Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MLB Network

This year we moved to a new city, which meant a different selection of channels on the cable TV.  The city in which we currently live has the MLB Network as a cable channel.  This, I'm guessing, would be an equivalent of the NFL Network so talked about?  I don't know.  But, it does have some really interesting shows.  First, it's all baseball, unlike ESPN.  Second, although it does seem to have some of the east-coast bias, it's not as bad as the Red Sox Network, uhm, I mean ESPN.  Or is that the Yankees Network?  Well, ESPN is often the Yankees vs. Red Sox Network.

MLB Network has panels of a sports journalist and former players that discuss the day's games, the winter meetings, the hot stove league.  They also have something I really love: lists.  The top 50 this, the top 25 that, the top ten other.  The greatest finishes, the greatest home runs, the best pitching performances, the best fan moments, the best ballparks.  It's fun to count these things down and try to guess what is number one.

One thing it has against it is the repetition of programs.  Like the Sports Center/Baseball Tonite/ Sports Center/Baseball Tonite merry go round of ESPN.  Sometimes a show will repeat for a week or so, with player moves in between that aren't reflected in the repeating show.  Overall, though, it is a good channel to have and it covers so many aspects of baseball and its history.  If you love baseball and have a chance to get this channel, do so.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Most Memorable Game of 2010

I saw MLB Network's list of most memorable games in 2010.  There were quite a few games at Coors Field that were see-saw battles that ended 12-11 or some such thing.  Halladay's no-hitter in the NLDS was also on the list.  But the game they listed as number one was game 6 of the NLCS between the Giants and Phillies.  It truly was a great game - not only because of the outcome, hehehe - but the way it all came down.  Starter Johnathan Sanchez was chased in the 3rd after a shaky outing.  His exit - hitting Chase Utley with a pitch - ended in a bench clearing incident.  Great ball was played by both teams, each turning a memorable double play.  The Giants pen pitched 7 innings of scoreless relief, while Juan Uribe hit the go ahead homer in the 8th inning.  Wilson's ninth came nearly unglued until he caught Ryan Howard looking for the last pitch of the NL season.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Anatomy of a Major League Schedule

I admit it.  I'm a logistics geek.  I like to know how systems work; I like to figure out how systems work; I like to make systems work.  Systems like the Major League schedule.  Back in the early 80's living in the Bay Area, I got an A's and a Giants pocket schedule every year so I could plan the games I wanted to attend.  I also wanted to familiarize myself with who they played during the year.  Each year, I noticed patterns in the schedules.  Then toward the mid-80's, before the internet, I wrote to every team during the off season asking for their pocket schedules.  This way I could plan trips to other ballparks, etc.  I noticed patterns in all the schedules.

This brings me to the overall schedule.  Until just a few years ago, a literal mom and pop team in somewhere like Connecticut, drafted up the schedule on their kitchen table.  It's now done by a corporate firm with computers.  I became most familiar with the 12 team NL scheduling format (1969-1992), so I'll write mostly about that.  The schedule maker grouped teams together geographically for travel efficiency.  The Giants would travel to, or host, groups of teams at a time, generally.  The groups were broken into 1) SF, LA & SD; 2) CIN, HOU & ATL; 3) PIT, STL & CHI and 4) NY, PHI & MON.  It made sense for teams flying out to the west coast to hit all the cities to save on travel, etc.  The same was generally true of the AL schedule with 14 teams, although it was more complicated, as there were an odd number of teams in each division.

Each NL team played 18 games against division teams (roughly three 3-game series at home, and three on the road) and 12 against each team in the other division (roughly two 3-game series at home, and two on the road).  The even number of teams made it easy to play against only your own division the last several weeks of the season, so the pennant races could be the focus.  The above number of games against each team came to a total of 162.  When the early 60's expansion took place, each team played each of the other 9 teams 18 times, 162 total.  They kept a similar feel when expansion took place again in '69.

The season is 26 weeks long (half of 52 weeks in a year), and each week is generally divided into a weekday series (M, Tu, W or Tu, W, Th) and a weekend series (F, Sa & Su).  Sometimes there are four game series, M-Th in the week or Th-Su or F-M over a weekend.  There are generally 52 series slots over a 26 week season, with one taken for the All-Star break, leaving 51 series slots for regular season play.  Now, the 10 team/162 game and the 12 team/two division/162 game schedules had (six series times nine other teams = 54) and (six series times five division teams = 30 plus four series times six teams = 24 for a total of 54) series to be played.  The logistical problem was to cram 54 series into 51 slots.  This was accomplished by use of the two-game series.  In playing six games against a team, split a three-and-three game series set into a two-and-four game series set.  Put two game series back-to-back in the weekday slot on Mon-Tues and Wed-Thurs, then the accompanying four game series elsewhere in the season.  Do this three times, and 54 series can fit into 51 slots.  Pretty clever.

The beauty of these older schedule formats is that every team plays other teams the same number of games.  An even number of games at that, so that there are equal numbers of games at home and on the road.  They played each other the same number of series.  The schedules were both balanced and symmetrical.  With the adaptation of 14 team leagues, odd numbers of teams in a division, the three division format with differing number of teams in each division, interleague play with certain "rivalry" matchups, and a 14 team AL and 16 team NL, today's MLB schedule is a complete nightmare.  It makes little sense from a position of fairness and having a level playing field for all.

The schedule makers have also had to take other factors into consideration.  Maximizing attendance with strategic matchups.  Teams make requests of the schedule.  Holidays.  Etc.  Opening Days are usually sellouts, so try not to schedule good drawing road teams like the Yankees for other teams' home openers.  That would be a waste of a sellout.  Bad drawing teams usually play more road openers.  The Reds are baseball's oldest team, so they traditionally open at home.  Schedule bad weather teams to open on the road.  Canadian teams are on the road for US holidays and at home for Canadian holidays to maximize attendance.  Interleague games are not as popular as baseball claims, so they are generally scheduled mostly on weekends during good weather when school is out to maximize attendance and make it look like a good idea.  Local holidays, too, like scheduling the Red Sox at home for Patriot's Day.  An example of team requests might be wanting a home game on an anniversary date of a great moment in that team's history.  The Giants requested to be at home on Oct. 3, 2001 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bobby Thompson's Shot Heard 'Round the World - against the Dodgers no less.  New ballparks, too.  When the Giants built a new yard, they wanted to both close Candlestick and open PacBell/SBC/AT&T against their arch-rival Dodgers.  Back when double-headers were a popular tool to increase attendance, the well-drawing Dodgers didn't need them, so they requested no double headers on their schedule.

So, overall the schedule is a major undertaking that has only increased in complexity over the decades.  The logistic geek that I am, I'd love to be part of that operation.  Personally, I'd like to see baseball address this monster and get back to some kind of symmetrical format.  Now that I've bored you to tears, you deserve something special if you've read this whole post.  Unless you like schedules like I do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Giants World Series Trophy Tour

The San Francisco Giants have announced the Official World Series Trophy Tour.  It's coming to a town near you, if, that is, you live in Northern California, western Nevada, southern Oregon, Scottsdale, AZ, New York City or Cooperstown, NY.  Well, in late January or early February, it's coming to a town very near to me.  So, I'm liking the possibility of going to see it in person.  Fans can have their picture taken with the trophy, but that will cost a yet to be determined amount of money.

Now, that should be some fun.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Steve Scott Comes Clean

Okay, I've been hiding something baseball related.  It's time to come clean.  It's disheartening, embarrassing and really doesn't make me feel good about it.  But the results are what they are.

After having season tickets for the Giants the last 25 years, my job loss last year prohibited me, my family and my buyers from renewing (some of our buyers had economic issues as well).  We tried every way we could think, but it just wasn't in the card$.  Fifteen years with tickets 7 rows behind home plate at Candlestick, ten years with tickets 9 rows behind the visitor's bullpen mound at AT&T.  All vanished this February.  It was very difficult to swallow, especially in light of our economic situation at the time.

