Oh, Happy Day!

I don’t usually get excited when I hear that the owners and the players’ union in Major League Baseball have a new collective bargaining agreement.  Yes, there was some worry that the process was taking too long this year, and there was even some mention of a possible lockout if they didn’t make the deadline, but with all that money on the line you knew they were extremely motivated to find common ground.  But they came together and got ‘er done in time.  There is something in the agreement that I didn’t know was being discussed but which directly affects part of what I do here, namely counting spits, and I am more than excited about this.  I am thrilled to announce that the MLB has banned smokeless tobacco.  (cue the angels singing) Hallelujah!  Isn’t this incredible?  Now the one caveat is that if you played at all during the 2016 season or before, you are grandfathered in and can still chew to your heart’s content, but otherwise YOU CAN’T CHEW!!!  I am so excited about this!!  I’m almost positive this is in response to the untimely death of Tony Gwynn a couple of years back due to salivary gland cancer.  Gwynn and his family attributed his cancer to his habit of chewing tobacco.  I am very proud of all those involved in making this decision as I’m sure it will not only improve the health of many players but it will almost definitely save lives.  Way to go, MLB!!  What a wonderful tribute to the life and talent of Tony Gwynn.  Plus, I wonder if this will cause my spit counts to drastically decrease.  I can only hope so!!

There were many other things decided upon in the CBA.  Here are a few of the more interesting points:

  • The regular season was lengthened to give the boys some extra days off. They deserve it – a 162-game season is harsh enough.  And time with the family is important to their well-being.
  • World Series home team advantage will now go to the team with the better record, not to the winner of the All-Star Game. This seems so much more fair to me, and I bet they’ll still take the All-Star game seriously even though there is nothing at stake any longer.  They will still be on the big stage after all representing their team.
  • Clubs will play games in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and London over the next five years in order to increase the popularity of baseball worldwide. This can include regular season games, and the players will get extra compensation for playing in these countries.  MLB is all about making the game more popular in other countries right now.  Will be fun to see how fans react in other countries – not just fun for us but fun for the players.  And will they still eat hot dogs?  Or fish and chips?
  • One thing I’m really thankful for is that the league is ramping up drug testing and making penalties for offenders harsher. There will be increased testing for human growth hormone, with double the amount of random testing during the season and triple the amount during the off-season.  Players caught taking stimulants will be warned after their first offense plus have increased random testing, be suspended 50 games for a second offense, 100 for a third, and up to permanent suspension for a fourth violation.  Plus if you are suspended, now you don’t accrue service time during the suspension, thus closing a loophole in the previous agreement.
  • The league’s domestic violence policy has remained intact, plus there will be new anti-hazing and anti-bullying policies. Sad to think that this actually exists in baseball, but glad to hear they’re doing something about it.

As far as the Hot Stove League goes, still not a lot of news but a few tidbits to mention.  Cory Gearrin and Ehire Adrianza were signed to one-year contracts.  Gearrin will get $1.05 million plus performance bonuses, and Adrianza will get $600K while in the majors and $300K while in the minors (guess that’s how they do it when a guy will potentially be in the minors for a big chunk of the season).  The Giants have also tendered offers to Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith, saving them from free agency.  They will either receive a contract soon or go through the arbitration process.  Regarding the opening in left field with the departure of Angel Pagan, Bobby Evans mentioned that he would like to give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson the opportunity to take that role.  He’s still keeping all options open for acquiring a player, but he thinks they would do fine as well.  I would have to agree with him, and I’m sure they will play better if they see more playing time.  The strongest rumor to date revolves around the Giants possibly obtaining a closer.  According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, free agent Mark Melancon (formerly of the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates) has multiple 4-year, $60 million plus offers, with the Nationals and the Giants definitely in the mix.  Crasnick thinks the Giants have the strongest offer.  Melancon pitched in 75 games last year for 71 1/3 innings, had an ERA of 1.34, and WHIP of 0.90, struck out 65 while only walking 12, and logged 47 saves.  Hope Jerry is right and we get him.  What a relief that would be (haha – get it??)!

The Winter Meetings started today in Maryland, so there will probably be some important moves made in the next few days.  All 30 front offices will be there with lots of opportunity to negotiate.  While doing some research, I learned that the Winter Meetings are actually a minor league networking event, but the major league teams always tag along.  Can’t wait to hear some solid news.  Bobby Evans, work your magic!

I’m always impressed by how active my boys are in community service.  I learned recently that one of our newest members, Matt Moore, supports a charity that benefits our veterans.  It’s the cycling based non-profit organization Ride 2 Recovery.  They use biking to help vets get out and active.  They’ve gotten many off medication in the process.  They also fund research into vet related issues like PTSD.  Moore did not choose a charity that supports veterans by chance.  He has a personal stake.  His father was in the Air Force for 23 years.  One of his best friends is a combat-wounded veteran.  Matt hopes that his work with the charity can reduce the extremely high suicide rate amongst vets as well.  Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day.  “That’s something you can’t really walk away from,” Moore said recently.  “I believe that it’s our duty to take care of the people who have protected and served our country and provide help when they need it.”  Nice work, Matt.  If you’d like to help Matt’s cause, you can get more info at www.ride2recovery.com.

Well, I purchased our first set of game tickets for our Spring Training trip!  I can almost taste those hot dogs, smell that freshly-mown grass, and feel that intense heat already!  I miss everything about baseball.  Will keep you posted if I hear any news about player transactions.  Hopefully we’ll hear something at least about a closer soon (probably right after I post this – that seems to happen a lot!).  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Spit Analysis 2016

As promised, I’ve compiled all my spit data from last season.  Everybody hates all the spitting, right??  Well, here’s the scoop on who’s been doing all the spitting on the Giants, plus recognition for those who refrain from it and make me happy.  During the 2016 Giants baseball season, I counted spits during a total of 13 games.  These are my results:

# of games Total # of Avg. # of Highest # of
caught spitting spits spits/game spits/game
Cueto 6 67 11.2 26
Law 1 5 5 5
Gillaspie 5 24 4.8 9
Green 1 4 4 4
Peavy 3 10 3.3 6
Belt 13 40 3.1 6
Bumgarner 4 12 3 5
Span 9 26 2.9 6
Duffy 4 10 2.5 4
Tejada 2 5 2.5 4
Parker 7 16 2.3 4
Bochy 6 12 2 3
Pagan 6 12 2 3
Wotus 1 2 2 2*
Strickland 5 9 1.8 2
Casilla 4 6 1.5 2
Meulens 2 3 1.5 2
Posey 7 7 1 1
Samardzija 5 5 1 1
Tomlinson 3 3 1 1
Osich 2 2 1 1
Blanco 1 1 1 1*
Crawford 1 1 1 1
Kontos 1 1 1 1
Stratton 1 1 1 1
Hayes 1 1 1 1
Suarez 1 1 1 1*
Pence 1 1 1 1*
Kelly 1 1 1 1
Panik 1 1 1 1
Adrianza 1 1 1 1

 

*indicates that spit logged was due to expelling sunflower seed shells

I have to say that unlike last season, I was not surprised at our spit count leader this season.  The overall Spit Master General for the 2016 season was one of our newer additions and a favorite of mine, JOHNNY CUETO.  I noticed right from the start that Johnny was going to be a high volume spitter.  He logged 26 spits during the game on April 16th, the highest single game spit record for a Giants player last season.  Thankfully he came nowhere near the all-time Giants record set last season by Andrew Susac at 41.  And also thankfully the spitting does not appear to be due to tobacco chewing.  Still love watching the guy pitch, but the spitting definitely can make it challenging sometimes.

