My Boys are Looking Good! Can You Say SWEEP??

I had withdrawals today since the Rockies game was rained out, so I’ve decided to relive the joy that was a Dodger’s sweep.  Wasn’t that amazing???  Did any of you predict that?  I sure didn’t.  But there’s just something about that rivalry that brings out the best in the boys.  And since that series, I’ve decided that this team does have what it takes to make it this season, especially since they’ve shown they can do it even without Hunter.  Just think what they’ll be like when he comes back!  I’m loving the top of the lineup with Aoki, Panik, and Pagan.  And I don’t have that yucky feeling at the bottom of the lineup anymore that they can’t get a hit and keep the line moving (well, maybe with McGehee, but I’m confident he’ll figure things out).  Lots of potential.  Plus Maxwell has been amazing!  What a nice surprise he’s been.  Hoping his hitting prowess can continue through the season.  Bochy said he’s going to have some hard choices to make once Hunter comes back.  And the pitching seems to be coming together as well – much better starts from the guys recently.

Thanks to my amazing brother Paul and my tutoring coworker who covered for me last minute, I was able to attend the Dodgers game last Wednesday night with my brother Nick.  Yes – the Bumgarner/Kershaw duel.  And it was Club Level seats to boot!  What a great game – my first of the season.  Probably one of the best games I’ve seen at AT&T, and we won!  It was so great to see my boys battling and keeping the line moving.  That 2 run homer by Guerroro to tie it up was definitely ulcer-inducing.  Seems those boys can’t win a game without making it “exciting.”

I had some interesting experiences during this game.  First off, before the game, we were walking around the Club Level and I saw someone I recognized.  It was Chris Gargano, Senior Director of SFG Productions and Entertainment.  I recognized him because he does the G-cast interviews with all the players during Spring Training.  Here’s one of him with Timmy (when Timmy still had hair).  I told him I knew him, and he looked like he was trying to figure out who I was.  I then said that I recognized him from the G-cast videos, and his face lit up.  I think he was surprised that someone recognized him.  I was surprised at how short he was – he is always sitting down in the interviews.  But he has beautiful eyes and he was very friendly and spoke with me for a while, then he said, “Thanks for making my day, and I really needed it!”  Aw!  Sounded like he had had a rough day, so I asked if he needed a hug and we hugged and then he went off to do his thing.  I think during the games he works with Renel.  Nice encounter!

Then we went to our seats and were sitting next to these two guys.  We started talking to them and they were very friendly.  At one point during the game, I was booing the Dodgers, and one of the guys said, “You’re killing me!” to me.  I was confused and asked him what was up, and he said, “You’re booing my guys!”  He was a Dodgers fan!  I asked how he could be a Dodgers fan while wearing a Giants beanie, and he said because his head was cold (he got the cap from his wife who’s a Giants fan).  He also said he was wearing his Dodger blue under his jacket so he wouldn’t get killed.  I told him Giants fans aren’t that bad.  Anyway, in about the 6th inning, he and his friend got up to leave their seats and he asked me if it was OK if he left his blanket on the seat.  I said, “It’s your seat – you can do what you want!  But I’ll watch your stuff for you while you’re gone.”  They left and came back a couple of innings later, and he put two Giants scarves on my lap and said, “Thanks for watching my stuff.”  WHAT??  I hadn’t even realized that he had left his backpack behind.  The scarves are totally cool!  What a nice guy!  We thanked him 10 million times over, and then they left.  So great!  I’ll remember that game every time I wear that thing.  Take home lesson – Dodgers fans ain’t so bad!

There were two plays during that game that were controversial, and since a big part of this blog is about learning how the game is played, I figured I would do some research and share the knowledge.  First off, Aoki almost got tagged running back to first base, and the Dodgers said he had run out of the baseline to get back.  What is the official rule on this?  According to rule 7.08a “Any runner is out when he runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball.  A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely.”  So the line is not a straight line from base to base like you would think, but a line from where the tag attempt was made to the base.  According to this rule, I don’t think Aoki was out (he didn’t seem to run that far out of his original path), and he was called safe by the umpire.  Here’s the play – you decide.  Don Mattingly sure didn’t like it.

Also during this game, there was some controversy over coach interference.  Here’s the video for this one.  Blanco was rounding third, and third base coach Roberto Kelly wanted him to stop, but Blanco ran into him.  Don Mattingly again came out of the dugout and was complaining that this was interference and Blanco should be out.  What’s the rule governing this one?  Rule 7.09g states “It is interference by a batter or a runner when in the judgment of the umpire, the base coach at third base, or first base, by touching or holding the runner, physically assists him in returning to or leaving third base or first base.”  The penalty is that the runner is out and the ball is dead.  Again, the umpire ruled Blanco safe.  Kelly did stop Blanco, but Gregor was obviously already slowing down, and even if he didn’t stop him he would have gotten back to the base safely.  The funny thing was when this all happened, all of us watching the game in person had no clue what was going on, and everyone was calling Mattingly a baby.  He does have a reputation for whining a lot, and Dodgers games are some of the longest in the league.  So ha ha on both counts, Dodgers!  And now your baseball knowledge has been expanded!

I enjoyed watching the Rockies games Friday and Saturday, but I heard Dave Fleming make an interesting comment on KNBR about Coors Field, the Rockies home field.  He said that the baseball they play there is not real baseball, referring to the fact that the ball is so affected by the altitude that everything about the game is different there.  I started thinking about the ramifications of this, and they are numerous.  Since all the Rockies play half the games of the season in that stadium, the batters all have inflated batting averages (the ball travels a lot further at altitude), and all the pitchers have higher ERAs because of it.  Isn’t that crazy?  Dave also mentioned that the fans are some of the most loyal because there aren’t any other major league teams anywhere near there, and some people travel over a hundred miles to get to the games.  Kind of sad.  Those folks don’t get to watch “real” baseball.  Also must be really hard for the Rockies to attract good pitchers.

Did anyone else feel really sad for Justin Maxwell yesterday when he hit that home run?  It hit a small fence in the outfield above the yellow line that marks the homerun limit, making it look like it hit off the wall.  Poor Justin was doing his victory lap, but the umpire stopped him before he reached home saying he was out.  Poor guy!  It was appealed and shown to be a true home run, but Justin got gypped out of his home run glory strut!  The guys in the dugout did all slap him around when the ruling came down.

Also during that game I had a sad Andrew Susac revelation.  He had just hit a home run, so the cameras were all on him in the dugout.  As he was getting his catching gear on, he obviously put a pinch of chewing tobacco in his mouth.  NOOOOO!!  I’m going to have to talk to that boy (or maybe I can get Gregor, the non-spitter, to).