Then it fell out of the sky and hit me on the head.  I've lived my entire life without the Giants winning a championship.  Now that my first year in over half my life is realized without season tickets, I realized that 2010 would be the year the Giants would win it all.  It simply couldn't happen any other way.  I wouldn't have tickets.  Of course they would win.  So, in February I predicted a Giants World Series victory.  I didn't write about it because I was too ashamed, too embarrassed.  But I did tell others, and I stuck to it all year long, even when they were sucking wind.  We did go to a few games this year, but mostly in the bleachers or other cheaper seats.

Maybe when I get a decent job again, we'll buy tickets once more.  The ticket department has already told me that my 25 years will count for seniority, so that might help out a bit.  The good news is that I will remember this 2010 season for ever.  I predicted it, and they not only won, but they completely dominated the post-season with one of the most amazing pitching performances I can ever remember.  It will always be an incredible story.  So, there you have it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Is Cliff Lee Really That Good?

The bidding war/stalemate over Cliff Lee raises a good question.  Is he really that good?  Is he another Barry Zito waiting to happen?  Last year he was only 12-9, with a 3.18 ERA, and 4-6 with a 3.98 ERA during the second half in a Rangers uniform.  He got spanked in the World Series.  Overall, I'm glad other teams are going after him.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Uniforms for The World Champion Giants?

The Giants have won the World Series, their sixth trophy since the first Series played in 1903.  Will the Giants come out with new uniforms as a result in 2011?  Well, after they won their first WS in 1905, the Giants made a change in their 1906 uniforms.  John McGraw thought it necessary to show everybody who they were playing.  So, they promptly removed the traditional "NY" from their jerseys and replaced it with the identifier of "WORLD'S CHAMPIONS."  To see the transition, click here.  For a closeup of the '06 threads, click here.  These come from a great section of the Hall of Fame website, called "Dressed to the Nines," detailing the uniforms for every team in history.

I'm not expecting a big change to their already classic uni's.  But just think how such a thing would go over today.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

2011 MLB Schedule Change

I noticed that the 2011 regular season schedule has a huge change in it, breaking from a tradition that has been kept for longer than I've been alive.  Traditionally, the schedule is 26 weeks long, and starts at the beginning of the week and ending on a weekend Sunday.  Next year, it seems to be moved up a series, and starts with three game series on a Friday and ends with three game series on a Wednesday.

I'm not sure what's up, but I heard some rumors that baseball wants to change the post-season a bit and make the league division series seven games.  I wonder if moving the season up three or four days is the remedy to accommodate this instead of pushing the World Series back yet again further into chilly November.  There's also a nasty rumor that in the next couple of years MLB wants to add an extra set of wild card teams.  Oh, please, NO!  I'll write about the anatomy of a regular season schedule during this offseason.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black (and orange) Friday Radio Replay

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving when all things business start early.  Well, the Giants' flagship station, KNBR, decided to have their own Black (and orange) Friday.  Starting at 6am, they played all four Giants clinching games in their entirety - including celebrations, interviews and post game shows - in consecutive order.  The game 162 clincher against the San Diego Padres, the game 4 clincher against the Atlanta Braves, the game 6 clincher against the Philadelphia Phillies and the game 5 clincher against the Texas Rangers.  It all ended at about 11:30pm.

What a day of baseball on the radio.  All the best games for all the best reasons.  I managed to tape half of the NLCS clincher and all of the WS clincher.  These should be great for rainy days.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tim Lincecum and the List of Giant Victims

This post-season, Tim Lincecum emerged as the dominant pitcher in baseball.  Or did he?  He was 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA, walked 9 and struck out 43.  He went head-to-head with and beat three pitchers who were supposed to beat him a total of four times.  Derek Lowe in the NLDS, Roy Halladay (the "best" pitcher in baseball the last three years) and Cliff Lee twice (the unbeatable post-season pitcher).  If you could have any pitcher on the mound to clinch the World Series, who would it be?  Well, I certainly wouldn't pick Lowe, Halladay or Lee.  Lincecum won game 1 of each post-season series, plus the clincher in the World Series.  What more could you ask for?

But before I brush this off, I want to look at the rest of the Giants staff.  Matt Cain started three games, went 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 21.1 innings, putting him in the category with all-time elites.  Madison Bumgarner went 2-0 in three starts and a relief appearance with a 2.18 ERA.  He pitched the NLDS clincher and a key shutout of the Rangers in the WS.  And although Johnathan Sanchez went 0-2 in the post-season, he had a 4.05 ERA.  He tossed a shutout in the Giants' game 162 clincher over the Padres, and started the game 6 NLCS clincher against the Phils.   Javier Lopez was an unsung hero out of the pen, and Brian Wilson was on the mound in all four Giants clinchers, game 162 vs. the Padres, game 4 clincher vs. the Braves, game 6 clincher vs. the Phillies and the game 5 World Series clincher against the Rangers.

Overall, the list of Giants victims is amazingly impressive.  Mat Latos (the ace of the best pitching staff for most of the year), Derek Lowe, Derek Lowe again, Roy Halladay, Cole Hammels, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson, Tommy Hunter and Cliff Lee again.  Now that's domination.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Did The Giants Have A Curse?

Of the teams that had the longest World Series droughts, a group I've called "the long suffering five" (Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Indians, Giants), each of them seems to have a curse noted by fans over the years.  The most famous was the Red Sox's "Curse of the Bambino" for selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees after the Sox won their last World Series.  The Yankees went on to win 26 before the Red Sox ended their curse in 2004.

The Cubs have the "Curse of the Billy Goat," which legend has it that a fan brought a goat to a World Series game in 1945, and was told to leave because the smell was bothering other fans.  He placed a curse on the Cubs after leaving.  The White Sox had the "Curse of the Black Sox," which was directly due to the gambling scandal where eight White Sox players allegedly took part in throwing the 1919 World Series.  The Indians have a much less known curse, the "Curse of Rocky Colavito," preventing the Tribe from winning due to the team trading Colavito for Harvey Kuenn.

The Giants had maybe the lesser known "curse" of them all - the "Curse of Coogan's Bluff."  Coogan's Bluff was the place in Harlem where the Polo Grounds were located, and NY fans supposedly cursed the Giants for moving to San Francisco.

So did they have a curse?  I'm not sure, and I'm not a big fan of curses, but they do make for good conversation.  If they did have a curse, it's over.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Post-Season Records and Trends

Here are the post season records of the eight 2010 playoff teams:

0-3  Minnesota Twins
0-3  Cincinnati Reds
1-3  Atlanta Braves
2-3  Tampa Bay Rays
5-4  New York Yankees
5-4  Philadelphia Phillies
8-8  Texas Rangers
11-4  San Francisco Giants

A playoff trend being set by the Philadelphia Phillies:

2008 - Won the World Series
2009 - Lost the World Series
2010 - Lost the NLCS

A post-season trend set by the San Francisco Giants:

27 years - between the 1962 and 1989 pennants
13 years - between the 1989 and 2002 pennants
8 years - between the 2002 and 2010 pennants
9 days - between the 2010 pennant and 2010 World Championship

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cliff Lee as Giants no. 5 Starter?

Hey, Giants:  We all know we have a number five spot problem in the rotation.  How about going after Cliff Lee to fill the number 5 spot?  Too much money for a number five guy?  Hmmm.

Congratulations Buster Posey

Giants Buster Posey is the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year.  It sounds like the voting wasn't as close as I thought, as I even expected Heyward to win.  Oh, well.  What a great season.  Buster batted cleanup in the World Champs' lineup, and put down the fingers for the best pitching staff in baseball.  Mrs. Scott and I checked right after hearing the announcement to see if we (or our five year old son) had Buster's rookie baseball card.  Yes, we do.  It's in mint condition.  We'll hold on to it.  Congrats, Buster!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I Still Can't Believe It

It's been 12 days since the Giants clinched the World Series with a Brian Wilson fastball whiffing Nelson Cruz.  I still can't believe it.  The Giants won it all.  That's never happened in my lifetime, and not in San Francisco either.  The Giants simply don't win championships.  I've been taught so by history.  So why did they decide to win one this year? 