Here are some other records of note in the area of spit counts last season:

  • Most spits in a game by a non-Giant – Stephen Vogt of the A’s (again) at 32 on June 29th
  • Lowest spit count average – 1 spit every 6.9 minutes (April 9th the Dodgers)
  • Highest spit count average – 1 spit every 2.5 minutes (June 29th the A’s – again Vogt skewed the data on this one!)
  • Highest number of Madison Bumgarner snot rockets in a single game – 7 (on both April 9th the Dodgers and June 8th vs. the Red Sox)

Also of note is the fact that Brandon Belt was caught spitting in every single spit count that I did.  For shame!!  And YUCK!!

Even though all the spitting (and snot rockets) does get me down, I always look forward to recognizing those guys that somehow have not picked up the nasty habit of expelling their saliva like the vast majority of their counterparts.  These guys are my heroes.  And thankfully, I’ve got a bunch to recognize from last season.

First off, there were an amazing four guys who played regularly during the season and were NEVER caught spitting.  (envelope please)  The Thank You For Not Spitting Award for the 2016 Giants season goes to JAVIER LOPEZ, TREVOR BROWN, CORY GEARRIN, and RAMIRO PENA!!  Javi makes the list for the second season in a row, even while he pitched in 9 of the games that I counted.  Way to go, Javi!  Trevor was a surprise to me, especially because he is a catcher.  When catchers are in the game they are on camera a lot – tough to sneak a spit that way.  Trevor played in 6 of the games that I counted and never got caught once.  Cory was another surprise as it’s tough for pitchers to make my list as well since they are on camera almost the entire time they are in the game.  Cory pitched in 4 of the games I counted and stayed spit-free.  Then there’s Ramiro who I almost forgot about since he didn’t play near the end of the season when Joe Panik came back and we acquired Eduardo Nunez.  Ramiro never got caught spitting even though he played in 4 of the games that I counted.  I salute and appreciate all of you for keeping your saliva where it belongs – IN YOUR MOUTH!  Check your mailboxes come next April for those certificates (suitable for framing, of course!)!

Two other players were each only caught once spitting even though they played in the majority of the games I counted.  And each of those single spits was due to expelling sunflower seeds.  I’m going to give them a break and recognize this achievement as well.  They are GREGOR BLANCO and HUNTER PENCE.  Both these guys have made my list before, and both deserve recognition for this feat.  Thanks for resisting the urge to spit, Guys!

I’m also giving several Honorable Mentions this season – guys who won’t be officially recognized with a certificate but still deserve some kudos.  Brandon Crawford and George Kontos were only caught spitting once each.  Try a little harder next time and you might just get that certificate!  Sergio Romo was never caught spitting, but he was out for a large part of the season and only pitched in 2 of the games I counted.  Thanks for the effort, Sergio!  Also Matt Cain only pitched in one of the games I counted, but he didn’t launch a single spit through 6 innings.  This is definitely worth recognizing.  Albert Suarez was in the same category as Gregor and Hunter, getting caught once and the one spit being a sunflower seed spit, but he didn’t pitch in any of the games I counted, so it doesn’t feel right to send a certificate.  For next season, I’ll definitely keep my eye on him in addition to Matt Moore, Eduardo Nunez, and Will Smith (who joined the team after I had stopped doing spit counts).  Remember – I’ll be watching!

Still waiting to hear some solid Hot Stove gossip, but nothing juicy yet.  Just a rumor that the Giants are thinking about getting Pablo back from the Red Sox.  Yeah, right.  There is no way that could ever happen.  He can’t keep the weight off (remember when his belt burst open while he was batting??), his numbers were way down last season, he was injured again, and he totally dissed the team and management on his way out of SF.  No.  This will not occur.  I don’t know who the writer from Boston is who “broke” this story, but he must be desperate for readers.  Come on!

Also heard that Sergio Romo is disappointed that no one from the Giants has contacted him yet about resigning.  Sergio is currently a free agent, and he says that other teams have shown interest.  I would assume he won’t hear anything until the Giants have signed a solid closer – that will dictate how much money they have left to offer.  Plus I still have a bad taste in my mouth about how Romo acted during the end of the season, laughing a couple of times walking off the field and in the dugout when Bochy took him out.  I hate disrespect.  I also think the Giants staff doesn’t appreciate it, either.  Romo says he wants to come back to the Giants, but he can also find happiness somewhere else.  We’ll see where he ends up.  With all the young up-and-coming bullpen talent the Giants have, I have a feeling it might be somewhere else.

On a final note, today is Hunter Pence’s wedding day.  I’m so excited for both him and Lexi – they make such an adorable couple and always seem to have so much fun together, including sharing lots of silliness.  Wishing both of them the best.  Also found out that like me, Hunter plays Pokemon Go (plus he’s on the same team as me – Team Instinct!).  Here’s a video of him and Lexi trying to get to a coffee shop in the City while Pokemon Go kind of gets in the way.  So funny!!  Love these two!

Still keeping my ears open for anything on the rumor front.  Hoping, hoping, hoping they can actually sign one of the top closers.  This is always one of the most frustrating times to be a baseball fan.  If you happen to hear anything, let me know.  On a happy note, I think we finalized the dates for our Spring Training trip.  Can’t wait!!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  SIGN A WICKED CLOSER!!

God, I Miss Baseball!

Hi, Giants fans!!  It’s definitely been awhile!  I took a much needed break from the blog, but I’m back and raring to go.  I’ve decided to make some changes to the format; mainly not doing as many spit counts as it’s gotten to be a bit of a drag (I’m sure you’re all devastated at this news!).  However, I will still comment on spit activity and may do an occasional spit count just to get an idea of what’s going on in the world of baseball spitting.  Still love my boys just as much – just needed a break to realize how much I love doing this.

Since I haven’t blogged since the beginning of August (missed the entire postseason), there’s a bit to catch up on, to say the least.  I was very excited (and somewhat surprised) that the boys even made it into the postseason.  The way they played the second half of the season left me very concerned about this.  But they came together, got in by the skin of their teeth, and even won the Wild Card game against the Mets.  Those boys are definitely scrappy!  Unfortunately, their scrappiness couldn’t get them past the Division Series, losing to the eventual World Series champs.  On a positive note, they lost 2 of the 3 games by a single run.  But what lost the series for them was what ruined the last half of the season – blown saves.  The biggest area of concern for this team in the offseason is bolstering that bullpen.  This became even more evident when you observed how amazing the bullpens were for the other playoff teams.

There were some rays of sunlight that peeked through the darkness of the Division Series, though.  Two were Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore.  Both went deep and pitched remarkable games in the high stress of October.  This gives me hope going on, and I’m so glad these two will continue to be Giants next season.  Another is Ty Blach.  In the postseason, he definitely made a case for him to fill the void that will most certainly be created when Jake Peavy leaves.  That kid is amazing!  Besides pitching eight scoreless innings in a regular season game against the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, he pitched 3 1/3 innings in the postseason, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 3.  The kid comes through under pressure!  Another ray of sunshine was Conor “Mr. Happy” Gillaspie.  Conor hit that game winning homerun in the Wild Card game.  Then he got the go ahead triple in the eighth during the potential elimination game (against impossible-to-hit-off-of Aroldis Chapman no less), allowing them to outlast the Cubbies through 13 innings to win it.  The guy comes through in the clutch.  I was so happy he finally got some recognition, and on the big stage.  Hoping he will be back playing off the bench next season (just watch the spitting!).

