Put Me In, Coach! (Part 2)

Today, as promised, we’ll continue to learn about the Giants’ coaching staff.  As I’ve been doing this research, I have to admit that I am extremely impressed with these resumes.  These guys have so much more baseball experience than I expected.

We’ll start with the Giants’ third base coach, Tim Flannery.   He’s been at this position with the Giants for 6 years.  He had been Bruce Bochy’s third base coach with the Padres for 7 years (1996 – 2002), and Bruce hired him on when he became the manager for the Giants.  Flan was selected by the Padres in the 6th round of the 1978 draft.  He stayed with the Padres for the first 23 years of his professional baseball career, spending the first 11 years as a player (1978-89), another 10 seasons as coach (1993-2002) and even 2 years as a broadcaster (2005-06).  I bet he was an incredible broadcaster as he has an amazing speaking voice.  He also worked 3 years as a minor league manager, and won the 1994 California League Championship with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (the Class A Advanced Padres minor league team at the time).  He served on  All-Star Game coaching staffs in 1999 and 2011.  During his playing career, he established himself as one of San Diego’s all-time fan favorites with his hustle and all-out play (this makes sense if you ever watch how animated he is while he’s coaching!).  He played second and third base and batted .255 over 972 big league games, the 4th most in Padres history.  One interesting tidbit is that he made his major league debut against the Giants on September 3, 1979, getting his 1st big league hit off of the Giants’ Ed Whitson as San Diego’s leadoff hitter (an RBI single).  He played a major role off the bench for the Padres’ pennant-winning team in 1984, hitting .273 over 86 games.  In Game 5 of the NLCS in San Diego that year, he hit a ground ball single that started a 4-run rally in the 7th inning that clinched the Padres’ 1st-ever National League title.  In his only at-bat during the World Series, he got a pinch-hit single in Game 4 at Detroit.  .  An interesting statistic on his stats page:  he came in second for most hit by pitch in 1985 with 9 (what a funny statistic!).  In 1986, he established the then club record with a .993 fielding percentage at 2nd base (WOW!).  In 2003, he was honored as one of the top 35 players in Padres’ history.  On a personal note, he is married (wife Donna) and has 3 children (Danny, Virginia, and Kelly).  He attended Chapman College in Orange County where he played baseball.  He was homecoming king in high school (check out this pic I found – he has hair!  And great slacks, Flan!)  He has an uncle who also played in the Major Leagues – Hal Smith.  During the off-season, he plays guitar and does vocals for his band, Lunatic Fringe.  He and the band played a concert with proceeds benefitting Bryan Stow, the Giants fan severely injured during a Giants vs. Dodgers game in LA.  Tim also got to sing the National Anthem at a game last season with Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.  Such a multi-talented guy!

Next we have Ron Wotus, the Giants Bench Coach.  If you’re wondering what a bench coach is (I am!  And no, he doesn’t coach the benches, silly!), he’s basically second in command to the manager and gives advice and helps him make decisions.  If the manager gets booted from the game, he takes over.  He also sets up the day’s practice and stretching routines before a game.  Ron also handles the infield defense.   He has been a Giants coach for 22 seasons, with 14 of those being in the big leagues.  He is one of only 5 individuals since 1900 to serve as a Giants coach for at least 10 years (Dave Righetti is also included in this group at 12 years).  He was twice named Manager of the Year in the minors while posting an overall 554-412 record (pretty impressive).  His teams finished above the .500 mark and made playoffs in 6 of 7 years he was manager.  Under his watch, Bill Mueller (2000), Rich Aurilia (2002), and Omar Vizquel (2005-06) all led the National League in fielding percentage at their respective positions, and Vizquel (2005-06) and J.T. Snow (1999-2000) both won a pair of NL Gold Glove Awards.  He has a reputation for taking his teams to the playoffs.  He earned California League Manager of the Year in 1991 when he took the San Jose minor league team to the playoffs with an amazing 92-44 record, the best in all of professional baseball.  His 1995 team took the Texas League Championship with an 88-47 record.  From 1993-95, he led the Giants Double-A team at Shreveport to 3 straight playoff berths.  From 1996-97, he served as manager for the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate in Phoenix, taking them to back-to-back Pacific Coast League playoff appearances with 2 Southern Division Championships.   This team had not been to post-season play for 10 years!  He was again named Manager of the Year in 1997 after his team had the best record in all of Triple-A baseball with an 88-55 record, and that team finished its season with one of the best 2nd half finishes in Pacific Coast League history, winning 41 of its final 51 games.   For being such a quiet, soft-spoken person, he’s sure done some amazing things with baseball teams!   As far as his playing career, he was originally the 16th round draft pick of Pittsburgh in 1979, and played for 11 years in professional baseball, including 2 years in the big leagues on the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He played shortstop and second base.  In 32 big league games with the Bucs, he had a .207 batting average with 2 RBI.  He played in the Kansas City organization in 1987 and then with the Giants organization in 1988-89.  Ron has also been involved in several humanitarian activities through the Giants organization, including leading efforts to raise funds and awareness for the Junior Giants Baseball Program and Comfort for Kids, which provides specialized medical care to children throughout the Bay Area who are facing life-threatening illness.  Ron graduated from Bacon Academy in Colchester, Connecticut.  He played baseball, soccer, and basketball in high school, excelling in all three.  He currently resides in Pleasant Hill with his wife (Laurie), is an avid golfer, and runs youth baseball clinics with former Giant Erik Johnson during the winter.

