Friday, December 26, 2008

Big Unit Comes Home

The Giants signed Randy Johnson to a one year contract. Johnson is from the Bay Area, not far from where I live and grew up. This will mean that the Giants will have three Cy Young winners in their starting rotation. Johnson, five times, Zito and Lincecum. Johnson still has some gas, but is no longer the pitcher he once was. He's got a history behind him that will help others on the team.

The rotation should be, Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Zito and Johnson. Where and/or if Noah Lowry will fit remains a mystery. His recovery is still in question. Will the Giants make additional moves to set things in concrete? Brian Sabean has said that neither Cain nor Sanchez will move in a trade. Interesting.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My First Ballpark Road Trip (5)

Read entire series here.

I got to the ballpark, Jack Murphy Stadium as it was known then, before game time. The Padres were playing a double header against the Braves at 2:05pm. Fireworks were to follow the second game. I parked, and walked toward the stadium I had seen in the dark less than 12 hour earlier during a seating change. It looked different in broad daylight. Double sets of thin concrete columns arrayed around the "rounded square" shape, sloping inward as they rose toward the top of the stadium, had a distinct look. Since the lights were contained within the top row of horizontal concrete bands, there were no light towers. The overall appearance of the park was that of a spaceship from outer space. Not that it was bad, just very different from what I knew from the Bay Area. I actually liked this park and its feel.

I had an extra ticket for this day, too, so I began looking for a single who didn't have a ticket. I ran into somebody standing around outside the third base side of the ballpark. I casually approached him, fearing an undercover anti-scalping agent of some kind. He was just casually looking for somebody who had an extra ticket. So we casually agreed to casually entering the park together. He paid me on the inside. This was fine. He was a Dodger fan who lived in a coastal town half way between LA and San Diego. Nonetheless, he was good to talk to during a double header.

We had field level seats down the third base line. Not many fans were around us, as double headers had a knack for fans coming and going all day, but the seats did fill up fairly well at some point. Both games went only about 2 hours, 20 minutes. At the end of the second game, it was still very light, so the fireworks were blown off before it got dark. It wasn't nearly as much fun seeing streaks of gray smoke as it would have been to see the actual colors. It was "America's Finest City" celebration put on by Coors. I love San Diego, but they do have a knack of touting themselves as the finest city anywhere at anytime in history. I dunno about that.

Yes, this was another park I'd never seen before, but the newness of any park had worn off a bit. The awe I felt at Anaheim Stadium was superior, and I believe it would have been reversed had I seen the Murph first. But, it was still a thrill to look through that tunnel and see something completely new. After the game I left and went back to claim a room for the first time on my trip. Box scores for game one and for game two.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Claw

When I was a kid I knew that my dad still had his first baseman's mitt from high school. We brought it back out in the mid 80's. It was a 1941 Rudy York model. It had three separate "finger" looking sections to it. It was about two thirds the size of today's standard fielder's glove, but was the biggest thing ever seen back then. My dad let me use it and I brought it out to the bleachers to show my friends. They nicknamed it "the claw." I had it out there for a few games and it paid off big. I caught a line drive homer off Dave Winfield. If you know how Winfield hit his homers (screaming line drives), and that there was only the palm to catch the ball in, then you can figure out that my hand hurt for not just a few hours.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot Stove Rumor Mill

Okay, CC Sabathia has now rejected the Yankees deal, along with all other offers, and has whittled his options down to two teams. He lives in California (San Francisco Bay Area, just up the straights from me) and will play only for either the Giants or Dodgers. This is great news for Giants fans that want another hot pitcher in the rotation, especially a home town kid. The only thing left is to wait for the news of him signing with the Giants.

Huh? Oh, wait, he just signed with the Yankees. Nevermind.

Both the Giants and Edgar Renteria's agent have categorically denied that the two sides are close to an agreement, or are even talking. This gives legitimacy to the Giants signing of Rafael Furcal at shortstop. Oh, wait, nevermind.

I'll start my own rumor here. The Giants are moving to Stockholm, Sweden.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Big Stick = Rubber Chickens

Giants GM Brian Sabean announced today that it was highly unlikely that the Giants will be adding a big stick to their lineup. He was quoted as refusing to trade Jonathan Sanchez to get anybody. Skipper Bruce Bochy also announced what would likely be the Giants opening day lineup. Talk show host Damon Bruce pointed out that this lineup would have a total combined 64 home runs last year. Barry Bonds outdid that himself.

I'm tired of hearing about the Giants adding a big stick to their lineup. If they add a big stick, I'll go into rubber chicken sales, because a big stick will get walked all the time. They need at least two big sticks to make a difference. Hasn't 15 years of the Barry Bonds circus proven this to us time and again?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Al Davis Should Be Ball Dude For A Day

Maybe Raiders owner Al Davis could be a Giants ball dude for a day. Like down the first base line.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Countdown To Spring Training

Oh, I don't know. It's at about two months or so. Some blogs have timers that countdown to the second.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

How To Heckle - Saving My Voice By Discerning The Crowd

I learned how to heckle and was at the top of my heckling game during bad times for the teams I followed. The Giants and A's were both bad in the early and mid 80's. When the crowd is small, heckling is easy because everybody can hear you. But when there is a large crowd it is more difficult because the ambient crowd noise is so great. When your team is winning and all the games are sold out, it's usually loud out there.

Sometimes for large crowds, I would get a feel for how a crowd reacted to heckling. If the crowd were noisy enough, my strategy changed from yelling loud to getting others to do the yelling for me. If there were enough instant-asshole-just-add-water types around me, I would yell (unexpectedly for them because they weren't regulars there) at a player. Those fans would laugh. I would yell again, and if any of the other regulars added something, those fans figured out that yelling at the visiting player was a community thing and they joined in. Instead of yelling louder to overcome the crowd noise, I could save my voice for the next game by getting others to do it for me.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Renteria? Furcal? CC?

The news today was thick with speculation over the Giants signing a free agent shortstop. It almost looks like they're entertaining two of them at the same time. Rumors are false. Rumors are from reliable sources. What about the youth movement from guys like Burriss or Ochoa? If we sign Renteria for two years, then we might have the next shortstop waiting to take over.

What about Sabbathia? (I don't know whether there are one or two B's in his name - oh, I just checked. There's one) He's a hometown boy and would like to play here, but money is a big factor, too. But there are a few questions surrounding him. First, he could very well be yesterday's news. Sure, he's gone a thousand and one in his last 1001 starts with an ERA of about 3 below zero. Here's the question: does he show any signs of improvement in 2009? How about in 2010? Ever? Next, if not, will he be equal to his recent past? Less than equal? Remember Barry Zito? Maybe the Giants could just sign him to hit DH in interleague road games. Which would hopefully include the World Series.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome Jeremy Affeldt

The Giants were the first team to sign a free agent. Left hander Jeremy Affeldt who pitched with the Reds last year will be setting the table for Brian Wilson. Hope he pans out in a positive way, unlike most other players over the last four years. Go Giants.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tim LinCYcum

Congratulations to Tim Lincecum for winning the NL Cy Young award! I wasn't totally surprised that he won the award, but I was surprised by the margin of victory. Going into the stretch run I was convinced that Webb was the media frontrunner but that Lincecum had put up enough of a fight to make it close. Personally, I believed Lincecum should win it outright based on three factors. His ERA was clearly better. He led the universe in strikeouts. Webb led in wins, but only because he played for a contender. Lincecum had six leads torched by the hapless bullpen.

I'm glad to see that, unlike the national TV media, the sportswriters saw the same things I did. He gained 23 of 32 first place votes. Webb had 4, Santana 4 and Sabathia one. Some schmuck sportswriter from Chicago didn't even have Lincecum on his ballot. Wonder what he was smoking.

That this was only the SF Giants' second Cy Young award ever, compared to nine position player MVP's, shows that the team has concentrated on hitting and not pitching in its history. Hitting without pitching has resulted in zero rings. Maybe they'll learn from this. Hopefully, the Giants can put a team together before Cain and Lincecum are able to file for free agency so they aren't wasted on exclusively non-World Series winning teams. Way to go Timmy.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Why I've Come To Dislike The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America

I've come to a point in my life where I now dislike The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. These were staple songs of just the average patriotism of the average American when I was a kid. The Star Spangled Banner is a tradition before the game of baseball, the national pastime. I grew up fairly conservative, and the national anthem was sung in a conservative way before a game started. Quite often, it was played by the ballpark organ and the crowd sung along as they wanted. In the 80's, the San Francisco Giants often invited odd characters to sing before the game, and they sang the national anthem in odd ways. Some of them butchered both the melody and content. Many San Franciscans approved, cheering wildly at the inappropriate times. I'm not sure if this happened across the country at non-nationally televised games, but it happened here. And not in Oakland, either.

