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.]