Struggles in the Big Apple

The Mets are the reigning NL Champions.  In our series against them, we lost the first game (horribly, I might add – more comments later), almost took the second game (I was so hoping that they could come back), and won the third game.  I’m looking at this with glass-half-full eyes and being hopeful, especially since the first two starts were from our 4th and 5th starters, and we almost took that middle one.  Cain gave up runs, but he could still locate pitches when he needed to.  And we ended with a win going into Cincinnati.  And we’re still in a tie for first place in the division with the Dodgers.  Glass half full.

The only glass-half-empty part of all this was that Peavy start on Friday.  Have you ever seen back-to-back pitchers give up 6 runs each, and in the 3rd inning to boot??  We helped the Mets set a record that game, giving them their best single inning offensive output in their franchise’s history.  Yikes!  What are we going to do about Peavy?  I love giving guys chances, but we can’t afford for this to keep happening.  I guess Mike Broadway isn’t getting any second chances – he got sent down to the River Cats the next day, being replaced by Vin Mazzaro.  My guess is that Peavy was kept in because Bochy is loyal to his starters, hoping he could dig himself out of the hole, and Broadway was left in to save the bullpen for the upcoming long road trip.  During that game I kept wondering when does Bochy just give up and call it a loss?  He did make bench substitutions with Gillaspie and Brown for Duffy and Buster fairly early in the game.  That third inning seemed to go on for an eternity.  You start to wonder if it could just go on forever!  And what’s up with that Conforto kid on the Mets?  I’m going to have to remember that name for my Beat the Streak picks (which is currently in a 3-way tie between me and two of my brothers at 8 so far).  I’m sure Bochy won’t make any moves with Peavy in the near future (he mentioned this after the game), but I also know that if it continues much longer, there will have to be some sort of move made.  Come on, Jake!  Get it together!

Speaking of possible moves, remember Tim Lincecum?  Yeah, that guy that just about every Giants fan loves who’s been sorely missed and was supposed to have a showcase that never materialized?  Well folks, it’s about to happen.  It’s scheduled for this Friday in Arizona, and several teams are planning on attending to see what the kid’s got after his surgery, including the Giants.  Here’s a link to an interview with his dad and a story by Alex Pavlovic about it.  If you ask me, his dad sure likes being in the limelight!  A tad bit annoying!  But I have to say that I’m intrigued by all this and dying to hear how this thing goes.  And frankly, Timmy’s timing couldn’t be any better with the starter woes the Giants have been experiencing.  And if not starter, possibly long relief?  For all you Timmy lovers out there (and I know there are tons), you’ve got some hope!  Personally, I do miss seeing him in the clubhouse, and I know a lot of the players miss him as well.

Joe Panik suffered a groin injury during the game on Friday night (another major bummer about that game).  He was evaluated on Saturday and was out of the lineup both Saturday and Sunday.  He’s not expected to return until at least Tuesday, and Kelby Tomlinson will be filling in for him in the meantime.  Get better, Joe!  We need you!  And Brandon needs his double play buddy back!

During the game on Saturday, the new rule about sliding into second base came into play.  Brandon Crawford was attempting to throw to first after tagging second base and getting Neil Walker out, but Walker slid right into him and prevented him from getting a throw off.  Bochy protested, and the play was reviewed in New York.  If the slide was deemed illegal, the guy at first would have been out.  But the guys in New York said it was not illegal and the guy at first remained on the bag.  Here’s the video of the slide.  Note that the announcers for the video are Mets announcers, and they sided with the guys in New York.  The Giants announcers, on the other hand, thought that the slide should have been deemed illegal.  Interesting how both sets of announcers sided with their team.  I have to say that rereading the rule, even though I’m a Giants fan, I have to agree with the umpires in New York.  Rule 6.01(j) states:

A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner: (1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base; (2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot; (3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and (4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

He slid before the base, reached the base with his hand, attempted to remain on the base, and didn’t change his path.  Granted he used his legs to try to take out Crawford, but he did not break this rule.  So why don’t they change the rule to say that you have to slide AIMING YOUR FEET AT THE BAG???  Wouldn’t that make more sense, especially if the goal of the rule is to protect the fielder?  I’m really starting to hate this rule because it’s being interpreted differently by different officials and it’s not doing what it was intended to do.  Plus it’s confusing runners who don’t know exactly how they are supposed to slide any more.  I’m hoping they can fix it at some point this season because it’s not working.

Just cause I’m feeling sassy, I wanted to throw something else out there.  Everyone keeps trying to find ways to shorten a baseball game.  Three hours for a sporting event is a loooooooong time.  The limits on mound visits and pitchers warming up have helped a bit, but really only cut off a few minutes from a game.  How about this – take off one or two innings.  I know, crazy right??  But is it really?  It would definitely shorten the game, and you wouldn’t have to worry about keeping so many relievers, thus saving money for the team that could be passed on in ticket prices (even though it probably wouldn’t).  Plus a lot of people leave after the 6th inning anyway.  I know there’s a big downside to this in that all the record keeping would be messed up (like a perfect game would not mean as much), and current records couldn’t be compared to previous ones, but it might keep people’s interest more if the game were shorter.  Just saying.  Do you think I’m crazy?  Let me know in the comments, or let me know if you have any other suggestions on shortening the game.

I have a new spit count for you.  Here you go:

April 30th

Giants:

  • Gillaspie 5 (Welcome back!)
  • Duffy 3
  • Span 2
  • Belt 2
  • Strickland 2
  • Posey 1
  • Pagan 1

Mets:

  • Cespedes 5
  • Rivera 3
  • Reed 3
  • deGrom 1

Game Spit Master General = tie between Gillaspie and Cespedes at 5

That’s a total of 28 spits during a 3 hour and 10 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 6.8 minutes.

This was a relatively low-spitting game.  Guess the guys got the spit knocked out of them in that game on Friday!  However, my boy Conor Gillaspie has come back with a vengeance to his old spitting ways, especially when you consider he came in to this game half way through.  I remember from his previous stint with the Giants that he always had a huge wad in his cheek, and that habit has continued.  I did notice a never before witnessed routine that he has that involves spitting.  Three different times he spat into his hand, picked up some dirt and mixed it with the spit, then worked it into the handle of the bat.  I’m assuming he did this to improve his grip.  Yeah.  I think maybe I should send the guy either some batting gloves or some Lizard Skins (here’s a link to their website).  SHEESH!  Also, once again, Matt Duffy was caught launching a snot rocket during this game.  Sigh.

