Spit Analysis 2015

Finally!  After all these months!  The 2015 Spit Analysis is here!  As you all know, I hate how much guys spit in baseball.  In order to shed some light on who the worst offenders are, I did spit counts during 19 games from the 2015 baseball season, and below are the results, some surprising, some not so much:

# of games Total # of Avg. # of Highest # of
caught spitting spits spits/game spits/game
Susac 7 114 16.3 41
Leake 1 6* 6 6*
Byrd 3 14 4.7 8
Vogelsong 8 34 4.3 16
McGehee 5 19 3.8 5
Sanchez 2 7 3.5 6
Belt 15 47 3.1 9
Bumgarner 5 15 3 6
Hudson 3 9 3 4
Parker 3 9 3 5
Brown 1 3 3 3
Williams 1 3 3 3
Strickland 6 16 2.7 4
Pagan 13 31 2.4 6
Bochy 12 26 2.2 6
Lincecum 5 11 2.2 4
Duffy 11 24 2.2 5
Blanco 2 4* 2 3*
Reyes 1 2* 2 2*
Machi 2 4 2 2
Noonan 1 2 2 2
Cain 2 4 2 3
Posey 10 19 1.9 5
Meulens 9 16 1.8 4
Heston 4 7 1.8 3
Petit 7 12 1.7 3
Casilla 5 8 1.6 3
Aoki 6 13 1.6 3
Osich 2 3 1.5 2
Hall 2 3 1.5 2
Affeldt 3 4 1.3 2
Romo 3 4 1.3 2
Tomlinson 3 4 1.3 2
Wotus 5 6 1.2 2
Righetti 4 4 1 1
Maxwell 4 4 1 1
Adrianza 4 4 1 1
Panik 2 2 1 1
Decker 2 2 1 1
Kelly 2 2 1 1
Peavy 2 2* 1 1*
Kontos 2 2 1 1
Crawford 1 1 1 1
De Aza 1 1 1 1
Perez 1 1 1 1
Frandsen 1 1 1 1
Arias 1 1 1 1
Hayes 1 1 1 1
Pence 1 1 1 1
Groeschner 1 1 1 1

 

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

Are you as surprised as I was at the leader this season?  He had a healthy output last season as well, but he certainly outdid himself this time.  Once again, we have a different Overall Spit Master General for the 2015 season, and that person is ANDREW SUSAC who logged 41 spits during a single game on July 5th.  This surpasses the all-time record for a Giant previously held by Chris Stewart at 38.  What is wrong with that kid?  And the weird thing is that he doesn’t seem to be chewing tobacco.  Why does he spit so much?  Granted catchers are on camera a lot, but seriously?  Andrew will be receiving his spit certificate in the mail as soon as the regular season starts.  Hope he frames it in his locker as a reminder to KNOCK THAT STUFF OFF!

Other spitacular records that were set this season:

  • Most spits in a single game by a non-Giant – Stephen Vogt of the A’s at 34 on September 26th, the majority of these being logged while he spat THROUGH his catcher’s mask!
  • Lowest spit count average – 1 spit every 5.8 minutes (October 4th the Rockies)
  • Highest spit count average – 1 spit every 2.7 minutes (September 26th the A’s – Vogt definitely contributed to this happening!)
  • Lowest total spits in a single game – 33 during the April 24th game vs. the Rockies and 33 also during the July 6th game vs. the Mets
  • Highest total spits in a single game – 91 during the July 5th game vs. the Nationals
  • Madison Bumgarner snot rockets during a single game – 9 (June 17th the Mariners)

One positive note on the season regarding spits – umpires were definitely caught less often this season.  But on the flip side, for some reason any time a new kid would come up from the minors, he would be caught spitting right away, usually in his first game.  Also of the veterans, Vogey’s and Belt’s numbers unfortunately rose this season.

However, there’s always a bright side to all this.  There are guys who managed to keep the saliva in their mouths this season.  One of these guys shines above all the rest.  And to think I almost missed him because he NEVER showed up in my spit counts this season.  Even for sunflower seeds!  The winner of the Thank You For Not Spitting Award this season is JAVIER LOPEZ!  He pitched in 11 of the 19 games I counted, and he was never caught once.  Now granted he usually only comes into the game to pitch to a player or two, but I still think this accomplishment is worth recognizing.  Thank you for your good manners, Javi!  Hope others can follow your lead and keep the saliva off the screen and in their mouths!

I am also going to send certificates to 2 guys who were caught spitting technically, but only sunflower seed shells.  These guys are GREGOR BLANCO (who’s being recognized for the 4th time in a row) and JAKE PEAVY.  Gregor was caught spitting 3 times in one game, and then once in another, but every time it was sunflower seeds.  Jake was caught spitting seeds once in one game and then once in another game.  Even though he only started during one of the games where I counted spits, I think this is a feat worth recognizing.  So thank you for at least only spitting out seeds, but please look to Javi as an example and aim for a complete lack of expectoration next season!

Special thanks to Mike Leake as well.  He got caught during one game spitting seeds 6 times in the dugout, but since he never started any of the games I counted and since he came to the team so late in the season, I didn’t feel like he really deserved that certificate.  But his efforts are definitely worth mentioning.  Some other guys worth mentioning who played a lot during games I counted yet only got caught once or twice were Brandon Crawford (1), Hunter Pence (1), Joe Panik (2), and George Kontos (2).  But spit is spit.  Just remember that I’m watching at keep that spit where it belongs!

I’ll end with a video of someone who I’m hoping will be getting a thank you certificate next season, Jeff Samardzija.  Here he is answering some fan questions.  I am so excited about having this guy on the team next season, both because he is an excellent pitcher and because he seems to have such a great sense of humor.  FanFest is only 3 weeks away now!  It’s almost here!  Can almost taste it!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!

And the Spending Continues!

Just when I was reveling in the fact that the Giants went and spent a ton of money to improve their pitching this off season, they go and surprise us all and spend some more, this time to improve the outfield.  I’m extremely late chiming in on this one, but the Giants signed outfielder Denard Span on January 7th to a 3 year, $31 million contract.  He played for the Nationals last season, batting .301 with an OBP of .365 and stealing 11 bases, making him a shoe in as the lead-off hitter.  He’s also an exceptionally good outfielder, a Gold Glove finalist in both 2013 and 2014.  Most people I spoke with had no idea who Denard was, but I sure did.  I had chosen him several times as a Beat the Streak pick the last few seasons, meaning the guy can hit, and consistently.  So needless to say I was extremely pleased when I heard the news.

There are two potential problems, though – his age (he’ll be 32 when the season starts) and injuries (he only played in 61 games last season because of injuries).  Overall though, I think the Giants made an excellent acquisition in Span.  And based on his introductory press conference (which you can see here in case you missed it), it sounds like the Giants will have Denard play center and Angel play left.  This may have been the motivation for going after Denard in the first place – Angel’s had his share of injuries as well, his fielding abilities are questionable, and it’s his walk year so he may not be coming back next season.  Plus how can you not love a guy who says he’s willing to do anything for the team, even back up Buster!  And that personality and great sense of humor will fit in perfectly in our clubhouse.  Plus he’s got a great smile!  Welcome to the fold, Denard!  Looking forward to some spectacular catches this season!

While doing some research, I came across this story by Grant Brisbee detailing an interesting fact about Denard:  He’s afraid of birds.  Specifically birds flying at his head.  Someone’s going to have to have a talk with the center-field seagulls at AT&T Park and warn them to keep their distance (Ginny – can you speak with your cousins please?).  Or else maybe Denard can go through some seagull exposure therapy to overcome his anxiety.  Too funny!  Wonder if his teammates will take advantage of this fact and start planting fake seagulls in the clubhouse.  Or if seagull hats will take the place of panda hats in the stands.