It's not like it's really difficult for a team to win.  It happens every year.  All the other teams never seemed to have a problem.  Every year the Series has been won by Somebody Else.  It's not like the Lottery where it can fail to have a winner, and it rolls over into the next week, and it can have many weeks in a row without a winner.  No.  Baseball has a World Series champion every year.  Somebody has to win it.  Why not the Giants?  That's a good question.  Why not?  Experience has taught me that the Giants snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  Some last minute catastrophe, sometimes the largest and latest ever, always seem to materialize at the wrong moment.  They lead baseball history in heartbreak.

To be fair, the Giants have had some of the most miraculous comebacks, last minute victories and great stories of all time.  But all of those have ended the same way.  With Somebody Else winning the World Series.  Until now.  Is this the same team of my youth?  Is this the same team of my 20's?  And 30's?  And most of my 40's?  Were the 49ers the only team allowed to roll down Market Street?

This wasn't the same team I knew.  It was somebody else.  Somebody Else in Giants uniforms.  But, I'll take it.

Post-Season Droughts

Here's a post-season drought list.  Like the other lists I've done recently, if a franchise moved cities in the middle of a current drought, I'll include both the franchise drought and the city drought in this list.  Every MLB franchise has made the post-season, but one team hasn't.  The Washington Nationals moved to DC from Montreal in 2005 and haven't made it.  Also, the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies, although they have won pennants or World Series, have never won a division title.

**Team that hasn't been since a franchise move. Year indicates year of move.

1981....29 years - Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals
1985....25 years - Kansas City Royals
1992....18 years - Pittsburgh Pirates
1993....17 years - Toronto Blue Jays
1997....13 years - Baltimore Orioles
2001.....9 years - Seattle Mariners
2003.....7 years - Florida Marlins
2005**...6 years - Washington Nationals
2005.....5 years - Houston Astros
2006.....4 years - San Diego Padres
2006.....4 years - Oakland A's
2006.....4 years - New York Mets
2006.....4 years - Detroit Tigers
2007.....3 years - Arizona Diamondbacks
2007.....3 years - Cleveland Indians
2008.....2 years - Chicago Cubs
2008.....2 years - Chicago White Sox
2008.....2 years - Milwaukee Brewers
2009.....1 year - St. Louis Cardinals
2009.....1 year - Boston Red Sox
2009.....1 year - Colorado Rockies
2009.....1 year - Los Angeles Dodgers
2009.....1 year - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2010.....0 years - Minnesota Twins
2010.....0 years - Cincinnati Reds
2010.....0 years - Tampa Bay Rays
2010.....0 years - Atlanta Braves
2010.....0 years - New York Yankees
2010.....0 years - Philadelphia Phillies
2010.....0 years - Texas Rangers
2010.....0 years - San Francisco Giants

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Reason The Giants Out-Hit Their Post Season Opponents

The Giants came into the post-season with arguably the weakest lineup.  Yet, they out-hit their opponents on the way to a World Championship.  This surprised many experts, as well as many Giants fans.  But there's a very simple reason they out hit their opponents.  It's one of those things in life that is so blatantly obvious that everybody completely misses it.  I missed it.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

They out-hit their opponents because they're the one lineup that never had to face the Giants pitching staff.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

LCS Drought List

I've done a World Series and Pennant drought list, now here's an LCS appearance drought list.  Like the WS list, if a franchise moved cities in the middle of a current drought, I'll include both the franchise drought and the city drought in this list. This year, the Texas Rangers appeared in their first LCS, becoming the last of the 30 teams to do so.  They also became the last ML team to win a post-season series.

**Team that hasn't been since a franchise move. Year indicates year of move.

1981....29 years - Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals
1982....28 years - Milwaukee Brewers
1985....25 years - Kansas City Royals
1992....18 years - Pittsburgh Pirates
1993....17 years - Toronto Blue Jays
1995....15 years - Cincinnati Reds
1997....13 years - Baltimore Orioles
1998....12 years - San Diego Padres
2001.....9 years - Seattle Mariners
2001.....9 years - Atlanta Braves
2002.....8 years - Minnesota Twins
2003.....7 years - Chicago Cubs
2003.....7 years - Florida Marlins
2005**...6 years - Washington Nationals
2005.....5 years - Houston Astros
2005.....5 years - Chicago White Sox
2006.....4 years - Oakland A's
2006.....4 years - New York Mets
2006.....4 years - Detroit Tigers
2006.....4 years - St. Louis Cardinals
2007.....3 years - Arizona Diamondbacks
2007.....3 years - Cleveland Indians
2007.....3 years - Colorado Rockies
2008.....2 years - Boston Red Sox
2008.....2 years - Tampa Bay Rays
2009.....1 year - Los Angeles Dodgers
2009.....1 year - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2010.....0 years - New York Yankees
2010.....0 years - Philadelphia Phillies
2010.....0 years - Texas Rangers
2010.....0 years - San Francisco Giants

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pennant Drought List

I've done a list of World Series droughts.  Now, here's a similar list of droughts for winning a pennant and merely playing in a World Series.  Like the WS list, if a franchise moved cities in the middle of a current drought, I'll include both the franchise drought and the city drought in this list. I'll also call out teams that have never won due to being an expansion team, and note that as well.  Maybe I'll do a Post-season drought list next.

* Expansion team that has never won. Year indicates year of expansion.
**Team that hasn't won since a franchise move. Year indicates year of move.

1945....65 years - Chicago Cubs
1969*...42 years - Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals
1977*...34 years - Seattle Mariners
1979....31 years - Pittsburgh Pirates
1982....28 years - Milwaukee Brewers
1983....27 years - Baltimore Orioles
1985....25 years - Kansas City Royals
1988....22 years - Los Angeles Dodgers
1990....20 years - Oakland A's
1990....20 years - Cincinnati Reds
1991....19 years - Minnesota Twins
1993....17 years - Toronto Blue Jays
1997....13 years - Cleveland Indians
1998....12 years - San Diego Padres
1999....11 years - Atlanta Braves
2000....10 years - New York Mets
2001.....9 years - Arizona Diamondbacks
2002.....8 years - Anaheim Angels
2003.....7 years - Florida Marlins
2005**...6 years - Washington Nationals
2005.....5 years - Houston Astros
2005.....5 years - Chicago White Sox
2006.....4 years - Detroit Tigers
2006.....4 years - St. Louis Cardinals
2007.....3 years - Colorado Rockies
2007.....3 years - Boston Red Sox
2008.....2 years - Tampa Bay Rays
2009.....1 year  - Philadelphia Phillies
2009.....1 year  - New York Yankees
2010.....0 years - Texas Rangers
2010.....0 years - San Francisco Giants

Monday, November 8, 2010

Updated World Series Drought List

Since last time I posted a list like this, a dramatic change took place.  The Giants are no longer near the top, either the New York variety or the San Fran brand.  So, here's a new list of teams in order of longest drought in number of seasons not winning a World Series.  If a franchise moved cities in the middle of a current drought, I'll include both the franchise drought and the city drought in this list.  I'll also call out teams that have never won due to being an expansion team, and note that as well.

* Expansion team that has never won.  Year indicates year of expansion.
**Team that hasn't won since a franchise move.  Year indicates year of move.

1908..102 years - Chicago Cubs
1948....62 years - Cleveland Indians
1961*...50 years - Washington Senators/Texas Rangers
1962*...49 years - Houston Astros
1969*...42 years - San Diego Padres
1969*...42 years - Seattle Pilots/Milwaukee Brewers
1969*...42 years - Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals
1970**..41 years - Milwaukee Brewers
1972**..39 years - Texas Rangers
1977*...34 years - Seattle Mariners
1979....31 years - Pittsburgh Pirates
1983....27 years - Baltimore Orioles
1984....26 years - Detroit Tigers
1985....25 years - Kansas City Royals
1986....24 years - New York Mets
1988....22 years - Los Angeles Dodgers
1989....21 years - Oakland A's
1990....20 years - Cincinnati Reds
1991....19 years - Minnesota Twins
1993*...18 years - Colorado Rockies
1993....17 years - Toronto Blue Jays
1995....15 years - Atlanta Braves
1998*...13 years - Tampa Bay Rays
2001.....9 years - Arizona Diamondbacks
2002.....8 years - Anaheim Angels
2003.....7 years - Florida Marlins
2005**...6 years - Washington Nationals
2005.....5 years - Chicago White Sox
2006.....4 years - St. Louis Cardinals
2007.....3 years - Boston Red Sox
2008.....2 years - Philadelphia Phillies
2009.....1 year  - New York Yankees
2010.....0 years - San Francisco Giants

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Giants Victory Parade

Before this last Wednesday, the largest crowd I had ever been in was a Giants road game I saw in Denver in 1993, the Rockies' expansion year, in Mile High Stadium.  This was before Coors Field was built.  The attendance that day was 72,431.  I can't remember any other big events I attended with a crowd that large.

