It DID Get Better!

Last I blogged, Giants Fan Carm was feeling mighty low.  The boys were about to start the series with Houston after suffering a 4-game sweep by the Cubs.  Figured we had a chance of splitting the two games with Houston, and we did.  A sweep would have been nice, but can’t be greedy after all.  The win on Tuesday was so much sweeter after that sweep.  Tony never sounded so good.  So on to the Washington series and the likes of Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, two of the toughest pitchers in the National League.   Gulp.  Did anyone else figure those first two games were pretty much over before they started?  Come on, be honest!  I love my boys but I’m also realistic.  I should know better.  Strasburg game – even though the Nats started off the game with a homerun, my boys one upped them at the end of the inning, scoring two runs.  Vogey recovered and pitched a gem, allowing only two more hits in the next 4 innings.  His showing, combined with wicked relief from Strickland, Romo, and Casilla, allowed that lead in the first to hold.  YEAH!!  Scherzer game – Giants got 6 runs in the first three innings.  WHAT??  OFF OF SUPERHUMAN SCHERZER??  Matt Cain pitched beautifully up until the 5th when he gave up 4 runs.  But the boys had his back – the relievers came to the rescue, allowing only 1 hit (thank you Affeldt, Kontos, Osich, Romo, and Lopez).  Scherzer thwarted!  The beautiful thing about these two games was that once again this season, everyone contributed.  Timely hits, spectacular defense, and amazing pitching came from all over the place.  This is the team that I seriously still think can come through and win the division this season.  Yes, I said it.  We’re only 2 ½ games behind the Dodgers right now and presently strutting our stuff, even against tough teams and even while dealing with a bunch of injuries.  I’m liking it!  Gio Gonzalez today – piece of cake!!!

There have been a lot of rumors lately about the Giants acquiring Chase Utley from the Phillies.  It was also confirmed by Bobby Evans that a trade offer for him has been made (no details available right now).  I don’t get this.  I know he was also talked about last season to take over for Marco Scutaro, but since then the guy’s numbers have plummeted.  He’s currently hitting .208 (and that’s not a typo), down from .270 last season, with 4 home runs and 29 RBI.  But after doing some investigating, these numbers may be misleading.  Utley went on the 15-day DL with ankle inflammation in late June, and since he’s come back he’s gone 11 for 22 with 4 doubles.  That’s .500 folks.  Looks to me like the guy is trying to impress someone, even though he has a no-trade clause in his contract.  But who wouldn’t want to leave the Phillies right now, who are 17 games out and bottom feeding in the NL East??  On the pro side, Utley can give us some much needed depth at second both offensively and defensively while Joe Panik is out.  On the con side, he’s owed $4 million for the remainder of the year, he may not be interested in being a backup second baseman, and he’s an old man (36) so his recent hitting may not be sustainable.  Will keep you posted as this plays out.  Inevitably there will be some breakthrough on this right after I post today!

So many injuries to deal with lately.  Figured I’d catch you all up on what’s been going on with the roster lately.  Nori Aoiki was placed on the concussion DL as he was feeling nauseated and lightheaded a few days after he was hit in the head with a fastball.  He says that he’s not feeling that bad, so hopefully that means he’ll really be back with us after the 7 days are over.  Concussions are tricky, though, so you never know.  Keeping all my fingers crossed.  He was replaced by Ryan “Lolly, lolly, lolly, get your adverbs here” Lollis.  Angel was put on the DL (finally) due to patella tendonitis (AKA knee problems).  We all knew that was coming.  Hopefully some rest will do him good.  He has been replaced by Dan’s boy, Juan Perez.  It was nice to see him batting again the other day.  Josh Osich came back up to the Bigs when Mike Leake went on the DL with hamstring issues and Ryan Vogelsong has filled in beautifully for Leake as a starter.  Leake is expected to return early next week (more finger crossing).  Andrew Susac hit an RBI double in a rehab game in San Jose Thursday so hopefully he’ll be back soon to fill in for Buster when needed.  Joe Panik remains on the DL with no clear end in sight.  Gosh, I miss that kid!  Also of note is the fact that Nick Noonan was resigned to a minor league contract with the Giants.  He played in the Yankees organization last season, but was released recently and picked up by his original team.  Welcome back, Nick!

Congrats to Brandon Crawford on receiving the Heart and Hustle Award presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association to one player on each MLB team who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit, and traditions of the game.  With his all-out play, dedication to charity, and all-around good guy-ness, you couldn’t have chosen a more deserving guy for this award.  Nice job, Kid!

The Giants marketing team is truly amazing.  They are having a Full House event at the end of September, and they have released this video promoting it.  This thing is spectacular!  All my boys surely rose to the occasion.  Of course Brandon Crawford plays the part of his doppelganger, John Stamos.  My favorite part of the whole thing is Javi Lopez – hysterical!  You can also watch the original to see how close they got with this.  Love, love, love it!

Also have one more reason to love Kruk and Kuip.  Check out this video of the pregame show on Friday night (you have to click on the thumbnail of Kruk and Kuip wearing ring hats down below).  Oh my gosh, I adore these two!  Especially love when Kuip starts making his wiggle.  And Ahmed’s initial reaction.  We are so very fortunate to have these guys around!

Today Jake Peavy goes against Gio Gonzalez.  With as well as Jake’s been doing, I have to say I’m looking forward to some late-night crooning by Tony.  I know we can do this.  Hoping the boys can finish with the Nats, and then carry that much-needed momentum to face the league-leading Cardinals and the oh-so-hot Pirates on the road.  I know these guys can do it.  Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.  We’re all behind you.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  GAIN SOME GROUND ON THOSE DREADED DODGERS!!

It WILL Get Better

It’s inevitable.  Every season seems to have a dry spell.  We’ve got one going on now.  The boys have been struggling this last week.  We all knew this was coming due to their tough schedule, but I don’t think anyone thought it would be this bad this soon.  That sweep by the Cubs was brutal, especially since we’re in a Wild Card battle with them.  Since I last blogged, we’ve gone 3 and 7.  Ugh!  But as we try to keep things positive here, at least all those games were close ones.  And we have had our share of injuries.  Angel Pagan has been struggling with lots of physical ailments, including bad knees.  He just doesn’t seem to have the hustle he usually does.  I’m kind of confused as to why he’s not given a rest and replaced by Gregor Blanco – maybe that’s coming. I’ve even heard some talk about Mac Williamson possible being called up.   Joe Panik is out with a bad back.  I really miss having his bat in the second spot in the lineup – he always keeps things moving.  Then the guy we just got to solve some of the pitching problems, Mike Leake, ends up pulling a hamstring after his first start as a Giant and lands on the DL.  So maybe if you keep all this in mind, things aren’t so bad.  They’ll get better once everyone is healthy, right?  But it’s so tough right now to be a Giants fan.  And having an off day after that sweep is making it even tougher.  Can’t wait for the next game to get that rotten taste out of our mouths.  We’ll all get through it together.  Gotta hang in there and keep the faith.

Speaking of the DL, did you see Nori Aoki get hit in the head by that pitch yesterday?  That was wicked!  On a positive note, it doesn’t seem to have been bad enough for him to go on the DL, though.  That guy is tough!

If you need something to cheer you up while we’re waiting for the boys to make a comeback, check this out.  It’s the video of Kelby Tomlinson getting his first Major League hit during his first Major League at bat.  I’ve been pulling for the guy all season as he was one of the kids whose autograph I got at Spring Training.  He came up when Joe Panik was placed on the DL.  I got to watch it all play out live.  What a beautiful moment.  And the best part of the whole thing was when they pulled away to the shots of his wife and his father-in-law in the stands while it was all playing out.  Plus I love how into it Kruk and Kuip got.  I can only imagine the emotions that were playing out – to work so hard all your life for one goal, to sacrifice so much, to struggle so much, to wonder if it is all worth it, then to have your dream finally come true.  You could almost feel all that through the TV set.  I love his wife’s comment about the whole ordeal:  “I’m still in disbelief.  It was all the emotions all at once.  It was so exciting.  I wanted to throw up.  I’m just so proud of him.”  I felt so bad when I heard that his parents couldn’t share in the moment in person at the park because they had such short notice of his call up and they couldn’t get off work in time.  But I’m sure they were watching at home showing similar emotions (probably making the neighbors wonder what all the ruckus was!).  I’m sure they’re also proud of the fact that Kelby dedicated his first hit to Kaiser Carlisle, the 9-year-old batboy for the Liberal Bee Jays, the collegiate summer league team that Tomlinson had played for.  Kaiser was struck in the head by a bat at a game and later died of his injuries.  Here’s the video dedication.  Very classy move by Tomlinson.  Looking forward to seeing all the Kelby “Clark Kent” glasses at AT&T Park soon.