Now, it seems to be a fad to have some "award winning recording star" butcher the song on every occasion. During this World Series, Patti Labelle got up to sing during one game. I had to change a diaper before the game started, and at about two words into it, I cut the sound. I had no idea she incinerated the song until several days later when it was a topic on sports talk radio.

I cringe in embarrassment every time I hear it before a game. I'm usually just on time at a baseball game, which means that I'm in the food or beer line, or maybe restroom, during the anthem. The Giants, ever since 9/11, have taken to playing the anthem on the radio. Not live either, but spliced in between commercial segments. It sounds so fake. I cut to an FM rock station. Then there's the Olympics. I have to hear it played about 83 times. Anything repeated that many times will result in stomach illness. So, mostly out of liking the song as a kid, I've come to dislike it as an adult.

God Bless America has similar problems. It was inserted into the 7th inning stretch by Major League Baseball just after 9/11. Now it's presence has faded to Sunday games only, with the exception that the Yankess still play it every game. If you go to the bathroom during the song, the Yankees' security will throw you out of the stadium forcefully. It doesn't belong in the 7th inning stretch. Take Me Out To The Ballgame does. God Bless America is sung first. This throws the fans off, and it disrupts a hundred year old tradition. It completely takes away from Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

Neither song belongs the way it currently exists. That's why I dislike them now. I don't listen anymore. I avoid them when I can.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jamie Moyer Is Older Than Me

Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer has been around for a long time. At 44, I'm younger than Moyer, who is 45. There are still several players older than me. I wonder who will be the last player to be older than me. I remember back in the 80's that Dwight Gooden was the first player that was younger than me. It made an impression. I was finally no longer able to look completely forward at baseball. Somebody had jumped ahead of me. Now, a bunch of kids are playing out there and I'm almost completely looking back at baseball.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Every Kid Dreams Of Playing In National League

Every kid's childhood dream. Three balls, two strikes, two outs, bases loaded, bottom of the ninth, game seven of the World Series, down three runs against the Yankees. The kid hits a grand slam to win the World Series. To beat the Yankees means to play in the National League.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pedro Effing Feliz

Okay, I always felt that the Giants needed a quality third baseman. I was never truly unhappy with Pedro Feliz. He was okay, but I'd rather have somebody like George Brett, Mike Schmidt or A-Rod. But, wouldn't you know it, the split second the Giants delete what would have been the best hitter in their lineup, he goes out and gets the World Series winning base hit with another team. Shades of Orlando Cepeda winning the MVP and World Series the year following his trade? Well, it brings up the idea. This year's post season was so full of ex A's and Giants it was not even funny.

Congratulations Phillies

For the second time in three years, a National League team won the World Series. This despite home field advantage in the World Series going to the AL team. In the six years since the inception of the all-star-game-decides-home-field-advantage idea, all six times have failed to give a true advantage to the team that was awarded home field advantage. It's past time for baseball to rid us of that stupid rule. I heard that it was incorporated into the union contract until 2,000,012 AD or so.

Even so, congratulations to the Phils. They earned it all. They passed the Mets in the last week of the season. They beat CC Sabathia and the hot Brewers. They beat Manny and the hot Dodgers. They beat all the good players on the hot Rays that beat the hot Red Sox. I just wonder how many police cars are on fire right now.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Longest Inning

Well, we're right smack in the middle of the sixth inning of World Series game 5. This is the longest inning I can ever remember. It's even longer than inning seven of ALCS game 5, when the Rays opened with a two run homer. A half hour later, and no further scoring, the top of the 7th was still not over. Not to be outdone, God Bless America and Take Me Out To The Ballgame preceded a four run outburst by the Red Sox before that inning came to a close.

During that ALCS inning, Mrs. Scott and I started giving the kids a bath, when she asked me what inning it was. I said the 7th. We then bathed all three of them. Afterward Mrs. Scott went shopping at the grocery store, came home, and asked me what inning it was. I said the 7th. She was shocked.

But this inning, everybody went home. Players, managers, umpires, fans, media all slept several times right in the middle of this inning. Oh, and it rained, too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wild One In Philly

Seeing the way the Phillies won game 3 of the Series, it was pretty wild. A hit batsman led off the bottom of the ninth, who then stole second on a wild pitch and took third when the catcher threw the ball into center field. Two intentional walks to load the bases, and a right fielder brought in as a fifth infielder. The bouncer up the third base line left "Eva" Longoria with no way to throw the runner out without hitting him. The replay showed that if he had let the ball go, it could have gone foul further up the line. But you don't think about those things when the game is on the line on that ball. The Phillie fans were great, outlasting a late start, a rain delay and a long game. Church might be empty tomorrow in Philly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Game 1 Blues

The Phillies won game 1 of the World Series tonight. I wanted them to. But tonight after the game on SportsPhone 680, host Damon Bruce gave a sobering stat about how important winning game 1 was. It seems that 10 out of the last 11 teams that won game 1 went on to win the Series. I wondered who that 11th team could have been that didn't...

Oh, yes, of course. It struck me. I really didn't need to be reminded. But those are the kind of things that bring up bad memories. The Giants won game 1 of the 2002 World Series.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Manny, Big Papi No Shows For Sox Series Bid

Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz were no-shows in the Red Sox attempt to make it back to the World Series. That might have made all the difference in the world. When Manny was traded to the Dodgers, the first thing speculated was whether they would face each other in the World Series. Now, neither of them are there. As good as Jason Bay was in many ways, I'm wondering if the Ramirez trade didn't doom the Sox to a Hi-Def World Series. They lost game 7 by only 2 runs.

As much as Ramirez helped the Bums, they had their share of problems down the stretch. And even though he hit a thousand homers and batted a million against the Phils, their 3 games to one loss showed how the rest of the Dodger team didn't perform.

It will be an interesting series with the Phils traveling to Tampa. I can't start to predict this one as I don't have a clue where to start. Usually I can pick a team in the Series for one reason or another, but this series is a question. I'm pulling for the Phils.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My First Ballpark Road Trip (4)

Read entire series here.

Oops, here's a link to the boxscore to my first ballpark visit. With the game over, I headed out to find a motel for the night. This was about 11pm. I had tickets to a double header in San Diego the next day, starting at 2pm. San Diego is about an 85 mile drive south of Anaheim. But this is where being young and extremely naive came into play in a big way. You simply don't travel to Southern California in August without room reservations. Two out of every three families in the entire USA vacation at Disneyland or Seaworld just before school starts. I learned this the hard way.

Disneyland is only four blocks away from Anaheim Stadium, and I travelled down boulevards for miles in each direction. There are thousands of motels. "No Vacancy" was all I saw. This went on for at least an hour. I finally found one motel, and it looked dark and seedy. It was run by foreigners who obviously never watched June Cleaver clean her house on TV. The room was filthy and infested with insects, so I got my money back and split. With no light at the end of the tunnel, I decided that maybe I'd have better fortune if I hit the freeway south toward San Diego and got away from Disneyland. No such fortune. I hit every exit for 60 miles looking for a motel room. There were none. I resigned myself to sleeping in my car in a motel parking lot somewhere near Carlsbad. I dozed off for a bit, and I can only conclude that it was about 2am, when suddenly I was awakened by a noise. Okay, this was a bit creepy. I heard sirens in the distance. Then a man came flying over the concrete wall and landed right in front of my car and dashed off. Cop cars came screaching into the parking lot and chased this guy down on foot. This scared the crap out of me, and I was out of there. I had no trouble staying awake for quite a while.

So I kept going down toward San Diego, still hitting each exit. Finally I made it there, and with nowhere to go and wide awake I decided to go see where the ballpark was located. It was 3:30am. The stadium lights were on at Jack Murphy Stadium. Hmmm. I figured out that they were changing the stadium over from football to baseball. Back in those days the Padres shared the place with both the NFL Chargers and the San Diego State Aztecs college team. Sometimes the Padres' three game weekend series would have a Friday night game, then a football game on Saturday, followed by a baseball doubleheader on Sunday. I settled in to yet another motel parking lot. By this time I really had to relieve myself, so I went in the bushes in front of the car parked next to me, and fell asleep in my car.