And what is it with the Rockies mascot?  Does anyone else hate him?  He is so annoying!  While the Giants were pitching, he would sit right behind home plate with only his goofy head showing so that the pitchers couldn’t help but gaze upon his goofiness.  How distracting for them!  Isn’t there some rule about mascots distracting the pitcher?  If I ever make it to Coors Field, I’m gonna punch his lights out!  Don’t mess with my boys!

Had to share this video with you.  It’s a pitcher getting creative to make a play.  Here you go.  The ball got caught in the pitcher’s glove, so he threw the entire glove to first base to make the out.  Quick thinking, Lester!  I love this game!

I recently sent out my spit certificates – the four that went to non-spitters Gregor Blanco, Michael Morse, Matt Cain, and Joe Panik.  Spit Master General Tyler Colvin won’t be getting his until he settles somewhere – he is currently a free agent and not connected to any team, so I don’t have an address for him.  I wonder if this will be the first year I’ll get some sort of response.  Still haven’t heard from anyone.  Will keep hoping.  Also, I realized that my blog made MLB.com Blogs Central Top 50 list for websites by fans last October.  Here’s a link to the page where I’m recognized.  I noticed that someone got to my blog through this site, and lo and behold, there was Giants Fan Carm listed at #28!  WOOHOO!  For some reason, I got a lot of traffic to the blog that month.  Wonder what was happening last October that I was blogging about??  Hmmm…..

I’ve got a new spit count that I’ll post later this week.  Until then, looking forward to my boys taking on the Dodgers again, this time on their turf.  Hopefully the extra rest they got today will serve them well against their dreaded rival.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  SWEEP LA – AGAIN!!

We Snapped THEIR Streak!

Couldn’t go to bed without blogging about how well my boys did tonight against their number one rival.  Guess that off day after two straight weeks of play did them some good!  So many wonderful things happened tonight.  I was in heaven watching – it was like the post-season last year!  And they did it against the Dodgers, snapping their 7-game winning streak.  Life is beautiful!  Since I enjoy lists, gonna make a list of just some of the wonderful things that happened in this game:

– There were 4 double plays made in this game.  One involved a great catch by Buster.  One involved an amazing glove toss by Brandon Crawford to Joe Panik to Buster.  Spectacular!

– Justin Maxwell made a beautiful catch of Yasiel Puig’s foul fly ball, crashing into the concrete at the bottom of the wall knee first.  Even Puig applauded.

– Justin Maxwell also hit a homerun, and this was after he had hit the wall.  I think that guy is going places.

– Timmy pitched a great game.  That’s always something to cheer for.

– They played small ball again tonight.  They kept moving the line along, and that’s what this team needs to do to win.  Six guys got two hits each.

– They got 6 runs tonight.  6 in one game.  They only had 21 in the previous 11 games.

– THEY ENDED THE DODGERS’ 7-GAME WINNING STREAK!!!!  SWEETEST OF ALL!!!

Going to head off to bed now so I can dream my sweet Giants dreams.  Tomorrow it’s Bumgarner against Kershaw.  Should be a good one.  Hope a fire has been lit.  They always seem to do better when they have a challenge.  I’m so happy, and so proud of my boys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  BEAT LA!

So Much For Momentum

Explain this one to me:  How do both teams earn the same number of hits (8) in today’s Diamondbacks game, yet there’s a 4 run differential?  Why can’t our guys get their buds in? WHY??  It’s always the same story.  So frustrating.  Well, at least they have their first day off of the season tomorrow, so they can get some rest and regroup.  They’re going to need it for the Dodgers.  Don’t forget to wear those rings, Kuip – we’ll need all the help we can get.

And on a positive note (always looking for the positive note), Brandon Belt got a couple more hits today, raising his batting average to …. Wait, still below the Mendoza line.  *Sigh*  But the other Brandon got two hits today, raising his batting average to…Wait, EXACTLY the Mendoza line (.200).  Yikes!  But they’re on the upswing, right??  At least my boy George Kontos is a ray of sunshine in the darkness – he didn’t give up any hits in 2 innings today, AND I was shocked to see that his current ERA is 0.84!  Way to make me feel better, Kid!

You know what?  I just realized that I totally dropped the ball during this series.  I forgot to punch my snake!  It’s all my fault!  Oh the shame!

Let’s change the subject and move on to my first spit count of the season.  At first, I was thinking, “When are they going to start spitting?” but of course, the boys didn’t disappoint on that front.  Here you go:

April 18th

Giants:

  • Susac 3
  • Blanco 3 (all seeds – whew!)
  • Casilla 3
  • McGehee 2
  • ? 2 (someone in the dugout off camera)
  • Bochy 1
  • Meulens 1
  • Pagan 1
  • Kelly 1
  • Peavy 1 (seeds)
  • Posey 1
  • Heston 1
  • Righetti 1

Diamondbacks:

  • Gosewisch 32 (!!!!!!!)
  • De La Rosa 1
  • Lamb 1

Game Spit Master General = Gosewisch at 32

Giants Game Spit Master General = Susac, Blanco, and Casilla at 3

That’s a total of 55 spits during a 2 hour and 40 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 2.9 minutes.

Sheesh!  If it wasn’t for Tuffy Gosewisch (yes, that’s the nickname he uses), this would have been a low-spitting game over all.  But Tuffy had to go blow it and spit more than any single player did all of last season.  Way to go, Tuffy!  NOT!  Granted Tuffy is a catcher and the camera is on him a lot, but seriously?  He spat after almost every single pitch.  I was disappointed that my boy Gregor made the list today, but at least it was sunflower seeds.  Still spitting and yucky, though.  And I was so excited about newbie Chris Heston when he walked to the dugout after pitching his 7 2/3 innings spit-free, then he went and blew it by being caught in the dugout in the 9th inning.  So disappointed.  There was also a touching moment during the game when Bochy and Susac shared a spit side by side in the dugout.  Quality bonding time.

So it’s on to the Dodgers on Tuesday.  We’ll see if the rest does them good.  I sure hope so.  I didn’t realize how much I missed Tony Bennett’s voice until yesterday.  Will be sending positive vibes and being sure not to wear any speck of blue in support.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  BEAT LA!  BEAT LA! BEAT LA!

The Rings Helped Snap the Streak!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but the win tonight has definitely motivated me!  Guess getting those rings today reminded the guys of the potential they have.  Bochy mentioned that it was nice to see the guys’ teeth again today after that 8-game losing streak.  I have to admit, I was getting teary during the ring ceremony today.  I kept thinking about my dad and how he would have enjoyed it.  So happy for my boys.  The Giants do such a great job with their ceremonies.  And that ring – talk about bling!