Two of the Giants from last season have left us and gone elsewhere.  Mike Leake was picked up by the Cardinals, and Dan’s boy Juan Perez was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs.  I’ll really miss both of them and hope they do well in their new homes.  Juan leaving made it easy for Denard Span to decide on his number as a Giant – he’s wearing his usual #2, Perez’s old number.

Both George Kontos and Brandon Belt have exchanged arbitration numbers with the Giants.  Kontos, who had his best season yet in 2015, is asking for $1.35 million and the Giants have offered $850K.  The numbers are so close that it is expected they’ll settle for something in between, around $1 million.  This is really nice for George who had to battle for a bull pen spot against Jean Machi last season.  Belt’s numbers are much further apart:  He’s asking for $7.5 million and Giants are offering $5.3 million.  It’s much harder to gage Belt’s value as he was injured for a large part of last season due to concussion symptoms.  Again, since the Giants haven’t gone to arbitration with a player since doing it with A.J. Pierzynski in 2004, they’ll probably come to some middle ground with Belt as well.  Interesting to hear the speculation that they probably won’t be giving Belt a multi-year offer since Buster is getting older and may end up eventually playing at first base.  Belt gets caught right in the middle of that one.  Oh well, even $5.3 million is a ton of moolah!

Just a quick mention that Giants minor league pitcher Cody Hall was traded to the Diamondbacks.  You may ask, “Who the hell is Cody Hall?”  Well, I do have a fond memory of him from Spring Training.  He’s one of the two guys that printed their name under their signature in my autograph book when they saw that I had done that under previous autographs.  Such a good kid!  Wishing you well in the heat of Arizona, Cody!

Two Giants were blessed with additions to their families recently.  Brandon Crawford’s family welcomed a son (Braxton) and Angel Pagan’s family welcomed a daughter (Larah).  Congratulations to the Crawford and Pagan families!  Babies are the best!

Can’t leave without mentioning the passing of Giants Hall of Famer Monte Irvin.  I have to admit that I knew little about Irvin before his passing, but from the overwhelming response by the baseball community to his death, I knew I had to do some research and school myself on this amazing man.  After beginning his career with all-star numbers in the Negro League, Irvin was the 7th African American baseball player to enter the Major Leagues, and the first African American to play for the Giants.  He was a member of the 1951 New York Giants team that won the National League pennant.  That season, Monte Irvin, Hank Thompson, and Willie Mays (then a 20-year-old rookie) formed the first all-black outfield in Major League Baseball history.  Also that season, Irvin hit .312 with 24 home runs and a league-leading 121 RBI and finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting, and all this at age 32.  He would go on to win a World Series with the 1954 Giants.  Willie Mays called him his mentor and his friend, saying that Irvin took him under his wing and taught him how to survive as a black man in baseball while also teaching him about dealing with life in New York.  Everyone who paid him tribute both on the radio and over the internet mentioned what a humble and decent human being he was.  Unfortunately for us, he made his home in Texas so he wasn’t around to attend Giants festivities like Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are.  However he did get to travel with the team to the White House in 2014 in celebration of the World Series victory.  President Obama even had a private meeting with Irvin and Mays, telling them that he would not be in his position if it wasn’t for trailblazers like them.  Here’s a link to the tribute video the Giants posted in his honor.  Monte died at age 96.  Fitting that his tribute comes during the blog I’m writing on Martin Luther King Day.

So baseball is almost back!  Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 17th.  That’s just 30 days away!  And FanFest is on February 13th!  Can’t wait!  So close I can taste it!  Already planning a Spring Training trip again with my brothers.  Miss all my boys so much!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  SEE YOU SOON!!

VAMOS!

Every year I have my dreams for what the Giants will do over the off season.  And every year I’m disappointed because the Giants tend to be conservative when signing new talent.  Until this year.  They went and did it again, signing right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto this week.  After they signed Samardzija, I was sure they were done.  But I always love surprises!  Besides Greinke, Cueto was one of the most sought after pitchers in the Hot Stove League, and we nabbed him!  Just thinking about a lineup that includes Madison, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, and Cain is making me giddy.  I cannot wait for the season to start.  There is already talk about the World Series run with this lineup – I like it!  Cueto played for the Reds most of last season, then in late July he was picked up by the Royals to help them in their quest for a World Series win.  Lucky for him.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful for him to earn back-to-back rings??  Just like Jake Peavy did in 2013 with the Red Sox and 2014 with the Giants.  With that lineup, it’s definitely a possibility!  Plus it’s an even year, and we all know what that means!  Here’s a link to some highlights from the press conference where Cueto was introduced.  He’s so adorable!

Cueto gets $130 million over 6 years from the Giants.  The interesting thing about the contract is that he can opt out after 2 years.  That means if he’s still really productive then, he can opt out and try to get more money.  However, if his performance degrades over time, the Giants are still on the hook for the entire 6 years.  I had never heard of this type of clause before, but apparently it’s becoming more popular with high-end players.  If Madison had done this, we would be paying him a ton more than he’s making right now.  He’s locked up until 2019, making $9.75 million next season and only $12 million at the end of the contract.  Compare this to Cueto’s $15 million this season and $22 million at the end of his contract – what a bargain we got in Madison!

Besides a fantastic pitcher, the Giants get much more with Cueto.  Both Kruk and Kuip commented on KNBR that he has a very animated, outgoing personality, so he’ll bring some life back to the clubhouse after the departure of guys like Pablo and Jeremy Affeldt.  His pitching delivery is also very entertaining – check this out.  He does this crazy shimmy sometimes before he delivers the pitch.  Could you imagine being the batter and trying to focus while he’s doing that?  I love it!  Kruk compared him to Red Sox legend Luis Tiant.  Here’s a video of Tiant’s delivery.  I really can’t wait to watch that every 5 days!  Also, now that the Panda hats are a thing of the past, I would imagine with Cueto on the team we’ll be seeing Giants hats with dreads hanging from them as the new headwear of choice in the stands.  Welcome to the team, Johnny!  As you said, VAMOS!

Again, as new guys arrive some old favorites depart.  The most significant for me was that Ryan Vogelsong was signed by the Pirates in a one-year deal.  Mixed emotions here – sad that he’s leaving after all he did for the team and all that he meant to the fans, but happy that he’ll still be playing ball and he’ll be closer to his home in Philadelphia.  You’ll always be a Giant to us, Ryan.  I’ll still wear my shirt proudly in his honor whenever we play against the Pirates.  Also Joaquin Arias will be going to the D-Backs, signing a minor league contract with them.  I’ll really miss him coming off the bench as he always seemed to excel when he was needed most.  Plus I’m sure Matt Cain will never forget that clutch catch he made during the last out of his perfect game.  If you need to relive any of the other sweet moments of Arias’ career with the Giants, I found this great article from the McCovey Chronicles that sums up just a few of his contributions.  Personally, I’ll never forget when I just missed getting his autograph right after he had made it to the bigs at a game we went to in Cincinnati three years ago.  He was very gracious with everyone.  I’ll miss you, Joaquin.

Still waiting to hear if they will continue to dip into the pocketbook and sign a left fielder.  The latest name added to the mix is Denard Span of the Nationals.  I recognized his name because I had chosen him several times in the Beat the Streak contest last season, meaning he’s an excellent hitter.  He batted .301 last season.  That would be nice.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  Frankly at this point, I’m perfectly happy with what we’ve got, and I think Blanco would be fine in left field, plus he can also cover for Angel if he gets injured.  We’ve got enough kids who could fill in at left as well.  Just happy the pitching’s been taken care of.  More than happy – ecstatic!

