Sunday, September 30, 2007

On Saying Good-Bye to Barry

I've got some things to say about Barry Bonds' farewell that will take more time than I have right now. I'll delay them to a future post. Of course, that may just be all the less effective on readers of my blog, but that's the chance I'll take. Old news is old.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shirt-Sleeve Weather In San Francisco

Mark Twain is attributed with the quote, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." As a Giants baseball fan who lives about 30 miles inland on the east side of the Oakland Hills, I can agree. As summer winds down and temperatures drop in the rest of the country, San Francisco is getting its warmest weather of the year. As ocean currents in the northern hemisphere run clockwise, we on the west coast get our ocean water from Alaska. It's cold. This gives San Francisco its famous fog. But an autumn reversal of airflow brings hot air in from California's central valley.

The last several Giants night games were warm enough for people to wear shirtsleeves. I've been to nearly a thousand games in my life and I can count on my fingers the number of night games comfortable enough to wear shorts. The cold fog, high winds, coastal range, Oakland Hills, hot inland weather, and breaks in the hills make the Bay Area the toughest micro-climate area for meteorologists. It's not uncommon in the summer for temps to vary 35 degrees over a half mile in some areas. It might be 105 out here, then we go to a night game with layers of sweaters, jackets and blankets to freeze our fannies off with fog and wind in the low 50's, then return home only to go swimming. It really is true that the 49ers have better weather than the Giants.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Seven Team Race

The National League has hot pennant races during the last week of the season, with all three divsions and the wild card still undecided. I'm hoping for a three-way tie for the wild card between the Padres, Phillies and the very hot Rockies. A tie for the Central between the Cubs and Brewers would add another playoff game. There would be two days of single game playoffs before the divisional playoffs started on Wednesday. That would be awesome.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cleanup Hitter?

I took the kids to the Giants game on Sunday, with one week left in the season. With Bonds still nursing his foot, our cleanup hitter, Rich Aurelia, who they signed this year to protect Bonds in the lineup, was batting .248 with 5HR and 33RBI. Comparable to Bad Vlad, I'd say.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

End Of An Era

Yesterday the Giants announced that they won't be signing Barry Bonds for the 2008 season. With only four home games left and Bonds still nursing his injured toe, I'm wondering how many Giants fans will get the chance to say goodbye in person at the game. We're going tomorrow, but with such short notice it's not likely that we'll see his last game on Wednesday night. I wish they would have given more notice so that fans could take advantage of it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cast and Crew: David

David was this redheaded high school kid who sat about ten rows behind us in the A's bleachers. He heard our cheering and heckling, and some of us talked to him a few times. He found that our group would be a good circle of people with which to interact, given his love for baseball. So he moved down to join us regularly. This was in about '87.

A couple years later he went off to college (to study sports broadcasting, I think), and was there only June to August. After school, he was back for full seasons. He became an outspoken - by the minute - critic of manager Tony LaRussa. He later went to work for the A's doing stats for TV broadcasts, later becoming their play-by-play internet broadcaster, and finally and currently doing TV production for the A's. He was a character in his own right.

David: Bleacher bum

[Update 07-10-09: his name is David Feldman, and he was the official scorekeeper for the Giants' Johnathan Sanchez's no-hitter tonight]

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why Late Inning Sub For Bonds?

Barry Bonds is often replaced in the late innings when the Giants are leading for "defensive reasons." But why? Any defensive liability due to Bonds' age is much smaller than the offensive liability of not having his bat in the lineup to help with a comeback after the bullpen coughs it up.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Freudian Slip Describes Giants' Season

Many parents sing a lullaby to their toddler at bedtime. Not our house. We sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Last night, Mrs. Scott made a Freudian slip while singing. "Root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win it's the same..." Sums up the Giants season very well.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Spoiling Dodger Dreams

This weekend the Giants and Dodgers tangled up for the millionth time. The Gyros took two of three in spectacular fashion from the pennant contenders, with a walkoff homer on Friday and a pinch-hit, three run homer in the 8th on Sunday. It's September, and that's what baseball is made of. The Giants and Dodgers beating each other up to kill the other's dream. It's because of playing spoiler that I think it's a greater rivalry than the Yankees/Red Sox.