So let’s start with the official Giants 40-man roster.  I’ll post the original one and note the changes (already have several injuries to deal with):

Pitchers:

Jeremy Affeldt

Ray Black*

Brett Bochy*

Madison Bumgarner

Matt Cain (15-day DL)

Santiago Casilla

Eric Cordier (15-day DL)

Joan Gregorio*

Cody Hall

Chris Heston

Tim Hudson

George Kontos

Derek Law*

Tim Lincecum

Javier Lopez

Jean Machi

Jake Peavy (15-day DL)

Yusmeiro Petit

Sergio Romo

Hunter Strickland*

Ryan Vogelsong

Catchers:

Buster Posey

Hector Sanchez

Andrew Susac

Infielders:

Joaquin Arias

Brandon Belt

Brandon Crawford

Matt Duffy

Adam Duvall*

Travis Ishikawa (15-day DL)

Casey McGehee

Joe Panik

Outfielders:

Nori Aoki

Gregor Blanco

Daniel Carbonell*

Justin Maxwell

Angel Pagan

Jarrett Parker*

Hunter Pence (15-day DL)

Juan Perez*

*=Not on active roster

Already we’ve got two of our starters on the DL, but thankfully Chris Heston has filled in nicely.  Heston’s wearing my favorite number, 53.  Hope it brings him luck (and washes away the sour Melky memories – he wore that same number).  Otherwise the starting pitching has been kind of scary of late.  Those boys need to get their act together, and quickly!  Andrew Susac came up today to replace Jake Peavy.  Was worried that my boy George Kontos wasn’t going to make the team (he was in a battle with Jean Machi), but both were kept because the Giants have very few days off at the beginning of the season, so they carried an extra reliever to help out the starters.  Also Gary Brown was designated for assignment – his bat just hadn’t matched his defensive play in the bigs.  He was picked up by Cardinals and is currently on their 40-man roster.  Maybe he’ll be able to improve his offense with them.  Good luck, Gary!

At first it was looking like the boys were playing small ball well, especially at the top of the lineup, but that sure did go sour.  Panik had been struggling, but he seemed OK today, so that’s hopeful.  Nori and Angel have sure started off the year hot, currently hitting .327 and .340 respectively.  But the Brandons and Casey have been cold.  I’m hoping that when Hunter comes back (which is expected to be in the next couple of weeks), things will liven up a bit and the bats will magically awaken.  I do enjoy watching Aoki’s at bats, though.  And the way he throws his bat at the ball.  And have you noticed how Casey bounces his front foot up and down while he bats?

Also did you notice Timmy’s haircut today?  Check it out.  I have to agree with Bochy – downright weird-looking.  He ruined the cute.

I have a bunch of random things to share since it’s been a while.  Since spit is a big part of this blog, the first has to do with that.  Apparently a lawmaker in California is trying to outlaw all tobacco products, including chewing tobacco, at games in California.  That would be wonderful, but personally I don’t think it will go anywhere.  It was interesting to hear on KNBR that Mike Krukow is actually for the ban.  He’d like it to be banned all together in baseball.  Go Kruk!  It will be interesting to see if others in baseball will come out in support of it, especially after the death of Tony Gwynn last year due to salivary gland cancer.

On a funny note, during a recent game I was watching, my hubby came into the room and asked me who was pitching.  I said Ryan Vogelsong.  The funny thing is, even though he’s not a huge baseball fan, he knows who Ryan Vogelsong is.  He just didn’t recognize him due to the mountain man beard he’s been sporting.  I am not a fan of said beard.  He’s cute without it.  Don’t cover up the cute.

Here’s something I learned that you might find interesting.  In Brandon Crawford’s blog, he gave some insight into what it’s like to get used to a new third baseman, namely Casey McGehee.  McGehee asked him if he could give him a heads up on breaking balls (Crawford can see the catcher’s signs from his position in center field, but McGehee can’t).  Crawford said he makes a little noise to alert McGehee, and he used to do the same for Pablo.  He said he thinks it helps him position himself.  There’s so much behind-the-scenes strategy stuff that goes on – I love learning about it.  And Brandon didn’t say what exactly the sound is.  It would have to be loud enough for Casey to hear but not the players on the other team.  Maybe a little whistle?  Or a click?  Maybe he doesn’t want us knowing all his secrets.

Another bit of strategy I learned about deals with when you add a guy to your roster.  Cubs prospect Kris Bryant had an amazing spring, hitting .425 and launching 9 homers, the most for any player in either the Cactus or Grapefruit Leagues.  How could the Cubs not add this guy to their starting day roster?  Well, they didn’t.  But they did add him to the roster recently.  This delay actually does make sense.  Due to a controversial rule in the collective bargaining agreement, if a player plays in the majors for 172 out of the 183 total days of the season, it counts as a full year.  By holding him back, they will have control over him for an extra year before he becomes a free agent (players become free agents after 6 years).  So essentially they’ll have him for almost 7 years.  Sneaky.

Did you hear that the A’s have a dual-handed pitcher in their minor league system?  His name is Pat Venditte.  I always wondered why more guys didn’t try this – what an advantage he has!  He’s the first ambidextrous pitcher to play baseball in over 100 years!  He played for the A’s during Spring Training.  One aspect of this that hadn’t occurred to me is that he has to use an ambidextrous glove!  Depending on which side he’s pitching from, he’s got to switch the glove to the other hand.  So weird!  He has to declare which side he is pitching from before he pitches to each batter (switch hitters have a chance to switch after he declares).  Check out this video of him in action (and check out the mitt!).  Does sound like his dad may have pushed him a bit much when he was a little kid, wanting him to succeed where he hadn’t.  But the kid seems pretty happy now.  He’s currently playing for the Nashville Sounds, the A’s triple A affiliate, and coincidentally the team that Barry Zito has landed on.  Would love to see that guy in the big leagues some day.

I’ve got a video to share with you.  Here’s one of Hunter’s Hitters youth baseball camp.  It totally cracked me up.  That guy is so kooky!  I also wanted to share Buster’s interview on CBS regarding his winning the Face of MLB award, but it’s not there anymore.  WHY????  It was great!  My favorite part was the goofy faces Buster made at his son when he started acting up.  I got to learn a little more about him from it, too, including the fact that he met his wife in high school studying for the SAT (he mentioned that he scored higher than her), they live on the old turkey farm he grew up on, his daughter walks around the house saying, “Ay, que lindo!” (a quote from the telenovela commercial he did with Sergio Romo last year), and he corrects his wife’s grammar.  Love that boy!  Wish I could find that video!  If anyone out there can, please let me know and I’ll share it.

I had a fantastic time at Spring Training with my siblings.  We were there for 4 glorious days and saw 5 games.  Yes.  And it was fabulous.  I got autographs from Casey McGehee, Kruk, Kuip, Jon Miller, Hensley Meulens, and a bunch of the kids, plus I took a picture with Hunter Strickland.  We only won one of the games, but it was great to hang out with my siblings and be silly and see my boys again, up close and personal.  And I can now say that I’ve been to Talking Stick.  And it was hot.  Extremely hot.  Not as hot as last year, but hot.  We also found a couple of new, marvelous eating establishments, and somehow I didn’t gain any weight.  Probably because of all the walking and sweating because it was REALLY HOT.  Can’t wait to go again next year.

