Spring Cleaning in Arizona

I like sweeps!  This one was extra sweet for a lot of reasons.  First off, and probably most importantly, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy continued to perform well after the dreadful start to their seasons.  Both gave the team the opportunity to win once again.  I like this trend, and am seriously hoping it can continue.  If they can keep this up, we are in great shape.  Also during this series, some of the guys started to get hot.  Denard Span went 2 for 5 on Thursday, 2 for 4 on Friday and 4 for 4 on Saturday.  Buster also got his average up during this series.  And I’m so relieved that Angel Pagan and Joe Panik are back and getting right back at it.  Plus how about that Trevor Brown hitting a homerun for us while filling in for Buster!  Love it!  Finally, we won a game against Zack Greinke for the first time ever.  Beautiful!  A 5-game winning streak is hopefully a sign that things are turning around for my boys.

Today’s game was the only one I actually got to watch completely.  Not a whole lot of action, but there were lots of interesting things that happened.  I think I feel a list coming on…

  • You know how guys get high fives in the dugout after they hit a homerun? Well after Trevor Brown hit his today, he proceeded to start the high fiving, but in the process left one guy hanging – Buster!  It was so funny!  Of all people to do that to, his fellow catcher!
  • Johnny Cueto likes to blow bubbles in the dugout. Big bubbles.  Humongous bubbles.  Today they showed him blowing one that was almost as big as his head.  They also showed the wad of gum which must have contained 10 pieces.  Here’s some video of him from today’s game.  And I love how the cameramen keep switching back to him in the process.  Those kind of things make watching baseball that much more fun.  Plus it makes me love Johnny Cueto that much more.
  • One bummer was how the game ended. That double play was amazing, but I hate it when the last call of the game has to be decided in New York.  It was obvious that Belt had the out at first, but I’m still wondering about the play at second.  It sure looked like Crawford pulled his foot off before making the tag.  Guess the guys in New York couldn’t see enough to overturn it.  Glad that D-Back got called out by the umpire initially, otherwise that game could still be going on.  Even Crawford seemed a little wishy washy when talking about it in his post-game interview.
  • Then after that double play, the umpire totally blew it when relaying what they said in New York to the crowd. He made the signal for out at first and safe at second.  It was supposed to be out at both first and second.  How do you possibly get that wrong?  The same call at both bases!  Sheesh!  He had to go through the motions about three times before he got it right.  The umpire that did the blowing of the call is Jerry Layne.  Who’s in for buying that man some glasses?  Or a hearing aid?  The best part of that call was how Jim Kozimor of CSN was doing the blown call dance in the post-game.  I’m thinking it will be the next dance craze.

There was also an opportunity for increasing our baseball knowledge in this game.  I’ve always wondered what exactly the rules are for a foul tip.  Is it like a foul so if it’s caught it’s an out?  Or is a foul tip somehow different than a regular foul?  There was an incident in the game today that involved a foul tip.  A D-back hit a foul tip that hit Trevor Brown in the chest, but Brown caught it on the rebound before it touched the ground.  Brown thought that this was an out (the batter already had 2 strikes on him).  So what is the official ruling on this?  Well, I did some research, and it turns out that a foul tip is very different from a regular foul.  MLB defines a foul tip as “a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught.  It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play.  It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand.”  In this case, since the ball rebounded off of Trevor’s chest without touching his hands first, it was not a catch, so it was just a foul ball, not a strike.  And since you can’t strike out on a foul ball, the guy was not out.  The key is that it has to hit the catcher’s hands first.  Also, the path of the ball has to be “sharp and direct” to be designated a foul tip, so any significant deviation from a straight path of the ball would not be considered a foul tip.  I guess “sharp and direct” is judged at the discretion of the umpire.  So I learned something today because I did not think a foul tip counted as a strike unless the ball was in the strike zone.  I also didn’t know that if a foul tip is caught, the ball is still in play.  For example, you can steal on a foul tip that is caught.  I hope you were able to learn something from all this as well.

I’m curious – what did you all think about the Casilla incident the other day?  Here’s what happened:  On Friday night, Bochy brought in Casilla with one out in the ninth.  The score at that point was 4-2 Giants.  The first two batters he faced singled, placing guys at first and third.  He then struck a guy out, but walked Paul “Goldy” Goldschmidt (aka “The Timmy Killer”) to load the bases.  Next up would be Jake Lamb.  Lamb had hit a game tying, ninth inning homer off of Casilla last month in San Francisco.  What would you do in this situation?  Well, Bochy decided not to take the risk and called on Javier Lopez to make the last out against Lamb (which he did), a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup.  But Casilla was not pleased with being taken out of the game at this point, and this is how he reacted.  A couple of things come into play here.  First, it’s not totally Casilla’s fault that the bases were loaded.  It was probably a good decision not to give Goldschmidt any good pitches due to his history with the Giants.  A homerun at that point would have lost the game.  Second, the closer is the closer.  He’s supposed to be the guy who ends the game for you.  You’re supposed to count on his adrenaline to end it.  If you don’t have faith in the closer, they won’t come through for you in the future.  However, I also see Bochy’s point in putting in Javi with the history that Casilla had with Lamb.  Overall, though, I’m very disappointed in the way Casilla reacted to Bochy.  He’s just not that kind of guy and he let his emotions get to him.  He was extremely disrespectful to his manager – so out of character.  In the end, Casilla did approach Bochy on his own the next day and apologized.  Plus Bochy put him in as closer in the next two games, so it appears there are no ill effects due to his behavior.  But I still have a yucky feeling about the whole thing.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  And Santiago, you’re still my boy.