No new big acquisitions yet, but lots of rumors being spread.  Bobby Evans has spoken with several free-agent closers, including Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon, and Aroldis Chapman.  We’ll see if he puts his money where his mouth is.  We definitely need one of these guys.  Either Jansen or Melancon would be fantastic.  However, I’m not super excited about a Chapman deal.  Even though the guy is extremely talented, he comes with some domestic violence baggage, so I’m not sure he’s the right fit for this team.  I can’t imagine our guys would take him in with open arms, and team chemistry counts for a lot with this team.  And it would be really tough for me to cheer for a guy like that.  The Giants have also been talking to J.D. Martinez of the Tigers to bolster the outfield and their lineup.  He could step into Angel’s role in left field, and with impressive stats last season which include a .307 batting average, 22 home runs, and 68 RBI, he could really help us get our pitchers some run support.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one – he’s one of my favorite choices in Beat the Streak, so I’m pulling for him!  Will definitely let you know as soon as I hear any news on the trade front.

Speaking of Beat the Streak, my brother Paul ended up winning this season.  Paul came in first with a streak of 15, I came in second with a streak of 11, and Nick got narrowly edged out with his streak of 10.  Congrats, P!  We treated him to dinner at Red Lobster to celebrate.  Next season, I’m hoping some of you will join us.  It’s the closest to fantasy baseball I’ll ever get since it only takes a few minutes a day to make your picks.

The boys earned themselves some recognition last season, taking home several highly coveted awards.  Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Buster Posey each received Gold Gloves for their amazing defensive work last season.  Brandon Crawford and Buster also received the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award at their respective positions.  The Giants as a team were voted the overall Defensive Team of the Year by Wilson, in part due to the fact that they set a National League record in 2016 for the longest errorless streak in league history, spanning more than 17 games.  Brandon Crawford and Javier Lopez together received the Willie Mac Award, presented to the most inspirational player on the team as voted upon by Giants players, coaches, training staff, and this year, by Giants fans as well.  In addition, one of our beloved broadcasters has been named a finalist for the Ford C. Frick award, presented annually for excellence in baseball broadcasting.  Mike Krukow is one of 8 finalists for the award, the same award won previously by his fellow broadcaster, Jon Miller.  We’ll have to wait and see on that one, though – the winner will be announced on December 7th.  Will keep you updated.  Congrats to all my boys for winning these amazing awards, and good luck, Kruk!

On a personal note, two of the Giants will soon get hitched.  Both Hunter Pence and Joe Panik are scheduled to be tying the knot in the next couple of weeks (thanks to Brandon Crawford’s blog for the heads up).  Speaking of Hunter, did you see the Halloween costumes him and his fiancé Lexi wore this year?  Check them out.  Love it!  There’s also a video of Hunter showing off his sweet moves.  Also note that Hunter finally shaved off that beard – I’m assuming that’s so he’ll look presentable for his wedding day.

The wonderful Ginny got me (among some other fun baseball things) Bruce Bochy’s book A Book of Walks for my birthday.  I had no idea what it was about, but the title is definitely appropriate.  It’s a very quick read that details 8 of his and his wife’s favorite walks.  He mentions in the book that his love of walking probably saved his life.  In 2015, he had to have two stents put in to increase blood flow.  He mentioned to the doctor that he loved to walk, and the doctor replied that without those walks, he might not be alive today.  I loved the way the book was written as if Bochy were having a conversation with you – you could just hear him read each line in your head.  Nice to get to know the Skipper a little bit better.  I highly recommend it, and hope to go on some of the walks myself someday.  If you would like to borrow it from me just let me know.  Or if you chose to buy it, proceeds go to support writing workshops for young people.

Not much else to report right now.  I’m working on analyzing the spit count data from last season, and I’ll try to get the results out this week.  Already have FanFest 2017 on my calendar (February 11th in case you didn’t know), and I’m in the process of planning another Spring Training trip.  Can’t wait for baseball to be back.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Coming and Going

Wow.  I had planned on blogging this morning.  Then I decided against it, realizing that the trade deadline was this afternoon.  The Giants might make another move today, and I wanted to be able to post about it if they did.  And oh boy, did they make a move.  Two even.  And one was extra unexpected.

Let’s start with the first.  I need to thank my brother Paul for alerting me to this one via text.  The Giants got left-handed reliever Will Smith from the Brewers in exchange for pitching prospect Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac.  I had mentioned in previous blogs that Will Smith was on Bobby Evans’ radar, so that’s not really a surprise.  The Giants feel they needed another lefty in the bullpen to enable Bochy to work his bullpen magic.  I understand that and agree with that.  But is it worth losing Phil Bickford, probably their best pitching prospect, at a time when they will soon need to bolster their rotation?  And Susac?  I know he’s been hurt, but the guy is a solid catcher.  Sounds like they were pretty desperate to get someone to me.  And they new it was going to cost them.  As far as Smith, there are several positives.  He’s not a temporary acquisition – he’ll be under Giants control through 2019.  And he’s a good pitcher.  Well, if you ignore his July, he’s a good pitcher.  So I’m hoping he can overcome whatever changed during last month and get back on track, because there is a lot of potential there.  So I’m trying to be positive about this one.  But we sure had to give up a lot of potential to get this guy.  Welcome Will Smith (the Fresh Prince of SF), and goodbye Phil and Andrew.  And special thanks to Andrew for filling in as backup catcher and helping us win that ring in 2014.

I can’t leave this topic without bringing up something I found while doing research on Will Smith.  Besides the fact that I need to remember to put something besides just “Will Smith” into Google when I do a search for him, I came across an interesting fact about him.  He had an unusual, Affeldt-like injury at the beginning of the season during Spring Training.  Is it just a left-handed reliever thing to be accident prone?  The incident occurred while Smith was trying to take off one of his cleats.  He was standing on one leg to take off his other shoe when he lost his balance and twisted his knee.  “My knee just went up and popped,” claimed Smith.  Wow.  This caused him to start the season on the DL, and he didn’t pitch in his first game with the Brewers until June 2nd.  Wow.  Just hope this kind of freak accident doesn’t follow this guy around like Mr. Affeldt.  Please, please, please stay away from knives and small children!

Now we’ll move on to that second trade.  I really thought the Giants were done after the first one, so I was very surprised to hear about another one.  Credit goes to my brother Nick this time for informing me of the details.  The Giants acquired left-handed starting pitcher Matt Moore from the Tampa Bay Rays.  Sounds great.  I wasn’t expecting a trade to bolster the rotation, but a lefty is definitely nice, especially when you consider the heavy lefty lineup of the Dodgers.  With the inconsistency of Peavy and Cain, it’s also nice to have some insurance.  His ERA is a little high (4.08), but it’s been consistently moving downward since mid June.  Combine that with having Dave Righetti as a pitching coach and I see a lot of promise there.  But what did they give up for Moore?  Two prospects (shortstop Lucius Fox and pitcher Michael Santos).  Oh, and MATT DUFFY!  WHAT?  How desperate were they to bolster the rotation?  Thinking about it, though, that trade for Eduardo Nunez makes a lot more sense now if they knew this was coming.  I’m still in shock that Matt Duffy is no longer a Giant.  I know it’s just a business and stuff like this happens all the time, but I loved Matt Duffy as a player and a Giant.  Going to be so weird seeing him in a Rays uniform.  So weird.  The guy threw his batting glove to me at Spring Training (I didn’t catch it, but I almost did!)!  And I love his dad, too!  I’m really gonna miss that guy!  Come to think of it, it’s kind of ironic that he gets traded this year.  He was on the flip side of this kind of thing when he came up to the bigs last season and Casey McGehee was released.  You really never know in this sport.  Giant today.  Ray tomorrow.  We welcome one Matt and say goodbye to another.  Welcome to the team, Mr. Moore.  And all the best to you, Duffman.  You’ll always be a Giant to me.