The boys have one last game against the Diamondbacks tomorrow, and I’m really hoping that they win so they’ll have momentum as they go into the series with the Dodgers starting Tuesday.  Kuip mentioned during the game today that he will be wearing his three rings on Tuesday.  In your face, LA!  I did my first spit count today, but I think I’ll post it tomorrow (love to keep you in suspense).  I’ll tease with the fact that one of the Diamondbacks sure does enjoy his spitting!  Hoping that the win today will lead to bigger and better things from my boys and that Hunter will return soon.  Keep the faith, Giants fans!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Bochy Back and New Rules

By now, I’m sure everyone has heard the news that Bruce Bochy was suffering from chest discomfort and had two stents put in.  He was back on the job today, and he says that he’s fine.  While he was in the hospital, it was as if a good friend of mine was ailing.  He’s come to be that important in a lot of our lives.  Kind of like a father figure.  So glad he’s doing well, and so glad he has a great medical staff around him constantly to take care of him.  Thanks to them, an irregularity in his heart was discovered during a routine physical, and they were able to immediately take action.  Who knows what could have happened if he was employed in another occupation, especially since heart disease runs in his family (his father died from a heart attack).  So glad you’re back and doing well, Boch!

MLB has announced some new rules designed to speed up the pace of games.  Hallelujah!  I know there are a lot of people excited about this, including me!  Here’s a summary of the new rules which will be implemented starting with this season’s Spring Training:

  • Batters must keep one foot in the batter’s box (Exceptions include pitches where the batter swings, pitches that force the batter out of the box, and pickoff attempts). This should save a decent amount of time, and prevent ridiculous antics like these (check this out).  That’s almost a minute right there to see one pitch!
  • The between innings breaks will last no longer than 2:25, or 2:45 for nationally televised games. Each stadium will feature countdown clocks, one near the outfield scoreboard and another behind home plate.  That will be different and take some getting used to.
  • Pitchers must finish warm-up pitches with at least 30 seconds remaining. I hope this doesn’t make my boys nervous.  They could get hurt out there if they’re rushing things.
  • Batters must enter the box with at least 5 seconds remaining. The first person who came to mind on this one was Pablo.  He’s going to have to go out there ASAP once an inning is over if he’s up first and start his pre-batting routine!
  • Pitchers must throw the first pitch before time expires. I’m getting nervous for them just typing this!
  • Players will be warned and then fined for violations, up to $500 per infraction. These penalties won’t be in effect during Spring Training or the month of April.  It seems to me that this isn’t much of a deterrent when these guys are making millions of dollars.
  • Managers can challenge plays from the top of the dugout. They are no longer required to approach the umpire.  They will still allow time for staff to review the play in question.  They are supposed to use some sort of hand signal to get the umpire’s attention.  I wonder if they can be creative with their hand signals.  That could be interesting!
  • Managers retain their challenge as long as they continue to successfully challenge plays. Previously, they got one challenge and if they were successful, one more.  Now they have an indefinite amount.  This might actually add time to a game.  Hope this encourages umpires to be on the ball so managers don’t have to use said challenges.  I’m really glad they’re keeping the challenges this season, and they’ve tweaked them a bit to make them better.  Bochy really used them to his advantage last season, getting 22 overturned calls on 35 challenges.
  • Managers get one challenge for regular season games. They get two for the All-Star game, playoff games, and tie-breaker games.
  • The manager, not the crew chief, must use a challenge for home plate collision calls.

I’m glad guys will get used to these rules during Spring Training because some are going to have to make drastic changes in their batting and pitching routines to comply.  We’ll see if they do indeed shorten the length of games.

We’re starting to get some insight into how players are doing after the off-season.  Matt Cain and Tim Hudson appear to be right on schedule with their comebacks from surgery.  Tim Lincecum spent the offseason working on his mechanics with his dad, and we’ll see if that keeps him his position in the starting five (plus his long locks and cookie-crumb moustache are back!).  On the unfortunate side, Sergio Romo is behind schedule due to shoulder soreness.  The staff isn’t taking any chances with him, but he expects to be throwing off a mound by sometime this week.  The rest of the team is scheduled to report on Monday, and I’m hoping we’ll get a look at how Angel Pagan is doing then.

Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans have received a lot of flack for not signing any huge names this offseason.  However, I found out recently that they tried pretty darn hard for James Shields, but possibly their timing was off.  Shields declined a 4 year, $80 million offer from the Giants a few weeks before he signed for $5 million less with the Padres.  Rumor is that the Giants offer came too early and he wanted to see what other offers he would get.  But the Giants needed to act, so when they signed Jake Peavy, they removed their offer.  So there.  At least they tried, and valiantly.  They deserve some credit for that.

Only 9 more days until the first Spring Training game vs. the A’s.  Can you believe baseball is almost back?  I feel like an old friend is returning from a long vacation!  Several of the games will be broadcast on KNBR, so if I’m not working, I hope to be able to listen to my boys battle it out again.  And I’m hoping at least a couple of the games will be on Comcast this season.  I need a fix!  Will keep my ears open for how the boys do during Spring Training.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

My Boys are Back +1!

I’m starting off today with the Eli update.  If you don’t care about Eli (and unfortunately, I know some of you don’t), skip this first paragraph.  But for me, this is the big news!  A few weeks ago, my friend Dianna passed along some interesting news to me.  It mentioned that Eli Whiteside was going to be a coach for the Giants.  WHAT???  I had not heard anything about this, and I had mentioned in my last blog that he had signed a minor league contract with the Braves, so I was confused.  I tried Googling to get some further info and couldn’t find anything.  So what was the deal?  Every once in a while I would check again, and nothing.  Then yesterday, I was watching some highlights from the first day at Spring Training in Scottsdale (pitchers and catchers reported yesterday), and smack dab in the middle of the video, there’s Eli!  Another video showed him entering the stadium!  That guy has a way of getting on camera somehow!  Then later I read an article by Alex Pavlovic that said Eli was the new Bullpen Coach, replacing Billy Hayes who has moved to 1st Base Coach.  YAY!  I’m so glad Eli is a Giant again!  What are the odds that my boy would come back??  I’m hoping to get to see him during Spring Training.  Specifically, I have a 2012 World Series shirt with signatures printed on it, and his is missing (he did actually play that season).  I’m hoping to get him to sign it.  He will probably get a kick out of that (or think I am insane).  And thanks so much for the heads up, Dianna!

So baseball is BACK!!  I spent a good part of my day yesterday watching video interviews of my boys and relishing the fact that things will be back in swing soon.  They all look great – in particular Brandon Belt and Madison Bumgarner are looking extra buff.  They’re an interesting contrast to Pablo, who has been making the news for his lack of buffness coming into Spring Training.  Check this out.  Wonder what those Boston fans are going to think about this.

