Tying Up Loose Ends

I was hoping to kind of wrap up the season in my last blog but didn’t get a chance since it ran so long, so I’m doing that today.  There’s so much to say and so little space to say it!

I’ll start off with some comments that I had about the last few games of the season.  (If you’re curious as to where these ideas come from, I take notes during the games at the bottom of my spit count page on things I think might be interesting to discuss in my blog.)  Then I’ll follow with my season spit count analysis (since I know you are all chomping at the bit for that!).  I’ll end with a few things that have been transpiring since the end of our season.

Did anyone notice that there was a lot of facial hair shaving going on during those final days?  Besides Jeff Keppinger, who shaved his entire face, Beltran also shaved and Romo shaved a part of his beard.  Romo definitely looks a lot younger.  Beltran is a beautiful man and looks fabulous either way!

Pablo had another goofball moment during the September 26th game – he blew a bubble while he was in the process of bunting.  This cracked me up.  How can he keep his concentration going?

Timmy hit Justin Upton in the head with a pitch during the first inning of the September 25th game against the D-backs.  This was a big deal since Upton is their star hitter, and they had at that point clinched the division title and were guaranteed to go on to the post season.  Jon Miller interviewed Bruce Bochy about it after the game, and he mentioned that Timmy was really upset by it and wasn’t pitching inside after that.  Just goes to show that those boys are actually human.

During the September 24th game against the D-backs (where we were eliminated from the wild card race – sigh), there was a point where an umpire interfered with a play.  Mike Fontenot, while running toward second to retrieve a ground ball, crashed into the umpire and couldn’t make a play.  Since they don’t have do-overs in baseball, this is ruled as umpire interference, and the outcome stands.  The umpire is considered a part of the playing field (like an extra magical, moving wall – LOL!).  This differs from player or fan interference.  From my perspective, it looked like Fontenot could have avoided the collision, but then again it wasn’t me down on the field.  He was prevented from making a play that probably would have resulted in an out.  Even though it wouldn’t have affected the outcome of this totally one-sided game, I thought this was an interesting rule.  I listened to KNBR for part of the game, and even Jon Miller was wondering exactly what the rule is.  He looked it up in the official MLB rules and said that the wording is very confusing.  But the bottom line is that the outcome stands as is.

At one point during a game, Mike Krukow made a comment that Eric Surkamp “pitches to contact,” and he’s not a strikeout guy.  I had never thought about this before, but I’m assuming this means that he pitches so that guys will actually connect with the ball and either pop out or ground out.  Pitchers like Tim Lincecum actually tend to pitch to get a guy to swing and miss (thus his impressive strikeout count).  But both types of pitching can be effective.  You realize there is so much underlying strategizing going on when you take a closer look.

During one of the games, the Cy Young race came up, and a stat came up that I was not familiar with.  The broadcasters mentioned a pitcher’s quality starts.  For those, like me, that don’t know what this means, it is defined as a game in which a pitcher completes at least six innings and allows no more than three earned runs.  So there’s one more to add to your baseball vocabulary.

Another term that Mike Krukow used during one of the games was the Triple Crown.  I thought this was a horseracing term, but apparently it also applies in baseball.  For batters, winning the baseball Triple Crown means that you led the league in homeruns, runs batted in, and batting average.  For pitchers, it means that you led the league in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average.  For the 2011 season, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Justin Verlander of the Tigers won the pitching Triple Crown for the National and American leagues respectively.  Congrats, boys.  That’s pretty darn impressive.  Matt Kemp of the Dodgers almost won the batting Triple Crown, coming in first for homeruns and runs batted in, and coming in third for batting average.  Again, I hate congratulating Dodgers, but this is amazing stuff that has to be recognized.  Great job.

One more interesting thing that occurred took place during the last game of the season.  Carlos Beltran was taken out of the game before it ended and not because of an injury.  He was taken out because if he batted one more time and didn’t get a hit, his batting average would have gone below .300.  Bochy did this on purpose.  There was some discussion by the broadcasters as to whether this is manipulating the numbers, but I think it was pretty cool of Bochy to do that.  After all Beltran had done for the team this season, he deserved to keep his batting average in tact.

