Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cast and Crew: Too Many Mike's

Aside from my good friend, Mike, there were other Mike's in the bleachers. One was a guy from New York, scruffy and wore an old faded Yankee hat. So we referred to him as "New York Mike." When asked one time where he got his hat, he replied, "in a gutter at the corner of 125th and Lexington." This Mike was there maybe '84-85.

Another Mike came along in '86. He was young - a high school junior, I believe. He had longish hair, and he was quite the athlete. He scaled the benches and steps far better than any of us already established batting practice ball hounds. So he kinda took over the shagging bragging rights. We called him, "Young Mike."

Then another came along in '87. He, too, was young, with a good glove, and was further competition for the ball hounds. He wore a new Yankee hat. So we called him, "Young New York Mike." Got all that?

Mike, New York Mike, Young Mike and Young New York Mike: Bleacher bums

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cast and Crew: Kevin

Kevin came into the scene in maybe '86. He also attended both A's and Giants games with us. I even did a down-and-back road trip to Anaheim for a night game with him. At first, he was a bit annoying to some of us. He seemed kind of insecure and clingy, and talked far too much. But after time, and several years in college, he really grew socially, and in the end I was glad I stuck it out with him.

He was a college student. I think I remember him in jr. college when we met him, and then went to a four year school, SF State if I remember correctly. He wanted to pursue a career in sports journalism and his idol was Gary Radnich, a Bay Area sportscaster. Kevin was a lot of fun, enjoyed a good laugh and always liked to talk baseball.

Kevin: Bleacher bum.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Beisbol Been Barry, Barry Good To Me

Okay! We got two Barry's now. Both richer than any other name on the team. Zito is I think a bit overrated, but I'm glad to have him on the Giants. I'm not sure I'd pay him what they did, but at least they've done something this offseason to help the floundering boat to not end up at the bottom of the ocean. And with the length of the contract, maybe they've got plans for the next few years that nobody knows about. Either way, I'll be cheering for him.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cast and Crew: Louie (and Patty)

Louie was another great character in my baseball past. He was one of a handful of people that attended both A's and Giants games with me. I first met Louie because he was sitting with John and Mac just after I got to know them. Patty was his friend who attended occasionally with him, also at both A's and Giants games. I could never tell if they were just friends or had some kind of extra relationship going. Nevertheless, Patty was always more than welcome. I knew Louie from the mid 80's to the early 90's. He usually wore a faded Mets hat, and never shied away from making fun of John and Mac, especially John.

Louie had a wonderful sense of humor. It was often dry and subtle, but he made the dryness quite wet sometimes. He had a unique job. He did room service at the St. Francis hotel in downtown San Francisco, and later on he became room service manager. The same hotel where 10 of the 11 visiting National League teams stayed, the Dodgers being the exception. He had a million stories of delivering something to a room, only to find out that it was a ballplayer. He didn't know who it was until they opened the door. Once he delivered a six pack to a room, and Braves pitcher Terry Forster opened the door. "Hey, aren't you pitching tonight?" asked Louie. "Hey, I gotta get ready!" was the response. He knew many of the players by sight because he was such a fan.

Louie was particularly good at turning a conversation funny, making each subsequent statement slightly more goofy, until we had some kind of dry humor slapstick. An example would be one of the number of occasions we would be seriously talking about potential trades that the A's and Giants might make. We then proposed trades between the teams, like Jose Canseco for Will Clark and a player to be named later. Then one of us would propose an A's/Giants trade of obscure bullpen personnel as something funny. Then it would degrade into "how about Roger Craig for Tony LaRussa?" Then maybe, "JumboTron for Diamond Vision" then "Candlestick for the Coliseum", then "Sarge [head security guard in the A's bleachers] for Bernice [head usherette at the 'Stick]" then certain grounds crew members, then bullpen catchers for baseball cards, parking lot attendants and beer vendors, even weirdo fans. We would laugh for innings.

Louie: Bleacher bum.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Giants Nation Invades Fenway

As Giants season ticket holders, we continually receive email updates and notices from the Giants as to what's happenin'. Today we received one with the usual upcoming events list. NCAA bowl game at PacBell/SBC/AT&T/MarthaStewartLiving Park, spring training ticket opportunities, motocross racing at the ballyard, FanFest, etc.

Then this: "And are you thinking of taking a road trip to see your San Francisco Giants take on the Boston Red Sox in June? Those tickets go on sale via the Red Sox website in late January. The only way to get tickets is through the Red Sox" with a link to their website. Actually WE DID plan that trip for late June. But my last post shows a baby in my wife's tummy that is due July 1st, so we cancelled that trip. It's funny in a way because a trip to Safeco Field in Seattle was cancelled in '03 because of the adoption of our first son. We bought Mariner tickets one day, and two days later I was going to book the rest of our trip. Guess what happened on the day in between? We were offered the opportunity to adopt. So we were stuck with M's tix. But fortunately, our firm has a major client in Seattle and their PM was able to buy them from us.

But the notice goes to show that the Giants have a national following and we are willing and able to follow our G-men around the bigs.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Quiet Status Quo (Bonds Stays)

I had a feeling that the possible signing of Barry Bonds would be quiet. There was much speculation in the news, but both the Giants and Bonds were fairly quiet in their dealings. Just the morning of his signing I saw a headline that said, "Bonds and Giants Miles Apart." Well, somebody hopped aboard the Concorde.

And with Durham and Feliz staying, and Grandpa Aurilia coming back, not much has improved. The Giants will suck just as much as they did last year, in a crappy division, but with Bonds playing, the home run record within reach, and the All-Star game in '07, this promises to be a season much ado over nothing, standings wise.

Here's the rub: The Giants terrible season will be offset by the hype of the All-Star game, and short of a complete miracle, Bonds won't capture the record until late in the season. This of course will numb us to the yet another year of not winning a ring. Every game will be a sellout, though.

In case the slim chance occurs of everybody having a career year at once and actually winning something, the Giants have a PR strategy: "See, we told you so!" And 2007 will go down as the season of a lifetime.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Schmidt A Bum - And Bonds?

Dem Bums signed Jason Schmidt. So my favoritest pitcher of probably my life is now gonna hurl for the enemy. I wanted him to return to the Giants, but there are concerns about his age and arm. So it goes in the grand old game. I just hope he hurls according to the word's other meaning.

With Ned Coletti in LA, there seems to be a few ex-Giants heading south. Would he be so bold as to go after Bonds and the record? Hmmm.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Cast and Crew: John and Mac

John and Mac were two characters from the A's left field bleachers. I first encountered them in about '84. I got to know them because they always sat in the same section as me - the second aisle from the left field corner, on the center field side of the aisle, in the front row. I call them characters, because they were. You could call them the Cheech and Chong of the bleachers. Or the Abbot and Costello or the Bill and Ted or Kramden and Norton. They were friends with one of those odd, comedic love/hate type of friendships.

They both wore longish hair, just past shoulder length. John, who formerly served in the navy, always wore unfaded bell-bottom Levi's, even though out of style by the mid 80's and sported the obligatory faded left forearm naval tattoo. Mac always wore Levi's chords. They both had one of those combs with the large handles sticking out of their back pockets so in fashion in the 70's. Mac was soft spoken. John was outspoken, but with a voice that didn't allow him to yell very loud. They drank only Budweiser. John smoked only Marlboro reds and always called them "cowboy killers." Mac drove a forklift at a warehouse and eventually moved up into management, while John worked at a cookie factory.

