on full display Saturday night.  Super Duper!

Sunday was another great day at the ballpark, with mixed results, obviously.  Sitting in the sun, it was smoking hot, while a few rows up, folks were in parkas and gloves.  Oh, San Francisco. 

But there were some silly SF mistakes.  Vogelsong not covering first quickly enough on the second Pitts run, Panda’s error, Otero unable to get anyone out, twice the Giants had a runner on third with two out and were unable to score either.  A couple of Buster’s at bat looked very un-Posey like.

But I would be remiss to not mention to positives from Sunday.  Manny Burriss doing exactly what he needed to do to get the run home from third, by grounding out to SS.  Vogelsong settling down after allowing the 2nd inning runs.  Clay Hensley getting in the game for the Giants and doing well (just before the game I picked him up on my fantasy team).  And the giveaway, a welcome mat, was pretty sweet, too.

On Opening Day, a couple of friends of mine, Charlene and Annie got special tickets that allowed them on the field during batting practice then a spread afterwards.  Well, they couldn’t go out on the field because it was muddy from the rain.  Disappointed, they went to the spread and were impressed with the food.  But they were more impressed with meeting Will Clark, whom the Giants brought in.  Four hours later, both were still giddy from the experience. 

A wonderful weekend in SF, highlighted by Giants games and reconnecting with friends and family.  Will remember it fondly for a long time to come.

It is sooooooooo obvious………

Hey all, back again.  Nice to blogging as a fan of the World Series Champions!  Lot’s of lives are different after Nov 1st.  Two friends of mine, who celebrated their 60th birthdays at AT&T last summer, never thought they would see it in their lifetime, but both of them have had their picture taken with the trophy.  Those pictures, 50 years in the making, are truly priceless.  Below is one of them, Charlene (in the middle) with your blogger reaching around to sneak a touch (don’t tell the Giants).


So, what is so obvious you say?

Jose Reyes.  It is obvious that the Giants would be interested.  The Mets suck and will be selling off their upcoming free agents, sometime between now and July 31st.  What is the biggest issue facing the Mets?  MONEY!  The Madoff mess has left the Mets scrambling, the word is they are taking on a minority partner to generate cash. 

Here is what I am thinking.  Trade the Mets Barry Zito plus $45 million, which is roughly 3/4 of what he is owed through 2013.  I would throw in Jonathan Sanchez, Dan Runzler and a minor prospect not named Zach Wheeler.  Two MLB ready starters, a ready reliever, an influx of cash, what is not to like?   


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