But Wednesday was a special day.  At the last minute, early in the morning, we decided to go to the San Francisco Giants World Series victory parade.  About 1 million fans showed up.  Driving into The City was out of the question, so we had to take public transportation, on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train.  We picked the furthest station in our town because the parking situation is always much better.  We drove by the closest station on our way there, and there were hundreds of people walking down the sidewalks of every street we could see, all dressed in orange and black.  Wow.  On to our destination station.  It was packed, and a line for train tickets was about a hundred yards long.  Ouch.  On to the last station on the line, in Pittsburg.  Same story.  The line was through the station, over the freeway, and about 50 yards out into the parking lot.  I used to live a block away, so I knew where to park.  As we entered the station lot, some fans turned us around and told us to go to the Safeway grocery store on the corner, as they sold BART tickets at a discount.  That line was five minutes long.  Thank you, whoever you are!

We proceeded into the station and to the furthest extent of the station to catch the last car.  We saw a friend, Sean, who works in the City, and had to go back home because none of the vanpool vehicles he took to work every day were picking anybody up.  The train completely filled up two stations later, and everybody else along the line was out of luck.  It was a wall of orange inside the train.  The train stations were so filled with people eager to get on the trains, the operator couldn't close the doors.  It took a while to even get to San Francisco.

We exited at the Civic Center station, the closest station to the parade end destination.  Once out, we entered a sea of people semi-jockying for position.  We didn't arrive until after the parade had started at the other end, and it would be a while before it got to us.  I had a radio, so I was able to tell when they were going to turn the corner onto the final street on the way to city hall.  The kids couldn't see, as they were too small, and even I couldn't see because we were too far away.  We could hear the crowd gain in volume around the corner as the parade approached, and when it hit our area, a huge roar erupted.  The caravan angled away from us, and I think I saw announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow, and Lincecum's hair.  That was it.  The kids were tired, and I was satisfied.  A much needed ice cream cart passed by as we were leaving, so that bought us maybe a half hour more in a celebratory atmosphere.

We missed the speeches and all, but saw them later on TV.  As the kids were eating ice cream on a low planter wall, a few people down was a lady that sits behind me in my Wednesday night class.  How cool.  She wore her colors all semester, and I would see her later that evening.  She recorded a bunch of stuff on her Flip.  Anyway, the kids finished their ice cream and we headed back toward BART.  But one problem: there were thousands of people heading out to the plaza.  As many people as were leaving, many times more were just arriving.  The station was a zoo, and one exit was completely shut down due to heavy foot traffic.  We got a seat on the train home, trying to beat what commute there would be, and made it home without a problem.  It was exciting just to say we went, and I'm sure I'll look back on the parade with a sense of completion.  What a season.

Overall World Series Observations

There's something completely different about having your own team play in the World Series.  When you're just a fan of a team who has already been eliminated, or a TV exec, or an advertiser, you want a great, seven game series, with lots of pivotal moments and lifelong highlights.  When your team is in it, you want a four-game, double digit, four-shutout sweep.  For me, it is difficult to cast myself into the position of neutral observer for a few more reasons.

When I'm used to my team collapsing time afte time for half a century, each pitch of the Series was grinding.  There was simply no time to relax.  None.  The last pitch of the World Series - Wilson striking out Cruz - could easily have gone differently.  It could have been ball four, with the next batter hitting a home run to tie.  The Rangers win in extras, and their bats come alive in SF for games 6 and 7.  So to me, the Giants were one pitch away from losing the Series at the same time they were one pitch away from winning it, despite the 3 games to 1 lead and 3 to 1 score.  Pivotal moments come at times just like that one, Mr. Stanley.  Just when you think it, Mr. Moore.  Cruising, Mr. Bartman.  Easy out, Mr. Buckner.  Game ball, Mr. Baker.

But when one looks at it simply, the Giants were really one pitch (a lone Johnathan Sanchez mistake) away from a sweep.  Twenty runs in the first two games was a no-brainer.  The pitching staff completely dominated.  Who could have guessed two shutouts against such an offensive giant?  Well, me.  That's what great pitching staffs do.  Not that I thought they were going win easily, but after they knocked off the Phils, it was easy to see them winning in five, because the Phillies were a better team than the Rangers.  The last two games, the Rangers got a combined six hits, with only one player even reaching third base.  Game on, game over.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Game 5 Observations

The Rangers' Cliff Lee and the Giants' Tim Lincecum dueled in an amazing game of pitching, and lived up to everything both games 1 and 5 were supposed to be.  Both had a commanding performance over the other team's lineup, and took a scoreless game into the late innings.  Wonderful!

But as the innings unfolded it became clear that the Giants were taking better swings when they made outs than the Rangers were.  And as each scoreless inning moved into the late innings, I became more sure that the Giants were going to win.  A scoreless game late was unfamiliar territory to the Rangers, while it was home sweet home to the Giants.  It was only a matter of time before the Giants bats broke through.  Lincecum was simply lights out all game.

When they got two hits in the seventh, and Huff bunted the runners over (the first sacrifice of his career), I could taste it.  Although Pat "the Bat" Burrell whiffed, when Renteria came up, Giants radio announcer Dave Flemming called it.  "Can Edgar Renteria be the Giants hero yet again?"  I have never been so ecstatic over a baseball play in my life as I was for his three run homer.  And Flemming's voice cracked like a thirteen year old when he came to the word "gone!" in his call.

After that, Cruz made it interesting with a homer off Timmy Jim, but order was restored the next at bat.  I was a bit surprised when Lincecum took the mound for the 8th, but Wilson's appearance in the 9th, no matter how well Timmy was pitching, was the right choice.  This time, Wilson made it easy.  One, two, three.  As has happened so many times before, Wilson faced the 3, 4, 5 batters to close it out.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  Neither would Wilson.

Final - San Francisco 3, Texas 1
San Francisco wins the World Series 4 games to 1

Monday, November 1, 2010



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Game 4 Observations

While all his friends went Trick or Treating tonight, 21 year old Madison Bumgarner pitched a three-hit shutout in the World Series against the great Texas Rangers bats.  That's two shutouts now against this team. 

The Giants had a phenomenal defensive performance behind Bumgarner to bolster the win.  But the great glove work started out with Hamilton's diving catch to save the Giants from scoring first.  The G-Men turned several double plays, and Cody Ross came close to matching Hamilton's feat later in the game with a sliding catch of his own.  Rook Buster Posey gunned down Hamilton in a seemingly sure steal attempt.  But the play that sticks out is Freddie Sanchez's robbery of a line drive.  Hit over his head, he went high up, landed into a backward somersault, and came up with a sno-cone snag.

The Giants provided all the offense in the game in a blowout.  Blowout?  Yes, four runs scored by this team is a blowout.  Huff's two run bomb, Torres' bouncer off the top of the fence that bounced back into the yard (yes, Ian, he did it too), and Posey's blast added up to an insurmountable lead.  Bumgarner was iffy in the 7th, but Bochy left him in for the 8th to face the bottom of the order.  The Beard slammed the door shut in the 9th with a 1-2-3 inning.