With the addition of Eduardo Nunez to the team and the returns of Joe Panik and Hunter Pence, there were corresponding moves to make room for them on the roster.  When Joe Panik was activated, Grant Green was designated for assignment.  Hoping he won’t be picked up so he can remain a Giant as he did a fine job as a replacement.  When Eduardo Nunez came to the team, Jarrett Parker was sent to Triple A.  This was expected, as Mac Williamson made his case to stay in the outfield (and in the batting lineup) a little more strongly than Parker.  At least he’s still in Sacramento and could easily come up again if needed.  Then when Hunter came back to the team, Ramiro Pena was designated for assignment.  I’m most upset about this one.  Pena was key to keeping this team going while guys were injured.  He came through with some clutch hits while maintaining an incredible batting average during the games he played as a Giant.  Keeping my fingers crossed that no one picks him up off waivers so that we can keep him.

Another guy who snuck into the roster when Josh Osich went on the DL is left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds (so many Matts to keep track of!).  Reynolds is not a newbie to the bigs, having played several years for both the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.  He’s pitched in two games thus far while not allowing any runs.  I like that.  Welcome to the Giants, Matt!

It’s been a crazy rollercoaster ride for the Giants since the All Star break, but it appears things may have finally settled down with these last two wins against the Nationals.  Those wins are extra significant as the Nationals top the National League East Division.  My boys went from the low of winning only 2 out of 13 games, capped by that horrible triple play on Friday night (was anyone else just sitting in shock, dumbfounded, staring at the TV with their jaw dropped like I was?), to the high of winning two in a row against the Nats.  And to counter that unbelievable triple play, on Sunday Bum (a pitcher) pinch hit for Cain (a pitcher), got a double, and was pinch run for by Samardzija (a pitcher) who ended up scoring the game winning run.  You can’t make this stuff up!  I’m not totally sure, but I can’t believe that’s ever been done in the history of baseball!  Kudos to Bruce Bochy for being a maniac and bringing the entertainment!  And kudos to Matt Cain on getting his 100th win during that game yesterday.  So proud of you!  Nice accomplishment, Matt!  So many Matts!

I forgot to mention that Ginny and I discovered two new taste treats at AT&T Park when we attended the game last Tuesday (that they won!).  We both had loaded tater tots (loaded = sour cream, cheese, scallions, and bacon bits) and grilled brussel sprouts.  Both were fabulous!  We found them on the View Level near section 321 where we were sitting, and I’m not sure they are available anywhere else in the park.  They are definitely worth a trip up those stairs!  And Ginny realized that since they won that game, we need to do that every time we go to the park as a good luck charm.  I’m game!

I’ll end on a funny note.  Came across this on Facebook today.  I absolutely love it when players do stuff like this.  Makes the game that much more fun.  Silliness is a good thing!  Poor Bochy gnome!  At least he was returned to his owner (breathing might be a bit difficult, though).

The Giants start a series against the Phillies tomorrow at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, one of the ballparks I just visited.  Nice park – dull fans.  Hope the quiet isn’t too distracting.  And hope all these changes to the roster aren’t too distracting, either.  Hoping they can carry the momentum of those two wins to the other side of the continent.  Unlike the Nats, the Phillies are in 4th place in their division, so I’m looking for lots of Ws.  You can come together as a new, improved unit and do this, Guys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  TAME THE PHILLIES!

Who’s Nunez?

That’s what I asked my brother Paul after he sent me the following text last night during bingo: “Love the trade!  Nunez is a stud!”  Trade?  Nunez?  Must be a reliever, right?  That’s what the Giants need most right now, right?  Wrong.  When I asked for details, my brother told me that we had actually traded a lefty starting pitcher prospect (Adalberto Mejia) for him, and that Eduardo Nunez plays second base, third base, and shortstop.  During his season with the Twins, he amassed 12 homeruns, 47 RBI, and 27 steals (the most in the American League) while batting .296.  And the guy was an All-Star.  That sounds pretty good to me.   But why did they give up a starting pitching prospect when they will probably need to replace Cain and Peavy soon?  And why did they need more help in the infield?  According to Bobby Evans, “We’ve seen the need for depth in our infield.  I think as guys come back, when we think about the amount of rest they may need and the amount of time we still have in the season, just to have a guy that has (Nunez’s) experience and has served in that role in the past and done well, we just feel like he could help us cover the tracks as we get 100 percent healthy.”  OK.  That makes sense.  This way we can get some pop in the lineup while the recently injured guys can get a break.  Plus at least they didn’t have to give up their top prospects.  It’s sounding even better to me as I’m writing this!  Then I came across this video, and it made me feel even better about him.  Then there’s this smile – love it!  Would be fantastic if he can get guys out of their funk and steal bases or get hits in the clutch.  Will keep my fingers crossed.  Welcome to the team, Eduardo!

So what about getting that reliever we need?  Some of the guys on the Giants radar have already been moved, including Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs and Andrew Cashner to the Marlins (he is a starter, but Giants thought they could use him in the bullpen).  Other guys who’ve been mentioned are Andrew Miller of the Yankees (probably would have to give up too much for him), Luke Hochevar of the Royals, Huston Street of the Angels, Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith (Fresh Prince – couldn’t resist) of the Brewers, and Mark Melancon of the Pirates.  All just rumors at this point, but with the trade deadline this Monday, if they’re going to make a move it will happen soon.  Will keep you posted.

I learned something about baseball schedules while on my East Coast trip.  My brother Nick mentioned how they decide which American League teams the Giants will play each season.  Turns out it rotates between the three divisions every year.  20 interleague games are played in eight series.  Each team plays one three-game series against four teams from one division in the other league, and two two-game series (one home, one away) against the remaining team in that division.  The remaining four games are played against a team’s “natural rival” in two back-to-back two game series.  Of course for the Giants, this “natural rival” is the A’s.   So this season, the Giants play AL East teams, next season they’ll play AL Central teams, then the following season, they’ll play AL West teams, and so on.  Knowing this, it’s nice that the Giants got to play the Red Sox during Big Papi’s last season.  Thanks for enlightening me, Nick!  And if you’re curious as to what the “natural rival” teams are throughout the country, here’s the list including the name of each series:

  • Orioles vs. Nationals – Beltway Series
  • Cubs vs. White Sox – Windy City Series
  • Reds vs. Indians – Ohio Cup
  • Tigers vs. Pirates (no name found)
  • Royals vs. Cardinals – I-70 Series
  • Angels vs. Dodgers – Freeway Series
  • Marlins vs. Rays – Citrus Series
  • Brewers vs. Twins (no name found)
  • Mets vs. Yankees – Subway Series
  • A’s vs. Giants – Bay Bridge Series
  • Padres vs. Mariners – Vedder Cup

Four teams in the East and West form split rivalries, and they have a different rival every other year.

  • Red Sox vs. Phillies or Braves
  • Blue Jays vs. Phillies or Braves
  • Astros vs. Rockies or Diamondbacks
  • Rangers vs. Rockies or Diamondbacks

I’ve got a new spit count for you.  Here you go:

July 25th

Giants:

  • Law 5
  • Parker 4
  • Bochy 3 (seeds)
  • Belt 3
  • Strickland 2
  • Span 1
  • Posey 1 (into batting glove)
  • Gillaspie 1 (into hand)
  • Blanco 1 (seeds – whew!)