John was the funnier character. Some people use profanity, and some use it every other word. John used an expletive two out of every three words. This heavy use lessened the weight of each expletive to the point that one could comfortably dismiss it and view John as completely harmless. But he did it in a way that was completely hilarious.  If the ump made a questionable call on a pitch, John might be heard saying something like, "That's a bunch of g.d., m.f. b.s. That $%*# ball was $%&! five #&%$ feet f*!$% outside!" John was also a major autograph hound, and ball hound and bat hound and was constantly asking players for anything and everything. "How 'bout a ball?" was one of his favorite sayings, followed by "how 'bout a bat?" I think he even asked Rickey Henderson for an autographed base on a few occasions. Nobody had much heard about Sharpies back in the 80's. If Terrill Owens is their marketing spokesman, then John was the venture capitalist.

John and Mac: bleacher bums.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Giants: Clean House

The Giants have 11 free agents potentially leaving this winter. Here's the list: Barry Bonds, Jason Schmidt, Ray Durham, Moises Alou, Pedro Feliz, Shea Hillenbrand, Mike Stanton, Steve Kline, Todd Greene, Steve Finley, Jamey Wright.

I believe that the Giants' m.o. the last several years is a tad old, pun intended. Old, veteran free agents, signed to fill gaps. It worked okay for a while, but this system has fallen into disrepair. My suggestion is this: Clean house. With the exception of Bonds and Schmidt, I couldn't care less if I never saw any of those other guys play again.

I'm hesitant to say goodbye to Schmidt, mainly because since he's the first ace they've had since Marichal, it seems odd to give up the best of what they really have needed all these years - pitching. The Giants endured one of the longest ace droughts in all of baseball. Almost 30 years. But, he'll command a high price in free agency. It appears that because he wasn't traded in July that the Giants actually thought they had a chance of winning the West.

I could see Bonds returning, chasing the record and all, but only in a limited role. He's been up front ever since he's been here. He wants a ring and he wants it as a Giant. So how much is it worth to him? Slash his salary 65% or so and if he doesn't bite, see ya. Other teams might not want to fork out the cash for a guaranteed contract that might pay him to watch the All-Star game from his prison cell. The other $10M could be used toward securing that ring with some good players.

The Giants need a new direction. A youth movement. The pitching looks promising, but then that's the history of the Giants. They look great on paper, and if they can convince enough other teams to trade talent for prospects, the Giants play well. One reason I like youth movements is that you don't have to pay them anything until they qualify for arbitration, then more when they file for free agency. It might be a few years (like the Tigers) before they can make a push at a title, but that can't be any worse than what we've been subject to the last few years.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Another World Series Past

I was excited about this year's Series. Yeah, it ended in five games, but I'm usually somewhat excited about any series. My mom is from Illinois, about 50 miles east of St. Louis, and I'm a National League fan, so I cheered for the Cards. Their post-game celebration however made me very sad. I realized that the Giants had gone yet another year without a title.

A team I cheered for actually won for only about the fourth time in thirty years. I had an 0-for-20 streak from 1975-1995. Yep, no team I cheered for actually won a series those years. I rooted for the Dodgers in '77 and '78 only because I hated Reggie personally more than the dreaded Dodgers. By '96 I hated the Braves more than the Yankees, so the Yanks' come-from-behind victory thrilled me and ended my personal 20 series losing streak. Other winners since then include the Yanks over the Braves again in '99, the D-backs and Marlins over the Yanks in '01 and '03. I forget if I wanted the White Sox over the Astros last year. I kinda think so.

Anyway, maybe the Giants will win it next year... Bwahahahahaha! An end to my 42-year season world title losing streak?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wow, What A Game 7

I'm a few days late in this post, but game 7 of the NLCS was a classic. A 1-1 game going into the 9th inning. And Endy Chavez's catch was absolutely incredible. So was the throw.

What made the game most exciting to me, however, was that every pitch to the last four batters in the bottom of the 9th were potential pennant deciding pitches, with either team able to win the pennant on each pitch. I know there has been a name coined for such situations, but I don't remember what it is. Down 3-1, the Mets got the first two batters on, bringing up the potential winning run to the plate. The pennant could have been decided on each pitch either by a 3-run homer or a triple play, but after the first out, the next batter's pitches could have ended in a homer or double play, and after the second out, by a homer or an out, after the walk by a double, homer or out. Finally, Beltran was caught looking on one of the most wicked breaking pitches I've ever seen.

An ex-roomie of mine, and major Cards fan, now lives with his wife and children in southern California. I always call him after a Giants or Cards post-season series ends. This time his wife answered. I asked how she was feeling and she said fine, so I asked how Michael was feeling and she said she didn't know because he was in watching the game. Watching the game? His dang team just won the pennant! I didn't hear any hooting or hollering so something was terribly wrong. It was his birthday, too, and his in-laws had just left, so he hit pause on TiVo. It was only one out in the 9th for him on his replay. No wonder. Arggh. I politely asked to let him alone, but he made me stay on the phone and finish the 9th inning. He was shocked at the sudden K. So much for TiVo.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Hurry Up And Wait A While

This is just classic. The LCS series are staggered by one day to accommodate TV. The ALCS started first this year, on a Tuesday. That series was a sweep, and the NLCS is already guaranteed to go 6 games, if not 7. It started a day later and has two rainouts already. The Tigers might just have a week and a half off while the NL team arrives in Detroit at 5am the morning of game 1.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Uh-Oh, The Tigers Are Kicking A'ss

Maybe I can be optimistic and say that a great choke is about to happen and the A's will win four straight. Well, they have to win two at least, because I have a ticket to game 6.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sunday, October 8, 2006

What A Day - Yankees And Dodgers Both Die

Both the Yankees and Dodgers were put to death on the same day. The Cardinals also lost a game, and the A's are already safely in the ALCS with some good memories on how they got there. The Cal Bears (#16) also whipped Oregon (#11). What a great sports day.

This year's $200M Yankee lineup has been touted as the greatest lineup in baseball history. And they got their collective arses whipped by a team that lost 119 games just 3 years ago. The Dodgers didn't get it so bad today, but they didn't even win a game. They've won only one post-season game since 1988.

I wonder what it felt like for A-Rod, the highest paid player in history, to bat 8th. He choked yet again this year. King George and his guillotine - hmmm.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Eliminate Ratings-Based Playoff Game Starting Times

Many ticket holders for game 4 in St. Louis went to bed tonight not even knowing what time their game will start tomorrow. This needs to change.

Tonight the Mets eliminated the Dodgers by winning the NLDS. Earlier in the day, the Tigers eliminated the Yankees. Three of the four playoff series have been decided, leaving only the Padres/Cardinals with a game tomorrow.

What stinks about this is that the game times of all playoff games are arranged according to a TV ratings pecking order. The most watched game will be scheduled in the prime-time slot (8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific), the next at 4pm/1pm, then 1pm/10am. Because the A's/Twins series was already over, the Pads/Cards were the bottom slot. But because the other series were decided today, they were kicked up into the prime time slot. But this didn't happen until the Mets/Dodgers game was over - well after 10pm Central time in St. Louis.

The Yankees are almost guaranteed the prime time slot for every playoff game they play because they are the top rated team. The only reason they had the afternoon game today was because the combination of two markets, NY/LA for the Mets/Dodgers game, would draw better. Teams like the A's and Twins are stuck always playing day games during the week just because they don't get national TV draw, making it tougher on their fans to see games. Smaller market teams get game times shuffled at the last minute for games 4 and 5 just because larger market series happen to end. I know first hand that this sucks.

Way To Go A's!