I have another installment of “Angel’s Question” for you, and I don’t even think she realizes she asked me a question!  We’ve made it a tradition for the last two years to attend the Star Wars Day at AT&T Park, and this year that game is a Dodgers game in October.  I joked that we have to start planning for that game now, and she commented, “What kind of name is ‘The Dodgers’ anyway?  Does that mean they are just trying to ‘Dodge’ getting struck down by an orange light saber?”  Well, it got me thinking about the origin of that name – Dodgers.  I did some research, and the history is very interesting.  As you know, the team originally was the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Before that, they were actually called the Trolley Dodgers by the sportswriters because Brooklynites of the time had to dodge the new electric trolley cars on their way to the ballpark.  Over time, “Trolley Dodgers” was shortened to “Dodgers” and that’s the name that stuck.  Nowadays, I guess you could consider them the “World Series Dodgers”.  HA HA!  Thanks again for the question, Angel!

Will keep my ears open for any trade news.  Can’t stand the wait for the season to begin.  Then again, there’s only 56 days until FanFest!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Jaws 2

That’s right.  The Giants now have two sharks in their menagerie.  “The White Shark” Gregor Blanco has been joined by his deep-sea partner, “The Shark” Jeff Samardzija.  The right-handed starting pitcher was given a $90 million, 5 year contract the day after Greinke decided to surprise everyone and sign with the Diamondbacks.  Guess the Giants were serious about having that plan B ready.  When I first heard about the acquisition, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed, especially after the possibility of having The Greinke around dissolved.  I looked at Samardzija’s numbers, and to put it lightly, they stunk, especially that 4.96 ERA.  He allowed 118 earned runs, 29 homers, and 228 hits last season, setting bottom-of-the-barrel records on all three accounts in the American League.  The previous 3 years he did hover around a 3 ERA which is awesome, but why would the Giants be interested in taking a chance on this guy?  Then I started delving into things (and asking my brothers questions), and the pieces started to fit together.  Samardzija played for the White Sox last season, one of the worst defensive teams in baseball in one of the most hitter friendly ballparks.  Even though he had a high ERA, he was able to go deep into games, pitching in 214 innings overall.  And then the icing on the cake – Samardzija revealed that he had been tipping his pitches.  This means that batters could tell what pitch he was going to make by some clue in his delivery.  So guys knew exactly what was coming their way.  He wasn’t able to figure this out until late in the season, but the last two games he pitched in after his revelation were stellar.  One of these was a complete, almost perfect game against the Tigers where he allowed only one hit.  The pitching staff definitely must see potential there, and I definitely trust them.

I watched the press conference when Samardzija was introduced, and I quickly warmed up to the guy.  Here’s a link to the video in case you missed it.  He’s so freakin’ excited about being a Giant!  How can you not love that?  And he’s really excited about pitching to Buster and having Righetti and Gardner as coaches.  And he’s already calling Matt Cain “Cainer”.  He seems like he’ll fit right in.  Plus he’s a cutie pie.  He does need some schooling about not calling San Francisco “San Fran”, though.  I’m sure he’ll learn quickly.  I wonder if on his first day in the clubhouse he’ll share hair tips with Brandon and Madison.

The Samardzija acquisition prompted the next installment of “Angel’s Question”.  Angel noticed that along with the $90 million given to Jeff, there was also some wording about a “qualifying offer” and a “compensatory selection” which she didn’t understand.  She was concerned that we may be giving up an awful lot for this guy and asked if I could explain this.  I did some research, and indeed we gave up more than just the $90 million.  Since Jeff came from the White Sox, they could make him a qualifying offer so he would possibly stay with the team.  That offer had to be at least $15.8 million (this is set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball).  Teams have until 5 days after the World Series to make the qualifying offer, and then players have 7 days to reject it.  Samardzija was made a qualifying offer by the White Sox, and he rejected it, becoming a free agent.  In that case, any team that signs him loses their 1st round draft pick, so this indeed does happen to the Giants.  Their pick would have been 19th overall based on how well they did last season (the draft pick order is opposite the overall standings order, so the first draft pick goes to the worst team last season).  The White Sox in return get a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of the draft.  If you think that’s complicated, it’s even more convoluted than that, but that’s basically what you need to know.  And Angel, I know it doesn’t sound good that we lost that pick, but with the way the market for pitchers is this season and with our definite need, I think we had no choice but to go there.  Hoping that Samardzija makes it all worth it.  Got all that?  Thanks again for another great question, Angel!

So at present on the pitching side, that gives us Madison, Samardzija, Cain, and Peavy for sure.  Will they go after another pitcher, or will they use Heston or maybe even Timmy?  And what about my boy, Ryan Vogelsong?  Haven’t heard anything at all about him.  I’ll keep you posted.  Kind of hoping they get one more pitcher.  In the outfield, it looks like they may be the front runner going after left fielder Alex Gordon who played for the Royals last season.  Gordon could definitely add some power and defense in the outfield.  Will keep you posted on this.  It does appear that the Giants are willing to spend more money this season than in the past.

As we acquire new guys, some of the old guys are leaving us.  Nori Aoki was signed by the Mariners.  I was really hoping he could somehow stay on the team, but I guess they weren’t willing to take the chance with his injuries.  I will definitely miss watching him bat.  Good luck, Seaweed.  Also Yusmeiro Petit was signed by the Nationals after he was released by the Giants.  He’s another guy I will definitely miss.  Guess they have enough young kids to take his place, plus he wasn’t as impressive last year as he was in previous years.  Good luck, Yusmeiro.  Hector Sanchez was also not offered a contract, but he has not been picked up by any team as of yet.  I hate to say it, but that guy just had a habit of taking pitches to the head – I wonder if it’s due to his inability to block the ball correctly.  Hope someone picks him up, though.  He’s still one of my boys and he seems like a really good guy.  Sigh.  Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Where the Padres seemed to beef up their team the most in the NL West last offseason, it appears the Diamondbacks are planning on spending a ton of cash this season.  They’ve already acquired two of the top pitchers that the Giants were eying, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.  I was speaking with my coworker who’s a Dodgers fan about this, and he said they might be spending the money now because they have a huge TV contract (like $1.5 billion huge) starting this year, so they may have some extra dough to work with.  I know neither one of those pitchers came cheap.  We’ll have to see if this spending works better for the Diamondbacks this season than it did for the Padres last season (the Pads ended up with a losing season and in 4th place in the NL West).  Just goes to show you that money can’t buy everything!  You can’t buy chemistry, and that’s sure one of the things my boys have a lot of.  One happy thing about the Greinke acquisition – at least the Dodgers don’t have him anymore!  HA HA!

If you didn’t happen to see it plastered all over Facebook, Hunter Pence and his girlfriend Lexi Cozombolidis became engaged earlier this month.  Those two are so stinkin’ adorable!  Here’s the video of the proposal.  It took place at Disneyworld under the ruse that Hunter was supposed to do an interview for them.  They had dinner first, and he had the ring in his back pocket and was worried it was going to fall out.  When he got called to do the interview, the woman asked if Lexi could come with them, but Lexi said she would just wait until it was over.  NOOOOOOO!  Luckily the woman convinced her to come along.  And the timing of the fireworks was not a coincidence – they were set to go off after he proposed.  Just makes me want to give both of them a huge, gut-busting hug!  So happy for those two.  Here’s another video that Lexi put together about their entire relationship.  I love how she said no to him a couple of times in the beginning.  Not all storybook!  Hope to see her hanging around at FanFest this year like she did last year.  This year I’ll definitely get up the courage to go over and speak with her.

Still lots of things need to be ironed out for my boys.  Will they get another pitcher?  Will they land Gordon or another outfielder?  Will they make some other insane move that we weren’t expecting?  Will Cain and Timmy be OK next season?  Will they come out with a new shark hat for Samardzija?  Will I ever learn how to spell that name?  Actually it’s gotten easier once I realized that the end of his name is “zija” which means “aunt” in Maltese.  They’ll definitely have to curve that one to get it to fit on his jersey.  And maybe I’ll just start calling him “Auntie” to make it easier on myself.  Will keep you posted.  Started working out the Spit Analysis for last season with some definite surprises, so hopefully I’ll have that for you within the next few weeks.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  MAKE SOME MORE MOVES!