In an attempt at continuing to keep your mind off of the last week, did you see Matt Duffy’s appearance on Intentional Talk?  If not, here you go.  What a total crackup!  But seriously, couldn’t they think of anything else to ask him about besides his cat?  The guy really gives a great interview, and they blew their chance at really getting to know more about him.  I did love his comment about how the cat “made a life decision and is losing some weight.”  Such a great sense of humor.  Matt also received more national recognition in a USA Today article about why he should be considered for Rookie of the Year over Joc Pederson and Kris Bryant.  Here’s the article.  I like it!  Boy’s finally getting the press he deserves.  What an amazing year that kid has had.  So glad he’s one of us.  And so glad Skeeter’s finally shedding some pounds!

I feel the need to comment on the bench clearing event that happened on July 31st during one of our games against the Rangers.  Here’s the video of the incident.  It’s not the first time Madison Bumgarner became incensed over a bat flip. The flipping this time was by Delino DeShields.  I always hate when guys’ tempers get the best of them.  But I’ve come to learn that it’s always the same thing that sets Madison off – a young rookie flipping a bat not because he hit a homerun off of Madison but because he didn’t launch a pitch he thought he should have.  Madison feels it’s disrespectful for a kid to do that to a veteran, and he lets guys know it.  Pretty old school of him, but I still hate to see him lose control.  Not a good look for us.  At least there weren’t any punches exchanged during this one.

Continuing with the diversion, I’ve got two new spit counts for you:

August 1st

Giants:

  • Sanchez 6
  • Duffy 5
  • Strickland 4
  • Wotus 2 (seeds)
  • Meulens 2
  • Bochy 2
  • Pagan 2
  • Casilla 2
  • Affeldt 1
  • Panik 1
  • Petit 1
  • Maxwell 1
  • Belt 1

Rangers:

  • Beltre 8
  • DeShields 4
  • Hamilton 3
  • Wilson 2
  • Banister 1
  • Odor 1 (what a tragic last name)
  • Moreland 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire 3

Game Spit Master General = Beltre at 8

Giants Game Spit Master General = Sanchez at 6

That’s a total of 53 spits during a 3 hour and 45 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.2 minutes.

I made a couple of interesting spit observations during this game.  Neither Cole Hamels nor Chris Heston, the two starting pitchers, logged a single spit today.  IT IS POSSIBLE, GUYS!!  Also, Hector Sanchez, today’s Giants Spit Master General and starting catcher, didn’t start spitting until the 10th inning.  What does this mean?  I know the trend is for spitting to increase as the game goes on, but why would you start that late?  And it was hot, so you would think he would want to conserve his fluids.  I don’t get it.  Do you spit more when you’re tired?  At least it did appear that Hector was not chewing tobacco during this game.  Hoping it’s the start of a trend.

August 3rd

Giants:

  • Belt 9
  • Leake 6 (seeds)
  • Cain 3
  • Duffy 3
  • Posey 2
  • Aoki 2
  • Romo 2
  • Tomlinson 2
  • Vogelsong 2
  • Meulens 1
  • Adrianza 1
  • Strickland 1 (*see below for a detailed description)
  • Wotus 1
  • Maxwell 1
  • Sanchez 1
  • Casilla 1
  • Petit 1
  • Bochy 1

Braves:

  • Pierzynski 7
  • Markakis 5
  • Peterson 5
  • Garcia 4
  • Johnson 3
  • Perez 2
  • Maybin 2
  • Detwiler 2
  • Gomes 1
  • Marksberry 1
  • Ciriaco 1

Game Spit Master General = Belt at 9

That’s a total of 73 spits during a 3 hour and 55 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.2 minutes.

Mike Leake logged his first spits as a Giant during this game, but all were captured while the camera was on him in the dugout and he was spitting out sunflower seeds.  Kelby Tomlinson also can add another first to his first Major League hit – his first appearance in my spit count!  When you join a team, beware of the camera in the dugout!  I’ll be watching!  Two of the Braves players have some disgusting spit habits:  Perez spat into his batting gloves and Pierzynski spat into his catcher’s mitt.

*I feel that the “spit” logged by Hunter Strickland during this game needs further explanation.  I have never experienced anything like this before.  The way the saliva exited his mouth was reminiscent of the most amazing spit take I’ve ever seen.  The notes I took that day on this one spit read “spray explosion”.  I have never seen spit travel and create such a wide, voluminous spray.  How can you have that much liquid in your mouth without drinking water (this particular spit occurred while he was on the mound)?  Incredible.  And disgusting.

Tomorrow brings us to the Astros series.  We’ve got to beat another playoff contender.  Hoping the rest and the trip home will do my boys some good.  At least the Dodgers have been doing their part and choking.  Still only 2.5 games behind them.  Sending positive thoughts to my boys so they can win some at home.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  WE KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!!

We’ve Sprung a Leake!

I didn’t think the Giants were going to make any moves before the trade deadline today, but they surprised us last night with a doozy.  The Giants acquired right handed pitcher Mike Leake from the Reds for two minor league players:  infielder Adam Duvall and right handed pitcher Keury Mella.  This gives them a much needed bolster to a starting lineup that hasn’t had that usual spark that we’ve come to expect from the Giants.  They did have to give up two prospects, but when you consider what Leake can do for us now, I think it was worth it.  Duvall has been up in the bigs a couple of times and does have some power, but he had a lot of problems defensively.  Keury Mella showed much more promise, so it will be interesting to follow his career as he leaves for Cincinnati.

So what exactly do we get with Mike Leake?  I feel a list coming on:

  • He’s gone 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 starts this season for the Reds. This is impressive on its own, but if you focus in on his last 4 games, he’s gone 4-0 with a 0.60 ERA.  Super impressive at a time in the season when many pitchers are feeling run down.
  • The above stats come with a caveat – he’s accomplished all this while having Great American Ballpark as his home field. 11 of his 21 starts this season were pitched there.  That field is a hitter’s paradise, thus earning it the nickname “Great American SMALLpark.”  Makes the guy almost seem god-like when you add that into the mix.
  • He’s coming to a ballpark that is a pitcher’s dream. We all know how tough it is to hit one out at AT&T Park.  There’s definitely potential there for that nice ERA to take a dive once he comes back home.  I can just imagine him walking out on that field for the first time as a Giant. (cue angels singing “Alleluia!” in his ear)
  • The guy goes deep into games. He pitched 8 innings in 3 of his last 4 starts.  (cue Giants relief pitchers singing “Alleluia!”)
  • Not only can he pitch, but the guy can hit. He’s got 3 doubles, a homerun, and 5 RBI this season.  Might give Madison some competition.
  • He’s only 27, so he’s still got a lot of pitching in him. This bodes well for him having enough stamina to make it through the post-season (positive thoughts, positive thoughts).
  • He’s a California native. I’m sure the idea of coming back to this beautiful state from Cincinnati was appealing.  This is important because he’ll be a free agent next season, and we’ll need a replacement for Huddy who plans on retiring.  Hope he enjoys being back home.
  • As soon as the news of the trade broke, he changed his Twitter picture to him wearing a Giants uniform. Think the guy is happy about being a Giant??
  • This being a blog written by a girl, I just have to mention that fact that the guy is beautiful. Doesn’t hurt.

Considering all that, I’m pretty stoked about having him on the team.  He wore the number 44 for the Reds, but since that was retired in honor of Willie Mac, he’s taken the number 13, his father’s favorite number (AWWWWW!!!!).  Hopefully it will be lucky for him.  He’s scheduled to make his debut on Sunday in Texas against the Rangers.  I’m already trying to come up with some sort of a leek hat in his honor.  Will make him feel right at home amongst all us crazies!  Welcome to the team, Mike!  Can’t wait to see you in orange and black!