Reds:

  • Bruce 6
  • Phillips 4
  • Barnhart 3
  • Votto 2
  • Duvall 1
  • Hamilton 1

Game Spit Master General = Bruce at 6

Giants Game Spit Master General = Law at 5

That’s a total of 38 spits during a 3 hour and 5 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.9 minutes.

The curious thing about this game was that the Reds didn’t log their first spit until the 4th inning.  And even though Blanco spit (which he NEVER does), he was eating sunflower seeds, so I’m giving him a break.

The concern for my boys continues as they can’t seem to get out of this post All-Star funk.  So many guys left on base.  At least they won the game that Ginny and I attended on Tuesday (plus we got a free blanket from CSN – sweet!).  Those tickets were so cheap, and I forgot how good seats can be on the View Level.  Perfect!  Maybe Eduardo Nunez will be the spark they need.  And maybe the return of Joe Panik (who was in the lineup last night – YAY!), Hunter Pence (who trainers say still needs some time), and Matt Duffy (who’s scheduled to start his rehab assignment this weekend) will bring things back to normal.  We’re still 2 games ahead of the Dodgers, but I’d like that number to get back to where it was before the All-Star break.  Insurance is nice!  Come on, Boys.  We’re all still behind you.  We know this is just a phase and you’ll find a way through it.  Maybe tonight against the Nationals will be the start.  You can do it!  GO GIANTS!  SWAT THE NATS!

East Coast Road Trip

Got back yesterday from another amazing baseball roadtrip with 3 of my siblings, this time to Boston, Philadelphia, and New York.  So many wonderful experiences crammed into those 7 days.  I feel a list coming on – here are just some of the fantastic memories I have from this trip:

  • What more can you say.  We attended both Giants games there.  Just being in that place for the first time gave me goosebumps.  So much history in that aging building.  And the fans were amazing.  So loud.  I think the acoustics there increase the level of loudness.  Thank you, Red Sox fans.  Except for the guy I yelled at for being a jerk, you were very friendly and full of info about your beloved park and team.
  • Lobster rolls. They even sell them at McDonalds!
  • Boston itself. One of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to.  So much history and beautiful buildings.  And so clean!
  • While walking the Freedom Trail in Boston, we ran into Renel! We spoke with her and took pictures with her.  She was so friendly and really appreciated our compliments.
  • Making fun of the Pet Brock giveaway. Dumbest giveaway ever.  Here’s a pic.  And it’s not even a rock – it’s plastic.  They gave this out at the game on Tuesday.  Many fans left theirs behind in the stands.
  • Got to watch Mac Williamson go for broke and tumble over the bullpen wall at Fenway while attempting to make a catch in person. We were sitting in seats right near where this occurred, so we got to see every detail.  Still can’t believe that he didn’t break something.  And he didn’t even catch the ball.
  • Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. We attended a Marlins vs. Phillies game there to cross an extra park off our list (Nick and Paul had been to the old Phillies ballpark).  My favorite feature was the lit up Liberty Bell in center field.  When the Phillies got a homerun (they scored 2 during that game), the bell would light up, swing back and forth, and gong.  So cool!  Too bad the fans were absolutely dead.  The park was only about half full, and no one was cheering.  Saw Barry Bonds in the Marlins dugout.
  • Philly cheese steak sandwiches. We did the taste test and compared Pat’s to Geno’s.  Pat’s won.  So very delicious.  Who would have thought cheese whiz could taste so good?
  • Taking the Finnerty’s bus to the Giants vs. Yankees game on Friday night. In case you don’t know, Finnerty’s is a bar in Manhattan that caters to Bay Area sports fans.  They show all the Bay Area team games in the bar, and local folks who are fans of these teams can cheer for them without feeling uncomfortable.  This was a mixed bag because the bus to the park had no air conditioning (it was 95 degrees outside and the ride was 1 ½ hours – yes, it was HOT!), but Finnerty’s refunded our money because of it, so I’m emphasizing the positives about this experience.  It was fun watching a game at another team’s stadium while being surrounded by Giants fans.  We were really loud, and we didn’t have to worry about Yankee fans being annoyed with us.  The Finnerty’s crowd took up two entire sections of the park!  Met some great Giants fans, one of whom kept us in stitches for most of the game with his rantings.  Also ran into my old neighbors who now live in New York.  So great to be able to connect with them.  Yankee Stadium overall was kind of just big and boring.  And we missed seeing all the statues there because they close them up an hour before the game.  What is up with that??
  • Met Brian Murphy from KNBR at Finnerty’s. He also went to the game on the Finnerty’s bus.  He was very friendly and took a picture with my sister and me.
  • Watching the Giants game from Finnerty’s on Saturday. We met up with my friend’s daughter who had just recently moved to NYC and watched the game from there.  So much fun to hang out with all the Giants fans from all over the country and share that experience.  Since we had to watch the local feed of the game, they played “Bye, Bye Baby” in the bar between innings after Mac Williamson hit a home run.  Just like home!
  • Even though we didn’t see a game there, I got to go to Citi Field, home of the Mets. They were out of town, so we could walk right up to the stadium.  It’s a beautiful building from the outside, and we could even peek into the entry rotunda which is dedicated to Jackie Robinson.  Shea Stadium used to be in the parking lot there, and they have markers where the original bases and pitcher’s plate used to be.  So even though I couldn’t officially cross this park off my list, I did get to see it.
  • Hanging out with my siblings. This is always one of the highlights of these trips.  We all get along great and enjoy being together.  Plus on this trip, we all became addicted to Pokémon Go!  Caught lots of rare ones on the road!

Of course, in being positive, I’m not mentioning the fact that the Giants lost all three games we attended (and won the one we didn’t attend – exactly what happened to us during Spring Training!).  They’ve definitely been in a funk since the All Star game.  They’re having issues everywhere – with their starting pitchers, relief pitchers, lack of offense (well, except for Mac Williamson), defensive errors (Brandon Crawford made 3 errors in one game – what is this madness?), and base running errors.  So many guys left on base with no one there to bring them in.  Even situations where the bases were loaded and no runs were scored.  Sheesh!  It’s really tough, but I have to keep in mind that all teams go through this kind of thing at some point.  We know these guys are talented and this slump won’t last forever.  RIGHT??  I’m hoping that we’ll get Joe Panik, Matt Duffy, and Hunter Pence back soon and that will spark something in them.  And staying with that positive attitude, at least we’ve managed to stay in first place through all this, as the Dodgers haven’t done much better.

I got the privilege of watching Aroldis Chapman, the Yankee’s closer, in person.  That guy is incredible – so fast!  It was rumored that the Giants had interest in obtaining him, but it was announced today that he’s going to the Cubs.  Great.  Not only did we not get him, but a team that we may see in the playoffs did.  Sigh.

Did you hear of the escapades of White Sox pitcher Chris Sale this weekend?  He didn’t like the throwback uniform his team was supposed to wear, claiming it was uncomfortable.  So he took matters into his own hands and cut up everyone’s uniform!  He was not allowed to pitch in that game, and he was suspended for 5 games as well (meaning he’ll miss an additional start).  What craziness!!  Really??  There are ways to handle disagreements, and having a temper tantrum to get your own way is not one of them.  Very glad that the White Sox organization responded to this insanity.  In my opinion, if a team is paying you that much money to play for them, you abide by their rules and wear the goofy uniform.