I awoke in the early a.m. to daylight, about 7am. I looked around me and noticed that there was a family asleep in the car next to me. Whoa, was I embarrassed. I went inside the motel to see if by chance they had some kind of room. The clerk said I could wait for cancellations but that it might take a while. There were several people in line in front of me. Hours later, somebody cancelled for four days. Wahoo! I wanted to stay there longer, but it was a break. I took the room. BUT... It wouldn't be available until 2pm when maid service was done. But I had to be at the game before then. I broke down in the desert, sweated a lot and slept in my car. I needed a shower bad. I asked the clerk if he knew of any place I could shower. His only suggestion was at the beach using the shower heads to wash sand off. It was better than nothing, so I went to the beach and showered, wearing my bathing suit. How humiliating. I went to the ballpark to see the games. To be continued...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beaten LA - More Info

In my last post I said that every other team in the NL west had won a pennant since the last time the Dodgers did in 1988. That is true of the current NL west. Then I realized that the other teams in the old NL west before realignment had each won pennants too.

The Reds in '90, the Braves in '91, '92, '95, '96, and '99, and the Astros in '05.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


The Dodgers lost the pennant! The Dodgers lost the pennant! The Dodgers lost the pennant!

It was scary this year, though, they did win a playoff game. I just realized that every other team in the NL west has won a pennant since they did in 1988. The Giants in '89 and '02, the Padres in '98, the Diamondbacks in '01 and the Rockies in '07.

My Personal 20 Year World Series Drought

For the twenty consecutive World Series played from 1975 to 1995, the team I was pulling for to win, lost. I often wonder what it would be like to have those 20 Series reversed. I'll give a brief rundown of each Series and why I rooted for the team that I did. More often than not, I cheer for a National League team if there's no other difference between teams. My childhood Oakland A's won three consecutive Series in '72, '73 and '74. Then my 20 year drought came.

1975 - Reds def. Red Sox. As a Giants fan, I came to hate the Big Red Machine. I was cheering for the Sox. We know the story.

1976 - Reds def. Yankees. Okay, I hated the Reds, but the Yankees hadn't done anything my whole life, so they were okay to cheer for.

1977 - Yankees def. Dodgers. While I'm a Giants fan and HATE the Dodgers, I hated Reggie Jackson and his personal public relations firm, Howard Cosell, even more. The Yankee media bias started here in my life. I wanted both teams to lose so badly it was an awful series to have to watch. But I couldn't bear to have the Yanks win at all.

1978 - Yankees def. Dodgers. Ditto 1977.

1979 - Pirates def. Orioles. When I was seven, I cried when the Bucs beat the Birds in the '71 series. I was pulling for some minor revenge. No big deal, I just wanted to see the Birds win a bit more than Pittsburgh.

1980 - Phillies def. Royals. I was turned off by Pete Rose and some of the general Phillies vibes. So I was giving a slight cheering advantage to the Royals.

1981 - Dodgers def. Yankees. The tables had turned from '77-'78. I hated everything there was about Los Angeles and the Dodgers. Enough to cheer for the Yankees. Yes, painful Series to have to know exists.

1982 - Cardinals def. Brewers. I think I cheered for the Brew Crew out of hatred for Astroturf and multi-purpose stadiums.

1983 - Orioles def. Phillies. I really don't know why I cheered for Philly, but I did. It probably happened just after game 1 started. Fans just get that thing in their heart, favoring one team over another.

1984 - Tigers def. Padres. Okay, hearing about the Tigers All. Season. Long. just wore on me. I played the NL card, too.

1985 - Royals def. Cardinals. I think I favored the NL team here, but just slightly.

1986 - Mets def. Red Sox. The New York media hype surrounding Lenny and the Mets, including the Straw, was just too unbearable. I also happened to stay with the Mets for three days in a Montreal hotel just after they clinched the division. What a bunch of first rate assholes ( I wanted to keep this as clean as possible. This is a family blog).

1987 - Twins def. Cardinals. NL over AL, plus I loathed the Astroturf, the parachute roof, the teflon warning track, the hefty bag outfield fence, the air conditioning blowing out during Twins at bats and that stupid, moronic Homer Hanky.

1988 - Dodgers def. A's. I grew up an A's fan, and I hated the Dodgers from being a Giants fan. What a joy it was to see Canseco hit a grand slam in the top of the first of game 1. Four batters, four-nothing. I thought it was over right then. This was my first World Series I attended in person. I refused to watch the Dodgers celebrate.

1989 - A's def. Giants. This one was tough. I grew up a fan of both teams. Becuase of each team's ineptitude over the last decade and a half, I was certain I'd never have to face these circumstances. I went to every game of this Series. Torn, I did like the song said and rooted for the home team. The scales tipped toward the Giants slightly because Oakland already had three rings and just lost to the hated Dodgers the previous year. I was shaken by the earthquake. What an event.

1990 - Reds def. A's. Heartbreaking to see the heavily favored team get killed like that. I also witnessed Eric Davis' kidney injury from the bleachers. Ouch. I didn't watch the Reds celebrate.

1991 - Twins def. Braves. I hated the Twins for all the same reasons as I did in '87. It had nothing at all to do with the players, just the fakeness.

1992 - Blue Jays def. Braves. I wasn't too keen at the time to let an American sport be won by a Canadian team. The font the Jays used on their uni's was also bad. Bad uniforms all around. This was the first year that the President didn't call the winning manager in the club house. It's never happened since.

1993 - Blue Jays def. Phillies. NL over AL. US vs. Canada. I also liked the idea of a bunch of guys that didn't know how to shave. Plus they beat the now hated Braves in the playoffs.

1994 - No Series: player's strike

1995 - Braves def. Indians. I took a serious hatred to the Braves once they started winning in the early 90's. They already played in Fulton County Toilet, the worst field in history (decimated by the Falcons each September) in the cheapest ballpark in history. TBS had the worst homer bunch of announcers ever, criticizing Candlestick Park on their telecasts. These guys were clueless and completely blind to anything other than the Braves accomplishments. Plus that idiotic tomahawk chop faked so cheesily by Jane Fonda. So I cheered for the Tribe.

1996 - Yankees def. Braves. As much as I hated the Yankees, they were silent for 15 years and harmless. They started winning in '95 and I at least had some small amount of respect for them, even if I hated them. The Braves had become an abomination to me, so the Yankees ended my 20 season drought of cheering for the losers in the Fall Classic. Yay!

I would gladly reverse the outcome of some of these Series if I could, especially the 1988 to 1990 Series!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Silence Is Golden

The Dodgers held a commanding position in last night's game. The Phils were floundering and the crowd was wild. I was thinking, "Oh, great. They'll win tonight and in game 5, too, and the Phils will have to go home and win both, but they won't win at all." Then Victorino tied it and old man Stairs hit a bomb. Man, did that shock Chavez Ravine into stunned silence. It was beautiful.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Go Phillies?

I'm cheering for the Phillies to win it all. Philly over LA, Tampa over Boston, Philly over Tampa. The reason? First, as a Giants fan, I HATE THE DODGERS! They must lose at any cost, even if they have to be beaten by the Yankees. Second, I hate the Red Sox. They're the new Yankees and the darling of ESPN and the east coast bias. But I don't hate them as much as the Dodgers. Now, the Rays are the obvious Cinderella story of the year and everybody seems to be pulling for them. But I want them to lose to Philly because they've never won a World Series and the Phillies have. The Rays would be yet another team to leapfrog over the Giants in World Series victories. Let them stew another several decades to pay their due. The Phillies are already there (1980). So, go Phillies!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

How To Heckle - Pitchers Named McDonald

The last series of the regular season saw the Giants play the Dodgers. Friday night Giants/Dodgers games are always extra rowdy with lively crowds. Heckling is at its height. Late in the game, the Dodgers had quite a few pitchers warming up in the bullpen. One pitcher got up to throw, and his name was James McDonald. McDonald? This name was ripe for heckling.