The Giants continue their road trip tomorrow with three games against the Reds, then they come back home to battle the Rockies four times.  Both the Reds and the Rockies suck, however unfortunately for us, the Reds do well at home and the Rockies do well on the road.  So Boys, I’m not going to be super greedy, but continuing with the “Slow and Steady” theme, I’d like for you to take both series.  I really think this is possible, especially with 2 Cueto, 2 Samardzija, and 1 Bumgarner start in there.  Cain and Peavy, I know you can do better than you have, too.  You can all do it, Boys.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  KEEP THE LEAD!

We Got the Sweep!

I love sweeps!  And they’re that much sweeter when the Dodgers lose 3 in a row at the same time!  YES!  We’re now within a half game of them again.  It’s coming together.  Starting pitching has rocked this week.  My favorite was the Cueto game yesterday.  Even though the poor guy only got one run of support, he was able to get a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts.  And it was his 100th win to boot!  Thank goodness!  I love the chemistry that has developed between Buster and Cueto.  You can see they are both having such a good time during those starts.  Then there was the win that started it all on Monday.  Bumgarner pitched beautifully, then the bullpen almost gave it up.  After almost 4 hours I thought I was going to be physically ill if they let that one go, but Casilla set the tone and ended up saving the day, literally, and logging his 100th save (congrats, Santiago!).  Then today, I didn’t get to watch the game, but I got updates from my brother every few minutes.  The first text said 3-0 Giants, then 4-3 Pads, then 4-4, then 6-4 Giants, then half an hour later it was 12-4 Giants.  WHAT???  How did they hit so much today?  Final score was 13 to 9.  Duffy, Belt, and Pence each had three hits, Belt alone had 5 RBI, and Samardzija even got in on the action with a hit and an RBI.  I like it!  This is just what they needed as they head over to New York to take on the Mets this weekend.  Talk about happy flight!  OK, guys – keep this going.  Make sure you get plenty of rest on Thursday, then go after them!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  TAKE ANOTHER SERIES!

Slow and Steady…

OK.  They didn’t sweep the Marlins, even though the Marlins stink (5 and 9 before our series with them). I was so bummed listening to the radio on the way home from work today when they gave up a run late in the game and they got behind.  Then they lost.  Why couldn’t they sweep??  But some words of wisdom came from Mike Krukow in the post-game wrap.  They did take the series.  They did make up some ground in this series.  Slow and steady.  If they keep taking series they will do fine.  And the bats did seem to wake up during those first two games.  And they were actually stringing hits together like when they are at their best.  The potential is still there.  Slow and steady.  Keep the faith.

There have been lots of roster moves due to injuries that I’ve been meaning to mention.  Sergio Romo (15-day – flexor strain in right elbow), Ehire Adrianza (60-day – broken bone in left foot), and George Kontos (15-day – flexor strain in right elbow) are all on the DL.  Then Chris Heston was optioned to Triple A Sacramento (had a bit of a rough start this season, recording a 10.8 ERA after 4 games in relief).  Poor Mac Williamson came up as a replacement but was sent back down only a week later.  The four replacements who remain on the team are relief pitcher s Derek Law, Steven Okert, and Mike Broadway (who’ve all been impressive to date) and my boy, Conor Gillaspie.  I’m assuming Gillaspie came in as a utility player replacement for Adrianza.  He’s only had one pinch hit at bat to date, but I’m really pulling for the guy and hope he does well.  He’s got a lot of potential.  Also wishing all my boys who are injured a speedy recovery – we need you back!

On a totally different note, I’ve been meaning to put this out there for a while:  What do you all think about having the designated hitter in the National League?  Apparently Commissioner Rob Manfred has brought the idea up for discussion, but he’s got to get the buy in from the owners in order to make it happen.  One reason it’s come up again is in order to prevent these multi-million dollar pitchers from not being able to pitch due to batting injuries (eg. Max Scherzer and Adam Wainwright last season).  My thoughts – quit being a baby about it!  I hate the DH for so many reasons.  First, especially on our team, a lot of pitchers can hit.  These guys would hate losing that option.  Second, I love watching pitchers hit.  When they connect it’s so exciting.  Case in point is when Bumgarner got that recent homerun off of Kershaw.  I love lipreading profanity that spews from the opposing pitcher’s mouth.  Why would you want that to go away?  Third, I love the strategy involved when the pitcher comes up to bat.  Do you put on a bunt?  Do you pretend to bunt and then hit (the famous butcher boy play)?  Do you just have the pitcher stand there and make the opposing pitcher work?  If it’s Bumgarner, do you have him swing for the fences?  You never know what can happen.  Finally, if you’re going to put in a designated hitter for the pitcher and make the game all about specializing, why not put in a designated hitter for every position?  Get all the best fielders and all the best hitters and have them play only defense or offense.  Why?  Because that’s dumb!  Just like a designated hitter for a pitcher is dumb!  Every player should be a complete player, playing their position in the field AND batting.  I get so worked up about this!  That’s my opinion.  Would love to hear yours.

Another game-related issue came up the other day on Tim Flannery’s Facebook page, something that for some reason never occurred to me.  It has to do with the replay system.  Here’s a link to Flannery’s rant.  He mentions that over 40 percent of challenged calls were overturned.  So the system is working, right?  Flan who was originally against the replay is now a proponent based on this fact.  But he goes one step further (I love this).  He says you should use the system as a way of grading umpires, and if you get more than 10 calls wrong a season, you’re fired.  Brilliant application of this!  Why aren’t they doing this now?  Is it that hard to find qualified umpires?  I would think there would be a long list of people trying to get those jobs.  He also mentions that poor calls slow down the game, so if you want to speed it up, just hire better umpires.  I love it!  Personally, I love the replay system.  I just think that if you’re out, you’re out.  It shouldn’t be up to the discretion of the umpire (who apparently is wrong 40% of the time!).  This is also why I think they should use the Pitchf/x system to call balls and strikes.  It’s either a ball or a strike – not up to anyone’s judgment.