A sweep of the Twins. What a way to end the 0-for-9 streak in series clinchers. It was great to see those kids (and Frank Thomas, too) celebrate in the locker room upon reaching the ALCS. I took a gamble and bought a ticket for the 3rd home game of the ALCS (either game 5 if against the Yankees or game 6 if against the Tigers) right as game 2 ended in the Twinky Dome. Now that they'll play Detroit, I'm hoping they win it in 6 so I can see the pennant clincher. Go A's!

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Adios, Felipe

Well, Felipe Alou is histoire, to use a French term. This is a good decision in my book. He was a fairly milk toast manager for four years. He was kind of an inside-out manager. He was extremely passionate about lesser things and lukewarm about some more important things.

For example, he went completely ballistic over some minor comments made by a KNBR radio talkshow host Larry Krueger about the Giants' Caribbean hitters, leading the way in Krueger's firing. He promised to slander Krueger's name all throughout the Caribbean and wouldn't accept an apology. He simply couldn't take a relief pitcher walking a batter, and would use three or four just to get an out. As if the next guy would really be any better.

But getting his team fired up, for let's say, a pennant race, wasn't a strong point for Felipe. They choked in the '03 LDS, choked against LA in the last series of the '04 year, completely sucked in '05 even though they were in the worst division in baseball history, and majorly choked a number of times in '06, being swept by several last place teams along the way. Still in the race until the last week of the season, he routinely sat Bonds and other veteran players down when they were needed most.

Nice guy, Felipe. I'd love to have him over for dinner every night for a month to talk baseball. But I don't want him managing my team. Nice guys finish last, so they say.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Congratulations A's

I watched the A's division clinching victory on Tuesday against Seattle. It was heartening to see so many fans fly up there to join in the celebrating. With the Giants out of the picture, I'll be cheering for the Green and Gold to win it all. Congrats.

Monday, September 25, 2006

A Ring in '06: The Giants' Slim Chances

The Giants are still mathematically alive in their quest for a World Series title in 2006. But, their chances are next to none. Here's the scenario: They've been eliminated from the division race, so a wild card berth is their only hope. With 7 games left to play, 6 scheduled and one potential rain-out make-up vs. St. Louis, they're 7 back in the loss column to Philadelphia and 6 back of LA who has 6 left to play. There are still 5 teams in front of them they have to beat, also including Houston, Cincinnati and Florida.

Here's what needs to happen: They need to win all their remaining games. Both LA and Philly need to lose all their remaining games. This at a minimum would force a 3-way tie for the wild-card and a 3-way tie-breaker to decide it. The Giants and Dodgers still play each other three times, so the Giants have control of at least this. Houston is 2 ahead of the Giants in the loss column, so they need to lose a minimum of two games, Cincinnati is 1 ahead so they need to lose at least one game, and Florida is tied in the loss column, so they aren't required to lose a game, but it would be helpful. But Philly still plays a game against Houston and 3 against Florida, and Florida plays 3 against Cincy. So, the Astros are required to win one game, and the Marlins three.

At worst, there could be a 5 way tie for the wild card, as Cincy vs. Florida will force one of those teams to fall behind the streaking Giants. And with the Giants needing to play St. Louis on Monday before all the tie-breakers start, the NL playoffs could be delayed 3 or 4 days. But it would all be worth it for a ring this year. Wouldn't it?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Braves Are Almost Dead!

The Atlanta Braves string of 14 consecutive division titles has come to an end. Their string of 14 consecutive playoff appearances is on its death bed in their feeble quest for a wildcard berth. With 11 games left, they are 6 games behind with 5 teams still in front of them. One problem with the 5 teams in front of them needing to lose a lot of games is that many of them still play each other, meaning that each of those teams will win several games each.

The Braves may have already been mathematically eliminated in advance without it happening yet. For example, the Giants still play 3 games against the Dodgers. Somebody has to win at least two of those. The Marlins play 6 games against the Phillies and 3 with the Reds. The Braves' chances are probably slimmer than they appear.

When that day finally arrives when I know that they and their fans' stupid, endless tomahawk chant won't be on TV, I'll be rejoicing. I've been waiting for this for about 13 years. But then, I'll be deprived of seeing them lose in October yet again. But at least they won't win the World Series. Sometimes trade-offs are worth it.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Baseball Proposal: Home and Away Series

The baseball schedule traditionally has teams playing each other in series, home and away, one week apart. It doesn't happen as much anymore, but as an example, there are many teams who play each other the last weekend of the season that also play each other the previous weekend, in the other city. This happens with weekday series, too.

I always thought it strange that there could be six games out of nine against a team, with three in between against somebody else, and you could miss their top starters altogether because they pitched in the interim series. My proposal would be to play six in a row against the same team, three in one city, the next three in the other. You'd be guaranteed that all starters would face the other team. This would be exciting.

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Cast and Crew: The Future Mrs. Scott

I met my wife for the first time late in the '83 season. We dated for a couple of years and didn't marry until 2000, which is another story in itself. We went to games from '83 to early '85 when we broke up. She said that baseball was #1 in my life, followed by school, then her. I think she's right about that. She didn't care much for baseball then (but she does now!), but she still went to quite a few Giants and A's games with me. One double header, she brought a book to read. That was then, and I'll write about now later. But she did go, so she was part of cast and crew.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Fast Freddie

Today being Sept 1st, the Giants called up some of their minor leaguers and Freddie Lewis was one of them. A day game after a night game, Barry Bonds was on the bench. Lewis was a late inning defensive sub for Todd Linden, and this was his first major league appearance. The next inning he came to bat with Niekro on second base. His first at bat was a run scoring double - his speed just beating the throw to second - in place of Barry Bonds, at Wrigley Field. It doesn't get much better than that. Congrats, Freddie.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Long Suffering Giants

I don't feel well today, so I'll write about not feeling well about the Giants' lack of championships. Now that the Red Sox and White Sox have their rings, there are still three of the original 16 teams that have suffered long and haven't won a championship since before the big leagues first expanded. These three teams are the Cubs (1908), Indians (1948) and Giants (1954). Of the expansion teams that are long suffering, the Angels took care of their poverty - at the expense of the Giants - in 2002. The Astros (1962) still haven't won and the combination Senators/Rangers (1961/1972) are fruitless too. Skipping ahead to the next waves of expansions, the Padres (1969), Pilots/Brewers(1969/1970) and Expos/Nationals (1969/2005) are dry, as are the Mariners (1977), Rockies (1993) and Devil Rays (1998).

The most discouraging thing about this list is the company that the Giants have kept. The Giants are one of the greatest teams of all time; all the rest of these teams completely suck. Even though the Cubs and Indians can claim longer suffering, those teams have rarely ever put themselves in the position to win. Since the Cubs' '45 pennant, they have had, what, 1969, '84, '89, '98 and '03? Five seasons that have meant anything at all? The Indians aren't much better, although they had the late 90's and early 2000's of winning teams. Both of these teams have been annual doormats of their respective leagues and have had long spans without anything as much as back-to-back winning seasons.

The Giants, on the other hand, are the winningest NL team ever, and by a big margin. They're second only to the Yankees in winning percentage. If you include the 1800's, they're the winningest team ever. They've had the most hall of fame players ever (even more than the Yankees) and have had quite a few great teams and even eras since 1954.