Finally we have Mark Gardner, the Giants bullpen coach.  He’s in charge of all the relief pitchers, and he definitely has his hands full with the likes of Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt!  He’s one of the coaches who isn’t in the limelight as much as the others because he’s usually hiding in the bullpen.  This is his 10th season as the Giants bullpen coach.  His relievers have ranked among the National League’s leaders for saves (1st – 400) and wins (4th-244).  He enjoyed a successful 13-year career as a Major League pitcher.  A right-hander, he played for the Montreal  Expos (1989-92), Kansas City Royals(1993), Florida Marlins (1994-95), and San Francisco Giants (1996-2001).  He was one of the Giants’ most popular and inspirational players.   He had a 99-93 lifetime record with a 4.56 ERA in 345 games (275 starts).  He had double-digit wins in 1992 with the Expos and in 4 of his 6 seasons with the Giants.  He pitched a 9-inning no-hitter on July 26, 1991, to the Dodgers (HAHA!) while on the Expos, but gave up 2 hits in the 10th.  He was co-winner (with Benito Santiago) of the 2001 Willie Mac Award, given to the most inspirational Giants player on the team.   Mark is another coach who is active in the community.  He has been very involved, along with his late wife, Lori, with the California Organ Donor Network and Stanford Medical Center in raising awareness of the need for organ and tissue donors.  He and his wife created the Step to the Plate Foundation, which helps families of transplant recipients.  He has hosted the Mark Gardner Invitational Golf Tournament since 1993 to raise funds for Fresno area charities.  He attended Clovis High School in Clovis, California (Hey, Dianna – did you know him???  He’s our age!), and California State University, Fresno (Go Bulldogs!) where he met his wife, Lori, an All-American softball pitcher.  He has 2 sons, and sadly he lost his wife to liver cancer in 2003.

There are so many more members of the coaching staff that I haven’t mentioned, and they all play a part in making my boys a winning team.  Special thanks to the Giants for providing most of this info on their website.  All this talk about coaches has given me a great idea for a helpful role I can play on the team.  I can be the team’s official hugger!  I’ve been told by my family that my hugs are the best (a significant achievement considering how large my family is!).  My sister-in-law, Jennifer, is probably my equal in hugging abilities, but she isn’t as big a Giants fan as I am, so she probably wouldn’t want the job.  Anyway, as I envision it, I could hang out in the dugout and be there in case someone needs a hug, either for encouragement or to acknowledge an accomplishment.  Say Brandon Crawford makes an error (thankfully something that hasn’t been happening as often lately).  Coming into the dugout would be so depressing, but I would be there with a huge healing hug to help him hug it out.  Say Melky Cabrera makes an amazing catch in left field.  Yeah, he’ll get high fives from the other guys in the dugout, but there’s nothing like a huge hug for positive reinforcement.  What do you think?  Will Sabean buy it?

I finally got to watch some complete games this weekend, so I’ve got two new spit counts for you.  Here you go:

May 26th

Giants:

–          Cabrera 5

–          Bumgarner 4

–          Pill 3

–          Posey 3

–          Burriss 2

–          Theriot 2

–          Affeldt 2

–          Huff 1

Marlins:

–          Buck 5

–          Buehrle 2

–          Bell 2

–          Reyes 1

–          Infante 1

Game Spit Master Generals = Cabrera and Buck with 5 each

That’s a total of 33 spits during a 2 hour and 50 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 5 minutes (one of the lowest spit counts ever!)

Not a whole lot of spitting going on in this game, and no one really stood out from the crowd today.  I did just for fun do a snot rocket count on Madison Bumgarner today since he was pitching, and the total was 5 (his record last time I did one was 7).  Coincidentally, the issue of snot rockets actually came up during the game if you can believe that.  During each game, Kruk and Kuip field a question from a fan, and today’s question was, “Why doesn’t Amy G. tell Madison to use tissues to blow his nose on the mound?”  Their response (after laughing for a few seconds) was that baseball players can get away with things other people can’t.  Baseball and tissues do not go together.  And yes, they have noticed the snot rockets as well (they actually used that term to describe them!).  And I find their answer unacceptable – the boys are supposed to be entertaining us, and snot rockets are not entertaining!