Racking Up the Hardware

My boys continue to rack up the awards over the break.  Three of them received Silver Slugger Awards for the 2015 season.  This award is given to players who stand out offensively at their position, and it’s voted on by the MLB managers and coaches.  Buster won the catcher award for the third time, Madison took home the pitcher award for the second time (I pretty much figured he had it in the bag, so this was no surprise to me), and Brandon Crawford won a silver bat to go with his gold glove, winning the short stop award for the first time.  The Giants were the only MLB team to take home three of these awards – just goes to show you that we no longer just have to depend on pitching and defense to win games!  Congrats, Guys!  In addition, Buster also won the 2015 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year at catcher.  Unlike the Gold Glove, this award is determined solely by statistics using sabermetrics (the award was created in 2012).  Buster’s gonna have to buy a new house just to store all those trophies!

The team won its own award, being named the 2015 recipient of the MLB Commissioner’s Award for Philanthropic Excellence.  The Giants were recognized for the Junior Giants program.  Commissioner Manfred said, “I congratulate Larry Baer, the Giants Community Fund and the entire Giants organization for the continued success of the Junior Giants program, which is a perfect example of our commitment to reaching young people both inside and outside the game. For many years, the program has used the popularity of our sport to help change thousands of young lives. The program teaches healthy habits, improves literacy and prevents bullying. I thank the Giants and all of our Clubs for their year-round efforts to reach out to their respective communities.”  Nice job, Larry.  Makes me proud to be a fan.

Ginny was able to breathe a sigh of relief this week as Brandon Crawford was given a 6 year, $75 million contract which includes a no trade clause.  This buys out two years of arbitration and four years of free agency.  So happy the Giants did this quickly – that guy is so precious to the future of this team.  Love the fact that so many of my boys will be around for a while.  And Ginny – the jersey’s good for at least a few years longer!  Interesting that he also got a $1.2 million signing bonus that vests over the six years.  When you’re making that much dough, why is that necessary??  That boy and his kids and his kids’ kids are set for life already!  He mentioned in an interview that since he knows he’ll be on the team for a while, he’s looking at buying a home in the East Bay.  Probably wants to be close to the folks.  Very happy for the kid – definitely well deserved.  Still waiting to hear what will happen with Brandon Belt, another guy who is arbitration eligible and important to the team.

In personal news, Andrew Susac got married on November 15th.  Congratulations, Andrew!  He’s also been one of the few being mentioned in trade rumors during the Hot Stove.  Grant Brisbee mentioned in an article that Susac would be the perfect trade fodder to acquire right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller from the Braves (thanks for giving me a heads-up on this, Nick).  We need pitching – they may need a catcher to start over Christian Bethancourt.  Brisbee also believes Susac would not be enough, and we’d probably have to trade additional prospects.  However the nice thing is we’d have Miller under control for 3 years with that trade.  Giants are going to have to do something in the pitching arena.  Still holding out for Greinke (I can dream!).  At least he didn’t win the Cy Young this year, so maybe there’s still hope we can get him for a reasonable price (yeah, right!).

Speaking of pitching, the Giants added 8 minor league prospects to the 40-man roster today, all of them pitchers.  The five right-handers are Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton, Clayton Blackburn, Ian Gardeck, and Jake Smith and the three left-handers are Steven Okert, Adalberto Mejia, and Ty Blach.  Guess they’re really taking the pitching thing seriously.

In weird news, former Giant Aubrey Huff is trying to launch a comeback after being out of baseball for three years.  In an interview on CSN, Huff said he left originally due to anxiety and depression issues, but he’s put that behind him and feels like a new person.  He’s been working out and thinks he’s still got what it takes to play.  He’s going to try to get on a Winter Ball team and hopes to try out for a team during Spring Training.  My opinion on this:  The guy will be 39 years old next month.  He missed baseball after he left, like anyone who leaves does.  I don’t see it happening.  But I’ll wish him luck anyway cause he’ll always be one of my boys.

In family news, my brother and my niece went to a book signing with Amy G.  They bought her book Smarty Marty’s Got Game and had her sign it.  My brother said she was very gracious and spent a lot of time speaking with my niece.  Love her!  He also ran into one of the Comcast broadcasters there, Mindi Bach.  I love her, too!  He chatted with her for a long time and said she was really friendly.  She lives in San Carlos and her kids attend the same school as my niece.  Mindi is the one who asked Amy G. to come to the school for the event.  All around awesome experience for them.

Somehow I never posted the last spit count of the season, so here you go:

October 4th

Giants:

  • Williams 3
  • Parker 3
  • Noonan 2
  • Meulens 2
  • Byrd 2
  • Cain 1
  • Frandsen 1 (spat out gum)
  • Pagan 1
  • Hall 1
  • Perez 1
  • Blanco 1 (seeds)
  • De Aza 1
  • Tomlinson 1

Rockies:

  • Descalso 2
  • Bergman 2
  • Blackmon 2
  • Reyes 2
  • Dickerson 2 (into batting glove)
  • Parker 1
  • Weiss 1

Game Spit Master General = Tie between Williams and Parker at 3

That’s a total of 32 spits during a 3 hour and 5 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 5.8 minutes (lowest spit average of the season!).

They waited until the final game of the season to back off on the spitting, logging the least amount of spits per minute of the season on this day.  I’m wondering if that’s because there were so many kids playing in that game – look at that list!  Whatever it was, I’ll take it.  I want to give a special thank you to Jeremy Affeldt who took the gum out of his mouth with his hand instead of spitting it out onto the field during this game.  A true gentleman who will be sorely missed.

Sorry I keep delaying that final spit analysis that you’ve all been waiting for, but I promise it will be out before next season!  Waiting for the Hot Stove to heat up and any news whatsoever on that front.  Will try to post as soon as I hear anything.  Would love to know what’s going on behind closed doors right now.  They sure are keeping hush hush about it.  Gosh, I miss baseball.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!

Ginny’s Golden Boy

So happy to report that Brandon Crawford was chosen as the 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove winner at shortstop for the National League.  The winner is chosen by votes from managers and coaches combined with statistical analysis in collaboration with the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR – as in “sabermetrics”).  Crawford beat out Andrelton Simmons of the Braves and Adeiny Hechavarria of the Marlins.  Finally this guy is getting some national attention.  Brian Murphy of KNBR mentioned that this could be due to the fact that Crawford amassed 21 homeruns last season, a personal best that probably turned some national heads.  Brandon mentioned that his All-Star status this season may have also contributed to his cause.  Regardless, the honor is well deserved.  Check out some of the moves that won this kid his award.  Crawford gave kudos to Bench Coach Ron Wotus for helping him reduce the number of errors he made this season by encouraging him to play smarter and not throw the ball if the odds were slim of making an out.  Nice job, Coach!  Something I never thought of that Brandon mentioned comes into play if you want to be a good fielder is your footwork – when you throw, you have to make sure to set your feet and direct your momentum toward the base.  He sure has figured out how to excel at this.  To honor his accomplishment, his wife baked him a cake in the shape of a glove frosted in gold.  Isn’t that just too adorable??  Congrats to you, Kid!