Think of the cultural things surrounding McDonald. In children's nursery rhymes, he owned a farm. Think also Big Macs and clowns named Ronald. But Mike, Dan (he sits behind us - I'll write about him later) and I quickly came up with a chant about sending him down to the minors. Mike: "Send McDonald to the farm", Dan: "E-I-E-I-Oooo" (repeat), Me: "With an Albuquerque here and an Albuquerque there, here an Albuquerque, there an Albuquerque, everywhere an Albuquerque". "Send McDonald to the farm, E-I-E-I-Oooo!" Okay, Albuquerque is no longer their AAA team, but it was for so long that it doesn't matter.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Giants Downward Progression

Out of 30 major league teams, the Giants play in the 4th largest market, have the 17th highest payroll and the 25th highest winning percentage. This doesn't look good. The Tampa Bay Rays, on the other hand, play in the 21st largest market, have the 29th highest payroll and the 2nd highest winning percentage. Go Giants!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Playoffs Should Have One Day Off Maximum

It would help greatly if baseball had a one day off maximum between each round of series. None of the division series went five games. Both National League division series were over by Sunday, and the AL series on Monday. The playoffs should have gone to the next round by Wednesday, instead of the scheduled Thursday and Friday. Dead time takes people's interest away, even if for an extra day. Moving the post season up one day won't hurt anything. It's bad enough that extra days off were added both to the middle of series and between them, but adding any more because of short series is over the top.

History 08

At game 2 of the NLDS in Chicago I saw a jersey on a fan with the name, "HISTORY", and the number, "08" on the back. It was intended to predict that the Cubs would make history in '08 by winning their first World Series in a century. Instead, it foretold of the Cubs' dream as history in '08.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another Night's Sleep Ruined By Playoff TV Schedule

Okay, it happened again. Tomorrow's Rays/White Sox game has a starting time that completely relies upon the outcome of the Angels/Red Sox game. Which by the way was a more than five hour, way past midnight affair that went deep into extra innings. The TV ratings pecking order has the Rays/ChiSox game behind the Angels/BoSox game. So an Angels victory puts the Chicago game early in the day with a night game in Boston, where a Red Sox victory ends the series and puts the Chicago game in prime time as a night game. Thousands of ticket holders in Chicago went to bed tonight not knowing the starting time of their game tomorrow; not knowing whether to leave work early or take the day off at all; not knowing in many cases if they even can go to the game.

But Major League Baseball doesn't give care about these people at all because a bunch of idiotic morons work there. FOX and TBS don't care because they have a contract. And Major League Baseball already sold the tickets. Screw the fans, they suck anyway.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Good Guys, Bad Guys

The current playoffs present an odd challenge for me. Of the eight teams, four I completely despise and would love nothing better than to see each of them swept in three games right now. The other four teams I wouldn't mind seeing win the whole thing. The trouble is that the four bad teams are all playing each other right now and so are the four good teams.

I hate the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox and Angels. I don't mind the Phillies, Brewers, White Sox or Rays. Two teams from each group will be in the LCS. Bad guys are guaranteed to be in each LCS, but at least the Cubs and Dodgers won't meet in the NLCS so as to guarantee one of them win the pennant.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Great Day At The Ballyard For A Future Star

Last week I took our three year old to the Giants game vs. the Rockies to see his favorite player pitch, Tim Lincecum. He put on a lot better show than the Giants did. We arrived very early, as the Giants were unveiling a new feature, "The Wall of Fame" on the sidewalk outside the third base side of the park. Bronze plaques of Giants players who have either nine years of service with the Giants or five years plus an All-Star game selection. We met many players, JT Snow, Kirk Reuter (who shook his hand), Johnny LeMaster and sooo many more. We attended a "meet the young players" meeting, with the Giants top minor leaguers and prospects. It was dry for a three year old, so we walked around the club level of AT&T Park.

He remembers a "statue" of Snoopy, and I showed him the many pictures on the wall and jerseys and other memorabilia in glass cases. I showed him a big picture on the wall of Willie Mays' catch in the 1954 World Series. "I have that picture in my book" he replied. We went downstairs to our seats and ate sunflower seeds. He's pretty good at spitting them out. Before the game we watched Lincecum warm up. The next morning he showed Mrs. Scott how he did his stretches.

Several innings into the game, we hit the cable car and he rang the bell, went down the slides inside the Coke bottle, then hit the "kids fun lot." It's a mini diamond where small children can play whiffle ball. He made it clear that he needed his hat and glove. He already wore his Giants uniform. When it was his turn, he got up to the plate. The pitcher (a ballpark employee) took one look at his size (very small, even for a three year old), and scooted up to pitch. He drilled the first pitch on a line drive square into the pitcher's chest, nearly knocking him off his feet. He ran the bases, then took his glove out into the field, where later he played catch with some older kids, about 8 or 9 years old. I over-heard one of the older ones remark to his friend that our son was so talented that "he'll be a pro someday."

The Giants got killed by the Rockies so it was okay that we stayed in the fun lot for so long. In the late innings, most people had taken their kids home, so our guy was the only one left. He had dedicated BP. He drilled one pitch after another. The pitcher remarked that he was a "line drive back up the middle" type of hitter. He has his own batting stance, no doubt taken from watching on TV, a cross between Don Baylor and a right handed Bobby Tolan. The pitcher remarked to him that he doesn't mind the ball coming back up the middle, but to not hit him in the face. He also hit several balls over the fence of the yard. It was an amazing display of hitting. A crowd of 10-15 people had gathered outside the rail and were actively cheering him on in almost utter disbelief as to what they were seeing. I blew it by not having a video camera.

Possible World Series Rematches

I write as the Twins and White Sox are still scoreless in their tie-breaker game. There are a number of possible World Series re-matches this October. They are:

White Sox/Cubs - 1906
Red Sox/Phillies - 1915
Red Sox/Dodgers - 1916
Red Sox/Cubs - 1918
Dodgers/White Sox - 1959
Dodgers/Twins - 1965

Monday, September 29, 2008

No York

For the first time in quite a while, there are no New York teams in the postseason. Before I get too happy, this means that all the attention from FOX will now go to the Red Sox. Maybe they can lose in the first round. What is pretty cool is that I picked two of the teams in my Cynic's pick with one honorable mention still a possibility.

What a way to close out the NY ballparks. No October for the team that's played in more Octobers than anybody, and a collapse completed by the Mets in the last two innings of the season. Somebody should send some TV's.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Giants Loss Projection Through September 28 - Final Total

September 16 through September 28, 2008:

68-83, 89; 68-84, 90; 68-85, 90; 69-85, 89; 69-86, 90; 70-86, 89; 70-87, 90; 70-88, 90; 70-89, 91; 71-89, 90; 71-90, 91; 72-90, 90.

End Of Season

Final Loss Total: 90

In my first loss projection post, I figured the Giants would break the 100 loss mark. I was 10 games off as they only broke the 90 loss mark. Still, a bad season was very predictable. They were terrible the first few months of the season. The second half they upgraded to very bad. The kids were allowed to play and this made a big difference. The Giants need bats and will have to pick up at least two free agents to do it. They better get an offense before Cain and Lincecum split town. It would be horrible to waste those two.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Instant Replay Creates Pinch-Runner During Home Run Trot

I was at the Giants/Dodgers game last night and saw that weird instant replay play first hand, right in front of me. That had to be one of the most bizarre plays in baseball history. Giants catcher Benjie Molina came to bat with a runner on and hit a line drive off the top of the right field fence. It bounced back to the outfielder and he was held to a single. But the top of the brick wall at AT&T has a green tin roof that slopes back toward the field (link courtesy Google Image). Ground rules state that if the ball hits the tin roof (including both the edge and top) it is a home run. There's no need for the ball to go into the stands.

Molina is the slowest runner in the majors, so Giants manager Bruce Bochy sent Emmanuel Burris out to pinch run. The Dodger pitcher wanted a new ball, so threw the old one in. But it had green paint on it, proof that it hit the tin roof, so Bochy called for instant replay to determine if it was a home run. Somehow the powers that be missed the fans down the right field line twirling their fingers in the air with the home run signal and screaming "home run!". The ball obviously hit the roof because we could hear it. It is a loud thud, kind of like a baseball hitting a tin roof.

The umpires conferred and retreated to the instant replay area in a tunnel behind home plate. They reversed the call and declared it a home run. But Burris was already at first, and the umpires directed the runners to continue home. Burris had the most hilarious smile on his face, because he didn't hit the ball. Both runs scored and the game was tied.

