Bochy Back and New Rules

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Boys are Back +1!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Shirt’s STILL Good!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yokoso, Nori Aoki!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spit Analysis 2014

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

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

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

 

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

Other records that were set this season:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It Never Fails

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

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

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

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

The Luke-warm Stove League

Hi everybody!  Sorry it’s taken me so long to blog, but seriously, the Hot Stove has been pretty lukewarm this offseason.  The Giants haven’t made any major moves yet – figured something would have happened by now.  Are you getting as antsy about this as I am?

First, let’s recap what the status is with the five free agents on the team.  Of course, most noteworthy is the fact that Pablo did end up signing with the Red Sox to the tune of 5 years, $95 million plus a club option for a 6th year and a $3 million signing bonus.  Supposedly the Giants were willing to match this, but Pablo chose to leave.  Why?  I haven’t been able to find an acceptable answer to this question.  Pablo says he wants a new challenge.  Not buying it.  Others say he resented not being offered more at the beginning of the season and also resented all the attention given to his weight by the Giants.  Not buying that either.  There must be something else that will possibly come to light in the future.  What do you all think?  I will really miss him and will be keeping an eye on his performance.  Thanks for all the great memories and for all the amazing contributions you made to the team, and for all the silliness that I thoroughly enjoyed.  Trying to come up with some creative uses for my panda hat (put orange spots on it and make it a giraffe hat??).

Unfortunately we also lost Michael Morse to the Marlins (2 years, $16 million).  This one hit me harder than even the Pablo loss – I love this guy, and I really think he played an important role on the team, both in the clubhouse and on the field.  What is his buddy Hunter going to do without his sidekick??  Wishing him the best of luck in that crazy Florida park.  Thanks for all you did for us last season, Mike.  Will forever think of you every time I hear “Take On Me.”

The Giants have signed two of the free agents so far.  Sergio Romo was signed to a 2 year, $15 million deal.  Thank goodness!  Even though he lost his job as closer during the season, he was still an essential part of the bullpen, especially during the post-season where he pitched in nine games and had a 0.86 WHIP.  Nick said the only reason I’m happy about him resigning is because I like his walk-up music.  NOT TRUE (but so glad I’ll still be able to rock out to it when he comes in!!).  Just today, Jake Peavy was signed to a 2 year, $20 million deal with a $4 million signing bonus.  The deal also includes a full no-trade clause (meaning Peavy cannot be traded to another team unless he OKs it).  This signing surprised me.  I really didn’t think he was coming back as there were a lot of rumors early in the off-season saying that he wanted to go back to Boston and had interest in other teams.  Guess his love of Bruce Bochy, his mentor, won out.  I like Jake – he did a fantastic job filling in for Matt Cain when he went out last season.  Plus he plays a mean guitar.  And he’s fiery.  Great combination.

This leaves Ryan Vogelsong as the last unsigned free agent.  I think it’s not looking so good for him.  The rotation is looking to be Bumgarner, Cain, Peavy, Hudson, Lincecum.  Yes, Lincecum.  The powers that be are still saying that he will be part of the starting rotation.  I love Timmy and all, but sometimes you gotta be real.  His performance the last two years (if you forget about those perfect games) has not been starting pitcher-worthy – not even in the 5th spot.  However, if he does get that spot, there is no room for Ryan.  I would really hate to see him go – I love so much about that guy, especially his intensity.  We’ll have to wait and see.

With Morse and Sandoval gone, the big question is how are the outfield and third base holes going to be filled?  A bunch of the big names at both positions have already been spoken for.  What is going on in Sabean’s head?  Will they make some spectacular trade, sign free agents, or bring up guys internally instead (I’m liking Matt Duffy at third base myself).  It seems like every week, new names are being tossed around as possible interests of the Giants, and then the next minute they have signed with someone else.  Kind of scary.  Hate to say it again, but we’ll just have to trust Sabean and wait.  BUT I’M SO IMPATIENT!!

Also of note:  Travis Ishikawa and Hector Sanchez were both given 1-year deals for next season in order to avoid arbitration ($1.1 million and $800K respectively).  So very happy that Travis will be back after his amazing post-season performance, and because he just seems like a great guy.  Hector will be in a battle for his spot with Andrew Susac next season.  Glad that he’s come back from those concussions and has the opportunity to play again.  I’m still wondering about Gregor Blanco, though.  He is still listed on the 40-man roster, but it doesn’t show that he has a deal for next season anywhere.  Will continue to follow this.  I think he was extremely important to the team when Angel was injured, and I’m hoping he comes back.