In other Giants news, the Giants declined the 2016 contract options of Nori Aoki and Marlon Byrd.  That would have been $5.5 million for Aoki and $8 million for Byrd.  This doesn’t mean that they won’t be back for sure – just that they won’t be back for that much.  When asked about it, Bobby Evans said that the timing was tough with all the things they need to accomplish this winter.  One of the biggest of those things is finding at least one star-caliber pitcher, so I’m glad at least Evans is thinking that way.  Will definitely be sad though if these two guys don’t come back.  Both made significant contributions to the team last season.  I enjoyed the energy both brought to the team.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

And on the new player front, there has been an awful lot of talk out there about the fact that the Giants may actually make a run for some of the high priced free agent pitchers out there, including Zack Greinke and David Price.  They haven’t been willing to spend the big bucks since being burned in the Zito deal, but they may be just desperate enough to do it this winter.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to take Greinke away from the Dodgers??  And what a weapon he would be to add to our arsenal.  Would have to learn how to spell his name without looking it up and would also have to get used to looking at his scary eyes, but I’m willing to do anything for my team.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get someone big.  With Madison as the only known solid starter on our pitching staff, we definitely could use a big boost.  Hoping, hoping, hoping the big bucks come out!

I heard some scary news the other day that Brandon Belt is still experiencing concussion symptoms.  The guy’s too young to be dealing with this!  Distressing to think that this could put his career in jeopardy, not to mention his quality of life.  Definitely keeping the kid in my thoughts and request that you do, too.

I had a few odds and ends left over from the end of the season that I never put out there.  A couple involved Matt Duffy.  Here’s an article in The Player’s Tribune written by Matt about finally making it to the big leagues and what it was like.  The guy can write!  So nice to hear how encouraging the veterans are to the new players.  Definitely could explain how the young kids can do so well so quickly in the Bigs.  Duffy’s dad also put together a photo collection for The Player’s Tribune that chronicles Matt’s life in baseball from the time he was a young lad, including some key moments in his career.  The senior Duffy is an extremely talented photographer.  I especially love his action shots.  You can find those pictures here.  Enjoy.

I learned something interesting near the end of the season about Jake Peavy.  Have you ever noticed that when guys catch for him, they don’t just put that fluorescent tape on their nails to make their signals more readable.  They also cover their fingers in black paint to make that tape even more visible.  Here’s a picture of what it looks like.  Why?  Because Jake Peavy has terrible vision.  In fact, he’s legally blind without corrective lenses.  Even with corrective lenses, the best he can see is 20-40.  In low light situations, it makes it extremely difficult for him to see signals.  Considering this, it’s pretty amazing how well the guy pitches.  You kind of need to see the target to hit it!

I hadn’t written about my boy Eli Whiteside in a while, and then a few weeks back I came across this video where my boy manages to find a way into the spotlight once again.  He participated in the McCovey Golf Classic back in September, along with several other Giants alumni including my BFF Bill Laskey.  How does Eli manage to stay in the spotlight all the time?  Oh well, it makes me happy.  And this video is just reminding me of what a terribly good looking man he is.  Whew!  Also Tiny Felder is one of my new favorite alumni.  And Barry, get over yourself!  And if you don’t care as much about Eli as I do, watch the video to get one more glimpse of my hero, Willie McCovey.  So happy he’s still able to attend the tournament that bears his name.  What a gem.

While searching for the previous video, I stumbled across this one.  A present for Ginny.  The Crawfords visit Pixar.  Definitely an 11 on the cuteness scale.

I’m thinking about adding a feature to my blog next season entitled “Angel’s Question.”  My friend Angel is a huge Giants fan, and every once in a while she’ll ask me a Giants-related or baseball-related question that I can’t answer.  So just in case you’re wondering what the answer is as well, I’ll answer them here.  My first installment in this series answers the question, “Whatever happened to Justin Maxwell?”  The guy was doing really well there for a while up in the Bigs, then he magically disappeared and faded into oblivion.  I looked it up, and although he initially showed promise and was amazing in the outfield, he spiraled into a hitting slump that forced the Giants to designate him for assignment on September 1st.  The addition of Alejandro De Aza to the team may have forshadowed this move.  Interesting to note that Maxwell played in 100 games last season – that’s way more than I thought.  He is currently a free agent.  He’ll probably get picked up next season as I’m sure he can make a positive contribution somewhere.  Thanks for the question, Angel!  Keep ‘em coming!

I still have to compile the spit count data from last season and crown the overall Spit Master General for 2015.  Hoping that will be done within the next week – I know you’re all waiting with baited breath!  Until then, I’ll keep my ears open for any news on roster changes (and that Greinke acquisition!).  Watching the Brandon Crawford highlight video made me realize how much I miss watching baseball.  Have to be patient.  Until next time, GO GIANTS MANAGEMENT!  FIND US SOME PITCHING!

There Outta Be a Law!

I am steaming mad right now!  There is so much wrong with what happened between Chase Utley and Ruben Tejada yesterday during game 2 of the NLDS between the Mets and the Dodgers.  And unfortunately, as I was rooting against the Dodgers, I saw the whole bloody thing unfold live.  I’ve even been having a Twitter conversation with Dave Benz about it and ranting in my Giants Facebook groups.  I’m ticked!

For those who haven’t seen this disaster yet, here’s the video (the second one on this page).  I’ll summarize:  Chase Utley was at first.  Kiké Hernandez was on third.  The Dodgers were down 2 to 1 at this point with one out.  Howie Kendrick was at bat and hit a line drive to center field, Daniel Murphy fielded it and then threw to Ruben Tejada at second to get Utley out.  In an attempt at breaking up the double play, Utley slid into Tejada, causing him to flip and making it impossible for him to get the batter out at first.  Utley was called out, but Hernandez came in to tie the game.

After the play, it was obvious that something was wrong with Tejada.  He had suffered a fractured fibula as a result of Utley taking him out, and he had to be driven off the field.  But the insanity didn’t end there.  The Dodgers had the play reviewed, and since Tejada never actually touched second base, Utley was called safe.  The interesting thing is that Utley never tagged second either.

So what is wrong with this picture?  So many things!  First, let’s talk about the fact that Utley was subsequently called safe because Tejada didn’t touch the bag.  My old friend the neighborhood play should have come into play here.  Tejada doesn’t have to touch the bag so that he can get out of the way of the runner easily while trying to make the double play.  This play is called all the time, so he should expect that it will be called this time.  But no, the umpire ruled that the neighborhood play was not in effect because Murphy’s throw pulled Tejada off the bag.  That’s a load of excrement!  Watch the video!  Imagine you’re Tejada.  He could have easily tagged the bag, but he was trying to get out of the way of the guy who was barreling at him at full speed trying to take him out.  So if they had called the neighborhood play like they should have (even though I hate it), Utley should have been out.

Wrong thing number 2:  How could Utley be safe when he never even touched the bag?  The claim for this one is that once he was called out, the ball was dead, so when the play was called into question, it was the umpire’s duty to decide since Tejada never tagged the bag if Utley would have been safe or not.  This part of the equation would be mute if they got the call right in the first place.

Wrong thing number 3:  Ignore those last two.  There is a rule that the umpires could have evoked that applies to the situation where the runner purposely tries to blow up the fielder at second.  MLB rule 6.01 (6) states “If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.”  Did he interfere with the fielder?  Yes.  He broke his leg.  It’s kind of hard to throw to first with a broken leg.  Was the intent to break up the double play?  Well, it sure wasn’t to get to second base as he slid after the bag and he never even touched it!  If the umpires had gotten it right and followed this rule, not only would Utley be out, but Kendrick would be out as well and no runs would have been scored that inning.  And the outcome of the game for the stinkin’ Dodgers may have been a little different without the momentum they got from that inning.

I’ve been looking at what people are saying about this on social media, and it’s interesting that for the first time I can remember, instead of all the players coming out in favor of Utley, it’s pretty much split right down the middle.  You usually get all the macho guys saying, “That’s just baseball,” or “He wasn’t trying to hurt him, just playing hard,” but some guys like Justin Upton and Jose Reyes believe it was poor judgment on Utley’s part.  Even the guys in the booth that night had differing opinions about whether it was right.