But because the pinch runner was put in, neither Molina or Burris were allowed to continue playing. Bochy played the game under protest because if the umps had made the correct call in the first place, there would have been no need for a pinch runner. There will be a new rule next year regarding instant replay, for sure. There was also question as to how the play should be scored. Nothing like this has ever happened. Molina hit the home run, but Burris scored the run. Molina should get the RBI's, but does he score the run? Should Burris be in the box score? Essentially, the way the umpires ruled the play, a pinch runner was put in right in the middle of a home run trot.

What should have happened is this. The umps should have reversed the call, called Burris off the field and sending Molina back to first. Then the runners should have continued running the bases (giving the Dodgers the right to appeal in case either runner missed touching a base), allowing each to score. Burris' entrance into the game via a pinch running appearance should have been struck from the record, and Molina should have been allowed to continue playing. Burris would go back to the bench and be available to Bochy to play later in the game. The new rule should read that in case of instant replay overturning a ruling on the field, all interim lineup moves between the contested play and the first pitch (or pickoff throw to a base) afterward should be nullified.

Such a wacky play as this should have occurred at Candlestick Park. But it did happen in San Francisco.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tiebreaker Possibilities Galore

Heading into the last weekend of the season, there are some pretty good tiebreaking situations still possible. The Twins just swept the White Sox (in extras tonight) to pass them by 1/2 game. The Brewers beat the Pirates in extras to keep pace with the Mets in the wildcard, and the Mets are only 1 game behind the Phillies.

If the Twins and Sox finish within a half game, then the Sox need to play a makeup game against Detroit on Monday. If this lands them in a tie, the Sox and Twins will have a playoff on Tuesday. If the Phils, Mets and Brewers all tie with the same record, the Phils and Mets will playoff on Monday to determine the division winner, and the loser will play Milwaukee on Tuesday to determine the wildcard.

If the Brewers and Mets each get swept this weekend and the Astros sweep, there might be a three way tie for the wildcard, and would force a makeup game on Monday between the Astros and Cubs to determine if the Astros are to tie. I think there might be a mathematical tiebreaker between the Rays and Red Sox in case they tie. Either way they're both in the playoffs. I'd love to see as many tiebreaker situations arise as possible in one year. Now that would be a news story.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Giant Spoilers

Okay, the Dodgers are 2 1/2 games in front of the D-Backs with a week to play. They finish the season with 3 games against the Giants at AT&T Park. I would love to see the season come down to knocking the Bums out of the pennant race on the last day of the season, as has happened between the Giants and Dodgers so many times in the past. They play the lowly Padres this week, while the Snakes play the Cards and the Giants play the Rockies.

Sunday's game in Chavez Ravine saw the G-men win a 1-0 exciter in 11 innings. This is good stretch baseball, even if one team is out of it. Go Giants. Beat LA!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My First Ballpark Road Trip (3)

Read entire series here.

During that first game of my road trip, I just had to take a tour of the park during the game to get a flavor of the fans and different vantage points around the place. A bleacher bum just has to go sit out in the bleachers. So I headed for left field. What I found didn't resemble anything I knew of bleachers. They weren't wooden benches (I knew this from games on TV) and they weren't even called "bleachers" either. They were like "outfield reserved" or something. I forget whether they were even general admission. All of the outfield stands at Anaheim Stadium were an afterthought, being added in the 70's for the football Rams. So the left field seats were essentially football seats, extending all the way down to ground level behind the outfield fence. Nobody could sit in the first ten or fifteen rows because they couldn't see the field over the fence.

The fans out there weren't any more enthusiastic about the game that the fans in the box seats. They just had less expensive tickets. In Oakland, I was used to fist fights several times per game, fans starting chants, heckling the visiting outfielders, etc. This was obviously not happening here. I yelled to the A's left fielder, Dave Collins at the time, just like we did in Oakland. He was "our guy," no matter how good he was. He didn't seem to much more than acknowledge that an A's fan was there in Anaheim. Oh, well. I did talk to one fan for a bit, then returned. Overall, the left field section was a major disappointment.

Anaheim Stadium was a big memory for me my first visit there. It was a large ballpark, three decks high, completely enclosed, seating 65,000. It was shaped similar to Candlestick, and the outfield enclosure was similar in that it was done for football in the 70's and the left field stands were in the end zone. Both parks' right field stands rolled in to the side line, covering right field.

After the game, I remember heading to the players exit to see the A's come out. I vaguely remember this, but I have a Mike Davis autograph on my ticket stub. I must have hit him up. It was a great night and I headed out to find a motel for the night. I will write about that, plus my time the rest of the week in San Diego, and a return jaunt to Anaheim for another game on Monday in future posts.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My First Ballpark Road Trip (2)

Read entire series here.

As a continuation to Part 1 of this series, I'll pick up with the game in Anaheim. I had made it to Anaheim before the game started despite my car troubles. I was wearing my A's hat and I had field level seats down the first base line. They were pretty good as seats went, as they were purchased much earlier in the year. I collect ticket stubs, and the ticket wasn't an Angels ticket; rather it was a Ticketron ticket (their phone order ticket service), so it didn't even look like a baseball ticket. There was no Angels logo, and the ticket taker was kind of clumsy on the tear. He missed the perforation and ripped the ticket right down the middle. If I didn't know what the ticket was for, I'd have a tough time identifying it.

Anyway, I was alone at the game, so I had an extra ticket. I tried to sell the other one outside the park (face value was all I was asking), but it just didn't feel right, so I went in alone. The concession stands had a different feel, and sold some different (and better) items than back at home. I got a hot dog and went to my seat. I don't know if this was the trip to Anaheim where this occurred, but after putting condiments on my dog, I dropped the wrapper on the ground, just like any baseball fan would where I was from. In a half of a second, there was a worker behind me with one of those old scoop broom deals and whisked my wrapper up and scurried off. Anaheim Stadium was extremely clean and uncluttered.

As the game progressed, I couldn't help but notice the crowd. I've always loved people watching, and I always take note of the feel of the crowd at a game. Angels fans were extremely tame. There were no loudmouth fans, no hecklers, nobody pounding beer after beer. Yes, there were people drinking beer, but no drunks, nobody even a bit loose. It was relatively quiet for a baseball game, even though I would have expected Saturday night to bring out the rowdies. People dressed conservatively, and it seemed that there were relatively few people wearing Angels hats, jackets and other items. They just sat there. They were very attentive to the game, but just seemed to stare toward home plate. I did my usual and cheered wildly and loudly for the A's, but even though I was very loud, few people seemed to even care. There were no strange looks or evil eyes.

One huge difference between the Angels crowd and the A's and Giants crowds that I was used to was in the women. Okay, maybe the Orange County/Southern California stereotype was true, but there were amazingly beautiful women all over the place. There wasn't just one in the left field bleachers and one over there in the box seats, but there were hundreds of them. I saw probably more beautiful women that game than in all A's and Giants games in my entire life combined. Maybe it was just the thing to do down there in LaLa land. Who knows, but a single 21 year old male didn't complain.

More in my next post.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

How To Heckle - Umpires As Targets

Heckling isn't limited to targeting opposing players. Umpires can be equally good targets. What's usually needed, though, in the case of umpires is a blown call or a bad attitude in ejecting somebody. It is tradition in baseball to yell, "Kill the umpire!" - a tradition that has fallen on hard times these past few decades. Umpires are frequently referred to as "Blue." That they have most often worn black shows that the term started during a period where blue was king. Umps in my company softball league used to wear red shirts and black pants but we still called them "blue." Go figure.

Eyesight is the most often maligned attribute of an umpire. I read an account once where a ballpark organist was ejected for playing "Three Blind Mice" after a disputed call. One traditional heckle goes like this, "Hey, ump, if you had another eye you'd be a cyclops!" Another less popular says, "Hey, blue, you're missing a good game; Giants and Cardinals at Candlestick!" I used to yell, "Hey, ump, turn around and watch the game!"

The centerfield bleacher bums in Oakland, when the umpires were announced before the game, used to collectively yell, "Oh, no!" after each umpire's name. Their favorite target was rotund AL ump Ken Kaiser, for whom they would yell, "OH, NOOOO!"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How To Heckle - Developing Your Voice

I started heckling early on in my life. I attended games every so often, and after a game of yelling, my voice was often hoarse. When I started attending games almost every day, I realized that my voice wouldn't handle it. There's nothing more embarrassing to the prime heckler in the bleachers than to have lost his voice. So I started experimenting with my voice and training it.