Final - San Francisco 4, Texas 0
Los Gigantes surge to a 3-1 series lead

Game 3 Observations

As much as Johnathan Sanchez struggled, the difference in this game was one bad pitch by Sanchez.  One pitch.  Cruz led off the second with a double, but Sanchez pulled it together the next two batters.  Molina was hot, so walking him wasn't a bad outcome if Sanchez were pitching around him.  Moreland had a very good at bat, and Sanchez battled back.  Moreland slammed the pitch he needed to, deep into the bleachers.  This is what a good hitter does.  He hits the one pitch he needs to all game long, and that's all it takes at the major league level to win a game.

On the other hand, the Giants have been doing all year long just what Moreland did in game 3, and it has been written off as luck.  Could I get away with labeling this Texas Rangers World Series home run as luck?  Not a chance.  Anyway, the Giants showed signs of getting to the Rangers pitching late in the game, but it was too little, too late.  Feliz came in and blew the Giants away in the ninth.  The key to the rest of the Series is for the Giants to keep this kid on the bench.  The Giants didn't play all that bad, and the Ranger bats showed us what they were capable of doing.  Josh Hamilton finally showed up in this series with a solo shot to give the Rangers an insurance run. 

Final - Texas 4, San Francisco 2.
Texas cuts San Fran Series lead to 2-1.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Game 2 Observations

Okay, another torture game, but only 7 1/2 innings worth.  Matt Cain was simply Matt Cain.  Zero runs in the post-season.  CJ Wilson tossed a really good game, too.  Edgar Renteria!  This was the pitching matchup everybody expected in game 1.  But it got really out of hand in the bottom of the 8th inning.  Both the Giants' bats and the Rangers' bullpen did some things out of character for them.  And, how does Ron Washington let a guy walk more than one batter in that situation in a close World Series game?  That just set up their 9-0 collapse.

I saw a post-game interview with Washington, and he was visibly annoyed at some of the questions.  Are the Rangers unraveling?  Let's hope so.  The Giants need all the opposing team's blunders they can get.  But...and this is a large but...the Rangers still have to play their first World Series game at home.  Those fans should be absolutely crazy.  GO GIANTS!

Final - San Francisco 9, Texas 0
Giants take a 2-0 Series lead

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Game 1 Observations

Torture.  Anti-torture.  Game 1 was anti-torture.  Torture is when everything comes down to the ninth inning in a one-run game and Wilson lets several runners on before striking the last batter out on a full count.  NLCS torture.

Anti-torture is when all of that happens at the beginning of the game.  Like when Tim Lincecum has a brain fart and doesn't throw the ball in a run-down.  Like when Freddy Sanchez gets doubled off second on a blooper that Bad Vlad simply can't catch.  Like when Benjie Molina tries to score on a sac fly, and he's out by ten feet, except that the throw is half way up the first base line.  And like when the Giants beat the best playoff pitcher ever to be born by racking up seven runs on him before the fifth inning is over, making sure that there won't be a one-run game.  Scary.

What can you say about 18 runs, 25 hits, 6 errors, a double by an AL pitcher setting up Molina scoring on a sac fly, the Giants bullpen giving up 3 runs in the ninth inning in a game started by Lee and Lincecum?  This was as bizarre a game as I can remember.  Check out this summary by McCovey Chronicles.  Giants up 1-0 over the Rangers.  Holding my breath, turning purple.

Final - San Francisco 11, Texas 7
San Francisco takes a 1-0 Series lead

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Game 1 Shocker - Giants Defy Odds In World Series

"Nobody had been able to hit Cliff Lee in his playoff career.  Game 1 of the World Series was different."

The title of this post, along with the quote above, were the headline and summary on Comcast's homepage story when I logged on tonight.  Shocker?  Well, if that's what the rest of the world thinks, we've got you where we want you.

Mat Latos, Derek Lowe, Derek Lowe (yes, twice!), Roy Halladay, Cole Hammels, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee.  These were the dominating pitchers, in order, guaranteed to beat the Giants.  They all lost.  Is there a pattern here?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Road Warriors

Guess which teams had the two best home records in baseball this year, and in which order?  Well, if you don't know, you could figure it out easily by looking at the title of this post.  Yup, you guessed it.  The Atlanta Braves were #1, followed by the Philadelphia Phillies at #2.  And the Giants beat each team on the road in that same order to win the pennant.  Games 3 and 4 in Atlanta in the NLDS and games 1 and 6 in Philly in the NLCS.  A 4-1 road record vs. awesome home teams.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


The Philadelphia Phillies' dream of being the first team to win three consecutive NL pennants since the 1942-44 Cardinals has been slaughtered by the extreme underdog San Francisco Giants!!!!  Juan Uribe hits an 8th inning opposite field home run to put the Giants ahead 3-2.  Brian Wilson makes the perfect pitch - a low, backdoor slider - the pitch that awesome slugger Ryan Howard simply cannot hit.  Howard was fooled badly, and THE GIANTS WON THE PENNANT!  Another extreme form of torture!

The parties are spilling out into the streets!  We're going to the World Series!  Wahoooo!

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Respect

Well, the Giants aren't getting much respect nationally.  Just tonight, MLB Network was doing highlights of the Rangers beating the Yankees to win the AL pennant, and the talking heads started yakking about how the Rangers matched up against the Phillies.  Harold Reynolds interrupted the party and inserted, even if a bit hesitantly, "The this thing."  I know you need to earn your respect, but really.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


"Schocking!"  That's how MLB network described the Giants' 3-1 NLCS lead over the Phillies.  Shocking?  To whom is it shocking?  Oh, everybody who thought the Phils would roll, that's who.

"Phils in five."
"Uh, I don't know about that.  We should give the Giants more credit than that.  Phils in six."

Yes, that's the way most of the people "in the know" talked about the series before it began.  Neither scenario is possible now.  And of course, game 1, where Tim Lincecum outpitched Roy Halladay, was the Giants lone half-expected win.

I simply haven't had time to blog about these games so far, I've been so busy late at night watching highlights from the games I haven't been able to see on TV.  Anything can happen on any day in baseball.  Anything can happen in October, including the Phils rebounding to win.  But the Giants winning the pennant can also happen.  And that can happen tonight.  GO GIANTS!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

And The Giants Win...Three Days and Two Nights in Philly

Well, the Giants did it.  They beat the Braves in four.  It was an intense series, with each game being the only one-run games in all the division series.  Now to move on to the NLCS.  But what exactly did they win?  Baseball has a formal division championship, a formal pennant and a formal world champion.  The winner of the division series has no flag, ring, etc.  They just get to move on.  So with that, the Giants win a three-day, two night trip for 25 to Philadelphia.  GO GIANTS!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Torture Continues

Last month, the Giants announcers described the way the Giants play - and win - as torture.  And it has become the team slogan.  Torture.

Well, the torture continues.  Game 3 gave the fans a severe case of torture yesterday.  What amount of torture can you receive when your pitcher tosses a two-hit shutout?  Well, if you're leading 4-0 or 6-0 or 10-0, not much.  But when almost the entire game has a 1-0 score, it's torture.  That means that every single batter the pitcher faces during the whole game is either the potential tying run or the potential go-ahead run.  That's torture.

When two pitchers toss two-hit shutouts with 1-0 leads, that's double torture.  Lincecum did it in game 1.  Sanchez did it for most of game 3.  With 2 out and 2 strikes in the bottom of the 8th, and a runner on, the pinch hitter was the potential go-ahead run.  And he hit a home run.  Torture.  If the score had been 5-0 it would have not been a bit deal.  Then with 2 strikes and 2 outs in the 9th inning, the Giants one strike away from losing - torture - Freddie Sanchez gets a hit up the middle.  Huff drives him in.  The Braves make an error.  Giants take the lead...for a few minutes anyway.  Torture.  Then in the bottom of the 9th with a one run lead, Wilson gives up an infield hit to bring the winning run up to the plate.  Torture.  When Matt Cain pitches a gem, and the bullpen torches it in the 8th inning, that's torture.  When Buster Posey hits into a double play in extra innings with the bases loaded instead of driving in the winning run, that's torture.