So should we all vilify Chase Utley?  Even though I hate the Dodgers (and Chase Utley), the answer is no.  Guys do this kind of thing all the time.  They are even taught to do it.  Why?  Mainly because they are allowed to get away with it even though there is a rule against it.  The fault lies with the umpires who rarely if ever evoke this rule.  Plus the rule is still open to interpretation by the umps.  We want these amazing players in the game making fantastic plays, not out of it.  Maybe a better rule needs to be written.  They did it for the catchers.  Maybe it’s time to do it for other infielders.  If there was a better rule, maybe Ruben Tejada would be in the starting lineup on Monday instead of watching the game from his couch.

As I’m writing this, I just read that Chase Utley is being suspended for games 3 and 4 of the Division Series as a result of all this.  Joe Torre, MLB Chief Baseball Officer, stated, “After thoroughly reviewing the play from all conceivable angles, I have concluded that Mr. Utley’s action warrants discipline.  While I sincerely believe that Mr. Utley had no intention of injuring Ruben Tejada, and was attempting to help his Club in a critical situation, I believe his slide was in violation of Official Baseball Rule 5.09 (a) (13), which is designed to protect fielders from precisely this type of rolling block that occurs away from the base.”  The purpose of the rule is “to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base.”  That’s refreshing.  Maybe finally players (and umpires) will take note.  Utley can appeal and I’m assuming he will, meaning he’ll still be able to play until they make a decision (and who knows when that will be).  But at least it’s a start.  Good job on taking action, Torre.

So many guys have lost playing time and even their careers to this kind of thing.  I found out recently listening to Mike Krukow on KNBR that even our own beloved Duane Kuiper was a victim of this as well.  In 1980, while playing second baseman for the Cleveland Indians, Kuip leaped to avoid Tom Paciorek who was sliding into second base.  Kuip came down on his right leg and it gave out.  Surgery was required to repair cartilage and ligament damage.  He ended up being out for more than a season because of it, and when he did come back he had to wear a bulky brace on his right knee.  Kruk said if you asked Kuip, he’d say the guy who slid into him wasn’t doing anything wrong.  That’s how those guys are.  But they deserve to be protected.

OK, coming down off the soapbox now.  I would love to hear what you people have to say about this.  Comments are always appreciated.  Will continue to watch the Dodgers and root for their demise.  Plus the season awards should be coming out soon, so I’ll let you know if any of our boys are honored.  I have a bunch of other goodies, but I’ll save them for later as once again, this has turned out much longer than I expected!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!

(cue the fat lady)

It’s over.  They made a valiant effort at the end, staying in it up until 5 games before the season ended, even with all those injuries, but it’s over.  Maybe there is something to this odd year curse.  Am I sad?  Not really.  It was a great season, with lots to be happy about.  And there were so many great memories and moments to savor.  I found so much joy watching these guys since back in Spring Training that it’s tough to be sad.  And in the spirit of ending the season on a high note, I’ve decided to make a list of all the great things that came out of this season that will carry forward into next season:

  • Have to start with the most important in my book, Matt Duffy. This kid didn’t even begin the season as a starter, and had rarely played third base, but he took over for Casey McGehee when we needed him and earned his spot in the lineup.  He can hit, he can play his position, and he’s got stamina.  Not only is he a super talented kid but he’s a great interview and has a great sense of humor to boot.  Just imagine what next season will be like with him there from the beginning.  Who’s Pablo Sandoval again??  By the way, congrats on capping off a great season by winning the Willie Mac Award, Matt.  Definitely well deserved.
  • Kelby Tomlinson.   The kid who saved us when Joe Panik went down.  Another kid who is amazing both defensively and offensively, plus he’s got super-human speed (did you see that inside-the-park home run yesterday??).  I’ve heard that he’s going to get practice in the outfield during the offseason so that he can be a super-utility guy next season.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
  • Jarrett Parker. The kid with the bat.  As long as he can get better defensively before next season, it will be hard for Bochy to keep that power out of the lineup.  And kids are much cheaper than going elsewhere.  We’ll see what happens, and I’m looking forward to seeing him at Spring Training again.
  • Matt Cain. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at his outing today.  He seemed like he really had it together, like the Matt Cain we used to know.  A healthy Matt Cain next season to take some of the pressure off Madison would be lovely.
  • Mike Leake. I think we didn’t really get a good look at him this season because of his injury, but I like the fact that he can go deep into a game (allowing the relievers some rest), he can defend, and he can hit.  And he wants to come back.  Will be interesting to see if the Giants give him that chance.
  • Josh Osich. The guy who said that if he didn’t make it to the bigs this season, he would have become a forest ranger.  The lefty who pitched in 35 games with a WHIP of 1.12.  The guy who would be a shoe-in for a Jeremy Affeldt replacement.  Talk about serendipity.  Expect that he’ll be back with his wicked stuff.
  • Chris Heston. The “who’s that?“ kid who’s talent was discovered because others had to leave the lineup due to injury.  He came right in and became number 2 to Madison right away.  Then he pitched a no hitter.  If he can figure out how to condition himself to make it through an entire season, the kid can be a force next season.  He’s definitely a possibility.
  • Marlon Byrd. This one’s kind of a mixed bag.  I’ve loved this guy ever since he became one of my boys.  I love his power and his hustle.  However he is 38, and his defense isn’t the best.  But he could be added for a decent price.  We’ll see how this one plays out.
  • Nori Aoki. I miss this guy so much.  At the beginning of the season, when he was at the top of the lineup, you were pretty much guaranteed that he would find a way to get on base.  Whether it be a walk, a bunt, or that throw-the-bat-at-the-ball swing for a hit.  Hope the offseason gives him enough time to recover from the concussion issues and that he really wants to come back, because I’m pretty sure if the price is right, he will be welcomed with open arms.
  • Gregor Blanco. The unsung hero who is constantly filling in for injured outfielders and rising to the occasion.  Well, even Gregor outdid himself this year.  He played in 115 games, batted .291 with an OBP of .368, having the best statistical season of his career.  I absolutely love this guy, and I’m sure he’ll be part of the outfield next season, if not as a starter as a backup.  Plus he still doesn’t spit – always a plus.
  • George Kontos. For this one, please ignore today.  It was a blemish on an otherwise remarkable season.  The guy really outdid himself, pitching in 73 games with a 0.94 WHIP, the lowest of his 5 year career.  And all this considering that at the beginning of the season, the guy was being worked to death due to the fact that the starters weren’t going deep.  What a nice surprise he was this season.  Hopefully he can continue next season and work less with a strengthened rotation.
  • Brandon Crawford. Yes, Ginny, I’m mentioning your boy.  And he deserves it.  The kid earned his All-Star title this season.  This was definitely his breakout year, and though he only had a .256 batting average (seemed to slump of late), he racked up a .321 OBP, 21 homeruns and 33 doubles (both the highest of anyone on the Giants), and 84 RBI (second only to Buster).  He also significantly decreased his errors from last season, plus his WAR almost doubled, from 3.2 to 5.6.  And he’s still a kid.  He’s in the conversation for both the Silver Slugger and the Gold Glove for short stop this season.  Looking forward to even better things to come from Ginny’s boy.
  • Joe Panik. Forget about a sophomore slump for this kid (well, except for the injury that ended his season).  In the 100 games he played in, the kid batted .312 and surprised us with some power and 8 homeruns.  We’ve definitely found a permanent second baseman, and last year wasn’t a fluke.  Looking forward to his return next season and hopefully his presence in a lot more games.
  • Jake Peavy’s September and October. OK, the first half wasn’t stellar and he got injured.  But those final month numbers were amazing.  In his last 6 starts of the season, he had an ERA under 2.  And he went 7 innings in two of those games.  He’ll definitely be back next year, and hopefully he can start off the season like he ended.
  • Hunter Strickland. Last year’s post-season was definitely not fun for the kid, but he was able to come back this season and make a name for himself.  He’s still got some control issues, but he’s definitely worked something out.  He pitched in 55 games and ended the season with a 0.86 WHIP.  And even more significantly, he only gave up 4 homeruns.  He gave up more than that last postseason alone!  Plus lefties this year (the problem last year) only hit .185 off of him.  I love his pitch speed, and I really think if he continues to improve he can be the closer of the future.
  • The overall offense. The Giants ended the season first in the National League in batting average.  The last time that happened for the Giants was in 1993 (thanks for this info, Andrew Baggarly).  I like offense, and it was definitely a breath of unexpected fresh air this season.  And pitchers like run support.  With the majority of that lineup slated to return, those numbers should return as well.