I once heard an ad for voice training for would be stock traders. These guys spend all day on the floor of the stock exchange yelling prices. This class would help train their voices for maximum volume at extended times of yelling. I dreamed of joining that class and showing up the first day not wearing a suit or collared shirt, but a ripped up t-shirt and faded ball cap.

I paid attention to airflow, vocal strain, projection, tone and many other factors. You could say I was self-trained in yelling. I maximized my voice so that I could yell very loud for nine innings every day. It paid off. To this day, I've only met two people with louder yelling voices than mine.

One A's double header vs. the Twins I started yelling at the Twins left fielder, constantly and loudly. There were some Twins fans sitting nearby who were a bit forcibly unimpressed with my heckling. They explained to me that I would lose my voice in just a few innings. To my surprise, several of the bums around me exclaimed, "No he won't!" One of the games went extra innings, and the left fielder had as bad a day as he could, going 0 for 11. Some day when I become rich, I'll start a class on heckling voice lessons.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Giants Loss Projection Through September 15

September 1 through September 15:

59-78, 92; 59-79, 93; 60-79, 92; 60-80, 93; 61-80, 92; 62-80, 91; 63-80, 91; 64-80, 90; 65-80, 89; 65-81, 90; 66-81, 89; 67-81, 89; 68-81, 88; 68-82, 89.

With this last game, the Giants have clinched a losing season for the fourth straight year.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Possible 20 Wins For Lincecum

A few posts ago, I said that Tim Lincecum would no longer be able to win 20 games. Well, there has been an interesting twist to this. Starting every fifth game, he would run out of starts to finish the season on a winning run at 20 victories. His 20th would be on the day after the season is over. But the Giants have hinted that they will clip their off day next week out of the rotation and move Lincecum up a game. He'll still pitch on four days rest, but not on four games rest. The last game of the year is against the Dodgers, and they are in a pennant race (uh, yeah) with the D-Backs. How sweet it would be for Lincecum to win his 20th on the last game of the year, knock the Dodgers out of the pennant race, and win the Cy Young award, all in the same day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Giants Loss Projection Through August 31

August 16 through August 31: (I've been tardy my last several projections. I'll try to be better starting Sept 15.)

51-71, 94; 52-71, 94; 53-71, 93; 53-72, 93; 54-72, 93; 55-72, 92; 56-72, 91; 57-72, 90; 58-72, 90; 58-73, 90; 58-74, 91; 59-74, 90; 59-75, 91; 59-76, 91; 59-77, 92.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Last Chance For A Winning Season

The Giants are leading Arizona in the sixth inning, 2-1, as I type. They have 80 losses. So, if the Giants can hold on and win this game, then win their last 18, they will have a winning season with a record of 82-80. This just might be good enough to win the division, and the World Series.

Friday, September 5, 2008

My First Ballpark Road Trip (1)

Read entire series here.

My first road trip to another ballpark outside the Bay Area came in 1985 as I ventured out on vacation to Anaheim Stadium and then Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. I went south in late August, the week between the end of my summer intern job and the beginning of college classes in the fall. The future Mrs. Scott and I had broken up earlier in the year after dating for two years after the first time we met. We had planned a trip early in the year. I had turned 21 in the spring. She wanted to go to Disneyland, etc., and I wanted to go to baseball. She wasn't a fan yet. I wrote to each team for their schedule, and bought tickets for the late summer trip in advance.

She didn't accompany me on the trip, so I went alone. It was a defining time in my life, my initial adventure as an "adult." I drove south on a Saturday morning, planning on making it to Anaheim (440 miles) by late afternoon so I could see the A's play the Angels. But I was confronted with roadblock number one. Making it through the Grapevine, my car overheated in the mountains on the downhill side heading toward Los Angeles. I was stuck in the desert in 105 degree weather, after pulling off under the freeway to escape the sun. I called for a tow truck. It didn't come. A freelance roadside helper came across me and stopped. He checked under the hood and figured that I blew a radiator hose. For 40 bucks he would drive me to the nearest gas station, get the part, install it and add water to the radiator. Good deal. It took about two hours, setting my schedule back. Just as he fixed it the tow truck driver showed up and was ticked off that I told him I didn't need his services. Anyway, back on the road.

I got to Anaheim I guess about an hour before game time. Seeing the stadium for the first time was an experience. Unlike the Oakland Coliseum, which is sunk into the ground, or Candlestick Park, which is built into the side of a hill, Anaheim Stadium was built up from ground level, so appeared much higher than what I was used to. The colors were so much more pastel as well.

I really had to pee after such a long trip, so I ran in and found a men's room. What I saw in there really blew my mind. My OC culture shock had begun. There was a worker with a spray bottle polishing the urinals. Polishing urinals? What kind of place was this? I mean Candlestick's restrooms were slime pits; places to go get rid of things. Rusty plumbing, troughs full of sunflower seed shells and cigarette butts, paper towel and toilet paper strewn all over the floor, stalls you wouldn't dare sit in. But Anaheim was sparkling clean, like Disneyland, which is only four blocks away. The contrasts were startling to somebody who only knew one way of baseball things. The parking lot had rules against tailgate parties and alcohol! A game without a tailgate party? Were these people communists? But inside, there was a saloon, and you could buy hard liquor by the shot. Go figure.

I walked all around, getting a glimpse of other-worldly ballpark sights, sounds and smells. More in my next post.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

No 20 For Lincecum

No, the title to this post is NOT No. 20 for Lincecum, as in number 20. It is "no twenty" as in 20 wins for Lincecum. Today he got a no decision vs. Colorado. He has 15 wins, and now a sweep of the season will result in only 19. Unless there is a rainout that needs to be made up from out of nowhere and he gets one more start. As of today, he has four starts left this year. A run will put him at 19-3, easily within the Cy Young criteria, seriously.

Monday, September 1, 2008

No, No On Sabbathia's No-No

The Milwaukee Brewers are officially requesting a change of scoring from Major League Baseball on a play that, if reversed, would give CC Sabbathia a no-hitter. A fifth inning infield grounder was misplayed by Sabbathia allowing the batter to reach first base. The official scorer called it a hit, but replays show that a normal play would have easily beat the runner for an out. Sabbathia ended up pitching a one-hitter. The Brewers are contending that the scoring decision robbed Sabbathia of a no-hitter.

I hate it when people to this with the future, especially from baseball announcers. The scoring on that play didn't rob Sabbathia of a no-hitter, but merely the possibility of a no-hitter at that exact moment of the game. Who is to say that if it were scored an error that the Pirates wouldn't have scored ten runs following that? Simply knowing that it was still a no-hitter vs. knowing that it isn't a no-hitter any longer would have changed the mental outlook of every player, umpire and fan so as to change any number of factors with the very next pitch.

Here's a simple explanation. Suppose somebody was walking down the sidewalk and spotted a dollar lying on the ground. Taking five seconds to pick it up vs. keeping walking would change the entire future of the universe with infinite complexity. Picking it up might cause that person to bump into somebody coming around the corner, maybe an old friend from high school, an old friendship is started, they go into business together, maybe get married, who knows. Keeping walking causes them to miss their friend and none of that ever happens, changing everybody's life who lives on the earth, with six degrees of separation maximum. Jimmy Stewart's character in "It's A Wonderful Life" shows this when it is explained to him by Clarence the angel what the world would have been like if his wish were granted that he were never born. Another example from baseball. A runner makes an error in judgment and gets thrown out trying to take an extra base. The next batter hits a single. The announcers say, "well, that single would have scored the run!" No, not necessarily, because the single was on a first pitch curve ball, and if the runner didn't try for the extra base, his potential of stealing a base on the first pitch by still being on base because of not trying for the extra base would have caused the pitcher to start things off with a fastball, or maybe even a pitch out. The single wouldn't have occurred, and the game would have changed totally. Or if the single would have occurred, it would have occurred due to completely different circumstances.

It would be a great tragedy for MLB to reverse this scoring decision and award Sabbathia a no-hitter. It would prove that MLB brass have no clue as to how the world really works. I doubt that they do in the first place, but that is another issue.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Ballpark Grandness

There's a moment unlike any other in baseball for me. It's when I walk into a ballpark for the very first time. Coming through the tunnel, or through the doors, or out from underneath the overhang of the deck above. It's the moment when I can see the inside of the park from the inside of the park. All of it.

