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.