Pair all this wonderfulness with the return of proven players like Madison, Buster, Hunter, Angel, Brandon Belt, Javi, Sergio, and Santiago, plus some strengthening of the starting rotation (which Baer has pretty much promised is their priority this offseason) and I think we’re in good shape to make a run for it next season.  Hopefully the hellish injuries are behind us.  Like Bochy said after today’s game, “Next year’s an even year.  We have work to do!”

I need to mention the careers of two amazing Giants as they leave us to be with their families:  Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Hudson.  Jeremy – I will always remember your sense of humor and how you were the butt of everyone’s jokes but were able to laugh with them.  Your pitching was wicked and helped us win so many games.  I thank you for that.  Keep doing all the wonderful work you do for so many people in the world.  Enjoy the family and stay out of trouble!  Hope you can somehow stay in baseball because you are wonderful in front of the camera.  Tim – we were so blessed to have you as a Giant, albeit for such a short time.  People seem to only mention your contributions during the post-season last year, but you played a big role in even getting us there in the first place.  You were basically the ace for the first half of last season.  You were the guy we could count on to get a win during that period, even more so than Madison.  I thank you for that, and I thank you for sharing your wonderful family with us.  Thanks also for all the knowledge you shared with our pitching staff, especially your little buddy, Madison.  Best of luck with all of your charitable endeavors, and enjoy your kids and your wife.  I’m sure they’ll enjoy you.  Come back from Alabama and visit please (I’m sure Madison would love that).

I was lucky enough to go to the game yesterday with my buddy, Angel.  She likes to go to the Star Wars games and of course I was happy to tag along.  We had a fantastic time.  The giveaway was a Chewbacca bobblehead that’s standing on a Giants helmet – so cute!  We did have to wait in line for that one as they only gave out 20,000, but it was a short wait.  We went to the Public House to see Marty Lurie broadcasting, and I even gave him one of my bracelets.  He got a kick out of our shirts (we were wearing our “Anybody but the Dodgers” shirts).  We also got margaritas there – a lot stronger than the ones in the park, I must say!  We got yummy Crazy Crab sandwiches for lunch, then went to visit my friend Anne who works in the concessions (she was so happy to see us!) and decided we couldn’t leave her without buying some of the pizza she was selling.  That pizza is a new fave – we got the deep-dish kind and it was fabulous!  We sat next to a guy who had brought his grandmother to the game.  They were very friendly and we chatted with them throughout the game (always seem to sit near friendly people).  The pre-game tribute to Tim Hudson was beautiful and very moving.  I’m really going to miss that guy, and I’m sure Madison is.  We wondered why Madison went up to the podium with Jake, but only Jake spoke.  Was he too choked up??  The highlight of the game was that inside-the-park home run by the amazing Kelby Tomlinson.  What a thrill – my voice still hasn’t recovered!  We were so happy that they were able to pull off a win.  My 2015 season record stands at 5 and 2 – not too shabby!

During the game, I noticed that Andres Torres was sitting in our same section in the front row.  People were walking up and taking their picture with him.  Of course, I wasn’t going to let that opportunity slip away!  After the game I walked down and asked if I could take my picture with him and he said yes.  I asked what he was doing since he wasn’t playing baseball any longer, and he said he had moved here and has a business selling clothes and electronics.  Based on what he was wearing, the clothes must fit really tightly!  The guy is so buff!  He was very friendly and very gracious with everyone.  Needless to say I was star struck and thrilled.  I miss that guy.  I hope now that he’s local he’ll be attending a lot of games.

As I made my way back up to Angel after that, I noticed a woman walking toward us that looked familiar.  It was Kim Hudson, Tim Hudson’s wife!  I caught her eye and said, “We love you!” and she said, “Aw – we love you, too!”  She came over and talked to us and I gave her a big hug because you could tell it had been an emotional day for her.  She said that it was really nice what the Giants and everyone had done to recognize Tim, but it had been really exhausting for them to be so emotional for so long.  She had started crying that morning because she was so emotional about what the day would hold for them with the tribute.  She said that she knew Bobby Cox (Tim’s manager with the Braves) would be talking and that would set her off again.  She said that so much of their life had been spent here starting with their years in Oakland.  Her kids were even born in San Ramon.  I said that the kids must be thrilled that he will be home, and she said yes, especially her son.  He’s already asked his dad, “Can we go to the farm?” (looked it up – yes, they have a farm!)  I asked her about how tough it was to make the sacrifices she had to in order for him to play ball, and she just said that it was a blessing.  They got to meet so many wonderful people and see so many places.  She also said that they would be leaving on the red eye Sunday night to go back home.  Sad that the guys would be separated from each other so quickly after the season ended.  She was so extremely friendly and so generous with her time.  Then Larry Baer came by and she asked how his wife Pamela was doing.  They started chatting and he said they would have to come back and attend some games.  She joked that maybe Madison Bumgarner could get them some tickets!  I also asked if I could take a picture of Larry Baer’s ring, and he said, “You know, she has one, too!”  Yes, I know.  And I’m so thankful that Tim and his family could share in the joy of earning it while they were here in San Francisco.  It was so lovely meeting all of them, and I was so lucky to have the opportunity.

Some news on the new kid front today:  The Giants signed 20-year-old Cuban outfield prospect Eddy Julio Martinez to a minor league contract worth $2.5 million.  Apparently, since the Giants have gone over their international bonus pool (whatever that means), he will cost them $5 million.  He’s currently #4 on MLB.com’s top prospect list.  Sounds great to me!  Sabean had said he would be looking into the Cuban market more – guess he meant it.  And it’s surprising that we didn’t get outbid on this kid by those pesky Dodgers.  Will keep you posted if I hear anything else about him.

One fun thing to share that I just learned about from Alex Pavlovic regarding today’s game.  Brandon Crawford is apparently the DJ of the clubhouse.  He’s the one who picks out what music they play when they win a game to celebrate.  He tries to accommodate eveyone’s taste by mixing it up.  Well, he chose Mike Leake’s walk up music last week (“Ghetto Superstar”), and since it worked out so well for him, he also prepared a list of walk-up songs for all the players today and forwarded it to the stadium operations people to play during the game.  Here’s the link to the list that Alex Pavlovic posted on his Twitter account.  What a crackup!  You can tell the guy spent a lot of time on this – even his wife, Jalynne, attested to this via Twitter.  And they are all so perfect.  The one that needs explaining is the Mac Williamson one – he’s from North Carolina and that song mentions North Carolina in it (in amongst all the naughtyness!).  According to Pavlovic, the clubhouse favorite was “I’m Too Sexy” for George Kontos.  Considering his performance today, I don’t think he’ll be keeping that one!  But what a fun thing for Brandon to do, and I’m sure it lightened the spirits of the guys on this last, emotional day of the season.

I’ve got a new spit count and some more Giants nuggets for you, but this is getting awfully long so I think I’ll tease you with them until later in the week.  Now that the season’s over, I’ll have more time to blog during the week (kind of ironic, isn’t it?).  Thanks for an amazing year, Guys!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  GET SOME REST!

WE BEAT LA!