Let’s move on to our boy, MADISON BUMGARNER aka “Big Country.”  Besides all the other, well-deserved accolades the kid’s gotten, he was recently named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.  Here’s a link to the story – after you read it, be sure to watch both videos on this page.  I loved the guy before, but after reading this and seeing the interviews he’s done, I have to admit that he’s become my favorite.  I’m just praying that all the attention won’t change the authentic and down-to-earth guy he is.  I had a revelation reading this story.  You may have seen this video of some of the guys on the team doing their best Mad Bum impersonations.  Love everything about this video, especially the blue mop wig that Tim Hudson wore and the revelation about how much Madison cares about his hair!  I thought Hunter made up the snake story on the fly – how could that be true?  Lo and behold it was!!  I love that kid!  And his wife seems to be the perfect match for him as well.  Duane Kuiper shared a story about the Christmas card he received from the Bumgarners on KNBR a couple of weeks ago.  He said the cover of the card was a picture of Madison in his Giants uniform holding a pitchfork and his wife, Ali, in farm clothes.  The caption read simply, “Merry Christmas, Yaw!”  Beautiful!  And so perfect!  So excited to see what he has to show us next season, and so thankful he’s one of ours!

The Giants also won four GIBBY Awards (Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards).  Joe Panik won best post-season play for his incredible diving stop and  glove flip that led to a double play in Game 7 of the World Series.  So glad that kid got some national recognition for his efforts.  Madison Bumgarner was awarded Post-season MVP (duh).  Travis Ishikawa earned his award for the Best Post-season Walkoff (and I got to see it in person!!).  And Bruce Bochy finally got the recognition he deserved, winning the Manager of the Year award (after being dissed by the Baseball Writers Association of America at the end of the season).  Congrats to all of you guys!  So love to see my boys in the national spotlight.

The Padres are sure gearing up to make some noise next season in the NL West.  Their new GM, A.J. Preller, has been adding solid players to their roster in the fashion we’re used to seeing from the Dodgers, including Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Will Middlebrooks, Derek Norris, and most recently, Justin Upton.  Will be interesting to see how they match up against us next season – I know it wasn’t pretty for us during the series that we took out roadtrip down south last season.  And speaking of the Dodgers, they released Brian Wilson this week.  Said they had plenty of more talented players in their bullpen.  HA HA!!!

My super lucky friend, Angel, had a close encounter with Brandon Crawford’s parents the other day in the Apple Store in Los Gatos.  She struck up a conversation with them and didn’t realize who they were at first.  She asked why they were all decked out in Giants stuff and they mentioned they had just come from the City where they took pictures with the World Series trophies.  She asked how they were so lucky to do that, and the dad turned around and showed the Crawford name across the back of his jersey.  After they left, it hit her who they were, and employees confirmed it.  They showed her pictures wearing Brandon’s World Series rings (the Crawfords were nice enough to let them take pictures with them).  What a fantastic experience!  She said they were really nice and really down-to-earth.  Lucky, lucky girl!

Going to try to work on the Spit Count analysis for last season over the weekend.  I know you’re just chomping at the bit for that one.  And as always, will keep my ears open for any new updates to our roster.  Mark your calendars (if you haven’t already) for the Giants FanFest on February 7th.  You know I’ll be there, wearing my new Bumgarner jersey.  Also planning a trip to Spring Training again this season, and this time my sister can come with us.  YAY!  Hope to get up close and personal with the boys at both events.  Comcast is running some of the post-season games over the holiday break.  Hoping to catch at least Game 7 of the World Series as I missed most of that game due to my having to work.  Plus I need a baseball fix!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Kiss the Ring!!

So much to catch up on!  This is the longest blog drought I’ve ever had.  But the main reason is because I was busy watching my boys take it all the way to win the World Series!  Last I wrote they had just clinched the Division Series against the Nationals.  I’m still in shock that they were able to go all the way – haven’t stopped pinching myself.  And just when you thought things were getting scary they would come back and make us all proud.  What a fantastic post season.  And the World Series games (except for Game 6 which was dreadful) were all amazingly entertaining.  The Royals were definitely a challenge, but in the end we conquered.  I bought my “Kiss the Ring” T-shirt to commemorate the fact that, as Jeremy Affeldt commented during the parade, we are now part of a baseball dynasty. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS AGAIN!!!