With the trade deadline nearing (August 1st), rumor has it that the Giants continue to look for someone to bolster their bullpen.  With Chapman gone now, I wonder who they’ll get, if anyone.  Andrew Baggarly mentioned a few possibilities include Jeanmar Gomez of the Phillies and Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith of the Brewers.   Will keep you posted.  Wouldn’t want to be Bobby Evans right about now.

At least the boys are back home now, starting a series against the Reds tonight.  Hoping the Bay Area fog will do them some good.  I have to say, that humidity did a job on me – I can only imagine what it was like to have to play in it!  Will be watching tonight and doing a spit count, so be on your best behavior, Boys!  Then I’ll be attending the game tomorrow night with Ginny – her first one in a long time.  Really looking forward to watching a game back at home.  Come on, Boys!  Get back in the “swing” of things tonight!  Get out of this funk!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  SHAKE OFF THE EAST COAST BLUES!

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Casilla?

HE BALKED IN THE WINNING RUN!  HE SKIPPED OFF THE RUBBER!  HE DIDN’T GET AN OUT!  HE WASTED BUSTER’S HOME RUN!  WHAT THE HELL?  OK – I’ve tried to be patient.  I love the guy, and I know he’s a very talented pitcher.  But I think we can all safely say that he shouldn’t be the closer anymore.  If we have any hope of taking it all the way this season, Santiago Casilla should no longer be the closer.  Any time he comes in, everyone holds their breath, then screams.  And my mom’s blood pressure goes up.  And the tenth inning yesterday was just downright pulling-your-teeth-out-one-by-one torture.  In the post game, even Duane Kuiper mentioned, “The trade deadline is in two weeks.”  If he’s saying it, you know it’s a big deal.  Fans have mentioned that Sergio Romo should take over the closer job, but that’s not a solution either.  He had that job, and he couldn’t handle it either.  We need a proven closer.  I’ve been trying to put some sort of positive spin on this thing, as Giants Fan Carm likes to accentuate the positive, and the only thing I’ve come up with is that this will start a fire under Bobby Evans to finally take action and get someone ASAP.  Not sure who it will be at this point, and kind of afraid of who we’re going to have to give up to get someone fabulous (key prospects Christian Arroyo, Tyler Beede, and Phil Bickford have been mentioned), but it’s reached the point where I think even the players want some sort of move to happen.

One other positive from that game – I learned a new baseball strategy from Duane Kuiper that I had never heard about.  He said that in certain situations, his manager would encourage him to drop a pop fly.  For example, if there was a runner on first, you could drop the ball and throw the guy out at second (because he wouldn’t be running thinking the ball would be caught) instead of getting the batter out.  You couldn’t do this if it was an infield pop fly because the infield fly rule would come into play, but you could if it was in the outfield.  This comes in handy if the guy on base is a faster base runner than the guy at bat.  Crazy!  He also mentioned that even though this play was only put on rarely, he didn’t like to do it because the crowd wouldn’t know he had dropped the ball on purpose and think he was a loser.  Ha ha!  Jon Miller mentioned that they don’t use this play anymore.  Well, at least we don’t think they do – who knows!

We can’t lose today’s game.  We can’t be swept by the Padres, of all teams.  That would give us horrible mojo going to the east coast.  And I want them to be happy over there so that I can witness some good games and not be at the mercy of the Yankee and Red Sox fans.  We need a happy flight.  Johnny’s pitching today, so I’m pretty sure they’ll win since he’s motivated to erase that horrible All Star start from the minds of his fans.  He can do it.  My boys can do it.  They just need to get more than a 3-run lead early!  Eliminate the Casilla factor!  Will be interesting to see if Casilla will even be used in that role now after yesterday.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  BURN THE PADRES’ BROOM!

Cruising Into the Second Half

I always hope for a perfect game from the start when I’m watching a baseball game.  Whether it’s from my living room or from the stands, I always have that hope in the back of my mind.  If a game is perfect after even three innings, I’ll text my siblings that we have a perfect game going.  I know this is silliness, but I think perfect games, even no-hitters, are pretty magical.  Just think of all the perfection that has to come into play, both from the pitcher and from the defense behind him, for this rare event to occur.  And one of my biggest baseball dreams is to be in attendance for either a perfect game or a no hitter.  My brother and two of my nieces have had the fortune of experiencing that thrill, being at AT&T Park for Tim Lincecum’s last no hitter.  Well, I may have gotten as close as I’ll ever get this last Sunday as I got to watch Madison throw a near perfect game in person.  I went with my hubby, and we had great field level seats between home plate and first.  Had a perfect view of my boy, and paid homage to him wearing my Bumgarner jersey.  By the 5th inning, you could just feel the tension and excitement building.  Then when Gregor dropped that fly ball (the sun was wicked that day – don’t feel bad, Gregor) and was charged with an error, the perfectness went away.  You can’t have a perfect game with an error, even if it’s not your fault.  Still, the no hitter was on the table.  With every inning he got out of cleanly, the excitement rose in the park.  There were deafening screams and cheers with every out.  He got a standing ovation with every walk back to the dugout.  Then, with one out in the eighth, Jake Lamb hit one to right field and made it to first.  Dreams shattered.  Still, Bum was met with overwhelming and well deserved applause.  After that, he was able to complete the game, allowing only one walk and no other hits.  This was the 4th one-hit game Madison had logged, an accomplishment in itself.  Still waiting for that perfect game or no hitter, but this game was indeed magical nonetheless.  And I’m sure Madison will get that no hitter, if not perfection, someday.

Regarding the seats we had (Section 110), I have to put a warning out there.  This season, the Giants extended the netting at the backstop in order to protect people from flying bats or balls.  The problem is that there is a pole to support the netting, and it can block your view depending on where you’re sitting.  Unfortunately Dan’s view of the batter was blocked by said pole.  Not sure I will sit in those seats again.  Better off being a little closer to first base in sections 109 or 108.  Angel and I sat in 108 last Tuesday, and those seats were perfect – well, except for the fact that there was a pigeon hanging out in the rafters above us.  Luckily he missed us!  Guess being covered doesn’t always provide protection from aerial attack!

Did anyone else watch the homerun derby?  I know a lot of people just ignore it, but there’s just something about seeing a guy hit a homerun.  I always love it.  And this year, Giancarlo Stanton was unbelievable!  He made up for us not being able to watch Madison blast some out of the park.  Stanton hit a total of 61 homeruns during the competition, smashing the previous record set by Bobby Abreu in 2005 of 41.  Five of his homers went 490 feet or more, the longest reaching 497 feet.  Incredible!  And so much fun to watch.  Definitely could have done without Chris Berman’s “BACK, BACK, BACK” calls, though.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this hysterical remix of his calls.  Sounds like he’s channeling a chicken!

My brothers told me that the Giants have some sort of jinx going on with the All-Star game.  They rarely do well.  Unfortunately, my boy Johnny Cueto fell victim to this during this outing.  How did our hero have two guys get knocks off him during that game?  And both were teammates of his last season, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals.  Think they have some inside info on how to hit off of him?  Or was it just the excitement and distraction of everything around the All Star game that got to Johnny?  The Giants are having him skip his next scheduled start on Saturday, giving him an extra day to recoup from that insanity.  But I’m sure he’ll be back to his regular self in his next start.  Bum didn’t pitch because he had just pitched that gem on Sunday, but he did get to enjoy all the festivities nonetheless, including being booed by all the San Diego fans (at least they booed the Dodgers players, too).  Buster was the starting catcher and got to work with Johnny at the beginning of the game (making Johnny’s rough outing even more strange – he was pitching to his home boy!).  It was nice to see Buster out there representing us, but the only offense he could muster was a walk.  At least it was better than Brandon Belt, who actually made an appearance in the eighth inning but flew out to left field.  Not a reflection on Brandon, though, because the pitcher he matched up against, Yankees reliever Andrew Miller (who happens to be on the Giants reliever radar), was totally dealing.  Even the broadcasters were commenting that they were surprised he could even connect with one of those pitches.  Not a very good showing for my boys.  Then they had to keep bringing up the fact that the only grand slam ever allowed in an All Star game came off of Giants pitcher Atlee Hammaker.  Sheesh!  Poor Giants!