They were the winningest team in baseball in the decade of the 60's and the only team to win over 900 games. That's an average of over 90 games per year for 10 years. They had five hall of famers on one team, three in successive spots in the batting order (Mays, McCovey, Cepeda) and two in the rotation (Marichal, Perry). Yet it took a miracle to merely tie for only one pennant, and another miracle to win the playoff. They also won a division in '71, had a good year in '78 and took the pennant race in '82 to the last weekend. Their teams in the late 80's were very good and produced two divisions and a pennant, and won 103 games in '93. Still no ring. In the eight years between '97 and '04, they were the most competitive team in all of baseball, playing only 11 games that had no bearing on their post-season. In 2002 they were 8 outs away from a ring in game 6 of the World Series, with a 5-0 lead and their ace tossing a 2-hit shutout. Yes, the Braves have won 14 consecutive divisions, but they did win a Series.

So, the Giants are the most discouraging of all these. Even in Bay Area sports, they are joined only by the expansion Sharks. The 49ers (5), A's (4), Raiders (3) have all won championships, as have Stanford and Cal in various sports. Even the lowly Warriors have one ('75).

C'mon guys, get your butts in gear and win just one. Just one.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Complete Game Shutout

Mrs. Scott and I went to Monday night's complete game, 2-hit shutout by Noah Lowry. Bonds added to it by breaking up the scoreless knot with a bomb into the drink. He hasn't done much of this in a while.

Anyway, I've really become a fan of the complete game shutout. It's quite an accomplishment for a pitcher in today's atmosphere. And goodness only knows that the Giants bullpen needed that.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"Take Me Out To The Ballgame" - A Giants Fan's Version

Take Me Out To The Ballgame is a wonderful song. I've known it my whole life. My mother sings it to my children. I sing it every game I go to a game. I wish it would replace the Star Spangled Banner as our national anthem. But I've changed the words.

Back in the mid 80's, I changed a few words to make it fun for Giants fans. Mike and I sing it this way each time we go to a game. Here are the words, with my updated ones in italics:

Take me out to the ballgame
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
I don't care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root for the home team
Unless they play in L.A.
For it's one... two... three strikes you're out
At the old ball game.

Friday, August 4, 2006

The Angels' Stupid Name

The expansion team known as the Los Angeles Angels (1961) played in LA from '61 to '65. They moved to a new stadium in Anaheim in 1966 and changed their name to the California Angels. In about 1997, they changed their name again to the Anaheim Angels. A few years ago they changed it yet again to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, supposedly because LA was more known and marketable.

But if you know a bit (poquito) of Spanish, you know that Los Angeles already means The Angels. So their name is The Angels Angels of Anaheim. Okay. What puzzles me is how they've managed to leave Orange County out of the picture. How about the Dos Angeles of Anaheim Orange County California? Now that would make a good box score.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Cast And Crew: 25 Years With Mike

One of my best friends, named Mike, I met while we were juniors in high school. Mike moved into the area and we became friends. This was 1981. In 1982, our senior year, we discovered each other's love for baseball, and specifically the Giants. I loved the A's, too, but Mike was born in San Fran and lived on the Peninsula most of his life, so he hated the A's even more than the Dodgers. That didn't keep him from going to numerous A's games. He simply rooted for the visiting team.

We've been to who knows how many games together between the A's and Giants. We've even traveled to a few other ballparks together; five total. He buys tickets from us every year, sometimes up to half of them, and we sit together for at least ten per year. We have 25 years of crazy, zany and hilarious memories together. I'll be writing about many of those.

Here's to Mike, a true friend indeed.

And 240 Hours Later...

Last Saturday the Giants beat the Padres to take over first place. Two hundred forty hours later, ten days times 24 hours, a ten game losing streak plunges the Giants into last place. Unbelievable. This after a 5 game winning streak and one strike away from six in a row.

Four blown saves by Benitez, our closer, and plenty of bad baseball later, first to worst in what could be record time. One of the low points (the lowest at the time) was this last Saturday's game against Pittsburgh. Your ace and all-star Jason Schmidt, the third lowest ERA in the league, is on the mound against the worst pitcher in the league. Kip Wells was 0-5 with an 8.28 ERA. Wells shut the Giants out. Ugly. This current ten game losing streak is just a loss tomorrow away from three consecutive three game sweeps by last place teams. Washington in the East, Pittsburgh in the Central and now Washington again.

Could things get any worse? [Correction update 08-02-06: three corrections. The Giants had a nine game losing streak, not ten. Schmidt pitched last Friday, not Saturday. Benitez blew three saves, not four. It's still bad.]

Sunday, July 23, 2006

First Place Lasts 20 Hours

The Giants' four game series with the Padres was a success... the first three games. Entering play on Thursday night, 2 1/2 games back of the Pads, if the G-men could win the first three, they would be in first place. This they did, and we were there Friday and Saturday. Saturday night's game was a close one, 4-3, and the Giants took over first place. But they lost to SD today, and spent only 20 hours in first place. It was fun while it lasted. The NL West might just pull two playoff teams as the rest of the divisions suck below the leaders. Hard to imagine, but we'll take it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

No Indictment? Leak Investigation?

A grand jury session supposedly passed without an indictment against Barry Bonds. Will it ever happen? Hmmm.

Oh, and any day now we'll hear how the investigation into the felony leaks of the grand jury testimony is going. Any day now.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

My Baseball Life: Cast and Crew

I'm going to talk about the other people with whom I have shared my baseball life. There are several categories, the largest being the people who sat in the bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum for A's games. There are also people from Giants games at Candlestick (several are co-members of the first group), and from Giants games at the new PacBell/SBC/AT&T/Viagra Park, and a few others who don't fit into any of these categories. These groups include friends, fans around me, ushers, security guards, vendors and concessionaires, grounds crew, team employees, maybe some others. I won't tackle all of these in one entry, but I'll start with the 1981 season, my first year of going to the games on my own.

Although much of the '81 season I spent going to games with friends largely from a church group I hung out with, three stood out as repeat attenders in my presence; two guys named Ken, and one named Bert. One Ken did some yelling at the opposing players and I credit him for much of my bleacher bumming spark, while the other Ken was completely mellow, did anything you wanted, and old enough to buy beer for the rest of us. Bert should have ended up being a comedian if he didn't already.

In 1981, I went to 11 A's games and 3 Giants games. I didn't go to any games with any of the guys in this first group past 1982. I think all 3 Giants games were with the mellow Ken or Bert.
Other people in the near future were far more interesting and stories get really funny. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Interleague Shortcomings

Well, another year's worth of interleague play is complete, baseball's tenth such year, and I'm not satisfied. I never bought baseball's promises of interleague joy nor its manipulation of statistics to show just how successful it really is. Let's can this thing before it does some real longterm harm to the game. I've decided to take this post to debunk some of the popular claims and myths of interleague play.

You'll get to see teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, or Giants and Dodgers.

After ten years, Giants fans still haven't got to see a single Yankee game on our soil, and Bonds still hasn't stepped to the plate at Fenway Park. Besides, for every great matchup between these great teams there are ten matchups between teams nobody could care to see. Ya just gotta be there when Tampa Bay invades Coors Field. Or how about that clash between the Pads and Jays? Oooh, Twinkies/D-Backs; baseball's next great rivalry. Can't wait for the Nationals to hit KC. M's/Phils? Sellouts, all.

Fans never get the chance to see teams from the other league, so this will solve that.

Baseball's 30 teams play in 25 metro markets. The five markets highest in population each have two teams; one in each league (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and DC/Baltimore). These top 5 markets make up 46% of baseball fans that live in a market with a team. So half of all fans already live in a market where the opposite league is easily available. Another 8% live in markets within an hour and a half drive of the opposite league. These are Philly(drive to NY or Baltimore), San Diego (drive to Anaheim) and Milwaukee(drive to Chicago).