I need to step back a bit and tell you about the NLCS game I went to.  I had won the Giants ticket lottery and got a chance to buy tickets for this game even before they had won the game in Pittsburg.  I got 4 bleacher tickets for Game 5 of this series (about $130 each).  For these tickets to even be good, they had to win the Wild Card game, win the NLDS, and then go to a game 5 in the NLCS.  As fate would have it, this all happened (because my boys rock!).  I attended that game with my brothers Paul and Nick and my niece Lizza.  We were all so thrilled to go, especially since they had a chance to clinch that night.  I have to admit I had a stomach ache all day worrying about whether they would win or not.  We took the train to the game because they were charging outrageous prices for parking (up to $100) and we didn’t want to deal with traffic.  We got to the train station right before the train was scheduled to get there, and as we were waiting for a light across from the train station, we saw the train arrive!  We had to run to the train platform to try and make it.  Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t run.  I tried my best to get there in time, but the train left just as I got on the platform!  I’m also very superstitious and was concerned that this might be a bad omen.  We would still get to the park on time if we got the next train, but we would be cutting it close, especially with the long lines we had heard about.  But as our lucky Giants fate would have it, another train came by within 5 minutes!  This was the train we had planned on taking, and it was running a few minutes late!  So the good karma was there after all!

We got into the park about 20 minutes early, in time to see all the pregame festivities.  Joe Montana got everyone amped up before the game.  They sang the National Anthem and rolled out the huge flag on the field.  And we were there!  We got to know everyone around us as the energy in that place that night was amazing.  My favorites were two guys that were sitting in front of us.  We high fived each other any time something good would happen.  And we cheered louder than anyone else around us.  One unfortunate thing – I missed Morse’s homerun because I was in the bathroom at the time.  I could hear everyone cheering.  Bummer!  At that point, the game was tied, and everyone was so nervous.  The guy in front of me took off his friend’s hat and started massaging his head for good luck (just like the players do).  It worked!  We held them in the top of the ninth, and then Ishikawa hit his homerun in the bottom of the ninth to win the game!  You know how on TV you see the guys all waiting for Ishikawa at home and jumping on him and celebrating?  We didn’t see any of that.  We were all jumping up and down and screaming and hugging each other and everyone around us and high fiving.  It was incredible.  I’ve never had an experience like that at a sporting event in my life.  We were so lucky to be there.  What an absolute thrill!

I also went to the World Series Parade with the same group and my brother-in-law Brian.  I wasn’t as close to the action as I was two years ago when I went with Ginny (still wish you went!), but we were close enough to see everything.  It was nice that the guys were on buses high above us.  Even though we got rained on, it was totally worth it to celebrate the victory with my boys and my family.  And it always amazes me that things are so organized and under control with those extra hundreds of thousands of people in the City.  Kudos to all the law enforcement on hand that day.  After the parade, Nick and I went to the Civic Center to hear all the speeches, the best being from Brian Sabean, Bruce Bochy, and all the players.  We had to wait in an hour long line to take the train back home, but it was worth it.  I did have to air out my jacket when I got home as it reeked of pot (lots of people getting happy in the City that day!).

A recurring theme at the parade was “Keep Panda.”  I know this is something on everyone’s minds right now – will Panda be a Giant next year?  He is officially a free agent.  Many teams have expressed interest in him, including the Red Sox who are meeting with him this week.  Brian Sabean has said that he will finalize trying to sign Pablo before he starts to deal with any of the other free agents (including Ryan Vogelsong, Sergio Romo, Michael Morse, and Jake Peavy).   I really want him to stay, but I’m doubting that he will.  I don’t think the Giants will offer him enough years to stay as he is a big risk with his weight issues (rumor has it he’s asking for 6 years).  And there are other teams out there that don’t have to worry so much about money and would be more likely to take the risk.  What do you all think?  Keeping my fingers crossed as I love the guy, I think he is important to the team, and I don’t want to retire my panda hat!!

Two of my boys won Silver Slugger Awards last week – Buster and Madison.  The Silver Slugger Award is given to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and National League as voted upon by the coaches and managers.  I figured Madison would get it with his .258 batting average and 4 home runs (including 2 grand slams).  That guy’s got so much power!  It will look so nice sitting next to those 2 post-season MVP trophies!  And Buster gets to add a second silver bat to his collection (he also won in 2012).  Congratulations, Boys!  Both of you are going to have to expand your trophy cases after this season!

Just in case you missed it, here’s a link to Madison Bumgarner’s appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  I think he did a great job – not easy to be in the national spotlight like that.  He’s got a great sense of humor.  I love Jimmy, but I was kind of annoyed that there were times when he cut Madison off.  I want to hear what HE says!  Would imagine he’ll show up on other talk shows in the near future.  Looking forward to them.  So proud of that kid, and so glad that the nation can appreciate him now as well.