Here’s a look at one of the dark sides of baseball that I really hate.  A fight broke out at the Rangers vs. Blue Jays game today.  It all started when Jose Bautista made a hard slide into Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor.  Odor thought the slide was illegal, words were exchanged, and Odor hauled off and punched Bautista in the face.  Here is the video of this horrible incident.  Bautista and Odor were ejected as well as Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele.  But then once the game restarted, Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch.  Chavez was also ejected because umpires had warned both sides earlier after Bautista was hit by a pitch.  I hate it when guys lose their temper and do stuff like this.  Even though there was some history with Bautista, nothing can justify this type of response (he flipped his bat in dramatic fashion after a 3-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Rangers last season).  This is one of the most vicious attacks during a game that I’ve ever seen.  Come on, guys!  Put a cap on that testosterone!  It will be interesting to see what types of punishments the league levies on these guys after all this.

Now back to my boys – they take on the Padres in San Diego in a 3-game series starting Tuesday, then they come home for a 3-game series against the Cubs.  I’m feeling pretty good about the Padres series, but the Cubs are another story.  Their win record stands at 27-9.  I have faith in my boys, though, and I’m hoping they can come out and rise to the occasion.  Have a happy flight to San Diego, enjoy your day off, then win some games for us!  Plus you can savor being in first place alone in the NL West because the Dodgers lost to the Cardinals today!  GO GIANTS!!  KEEP THE WINNING STREAK GOING!

I Was Right…

…but for the wrong reason.  The boys lost the series with the Blue Jays.  They lost the Peavy and Cain starts.  But they didn’t lose because of anything that Peavy and Cain did.  Peavy only lasted 5 innings, but when he left he had only allowed 3 runs so they had a chance to win with any type of run support.  He only got 1.  Cain surprised everyone, pitching through 8 innings, allowing only 2 runs and striking out 7.  The last time he pitched 8 innings was in 2013.  He got exactly no runs in support.  This morning on KNBR, I heard a very interesting stat involving Matt Cain.  I knew that historically he has gotten very little run support, but they mentioned that this was the 49th time he had gotten zero runs of support in a game.  That’s just sad!  So basically I need to eat my words and apologize to both Jake Peavy and Matt Cain for not trusting in their ability to come back from their previous dismal starts.  Great effort, Guys.  Just wish the bats would wake up.  Angel Pagan is scheduled to make his return this weekend, so maybe that will spark something.  He sure was hot when he left (batting .315).  And the power of Jarrett Parker in the lineup might help, too.  We’ll see.  I know they’ll come around eventually (hopefully sooner than later).  And please stop going into extra innings!!

Besides the decent starts from Peavy and Cain, the pitching woes seem to be working themselves out.  George Kontos, who’s been out with a flexor strain in his right elbow, is scheduled to return from the DL next week.  Sergio Romo continues to make progress.  Albert Suarez has made a name for himself in relief since he came up to the bigs and has been mentioned as a potential substitute for a starter if the need arises.  He’s pitched 4 innings to date and not allowed a single run.  Plus Chris Heston seems to have finally gotten back on track in Triple-A Sacramento, allowing only 1 earned run in 6 2/3 innings in his last start.  Hopefully we won’t need either one to start, but it’s nice to have good options.

As an aside, I’d like to congratulate the Golden State Warriors on making it to the Western Conference Finals.  Their games are so much fun to watch.  So glad the injury to Steph didn’t hold them back.  Go all the way, Guys!

My boys start a series in Arizona tomorrow.  My cup’s half full again, and I’m hoping we can generate some runs and make some noise.  Something has got to happen soon.  It will!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  SMASH THE D-BAGS!

They Won a Series, They Tied a Series…

…and they’re going to lose the next series.  There.  I said it.  I said what everyone is thinking.  Since Peavy and Cain are the next two pitchers in line for starts, we are going to lose the next series.  Besides the fact that the Blue Jays will be throwing three stellar pitchers at us (Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, and Marcus Stroman with ERAs of 2.82, 2.5, and 3.6 respectively), their lineup is packed with power.  The way things have been going for Jake and Matt, I’m seriously afraid of what is going to happen in the next two days.  The TV may get turned off.  I never do that.  This is coming from a true optimist – the glass-half-full girl.  I’m dreading the next two days.