Speaking of Brandon Belt, that kid was so thrilled to be going to his first All Star game.  The Giants front office put out an aggressive ad campaign to get Belt in during the final-vote runoff.  That campaign included this video, one of my all-time favorite Giants productions.  Be sure to check out the website, too – it’s real and hysterical!  Anyway, to thank the front office for all their hard work, Brandon and his wife, Haley, bought pizza for the entire front office, 34 in all.  He was constantly thanking them whenever he was being interviewed about the All Star game, and kept saying he wouldn’t be there without them.  He also wouldn’t be there without his wife.  If you haven’t already, you have got to read his latest blog installment.  It brought me to tears.  In fact, I just reread it, and I’m crying again! Lends some insight into the support team behind every player.  Here’s the link.  Very glad he’s appreciative of her.

Sounds like we’ll be getting some key players back in the lineup and on the mound soon.  Hunter Pence could start a rehab assignment as soon as Saturday, and Joe Panik may start as early as Sunday.  The expected dates for return to the bigs for the two are July 25th for Hunter and July 22nd for Joe.  YAY!  Matt Duffy, on the other hand, is not expected to return soon.  He’s still recovering from an injured Achilles, and the Giants are giving him more time to get back.  Matt Cain is also due to return soon.  He allowed 2 runs over 5 2/3 innings in a rehab start in Sacramento.  He’s scheduled to have one more rehab start and then possibly return to the team July 19th.  It’s really amazing that with all these significant losses to the roster, the boys have been able to continue to compete at a high level, garnering the highest win total in all of baseball at this point in the season (57 and 33).  Love my boys!

I have another installment of “Angel’s Question” for you.  Angel was wondering if, when a manger pulls out a pitcher and he walks to the mound to take the ball, is he required to do that, or is it done out of respect for the pitcher?  I looked it up, and the manager is not required to take the ball away from the pitcher.  I guess that’s just baseball tradition.  When a new pitcher comes in, it is not typically announced to the home plate umpire (unless there is a double switch).  In this case, MLB rule 3.08 applies.  It states, “If no announcement of a substitution is made, the substitute shall be considered to have entered the game when, if a pitcher, he takes a position on the pitcher’s plate.”  No mention of the manager initiating the switch.  I think it’s nice that the manager comes out, though, and it definitely shows respect.  Thanks for another great question, Angel!

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here yet, but come Monday I’m embarking on a Giant adventure.  My two brothers, my sister and I are going to be following the Giants to New York and Boston, plus we’ll be attending a game in Philadelphia just to cross it off my list of parks.  I am SOOOOOOOOO excited!  So if I don’t update this for a while, you’ll know what I’m up to.  Look for my sister and I on the broadcast of the July 22nd game vs. the Yankees.  We’ll be sitting in the Finnerty’s section with all the other crazies.  Can’t wait!

Madison takes the mound again tonight in San Diego to begin the second half of the season.  At least he and the other Giants All Stars didn’t have to travel far!  I’m sure he’s going to be fabulous tonight, and considering he’s going against the Padres, who knows what magic might happen!  Keep this amazing streak of happiness going for us, Boys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Keeping It Together

The boys continue to hold it together while dealing with key players out of the lineup.  At the halfway point (after 81 games), we had 50 wins.  If we can keep this up, that puts us on track to win 100 games this season.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?   And we’re still 5 games up on the Dodgers.  Plus even though I actually like Clayton Kershaw, it doesn’t hurt that he’s out with back issues.

Even the backups are starting to get hurt!  Ramiro Peña has been out with a sprained ankle the past few games, an injury he sustained while crashing into Mac Williamson as they both went for a pop up in the outfield during the third game in the A’s series.  Luckily he was back today to pinch hit, getting the game-winning RBI.  Way to come back big, Kid!  That game against the A’s was unbelievable!  Those were not my boys out there!  I think some A’s fan had a set of Giants voodoo dolls or something.  And poor Mac Williamson.  It just was not his night.  Besides crashing into Peña (which, by the way, was not Mac’s fault – the outfielder has first dibs on those plays, and he called Peña off), he also hit into a double play with the bases loaded.  Then there was that homerun ball that was in the pocket of his mitt that he just couldn’t hang onto.  It would have been an amazing catch if he had held onto it, especially since he had to jump so high to get it and time the jump perfectly, but luck was not with him that evening (voodoo dolls, I’m telling you!).  Then, to top it all off, he slid into second trying to break up a double play, but since he slid past the base, he was called out as well as the batter.  This is because of the new rule they are calling the “Tejada Rule” where you have to be able to touch the bag after you slide into second.  Oh, and how ironic was it that Ruben Tejada, appearing in his first Giants game, the guy who the rule is named after, was in the on deck circle witnessing the event as it all went down!  Poor Ruben!  And poor Mac!

I was watching the game Friday night against the D-Backs (which we won – YAY!) and noticed that my boy Johnny Cueto was acting kind of strange.  He normally takes very little time between pitches, but this night he kept walking off the mound and wandering around trying to get focused.  He just looked really uncomfortable.  I found out why.  First, he had a pretty bad stomach bug!  He kept grabbing his stomach in between pitches.  I can’t believe he was able to pitch that well when dealing with something like that.  But he was also dealing with an extremely sad event.  He had just learned that his beloved pony, Popeye (named after the restaurant), had died in the Dominican Republic.  Aw!  Double whammy for the poor guy, and he was still able to pull off a win.  So sorry for your loss, Johnny.  I know how much you love horses.  And thanks for the heads up on this, Andrew Baggarly.

Mike Krukow made an interesting comment during the Cueto start on Friday.  He mentioned, “I’d like to know at what point in Johnny Cueto’s life he came up with the shimmie.”  I’d like to know, too.  He was shimmying a lot during that game.  How do you decide that should be part of your repertoire?  If I ever meet him, I’ll have to ask.  Just keep shimmying, Johnny.  We all love it, and it’s working!

I have a new installment of “Angel’s Question” for you.  We were watching the game last night together, and she asked if I knew how players from other countries (like Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, or Japan) are able to play in the United States and stay here.  I didn’t know, so I did some research.  Found out that there are two paths they can take.  They can either apply for a green card to become a permanent resident or they can apply for a visa.  There are actually specific visas for athletes.  The visa allows them to be temporarily employed in the United States.  The team serves as the official sponsor for the player.  Established players are typically issued visas that allow them to remain in the states for up to 5 years, while minor league players usually receive visas for 1 year.  Individual teams are primarily responsible for obtaining visas for their players, though MLB works closely with the state department if any issues should arise.  Getting that visa is not always an easy proposition, especially if the athlete has had a brush with the law while in the United States.  Every season, you hear about foreign players arriving late to Spring Training due to problems with the visa process.  For example, just this spring, former Giant Juan Uribe had to return to his home in the Dominican Republic midway through spring training in order to resolve some issues with his visa.  So there you go.  Thanks for the question, Angel!