Interleague attendance is very high. This proves its success.

All interleague games are played during the best weather, late May to June, when school is out. The "rivalry" series are played on weekends, which reflect better attendance. No interleague games are played in the first few cold weeks of April or in September after school is in and most teams are out of the pennant races. So naturally attendance figures look good.

I'll address more problems in a future post.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yet Another Even Closer Non-No-Hitter

Okay, I wrote about Matt Cain's flirt with a no-hitter during the last week of April. Well, on Monday, he did it again. This time - Cain again - it was a no-no with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 8th inning before Chone Figgins broke it up.

What was strange was that I didn't realize he had a no-hitter going until late in the game. A first inning run by the Angels kind of took my mind off a no hitter because of the run scored. Figgins led off the game with a walk. He stole second and when the throw from the catcher ricocheted off the runner into left field, he got up and never stopped until he scored.

All in all it was a great game, the Giants won, and we were happy. But it, yet again, wasn't a no-hitter. #%$&@!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Pre-Bleacher Bum

When I was in the 7th grade, I went on a field trip to an A's game with some kids from school. This was in about 1977. I remember that it was a day game vs. Milwaukee and we sat in the 2nd deck behind home plate. A young catcher for the Brewers was named Jamie Quirk. For some reason, we made fun of his name. When he came to bat I remember yelling, "Quirk's a jerk!" Why, I don't know. But it was an important point in baseball history.

715...I Heard About It

Writing about something that you just saw is natural. But maybe not writing about something you didn't see is too. Well, when Bonds got to 712 I tried to catch every one of his at bats possible. From 712 to 715, which stretched out over about two weeks, I either attended, watched on TV or listened to the radio every one of his at bats. Except for about 5 or 6. Of those I missed included both 714 and 715. A combination of a sick baby, a nephew's birthday, missing church and a few other distractions, I tuned into the radio about 15 minutes after he hit the home run. I saw 716 on TV.

At least I saw the replays.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

Taking The Mound

While Jamey Wright was taking the mound last night for the Giants at Shea Stadium in New York, I was taking the mound at PacBell/SBC/AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Home Builders Association of Northern California's Sales & Marketing Council held their annual Marketing and Merchandising Excellence awards (our version of the Oscars) at the ballpark. It was a grand event. My firm had several finalists, including one project I worked on (we won!) and we had dinner in centerfield. We had complete access to the field, including dugouts and bullpen. First class all around. Barely visible is my Anchor Steam Beer, just above my left thigh, brewed in SF since 1896, and not visible is my red tie from the hall of fame (thank you Keith) or my wife from behind the camera phone. Technically speaking, I think I balked, but the night was a grand slam.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

An Even Bigger Bonds Scandal

Okay, nevermind the steroid allegations, the hostility toward the media, the questionable grand jury testimony, the alleged unreported income; now we've really got a scandal to talk about. That Bonds tied Ruth's hallowed mark of 714 is no disgrace - in and of itself - but he did it as a designated hitter. Ruth didn't have the luxury, Aaron didn't become a DH in the AL until after he broke Ruth's record. So there we have it. Bonds' homer came in Oakland as the Giants' DH. (Box score)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

714...And Sloooowly Counting

Wouldn't ya know it. I missed Bonds' 714th homer because I was at my church's family camp and wasn't listening to the radio. But at the rate he's hitting them, Friday might come and go before he hits 715. Friday is the next day we have tickets. His 713th came in Philly, and I wanted to buy single bleacher tickets to every game of the next homestand, and we had tickets for the following Saturday. Well, the entire homestand came and went, so did the next series in Houston, and he didn't hit 714 until Saturday in Oakland.

When he finished 2004 with 703 homers, it seemed most likely that he'd hit #715 in May of 2005. Over a year later, he's not there yet. Now I doubt he'll catch Aaron at all, even if he plays in the AL.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Worst Fans In Baseball - And Loving It!

The greatest satisfaction I could ever get from being a bleacher bum - or a heckler in the box seats for that matter - is the knowledge that our heckling has such a negative effect on the opposition as to give a home-field advantage to our team. In 1988 that knowledge was verified.

Authors Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo, who wrote the Baseball Hall of Shame series of books, came out with a book titled, Baseball Confidential, an inside scoop on almost every aspect of the game, in the players' own words. One of the regular bleacher bums, named Kevin, came running down the stairs one game and said, "Hey, everybody, you won't believe this new book! We're in it!" And right there on page 212, in a section that lists the worst fans in baseball, long-time heckling target Kirk Gibson is one of the players quoted as to how bad the A's bleacher bums really are. We were ranked as the third worst [behaving] fans, behind the Yankees and Mets, with the Giants (that's me again!) and Phillies as 4th and 5th. A small excerpt:

At the Oakland Coliseum, fans bombard visiting players with a constant barrage of verbal garbage. "You hear them no matter where you are on the field," says Mark Gubicza of the Royals... One of the players whom Athletics fans love to hate is Kirk Gibson of the Tigers. "They target not only me, but my mother, my wife, my grandmother, my city, my IQ. I think they pass a sheet of paper out at the beginning of the year so they can memorize 20 nasty things to say to ballplayers. You hear the same kind of thing every inning. One guy will stand up and shout, 'What's the matter with Gibson?' [none other than yours truly!] And then 50 people will stand up and yell, 'He's a bum!' It's all orchestrated. They know that we players hear them. I don't think they're the real career-oriented type of people out there because they're always there at night and during the day. I wonder what these people do for a living because they never seem to be working."

Thank you, Kirk, for the rave review. As to who these bleacher bums really are and what they really do for a living I'll discuss in the next few posts. I'm sure the answer would have shocked Kirk Gibson.

Deadbeat Lemon

Heckling a player for whatever reason is part of baseball. But when an in-law hands a bunch of bleacher bums the material, it can be a downright riot. That's what happened one night to Chet Lemon, centerfielder for the Detroit Tigers back in the mid 80's. Mike and I were there, along with the regular bums. Lemon was an easy heckling target because of his name. But this night it was his family life.

During the game a woman came down the aisle and stood against the rail down at the front row. She looked as if she really wasn't there to watch a game. Just standing there looking around at nothing discernible was a clue that she was out of place. We all noticed it. She then moved to the section on the other side of the rail, a bit closer to Lemon who was in centerfield. After a while, she began to call to him, trying to get his attention. It's quite obvious to any normal fan that you just don't walk into a ballpark and engage in a conversation with a professional athlete. Especially when he's on the field concentrating on the game.

I don't know whether Lemon heard her or not, but several of us asked this obviously confused woman if we could help her in some way. She asked us if that were Chet Lemon. Of course he was. "Yoo-hoo, Che-et" she called. We replied that she wasn't likely to get his attention that way; she wasn't yelling that loud anyway. So we called to him more loudly. "Hey, Chet, there's a woman here who wants to talk to you!" No reply from Lemon, of course. We realized that we still didn't know what she wanted, so we asked her. "Oh, I'm his sister-in-law." Okay, that helped us a bit. "Hey, Lemon, your sister-in-law wants to talk to you!" But for what reason? So we asked her. "Oh, he owes me $3000." The flood gates opened.

"Hey, Lemon, you owe your sister-in-law $3000! You're a deadbeat! Pay up, you bum!" We rode that precious gem the rest of the night.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Never Leave Early

We went to Saturday's Giants game. Barry Bonds didn't tie Ruth, and his last at bat in the 8th inning (and Ellison's subsequent trot out to left field) with the Giants down 3 runs to the Dodgers sent half the crowd home. But the Giants scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th to win. What a finish!