Of course, as one player comes in, another must leave to make room for him.  Unfortunately that player is Tim Hudson.  He’s been put on the DL as of today.  And what class that guy has.  When asked how he felt about the move, he said that he was fine with whatever it takes to get more wins for the team.  He agreed that the starting lineup needed some help, and he thinks Leake is the guy that can do it.  He was also asked if he would rather be traded to another team where he could pitch, and he firmly said no.  He appreciates the fact that there is potential for this team to go all the way again.  Plus he feels that he can still contribute by traveling with the team and mentoring from the dugout.  He may even be a mentor for Leake, who says he’s learned a lot from watching Tim and is looking forward to picking his brain.  I love Huddy so much.  I’m sure he’ll still have a positive impact on the team, and I hope he can still pitch somehow.

In other roster news, Jean Machi was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox and was added to their 25-man roster.  I’ll miss him, but I’m happy that he’ll still be able to pitch.  He’s still a great pitcher.  Good luck to you, Jean.

Just when you thought you couldn’t hate the Dodgers any more they go around and mess with my boy Michael Morse.  Morse was picked up by the Dodgers in the trade that landed them Mat Latos (hate that guy and he stinks – perfect pickup for them).  A few hours later, Michael was designated for assignment.  Then today he was traded by the Dodgers to the Pirates.  Poor guy!  Being tossed around like that!  Don’t they think about the player at all??  There are two positive outcomes to this in the end:  He didn’t end up becoming a stinking Dodger and he can hang out with his buddy Travis Ishikawa again.  Good luck, Michael!  Maybe we’ll see you in the upcoming Pirates series!

I don’t have a new spit count for you, but I do have some spit news.  I was watching the Giants game this Tuesday against the Brewers and couldn’t help but notice Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate and his spitting antics.  From the crouch he was constantly pulling his mask forward to spit – sometimes three or four times while the pitcher was about to pitch.  How could he be focused on the game doing that?  And how distacting for the pitcher!  The guy must really have a bad addiction to smokeless tobacco to have to do that.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Wish I had been doing a spit count at the time – it would have been remarkable!  Get some help, Dude!

The Rangers series is about to start, and I’ve got high hopes for my boys.  Madison is on the mound tonight and I’m sure he’ll put on a great show.  Just hope my boys can handle the heat.  Stay hydrated, Guys, and go out and show them what you’ve got!  GO GIANTS!

Spilling the Beer

Had another wonderful time watching my boys with my sister and my nieces yesterday.  Great game and we won again!  Got to see Heston pitch, Nori’s return (the crowd went wild when his name was announced), a Crawford homerun, three double plays, a torturous double error in the ninth to keep things exciting, and some silly Brewers antics.  Plus the weather last night was lovely.  We sat on the View Level this time.  Granted you’re not as close to the action up there, but you can still see everything, the view is breathtaking, and the fans are so much more into it up there than in the more expensive seats.  I had missed that.  The icing was that they won and I got to hear Tony sing again, bringing my current season record to 4 and 2.  We’re now only half a game behind the Dodgers and looking so good I’m sure it won’t be long before we overtake them.  I love being a Giants fan right now!

There were two calls that the Giants disputed during the game last night.  I didn’t know at the time because I was in the stands, but come to find out on the way home that both were attributed to our old friend, Phil Cuzzi.  He’s the umpire who was doing a horrible job behind the plate at a Giants game a few weeks ago that ended up booting Ryan Vogelsong and Bruce Bochy.  At least this time his calls could be reviewed (you can’t ask for a review of ball and strike calls).  And lo and behold, both of his calls were overturned.  On the first one, Duffy was called out when he was “tagged” at second.  Even from my vantage point in the View Level behind home plate it was obvious that the guy missed the tag.  How could he have blown that??  Then Carlos Gomez of the Brewers stole second and was called safe.  The replay showed that he was tagged before he got to the base.  At least that one was a little closer, but on the big screen it was evident that he was tagged in time.  How does Cuzzi still have a job?  I dread the game Wednesday when he will be behind the plate again.

When Gomez was called out on that replay, he acted like a little baby.  He stormed off the field and threw his helmet on the ground.  At that point he was kicked out of the game by another ump, but he refused to leave the dugout.  The ump had to walk over and make him leave.  Really?  What is with these guys?  I loved Duane Kuiper’s comment on the whole thing.  He said the only guy he should be mad at is himself.  If you steal second with a 2-run deficit, you better make it.  To make things worse, the manager, Craig Counsell, then went out to yell at the ump.  What did he think that was going to accomplish besides getting himself kicked out as well?  The final decision on the play was made in New York, not on the field.  Counsell was given the boot as well.  At that point it didn’t really matter that either was gone because it was the ninth inning, but it was such a waste of our time.  All of the booing by the crowd was kind of fun, though.

I had a revelation last night at the game regarding food, specifically hot dogs.  I love grilled onions on my hot dog, and I only found them as an option for my dog once during the entire time I’ve been going to games.  Why aren’t they standard fare?  And where can the elusive grilled onions be found?  The mystery was solved last night.  I spied a woman with grilled onions on her dog and asked where she had gotten it.  She directed me to a Doggie Diner booth.  Only Doggie Diner offers the grilled onions, not the standard vendors!  Plus I think their Giant dogs are a bit bigger than the others.  So now you know!

Last night was the first time this season that I saw Panda hats in the crowd – at least three of them.  I wondered at the beginning of the season if they would linger even with Panda gone, but up until then I hadn’t seen a single one.  All the wearers were teenage boys.  What were they thinking?  Could they be that clueless?  It wasn’t that cold, so the answer can’t be for warmth.  I have to admit I was angered by it.  He’s gone, and frankly good riddance!  Don’t remind me, please!  My Panda hat is still sitting in my closet, waiting for me to donate it to Goodwill.  No way I would wear that thing again.

On the way home, I was listening to KNBR and Ray Woodson increased my baseball strategy knowledge.  I always learn so much from listening to those guys.  At one point in the game, Crawford was on third and Pagan was in the on-deck circle.  Crawford ended up coming in to score right before a throw to home was made.  Woodson mentioned that at that point, Pagan’s role should have been to take over as base coach and tell Crawford whether he had time to come in standing or whether he should slide, but he just stood back and watched.  Luckily Crawford was safe anyway.  So many things these guys need to keep in mind, even when they’re on deck.  I had no idea.

I was surprised when Joaquin Arias was DFA’d yesterday to make room for Nori Aoki when he returned.  I really thought it would be Maxwell.  I love Arias, and I think he is a strong bench player, but apparently the Giants think Ehire Adrianza is better.  Word is that since neither had any options left, they thought that Adrianza had a better chance of being picked up off waivers so they took the chance with Arias.  I hope he isn’t picked up so that he can stay a Giant.  He’s been so important to the team.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

Was also shocked to hear that Troy Tulowitzki was traded from the Rockies to the Blue Jays yesterday.  That guy is amazing.  At least we won’t have to worry about facing him anymore as he’ll be out of the NL West and into the American League.  And they mentioned on KNBR yesterday that the trade might bode well for Brandon Crawford as he’s one less outstanding short stop he’ll have to compete with for awards this season.  And you know our boy Brandon is destined for some major recognition this season with the way he’s been playing.

With regards to trades, nothing for the Giants yet, but there has been a lot of talk about them acquiring a starter to put second in the rotation behind Bumgarner.  Three names that have been tossed around are Jeff Samardzija, David Price, and Cole Hamels.  All three would be expensive, plus we would probably have to give up some strong prospects, so I’m not sure the Giants would really end up going for it.  Plus they’ve got a lot of competition from other teams for these guys, including the dreaded Dodgers.  I myself am pulling for Cole Hamels.  For selfish reasons – the boy doesn’t spit!  And you gotta like that fact that he recently pitched a no hitter (missed out on the Domino’s pizza for that one!).