Bruce Bochy is one of six nominees for the Manager of the Year (the others are former Giant Matt Williams of the Nationals, Clint Hurdle of the Pirates, Mike Scioscia of the Angels, Buck Showalter of the Orioles, and Ned Yost of the Royals).  I love all the talk about how Boch is destined for the Hall of Fame.  I’ve learned so much from the guy about baseball strategy – he’s definitely one of the best at using his team’s assets to the full extent.  I’m pulling for you, Boch.  The winner will be announced this afternoon.  Will keep you posted.  Mindi Bach wrote a nice article on what other managers think about Bochy – here it is.  Love that guy.  So happy he’ll be with us for at least two more years.

Came across a great video the other day.  Check this out.  Is that guy psychic or what??  And I absolutely love his response.  Plus it was nice that they went to Kuip’s call of the play.  Baseball is so much fun!

Is everyone having major baseball withdrawal like I am?  I’m so sad that I can’t listen to KNBR as much any more as all they talk about are football and basketball.  At least there’s still Kruk and Kuip to look forward to in the morning on my way into work.  I have the day off work today, and I’m going to go see if I can watch the World Series parade coverage or Game 7 of the World Series on On Demand (missed most of that game as I had to work that night).  Will keep my ears open for any breaking news about new acquisitions and the continuing Panda saga.  In my next installment I’ll do a spit count summary for the season (I’m sure you’re all waiting with baited breath for that one!).  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Our Year. Our Time.

Let me just start by saying HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!  The boys did it!  They won the NL Division Series!  They beat the first place team!  They rock!  I am so excited.  Granted the clinching game was a little weird, but hey, my boys know how to take advantage of mistakes and scrape out a win.  What made it even sweeter was that the Dodgers lost today, so they’re out of it!!  We’ll take on the Cards starting on Saturday.  So happy for Tim Hudson that he’ll go to the NL Championship Series for the first time in his career (he made it to the Division series 7 times previous to this season, but never got past it).  Always love watching the champagne fly!  Have a nice rest, Boys, and go for it on Saturday.  We know you can do it.  Their shirts tonight said, “Our Year.  Our Time.”  Yes it is.  GO GIANTS!!!

October Quest

What a difference a week makes, eh??  Last I blogged, we weren’t even sure who we would be facing in the Wild Card game, and look at us now!  So much has happened in the last week, and all of it has been simply amazing.

They showed the Wild Card game on the big screen at AT&T Park on Wednesday, and my sister, my niece, and I went to watch the game amongst other fellow fans.  Game watching is so much sweeter when you are surrounded by a ton of screaming Giants fans, even if it’s being played out thousands of miles away!  We got there just before the game, and just in time to get some hot dogs and get to our seats.  They had the Field Level open, so we sat in covered seats behind home plate to avoid the seagulls and pigeons – lots more pigeons that night for some reason.  Lou Seal kept shooing them off of the field.  We were excited that it seemed guys were getting hits off Edinson Volquez from the beginning, and Madison was shutting down the Nats.  Then when Crawford hit that grand slam in the 4th the place went nuts!  It was so fantastic to be there with everyone screaming their lungs out and high fiving.  The best part was that everyone was doing the “YES, YES, YES” chant that Hunter Pence did with the crowd during his speech after the last game of the regular season.  We also noticed that at this point, Volquez, who had been feverishly chewing his gum while pitching, stopped chewing altogether (maybe he thought it was affecting his concentration??).  And as loud as we were at AT&T Park at that point, the Pirates fans were silenced.  We had heard so much about how loud and intense the fans there get in the post season, and how they can affect the play of the other team, but they lost their voices once we scored those runs.  And the fun continued as Madison pitched a complete game shutout and my boys continued to add on runs.  After the game was over, they flashed on the screen at AT&T “San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals Friday, October 3rd at Nationals Park” and it finally hit me that the boys were really going on to the playoffs!!  All that worry about the one game elimination was over!  So glad that my sis and niece agreed to go with me as I wouldn’t have gone without them (and I think they had as much fun as I did!).  And to think that Travis Ishikawa was the starting 1st baseman on Opening Day for the Pirates and he was starting Left Fielder for the Giants against the Pirates in the Wild Card game.  Talk about coming full circle!  Bet he’s pretty ecstatic about how it turned out, too!