I've taken a life-long policy of never leaving a game early. These days with a family with small children, there may be an exception, and I've taken one, but the general rule stands. If you think about it, the further your team is behind, the greater a comeback you'll miss. I used to tell friends (if I was driving), that if the game goes 25 innings with several rain delays, and tomorrow is a work/school day and the game doesn't end until 4:30am, then I'm staying. Those games are the most fun anyway.

Monday, May 1, 2006

A Bleacher Bum Is Born

Today, May 1st, is the 25th anniversary of my first game in the bleachers. I remember some of that game well. What happened that night would shape my baseball spectating career in a huge way, lasting forever.

It was a Friday night Oakland A's game against the New York Yankees. Billy Martin was the manager, Billy Ball was promoted in ads, Rickey Henderson was an emerging star, and I loved the experience. I went with 12 other guys, mostly from a church group, but three were neighbors and longtime friends. I remember Ken and his brothers, and maybe two others.

We took the train (BART) to the game and sat in the left field bleachers. It was the second aisle from the foul pole, on the center field side of the aisle. This would not only be the section I would sit in for the remainder of my bleacher bumming life, but the same bench would be the usual parking space for my bum, so to speak. We yelled at the left fielder for the Yankees, and this would be the pattern forever. I also had my first beer that night (I was 17 - shhhhh) which would start a lifelong tradition, too.

Being "born" this way makes me wonder if it were always in the genes.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Yet Another Non-No-Hitter

I attended Monday night's Giants game vs. the Mets. Giants pitcher Matt Cain took a perfect game past one out in the sixth before Kaz Matsui squibbed an errant cue shot up the middle into center field. The one big event in my baseball spectating career I am lacking is the witness of a no-hitter. I feel its pain sometimes. For as many games as I've attended, I should probably have seen one by now. I'm past the odds.

My friend Mike, who I took in Monday's game with, has seen four in his life. One was Nolan Ryan's no-no back in the early 90's in Oakland. We were supposed to go to that game together - we were going to meet in the bleachers - but I ended my work day not feeling very well, so I went home and later became ill. My worst symptom by far was listening to the cursed thing on the radio. I also had tickets to Kevin Brown's no-no at the 'Stick in '97 while pitching with the Fish, but it was a day game and I had to work. My church pastor and his son were the beneficiaries.

I've flirted with seeing a no-no in person several times, including a perfect game with one out in the 9th by Eric Carmen of the Phils back in the mid 80's. Bob Brenly, of all goofs, had to hit a double to break it up. Well, I hope to see one, and soon, in my life, but I'd much prefer a Giants World Series victory.

No Celebration for Passing The Babe

Earlier today, Bud Selig announced that MLB would hold no official celebration for Barry Bonds' passing of Babe Ruth's home run mark of 714. This is as it should be. Babe Ruth doesn't hold the home run record. Although it is true that the number 714 is the greatest and most celebrated number in the history of baseball, and will probably be the record most admired for quite some time to come, it is no longer a record. Henry Aaron holds the record with 755.

When Bonds passes Ruth, he will take over second place on the all-time home run list. It will be a great cause for celebration to be sure, but not the ultimate celebration. I just hope I'm there.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Prom Night In the Bleachers

My high school prom night was a string of bad memories. But the kind of bad memories that make you laugh years later. I had dated a girl a few times, so without a steady or girlfriend I decided to ask her to my prom. She was a year behind me and went to a different school, but that shouldn't matter, right? So I asked her. She said yes!

Wow, that was great. Two of my best friends had dates as well. But then, just two weeks before the prom, my date bagged out. She made up excuses about not going to my school. "You should go with somebody from your school." Whatever. So, I asked another girl who was in my class who I heard didn't have a date yet. She said no, and that she was hoping a certain guy would ask her. I felt terrible. Then, some friends were naming off girls who had no dates yet. One friend suggested a certain girl and said I should ask her. I didn't want to, but his request turned into a rumor that was spread around school that she was going with me. She denied it and wanted no part of it. Okay, strike three.

With the prom fast approaching, and all of my friends going, I decided to go sit in the bleachers at an A's game. The prom was at a fancy hotel in downtown San Francisco, and my friends had limos and reservations at five-star restaurants. It was also prom night for many other schools in my area. I was resolute to not wallow in my rejectedness. Some other older friends that I had were going to the game so at least I would have some company. I took the train to the game.

But, the train runs down the middle of the freeway that leads toward SF. All I saw out the windows were limos and other cars with people dressed in tuxes and gowns. Oh, the reminder! Well, I made it to the game, and the A's were playing Cleveland, the worst team in baseball, now and all time. So what happens? Cleveland destroys the A's, scoring 15 runs (box score). My friends at the game decide to leave in the 7th inning. I was torn because of my never-leave-a-game-early policy. I would be left alone at the game. So, I made the guilty decision to leave with them.

So, the train breaks down in the middle of downtown Oakland (not a place you would want to be back then) and we're stuck for several hours. We finally arrived home at about 1:30 in the morning. This was a terrible night. But...

When I talked to all my friends about their prom experiences, wow. Their dates totally rejected them, were rude, didn't give them the time of day and made their nights miserable. They all spend hundreds of dollars for nothing. I only spent $2 on a bleacher ticket and train fare. I suddenly felt better.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bleacher - and BoxSeat - Memories

I've got so many memories of both the bleachers and box seats (not to mention trips to other ballparks) that I could most suredly write a book. I started a book some 20 years ago, but only got as far as a pile of stories and a few observations. My experiences are linear and continuous rather that random and detached, mostly because the cast of characters in my baseball life have been this way.

Season ticket holders have the same group of fans sitting around them for years. And the general admission bleachers allowed people to sit anywhere they wanted, which was usually the same place for every game.

One of my best friends, Mike, who I met in high school, is in his 25th season of that humorous co-conspiracy known as going to games together. My wife is now my co-season ticket holder of 7 years, and she went to some games with me over 20 years ago.

I'll hopefully be writing much more about the stories of my experiences fairly soon.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Opening Day

Every year, Opening Day erases the long, cold winter along with its anticipation, boredom and impatience. Once in my seat and the game starts, it's like the off-season never happened at all. Today's opening day at PacBell/SBC/AT&T/PacBell/MaysField/whatever Park seemed to be more special than most others. I don't know why given the circumstances, but I won't argue.

The items in the minus category are that 1) the signs didn't reflect the new name of the park, 2) the Giants opened against the Braves, a non-division opponent, who are making their last appearance of the year in the opening series, 3) the traditional military flyover during the national anthem was down to two planes performing no stunts at all, 4) Barry Bonds was not presented with his 5th consecutive MVP award.

On the other hand, this was the first partly sunny day in almost a month and a half in the Bay Area. We had an insane March with 28 days of rain, including much of February and all of April so far... until today. The forecast was for partly cloudy skies all week long. This in itself was a major anticipation. On the radio, SF rock station KFOG plays a daily dose of nostalgia with a set called "Ten at Ten", which is ten songs from a given year played at 10am. 1969, 1983, 1976, whatever. Today they played ten songs that had to do with sunshine.

Well, the Giants took care of the Braves 6-4, with the G-men plopping down a 6-spot in the 3rd. Starter Noah Lowry left the game in the early innings with what I heard was a strained oblique muscle, while Jeff Fasero got the win in looong relief, looking good without the Grecian Formula or Geritol. Bonds received two intentional walks and re-acquired Tim Worrell closed out the 9th with a save. The weather, 48 deg at game time warmed up to the low 60's by mid afternoon. The food and beer were great, as were the company of my wife, each of our best friends, and the pleasant family who always sits behind us. After three games, were tied for first place on a pace to win 108 games. Not bad for the boys in orange and black.