There are 22 non-roster invitees coming to Spring Training.  Four of the guys have major league experience:  Brandon Hicks, Guillermo Quiroz, Juan Gutierrez, and Bruce’s boy, Brett Bochy.  The three top pitching prospects include Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, and Ty Blach.  The top hitting prospect is outfielder Mac Williamson.  He’s coming off Tommy John surgery but is ready to play again.  He’s the one I’m most interested in as our team needs more power.  It’s interesting to note that one of the pitchers invited, left-hander Adalberto Mejia, was suspended 50 games in November for failing a drug test, so he really has no likelihood of joining the team this season.  He was ranked as the Giants #4 prospect.  Why do these kids do this?  He probably set his progress back at least a year.  It will be interesting to see if any of these kids can make the team like Hicks and Gutierrez did last year.  I’m hoping Comcast will televise more Spring Training games this season so I can check them out.

For my returning boys, there will be some guys battling for position on the 25-man roster.  At catcher, Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez are the prime contenders for the backup catcher spot.  Susac probably has the advantage, but you never know.  Hector looked to be in great shape yesterday.  In left field, Nori Aoki is the front runner for the position, but he will get some competition from Gregor Blanco, Juan Perez, and Travis Ishikawa.  And for utility guys, Joaquin Arias, Matt Duffy, Brandon Hicks, and Adam Duvall will be competing for a spot.

Barry Zito is back in baseball.  He had mentioned that he wanted to take a year off but that he wasn’t leaving the game, and here he is again.  He tried out in front of several teams, and his old friends the A’s have offered him a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training.  I’m so happy for him – he’s such a great guy.  We’ll see what his stuff is like now.  I may get to see him at Spring Training as we are attending one A’s game while we’re there.  Good luck, Barry!

As I’m always keeping an eye out on those pesky Dodgers, I have some news to share on that front.  A coworker of mine (who happens to be a Dodgers fan) told me that the Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen, underwent foot surgery recently and is expected to be out for 8 – 12 weeks.  He had a growth on one of the bones of his foot.  I never want to wish ill on anyone, but it couldn’t have happened to a better team.  Now they’ll have to scramble to replace their star.  Good news for us!

Three of my boys who were arbitration eligible settled with the Giants for contracts, preventing the team from going to arbitration with any of their players yet again this season.  Ginny’s boy Brandon Crawford settled for $3.175 million for 1 year, Brandon Belt settled for $3.6 million for 1 year, and my newest boy Casey McGehee settled for $4.8 million for 1 year.  Somehow the word “settled” doesn’t seem appropriate for the amount of money these guys are making!  Glad those dealings are over with and now they can focus on playing.

Meanwhile infielder Chris Dominguez was designated for assignment to make room for Ryan Vogelsong on the 40-man roster.  A week later, he was signed to a minor league deal by the Reds with an invitation to attend their big league camp.  I think he’s got a lot of potential, and I hope he does well for them because he seems like a good kid.  When doing research on him, I came across the story of his first big league home run with the Giants.  An eight-year-old girl got the ball and signed it with her name and “Congratulations!”  What a great keepsake for him!  I love stories like that.  Good luck, Chris!

Baseball has a new commissioner in Rob Manfred, taking over after Bud Selig retires.  I know my brothers are happy about this because they hated Selig.  Frankly, I don’t really care, but the reason I even bring it up is that he mentioned two of my boys in a letter to fans, and anytime my boys are put in the national spotlight it makes me happy.  In his letter, he states, “Our children can look at MLB today and find a wave of new stars worthy of emulating both on and off the field.  Players like Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout and aces Madison Bumgarner, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw have powerful stories to tell – and MLB will tell them across every platform.”  Two out of seven guys he mentioned are my boys!  What a great tribute to them.  The new commish won some points with me on that one, but he lost a ton when he mentioned he wants to do away with outfield shifts.  Come on, Guy.  Get real!  The shifts make the game more interesting and force players to expand their hitting range.  He’ll learn, I hope.

Some sad news for me – Andrew Baggarly is no longer the Giants Insider for Comcast.  I love that guy!  I thought it might be due to that run in with Sergio Romo last year where Baggs reported that he and Shawon Dunston were arguing and Romo took offense to it.  But in an interview with Bay Area Sports Guy Joey McMurry, Baggs said that had nothing to do with it and that Comcast totally stood behind him on the story.  He said that the reason he left was because he wasn’t able to travel with the team as much due to budget cuts and he felt he missed out on getting stories because of it.  He is now spending his time writing a book about the Giants.  Also just found out that he’s been hired by Bay Area News Group as their Giants beat writer, so he’ll still be close to my boys.  He’s already tweeting up a storm from Arizona.  Hoping to see him at Spring Training.  Will continue to follow him on Twitter and read his stories about my boys.  Taking over for Baggs is Alex Pavlovic, coming over from the San Jose Mercury News.  Pavlovic is well qualified to take over, and even though Baggs is my favorite, Alex is a close second.  Plus, he’s a very good-looking man!  I look forward to reading his stuff, and have been enjoying his commentary already (he even commented about Eli’s arrival!).

I attended FanFest with my Giants partner-in-crime, Ginny.  We had a wonderful time as usual.  I even got to see my FanFest buddy Leslie and her daughters.  It was so great to be in that park again with my boys.  Oh how I’ve missed it!  Didn’t get any autographs this year, but I did get a wave from Javi Lopez.  Plus I got to see Ryan, Joe, Matt, Hunter, Boch, and Brandon Crawford on the Club level stage fairly up close.  Plus I got a ballpark hot dog and fries!  And Ginny and I stalked the guys as they were leaving the park.  Another great time.  Now I’m looking forward to my Spring Training trip with my siblings next month.  We’ll be seeing 5 games in 4 days.  So excited!

I’ll leave you with a funny pic to start off the season.  Here you go.  This was posted by his daughter.  Duane showing his Giants pride.  Love that guy!  Will be keeping an eye on my boys as they get ready to start this season.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!

My Shirt’s STILL Good!!

We kept waiting and waiting for some news on Ryan Vogelsong.  I think I’ve mentioned it in every blog I’ve written since the end of the season.  We knew he wasn’t going to be dealt with early in the off season because the Giants had other, bigger things on their mind – like replacing the huge holes that were left at third base and left field when Pablo and Michael left.  And he knew this.  So he waited.  And waited.  Once Peavy was signed, it wasn’t looking good for my boy.  Where would he fit into the roster?  Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean kept saying that Timmy was the fifth starter, so any possible opening for Ryan seemed to have disappeared.  It was starting to look pretty unlikely that he would return to the team he loved so much.  Even beat writer Chris Haft of MLB.com who follows the Giants wrote a tribute column to Ryan, assuming he wouldn’t be coming back (you can read it here – great summary of Ryan’s contributions to the team).  Haft writes, “Vogelsong, a free agent, isn’t yet officially an ex-Giant. But the two-year contract that Jake Peavy received gave the Giants a full complement of starting pitchers and likely will squeeze out Vogelsong — who, according to those who know him closely, maintained hopes of spending the rest of his career with the club.”  Maintained.  Past tense.  Confirmation that it wasn’t looking good.  Then the biggest blow of all came – earlier this week, there were reports that the Astros were in “serious discussions” with Vogelsong.  Serious.  Then he went to Houston.  Then he had a physical for them.  Even Brian Sabean said Ryan was close to signing with another team.  Sigh.