On the lighter side, I have a great video to share with you.  Did any of you see the Giants vs. D-Bags game on April 18th where a fan sitting down the left field line interfered with a ball?  And the girl sitting next to him covered her head in her hoodie as they left their seats?  I always hate it when fans do this, but thankfully it didn’t affect the outcome of the game in this instance.  It did, however, affect the fans.  I’ve heard that fans get ejected from the game when this happens but always wondered if it is true.  Well, thanks to Jimmy Kimmel who did a story on the couple, I got my answer.  Here’s the video.  I don’t think I could ever sit in seats like that.  The temptation to reach over at an inopportune time would be too great for me.  And you’d hate to spend that much on tickets only to be kicked out and booed by everyone.  I’ll just have to keep praying that a foul ball will make its way to me further back in the stands.

I’ve got another spit count for you from this weekend.  One of the guys I sent a Thank You For Not Spitting certificate just last week has already greatly disappointed me…

April 23rd

Giants:

  • Peavy 6 (WHAT???)
  • Belt 6
  • Span 4
  • Duffy 4
  • Bochy 3
  • Meulens 2
  • Samardzija 1 (seeds)
  • Kelly 1

Marlins:

  • Fernandez 4
  • Mathis 3
  • Bonds 3 (seeds)
  • Gordon 2
  • Rojas 1
  • Breslow 1
  • Morris 1
  • Ege 1 (pronounced “Eggy” – strangest last name ever)

Game Spit Master General = Tie between Peavy and Belt at 6

That’s a total of 43 spits during a 2 hour and 45 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.8 minutes.

PEAVY!  Guy gets an award for not getting caught spitting at all last season and then ties for Game Spit Master General this season.  UGH!  I noticed that Jake had a huge wad in his cheek, but at first he wasn’t spitting at all.  That started in about the 3rd inning.  I’m wondering if the wad was one of those Grinds pouches that have coffee in them.  Still, something was making him spit!  Maybe it had something to do with his poor vision – during this game, Buster even had white paint on his fingers to make the signs more visible for him.  For one of Bochy’s spits, he took a sip of water and spat the entire thing out.  I call this a “waterfall”.  I also call it “disgusting”.  Even Barry Bonds got into the act, but at least only because he was chewing sunflower seeds.  It was so weird to put his name on the Marlins side of my tally sheet!  Matt Duffy did his Bumgarner impersonation during this game and logged a snot rocket.

Next, my boys take on the Padres at home and then they travel to New York to take on the Mets.  The Padres are at the bottom of the NL West.  We should easily take that series (if not sweep).  Even though the Mets are starting out pretty well, I really think we can take that series, too.  The bats are slowly starting to wake up.  I have faith in my boys.  And I’m not being greedy.  Just win series.  Slow and steady.  We can do this.  GO GIANTS!  KEEP MOVIN’ ON UP!

I Love Johnny Cueto!

I think Johnny Cueto is now officially my favorite guy on the team.  I’m seriously considering buying a Cueto jersey.  Isn’t this guy amazing??  I love the crazy way he pitches.  So much entertainment value there.  And even with that crazy, ever-changing delivery, he is so accurate.  He had a perfect game going into the 5th inning today and a shutout into the 7th.  And guys are always laughing when they try to bat off of him.  And he’s always smiling.  How could you not love this guy??  Then today, I realized that I enjoy his at bats just as much.  He tries really hard.  Mike Krukow mentioned that Roberto Kelly was giving signs, but Cueto wasn’t looking!  And did you see him run out that bunt attempt today?  Plus he got a hit!  So much fun in one package!  I can’t wait until he pitches again.  I am so thrilled that he has joined OUR team!

OK.  I’ll stop with the Cueto gushing. Other guys definitely contributed today to his win.  Panik, Crawford (thank goodness you’re back), and Span all had amazing plays defensively.  And we were able to score 4 runs off of Kazmir by keeping it moving.  And even though Lopez gave us a scare in the 8th (it’s OK, Javi – everyone’s entitled to a bad game once in a while), the other relievers held the dreaded Dodgers so that we could log a win.  So there’s that.  That game definitely got rid of the sour taste in my mouth from the game yesterday.  What were they doing yesterday?  So much sloppy baseball!  But today was great.  I did a spit count during the game today, and usually when I do that I make notes at the bottom of my tally sheet on interesting things that happened during the game.  Well, today’s had tons of notes on it, so I think I’ll put them all into one of my famous lists.  Here you go:

  • Cueto was wearing high socks today. I hadn’t noticed him do that before.  It definitely worked for him, so I hope he continues.
  • The broadcasters mentioned today that more Giants fans are being brave and wearing orange in Dodger Stadium. Maybe the fans there are starting to act more human.  That would be nice.  I’m still afraid to attend a game there again.
  • Why do Dodgers fans boo Buster? I noticed it when I attended a game in LA and I’ve noticed it in every game televised from Dodger Stadium.  He gets really loud boos compared to anyone else.  Are there any Dodger fans out there who can comment on this?  Is it because he’s so good?  Is it because he’s too innocent looking for Dodger fans?  I’m confused.
  • Tim Lincecum’s name came up during the broadcast today. Mike Krukow mentioned that he keeps in touch with Dave Groeschner, the head trainer.  They didn’t say what his status was, though.  He still hasn’t had the pitching showcase he was supposed to have in January that keeps getting delayed.  I’m hoping for the best for the kid.  Opening Day without him was really strange.  Sigh.
  • There was a great Krukow quote during this game about how Cueto changes it up on guys: “Jam sandwich – thanks for stopping by!”  Love Krukisms.
  • I’m really enjoying Jeremy Affeldt in the pre- and post-game shows. It’s great to get a reliever’s perspective, and he is so entertaining and kooky.  Love how they were blaming all the scuds during the game today on him.  Even though he’s not on the team any more, he’s still the butt of all the jokes!
  • I love that the outfielders are doing the jump again when they win.  They meet in the middle of the outfield and jump high toward each other.  They had stopped for a while last season when Aoki joined the outfield, and they were shaking hands instead.  Jumping > handshake.  Span really gets into it.