Each of my 18 times I've entered a ballpark for the first time (Oakland Coliseum excluded since I grew up with it), I had previously seen the park on TV or in photos a million times. I had developed a flavor for the feeling of the park - a grossly distorted one. But a distorted feeling that only lends to the grandness of the park itself from how it really looks and feels. Television and photographs give a distorted sense of the horizontal. Especially the depth dimension. The vertical dimension isn't distorted much at all. So the overall sense is that the stands of the park are tall, yet far away. Fans sitting on the other side of the park look like ants.

But upon entering, the horizontal distortions are immediately corrected. The distant verticalness of the stands are suddenly brought up close and personal. Two opposing feelings are generated simultaneously, and mixed together. The vertical suddenly becomes more vertical, giving a feeling of extra largeness, yet the corrected closeness brings the vertical toward me, giving a feeling of greater intimacy. The mix is far more wonderful than can be expected.

My first experience with another ballpark outside the Bay Area was at Anaheim Stadium in 1985. The exterior facade from the parking lot was one thing, but entering the park was another. I will never forget walking into that tunnel. I caught a glimpse of the stands on the opposite side of the park. But all I had was tunnel vision of that group of seats. It was so much closer than I could have imagined! Then, breaking out of the end of the tunnel brought the whole ballpark into my sight, overwhelming me with a grandness and intimacy that would be experienced another fifteen times to this date. I love ballparks.

Don't Piss Off (or On?) King George

I really can't decide whether this is a cruel hoax or is reality. Apparently a baseball fan was forcibly ejected from Yankee Stadium by overly physical cops for simply having to go to the bathroom. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner has taken on a streak of American "patriotism" in placing a ban on fan movement during the singing of "God Bless America" during the seventh inning stretch at Yankee games. Stadium security uses chains to contain fans from moving about during this time.

Well, a certain fan, ignorant of such a policy, had to go pee, but was stopped by police on his way to the bathroom. They also confiscated his ticket stub. Read the article in here. Hat tip:

Hey, King George, private property rights are one thing, but treating guests in your own house that way is being an ass.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Instant Replay

Instant replay starts tomorrow in Major League Baseball. It will be limited to two types of calls (initially, of course): 1. fair or foul calls on home runs, and 2. home run calls where the extent of the fence is in view. The first type of call is simply this: the ball is obviously a home run, but the question is whether it is fair of foul. The second type is this: did the ball clear the fence (or yellow line as the case may be), or did it hit the fence or other object making it unclear whether it should be called a home run.

I'm divided on instant replay in baseball as of right now. I've always been against the concept, but the current system has a few positives. I can see it in football. Seven referees need to watch 22 players plus a ball (with an eye on all those standing on the sidelines too) all moving in different directions at the same time. In baseball, plays are not as complicated to call. The strike zone is set up by the home plate umpire so that even if it isn't correct, it is consistent in most cases. Limiting its use to home run calls, just to get them right, might not be a bad idea.

In recent years, baseball has undergone a ballpark building boom, often with quirky fence conditions, and the fans are placed right on top of the action, making it difficult on umpires to call something from 250 feet away. Back in the "sterile ashtray" ballpark days, where stadiums were designed for 38 different sporting events, there was often a solid fence with plenty of space behind it. Home run calls were relatively easy.

Tonight during the Giants game, Giants executive Larry Baer was interviewed as to instant replay. He stated that had the current plan been in place on opening day, there would have been only sixteen calls in all of baseball all year long where instant replay would have been used.

Even though, something tells me that giving an inch will result in a mile being taken. We'll have to wait and see.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Giants Loss Projection Through August 15

August 1 through August 15:

45-63, 95; 46-63, 94; 46-64, 94; 47-64, 93; 47-65, 94; 48-65, 93; 48-66, 94; 49-66, 93; 50-66, 92; 50-67, 93; 50-68, 93; 50-69, 94; 50-70, 95; 51-70, 94.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Giants Loss Projection Through July 31

July 18 through July 31:

40-56, 95; 40-57, 95; 40-58, 96; 41-58, 95; 42-58, 94; 43-58, 93; 43-59, 94; 43-60, 94; 43-61, 95; 44-61, 94; 44-62, 95; 44-63, 95.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baseball In The Olympics

Baseball and softball will no longer be Olympic sports after this year, according to news reports I heard. I agree with this. I don't see why baseball should be an Olympic sport anyway. It's not an athletic competition the way other Olympic sports are. When I played baseball back in school, I never thought of myself as an athlete, but I did think of the track team as athletes.

The 2008 games are marked by "controversy" anyway on the diamond. The USA and China had quite a clash going with seven bean balls, two plate collisions and three ejections. Giants up and comer Nate Schierholtz had a plate collision with catcher Yang Yang which was pretty bruising. I spoke to others at work about the game, and one said it was a travesty for relations with China, while the other said that is the way baseball is played. I lean toward the latter.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Giants Not On TV For Some Reason

The Giants aren't on TV this afternoon, playing the Braves from Atlanta. They're scheduled to play on Comcast Sports Net, both on their pocket schedule and on their broadcast schedule on their website. They're not on TBS, the Braves station, either, nor their flagship station (an NBC affiliate) due to the Olympics. But the A's pregame show was on instead.

As I write, the game just appeared on Comcast Sports Net Plus, starting at 7pm with the 9th inning, just as the A's game was starting on Comcast Sports Net regular. But the listing on CSN+ says the A's game is on. Go figure it all. The Giants are winning 4-1 in the ninth. We'll see if they can hang on now that they're appearing on the tube.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Manny Watches Dodger Meltdowns From Left Field

In game one of the Giants/Dodgers series, the Giants merely brought the tying run to the plate in their last at bat. In games two and three, they won with last at bat, come from behind walkoff wins with Manny watching it all from left field. Just coming from the hot and coming Red Sox, Manny must be wondering what the heck these Bums in blue are doing.

Saturday, the Dodgers scored in the top of the 10th inning only to see the Giants rally in the bottom of the frame to win. Today (Sunday) the Giants hit four consecutive balls within the infield; including an error, a tardy game-ending double pay attempt and a ball that went through the pitcher's legs and booted by the shortstop for the game winner.

I love this rivalry, even when both teams are not in contention.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Manny Being Fanny

All week long the big buzz in the Bay Area sports media has been a question. What are you going to be doing Friday night? With three major sporting events, talk radio hosts wanted to know. There was a Raiders/49ers football game in Oakland, the great Giants/Dodgers rivalry in San Francisco, made even more intense by the first appearance at AT&T Park by Manny Ramirez as a Dodger, then there was the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympics from Beijing.

Completely unaware of the possible conflict, my decision was made last winter when my buyers and I divided up the season tickets. Mike and I had a pair of tickets to the Giants/Dodger game. Nevermind that it was the Dodgers, nevermind it was Manny, they could have been playing the Washington Nationals and I would have gone to the baseball game. That's how much of a priority baseball is.

Barry Zito gave up a 5 spot in an early inning, and the Giants were toast until they loaded the bases in the bottom of the 9th with the tying run at the plate before passing away. Manny, with all his attention, went 0 for 5, nearly invisible in the Dodger win. Welcome to San Francisco, Manny. You suck even more now because you're a Dodger.