Just for fun I decided to check in on the status of the Tortoise Race – the homerun race between Joe Panik and Matt Duffy.  As of this morning, Panik is at 7 and Duffy is at 9.  Pretty impressive for Duffy, considering he didn’t hit a single homerun in his entire college career.  Amazing what putting on a little weight can do for you.  Just don’t follow your cat’s example to the extremes, Kid!  Keep battling, Guys!

My boys are doing their part to keep the momentum going as we reach the upcoming tougher schedule.  Hope they can keep it up.  Loving this!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  SPILL SOME MORE BEER!

This is Great!

That’s what I text to my siblings when things are going well for the boys during a game:  This is great!  And this is indeed great, considering they’ve won 11 of their last 12 games, topped off by a sweep of the Bay Bridge Series.  Fabulous even!  This is the kind of consistency they will need to maintain over the next few weeks as they play the Brewers and the Rangers next, both of whom have below .500 records to date.  They need to take advantage of these losing teams because they’ve got their work cut out for them come August 6th.  That’s when the fun begins.  They will face in succession the Cubs, Astros, Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates, Cubs again, Cardinals again, and Dodgers.  These are all playoff worthy opponents, so it’s going to be a tough month of work for them.  With the way they’ve been playing, though, I think they can handle it.  Starting pitching has finally come back on track, the bats are on fire, and the bullpen is wicked.  Even Dieter Kurtenbach, KNBR.com’s senior staff writer, thinks that this is the team that can break the odd-year curse.  You can read his story here.  And I’m feeling the same way about “Bochy’s Guys.”  They can do it if they keep this up.

Tim Hudson hit a milestone after his win against his former team today.  He has now gotten a win against all 30 Major League teams.  What a feat!  Congratulations, Tim!

There have been a few roster moves since I last blogged.  Jean Machi who has been struggling of late was designated for assignment to make room for Tim Hudson’s return.  I was kind of surprised by this move as he’s still a solid reliever, but I guess Bochy had a really tough choice to make when deciding who to let go – they’ve all been playing so well.  Machi has not been picked up as of yet, so I’m hoping he’ll end up in Sacramento.  Josh Osich was sent to Sacramento to make room for Jeremy Affeldt who returned from the DL on Wednesday.  We knew this was coming as Osich has options remaining.  But I’m sure that kid will be back.  Nice to hear that Brett Bochy cleared waivers and is back in Sacramento with the River Cats (thanks for the heads up, Kat!).  I’m sure Bruce is happy that his boy is still close to home and remains with his organization.  On a happy note, Nori Aoki is likely to be activated on Monday.  Boy, how I’ve missed that guy!  Not sure who will leave the roster to make room for him yet.  Would guess it might be Justin Maxwell.  Will keep you posted.

The Giants kept things pretty hush hush when Timmy went on the DL, but it appears that his whoas are more than meets the eye.  Boch finally came clean and said that LIncecum had gone to Tennessee to see a hip specialist, receiving cortisone injections in both hips due to some degenerative issues.  I don’t know about you, but this sure scared the bejebus out of me when I first heard it.  Considering this is the last year of his contract and in light of this new info, I don’t see how he can come back either this season or after that.  I feel so bad for the guy.  I hope everything works out for him.  I know so many people that consider him the face of the franchise.  So sad.

The Giants signed free agent shortstop Everth Cabrera to a minor league contract.  He was released by the Orioles in mid-June.  According to Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles, the move is designed to provide infield depth.  But Cabrera has a history of a PED suspension (and his numbers dropped significantly after he was caught, causing his release from the Padres) plus he’s been arrested for domestic violence before, driving while high, and resisting arrest.  Things that make you go hmmmm…  Doesn’t seem like the type of guy to fit into this organization.  We’ll see if he ever makes it up with the big boys.

I always hate it when the benches clear at a baseball game, so I can’t blog without mentioning the event that happened this Tuesday against the Padres.  The pitcher, Dale Thayer, walked Gregor Blanco with one out to load the bases so that he could pitch to Hector Sanchez.  As I knew it would (as this has happened to Hector before), this moved ticked him off and he proceeded to hit a grand slam.  Of course, this made Hector extremely happy (and avenged), so he flipped his bat and took a look at the ball soaring out of sight.  Wouldn’t you?  But Thayer thought this was a no no, so he decided to fling his gum at Hector as he ran to first base.  (Side note – would that have counted as a spit in my count??  After all, oral contents were expelled!)  At that point, Hector, being the professional that he is, did not respond to Thayer’s silly action.  In the ninth, facing another pitcher (Shawn Kelley), Hector grounded out.  As he was making his way back to the dugout, Kelley started chirping at him.  At this point, Hector had had enough and started to approach the mound, clearing the benches, even causing the bullpen to empty onto the field (that always makes me crack up – those guys aren’t anywhere near the action but they just have to get in on it!).  Luckily no punches were thrown, but it’s just all so silly.  Personally, I think Thayer and Kelley were at fault.  I watched it live, and I really didn’t think that either his bat flip or his linger to watch were extreme.  I wondered if my feelings were colored by the fact that I’m a Giants fan, but Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports Hardball Talk also saw it my way.  I would think he’s an impartial source.  You can read his article here, plus watch all the fun and decide for yourself.  One final note on all this silliness – You go, Hector!

Besides the controversy over whether or not Thayer’s gum flinging counted as a spit, I really wish I had done a spit count on that game.  Hector would probably have come out on top.  That boy is obviously chewing tobacco.  He even had the tell-tale circular can in his back pocket.  He was spitting up a storm, and the spits were some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen.  Streaming brown waterfalls.  Plus I didn’t witness any personally, but my brother Nick said Mr. Sanchez launched several snot rockets as well.  Hopefully I’ll get to do a spit count on him before Susac comes back so I can do a comparison – what is it with catchers anyway??

Speaking of spit counts, I have a new one for you:

July 20th

Giants:

  • Hudson 4
  • Lincecum 3
  • Posey 2
  • Pagan 2
  • Bochy 2
  • Belt 1
  • Petit 1
  • Adrianza 1
  • Vogelsong 1

Padres:

  • Upton 8 (mostly seeds)
  • Gyorko 7
  • Norris 4
  • Alonso 4
  • Kotsay 3
  • Upton 3
  • Kemp 2
  • Amarista 1
  • Maurer 1
  • Kimbrel 1
  • ? 1 (someone in the dugout)

Misc.:

  • Fan 1

Game Spit Master General = J. Upton at 8

Giants Game Spit Master General = Hudson at 4

That’s a total of 53 spits during a 3 hour and 15 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.7 minutes.

I can’t remember the last time I logged a fan spit.  Yeck!  Timmy logged spits today and he didn’t even pitch.  Adrianza logged his sole spit while spitting out his gum as he left the field.  That ball field is a veritable minefield of foreign objects!  The surprise today was the lack of spitting from Matt Kemp.  Any time he has been involved in a spit count to date, he has been the Game Spit Master General.  Today he logged only 2 spits.  I did also note that he was chewing gum.  Either this has reduced his saliva expulsion or possibly, seeing as he’s a Padre now, he’s under the influence of the Tony Gwynn legacy and he’s quit chewing smokeless tobacco.  Whatever it is, kudos to you, Matt Kemp!  Thank you for not spitting as much!

I’m planning on going to the game tomorrow with my sis and her family.  That should be a ton of fun.  We’re facing the Brewers who are currently in last place in their division, so I’m hoping we’ll get to see a win.  Plus Chris Heston is pitching so it will definitely be a good show.  Will also keep my ears open for any trades as the trade deadline approaches (July 31st).  After speaking with my brother Paul today, I’m really not expecting any.  My boys rock as they are.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  SPOIL THE BREW!!

Sweeps Are The Best!