You know what else is torture?  The only one-run games in the whole post-season so far have been every single Giants game.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wild Card Spells Death of the Great Pennant Races

The Giants and Padres (and Rockies!) just had a great pennant race.  The NL West wasn't decided until the last day of the season, and the two teams in the race were playing each other in the final of a three game series.  As great as the race was, it was diminished a bit by some bad ball played by both teams.  The two teams weren't the greatest.  There is, however, another kind of pennant race that is much better.

That kind of race is between two super-teams.  Teams that win a lot of games.  Upper 90's or 100+ win teams.  I was part of one of the greatest pennant races in history.  The 1993 race between the Giants and Braves, where each team was tied at 103 wins going into the last game of the season.  The Braves completed a season sweep of the Rockies, while the Giants lost to their arch rival Dodgers 12-1, who relished the spoiler role as one of the two greatest rivalries in baseball.  They knocked the Giants out of the race.  My 400 mile drive home from LA that evening was the longest of my life.  I-5 was a trail of thousands of Giants fans that made the trek.

This year had one such hypothetical pennant race.  The Yankees and Rays came out of the chute on fire, playing .700-.750 ball in the early part of the season.  They were clearly the best two teams in baseball the first half of the season.  They were neck and neck all the way down the stretch drive.  Going into the last day of the season, they had the same record, just like the Giants and Braves did in '93.  The Yankees even played their arch rivals, the Red Sox, on the last weekend of the season, in the other of the two greatest rivalries in baseball, just like the Giants/Braves race.  It went down to the last game of the season, just like the Giants/Braves, and the Red Sox beat them to knock the Yankees out of first place, just like the Giants/Braves.  It had all the marks of one of the great pennant races in recent memory.  Except it wasn't a pennant race.  Not even close.  Nobody even cared about it.  All season long.

The reason is that the race was so great that both teams were going to make the playoffs in the end.  There was no race.  There's not much difference at all in winning the division and winning the wild card.  Maybe a couple of home games in the playoffs.  Maybe.  It wasn't the exciting Olympic 100 meter finals.  It was a meaningless qualifying heat where everybody who is anybody makes it to the finals.  In fact, if you look at it from a probability standpoint, the better the record of the two teams, the more likely it is that the second place team will be the wild card.  So, the wild card has given an inversely proportional relationship between the greatness of the race and the excitement it creates.  It shouldn't have to be this way.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Avoiding catastrophe, the Giants put it together and won the NL West today!  Despite losing 12 games (I think) to the Padres this year, they won the last game of the season to be the last team to clinch their division.  The Atlanta Braves are coming to town for a rematch of the 2002 NLDS, where the Giants won in surprising fasihion. 


Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Giant Collapse?

Well it appears the Giants are in the middle of yet another enormous October collapse.  Needing to win only one of the three games (or a fourth tie-breaker, if necessary), Matt Cain was shelled last night.  The Padres don't even know  how to score six runs in a game, and the pitching staff that led the majors in September ERA since 1965 (1.76) is coughing it up.  Today, Barry Zito walked in two runs in the first inning, and was touched for two more by the fourth.  Sanchez goes tomorrow.

The ultimate collapse could be to have the Braves lose 2 of 3 to the Phils and tie the Giants/Padres for the wild card.  The Giants could lose the division to the Padres in a tie-breaker on Monday and lose the wild card to the Braves in a tie-breaker on Tuesday.  Wednesday morning the Giants magic number would still be one, but with no games left to play.  It would re-set to 163 for the 2011 season.  I just hope one of the most unbelievable collapses in history doesn't happen.  If the Braves are swept this weekend, then the Giants will back-door a playoff position no matter how many games they lose.  So, Go Phillies!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Magic Number Is One

Well, don't look now, but the Padres have nearly collapsed and the Giants are on a win streak.  They play a three game series this weekend, and a fourth tie-breaker in case the Padres sweep.  The Giants would need to lose all four for the Padres to win it.  I have some excitement, but mostly reserved anticipation.  I hope they're not passing out those rally towels at the game tonight in anticipation of the clincher.  I was at one of those games in 2000, and the air was full of lint and everybody's eyes were scratchy.

But, here's to a first playoff spot since 2003.  It's about time.

Giants Win Projection Through September 30

September 16 through September 30, 2010:

W 83-64, 91; L 83-65, 91; L 83-66, 90; W 84-66, 91; W 85-66, 91; L 85-67, 91; W 86-67, 91; W 87-67, 92; L 87-68, 91; W 88-68, 91; W 89-68, 92; W 90-68, 92; W 91-68, 93.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Charlie Manuel and the Integrity of the Game

Eyes are on Phillies manager Charlie Manuel this upcoming weekend as they play the Braves to close out the season.  The Phils have already clinched the division, but the Braves are fighting for a wild card berth with whoever doesn't win the NL West, the Padres or Giants.  There is concern on behalf of the west team that Manuel will juggle his rotation and rest his stars to get ready for the playoffs.  This would give the Braves an unfair advantage in the wild card race.  The same situation arose several years ago with the Braves' Bobby Cox.

A long standing ethical baseball tradition holds that if you're playing against a team at the end of the season, and that team is in the pennant race, you push your experimentation with your September call-ups aside, and go at the game with your best.  This guarantees the other team in the pennant race that things will be fair.  This upholds the integrity of the game.  And I completely agree with this tradition.

Except in the Phillies' case.  Why?  Well, traditionally, baseball didn't have divisions.  Each league consisted of all teams racing for the same pennant.  This meant that only the teams that were no longer in any pennant race at all were facing teams that were.  The season no longer mattered to them because they had no shot at the pennant, or a yet to be created division title.  When division play came along, however, each division had an even number of teams, and the schedule guaranteed that the last several weeks were played amongst teams in their own divisions.  So the tradition of not rolling over against a playoff contender stood.

But then several new developments came on the scene.  With AL expansion in '77, and NL expansion in '93, there were no longer an even number of teams in a division.  This meant that during the pennant race, there was always at least one series playing between teams of opposite divisions.  Then with realignment in '94, a wild card was introduced along with three divisions.  Most divisions didn't (and still don't) have an even number of teams.  Now, it's guaranteed that teams playing out of their divisions, and against wild card contenders, happens more often.  So, we're bound to see this situation occur where a team that has already clinched a playoff spot will play against teams that haven't yet.

But it's also another baseball tradition, albeit one of strategy, to do whatever necessary to get your team ready for the playoffs.  Rest stars, juggle rotations, use your call-ups.  And traditionally, since that team had already clinched, it meant that no other team they faced was still in a pennant race.  They could afford to lose games after clinching, since those games had no importance, whereas the post-season games did.

So, what the addition of a wild card and interdivision play caused by odd numbers of teams within divisions has done is to pit two baseball traditions against each other in a head-to-head fashion.  And if you're the team that has already won a spot in the playoffs, your self-interest trumps all others.  Period.  In essence, what people are calling on Charlie Manuel to do is to jeopardize his team's ability to win the World Series just to satisfy the desires of a team that obviously hasn't played well enough to have already clinched.  And that is a ridiculous thing to ask.

The real question about the integrity of the game that should be asked is whether interdivision play at the end of the season and a wild card format are the ideas that compromise the integrity of the game.  Even though my Giants could be affected by Manuel's managing decisions this weekend, I realize that it's in his best interest to try to win the World Series in any way possible.  I would expect nothing less than for Manuel to tell his critics to shove it, even if those critics were Giants fans and management.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back In First Place - Again

Yesterday, the Giants won and the Padres lost, allowing the Giants to take first place.  Yet again.  It seems this has happened a hundred times over the last week.  The Giants took two out of three from the Rockies and two out of three from the Cubs before that.  But they've lost first place several times, too.  The Giants need to figure out that this is a time of season when winning two out of three simply isn't enough.  There are four teams striving for two playoff spots.  The Giants, Padres and Rockies are all in the division race, and also in the wild card race along with the Braves.  Somebody is going to win, and somebody is going to go home.  Going home isn't an option.