Friday, August 8, 2008

John Armstrong and Baseball

Wednesday I sat with my friend John Armstrong and two of his friends as we watched the Giants beat the Braves, 3-2 at AT&T Park. Tim Lincecum provided the pitching highlights, scattering 5 hits over 8 innings in winning his 12th of the year. It was his 13th start this year following a Giants loss. I think this qualifies him as a stopper. He struck out eight, including the entire side in the 8th to a standing ovation.
John is an ordained minister who lives in Chicago and is a lifelong Braves fan and provided all the necessary info on his team. He even answered my attempt at a Braves trivia question: who is the only Brave to make the All-Star team his first three years? The answer isn't Henry Aaron. It is catcher Brian McCann. Braves disappointment Chuck James was on the mound, bringing a 9.91 ERA to the game, and John promised a double digit game for the Giants. I explained that the last time the Giants scored 10 runs in a game was against their wives in a celebrity softball game. The first inning seemed to ring true as James let two runs score. He only lasted four innings, allowing 3 earned runs, so his ERA dropped slightly. Brian Wilson closed it out for the Giants with yet another save.
A good crowd, almost a sellout, was on hand for what seems so commonplace these days. A midweek day game on a getaway day seems so short and to the point. With planes to catch, neither the teams or the umpires goof around. The game lasted only 2 hours, 14 minutes, but with arriving two hours early for batting practice it was a full day. The highlight of the day for the Braves came when Jeff Francoeur threw out Fred Lewis at the plate after he tagged up on a fly ball. John and I heard it on the radio - in the men's room. Oh, well.
All in all, it was a great day, one I will always remember. Thanks so much John, Don and Tyler for the memories. Box Score

Eight, Eight, Eighty Eight

Today is 08-08-08. Twenty years ago today was 8-8-88. An interesting thing happened on 8-8-88. Jose Canseco of the A's collected his 88th RBI.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Joe Morgan on Trevor Hoffman

We have Comcast cable hooked up to our TV. They have some special features, one of which is sports programming on demand. Over the winter, they replayed classic games from the Giants past, and you can view it anytime during the several week span it is offered. We watched a replay of the Giants opening day 1993, that magical (and title-less) year that they won 103 games but lost the pennant on the last day. It was Bonds' first home game as a Giant, and he hit a homer in his first at bat.

Later in the game, a very young Florida Marlin named Trevor Hoffman appeared for some middle relief. His baby face, well manicured intro version of his trademark beard, and bright teal hat made him look about 18. Hall of famer Joe Morgan, a Giants TV announcer at the time, remarked that although Hoffman had some good stuff, he really wondered if Hoffman should be in the majors, and felt that he needed more time in the minors. Okay, the Marlins were in their expansion year and really sucked, so such a thing is not uncommon. Little did Morgan know at the time that Trevor would become the all-time saves leader, a lights-out closer and future hall of famer. Say it ain't so, Joe!

Manny Uses Dodger Dugout Urinal For First Time

Manny Ramirez today used the urinal in the Dodger dugout for the first time. See a full report on ESPN tonight, and if you miss it, it will be repeated every hour on the half hour all night.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bonds to Red Sox?

Just a completely wild guess, but a rumor just came out while listening to the Giants/Dodgers game on the radio. The Red Sox are rumored to be trying to trade Manny Ramirez in a three way deal with the Marlins and Pirates. I can see Ramirez going to Florida, since they're in contention and the Pirates wouldn't cough up that type of cash anyway. A lesser known will go from Florida to Pittsburgh, and the Sox would get somebody from the Pirates. The Sox will be missing a big bat for the final push, so why not Bonds? Crazy. I'm just guessing at this moment so as to have predicted it just in case it came true. It won't happen, but if it does, you heard it here first. If it doesn't happen, then I'm stupid. Fair enough?

A's Floundering; Giants sucking

The A's have fallen off the radar screen lately. Can't see them anymore. The Giants have the worst home record in baseball. Not quite like the good ol' days.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Making The MLB Schedule

I read a few interesting articles about the making of the MLB schedule. For 25 years, 1980 to 2004 it was a mom and pop operation...quite literally. A husband and wife team prepared it each year. Now, a consulting firm puts it together. With much criticism of the schedule, the articles explained just how difficult it is to make.

I've studied schedules for decades and love to find patterns, trends and changes from era to era. I'll go into more detail in a future post.

In recent years, since realignment, we have had an unbalanced schedule, yet also asymmetrical. In years past, it was unbalanced but symmetrical. Before division play it was both balanced and symmetrical. I'll also talk about the pro's and con's of each type of schedule.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Giants, Cain, Sweep Nats

Just when you thought the Giants were really bad... They swept the Nationals in a three game series. They also swept a four game series earlier in the season in Washington, making that a sweep of the season series. Yes, the Giants are still that bad. But the Nats are worse.

Matt Cain tossed a complete game, four-hit shutout. The Gyros scored their lone run in the bottom of the 8th in only a 2-hour contest. Cain took the mound in the ninth, letting two runners into scoring position with one out, but closing it out. My friend Shelly was there to enjoy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Former Fellow Bum Finds My Blog

I was pleasantly surprised to find a comment in my inbox from one of the A's center field bleacher bums from so many years ago who had found my blog by accident. Her name is PegiRae, and I mentioned her in my Centerfield Bums post (click to read her comment) that is part of my Cast and Crew series. One of the fun features about our observation of the center field bums was that we had nicknames for many of them before I knew any of them. PegiRae calls me "Bleacher Steve", a name I never knew I had. That's only fair I think.

She has such fond memories of those days, too. It was really something special, the community and the fun. Her blog is here and her specific blog post is here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ray Durham Now Makes Beer

About five minutes ago the Giants announced that Ray Durham was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers. They just completed their series with them, so I assume he just switched dugouts at the end of the game. I've been suggesting the Giants do this for quite a while, and now that they've done it, it seems a bit sad. That's just because Ray was a "fan favorite" type. I'm sure I'll be over it, like, when I wake up tomorrow. They got a couple of prospects, and I hope they pan out well. So long, Ray. It's been nice and it's been fun, but we gotta think about winning.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

How To Heckle An Umpire Using A New iPhone

Last night at the Giants/Brewers game, there was a bad call made by the first base ump on a grounder to first covered by the pitcher. I was in the men's room, and they have the radio broadcast going in there. The announcers saw the replay and said the ump blew it. Once back at my seats, my friend Mike pulled out his brand new iPhone and somehow within a few clicks found a replay of the bad call. We watched several times, and yes, the ump did blow it. It was reminiscent of Don Denkinger's bad call in the '85 Series. Nora suggested that umps should have the benefit of iPhones. So I told her I'd heckle the ump, Jerry Davis if I remember correctly.

CC Sabathia dominated the Giants and threw a complete game 4-hitter, so there were no bullpen pitchers to heckle. So I stood up, and in the loudest voice I could force out, I yelled, "Hey, ump! You blew that call! We watched the replay on the new iPhone, and he was out! He was out! He was out! You blew the call! You're a bum!" This was a complete verbal thrashing of the umpire.

It was extremely loud, and I felt very dizzy and almost passed out. I'm sure half our side of the stadium heard it, many people cheered, and I even got a high five. My voice was ruined for today's game, too. Innings later, I could hear people talking about checking an iPhone to see replays of things.

Umpires are not exempt by any means from heckling, and I've enjoyed it over the years. I've never gone far enough to be tossed out of the game by the umpire (yes, they do have the ability to eject fans), but I may have come close a few times.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Giants Loss Projection Through July 15

July 1 through July 13:

37-47, 91; 37-48, 91; 38-48, 90; 38-49, 91; 39-49, 90; 39-50, 91; 39-51, 92; 39-52, 93; 39-53, 93; 39-54, 94; 39-55, 95; 40-55, 94.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All-Star Marathon

Well, tonight's game had quite a bit to watch. It was a very good game. Fifteen innings, four potential game deciding plays at the plate. I enjoyed nearly every minute of it. I loved the pre-game ceremonies. I love when a bunch of hall of famers are gathered together and the current players get to meet them. It was so good to see all those players I grew up with, and a few that were before my time. My all time favorite is Willie McCovey.

One thing that really disappointed me was the huge number of people that left early. What was that all about? The last all-star game at Yankee Stadium, and they had to pay plenty of money to get in. Yet, in extra innings there were tens of thousands of empty seats. Mrs. Scott suggested that it might have been because it was late there. Late? You have a ticket to one of the greatest baseball events in decades and you leave early? That's one day when you tell the boss, "I'm going and I might be late to work tomorrow." I wouldn't have left early for anything. Must have been a bunch of corporate sponsor types, yes? No? I dunno.

The National League can't buy a win these years. They had plenty of opportunities to put the game away and didn't. Not like the AL didn't either. I'm not a fan of the late game substitutions every few pitches. It kinda ruins the game. The Giants' Brian Wilson was on in the 8th with a one run lead, got the first two batters out, then got replaced. Billy Wagner then coughed up the tying run.

The really exciting inning was when the AL had the bases loaded with no outs in extras, and there were two consecutive plays at home plate. The NL got out of a bad jam, and I wondered if the game would ever end. But it did, and there were some good memories.