Aren’t sweeps wonderful?  And aren’t consecutive sweeps most wonderfulest??  Sorry for the bad grammar, but it expresses how excited I am about my boys’ play lately.  First they swept the Phillies.  Now I know the Phillies suck, but to sweep anyone is an accomplishment.  And Megan and I were in attendance for two of those games, having the most sweetest time (I’m on a roll now).  I had so much fun at that game, and I got to watch my niece run the bases again (and got a See’s Butterscotch sucker again!).  My win/loss record now stands at 3 and 2 for the season.  Next the boys got some rest over the All-Star Break, then proceeded to sweep the D-Backs, the guys who were inching ever closer to us in the standings, threatening to take over second place in the West.  Oh, hell no!  Not with my boys playing the way they have been!  The pitching has been pretty strong, the defense has been sweet (did you see that catch by Maxwell today?), and the batting averages are creeping back up again.  My boys have the highest batting average as a team in the National League.  Can you believe this?  The future for my boys definitely looks most brightest (can’t use enough superlatives!).

During yesterday’s game, did you notice how the roof was leaking at Chase Field?  You would think that since the whole point of a retractable roof is to keep the weather out it would be designed to keep ALL the rain out.  And of all places for it to leak – right onto the pitcher’s mound!  My brother noticed that Josh Osich was looking up right before he pitched a wild pitch.  Wonder if rain dripping on him affected his concentration.  I had never seen anything like that before.  Plus since the game went into extra innings and the bullpen was fresh after coming off of the All-Star Break, Bochy used 10 pitchers throughout the game.  That’s a franchise record.  Crazy!  At least no one got tired!

One sad outcome of yesterday’s game was that Andrew Susac jammed his thumb while sliding into third on a triple.  Gotta watch those face-first slides, Boys!  Thankfully he didn’t break it – it was sprained.  But he was put on the 15-day disabled list today.  We will definitely miss that guy’s power in the lineup.  Hector Sanchez came up today to replace him.  However, since Hector hasn’t been hitting very well this season, you won’t see as much of him in the lineup while he’s up.  Buster will be playing catcher a lot more, especially since Nori Aoki should be back in the lineup soon.  Heal quickly, Andrew!  Maybe you should get in some sliding practice when you get back – that one was pretty sloppy!  And we need you!

There will be some other roster moves made in the near future as well.  Huddy comes back off the DL tomorrow to pitch.  Bochy wouldn’t comment today on whose place he’ll take.  It’s going to be a tough decision as everyone has been playing so extremely well.  Bill Laskey mentioned that he might put Jean Machi on the DL since he hasn’t been pitching as well as usual lately.  Then Jeremy Affeldt should also be coming back soon.  Will he replace Josh Osich?  That kid has been doing so amazingly well.  That will be another tough call.  Nice to have these types of problems though, isn’t it??

I was hoping my boys would have gotten some hits during the All-Star Game, but it didn’t happen.  Brandon Crawford did get an RBI, though.  At least they didn’t embarrass themselves, and at least Crawford and Panik got to play together and Bumgarner and Posey got to work together as battery partners.  Madison represented us well, pitching one inning, allowing only one hit and getting one strikeout.  He didn’t get the chance to show off his prowess with the bat, though.  In his blog, Brandon Crawford mentioned something that I didn’t know about the All-Star Game:  Everyone gets to have their walk-up music played when they come up to bat or to pitch.  Pretty cool!  From everything I read online and all the pictures I saw, it sounds like my boys had a fantastic time in Cincinnati.  Bummed that the National League lost the game.  We won’t have home field advantage during the World Series.  Even The New Yorker newspaper believes that’s the whole reason for the All-Star Game.  Check this out.  And thanks to everyone who sent this cartoon to me.  Love it!  Positive thoughts, positive thoughts.

Speaking of Brandon Crawford, he also mentioned in his blog that he and his wife Jalynne are expecting another little one in January.  Congratulations!  They will have one major dilemma though – the name.  The two girls they have now have names that are combinations of their two names – Braylyn and Jaydyn.  Any suggestions for them, Ginny?  Maybe they could start doing combinations of Giants player names, like Joester or Mattor.  Or just go all out and name the kid Boch.  Boch Crawford.  Kind of has a nice ring to it.

I have two new spit counts for you.  Here you go:

July 11th

Giants:

  • Vogelsong 16
  • Bochy 6 (mostly seeds)
  • Pagan 6
  • Strickland 3
  • Osich 2
  • Peavy 1 (seeds)
  • Duffy 1
  • Posey 1
  • Righetti 1
  • Romo 1

Phillies:

  • Ruiz 7
  • Buchanan 3
  • Galvis 2
  • Franco 1
  • Howard 1
  • Francoeur 1

Game Spit Master General – Vogelsong at 16

That’s a total of 53 spits during a 3 hour and 15 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.7 minutes.

Vogey made his first appearance as the Spit Master General this season, and with a pretty hefty spit count to boot.  So disappointed.  I noticed that he wasn’t chewing gum during this game.  He tends to spit more when he doesn’t.  Opt for the gum, Ryan!  At one point during this game, Jake Peavy and Chris Heston were chewing seeds together in the dugout.  You’ll notice that Jake made the count but Chris didn’t.  This is because instead of spitting out the seeds, Chris would pull them out with his fingers.  Nice manners, Chris!

July 18th

Giants:

  • Susac 11
  • Posey 5
  • Bochy 4
  • Pagan 3
  • Belt 2
  • Meulens 2
  • Strickland 2
  • Machi 2
  • Righetti 1 (seeds)
  • Groeschner 1
  • Decker 1 (seeds)
  • Hudson 1
  • Duffy 1

Diamondbacks:

  • Hernandez 5
  • Anderson 4
  • Collmenter 3
  • Perez 2
  • Inciarte 1
  • Burgos 1
  • The Goldschmidt 1
  • Pollock 1

Game Spit Master General = Susac at 11

That’s a total of 54 spits during a 3 hour and 35 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4 minutes.

No surprise that Susac topped the chart again during this game.  Who knows how high his count would have gone if he hadn’t been pulled from the game in the 4th inning due to his sliding injury.  Buster didn’t come close to maintaining his saliva hurling pace.  One of Brandon Belt’s spits at the plate during this game was epic.  The only way I can explain the amount of fluid that came out of his mouth is that he took a huge drink of water before coming to the plate.  That amount of saliva is not humanly possible.

My boys are on their way to San Diego to start a series against the Padres.  I hope they can get all these games in – the game today down there was postponed due to rain.  And in July!  Hope they can keep the momentum going and that Huddy can benefit from the rest he’s gotten.  Will be watching a cheering.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  KEEP IT UP!!

Pence On (and Over) the Fence

Last night was Social Media Night at AT&T Park.  The special event giveaway was a Pence on the Fence doll, this kooky looking doll with Hunter Pence’s face and surprisingly life-like Pence hair.  What kind of voodoo did they pack into that thing?  The Pence doppelganger unleashed a landslide of hitting from my boys, including some slump busting for a few who had been struggling of late.  Granted the Phillies are by far the worst team in baseball this season, but still.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch the game last night.  When I checked my phone and was greeted by a text from my son asking, “Are you watching the game?” followed by some expletives, I knew something significant was happening.  When I checked on the score, I realized how amazingly significant.  I feel a list coming on – the beneficial effects of the Pence on the Fence voodoo:

  • The guys managed to rack up 22 hits, an all-time record for AT&T Park. This is the same team that got swept by the Marlins last week.
  • Three guys had 4 hit games – Panik, Duffy, and the recently struggling-to-connect Maxwell (who only had 4 hits in his last 40 at bats). That hasn’t happened on a Giants team since 1965 (thanks for the info, Alex Pavlovich).
  • Brandon Belt broke out of his slump, hitting 2 for 3 with 2 walks. Kudos for making the pitcher work.
  • Another recent struggler, Angel Pagan, went 3 for 6, including a double. He hadn’t had an extra-base hit since June 25th.
  • In honor of his mini self, Hunter hit a grand salami. Grand slams are always great.  Voodoo-induced ones are just that much better.
  • Madison joined in on the fun and had 2 hits of his own. It’s always great to see Madison connect.
  • They scored 8 runs in a single inning. But they didn’t stop there, continuing to score until they reached 15 runs.  Way to keep that hitting momentum going!
  • Even though the Phillies suck, the starting pitcher last night doesn’t. Cole Hammels “had” an ERA close to 3 before that game, and he has been eyed by several teams as the trade deadline approaches.  We scored 8 runs off of him.
  • A guy flung himself over a railing into McCovey cove to retrieve Panik’s homerun ball. That voodoo was affecting everyone!