On my way home from work on Wednesday, I caught the end of a story on KNBR that mentioned Ryan and the Astros, and assumed that the deal was done.  I seriously was in mourning.  I loved that guy.  The guy who ate chicken enchiladas the night before his starts.  The guy who wouldn’t talk to reporters on his start days, and not even the day before his starts.  The guy who talked out of the side of his mouth with a Philly accent.  The guy who called me “the rose between the thorns” when I got my picture taken between him and Bill Laskey.  The guy who wore the bracelet I gave him at FanFest for the entire day.  The guy who I liked so much that I bought his T-shirt.  All past tense.  The guy who would no longer be one of my boys.

On Wednesday night, I was planning to write my own tribute to Ryan Vogelsong.  I had even started writing it in my head on the car ride home from work.  But then something interesting happened.  When I got home, there was no mention of the move on Facebook.  How could it not be on Facebook??  I did a search, and there was no information confirming that the deal had been sealed.  I figured I would probably hear something the next day.  But it didn’t happen.  In fact, Thursday morning on KNBR, the story had changed, and now THE GIANTS were in “serious discussions” with Ryan.  WHAT?????  Could it be true?  What had happened in Houston?  Then Friday morning, it was confirmed.  RYAN VOGELSONG IS STILL ONE OF MY BOYS!  THE SHIRT’S STILL GOOD!!  He signed a 1 year, $4 million deal (with performance incentives) three days after we almost lost him.

So why did he not sign with the Astros?  According to Fox Sports, he said “Some things happened I just wasn’t comfortable with.  Negotiations kind of broke down after that.  Time to move on.”  To us.  In an interview with KNBR this afternoon, he mentioned the fact that home games with 15 – 20 thousand fans would be way different than home games with 40 thousand fans.  Of course, you won’t get the real story because he’s being a good boy and doesn’t want to tarnish the Astros, but the bottom line is he wanted to come back to the Giants.  And I’m pretty sure the fact that the Astros stink played a role in his decision.  He mentioned he thought he had been pushed back to SF by “divine intervention,” possibly alluding to the fact that deals didn’t go the way he hoped so that he would end up back with us.  He wouldn’t give details, but he said it was really kind of creepy and he would share the details with Tom Tolbert and Ray Ratto of KNBR in another 10 years.  OK.  Now I’m dying to know what happened.  Maybe I’ll ask him at FanFest.  CAUSE HE’LL BE THERE!!!  WOOOHOOOOO!!

A couple of other awesome things about this guy:  He also mentioned that he knows going in that he will start out in the bullpen, and he’s fine with that.  He is willing to do whatever the Giants need him to do, whether he is the long reliever, fill-in starter, even closer – whatever.  You gotta love that.  Then when reading the tribute from Chris Haft, I learned something about my boy that raised him to another level in my adoration.  Apparently he signed with the Giants in 2011 even though he had a higher money offer from the Dodgers.  That’s a true Giant right there.  I am so thoroughly relieved that he’s back, not just cause he’s my boy, but face it – we need more starting pitching potential.  We’ve got two guys coming off of injuries in Cain and Hudson, and who knows what Timmy will be like this season.  We need someone to fill in should one of those guys go down.  And I know Petit is amazing and could fill in, but I think he’s more amazing as a long reliever, so now we can keep him in that role.  It’s goodness all around!  Now I can check the last worry off my list this offseason – starting pitching.  WHEW!

In other news, I found out what number Nori Aoki hopes to be wearing – 23.  That number is currently worn by Giants bench coach Ron Wotus.  In an interview, Aoki says he knows Wotus likes golf, so maybe he’ll buy him some golf clubs to persuade him to give it up – or a Rolex.  I love this guy!  And with the Vogelsong signing, I realized something.  Vogey will actually be able to communicate with Aoki as he played in Japan for three years and picked up the language.  I bet that will be comforting for his new teammate.  Can’t wait to see coverage of them chatting it up in the clubhouse.

Speaking of the clubhouse, it’s apparently under construction.  Hunter Pence posted to Instagram a picture of himself in the torn down clubhouse.  Check it out.  Not sure why they had to rebuild it.  Maybe it was due to champagne damage.

I also heard that Marco Scutaro was designated for assignment to make room for Nori Aoki.  He’s still in rehab, so it doesn’t mean he won’t be back with the team.  But it sure isn’t looking good for him to get out on that field again.  I will always cherish my umbrella that has him embracing the rain on it, though.  Good luck with the rehab, Marco.  You never know.

Just for fun, I decided to look into what’s going on in my boy Eli Whiteside’s life.  I was pleased to find out that he is indeed still getting paid to play baseball.  He was signed to a minor league contract by the Braves in November of 2014.  And he actually had playing time with the Cubs last season.  He had 26 plate appearances in 8 games and batted .120.  Of course, they used him for his catching abilities, not so much for his batting.  He was even involved in an interesting double play last season with the Cubs.  Check out this amazing play here.  Bases were loaded, and the hitter grounded the ball just barely in front of home plate.  Whiteside quickly grabbed the ball, tagged home to force out the guy coming in from third, then threw it to first base in time to get the batter out.  Nice job, Dude!  Glad to hear you’re still in the game, Eli.  Hope all is well with you and your family.

T-minus 15 days until FanFest.  And Ginny has confirmed that she’s going with me.  Which means we’ll probably get there at about 6 am!  Glad I have someone as crazy as I am to go with!  Hoping to meet up with Leslie as well.  And my sis and niece might also go this year.  So excited!  Ready for baseball to start NOW!!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!

Yokoso, Nori Aoki!

The Giants finally made a move to do something about the left field hole.  WHEW!  They signed Nori Aoki from the Royals to a 1 year, $4 million deal, including $1.5 million in performance bonuses and a club option for 2016.  He hit .285 last year, had 1 homerun, 17 stolen bases, and only struck out 49 times in 491 at bats.  He’s the typical Sabean acquisition – not a ton of power, but solid.  He didn’t do so hot in the postseason for the Royals, but hopefully the change of scenery to our wonderful City will do him some good when we reach the playoffs this season (positive thoughts to break that even year streak!).  I remember hearing that he sometimes takes an interesting path to balls in the outfield, so I’ll be keeping an eye on that.  But remember, we had Michael Morse in that spot last season, so he has to be better (sorry, Michael).  I love this guy already.  According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Aoki was offered multi-year deals for more guaranteed money elsewhere, but he chose the Giants for the city, to be a contender, and for playing time.  Glad he wants to be here.  He becomes only the 5th player born in Japan to be a Giant (I was surprised by that one).  Yokoso (welcome) to the team, Nori!!  One less thing to worry about!  Now it’s just the pitching!