Here’s another spit count for you.  So far all three this season have been against the Dodgers:

April 16th

Giants:

  • Cueto 26 (!!!!)
  • Span 4
  • Belt 2
  • Wotus 2 (seeds)
  • Strickland 2
  • Panik 1
  • Posey 1
  • Casilla 1

Dodgers:

  • Seager 4
  • Thompson 3
  • Kershaw 1
  • Pederson 1
  • Culberson 1 (into batting glove)

Game Spit Master General = Cueto at 26

That’s a total of 49 spits during a 3 hour and 30 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.3 minutes.

So my boy Cueto may unfortunately be the overall Spit Master this season with that outing.  His spit output definitely increased as the game wore on, especially after the 4th inning.  Thankfully he doesn’t appear to be chewing tobacco, though.  Hope he switches over to gum – I noticed that after he started chewing gum in the dugout he didn’t spit as much.  Still no spits from Gregor, Brandon C., Hunter, and Javi.  Hope they can all make it to the end of the season spit-free.

I’ve got all the spit certificates ready to send out this week – Spit Master General Award for Andrew Susac (will have to send his to Sacramento) and Thank You For Not Spitting Awards to Javier Lopez (hope it makes up for the game today), Jake Peavy, and Gregor Blanco (for the 5th time).  Hope Samardzija can carry the Cueto momentum into tomorrow and get a win for us.  Looking forward to finally getting a chance to watch him pitch.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  TAKE THE SERIES FROM THE DODGERS!  PUT US BACK IN THE LEAD OF THE NL WEST ALONE!

First Spit Counts of the Season

I was looking forward to today’s game because Johnny Cueto was scheduled to pitch.  I love what I have seen of this guy so far.  He started off pretty rocky, giving up 5 runs in the first.  I could just hear other Giants fans saying, “Get rid of this bum!”  But he didn’t let the rough start get to him, and he allowed only one other run in the next 6 innings.  That’s a pretty tough thing to do.  It was also probably tough for Bochy to keep him in, but that’s how Bochy shows his players that he has confidence in them.  My other boys definitely backed Cueto up today, starting right off and scoring 2 runs immediately in the first off of Scott Kazmir. Kazmir had only given up one hit in 6 innings during his last start (granted it was against the Padres, but still).  Love it when the guys support their pitcher.  The offense really came through today, and the home runs continued.  To date this season, the Giants have hit 14 homeruns.  14!!!  Buster, Brandon Crawford, and Matt Duffy each have 2, and Angel, Brandon Belt, Adrianza, Panik, Brown, Bumgarner, Pence, and Span each have 1.  We rank second overall in the major leagues behind the Rockies in homeruns!  And their ballpark is a homerun haven!  This is the first time in franchise history the Giants have hit at least one homerun in the first seven games of the season.  I’m liking this!  So the rough start ended up turning into a never-giving-up victory, landing us alone atop the NL West standings.  The boys can have a very happy flight to Colorado this week!

As promised, I have the first two spit counts of the season for you.  I had high hopes for significantly decreased numbers based on the new rule banning chewing tobacco during games at AT&T Park (if you want to learn about the ban, here’s a link to a news story about it), but alas, they are finding ways to spit anyway.  Here you go:

April 9th

Giants:

  • Pagan 3
  • Bumgarner 2
  • Belt 2
  • Strickland 2 (disgusting sprays)
  • Posey 1
  • Tomlinson 1
  • Bochy 1 (seeds)
  • Duffy 1
  • Adrianza 1

Dodgers:

  • Thompson 5
  • Pederson 2
  • Barnes 2
  • Culberson 1
  • Turner 1
  • Ellis 1
  • Utley 1
  • Hatcher 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire 1

Game Spit Master General = Thompson at 5

Giants Game Spit Master General = Pagan at 3

That’s a total of 29 spits during a 3 hour and 20 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 6.9 minutes.

Granted this is one of the lowest spit averages ever, but why are they still spitting so much if they aren’t chewing tobacco??  Today’s Game Spit Master General is none other than Trayce Thompson, younger brother of Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.  Guess he’s trying to get out of his brother’s shadow and make a name for himself in spit history.  Strickland continues to blow out these incredible sprays of spit even though it was obvious he was chewing gum during this game.  Oh well, at least he’s not chewing tobacco.  The umpire who got caught spitting was Jeff Kellogg, the same guy who threw Dave Roberts out of the game on Friday.  Throw yourself out for spitting, Dude!  Also, since this was a Bumgarner start, I did my first snot rocket count of the season – Madison logged 7 today.

April 10th

Giants:

  • Belt 6
  • Cueto 6
  • Span 5
  • Pagan 3
  • Duffy 2
  • Bochy 2
  • Samardzija 1
  • Tomlinson 1
  • Meulens 1 (seeds)
  • Osich 1
  • Casilla 1

Dodgers:

  • Barnes 4
  • Thompson 3
  • Turner 2
  • Puig 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire 1 (wasn’t Kellogg today)

Game Spit Master General = Tie between Belt and Cueto at 6

That’s a total of 40 spits during a 3 hour and 10 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.8 minutes.

Unfortunately all three of the new additions logged their first spits today.  My dreams of another non-spitter on the team were dashed.  Brandon Belt gets the most disgusting spits of the game award for three times in a row spitting directly into his bare hand and rubbing it in as he prepared to take his position at first base.  I have never witnessed anything like this before.  Any other time a guy spat into his hand it was covered in a batting glove and he did it to get a better grip on the bat.  Why does Brandon do this?  Is it his way of getting extra spit on the ball for the pitcher??  What’s up with that?  YUCK!  Also I had a guest snot rocket launching by Matt Duffy today who snuck one in during one of his at bats.  Lovely.

Made a couple of interesting observations about the Dodgers during this series.  One is the shift they put on when Brandon Belt comes to bat.  They shift their third baseman all the way over to almost 1st base.  They did this every time he was up.  Once he took advantage of this and bunted towards third base and made it to first.  The broadcasters comment on it every time.  Guess it’s a pretty unusual shift, but I would imagine they do it because he rarely hits out to left field.

I also noticed something that at least two of the Dodger left fielders did (Charlie Culberson and Trayce Thompson).  Each made the last out in the inning, and then each made a motion like they were going to throw the ball into the crowd, but instead kept it in their glove.  What a couple of jerks!  Maybe this happens all the time but I had never noticed it before.  Has anyone else observed this?  Hope my boys don’t do this.