Since this was supposed to be the toughest of the three games for them, I’m really hoping they can come through and sweep their way into the All-Star break.  And I seriously think the Giants marketing department needs to come out with a line of “on the Fence” voodoo doll giveaways.  An “Angel in the Outfield” doll could work, or a “Panik at the Disco” doll with a mini disco ball included.  That Giants voodoo is a powerful thing!

Speaking of Joe Panik, he mentioned in an interview the other day that Brandon Crawford is basically the clubhouse DJ, selecting the music they play in the clubhouse after they win a game.  He said that the type of music he selects varies in style from hip-hop to old school rock.  It was also interesting to hear that when they lose, they don’t play any music.  Must have been jumping in the clubhouse last night.

So happy that Matt Cain had a fantastic game the other night after scaring me in his first start back.  And Jake continues to do well.  They will be so important to us as we make a run at the post-season during the second half.  Plus the more they can pitch, the more of a rest the over-worked relievers can get.

One reliever who continues to wow us is Josh Osich.  What a pleasant surprise this kid has been.  I heard an interview he did on KNBR the other day, and he seems like such a nice kid.  He mentioned that he was only able to pitch one complete season in the minors due to injuries and some major surgeries.  He even revealed to the guys that if he didn’t make it to the majors this season, his plan was to quit and become a park ranger.  Glad that ain’t gonna happen.  For all you ladies out there who think he’s pretty cute, the kid revealed that he is happily married.  He also gave some insight into the types of rules some of the minor league clubs have.  Apparently in the Giants minor league system (along with a lot of other teams, including some major league teams like the Yankees), you aren’t allowed to have any facial hair.  Osich sports a light beard, and on the day his manager called him into his office to inform him of his trip to the bigs, he thought he was going to be reprimanded about his facial hair!

On the topic of facial hair, what is up with Andrew Susac’s attempt at a moustache?  What are you thinking, Kid?  You’re so cute – that thing is awful!  Somebody take a razor to that thing!  And while you’re at it, Andrew, knock it off with the spitting!

Had mixed feelings when I heard that Casey McGehee was picked up off waivers by the Marlins.  Will miss him but glad that he will still be playing baseball, and with his old teammates.  Plus he’ll get to hang out with Michael Morse.  That’s always a good thing.  Good luck, Casey.  Hope you can find that offense again.

Maybe I’m slow, but I learned something new the other day about pitching changes.  I already knew that you can always tell when there is going to be a pitching change because Bochy will go out to the mound.  If a pitcher just needs advice, he’ll usually send out Righetti.  But a Bochy visit pretty much means you’re done.  Typically when Boch approaches the mound, you’ll see him tap one of his arms.  Well, I recently learned that he taps the arm that corresponds to the pitching arm of the pitcher he wants.  For example, he’d tap his left arm if he wanted Javy or his right arm if he wanted George.  He only does it when there are two relievers warming up.  Did you all know that already?  Am I just not very observant?  Plus it’s kind of funny how this became apparent to me.  Remember the game where Boch and Vogey got thrown out by the umpire who didn’t know a strike from a hole in the wall?  Ron Wotus, the bench coach, took over as manager for that game.  When it came time to switch pitchers, he went out and waved his left arm to signal for a new pitcher.  But not only was there only one pitcher warming up at the time, the pitcher was a righty (George)!  Of course the broadcasters had to bring this to everyone’s attention and rib the guy.  Here’s the video of that moment in case you’d like to join in on the Wotus-roasting.

I also have a new spit count for you:

July 6th

Giants:

  • Belt 5
  • Posey 2
  • Duffy 2
  • Bumgarner 2
  • Heston 2
  • Adrianza 1
  • Susac 1
  • Romo 1
  • Casilla 1
  • Pagan 1
  • Maxwell 1

Mets:

  • Niese 6
  • Tejada 3
  • Granderson 2
  • Duda 1
  • Familia 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire 1

Game Spit Master General = Niese at 6

Giants Game Spit Master General = Belt at 5

That’s a total of 33 spits during a 2 hour and 30 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.5 minutes.

Even though Heston pitched during this game, he only logged the two spits in the dugout after he had come out of the game.  Plus Madison logged two spits even though he didn’t pitch today.  I really don’t get that.  I find some relief in the fact that Andrew Susac’s sole spit was logged when he was spitting out sunflower seeds.  However he wasn’t in the game today, either.

My awesome brother Paul has offered me Club Level tickets to Sunday’s game.  Besides the fact that I’ll get to watch my niece run the bases again which I love, I get to watch Chris Heston pitch.  Considering how the Phillies have been playing and how well Heston has been pitching, I seriously think there is some history-making potential right there.  Plus the guy’s got a 4-game hitting streak going, and it’s always fun to see a pitcher help himself out.  Also I know that my buddy Megan is going to the game tonight with her family.  She doesn’t get out to the park much, and I know she is thrilled about being able to see our boys.  Will be looking in center field for all your signs, Megan!  Hope you all have a fabulous time!  Speaking directly to my boys now – enjoy these next two games.  Then get some rest over the All-Star break.  You all sure could use it, especially since the game schedule for August looks pretty challenging.  Come back to us fresh next weekend.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

No More Requests!

It’s over.  Not gonna do it anymore.  No longer will I make requests of my boys to win games.  I think it puts too much pressure on them.  I asked them to take 5 of 6 on the road (pretty ambitious of me), and they ended up getting swept in both series.  So devastating!  It’s all my fault!  Every time I watch a game with my mom and I get frustrated, she reminds me that it’s just a game.  And she’s right.  I have to remember that.  Plus, even though we got swept (that’s so hard to type), there were some positives to that road trip.  You know how fond I am of lists, so let’s make a list of all the positive things going on with my boys right now:

  • Even though they lost all six games, they lost 3 by only 1 run and 2 by only 2 runs. At least they stayed competitive.
  • Duffy, Panik, Blanco, and Posey still have batting averages above .290. Gotta love that.
  • Newcomer relief pitcher Josh Osich pitched in 2 of the Washington games and he was brilliant. He pitched a total of 2 1/3 innings, allowing no runs, no hits, and he walked 2.  He also retired Bryce Harper of the Nationals twice – definitely a feat on its own!  Welcome to the bigs, Josh!
  • Jake Peavy had a fantastic first outing back from the DL on Friday, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 and walking 4. He would have gotten a win if it wasn’t for that one pitch (which resulted in a 2-run homer)!
  • Even though Matt Cain’s return on Thursday wasn’t what we were hoping for, Bochy said he was “encouraged.” He said he looked “comfortable.”  That’s gotta count for something.  Hopefully he’ll improve in his next few starts.
  • The Giants hit 6 homeruns in those 6 games, showing that the power is still there (Buster 3, Crawford 2, and Blanco 1).
  • Hunter will be back soon. He took batting practice with the guys in Washington, and people were commenting that he should be a part of the Home Run Derby!  I like it!
  • There were some amazing defensive plays made, including an amazing dive by Angel and a spectacular catch by Panik in yesterday’s game to rob Nats of hits.

See – it wasn’t that difficult to make a positives list.  And they’ll just have to work out the negatives, including some sloppy baserunning and defense.  I’m sure a lot of those boys are tired as well, and the upcoming All-Star Break will do them a world of good.

In yesterday’s game, the issue of whether umpires should call balls and strikes came up once more as home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi made some “creative” calls that hurt the Giants.  Even the Fox broadcasters had issue with a lot of his calls.  In one at bat, a third strike call was pitched to the exact same spot as an earlier pitch called a ball.  How is a batter supposed to know which pitches to take and which to swing at when that is going on?  Unfortunately for us some tempers flared, and Vogey and Bochy ended up being ejected for taking issue with the calls.  It was the first time Vogey had ever been ejected from a game for arguing with an ump.  Cuzzi has some history with the Giants as well.  According to Andrew Baggarly, Cuzzi blatantly blew a call at the plate in 2010 and called Travis Ishikawa out, causing them to lose a game to the Mets.