I was able to attend the penultimate game of the season on September 27th vs. the Rockies.  As with any Giants game I attend, it was an amazing experience.  I was meeting up with the bobblehead gang, but went on my own since I wanted to get there early for the Say Hey Tuesday Comcast SportsNet activities.  I got to the San Carlos train station at about 5:15 and met a very nice lady there while we were both attempting to stay out of the sun in the sole shaded spot on the platform.  We ended up sitting next to each other on the train and had a wonderful conversation (Giants fans are the greatest!).  Since I had someone to chat with, the train ride flew by.  It turned out that we both attended the same high school – this is more of a coincidence than you would think, as our high school was very small.  We said our goodbyes as we walked off the train, and I headed for the park.  The coincidences continued, as I happened to see one of the bobblehead boys, Vinnie, on the corner.  It turned out he had been on the same train as me.  We walked over to the park, and started to wait for the other two to arrive.  While we waited, we got in the Comcast line and got free orange T-shirts (they say “Authentic Giants fan” on them – love it!) and signs that read “Authentic Giants Fan” on one side and “Quest for the West” on the other (will have to save that one for next year).  Manny and Brian were running late, so we decided to go into the park to wait for them.  We had fun discussing baseball and dreaming about being able to go onto the field whenever we wanted.  It was the Tony Bennett bobblehead game, and Tony spoke before the game and sang “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch.  Even though he’s 85, that man can still belt out a tune!  And he didn’t even avoid the high notes at the end – he was right on!  I ended up buying Tony’s new CD, Duets II.  I love Tony, and he does a duet on it with one of my non-Giants boys, Josh Groban.  Part of the proceeds from the CD goes to Exploring the Arts, an organization cofounded by Tony Bennett and Susan Benedetto.  Also, proceeds from the duet he does with Amy Winehouse are going to the Amy Winehouse Foundation, an organization that supports addicted teenagers (their duet was the last song she recorded).  Check it out.

That game was so awesome in so many ways.  Here are just a few:

-Gillaspie hit an inside the park home run.  You don’t get to see those everyday, especially from a rookie!

-Belt got a splash hit.  Keep it up next season, Honey!

-I got to see Eli do his stretches before the game.  That boy is flexible!

-Zito closed the game with two strikeouts.  I was so happy to see him do well (of course, they were ahead by 7 runs at that point).

-They won the game!

-I got a Tony Bennett bobblehead that sings, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”  My bobblehead has a special “beauty mark” on its forehead.  Vinnie said that makes it a limited edition.  Wow, I’m just soooooo lucky!  LOL!

Now we move on to the spit count analysis!  I went through all the spit counts for the season (from 28 games beginning on July 22nd) and organized the results into a table for your spit analysis pleasure.  Here you go:

# of games caught

Total # of spits

Avg. # spits/game

Highest # of

spitting

spits/game

Stewart

16

171

10.7

38

Sandoval

27

161

6.0

13

Lincecum

10

56

5.6

14

Cain

9

45

5.0

15

Vogelsong

8

37

4.6

9

Pill

8

32

4.0

7

Surkamp

7

27

3.9

7

Christian

7

26

3.7

7

J. Sanchez

4

14

3.5

7

Keppinger

23

64

2.8

9

H. Sanchez

2

5

2.5

3

Bumgarner

4

10

2.5

4

Ford

3

7

2.3

5

Huff

18

41

2.3

5

Fontenot

8

18

2.3

5

Romo

2

4

2.0

3

Runzler

3

6

2.0

4

Ross

13

26

2.0

5

Beltran

11

22

2.0

4

Schierholtz

6

11

1.8

4

Belt

4

7

1.8

2

Casilla

11

19

1.7

3

Cabrera

14

24

1.7

5

Whiteside

9

15

1.7

3

Ramirez

9

15

1.7

4

Meulens

4

6

1.5

3

Gillaspie

4

6

1.5

2

Bochy

7

10

1.4

2

Affeldt

7

10

1.4

4

DeRosa

10

14

1.4

2

Torres

6

8

1.3

2

Rowand

4

5

1.3

2

Wilson

5

6

1.2

2

Righetti

7

8

1.1

2

Kelly

2

2

1.0

1

Burriss

6

6

1.0

1

Edlefsen

2

2

1.0

1

Joaquin

1

1

1.0

1

Lopez

1

1

1.0

1

Wotus

5

5

1.0

1

Murphy

1

1

1.0

1

Hayes

1

1

1.0

1

Tejada

1

1

1.0

1

Groeschner

1

1

1.0

1

Mota

1

1

1.0

1

Burrell

1

1

1.0

1

Chris Stewart was the overall Spit Master General, with a record 38 spits in a single game.  He ran away with it, as the next closest player was Soto of the Cubs at 19 (next closest Giant was Cain at 15).  Stewart more than doubled this!  You may notice that there are two names missing from this list of Giants players caught spitting.  In an earlier blog, I misspoke and said that when Javier Lopez was caught spitting, there were no Giants remaining who had not been caught spitting.  But there actually remained two Giants who were never caught expelling their mouth contents.  These two Giants were (drumroll please) Brandon Crawford and Barry Zito!!!  On behalf of all the female Giants baseball fans everywhere, I thank you two for not spitting.  I sent out a Spit Master General certificate (suitable for framing) to Chris Stewart and Thank You For Not Spitting certificates to Brandon Crawford and Barry Zito, addressed to the clubhouse at AT&T Park the day after the last game was played.  I included some educational info on the side effects of using smokeless tobacco for Chris in order to try and get him to quit (hey, it’s worth a try – I did get my dad to quit smoking).  Unfortunately, they all came back to me marked “Return to Sender – Players have left for the season.”  Sigh.  Guess I’ll have to hold on to them until the beginning of next season.  If anyone knows of any fan mail addresses for the off-season or hears of any of these guys doing local autograph signings, please let me know so I can get them their awards sooner.