I had read on the SF Giants Gamer Babes Facebook page that Lou Seal has an interesting routine while Renel is announcing the starting lineup for the Giants at the beginning of a game, and I decided to check it out for myself during the game on Friday.  He makes a different gesture for each player!  For example, he salutes for Angel Pagan, he pretends to throw his hair back for Brandon Crawford, he gets super animated for Hunter Pence, and he strikes a Duffman superhero pose for Matt Duffy.  Love it!  Next time you are at a game check him out!

My boys are headed to Colorado for a series against the Rockies starting on Tuesday.  With the way they’ve been hitting homers, I’m really looking forward to what they can achieve in that hitter’s park!  Will be watching when I can.  Come on boys!  Let the momentum from taking the Dodgers series carry you on to more wins at Coors Field!  GO GIANTS!  CRUMBLE THE ROCKIES!

Train to Reign in a New Season

Yikes, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged!  So many things to chat about!  First off, I need to mention my Spring Training trip – another successful adventure with my brothers.  We were in Arizona for 4 days, and while there attended 3 Giants games.  The trip had some bad and good aspects, so I feel some lists coming on.  Here are the good and the bad of this trip (and some things I learned for next time):

Bad Things (first so I can end on a high note because it was really a great trip):

  • We accidentally planned the trip on Easter weekend. I had already bought game tickets before I realized this.  Besides the fact that I didn’t get to spend Easter with the rest of my family, this meant that both airline and game ticket prices were much more than usual.  Won’t do that again.
  • Didn’t end up getting any current players’ autographs even though I waited for hours before all three games.
  • Went on a hike of Camelback Mountain not knowing that it is an extremely difficult hike, so we didn’t make it to the top (my brother said his back was hurting about half way up – I think he was lying because he didn’t want me to die. I’m not the greatest hiker.).
  • When we got back to the car after hiking Camelback Mountain, we were greeted by a parking ticket. Beware – it’s not obvious where the no parking zones are!
  • We lost all three games we attended, including a shutout by the Dodgers and a game that lasted over 4 hours that was on ESPN (and it only went 9 innings!).

Great Things that made up for the Bad Things:

  • I got to see my boys play up close and personal.
  • We made sure we purchased tickets in the shade this year. So much more comfortable, and worth the extra we paid for them.
  • I got Darrell Evans’ autograph (even though I had to pay for it) and took a picture with him. Such a nice guy.
  • I got to chat with a bunch of other retired players, including Gaylord Perry and George Foster.
  • I got Dave Fleming’s autograph (he was the only Giants broadcaster I was missing). Actually, I also got to chat with Erwin Higueros (one of the Spanish language broadcasters) and I was a dummy and didn’t think to get his autograph as well.  He’s such a friendly guy!
  • I chatted with Jon Miller about my failed hike up Camelback Mountain (he has made it up several times). Also got to shake his hand this time.
  • We found a couple of new restaurants that were fantastic – Joe’s Farm Grill (best tuna steak sandwich I’ve ever had – they have a farm on site where they get their produce) and Little Miss BBQ (be prepared for a looooooong line, but well worth it).
  • Got to see Juan Perez and Travis Ishikawa play for the Cubs and White Sox respectively. Really miss those guys.  Travis even hit a homerun!  Unfortunately, neither made their team’s starting roster.
  • Got to see Bob Costas up close and personal during the game that was on ESPN. That man sure has had a lot of work done!
  • Got to see Tim Hudson in the dugout during one of the games (I think he was there because Madison was pitching).
  • Got to see Gregor Blanco hitting balls to his son in the infield before one of the games.
  • Had a close encounter with Sergio Romo’s family during one game. They were sitting on the other side of the aisle from us while Sergio was pitching.  When he gave up a homerun, his son put his face in his hand and yelled, “OH, DAD!!”
  • Got to boo Mat Latos when he pitched for the White Sox (he stunk that day).
  • The weather was milder than it’s ever been for us there – between 82 and 87 degrees.
  • Got to meet and speak with tons of awesome Giants fans. One even showed my Larry Baer’s business card!
  • Of course, one of the best parts was getting to hang out and be silly with my brothers.

A week later, it was time for real baseball.  I could not believe how ready I was for the season to start.  When I heard Mike Krukow mention on KNBR one morning that there should be no more “jimmyjacking”, I knew the season had officially started!  Here’s the 25-man roster for your 2016 San Francisco Giants (I can just hear Renel saying this!):

Pitchers:

Madison Bumgarner

Matt Cain

Santiago Casilla

Johnny Cueto

Cory Gearrin

Chris Heston

George Kontos

Javier Lopez

Josh Osich

Jake Peavy

Sergio Romo

Jeff Samardzija

Hunter Strickland

Catchers:

Trevor Brown

Buster Posey

Infielders:

Ehire Adrianza

Brandon Belt

Brandon Crawford

Matt Duffy

Joe Panik

Kelby Tomlinson

Outfielders:

Gregor Blanco

Angel Pagan

Hunter Pence

Denard Span

Some notes about this lineup:  Andrew Susac probably would have been the backup catcher if it wasn’t for the fact that he was having tendinitis in his surgically-repaired wrist this spring.  He was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento because the Giants still want him to get regular playing time while he is recovering.  Lucky for Trevor Brown!  Also of note is that all our starting pitchers are healthy (as I’m typing this, I’m hoping I’m not jinxing anything).  There was some question about whether this would be the case during Spring Training, and Chris Heston was ready and willing if he was needed to fill in.  I love Chris, but so glad he’s not needed right now.  And I am so, so excited about our starting lineup!  I really enjoyed watching Johnny Cueto pitch the other day and love his style.  It seems like he never has the same motion twice, plus he doesn’t waste any time getting to his next pitch.  Haven’t had a chance to see Samardzija in action, but boy that guy sure is animated in the clubhouse!  I think Hunter has a new buddy!  I’m really excited about Cory Gearrin being in the bullpen.  He definitely proved his worth during spring training, and I’m sure he’ll be an asset.  Meanwhile Ehire Adrianza gets another shot at coming off the bench.  He sure proved himself today with some great defensive plays and that homerun off of Kershaw!  Also with Hunter Strickland starting off in the bullpen this season, it will be interesting to see if Bochy tries him as closer at some point.  Santiago better be on his toes because Hunter is waiting in the wings.