So should the job of calling balls and strikes be taken out of the hands of the umpires?  Each ballpark has the technology to be able to see if a pitch is within the strikezone.  You can see this when you watch games on Fox – a box appears over the plate, making it obvious when an umpire gets it wrong.  And they sure do get it wrong a lot.  The annoying thing is that different umpires have different strike zones.  Kruk will usually mention at the start of a game what the home plate umpire’s strike zone is – whether he calls high or low strikes, and how wide of a strike zone he has.  Kruk also mentioned that in general, umpires have evolved a lower strike zone, calling balls that are almost impossible to hit strikes.  With all the comments about the lack of offense in baseball, you would think it would be better to do away with this problem.  I heard Bob Fitzgerald of KNBR ranting about this today, saying that the strike zone is the strike zone and it’s not up to interpretation, especially when the technology to solve the problem is right there.  I once posed this question to Ray Ratto during an online chat, and he disagreed with using the technology, saying that it’s not a game of robots.  For myself, being a baseball purist, I want a strike to be called a strike.  I like the technology, and I think it’s time has come.  Some ideas for how this could work include a wristband that the ump could wear alerting him to whether a pitch was a strike or ball, or a KNBR listener suggested today that the ump could wear goggles with heads-up technology.  What do you think?

My cousin Manny made a comment about my earlier blog regarding the neighborhood play – how a second baseman can technically not touch the bag and a runner would still be forced out.  I said I don’t like the play, and he responded, “Tell that to Marco Scutaro.”  You’ll recall that during game 2 of the 2012 NLCS (which I just happen to have attended), Matt Holliday slid hard into Marco Scutaro at second base in an attempt at disrupting a double play.  Holliday slid so hard, in fact, that he went past the bag.  In fact really, he started the slide AFTER the bag.  Here’s the MLB rule that governs this play (rule 7.09e):  If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead.  The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate.  In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.”  For me, this one’s pretty obvious – Holliday should have been out, the batter should have been out, and Holliday should have been fined up the wazoo.  He slid into Scutaro, not into the bag.  And if you watch the video here, it’s interesting to hear the take of either team’s announcers on the play.  How can you say that was a fair slide??  Scutaro did get hurt on the play, but he was able to continue in the game, eventually hitting the game winner.  Ha ha!  In this case, the neighborhood play wasn’t used – Scutaro tagged the bag.  But the injury came from an illegal move.  That’s where I think the impetus needs to be put, not on the second baseman.  Fine guys heavily so they stop doing this.  It would be interesting to hear what Scutaro would have to say about the whole thing.  At the time, he was quoted as saying, “Uhh… after I saw the replay… you know… that guy always plays hard.  I think he just kind of slid a little bit late. But I guess he wasn’t trying to do that. He was coming full speed. But to be honest, I’m just happy that nothing real bad happened…”  Then later he said if Holliday tried to apologize he would “kick his ass!”  Ah, Marco!  I miss you so much!  Thanks for the comment, Manny.

Lots of movement on the roster lately.  Right handed reliever Mike Broadway was recalled from the River Cats at the end of June but optioned back on July 3rd.  Casey McGehee was DFA’d (again) and replaced with Ehire Adrianza.  Adrianza’s already gotten some playing time, pinch hitting in two games and starting in yesterday’s game.  As expected, Timmy was placed on the DL to make room for Matt and Tim Hudson was placed on the DL to make room for Jake.  Sad to hear that Brett Bochy was DFA’d – that must have been a tough one for Boch.  Also Travis Ishikawa was DFA’d and picked up by the Pirates.  Hope he does well there – love that guy.  We’ll miss you.  Reliever Josh Osich came up from the River Cats as well as right fielder Ryan Lollis.  I remember Lollis from Spring Training – every time he would come up to bat, we would sing the “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here” song from Schoolhouse Rock.  It will be interesting to see if any trades are made in the next few weeks.  Will keep you posted.

Here’s a fun video of a new Buster Posey commercial.  Seriously, the guy can act!  What a great job he does!  I love it!  So funny!  “Honey, you’re embarrassing me in front of Buster Posey!”  And congrats to Buster on being named the starting catcher for the National League All-Star Team.  Sweet!  And this just in:  Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Madison Bumgarner have all also been named to the All-Star Team.  So well deserved by everyone.  And I voted for all of them!

I have a new spit count for you.  Andrew Susac seriously needs an intervention:

July 5th

Giants:

  • Susac 41 (there are no words)
  • Pagan 5
  • Meulens 2 (seeds)
  • Strickland 2
  • Bumgarner 1 (wasn’t even playing)
  • Posey 1
  • Vogelsong 1
  • Bochy 1
  • Affeldt 1
  • Decker 1
  • Belt 1

Nationals:

  • Williams 7 (mostly seeds)
  • ? 7 (some player in the dugout)
  • Harper 5
  • Desmond 3
  • Ramos 3
  • Espinosa 2
  • Escobar 2
  • Fister 1
  • Scherzer 1 (seeds)
  • Span 1
  • Thornton 1

Misc.:

  • Nationals Bat Boy 1 (seeds)

Game Spit Master General = Susac at 41 (new season high)

That’s a total of 91 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 2 minutes (new season high).

Susac takes over the record for most spits in a single game this season, surpassing Tuffy Gosewisch’s previous high of 32.  He’s definitely on his way to earning that certificate.  The interesting thing is that I don’t think the guy is chewing tobacco – he is obviously chewing gum.  So why all the spitting??  Just a nervous habit?  Bochy seriously needs to get a spit intervention group together.  Batting coach Steve Decker logged his first spit of the season during this game.  Great.

We start the series against the Mets tonight.  No more requests for my boys – just hoping we can win some to get out of this slump.  Hope the boys are happy to be back home out of that crazy heat.  Maybe that will do them some good.  The Dodgers are still within our grasp.  GO GIANTS!!  SNAP THE SKID!!

KRUK AND KUIP ANSWERED MY QUESTION!

I was performing my usual morning routine of scrolling through Facebook postings the other day, and I noticed that the Giants were asking for questions for Kruk and Kuip.  They mentioned that some of the questions would be asked of the guys during the broadcast that day.  Never wanting to pass up on an opportunity to interact with anyone associated with my favorite team, I came up with a question and posted it:  “What was the most memorable moment of your career for each of you?”  I thought it would be interesting to get some insight into their playing careers since they are so good at what they do we often forget that they did actually play the game at one time.  I was bummed because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to see the game that afternoon, so I would never know if they answered or not and if they did, what their answers were.

While I was at lunch with some friends, I got an email from a former coworker telling me that she saw my question during the game and just wanted to send a note and let me know she was thinking about me.  Then I got a text from my brother with a screen shot he took during the game with my name and the question.  KRUK AND KUIP ANSWERED MY QUESTION!!  And thankfully, my brother was taping the game so I was able to see what their responses were (he’s so awesome that he actually recorded it for me using his phone and sent it to me so that I could see it right away!!).  Thanks to both Andrea and Nick for letting me know, otherwise I would have been clueless about the whole thing!

Kruk answered that his most memorable moment was when he pitched in game 4 of the playoffs against the Cardinals in 1987(he was on the Giants at that time).  They were behind in the series 2 games to 1, and they ended up winning 4 to 2.  I did some research, and that was the only post-season game he pitched in.  What a fabulous game it was for him – he pitched the entire 9 innings, allowed 2 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk.  No wonder it was memorable!

Kuip mentioned that his most memorable moment came during his first Opening Day in Cleveland.  He said there were close to 80,000 in attendance that day, and he commented, “I don’t remember taking a breath.”  Hard to imagine “Smooth” being nervous about anything.  Kruk chimed in and asked him about when he played second base during Dennis Eckersley’s no hitter and Len Barker’s perfect game.  Kuip replied, “Yeah, that was cool.”  Beautiful.  Thanks for answering my question, Guys!

So how about our boys?  Haven’t they been playing so well lately, even with the injuries they’ve had to endure?  Major kudos to Matt Duffy for stepping up and really strutting his stuff.  They had a side-by-side comparison of Matt vs. Pablo the other day after the game, and Matt has actually done better so far this season.  Remember during the off-season how concerned we were about who would replace Pablo?  Those days are gone and forgotten!  It’s kind of like Joe Panik last year, coming in and claiming the second base role.  Joe’s been having an amazing season as well.  And Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey have been on fire lately, adding to the increased offense we’ve seen in the last two series (which we took, by the way!!).  And Madison couldn’t be outdone on the offensive side, so he had to go and get a homerun yesterday!