So what did I learn from doing spit counts this season (have to justify the silliness somehow!!):

-There are way more players using smokeless tobacco than I had ever imagined.

-The spit count averages were much higher than I thought they would be, averaging about 1 spit every 3 minutes.

-There are several different ways to spit, including the spray, the bullet, the machine gun, and the disgusto (aka the “let me clear everything out of my lungs” spit).

-Guys actually do chew sunflower seeds out on the field.

-Everyone on the field gets into the action, including batboys and camera men.

-Spitting frequency increases as the game progresses.

-There is a ton of spitting going on in the dugout, even by players who are not even in the game.

-Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be an awesome baseball player without spitting.  For example, Clayton Kershaw and Cole Hamels, two superstar pitchers, do not spit.

-Umpires spit a lot.

-It’s not just me who abhors spitting in baseball.  And it’s not just women.

-The Cubs’ Matt Garza is the most disgusting baseball spitter.  Period.

So what have the boys been up to so far in the off-season?  Brian Wilson stars in a commercial for the new NBA 2K12 video game.  You can check it out here.  The boy is amazing – he is so intelligently funny.  I will never get enough of his humor.  And he’s got superb legs.  He’s also starring in a Taco Bell commercial that they are airing during the post-season baseball games.  Check it out here.

Not to be outdone by Willie, Tim Lincecum costarred in (of all things) the FIFA Soccer 12 video game commercial (I think he actually did this before the season ended).  You can check it out here.  Pretty darn hilarious.  Timmy has also been in the news lately for some no-so-funny activities.  His landlord is suing him for $350,000 in damages, alleging that he destroyed items in the apartment he was renting.  Maybe I’m just naïve, but how can this be true?  He’s got too high a profile to be doing this kind of stuff.  Then again, it’s not like other sports superstars haven’t done silly things.  Guess we’ll see how this one turns out soon enough.

Jeremy Affeldt was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award.  The award goes to the Major League player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.  It was named after Roberto Clemente in 1973 after he was killed in a plane crash while delivering supplies to victims of the Nicaragua earthquake.  It will be presented to the winner at the World Series.  Jeremy is being recognized due to his involvement with Not For Sale/Free2 Play, an organization that assists young adults who are coming out of the world of human trafficking/slavery, along with his involvement with several other non-profits.  Way to go, Jeremy, and good luck!

I mentioned in an earlier blog that Cody Ross received the Good Guy Award from the Marlins a few years back.  Coincidentally, he received it again this year from the Giants.  It’s given annually to a player on the team for cooperation with the media.  I guess Cody is just a super good guy!

According to Mychael Urban, the trade rumors have already begun.  There was a rumor that the Giants were thinking about trading Matt Cain for Yankee’s catcher Jesus Montero.  Seriously?  COME ON!  The Giants will do anything to keep Cain, their pitching rock.  They already have Buster as their star catcher coming back next season.  They say that Montero could also play first base – gee, they already have Huff, Pill, and Belt who can play there.  It will be interesting to see what other crazy rumors surface in the next few months.  If you hear of any, please comment and let me know so that I can share them.

Are you all watching the post-season games even though our boys aren’t in them?  I know that Donna is through reading her Facebook updates (thanks for the info, Donna!).  I’m not.  I find it difficult to sit through an entire game involving players that I don’t care about.  Actually, I’m watching snippets of some of the games and keeping tabs on who’s being eliminated.  And there have been some interesting outcomes already.  Can you believe that the Yankees are out after the first round?  That would be the highest-payroll-in-all-of-baseball Yankees.  That is the ultimate in baseball facedom.  And the Phillies got knocked out last night.  I hate the Phillies (especially Chase Utley), so I was pleased to hear this.  I caught a few moments of the Phillies’ elimination game last night, and find it amazing that the entire crowd is psychic.  They were all waving their white surrender flags during the game, just like they did when the Giants beat them in the playoffs last year.

I’ll end this with a couple of thank yous.  I apologize that I forgot to thank Bill Laskey and Vida Blue, Comcast SportsNet commentators, for imparting their baseball knowledge to me.  This is especially unforgivable since I actually met Bill Laskey in person this season.  I would also like to thank Vinnie for subscribing to my blog.  Vinnie – you rock!  That brings the total number of subscribers up to 6.  Also, please let me know if you find any errors in the blog.  I went through some back issues and found a couple of typos and broken links.  I hate when I do that!  If you find an error and let me know about it, I’ll buy you a Coke!

I’m missing being able to watch my boys, but enjoying the extra time I have now.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

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