Denard Span is another player that I’m really excited about, both for his offense and defense.  It’s been great to get to know him better through some interviews I’ve seen on the internet.  Here’s one that he did with Randy Winn.  I love the format of this interview – very low key with a former player and a current player discussing the ins and outs of playing in AT&T Park.  Denard also was allowed to be a guest writer for the Brandon and Brandon blog today.  You can see what he wrote here.  It’s also a nice view into his personality, and gives some insight into how other teams view our boys.  And his sense of humor seems to fit right in!

I was extremely lucky to get a great deal on some Field Level tickets to the Dodgers vs. Giants game on Friday night.  I went with one of my favorite game buddies, my sister.  We had seats that were covered so we didn’t get rained on.  It was kind of cool because all the people around us were season ticket holders and they all knew each other.  They were also very nice to us newcomers.  Talk about a roller coaster of emotions during that game!  Going in, all I really hoped for was that Matt Cain had a good start.  He’s been the biggest question mark of the starting rotation.  So glad and relieved that he had a fantastic night.  Just wish he could have gotten a little more run support!  That Dodgers kid Stripling was dealing!  I don’t think anyone was expecting that.  We were both so ticked off because the few Dodgers fans around us were being extremely obnoxious.  Any time the Dodgers would get a hit, they would stand up and face all of us and flaunt it, and especially this one guy named Barajas (had his name on the back of his jersey).  We kept saying, “Sit down, Barajas!”  It was getting depressing because besides Matt’s great showing, we didn’t really have much to cheer about.  We were praying that the tides would turn so that we could shut the Dodgers fans up.  Then by the end of the 7th inning, we were afraid we were going to experience a moment in history – for our arch rivals!  My boys still hadn’t gotten a hit off that kid!  They even started sending notifications on ESPN about it.  The eighth inning came and still no hits, but he did walk Buster.  Then something happened that no one ever anticipated – Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts took the kid out!  We were all in shock – both Dodgers fans and Giants fans alike.  How could he do that, with the kid taking a no hitter into the eighth during his first major league appearance?  The only player in modern history to throw a no-hitter in his first major league start was Bobo Holloman in 1953 (thank you, Andrew Baggarly).  1953!  Dave Roberts, you’re messing with baseball history!!  After the game, I found out that Stripling had a preset pitch count because he had Tommy John surgery and they didn’t want to take any chances with his arm.  I’m sure no one anticipated what would actually happen though.  Stripling’s father even thanked Roberts today for thinking of his son’s health first.  Anyway, after all the booing and excitement of Stripling coming out, I knew things were going to be different because the Dodgers bull pen stinks.  They were ahead 2 to nothing at this point.  Then came the kid, Trevor Brown.  Skyed one out of the park to left.  One of the top ten moments I’ve ever had at a Giants game.  Take that, silly Dodger fans!  We were all screaming and high fiving, but Barajas had magically disappeared.  Of course once he got back to his seat, he got an earful!  Then it went back and forth and we ended up in extra innings.  Brandon Crawford wasted no time and shot the first pitch he saw over the left field wall.  Fabulous!  Again, everyone was screaming and hugging and life was beautiful again.  Plus the fireworks show afterwards was so much sweeter with that win.  And talk about ironic – the music for the fireworks show came from Brandon Crawford’s clubhouse playlist!  We went from the lows of worrying about witnessing a no hitter for the other team to the highs of handing it to the Dodgers with a walk off homerun.  BEAUTIFUL!  And I got to share all of it with my sister, making it that much sweeter.

Here’s a link to the 2016 Giants commercials.  My favorite one is the Bochy one, but there are several that are pretty great.

I’ll end with the news of Brandon Belt’s extension.  He received a 5-year extension which will give the Giants control over him through 2021.  It covers his last remaining year of arbitration and 4 years of free agency.  He will make $72.8 million over the 5 years starting with the 2017 season.  I always find it interesting what some of the details of these contracts are, and for Belt’s he can designate 10 teams to which he can’t be traded to without his consent.  How do they come up with these things?  Why 10?  Did they go back and forth on that number?  Overall, though, I guess it means he really wants to remain a Giant.  Happy for the guy that he’s finally gotten a commitment from the big guys, and glad he’ll be part of the home-grown core for a while.  He’s definitely earned it in my book.  Guess this also means that Buster will continue to play catcher for a while.  Glad about that, too.  In honor of the Belt extension, Pablo Sandoval did some belt extending of his own during the Red Sox game today.  Check this out.  HA HA!!!

I did the first spit count of the season today, but I think I’ll post it tomorrow as I may do another one then.  Always keeping you in anticipation!!  So happy the way the season is starting out for my boys.  Hope they can take the series from the dreaded Dodgers tomorrow.  Looking forward to another exciting Cueto start.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA!!

Drama Already

In my opinion, the most important question to be answered during Spring Training is how well Matt Cain would be able to pitch after his surgery last season.  There was promise in his last performance of the season, and I’m hoping he can come back and help the team out with some wins.  Unfortunately after his first week in Arizona, this question will remain unanswered at least for a while longer.  Cain is having a cyst in his pitching arm surgically removed, and the Giants estimate he will be out for at least 10 days.  Not only does this mean he will lose out on those 10 days of practice, but he’ll have to ramp up after that and who knows how this additional surgery will affect him.  At least this type of surgery isn’t major.  Still surgery to his pitching arm, though.  Hoping that he’ll really come back that quickly and that he can still get the practice in he needs to start the season.

The Cain issue made me immediately think about another pitcher who’s hoping to make a comeback – Tim Lincecum.  Will this setback for Cain affect whether the Giants look more seriously at getting him back?  He’s still in limbo right now.  I was listening to an interview with Andrew Baggarly where this question was posed, and he seems to think this will not be the case.  He feels if the Giants do actually bring him back, it would be in a relief role only.  So sorry, Timmy fans.  Baggs feels that if Cain can’t start the season, the Giants would probably put Chris Heston (who’s proven he can do this before) into his spot in the rotation, with their other backups being two kids who they already have in their farm system, namely Ty Blach and Clayton Blackburn.  So at least there is some depth with starting pitchers, and Cain was slotted to be either the 4th or 5th starter, so the loss of his arm isn’t as devastating as it could be.