Three of my boys have gone into arbitration.  This includes Brandon Belt (wants $4.5 million, got a $3 million offer), Brandon Crawford (wants $3.95 million, got a $2.4 million offer), and Casey McGehee (wants $5.4 million, got a $4 million offer).  Negotiations will continue, but if they can’t come to a settlement, the next step is to go to an arbitrator in February, and the arbitrator will choose which of the two offers is most fair.  Just look at those numbers.  So much moolah right there!  Wonder who will win – the players or the management?  Will be interesting.  I wonder who usually wins.  Possible future blog topic!

Two others have avoided arbitration and come to a deal.  Yusmeiro Petit will be making $2.1 million next year – now that sounds like a deal to me!  Also Gregor Blanco was offered a 2 year, $7.5 million deal.  He had originally asked for $4 million, and the Giants countered with $3.3 million.  Wonder what made them up the ante?  So glad these two will be Giants next season.

Speaking of outrageous amounts of money, did you hear how much pitcher Max Scherzer of the Tigers signed for??  He got a whopping $210 million over 7 years from the Nationals!  Who can spend that kind of money?  It’s interesting that the money will actually be dispersed over a period of 14 years, with Max getting ONLY $15 million in each of those years.  But he could be retired after 7 and still make ONLY $15 million a year.  ONLY.   Pure insanity.  When is this ever going to stop??  Those salaries just keep spiraling every year.

The Giants also signed left-handed pitcher Travis Blackley to a minor league contract.  This is his third time signing with the Giants (he won a World Series ring with them in 2012).  What loyalty!  And he’s only the second Australian pitcher to ever play for the Giants.  G’day, Mate!  Welcome back!

Keeping with the international theme, the Giants held a private workout for Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada.  The infielder is only 19 years old and a switch hitter.  He is said to possess all 5 tools (meaning running speed, arm strength, hitting for average, hitting for power, and fielding) and is one of the most coveted international prospects.  You can be sure that teams with deep pockets are interested in him as well, so we’ll see what the final outcome is.  Will keep you posted.  Whoever takes him will have to sign him to a minor league contract, though, since he doesn’t have enough professional league experience.  Might be a sweet addition to our farm system, but I’m not sure the Giants will come up with enough dough to seal the deal.

I’ll end with a couple of fun links.  Here’s an interview with Matt Duffy.  I love how well-spoken and down-to-earth the kid is.  He gives some good insight into what it’s like to play in the post-season.  And here’s my boy George Kontos playing HOCKEY!  The kid’s not half bad!  And he’s such a cutie.  Glad he’s enjoying himself in the offseason.  And speaking of enjoying yourself, take a look at my boy Hunter!  He and his girlfriend Lexi have been streaming their video game play via Twitch.  He’s using the show to raise money for a couple he knows who were seriously injured in a car accident.  Love that boy!  I watched him and his friend play a dance game the other night.  Talk about hilarious!  He had some crazy moves!  Here’s the link to their Twitch feed – they are regularly on Tuesday and Thursday nights, but Hunter is playing Hearthstone:  Heroes of Warcraft tonight.  And here’s a sample of his awesome dance moves.  So much fun!

Also, the link to The Odd Couple show I put in my last blog featuring the relationship between Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery was actually only a teaser.  The entire show is an hour long!  I couldn’t find a link, so I guess you’ll just have to find it on MLB Network (or wait until it makes its way to YouTube).  My brother Nick recorded it and says I can watch it with him sometime.  He’s such a good boy!

FanFest countdown is at 19 days!!!  Can’t wait!  I miss my boys so much!  Can’t wait to wear my new jersey, too!  Will keep my ears open for any news and pass it along to you.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Spit Analysis 2014

It’s that time of year again – time for my annual spit count analysis!  WOOHOO!!  Actually, I’m a couple months later than usual this year.  If you aren’t interested in the spit stuff, you can scroll down a bit to some other “juicy” tidbits I have for you about the boys.  As usual, there were lots of surprises this year when it came to those who spat the most and those who didn’t spit at all.

I did spit counts during a total of 21 games from the Giants 2014 season.  And (drumroll please) here are the results:

# of games caught Total # of spits Avg. # of Highest # of
spitting spits/game spits/game
Colvin 7 78 11.1 27
Murphy 1 11 11 11
Susac 2 20 10 15
Duffy 1 5 5 5
Sandoval 18 89 4.9 10
Pagan 8 33 4.1 6
Vogelsong 2 8 4 7
Sanchez 8 29 3.6 6
Bumgarner 6 20 3.3 5
Scutaro 3 9 3 5
Belt 6 14 2.3 4
Posey 12 27 2.3 6
Lincecum 7 15 2.1 5
Hicks 8 17 2.1 4
Hudson 5 10 2 6
Gutierrez 5 10 2 3
Petit 2 4 2 3
Affeldt 2 4 2 3
Duvall 2 4 2 3
Adrianza 2 4 2 2
Kelly 1 2 2 2
Kontos 1 2 2 2
Bochy 8 14 1.8 5
Arias 6 10 1.7 3
Morse 2 3 1.5 2
Perez 5 6 1.2 2
Meulens 5 6 1.2 2
Lopez 3 3 1 1
Lefebvre 2 2 1 1
Casilla 2 2 1 1
Cain 2 2 1 1
Wotus 2 2 1 1
Righetti 2 2 1 1
Romo 1 1 1 1
Peavy 1 1 1 1
Quiroz 1 1 1 1
Pence 1 1 1 1
Strickland 1 1 1 1

 

This is the fourth season that I’ve done this, and again we have a new overall Spit Master General.  And he is a surprise as well (in fact, I had forgotten he had played for us this season!).  The “winner” this time was Tyler Colvin who racked up 27 spits during the game on June 8th (All-time record = Chris Stewart in 2011 at 38).  He also had the highest spit average per game at 11.1.  Colvin accumulates most of his spits by spitting into each batting glove right before every pitch he sees.  Spits add up quickly that way!  And those spits are just as disgusting as the ones aimed at the ground.  Tyler will be receiving his Spit Master General certificate in the mail as soon as the regular season starts.  I hope he signs with someone (he’s a free agent right now) so I’ll know where to send it!  The record for most spits in a single game by a non-Giant this season was set by Matt Kemp of the Dodgers on April 5th – 23 spits (All-time record = Chris Snyder of the Astros in 2012 at 44).  The umpire who expelled the most saliva during a game this season was Marvin Hudson – he launched 7 spits during the April 12th game (All-time record = Rob Drake in 2011 at 40).