Over the last three weeks, the Giants pitching staff has been on just about the hottest streak in baseball history.  They set a modern record by going 18 consecutive games allowing three runs or less.  Yet in the first 16 of those games, they went a meager 10-6.  The hitting has been a season-long problem.  All these 1-0 games are killing some fingernails out there.  It seems that the showdown will be the last weekend of the season between the Giants and Padres.  Can this be the year?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Night Quote

If the World Series goes seven games, it will be NBC's longest running show this fall.  - Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show, NBC, 1978

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blog Bat-round: If I Were Commissioner

[Update: since this blog bat-around was started among the baseball card blogger circles, I'm cross-posting it to my 1974 Topps baseball card blog.]

David at Indians Baseball Cards & Random Wax poses the following question for a blog bat-around:

The topic: With Bud Selig supposedly retiring in 2012 (and assuming the end of the world doesn't follow soon afterward), if YOU were asked to become the next Baseball Commissioner, what would you do?  What changes would you like to make, what things would you leave as-is, what would you like to see as your legacy when your retirement time came?

Baseball has been screwed up under Bud Selig far beyond the average fan's knowledge.  I'll expose a number of those dark secrets below and as commissioner, I would make the following changes, unilaterally, on my first day in office:

On the field changes:

  1. Expansion to 32 teams w/ realignment.  Either 8 divisions of 4 teams with no wild card, or 4 divisions of 8 teams w/ top two in each.  There needs to be the same number of teams in each division.  Right now, statistically, the AL West teams have a 50% greater chance of winning the World Series than NL Central teams, just by being in the AL West.
  2. Use an unbalanced, but symmetrical schedule.  Baseball needs each team playing each other team the exact same number of times in division, and same number of games with all teams out of the division, both home and road, from division to division, league to league, and those numbers have to be even numbers.  Teams in the same division need to have the same common scheduled teams.  Having divisions logically means an unbalanced schedule.  Each division needs an even number of teams so that only division play occurs the last weeks of the season.
  3. Eliminate interleague play.  The players hate it.  Attendance figures from largely weekend games when school's out and the weather is nice is not evidence that the fans support it either.  And the argument that fans never get to see players from the other league is bogus.  A majority of baseball fans live either in a metro area that already has one team in each league (the five largest markets - ten teams worth!, NY, LA, Chi, SF, and DC/Balt), or in a metro area that is a short drive from another team in the other league. (Philly, San Diego, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit, etc.)  Interleague play also skews the division race, as schedules are not identical.  For too long, the Marlins have skated with playing six games against the hapless Rays while their division rival Mets have played six games against the World Champs.  Enough.
  4. The All-Star game will no longer decide Home Field Advantage in the World Series, and will revert back to alternating HFA between leagues each year.  All-Star managers aren't able to focus on winning the game anyway, because two other expectations are more important: a) keeping other managers' pitchers from being injured, and b) making sure every player on an ever enlarging roster makes it into the game.  A pinch runner for the batter who pinch hit for the defensive replacement from last inning?  Hey, I just put three players into the game in four pitches!  That's what the last three innings of the ASG have become.
  5. Reduce the All-Star rosters to 24 max. and eliminate the "each team has one player" rule.  Only one thing is less logical that requiring one player from each team, and that's the argument for it:  "It's a fan's game."  Uhm, the fans of the other 29 teams don't want to see your least worst player in the ASG when he's batting .279/11/36 at the break.  He gets to play just because every other player on your team sucks even worse?  And you want him to play in the ASG?  Heck, you don't even want to see him play in your own ballpark.  If you did, your attendance wouldn't suck so bad.  I've lived through plenty of bad A's and Giants seasons where I was actually embarrassed for our representative to be seen in the introductions, not to mention the game.
  6. Eliminate all the NFL rules that have been adopted into baseball, like the one that made George Steinbrenner an air traffic controller.  Get rid of all the NFL tie-breaking, home field advantage and playoff matchup rules.  All they do is complicate things and screw playoff ticket holders out of being able to use their tickets effectively.  Football has these stupid rules precisely because they have no way to decide things on the field.  Using head-to-head as a tie-breaker necessarily means that the winner has a worse record against inferior teams.  Hasn't anybody at MLB corporate ever taken logic 101 at their local community college?  Home field advantage and matchup rules mean that ticket holders don't even know when the game is and who it's against for the ticket they're holding in their hand.  Last year's fiasco that allowed the Yanks (HFA) to choose which ALDS series to play in was a great example.  They didn't have to choose until a few hours after the regular season was over.  But there was a rain-out makeup on Monday that forced another one-game playoff on Tuesday, still part of the regular season.  They got to decide whether to screw the Red Sox in choosing which day they played - hours before their game - or to make the other team play on a couple of hours sleep on the plane while in the air at 35,000 feet.
  7. Eliminate TV ratings based playoff start times.  The Yankees are guaranteed the prime time slot for every game ever, while the rest of the teams play bizarre day games in weird time zones.  Every time a series is decided, the remaining series have their time slots revised according to a pecking order of prime time ratings.  Several times since this has started, fans of one team with tickets in hand for tomorrow's game have gone to bed not knowing whether the next day's game would be at 1pm or 7pm because an extra inning game in the other league on the opposite coast that was playing past midnight may end that series and effect start times of all other games the next day because the ratings pecking order had to be rearranged.  When you're a ticket holder for these games, you may be screwed out of hundreds or thousands of dollars because you can't sell or give away a day game ticket at the last minute.  It's happened several times to me personally.  Enough.
  8. Allow each home team to set the time for its own division series playoff games.  Not being able to go to or even watch your own team because you're at work and you fell into a day game slot at the last minute just because some dude on the east coast wants to watch it on TV is freaking lame.  Let them stay up until 2am.  That way, everybody will be able to see it.
  9. All post season game dates with pre-figured division vs. division arrangement will be made prior to the season.
  10. Even though I personally don't like the DH, I would keep it for one league.  It's good for baseball because it is good at starting and keeping arguments going.  But the current DH rule gives the AL team an advantage in the World Series.  It gets to keep using its full-time, season long hitting specialist, while the NL team must scrape a utility player off the bench for its DH.  If you don't agree, please tell me you'd rather see Lee Lacy hit than Reggie Jackson.  After the last game of the regular season, I would give all the NL teams the option to draft one free agent AL DH player to use as their DH in the World Series, just to even things up.

Off the field changes:

  1. Lifetime bans would extend only to the lifetime of the player.  For example, once he died, Shoeless Joe would be in the HOF.
  2. Change the territorial rights boundary from a distance based boundary (75 miles) to a population based one.  The existing rule guarantees the Yankees an untouchable fan base of 25 million.  Even though San Jose is 40 miles further from San Francisco than Oakland is, the Giants territorial rights can stop an A's move to SJ.  Why?  If small market teams have problems making ends meet, they can move to Brooklyn and/or East Rutherford, Chicago, San Bernardino, San Fernando, or San Jose.
  3. Holding the dubious distinction as the only person to have the steroids scandal occur right under his nose both as an owner and as a commissioner; and holding the dubious distinction as a commissioner who wouldn't even stand up in recognition that the greatest record in sports was just tied, and also in reference to the other 12 reasons listed above, my last act on the first day in office will be to impose a lifetime ban from baseball upon Bud Selig.
Leave as-is:

  1. Most everything else.

Legacy will take care of itself.

Giants Win Projection Through September 15

September 1 through September 15:

W 74-60, 89; L 74-61, 89; W 75-61, 89; W 76-61, 90; W 77-61, 90; W 78-61, 91; L 78-62, 90; W 79-62, 91; W 80-62, 91; L 80-63, 91; W 81-63, 91; L 81-64, 90; W 82-64, 91.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Night Quote

It ain't braggin' if you can back it up. - Dizzy Dean


Okay, we did it!  The Giants beat the Dodgers while the Padres lost to the Cardinals.  This is the first day the Giants have been in first place in September since 2003.  Terribly sad fact.  But, first place is only good if you're there after the regular season is over.  So, let's Go Giants!

Since 2003, the Giants have obviously been the least effective team in the NL West.  Every single other team in the division has at least one post-season appearance since the Giants last did.  In those last six years, NL West teams have won three wild card positions.  The Dodgers won the division in 2004, '08 & '09, the Padres in 2005, '06, the Diamondbacks in 2007.  The Dodgers took the wild card in 2006, the Rockies and Padres tied for it in 2007 and the Rox won the playoff game, and the Rockies again in 2009. So, in total, the four other teams have combined for nine playoff positions in the last six years, including one tie, and an all-NL West NLCS in 2007.  No Giants.