Somehow I think I'll like this season more than others.

The Newly Named AT & T Park?

Not according to the signs at the ballpark gates...

The new name took effect earlier this year and is on most everything else except the exterior signage at the yard. I wonder what gives.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Steroids, Schmeroids

Okay, I'm finally chiming in on the steroids issue. Let's see... Steroids have been an issue, and a publicly known issue at that, since the 80's. Canseco and McGwire have admitted it. It was an issue in McGwire and Sosa's home run chase. Canseco wrote a book about it. Two San Francisco Chronicle reporters gained leaked grand jury testimony implicating Barry Bonds. Bonds' ex-mistress squealed. Rafael Palmero is a laughingstock. Many players squealed. Squealing was publicized. The squealers backed off their squealing. Baseball acted surprised. Congress had a conniption fit. Baseball bent over and grabbed its ankles. Now it's investigating itself with charges of conflict of interest. Bonds' employer is the most silent of all. Bonds is chasing Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron and cries for his head, his retirement, an asterisk and even erasure of his statistics are everywhere. All of this begs the following question:

So what?


First, I'll start with steroids themselves. My view on drugs, "legal" or illicit or whatever term one wants to use, has changed over the years, and has a great impact on my view of the whole steroids issue. I don't care what the players are taking, simply put. Steroids are called "performance enhancing substances." But again, so what? There are many performance enhancing substances players are taking. With their fitness and training routines, myriads of protein powders, vitamins, medications, dietary supplements and the like are taken all the time. Few of which are "natural", that is not part of regular life like eating fruits and vegetables. What about Curt Schilling's bloody sock? What a national hero he was, taking on the Yankees on their way to a Boston World Series victory with a slap together surgery and a fat shot of cortisone. The picture of his bloody ankle was the picture of the year.

Cortisone, by the way, IS A STEROID! So what's the difference? Should Curt Schilling's ring be taken away? How many home runs did legendary drinker Mickey Mantle hit because he took aspirin to fight a hangover? Should he be removed from the hall of fame? And for fifty years we've been sold the idea that a freaking bowl of Wheaties is a performance enhancing substance, for crying out loud! Steroids are everywhere in our society, used by many of us to fight asthma, heal surgeries, you name it.


So steroids, or at least an ambiguous and ever-changing sub-category of them, are "illegal", either by dictates of baseball or civil law. If Barry Bonds is using a banned substance, then that's between him and his employer, the SF Giants. If the Giants want to overlook any contractual obligations Bonds has, then that's their business. The Giants have a silence policy on the whole issue. If baseball wants to enforce their rules, then oust Bonds. But if they want to overlook them for the betterment of the game, so what? Let them do so. Unwritten rules in life trump many of the written ones, and the fine print (letter of the law) is used mostly when the spirit of the law is broken. The issue of the "legality" of steroids just goes to show how desperately ill our society really is. Politicians write the laws, and our society looks to their laws as a standard of morality? How sick is that? The scum of the earth is our standard for morality?

Grand Jury Testimony and SF Chronicle Reporters

Isn't it interesting that two SF Chronicle reporters gained leaked grand jury testimony (leaking testimony is a felony) and are using it to implicate Bonds? How can their use of this testimony be justified? If it's a felony to leak this info in the first place, then it's also a felony for anybody to use testimony to confirm their claims. It's also interesting to realize that if the leak is false, it would also be a felony to use true testimony to refute their claims. The reporters have placed themselves in a pretty good position. Any legitimate criticism of their grand jury claims is a felony.

The US Congress

Okay, this pisses me off more than any other facet of the steroids issue. Since when does Congress put itself in the place of baseball's commissioner? Do these blowhard politicians have no shame? Talk about nosy busybodies. They threaten baseball with who knows what if they don't implement their own "voluntary" steroid policies. It's at this point that the policies fail to be voluntary. They are coerced, plain and simple. Written or unwritten, policy against steroid use becomes in a de facto sense US law. Many players are from foreign countries. When the Congressional hearings hit the news, our fearless media trekked to Latin countries with their cameras rolling to show us how easy it was for Latin players to obtain steroids over the counter. In effect, US law now applies to foreigners in their own countries! Not to mention to Canadian businesses. Let's see, a Dominican player who plays for the Toronto Blue Jays is subject to the US Congress? I should have been a high school civics teacher.

Baseball's Self-Investigation
Baseball is fooling nobody. I'm not naive enough to believe that baseball knew nothing of the last several decades of steroid use. I can't believe that they are that ignorant either. They had an image to recover after the strike in '94. Steroids were a welcome thing to overlook. So if baseball was content to let be what was, did it have a problem at all? If not, is it our business now? Baseball is sticking its finger into the wind of public opinion, and there's a storm out there. George Mitchell, who works for the Red Sox, an investigator? The tie to Congress looks good. But baseball should really tell Congress to go whiz up a rope.


Steroids, schmeroids. I've got Giants season tickets, and hope I'm there to see the home run record broken. If Bonds took steroids, it's not really my business. And it's not my business to make sure Bonds makes it other people's business. If you're upset at steroid use, then fine. You don't have to watch baseball.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Steroids Propaganda

I tuned in to ESPN Sunday night to watch the first regular season game between the White Sox and Indians. During the very first commercial break, a message was shown about how dangerous steroids were, and I noticed the little MLB logo at the end of the ad.

Doesn't take long, does it boys?

p.s. I'll be writing about the whole steroids issue fairly soon.

Baseball's "Opening Night"

It's great to see the regular season here at last. I'm not the biggest fan of the first game being the Sunday night game on ESPN, but it is the regular season. I prefer the traditional Cincinnati home opener as the first game, but that's gone by the wayside.

If I remember correctly, the first year of the Sunday night/ESPN kickoff was scheduled in Cincinnati, and then owner Marge Schott kept the traditional parade and ceremonies of Opening Day on Monday, which was actually their second game. Reds fans kept the tradition, too, buying only about 20,000 tickets for the artificial opener. Roundly criticized in the media, Schott defended her position of opening day ceremonies on Monday. True to form, the media were so used to bashing Schott for her actions and ideas that they couldn't recognize when she did something right.

The National League then kept the tradition of their opening game in Cincinnati on Monday, which I think is why the Sunday night game is always an American League game.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

World Baseball Classic

I'm not following the WBC for several reasons. I don't care much for it. I'm not a big fan of nationalism, and there are elements of artificial teamwork in piecing a "team" together made from players who haven't played with each other. Baseball, more than other sports, has a greater element of any team being able to beat any other team on any given day. That is the strength of Major League Baseball. A 162 game season and seven game playoff series to separate the men from the boys.

It's really no big surprise that Team USA was eliminated. Any team could be eliminated on any given day. I'm not much for low numbers in elimination, so for Little League, college and Olympic baseball, a winner doesn't mean as much.

Now if MLB uses the WBC as a tool for scouting and drafting future talent, then I'm all for it.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

On Being A Baseball Fan

I am a baseball fan, and have been my entire life. I'm a big baseball fan, a huge fan, intense, hard-core and whatever other synonyms people have used to describe my love of baseball. But I'm not really a fan of the game of baseball in the most general sense. I'm a fan of very specific and narrow bands in the spectrum of baseball.