Other records that were set this season:

  • Lowest spit count average – 1 spit every 12.7 minutes (July 12th the Diamondbacks – new all-time record)
  • Highest spit count average – 1 spit every 2.9 minutes (May 3rd the Braves)
  • Lowest total spits in a single game – 12 (August 1st the Mets – new all-time record)
  • Highest total spits in a single game – 64 (June 15th the Rockies)
  • Madison Bumgarner snot rockets during a single game – 15 (April 5th the Dodgers – new all-time record)

There is definitely some positive news on the spit front this season.  Guys did not spit nearly as much this season as they did in previous seasons.  New all-time low spit count average and total spit count records were set.  Plus the highest total spits in a game last season was less than half that of the previous two years.  And several of the players reduced their spit count averages from the last few seasons significantly, including Buster, Pablo, and Angel.  The sad news is that MOST of the new guys are spitting up a storm (3 of them are near the top of the list), so the message isn’t getting out to the kids.

Now to the happy part of all of this – who are the guys that didn’t show up on the spitting list?  Well surprisingly I have two non-spitters this season.  One receives the award for the third year in a row – GREGOR BLANCO!  Thanks for continuing to keep that spit where it belongs!  The second was a surprise to me, and I didn’t realize it until after I had tallied all the spits.  Congratulations to JOE PANIK!  He’s the one kid who bucked the trend and never got caught spitting this season.  Even though he didn’t start playing regularly until the end of June, he played in most of the games after that so his efforts deserve to be recognized.  YAY!!  All your fans thank you for your good manners, Guys!  I’ll be sending both your “Thank You For Not Spitting” certificates soon.

I am also recognizing another two players for their efforts even though they showed up in my spit counts.  One of those is MICHAEL MORSE!  He spat a total of 3 times, but each time it was sunflower seeds.  I know they do officially count, but I think I can make an exception in his case, especially since he is a promoter of Grinds, the tobacco substitute.  He’s setting a great example for those kids.  Thank you, Michael, and I’m sure going to miss your energy next season.  And remember – I’ll be watching when the Marlins take on the Giants!  Another non-spitting role model this season was MATT CAIN!  The 2 spits he logged the entire season both were logged when he spat out the gum he had been chewing during the game.  And I know that gum spitting is gross, too, but I’ve noticed that when guys chew gum, they spit less, and this was obvious when Matt pitched this season.  His spit average has gone down every year since I’ve been doing this.  And though he had a shortened season, he was the starting pitcher in 3 of the games I logged, and the pitcher is on camera an awful lot, so I think he deserves some credit.  Great job, Matt!  Looking forward to seeing more of you next season.

I also have to explain some of the other players who didn’t spit but who I eliminated from eligibility.  Brandon Crawford was never caught spitting during my spit counts, which is commendable, but I did catch him spitting twice when I was not doing spit counts – once after he committed two errors during a game (guess he wasn’t a happy camper then) and once in one of the last games of the season.  And both spits were super juicy ones.  So he has been disqualified this season (sorry, Ginny).  Travis Ishikawa didn’t get caught this season either, but I don’t think he played in enough games to be recognized.  I’m hoping his non-spitting trend will continue next season so that he can earn a certificate.  And Jake Peavy was only caught spitting once, which is pretty amazing for a pitcher, but he did not pitch in any of the games I logged, plus he came to the team late in the season, so he didn’t qualify.

Now that you’ve had your fill of the spit run-down, let’s move on to some other Giants news.  Madison has received another prestigious award.  He was named the AP Male Athlete of the Year.  Congratulations, Kid!  Anything you get is so well deserved (and is making my jersey that much more valuable!).  Pitcher Mike Kickham was placed on waivers by the Giants and claimed by the Cubs.  Best of luck to you, Mike aka “Superman”.  I hope you have better luck in Chicago because I know you have the potential.  There is a lovely video out on the relationship between Bruce Bochy and Tim Flannery.  Here’s the link.  They are so close, but I had no idea that they argued so much!  It was nice to see them outside of baseball.

Tim Hudson had surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, the one that he injured during the 2013 season with the Braves.  The expected recovery is 8 weeks, which would have him ready to start come Opening Day.  But does this scare anyone besides me??  There was talk that the Giants were looking at pitcher Dan Haren as a possible backup to the rotation in case Hudson doesn’t make it, but those talks appear to be stalled.  And what about Ryan Vogelsong?  Will he return next season?  Will my shirt still be good?  Will be interesting to see how the lineup turns out come April.  At least we have Petit (thank goodness we have him!).  The Giants were also rumored to be interested in Ben Zobrist from the Tampa Bay Rays as a utility man, possibly an outfielder, but he was signed by the A’s instead.  Hmmm…  What’s going on with Sabean?  Does he think we’re fine?  I’m really getting anxious about our outfield and wondering what move (if any) he’ll make before the season starts.

Only 28 more days until FanFest!  Can’t wait!  As Donna said, there are only two seasons:  Baseball and Winter.  Can’t wait for winter to be over!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

It Never Fails

So I update my blog after several weeks and, of course, a minute after I publish it some major news comes out.  The first major move of the Hot Stove League has been made official by the Giants today to solve the 3rd base problem.  The Giants traded minor league right-handed pitchers Kendrys Flores and Luis Castillo to the Miami Marlins for infielder Casey McGehee.  In 2014 he hit .287 with a .355 on base percentage.  He hit 29 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs while batting in 76 runs in 160 games.  He was second in the NL in singles and fourth in hits.  Among NL third basemen, he ranked first in hits, RBI, double plays turned, and fielding percentage.  He was also voted the 2014 NL Comeback Player of the Year after playing for a year in Japan.

On a personal note, Casey is 32 years old and grew up in Santa Cruz.  Dianna will be happy to note that he’s also a Fresno State Bulldog.  I would guess it will be a happy return to the Bay Area for him, and this might bode well for him wanting to stay here.  Plus if he’s visiting family, I may run into him sometime!

I like this trade a lot.  It seems like the standard type of move that Sabean would make – trade some prospects for someone with a solid credential who may have gone under the radar of others.  I really like the fact that he played in all but 2 games last season.  He’s got a solid batting average, he can walk when he needs to, and he’s a good fielder.  That’s exactly what we need.  And if you are wondering like I did about how to say his name, it’s pronounced “McGee.”  Looking forward to seeing some interviews with him to get a feel for how he’ll fit into the clubhouse.  Only drawback is that I know he spits – he logged two in the July 20th game against the Marlins last season.  But if he comes through for us, I can handle a little spitting.  Welcome to the team, Casey!

Will continue with the updates as I get them.  Keep strengthening the team, Sabean.  GO GIANTS!!

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