The Giants, on the other hand, had a total collapse in 2004 in the last weekend of the season, and in 2009 were the only team of 8 teams in baseball in a playoff position at the All-Star break that didn't hold on in the second half.  Their 2005-08 seasons were abysmal.

I hope this leap into first place is the beginning of three consecutive World Championships and seven in the next fifteen years, to bring the winningest team in baseball history up to the law of averages.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Giants Fans Invade San Diego

One of the things I've always hated is to have numerous fans of the visiting team show up and act like they own the place.  You know, Yankee fans, Dodger fans, Red Sox fans, Cubs fans.  They're big market teams with huge followings, transplants, and travelling fans.  Often over the years, the Oakland Coliseum has had many a game where A's fans were outnumbered by Yankee or Red Sox fans, and Giants fans since interleague play started.

Well, the Giants have a national following, too, just not quite as big as the Yankees or Red Sox.  But one place we always show up in massive numbers is San Diego.  Transplants, college students, and cheap Southwest Airlines tickets.  This four game series vs. the Pads was no exception.  Thousands showed up and hijacked the crowd noise this weekend.  And Padres fans hate it.

You simply can't listen to the game and tell who just made the big play.  Today I was fooled by Tim Lincecum's two run single.  The crowd erupted in a roar, and I thought, "Oops, the Padres are coming back."  No, it was the Giants fans.

I've seen the Giants on the road in LA, San Diego, Oakland, Colorado and Arizona.  It's amazing how many show up, and how many cheer all the louder because they know they're on the road.  The first interleague game in Oakland between the Giants and A's back in '97 was about two-thirds Giants fans, and it was louder and more rowdy than most every game I've ever seen in San Fran.

Thanks to the fans who showed up this weekend and cheered the Orange and Black to three out of four to tie for first place.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Night Quote

For fourteen years I had the best seat in baseball. - Willie McCovey, speaking about his spot in the on-deck circle while Willie Mays was at bat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fan Ejected By Ump For Heckling

I'm sure this ain't the first time, but a fan was ejected from a game by umpire Bob Davidson for heckling a player.  Sean Ottow, a Brewer fan, was heckling Cardinals' catcher Yadier Molina.  Davidson had a mean streak already going in ejecting a number of players and managers that game, so a fan was what was needed to complete the day.  Maybe that counts for "hitting for the cycle" in umpire dialect.  Maybe ejecting a fan is like that final triple needed.

I found two brief accounts of the incident here and here.  One thing the fan claimed is that he never swore at Molina.  But, he was cited for disorderly conduct by the police.

I'm wondering what he said and for how long.  I've also had extended time periods of heckling players - like nine innings a day over a four game series - and I've never been ejected.  But maybe it's like my friend Mike says, we'd be tossed in jail today for some of the things we said back in the 80's.  I'm also wondering if his citation was a direct result of being tossed by the ump.  Would he have been cited if the ump never tossed him?  And since he got a standing ovation from the crowd, one wonders how disorderly he actually was.  They all seemed to enjoy him.  Now for a serious question.  Will he be banned from future Brewers games by management?  Loss of season tickets?  Could any of this happen to a fan simply because an ump had a bad day?  What role can a player have in getting a fan tossed?  One time, I was heckling a rookie and he called time out and jogged in to the third base ump and pointed out at me.  The ump shrugged his shoulders, and then he really caught it from the whole bleacher section for the rest of the game.

It will be interesting to see if this is the last thing to be heard on this incident.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Giants Win Projection Through August 31

August 16 through August 31, 2010:

L 67-53, 90; L 67-54, 90; W 68-54, 90; W 69-54, 91; L 69-55, 90; L 69-56, 89; W 70-56, 90; W 71-56, 91; L 71-57, 90; L 71-58, 89; L 71-59, 88; W 72-59, 89; L 72-60, 88; W 73-60, 89.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Death of Mannywood

Baseball got some news this week as Manny Ramirez joined the Chicago White Sox.  Then it got some more news as the White Sox strolled into Boston to mark a Manny return to Fenway.  But a special extra bit to tack on to the end of that story was found in Chavez Ravine.

You see, the Giants and Dodgers re-engaged their historic rivalry on Friday.  But, contrary to last year and the end of '08, Manny wasn't a factor.  A couple of months ago it was reported that the Mannywood ads were taken off of LA freeway billboards, a sad prelude to the start of this series.  A great Dodger to hate, as we haven't had many of those in recent years, Manny served as a target to silence, but even if he hit some homers, beating the Dodgers could silence those.  But the eerie silence this weekend almost spoke of a sad end to an era, even though there was the big news of the week.  Manny didn't matter enough to the Dodgers to matter in the rivalry with us.  Mannywood is dead.

Beat LA!

Okay, what a game last night.  Yet another classic Giants/Dodgers rivalry game.  Before the game I heard that Dodger pitcher Ted Lilly had one of the lowest run support totals in baseball lately.  And Giant Matt Cain has one of the lowest totals in his career.  So, I assumed that either it would be a scoreless game until the bullpens took over, or the Giants would stay true to their course of a complete lack of run support for Cain while giving it up for Lilly.  It turns out I was 3/4 right (right about no run support for Cain {=1/2 point} and half right about one bullpen giving it up {=1/4 point}).

Down 4-0, the Giants hit four homers, one solo in the 7th, back-to-back solos in the 8th and a 2-run Jack in the 9th by Juan UUUUUU-ribe in the 9th to win.  Of course, Brian Wilson did his usual bungee jump save, where the the cord pulls you back up just before you crash into the rocks below.

As noted by Mrs. Scott: It's difficult to listen to Giants/Dodgers games due to the number of opposing team's fans cheering for the visiting team.  A huge cheer doesn't guarantee it's for the home team.

Rubber game tonight is a must win for the Gyro's, as the Padres keep losing.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Night Quote

I don't know how our folks come off callin' this the "Game of the Week."  There's a much better game - Dodgers and Giants - over on NBC.  - Dizzy Dean, broadcasting on CBS Television

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stephen Strasburg's Arm, RIP

The hottest prospect in recent memory just blew his elbow out and will require Tommy John surgery.  This carries a 12-18 month rehab time.  Strasburg has been just about the biggest story of the year.  I'm really sorry to hear this happen to such a young, bright star. 

What interests me most about this story is that some people predicted this would happen.  Curt Schilling apparently did, and I heard an audio clip of a radio interview from earlier in the year of Chris Lincecum (father of Tim, and master mechanics planner of his delivery, who has his own show on in San Fran) saying he witnessed some problems with Strasburg's mechanics and wasn't very confident of his future health.  Now, I'm no expert on pitching mechanics.  But I'm wondering what was going on in the minds of the Nationals' people, especially given that others were concerned.  Were there issues?  Were they in the process of being addressed?  Is the topic of mechanics widely understood within baseball?  Is it merely a matter of opinion with several radically different schools of thought?  Are most baseball people clueless with only a few experts on the topic?

I don't know.  But it's sad for Strasburg, his family and the Nationals, not to mention the game of baseball.  I hope he recovers fully and has a hall of fame career.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Night Quote

A lot of people my age are dead at the present time. - Casey Stengel, at age 75

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Coming Soon: Friday Night Quote

I love baseball quotes, so I thought I would include a quote each Friday night, at 7:35pm.  Pacific time, that is.  Baseball quotes have a way of telling stories all their own, and also serve to show the game's characters for their strange views of the pastime.  Next Friday will be the first installment.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Giants Win Projection Through August 15

August 1 through August 15, 2010:

W 61-45, 93; W 62-45, 94; L 62-46, 93; L 62-47, 92; W 63-47, 93; L 63-48, 92; L 63-49, 91; W 64-49, 92; L 64-50, 91; W 65-50, 92; W 66-50, 92; L 66-51, 91; W 67-51, 92; L 67-52, 91.