Then today I was on Facebook and someone on one of my favorite Giants pages posted that Hunter Pence has been sidelined with an Achilles injury.  WHAT?  Not again!  Last season he was sidelined with a broken arm during Spring Training.  According to Andrew Baggarly, Pence was experiencing soreness in his right Achilles tendon during his workout on Saturday, and it’s been diagnosed as tendonitis.  He’ll take two to three days off as a precaution.  Not anywhere near as bad as a broken arm, but still scary.  Too much injury drama already for me!

Another interesting Spring Training situation is that of Angel Pagan.  Over the offseason, I’m sure he assumed he had the centerfielder position tied up, then the Giants acquired Denard Span who is much better defensively at that position.  So Angel will end up starting in left field.  From what I know of Angel, this was surely a huge blow to his ego.  But it’s a contract year for him, so he’s got to deal with it and do his best out there.  Then after listening to that Andrew Baggarly interview, I realized something else.  Baggs mentioned that even left field isn’t guaranteed for Angel should he succumb to an injury or if his hitting should slump.  He’s got two guys waiting in the wings hoping to take over that spot in Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, not to mention the fact that Gregor Blanco could easily step into that role.  Angel sure is under a lot of pressure this season.  Thank goodness we’ve got some much needed depth in the outfield.

Another guy hoping to earn a spot on the team is Conor Gillaspie.  I was excited to hear about this.  You may recall him filling in for Pablo at third base several times a few years back.  He’s great both offensively and defensively.  I kept tabs on him after he was traded to the White Sox due to Beat the Streak as I chose him several times and he came through for me (in 2014 he hit .282).  From what I’ve heard he rubbed some of the veterans the wrong way while he was here and that may have contributed to his departure.  But in an interview with KNBR he mentioned that part of it was due to the fact that he’s not really outgoing and he’s been working on it and hopes to get closer to the players this go around.  Have to give the guy credit for trying to change for the better.  We’ll see if this and his play this Spring can bring him back to San Francisco.  Good luck, Conor!

Learned of two new rules that will be put in place this season.  And one of them has to do with a rule that I hate, the Neighborhood Play.  Basically the Neighborhood Play is going away.  YAY!  The reason for this:  they changed the rule for sliding into second base, making it not as dangerous for the second baseman to try to tag the bag during a double play.  The runner can still make contact with the second baseman, but only if he adheres to these four conditions:

  • He begins to slide before reaching the base (how many times have we seen guys start their slide after the base – NO MORE!!).
  • He is able and attempts to reach the bag with his hand or foot
  • He is able and attempts to remain on the bag after the slide (no more ending up 10 feet past the bag!).
  • He slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

Also the runner cannot engage “in a ‘roll block,’ or intentionally initiate (or attempt to initiate) contact with the fielder by elevating and kicking his leg above the fielder’s knee or throwing his arm or his upper body.”  If the runner violates any of these conditions, both he and the batter will be called out for interference.  I love this for two reasons.  The Neighborhood Play was silly to start with – a guy should only be out when the fielder actually tags the base, not if the umpire thinks he was close enough to the bag.  Also there should be a lot less serious injuries at second base now like the one that took out Ruben Tejada in the playoffs last season.  Good job, powers that be in baseball, on finally righting this wrong!  The second new rule attempts to reduce game times.  Managers and pitching coaches will only be allowed 30 seconds for mound visits, plus breaks between innings will be reduced by 20 seconds.  Sounds fair to me, but I’m not sure how much this will really reduce game times.  Guess we’ll see.  Boch is going to have to speed it up– no more hobbling out there!  Might even have to jog!

I’ll end with a couple of fun team gossip items.  Hunter Pence will make a guest appearance on Fuller House, the sequel to Full House.  He plays Stephanie Tanner’s boyfriend.  I remember hearing about them filming one of the sequences during a Dodgers game last season.  How fun!  Also heard that Buster and family are looking to settle in the Bay Area (my friend Angel is excited about this news!).  Wonder where he’ll end up.  I heard he might be looking in San Carlos.  Hey Buster, my brother says the house next door to him is for sale!!  Could you imagine??

I’ll keep an ear open for news from Spring Training for you.  Hopefully I won’t have to share any more injury stories!  The first Spring Training game is this Wednesday and it will be broadcast on KNBR.  Hope I can catch the end of it between jobs.  Ah, baseball on the radio again!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  STAY HEALTHY!

Giants FanFest 2016

The day finally arrived.  The day that officially marked the beginning of my favorite sports season.  The day I was guaranteed KNBR would no longer be covering football and would switch over to what I wanted to hear instead.  KNBR FANFEST!!  This year I went with my friend, Angel.  It was her first time attending FanFest.  She’s as huge a Giants fan as I am, so I was really excited.  And she’s a trooper as she attended with a bum foot!

It was so thrilling to get all decked out in my Giants attire that morning (even though that morning started for me at 4:30 am).  I picked Angel up and we had to start the day with our standard trip to Starbucks (both of us are Starbucks lovers).  The weather report said it was supposed to be a high of 66 in the City that day with no rain, so we weren’t prepared for wet weather.  Thus when we hit about Los Altos on Highway 280, we were a little shocked at the heavy fog we encountered.  Would there be fog in the City as well?  Would we be waiting in line for over 2 hours drenched in mist?  Luckily, the fog dissipated as we got closer to the ballpark.  Whew!

Ah, the feeling you get as AT&T Park comes into view.  Pure bliss.  Like seeing an old friend.  We parked in Lot A (parking was supposed to be $10, but for some reason we got charged $16).  Then we set out to wait in line with all the other fans.  We got to the park at about 7:45 am and were waiting right in front of the entrance about 10 people back.  I think that is the sweet spot time because the line grew exponentially after that.  We made friends with three girls in line behind us, all college age.  Turns out that we had several life connections as one of them had just graduated from UC Davis (my alma mater), one was planning on transferring there, and they all were from Antioch (I lived there for 19 years)!  I even wondered if I had ever subbed in their classes while I lived there!  Their goal was to get Brandon Crawford’s autograph – hope it worked out for them.  Really nice kids.  Chatting with them made the time pass quickly, and before we knew it, it was 10:00 am and the gates were opened.