True, I love baseball as a game, as defined by its rules, but it's only certain rules that I truly love. To finally get specific here, I can say, after much thought on this, that I am a fan of Major League Baseball. But even more specifically, I'm a fan of MLB as it is played on the field during the regular season, post-season and All-Star games. I am also a fan of major league fans; I love fans and how they act at games. I am also a fan of statistics and statistically oriented history. I am a fan of baseball on the radio, team uniforms, and I absolutely love major league ballparks.

Everybody I know knows how big a fan I am, and I am constantly approached by any number of people on the topic of baseball, usually to get my opinion. But quite often they are amazed at my lack of interest in certain aspects of baseball. Just today somebody at work engaged me about the World Baseball Classic. I had no answer because, well to be blunt, I don't care about it. I haven't kept up with any of it, either through the papers or online. "Oh, I thought you'd know because you're such a big fan." If anything I hate it because it's taking ballplayers away from where they're supposed to be; with their major league teams. My brother is coaching a teeball team this year, my nephew's team, and approached me last year about the topic. He was shocked to find out that I have no interest whatsoever in coaching Little League. But, of course I'll watch my nephew play. He's my nephew.

I'm not a fan of Little League, high school, college, the minor leagues, or even spring training. I couldn't care less about Olympic baseball or the WBC. I don't even know who's on team USA except for the exhibition game they played against a Giants split squad last Sunday. I only listened to that game because it was broadcast on the Giants station, and my interest suffered because it wasn't two major league teams. And also, I'm not a fan of many of the perhipheral happenings in MLB. I couldn't care less about the contract between the players union and MLB, I don't care much about salaries (generally), drug testing policies, front office stuff, Rule 5 draft picks, fantasy baseball, gambling, hot prospects playing in some swamp somewhere, mascots, the national anthem, Sandy Alderson, 19th century baseball, video games, to name a few.

I love going to games in other ballparks and will compare how a team's fans will react to a play or player with how other team's fans would react to the same. Dodger fans do this, A's fans might, but Giants fans don't. I love baseball's architecture in its ballparks. I love the roster of the 1985 Pirates and the uniforms worn by the '67 A's. I love yearly schedules, standings, all-time records. I love Topps 1971 baseball cards. I love going to games, drinking a beer, spitting sunflower seeds, yelling at the players, watching the fans, and talking about baseball.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Baseball Is Back!

For me, the return of baseball each year is not marked by pitchers and catchers stretching out their muscles, by intra-squad games, by the first scheduled spring training game, by the first televised game, or even by the World Baseball Classic. It is marked by the first time I hear a game broadcast on the radio. This is simply the sound of baseball. This last weekend, baseball returned.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Remembering Kirby Puckett

News of Kirby Puckett's death came as a surprise today. I'm not up to date much on former players, and had trouble recalling his retirement even after my wife reminded me of his glaucoma. But I do remember a gamer, a player who made things work, a loyal Twin, respected and loved by the Minnesota fans and community and the baseball world, a hall of famer.

He was a prime heckling target of mine from the Coliseum bleachers even though I had a great deal of respect for him personally. I knew he could hear me from left field, but he was one of those players who tuned the fans out with no discernible reaction. His baseball skills were beyond legitimate criticism, so I concentrated on his person, with emphasis on his width-height ratio. My favorite line was, "Hey, Puckett, you look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy!," or maybe the Michelin Man, which usually made people laugh a good deal.

"Kirby Puckett" was also one of the best "baseball names" in history. A baseball name is an odd name that doesn't make it in the general population, but has a quirkiness tailored to the grand old game. His name kept good company with Dizzy Dean, Wade Boggs and some pitchers named Lefty.

Kirby, I'll remember you always, and consider it a gift to have watched you play.

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Fonzie on the Wall

Each opening day, the Giants give out wall calendars with that year's schedule built in and each month is dedicated to a certain player. Pictures, stats, trivia. Unlike the typical calendar, it is laid out for a baseball year. April to March. Well, the other morning I came to work, March 1, and flipped my Giants calendar from February to March.

Edgardo Alfonso.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Once while driving through LA on my way to a ballgame somewhere, I saw something stereotypical that both reinforced my view of LA and made me hate the Dodgers even more. It was really funny. I saw a middle-aged woman with a platinum blonde beehive hairdo driving a new white Cadillac on "The 5" (in LA they deify their freeways and add the difinite article "the" in front of the highway number) in smog so dense, there was only about a half mile visibility. Her license plate read, "LA TI DA".

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Kitchen in the Dining Room

My posting rate has declined in the last two months. A major do-it-yourself kitchen remodel has taken much of my time. The fridge, minus ice maker, is in the dining room along with boxes of dishes and cooking items. Less blogging and a better kitchen... all to the delight of Mrs. Scott.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Giants Sign No. 2 Starter...

Or so I heard today in the men's room at work. A co-worker and cynical Giants fan stated that the Giants today signed a number 2 starter. "Oh, yeah? Who?" was my response. "Milt Pappas" was his answer. I countered with "Doc Ellis." Stupid humor about baseball isn't quite as fun as baseball itself, but it can help on a cold winter day.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Last Hot Dog

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. In 1985, Giants owner Bob Lurie, fed up with the situation at dismal Candlestick park, coupled with the city's apathy in finding a ballpark solution, announced that the Giants would not play at Candlestick in 1986. Whether this meant moving the team to another city far away, or playing in Oakland until a permanent stadium solution could be had, nobody knew.

What it did mean is that the last scheduled game of the year, October 6 vs. Atlanta, would be the last game ever at the 'Stick. (So much for threats.) The Giants had lost 99 games to that point, and were the last of the 16 original teams (since 1900) to not lose 100 games in a season. What a fight it would be. Down 6-0, the Giants scored 7 in the bottom of the 6th, on only 2 hits. Only to have the Braves score 2 in the 7th for the final coffin nail.

As the game ended, my friends and I decided to stay until we were kicked out. I went up to the concession stands and as the metal door was rolling down on the last open window, I yelled in to see if I could get one last hot dog. The vendor was gracious in selling one to me. This was the last hot dog ever sold at Candlestick, or so I thought. I never ate it.

To this day it is still in its original foil wrapping in my mom's freezer. Now, red wine and single malt scotch get better with age...... but a 20 year old hot dog?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Stupid Bowl

A football post over at my non-baseball blog. Click on the above title.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Baseball Is the Most Exciting Sport

A few days ago on a linked heading titled "Soccer Is the Most Exciting Sport" took me to a BBC article claiming that scientists had determined, with objective evidence, that [English] soccer was the most exciting sport:
"Scientists analysed results from more than 300,000 games played over the past century. They reviewed five sports: ice hockey, football, baseball and basketball in the US, and English football.

"The team decided to make unpredictability - how often a leading team is overcome by an opponent with a worse record - the best measure of how exciting a league is...

The results of the analysis showed that the "upset frequency" was highest for soccer, followed by baseball, hockey, and basketball. American football came last on the list, and so was labelled the least exciting sport."

As if "unpredictability" via upsets constitutes the lone basis for excitement. But what both the BBC and Lew Rockwell missed was the current state of affairs in their conclusion:
"When the scientists looked only at data from the past 10 years, English Premiership football and baseball swapped places."

I coulda told you that!

Thursday, January 5, 2006

"The Giants Win The Pennant!"

Very famous quote: "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" - Russ Hodges, October 3, 1951

Not so famous quote: "Twenty seven years of waiting has finally come to an end; the Giants have won the pennant!" - Hank Greenwald, October 9, 1989

Well, I know they said something because I have the pennant winner on tape. - Jon Miller and Mike Krukow, October 14, 2002

Why not win the World Series?