The only concerns are the weakened outfield due to Hunter and Nori being out and the questionable lineup with Matt and Jake coming back.  We’ll get our first run through of the new lineup this week, with Matt scheduled to pitch on Thursday in Miami and Jake Friday in Washington.  I have to admit I’m kind of scared about this.  Matt’s coming back after a strained flexor tendon, so really he’s an unknown.  At least he did fairly well in his rehab starts.  Jake, on the other hand, was rather scary in his last rehab start, giving up 5 runs in the first inning.  And this was against a AAA team!  He’s coming back from a back injury and he’s not a spring chicken anymore at 34, so who knows if he’ll have a flare up.  I’m assuming that on Thursday Timmy will go on the DL due to his arm injury (that helped him save face since he probably would have been replaced anyway) and then Huddy will be put on the DL to give him some rest.  We’ll see.  The fingers are already crossed.  It sounds like Bochy will continue with the outfield bandage of Susac behind the dish, Buster at first, and Brandon Belt in left until our outfielders get back.  Susac’s bat has been another ray of sunshine in all of this.  I just hope Brandon can handle the defense in left – it would be tragic if teams start taking advantage of that weakness (and it’s not poor Brandon’s fault).

The guys begin a series in Miami tomorrow, then one in Washington.  They listened to me last time and took both series, so I’m going to make a plea again.  Since the Marlins haven’t been so hot lately, and since their star Giancarlo Stanton is out with an injury, I’m asking for a sweep in Miami.  I really think the boys are playing well enough that they can do it.  Just hope the heat and humidity don’t get to them.  The Nationals are another story, so I’m hoping we can take the series.  I know it’s a big order, but do it for Nori and Hunter – they deserve it.  Not to mention us fans!  Still one game behind the Dodgers in the West.  Hoping we can take over the lead by the time I blog again.  Come on boys!  You can do it!  GO GIANTS!!  WIN SOME FOR US!!

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, Right?

Oh, well – at least we took the series against the Dodgers, right?  Guess I got a little cocky there.  I did figure out the reason behind the failure to sweep in the end though – it was the nationally televised game jinx.  I should have figured that in to my calculations.  For some reason, my boys tend to lose games that are on national television (except for post season games, of course).  In fact the last time they played the Dodgers and one of the games in the series was televised, that also was the only game of the series they lost.  Does the pressure get to them?  They should grab that spotlight when they can.

We’re still only one game behind the boys from down south, though.  I was hoping they could have pulled it off last night to at least tie, but even with Madison’s spectacular performance, logging 14 strikeouts, the offense just couldn’t get it together.  We’ve still got a chance to get to the top again with two more against the Pads and three against the Rockies.  They both haven’t been so hot this season, and we need to try and take advantage of that.  Want our banner back at the top in AT&T soon!  I was actually wondering about something regarding those banners:  What do they do if two teams are in a tie?  Who wins out and gets to be on top?  I would hope that if we are in a tie with the Dodgers, we would be on top.  It’s only fair, right?  It’s our home.  I’ll have to do some research on this once we tie and then beat the Dodgers!  Positive thoughts!

I’m so bummed about the fact that Nori Aoki has a fractured right fibula and will probably be out for at least a month.  That guy sure can get things going at the top of the lineup.  Wishing him a super speedy recovery.  Travis Ishikawa will be filling in for him (his contract was purchased from Triple A today).  So at least there’s something positive that came from that.  Welcome back, Travis!  I missed you!  Glad you’ll be making more moola this season!  Hunter is still ailing with tendonitis in his left wrist.  It’s so weird how the guy played in every game the last two seasons but now he’s been out more than he’s been in this season.  You just never know.  Heal quickly, Kid.  We need your energy and punch back in the lineup!  Jean Machi is back off the DL, replacing Mike Broadway who went back down to the River Cats.  What a great baseball name – Broadway.  A guy who was destined for greatness!  Pretty good showing while he was up with the bigs.  He’ll probably be back at some point during the season.  He seemed to come out of nowhere – I hadn’t heard anything about him before he showed up.  Also Matt Cain and Jake Peavy should be making their return within the next week or so, so that lineup will get a shakeup soon.  Wonder who will be going to the bullpen – I would guess it will likely be Timmy and Ryan, but maybe they’ll put Tim Hudson on the DL to get some rest.  We’ll see soon enough.

I was so disappointed last Sunday while watching a game, and it had to do with spitting.  My boy Hunter Pence, a guy who’s earned a Thank You For Not Spitting certificate in a previous season, was shown expectorating at least three times in the dugout.  These spits were no ordinary spits – they were doosies.  I wasn’t doing an official spit count at the time, but the boy is officially off my thank you list.  Blech.  Clean up the act, Kid.  We’re watching and we’re not amused.  I was amused by the fact that Hunter is now using the Lion King’s “Circle of Life” as his walk-up music.  Thought I was hearing things one day at a game.  Still doesn’t make up for the spitting, though.

I’m sure everyone by now has heard the news about Pete Rose and how it was finally confirmed that he indeed was gambling on baseball while he was a player, not just as a manager like he claimed.  He’s been trying to make a comeback and get in the better graces of the powers that be in baseball, but he’s finally officially been caught in the lie.  Pretty pathetic.  I hope he’s gotten some help with his problem, but I don’t think there’s any place for him in baseball today.  Just my opinion.

Sending my deepest condolences to the family of former Giants player Darryl Hamilton.  He was the victim of a murder suicide.  The extra tragic complication is that his 14-month-old son was discovered in the house where the murder occurred.  Keeping the little one in my thoughts as well.  According to his friends in baseball (including Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper), Hamilton was a pretty great guy who always had a smile on his face.  At the time of his death, he was employed as a network analyst.for MLB Network.  Rest in peace.

I recently learned about a play in baseball from watching a game, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it because it totally ticks me off, but I hadn’t had the time to research it.  That time has finally come.  The play is called the neighborhood play, and it became important in the May 30th game vs. the Braves.  Joe Panik was running to second base from first after the batter had hit the ball, the Braves second baseman Jace Peterson got the ball right before Panik got there, then threw as quickly as he could to make the double play.  Nothing suspect there, right?  No, except for the fact that Peterson NEVER TOUCHED THE BAG!  And because of this silly neighborhood play, the play could not be challenged.  Insanity!  In the replay, it was obvious to anyone that he was a few inches away from the bag.

So what is the neighborhood play, and why is it in use?  It occurs in a double play situation.  Basically, the defender at second base can either a) catch the ball close to second base and throw to first or, b) tag the base and then catch the ball without being in contact with the base and then throw to first.  In either case the guy running to second is out, and the play cannot be challenged.  The only challenge that can be made is if the fielder was pulled off the base by an errant throw of if the catch itself is in doubt.  Why this insanity of calling a guy out when the fielder wasn’t touching the bag?  Primarily for safety’s sake.  Guys running full on from first to second like to barrel in to the second baseman while he’s trying to make the play, putting him at risk for severe injury.  In this way he can get out of the way of danger if it was deemed he could have easily made the play anyway.

What do I think about this whole thing?  It stinks!  It’s just not right to call a guy out when he’s not.  Either tag the base, or if it’s not safe, don’t make the double play.  Or even better – heavily fine guys that obviously run at the player and not the base.  I mean heavy – make it hurt.  That would solve the problem and keep the game intact.  What do you all think?  I know that during the telecast of that game, the broadcasters agreed with me.

Hoping the guys can come back tonight behind Vogey and get some offense going, then take the momentum through the weekend.  We’ve got to take these next two series since we’re playing much weaker teams.  I know it’s going to be tough without “Seaweed” and Hunter, but we can do it.  Maybe the guys just need a Pence on the Fence for motivation (Seriously, have you seen this commercial?  Pretty darn creepy!).  And maybe the Dodgers will help us out some by continuing to lose (just had to add that in).  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  GET BACK ON TOP!!

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