We had a different overall strategy for FanFest this year.  I’ve given up on trying to get autographs.  Last year, even though we got in line at 6 am, I still would have had a 2 hour wait to get any autographs.  Waste of precious FanFest time.  So instead we started off at the Giants’ Clubhouse tour.  I had always wanted to do this, but the lines later in the day are always too long.  We were able to walk right in and we were the only ones in there, so we could spend as much time as we wanted getting goosebumps being in the boys’ home.  We got to see where they eat, their lockers, and we got to walk down the stairs they take to the field.  So cool!  The funniest part was that we got to see where they keep the gum!  5 flavors:  Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, Spearmint, and Winterfresh.

Next we tried to walk into the dugout (which you’ve been able to do before), but it was cordoned off.   We decided to hit the sponsor tents instead.  We just missed getting some cool orange Peet’s coffee mugs, but we did get orange Giants shirts and some free coffee.  We also watched Brandon Crawford being interviewed by KNBR on the field for a bit.  Not sure I’m into his man bun, but at least it keeps the hair out of his beautiful face.

After being on the field, we headed to the Press Box.  I had never gone in there before, and again we were able to walk right in.  Those guys have a sweet view of the field.  I noticed that each of the media outlets has an assigned seat.  Who knew?  I had fun fantasizing about covering a game from in there.  The Willie Mac Award plaque with the names of the previous winners was displayed on the wall.  We also got to peek into the area where Renel does her thing, but it was closed off.  And of course, being the sillies we are, we had to use the Press Box restroom because we knew that’s the one Renel uses.  One stall – just for her.  I even took a picture!

When we left the Press Box, we realized that we could use elevators that are normally blocked off to fans, so we headed to the Club Level in one of these elevators.  We ended up in a hallway that went right by Bobby Evans office!  As we continued on our way we passed a table where they were promoting park tours.  One of the people at the table was the head of park tours, and she was wearing her 2014 World Series ring.  She was gracious enough to let both of us try it on!  I asked the other guy at the table where his ring was, and he said he didn’t have one – yet.  He had high hopes that the even year would bring him one as well.

After that we headed to the Q&A stage on the Club Level.  We got there as Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Bruce Bochy were being interviewed by Kate Scott of KNBR.  We were pretty far back in the crowd, but we could still see them.  So cool to have them right there in front of us.  I even got to ask Joe Panik a question!  I asked him who would win the homerun contest between him and Matt Duffy this season.  He seemed a little embarrassed by the question, and of course he said he would if he was able to play the entire season (he was out with an injury for a decent part of the season last year).  Crawford also said Panik would win, also mentioning the fact that it’s much harder for lefties to hit homers at AT&T Park.  At the end of the session, the three posed for pictures together.  Never realized how tall Boch is – he was at least 3 inches taller than either Panik or Crawford plus he’s huge!

After those three left, the apple of Angel’s eye arrived.  BUSTER!  He was in the next session with Denard Span and Matt Duffy.  They were being interviewed by Larry Krueger of KNBR.  Since a lot of people left after the previous session, we were able to get much closer to the stage, and Angel was in heaven.  At one point, she waved to Buster, and he waved back!  Day made!  The interesting part about this session was that Denard Span mentioned that he still hadn’t officially been told that he would be playing center field, even though in the previous session Bochy said he would be.  Guess they hadn’t been able to break the news to Angel in person yet and make it official.  Nice that they care about how he is going to take it.  It was nice to get a feel for Denard’s personality – he’s really funny and should mix well with the rest of the boys.  We were both dying to ask questions during this session, but goofball Larry Krueger only allowed 2 questions during the last 5 minutes.  One guy standing next to me kept complaining loudly enough for the guys on stage to hear.  Hope Kate was able to school Larry and he’ll do better next season.

After that we headed to the View Level to see if we could spy some of the guys who were signing autographs up there.  That’s the thing – you don’t have to wait in those long lines to get close to the players, especially if they are changing shifts when you get there.  At the first booth they were about to change, and Dave Righetti and Mac Williamson walked right by me.  You just don’t realize how very tall those guys are!  They were replaced by Joe Panik, Ehire Adrianza, and Hensley Meulens.  Joe walked right by me as he approached the table.  Was able to get close enough to get some great shots of them, including several of Joe Panik’s beautiful smile.  As I was taking pictures, another fan near me wasn’t sure who Hensley was, and I told her that he was the batting coach and mentioned that he was knighted so you had to call him “Sir”.  Hensley must have overheard this because he turned to me, smiled and gave me a thumbs up!

At the next booth I saw Jarrett Parker and Dave Righetti (again) just sitting there, not signing yet.  I decided to strike up a conversation with Jarrett, saying that it was amazing he had hit 3 homeruns in one game and telling him that I had seen him hit the grand slam over the centerfield fence at Spring Training.  He said, “Thank you for the support!”  Then I realized why they were just waiting there as Hunter Pence walked right past me headed for their table.  He was taking selfies with everyone as he walked.  He was so generous with his time.  Even while he was signing autographs, he would get up from the table and take selfies with people in the crowd.  The guy must have been exhausted at the end of the day!  As they left their table, I tried to get close enough to Jarrett Parker to take a selfie, but the guy seemed kind of overwhelmed by the whole thing.  I did get close enough to realize how tall he is.  You just don’t realize it watching them on TV.

By that time, it was 3:00 pm and FanFest was over.  Amazing how quickly 5 hours can fly when you are in heaven!  We headed out and got to glimpse a couple of guys as they headed out of the parking lot.  What a fabulous day I got to share with my bud!  And the weather turned out to be gorgeous.  Definitely has me amped up for the season to come.

The boys are in Arizona as we speak getting ready for their Spring Training games.  Love seeing the videos of them practicing, including one of Madison blowing a snot rocket as he walks alongside Jeff Samardzija!  Check it out!  Looking forward to my Spring Training adventure with my brothers at the end of March.  We’re even going to a Giants/Dodgers game this season.  Can’t wait!  Hope they televise a lot of the Spring Training games so I can get an early fix.  It’s also fun to see the kids that are up-and-coming.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  WELCOME BACK!!

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!!

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