What are we going to do about these guys?  How much longer can we go on giving them chances and hoping that things will somehow magically change?  From what I’ve heard in the media, Bochy will at least give them a couple more starts before taking drastic measures.  So that’s 4 more games pretty much thrown away.  I love the guys, but can we afford to do this?  I’m also not really sure there is an alternative at this point.  Heston seems the most likely replacement if one of them should take a break.  But we don’t have a Petit or Vogelsong to fill in for the other.  And it sounds like none of the kids are ready to come up.  A true dilemma.

At least we basically have three aces at the top of the rotation.  They’ve been pitching beautifully.  They’ve been getting the wins.  It’s also a shame that they haven’t been getting any support offensively, though.  The Cueto game on Saturday should never have gone into extra innings – the guy pitched a shutout 8 1/3 innings and didn’t even get credited with a win!  Then the next day Samardzija pitches a gem, giving up only 2 runs in 7 2/3 innings and gets absolutely no run support.  The runs will come, though.  I’m not worried about that.  This is the same lineup that was almost entirely batting above .300 for a long stretch last season.  They’ll pull it together.  And I seriously think that when Brandon Belt signed that long term contact, the huge sigh of relief he breathed also breathed some life into him.  I think just knowing that he is truly wanted in SF has worked wonders for him.  His at bats have been a joy to watch.

I was lucky enough to go to the game today.  I went with my wonderful sister (she got the tickets for us – Field Level in the shade – my favorite place to sit!).  Everything about the day was fabulous, except that they didn’t win of course.  We got to watch Samardzija pitch a beauty, we got the fantastic giveaway (we went extra early this year to be sure to get it – a really nice Giants bag), we got to see the boys in their pink cleats, we got to eat hot dogs, I got a sundae, we got to share each other’s company, we got to cheer for our boys, it turned out to be a beautiful day, and we even got free popcorn near the end of the game (they give it away after the 7th inning – we sat right in front of the popcorn vendor).  Just wish they could have pulled off a win for us.

I made an observation about Johnny Cueto on Saturday while watching the game.  You know how the announcers are always talking about how a good catcher will give the pitcher a clear target with his glove?  Well, Cueto pitches so fast that he doesn’t even give Buster time to get his glove down after he gives the signal!  Watch this in his next start.  So basically Cueto can find his target without the catcher!  Just shows you how truly amazing and accurate this guy is.  And what a quick-acting catcher Buster is.  I like it!

I wanted to be sure and congratulate Hunter Pence on his accomplishment last week.  He was named the NL Player of the Week.  In the six games he played that week, he tied for the Major League lead with 10 RBI, had the NL’s second-highest slugging percentage (.895), NL’s 5th highest batting average (.421 – 8 for 19), NL’s 4th highest OBP (.500), and NL’s 7th highest total bases (17).  During this period he also hit two home runs and had four runs scored.  Congrats, Hunter!  Hope some of that rubs off on the other guys!

Did anyone watch Timmy’s showcase on Friday?  I wanted to, but by the time I got home from work it was already over.  Still very surprised that it was televised in the first place.  If you missed it like me, here’s a video of Timmy discussing it with some of the highlights.  A couple of things struck me about it:  His upper body seems much more buff and I had forgotten how little he is.  His stuff seemed to be pretty good.  We’ll have to see if anyone rushes in and makes him an offer.  I hope he lands anywhere besides a certain area in Southern California.  A spot on the Giants would be extra nice, whether or not he can solve the starter crisis.

I have a new spit count for you.  Samardzija became my new hero during this game.  You’ll see why…

May 3rd

Giants:

  • Span 6
  • Bochy 2
  • Casilla 2
  • Posey 1
  • Belt 1
  • Cueto 1
  • Samardzija 1

Reds:

  • Phillips 5
  • Barnhart 4
  • Votto 3
  • Holt 2
  • Bruce 2 (1 was a spray)
  • Hamilton 1 (seeds)
  • DeJesus 1

Game Spit Master General = Span at 6

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.

Matt Duffy continued his snot rocket streak with one this outing.  At least he didn’t spit.  So why is Samardzija my hero?  Because he was the starting pitcher during this game, lasted 8 innings, and only logged one spit!  Plus the one spit didn’t occur until the 8th inning!  He’s also my hero for breaking his bat over his knee after striking out late in the game.  If you missed that, here’s the video.  So funny!  Plus I love how many times they showed the bat break during the game.  At least 100.  I’m not exaggerating.

So here we go.  The Blue Jays for three at the beginning of the week, then my boys travel to Arizona for four against the D-Bags.  Holding my breath.  Of course, I’ll be watching it all.  Well, at least until it gets out of hand and I go for the remote.  Really trying hard to be positive, but it sure is tough right now.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  PLEASE PROVE ME WRONG!!

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!

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