When I went into work yesterday afternoon, I anticipated an uncomfortable encounter.  One of my coworkers is a huge Dodgers fan.  As I passed by his table, he caught my eye and remarked, “Tonight is the end!”  Of course, I wasn’t going to just take that, so I blurted back, “No, the end is next Sunday!  We’re still in it!”  He just laughed.  He then mentioned that if the Giants won that first game, they would sweep.  Well guess what, Nostradamus?  They did!  This was the game they were definitely supposed to lose since their ace Zack Greinke was pitching, that guy who will probably win the Cy Young this year.  But when it comes to the Dodgers, especially on our home turf, and especially in an elimination game, my guys don’t care about stuff like that.  Everyone played a role in that win.  I love when that happens.  And I love that they’re still fighting.  I am so looking forward to going to work this afternoon.  Ha ha!  GO GIANTS!  BEAT LA!

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

My title today is a tribute to Yogi Berra who unfortunately passed this week at the age of 90.  What a storied baseball career that guy had.  He was voted MVP of the American League three times (and came in the top 4 four other times), made 18 All-Star teams in 19 seasons of playing, was a World Series champion 10 times (most all-time), and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.  And with all those accolades, he was just a down-to-earth kind of guy.  Buster Posey had the privilege of meeting him in 2012 at the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center.  Here’s some video of their meeting.  Buster posted on Instagram about Yogi’s passing, saying, “Had the pleasure to meet Yogi Berra one time.  Easy to see why he was such a beloved person.  A genuinely kind and happy person that will be missed.  But a wonderful life that impacted so many.”  He’ll definitely never be forgotten.

Yogi’s words inspired me this week regarding the fate of my boys.  It ain’t over till it’s over.  That about sums it up.  It ain’t over.  The magic number (or as Greg Papa calls it the “tragic number”) stands at 2 right now.  The fact that there’s still a magic number to keep track of means we’re not out of it yet.  Just remember that.  And there’s still some fight in this team.  And if we aren’t eliminated tomorrow, we take on the Dodgers 4 times, and you all know how my boys rise to the occasion when they’re pitted against those guys.  It ain’t over till it’s over.  Thanks for the inspiration, Yogi.

Did you watch today’s game?  The Hudson/Zito tribute game?  I was so excited that these two guys were to be honored during this game, but I have to say the outcome as far as they were concerned got me super emotional.  I’m sure that wasn’t how any one dreamed it would turn out.  I almost started tearing up when they showed Tim in the dugout after he came out of the game.  He had never walked in two runs ever in his career.  He couldn’t even last as long as Barry did.  But that’s what happens when you expect too much of guys that are at the end of fantastic careers.  Still love them both and I’m still happy that they were honored.  And especially proud of my boy Buster when he tipped his cap to Barry when he went out to hit against him.  That’s class right there.  I loved the beginning montage that Comcast showed of the two of them.  Lots to be proud of.

Thankfully, someone took our minds off of all this:  Jarrett Parker.  WOW!  Three homeruns in a single game, including a tie-breaking grand slam in the eighth.  Boch said that was the best offensive game he had ever seen in person.  And the kid’s hit a total of 6 homeruns since he came up on September 11th, 5 of those within the last 3 days!  He had a rough time of it when he first came up in June, going 1 for 9 with 5 strikeouts.  Guess he figured something out!  My siblings and I were privileged to see the guy hit a grand slam at Spring Training two years ago.  As I recall, everyone in that park (especially the coaching staff) took note as he hit the ball over the center field wall in Scottsdale stadium.  That’s no ordinary wall –  it’s 430 feet from home plate and 30 feet high!  Gotta have some wicked power to do that!

Today’s game combined with the season winding down got me to thinking about next season and the potential makeup of the team (apparently Ginny was thinking the same thing – smart minds think alike!).  I have to say I am feeling good about things, especially the kids.  I think if they can get at least one big name starting pitcher, we’ll be OK.  The kids are alright – Duffy, Panik (a healthy one), Williamson (who I really think will get better as he gets used to being in the bigs), Parker, Osich, Strickland, Heston (with some rest).  I like it.  I think we’ll be good.

I saw a post earlier today on Facebook about all the guys that are currently injured.  I hate to be a whiner and blame our plight on injuries, but the numbers truly are staggering.  Here’s the summary:  Four guys are still on the DL from concussions (Adrianza, Aoki, Belt, Blanco), Timmy’s recovering from left hip surgery, Panik has lower back inflammation, two have left oblique strains (Pence and Perez), Sanchez has a left ankle sprain, Scutaro has back issues, and Susac had wrist surgery.  None of these guys is expected to return before the end of the season.  I can’t remember it ever being this bad.  And lots of the guys listed are key players.

My boys gave me more reasons to love them with their own special tributes to Tim Hudson this week.  Earlier this week, the entire team dressed in white polo shirts (Huddy’s usual travel attire) and bald caps to pay homage to him.  Here’s a photo of some of them.  Then today, Javi had ordered #17 black Hudson T-shirts for all the team members and clubhouse staff to wear.  Check it out.  I bet he really loved that.  My boys rock!

I’m posting the next video because I missed watching this game live and I laugh out loud every time I watch it.  I couldn’t believe it when I heard about it.  It’s the staredown between umpire Joe West and Madison Bumgarner on Thursday night during the Padres game.  Here’s the video.  Guess Madison was pretty ticked about some of West’s pitch calls, but he kept his cool so he wouldn’t get kicked out of the game.  I love how Buster keeps looking back and forth between the two of them!  That is the longest staredown EVER!  What a crackup!  And what an immature umpire that guy is!  The show’s not about you, Umpire Guy!  You go, Madison!

More randomness:  Noticed today that Brett Lawrie of the A’s uses “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen as his walk-up music.  Would love to know the story behind that.  If anyone knows, please share.  Fascinating.

I did a spit count during the Hudson/Zito tribute game today.  Guess guys don’t spit any less when they’re honoring their teammates.  On the contrary!  Sheesh!  Here you go:

September 26th

Giants:

  • Parker 5 (hitting homeruns makes you salivate I guess)
  • Byrd 4
  • Hudson 4 (so does being honored)
  • Duffy 3
  • Brown 3
  • Hall 2
  • Reyes 2 (seeds)
  • Pagan 2
  • Posey 1
  • Righetti 1
  • Meulens 1
  • Wotus 1
  • Osich 1
  • Bochy 1

A’s:

  • Vogt 34 (way to ruin the moment, dude!)
  • Brooks 3
  • Canha 2
  • Sogard 2
  • Otero 2
  • Lawrie 1
  • Zito 1
  • Crisp 1

Game Spit Master General = Vogt at 34

Giants Game Spit Master General = Parker at 5

That’s a total of 77 spits during a 3 hour and 30 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 2.7 minutes.

Unbelievably Stephen Vogt of the A’s didn’t set the season record with his antics today, but he is an interesting spitting specimen.  He is one of a select few catchers that has the ability to spit through his catcher’s mask.  He is interesting in that the majority of his spits were through his mask, unlike previous catchers who have this ability.  And the spits that came through the mask were amazing sprays of saliva.  I wouldn’t be surprised if spray made its way onto some of the batters.  So disgusting.  I would hate to have to clean that thing after he’s used it – I wonder if that job falls to the clubhouse manager.  Poor soul.  On a positive note, this was the first spit count I did where my boy Mac Williamson played, and he didn’t spit once.  Keeping my fingers crossed that at least I have one non-spitter in the future since all the other kids got caught today.

One more game against the A’s with Chris Heston at the helm, then a 4 game series against the Dodgers.  It ain’t over (especially since I just found out that the Dodgers lost again today – HA HA!).  The boys just need to listen to those inspiring words chanted by Jarrett Parker as he left the field after his third homerun of the game:  “LET’S GO!”  Indeed.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  KEEP ON FIGHTING!

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