These two sets of teams have finished first/second more times than any other sets of teams ever. They're the two greatest rivalries. But the Yankees usually beat the second place Sox by 15 games, and they have relatively fewer pennant races against each other. Each set has had monster playoffs against each other; major history. But where the rivalries really tilt toward Giants/Dodgers is in the area of spoiler. Every several years, one of the teams knocks the other out in the last series of the season. This is almost non-existent with the Yanks/Sox. In the last 20 years alone, the Giants and Dodgers have had either pennant races with each other decided in the last weekend of the season, or have directly knocked the other out of the race on the last weekend of the season six times ('91, '93, '97, '01, '02, '04) compared to the Yanks/Sox whopping zero. They play the last series of the year again this year and the Dodgers are still in the race. Time to add '07 to the list.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Pizza Face Down

One of the most hilarious bleacher stories happened to Mike. It's not one of those "you had to be there" stories. It was funny, period. One day, with a packed crowd in the bleachers, Mike went up to get something to eat. He returned with an extra large pizza and a drink. The pizza was so large that he couldn't carry it between his thumb and fingers, but had to center his hand under the box, palm up and fingers spread out to balance it. He had a drink in his other hand.

When somebody walks down the aisle in the bleachers with an extra large pizza, everybody notices. His seat was on the aisle, and trying to take his seat with his food items was a slight challenge. First, he had to put his drink down, so he set it on the ground under the bench. Then he could concentrate on the pizza. He wanted to put it on the bench first so he could get into it to give some pieces to other people. But with his hand under the box, he couldn't set it right down onto the bench. So he took both hands and grabbed each side of the box so that he could set it down flat and centered on the bench.

A pizza box is constructed with the bottom folding up to make the sides. The lid then has flaps that fit inside of the folded sides. Well, there was one small problem. It seems the person at the concession stand gave him the unmarked box upside down. What this meant was that when he grabbed the box by the sides, the lid's flaps were inserted inside of the sides. In one quick sequence, he moved his hands to the sides of the box. The lid, which was on the bottom, acted like a trap door under the weight of the pizza, and fell out, the pizza sliding out, toppings down, SPLAT! Right in the middle of the aisle! With everybody already staring at him, this made for one of the most embarrassing, and funny, events possible. We still bust up to this day.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Bonds in 2008?

Will Barry Bonds play in 2008? He seems to think so and the Giants have yet to comment. If history is any indication, the Giants will start talking about this in December or January. I'm not sure it will be in the best interest of the team to sign him. Yeah, he'll put some butts in the seats, but not as many as in the past. He's already broken the record so each new homer is a yawner.

Although he's as potent a hitter as there is in baseball, and his on-base percentage is second to none, he as no lineup around him to make him effective. His defense is lagging because he's not an aging star - he's an aged star. He misses every third game and the games he does play in he's out by the late innings, usually substituted for defensive purposes. But I think substituting for him for defensive purposes backfires because the bullpen usually blows the lead, then the offense is short his bat in trying to come back. Then they lose. The bullpen is more of a liability than Bonds' defense.

He's still one of the better players in the game, and because of his popularity (in San Francisco, that is) and his ties to the Giants, I'm willing to bet that the Giants will sign him again and try to make him a Giant for the rest of his life. It'll be a bit awkward letting him DH in the AL only to have him immediately return for a lifetime involvement as a legend and mentor like Mays, McCovey and the rest of the Giants hall-of-famers.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Upcoming New Ballparks

With the construction of Skydome in Toronto, opening in 1989, a flurry of new ballparks have been built. A majority of teams have built new parks since then. There are a few more on the horizon for the next several years.

In 2008, the Washington Nationals will have a new park, followed by both New York teams in 2009. A new Yankee Stadium is being built in the parking lot of the existing one, and the same thing is happening for Shea Stadium. I'm not sure it's new name will be Shea. The Minnesota Twins just broke ground this week on their new open-air downtown park which is scheduled to open in 2010. The Oakland A's are planning Cisco Field in Fremont, and the schedule is a bit sketchy, but it looks like it will open in 2010 or 2011.

Once these parks are built, all but six teams will have a new or newish park. Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are quite old and the classics of classics, and many want never to build new ones. The Dodgers and Angels each have older parks from the 60's. Then the two Florida teams each have parks built in the 80's, but not specifically for baseball, so I don't really place them in the "new ballpark" category.