I’ve got two new spit counts for you.  A prediction came true, and sad to say one of my heroes let me down:

June 29th

Giants:

  • Gillaspie 5
  • Tejada 4
  • Belt 3
  • Parker 3
  • Pagan 2
  • Peavy 2
  • Crawford 1 (NOOOOOO!!!)
  • Kontos 1
  • Stratton 1

A’s:

  • Vogt 32 (SEE???)
  • Hendriks 4
  • Reddick 2
  • Axford 2
  • Semien 1
  • Lowrie 1
  • Valencia 1
  • Dull 1 (another unfortunate name)

Game Spit Master General = Vogt at 32 (new season record)

Giants Game Spit Master General = Gillaspie at 5

That’s a total of 66 spits during a 2 hour and 45 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 2.5 minutes (new season record).

As I mentioned in my last blog, Stephen Vogt spits A LOT, so I wasn’t surprised by this result.  At least he didn’t exceed his record of 34 from last season.  I did notice something interesting while watching him, though.  He can’t spit through his mask any more (he did last season).  I guess they redesigned the catcher’s mask so that it has padding in front of your mouth.  He had to lift the mask every time he spat.  Didn’t seem to slow him down much.  Even more concerning that Vogt’s plethora of spits was the fact that Brandon Crawford logged even one!  I’ve sent that guy Thank You For Not Spitting certificates before!  So disappointed!  I also observed him spit once yesterday (in the dugout) and again today (on the field after making an amazing play).  What is this insanity?  Is it those voodoo dolls again?  Josh Reddick’s spits spread out like a fan.  Not sure how he does that.  And Jarrett Parker spat three times in succession, catching the last one on his beard.  So totally nasty!  Also Ruben Tejada made his debut on the list this evening.  Sigh.

July 1st

Giants:

  • Cueto 17
  • Gillaspie 9
  • Parker 4
  • Green 4
  • Belt 2
  • Casilla 2
  • Posey 1 (seeds)
  • Tejada 1
  • Bochy 1

Diamondbacks:

  • Castillo 5
  • The Goldschmidt 4
  • Bourn 2
  • Hale 1
  • Miller 1
  • Segura 1
  • Delgado 1
  • Lamb 1
  • Herrmann 1
  • Gosselin 1

Game Spit Master General = Cueto at 17

That’s a total of 59 spits during a 2 hour and 50 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 2.9 minutes.

My boy Johnny Cueto “won” again, but at least he didn’t pass his record for the season of 26.  Gotta give the guy a break as he had a tummy ache that day.  Maybe spitting was helping him feel better.  Grant Green logged his first spits as a Giant today.  Every spit was launched into his batting glove.

The All Star roster will be announced on Tuesday.  If at least Buster and Brandon Crawford aren’t on there I will be very ticked off.  They’ve both played like All Stars so far this season.  Would be nice to have a couple of other guys in there, too.  I’m pretty sure Madison and Johnny will be invited as well.  We start a series against the Rockies tomorrow.  Not gonna jinx anything, but hoping we can at least take the series.  The kids have continued to come through for us, so I have high hopes.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  MAKE IT A HAPPY 4TH OF JULY WEEK!

It Wasn’t All Bad…

It’s all my fault!  The Giants lost the last two days because of me!  I posted at the end of my last blog that the A’s stink, and that must have ticked them off!  What has gotten into them?  Actually, they had just taken a series against the Angels 3 games out of 4, and I would imagine that gave them some momentum coming into the Bay Area rivalry.  I’m sorry, Giants fans!  It’s all on me!

Seriously, what is going to happen with Jeff Samardzija?  He’s had some issues of late with guys making solid contact off of him.  I wonder if maybe he’s forgotten the advice I’m sure Dave Righetti gave him at the beginning of the season.  Somehow he was doing better then.  And the bullpen got lit up yesterday (except for Josh Osich and Derek Law).  This was strange because they had been doing so well lately.  Do you think that rivalry really means that much to the A’s that they were just more motivated to win?

And I’ve been really trying hard not to go there, but we really need to do something about the Casilla situation.  He just doesn’t seem to consistently be able to handle the closer role.  I think it’s too much pressure for him.  I bet Bobby Evans is extremely busy right now trying to find someone who would be a little more dependable as it’s looking like we have a good shot at making the playoffs.  Sorry, Santiago, but you’re driving everyone NUTS!

I was at the game yesterday.  I mentioned the $10 View Level tickets in my last blog, plus my brother got a free parking pass.  Cheapest AT&T Park experience for me in a long while.  Even though we lost, I still really enjoyed that game.  Of course, going with my family (my brother along with my other brother and by niece who tagged along with us) is always a fun thing.  And my niece and I were able to get on TV while they were doing the CSN broadcast from Willie Mays Plaza!  Our heads were right behind Tim Flannery!  Our minute of fame!  There were a ton of A’s fans there, and you really had to appreciate what loyal fans they are what with the horrible things Billy Beane has done to that team.  Tough to stay loyal when the players are constantly changing.  There was even a crowd of yellow in the right field bleachers, complete with a drummer!  That’s some loyalty!  There was one sitting behind us, along with his father who is a Giants fan.  He was a crackup!  He kept spouting trivia to his dad that wasn’t true!  He celebrated a lot when the A’s would do something good (which is to be expected – and he wasn’t really obnoxious), but then he also kept it real and constantly was cutting down the A’s players as well.  So funny!  We laughed a lot.  The part I really enjoyed was how even though the pitching crashed, the offense kept coming back and scoring runs.  I’m sure this was a huge ego boost for a lot of our players, especially the kids.  Five guys had multiple hit games, plus Conor Gillaspie went 4 for 5 and Brandon Crawford had 5 RBI.  And those back-to-back homers by Jarrett Parker and Denard Span revived the overwhelmed crowd at the end of the game.  I like offense, and this team is going to need it if they are to survive all the injuries they’ve been plagued with.

Speaking of injuries, want to send a shoutout to Joe Panik, who was pulled from the lineup right before the game yesterday due to concussion symptoms.  He had been struck by a pitch on the back of his helmet 10 days previous in Tampa Bay.  He passed three days worth of concussion tests at the time, but concussions can be tricky.  I’m guessing he has had other symptoms all along that he was hiding.  Hope now he can get some rest and get over it.  We all know how long it took Brandon Belt to overcome his concussion last season.  Don’t want to have Joe out of the lineup that long, but would rather that than have him seriously injured.  Take it easy, Joe, and please let the coaches know how you are really feeling.  Actually, LISTEN, BOYS – BE HONEST WHEN DISCUSSING INJURIES!  It is better in the longrun for you and your fans.

I’m definitely going to do a spit count tonight.  At the game last night, I saw Stephen Vogt catching for the A’s and was reminded that he can spit up a storm.  In fact, he logged the most spits by a non-Giant last season, expelling 34 in a single game, the majority of which exited THROUGH HIS CATCHER’S MASK!  I see he’s catching tonight, so that game should be spitacular!

I’ll leave you with a little nugget I found on Gregor Blanco’s blog today.  If you haven’t read his blog, you should.  Here’s the link.  Today’s addition is extra specially heartwarming because he discusses how great an experience it was to work with kids in the Challenger Divisions of Little League Baseball.  Also in his blog, he mentions that each team is running someone for president this season.  He just happens to be the candidate for the Giants.  Check out his campaign video.  So much silliness!  And definitely better looking!

So I think since we lost two in our house to the A’s, we need to take two from them in their house.  It’s only fair.  Jake and Madison (if they get run support like last night) can do it.  We just need the starters to go deep so the bullpen can get some rest.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  GIVE THE GIANTS FANS AT OAKLAND COLISEUM SOMETHING TO CHEER ABOUT!