Then we came back to reality.  We had to now beat the Nationals, and in their home.  The Nationals came in first place of all the National League teams, and we had the task of beating them 3 of 5 games.  Yikes!  Plus, since Madison, our ace, had pitched in the Wild Card game, he wasn’t available for the first game of this series.  We would have to rely on Jake Peavy, a guy who also did a great job for us during the regular season, but who had never won a post season game in his career.  Plus we were going against the Nationals ace, Stephen Strasburg.  Double yikes!!  I couldn’t watch this game as I was at work, but I was monitoring through MLB Sportscenter on my phone when I could (along with several of my coworkers who are also Giants fans).  And there it was – we were ahead 2 – 0!  Then by the top of the 7th, it was 3 – 0!  WHAT???  And they did it by playing small ball.  According to batting coach Hensley Meulens, “That was our approach.  Not to be too big.  Not to try to do too much.  Just put the ball in play and see what happens.”  That approach seemed to work against Strasburg, who struck out only 2 Giants hitters in the 5 innings he pitched, the lowest total ever in his career when he’s gone at least 5 innings.  Jake Peavy pitched superbly, allowing no runs, 2 hits, 3 walks, and getting 3 strikeouts in the 5 2/3 innings he pitched.  Then my boy, Hunter Strickland came in after Peavy had loaded the bases and managed to strike out Ian Desmond to end the inning.  No pressure there!  Unfortunately, in the next inning, Strickland gave up 2 home runs.  Poor kid!  But I love how Bochy doesn’t give up on his guys and allowed Strickland to continue, getting the next guy to pop up for an out.  And then the bull pen held them and we got the win.  We did it – we won one at their place!  And Jake Peavy recorded his first post-season win!  And the Dodgers choked that night behind Kershaw against the Cards!  SWEET!!

Then yesterday, insanity ensued.  The pitching matchup was Hudson vs. Zimmerman.  Hudson had had some struggles near the last couple of months of the season, but his last appearance was pretty good.  Zimmerman, on the other hand, had pitched a no hitter in his last regular season appearance.  Can you say YIKES??  It was definitely a pitchers’ duel, and I was so proud of Tim for coming through for us and pitching his little heart out.  Zimmerman was on fire as well.  By the eighth inning, it wasn’t looking good for us as Zimmerman still had his stuff and Hudson had allowed one run, giving the Nats a lead.  Then it happened.  The small ball again.  In the top of the 9th with 2 outs, Joe Panik walked.  Doesn’t sound like much, but there were a couple of pitches during that at bat that were pretty tough to take.  This visibly seemed to shake up Zimmerman, and he was taken out of the game and the bullpen took over.  Next Buster singled on a line drive.  Then Pablo “Clutch” Sandoval doubled down the left field line to bring in Panik.  Tied game!!!  Just when we thought we were out of it!  Buster also came into home, but on a very close call (that Bochy challenged to no avail) he was called out.  Thus began the bullpen duel between both teams, including a 6 inning stretch for Yusmeiro Petit (who did a fabulous job).  The game just kept going on and on.  Through an additional 8 innings, each bullpen allowed only 2 hits and no runs.  I was watching the game with my mom, and I made it through the 16th, but then had to dash out and get something to eat.  Luckily I got back right before the 18th started, cause that’s when Brandon “The Ender” Belt smacked one into the second deck to give my boys a one run lead.  They were leading after all that!!!  WHAT???  Even Brandon was cautious afterward, telling the guys in the dugout it wasn’t over yet.  They would have to hold that lead for 3 more outs.  And who came in to save the game?  None other than Hunter Strickland, the guy who got out of a bases loaded situation the night before but proceeded to give up two runs the next inning.  Talk about nailbiting!  But the kid did beautifully.  Learning from the night before that he shouldn’t depend solely on his 100 mph fastball to get guys out, he mixed up his pitches this time.  Though he did walk one guy, he was able to close it down and allow everyone to finally call it a night.  It was the longest game in MLB post season history EVER!  AND WE WON!!  WE WON 2 AGAINST THE NATIONALS!!!  IN D.C.!!    PINCH ME!

Moving away from the Playoff frenzy for a minute, I do have some other items of interest to share with you.  Tim Hudson won the Good Guy Award, presented by the Bay Area Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.  The award recognizes one Giants player each year for his cooperation with the print media.  Tim has a reputation for being approachable and for giving some interesting quips once in a while.  Guess the frank comment he made the other day to the media would qualify.  When asked about their chances against the Nationals, Tim responded, “Obviously they (the Nationals) have a talented group over there, there’s no question.  They have some great pitching.  But come playoff time, talent can take you a long ways, but what do you have between your legs?  That’s going to take you real far.  And I think we’ve got a group in here that really has some of that.”  The Nationals took offense to this and the Washington media went nuts with it (tee, hee!), but Tim said he just meant that his team was pretty tough, and it was not directed at the Nats.  Whatever.  All I know is we’re ahead 2 games to none.  Nuff said.  Congrats on your award, Tim!

I have two articles to share with you.  One is about Sergio Romo and his relationship with a girl battling cancer.  Here you go.  I had no idea this was going on during the 2012 World Series.  Such a great story.  Sergio’s earned a ton of points in my book for this one.  And get the hankies out!  There is also a great story about Kruk and Kuip, detailing how they are dealing with Kruk’s muscle disorder.  Here’s the link.  It’s very well written and gives you some interesting insight into Kruk’s struggle and the wonderful relationship that he and Kuip have.  Enjoy.

I noticed a couple of things watching games recently.  Travis Ishikawa has an interesting way of gripping the bat.  The pinky of his top hand goes under the pointer finger of his bottom hand.  You can kind of see it in this picture.  Has anyone else noticed this?  And does anyone know why he would do this?  I’ve also noticed that Madison Bumgarner has something on his left ring finger that looks like a scar.  I was wondering if it was a tattoo.  I did some research and found out that indeed it is a tattoo, and the story behind it is great.  Madison hates wearing jewelry of any kind, so instead of wearing a wedding ring, he had his wife’s name (Ali) tattooed on his left ring finger where the wedding ring would go.  Isn’t that adorable?  It’s the only tattoo he has.  He had it done before Spring Training this season.  It is interesting that he would risk getting a tattoo on his pitching hand, but I guess he thought she was worth the risk.  AWWWW!!

Since the regular season is over, I guess I should give you an update on how I did with the Beat the Streak contest this year.  I came in second to my brother Nick and my cousin Manny (they tied for the lead).  This is the first time since we’ve been doing this that I didn’t win.  I did make a valiant run for the gold during the last week of the contest, though.  Up until then, my high streak was at 10 and the leaders were at 17.  That week I was able to get up to 15, and if my 2 guys could get hits the next day, I would have tied for the lead.  But alas, Jose Altuve failed me and I didn’t get there.  Congrats to Nick and Manny!  Would love it if we could get some more competition going next season.  It’s really a fun game, and it’s free!

So my boys can potentially clinch the NL Division Series tomorrow.  I like their chances with Madison pitching and since they’ll be back at home.  I’m bummed that I can’t watch the game, but I’ll definitely be keeping track.  I have to share something that I’ve been doing on Facebook.  I’ve been using my status update to write the Giants letters.  The first one came before the penultimate game of the season.  It went, “Dear Giants, Win these next 2 games so that you have some momentum going into the Wild Card game.  Just do it!  I will be watching.  Love, Carm.”  They won that day.  The next day, I thanked them by writing, “Dear Giants, Thank you.  Nice job, Kids.  And nice clutch hit, Brandon.  One more tomorrow, please.  Love, Carm.”  They won that last game of the season.  Then I wrote, “Dear Giants, Thanks again.  I feel like you’re actually listening to me.  One last thing – win on Wednesday.  No one wants your post-season to end after one game (well, maybe the Pirates, but they don’t count).  Love, Carm.”  They pulled that one off.  Then I wrote, “Dear Giants, You came through for us again!  That game yesterday was fabulous on so many levels.  Thank you.  I promise not to be too greedy with this next request.  Just win at least one in DC.  I know after that last game you guys have the post-season fire in you, and you can do it.  GO GIANTS!  Love, Carm.”  They exceeded my request, winning both games in DC.  Today’s installment reads, “Dear Giants, You did it!!  And you even surpassed my expectation, taking 2 instead of 1 in DC.  Yesterday was another example of all my boys coming together and battling to get the job done.  Thank you.  I have another favor to ask:  Take this series at home.  You can do it either on Monday or Tuesday, but please do it in front of the home crowd.  You can use the extra rest to prepare for the next stage of your October Quest journey.  I’ll be watching/listening.  Love, Carm.”  We’ll see what happens.  All I know is the letters seem to be working and somehow they are answering my requests, so I can’t stop now!  I’ll take it all the way to the World Series!  And I know they can do it!  These guys have shown how tough they are – all of them!  My boys can do ANYTHING!!  GO GIANTS!  WIN THE NLDS!!

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