May 27th

Giants:

–          Cabrera 15

–          Pagan 9

–          Cain 9

–          Arias 4

–          Huff 3

–          Casilla 3

–          Theriot 2

–          Belt 2

–          Posey 1

Marlins:

–          Reyes 4

–          Morrison 3

–          Infante 2

–          Ramirez 2

–          Choate 2

–          Petersen 1

–          Buck 1

–          Guillen 1

–          Solano 1

Game Spit Master General = Cabrera at 15 (new Giants record for the season passing Sandoval at 14)

That’s a total of 65 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 2.8 minutes (one of the highest spit counts ever!)

Just when I think a reduced spitting activity trend might be starting, the boys come back full force!  Cabrera is making a name for himself in the spitting category.  One of the spits was observed while he was running to 1st base.  How do you have time for that??  Must be taking lessons from Pablo.  Then another 5 came within a 10 second time span while Kruk and Kuip were discussing the likelihood of him going to the All Star Game.  I felt bad recording the 4 that he committed after he got hit in the lip with Infante’s glove while he stole second base, but hey, a spit is a spit!

The rest of this blog is going to contain all the things that have been going through my mind about the boys over the past week or so.  Some come from notes I’ve taken during games, some from listening to the KNBR gang, and some from conversations with other baseball fans.  I’ve made a bunch of observations and have a bunch of questions, so I’m just going to “pitch” it all out there.  Here comes baseball ADHD!!

Did any of you see the game where Santiago Casilla actually got an at bat (rare for a relief pitcher)?  It was on May 21st, and it was a riot!  It was only the 2nd time ever that he had come up to bat in the big leagues (the first time he walked!).  He was standing as far away from the plate as he could while still being in the batter’s box.  The first pitch was nowhere near him, but he jumped back.  The guys in the dugout were cracking up, especially Posey.  Even Casilla was laughing.  He ended up almost walking again, but finally struck out.

And speaking of Santiago, here’s something else I noticed today that I can’t believe I never noticed before:  Casilla makes this really goofy movement at the end of his pitches.  He pitches the ball, and then he looks like he is imitating the Boogey Man!  He stops, faces the plate, and raises his hands like he is trying to scare someone.  Check it out here!  It was even more dramatic in the game today.  Next time he’s closing a game, watch and see for yourself!

While listening to the Fitz and Brooks show on KNBR one day, I found out that if you are injured during the season, you still get paid while you are recovering.  That means Brian Wilson is basically getting paid this whole season for doing jigsaw puzzles and hanging out with Kruk and Kuip.  And Freddy Sanchez is getting paid for his attempts at rehab.  And Pablo is getting paid for slamming shaving cream into players’ (and sports anchors’) faces.  Then I wondered if Guillermo Mota is also getting paid while he’s on his 100 day suspension.  I didn’t find a definitive answer on the internet, but it appears that since his suspension was due to a positive drug test, he is not getting paid.  That is a pretty big deal, and rightfully so.  Can anyone confirm this?

After doing spit counts one day, I got to wondering why guys in baseball eat sunflower seeds.  Is it for the protein?  To help retain fluids because of the salt?  Just tradition?  My theory:  It’s just another reason to spit!  Actually, it may be a replacement for tobacco for some guys, and if so, I’m all for that.  Anyone know the answer?  I couldn’t find the answer myself, so I’m putting it out there for all of you.

Fungo ranks up there for me as one of the top 5 silliest words.  It was mentioned on the radio that Pablo has been using a fungo bat (a long, thin, lighter bat) in practice and he’s making good progress towards coming back to us.  Glad to hear it, Pablo.  And tee hee on the fungo!  That just doesn’t sound like a word you would associate with baseball!

Pet peeve time:  When you don’t swing at a pitch in baseball, it’s called “taking a pitch.”  WHY??  You aren’t taking a swing at it!  Why isn’t taking a pitch when you swing at a pitch?  Who makes this stuff up?  It’s totally counterintuitive!  Every time I hear that, I have to stop and remember that this means he didn’t take a swing.  Is it just me?  Also, I wrote a blog awhile ago about pitching “in the stretch” when someone is on base.  This means that the pitcher doesn’t take his full windup to save time in case he needs to throw a guy out.  Now I’ve discovered that for some crazy reason, it’s called either pitching “in the stretch” or pitching “out of the stretch.”  Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t in and out EXACT OPPOSITES???  How can you be in and out at the same time???  Crazy baseball lingo.

Anyone else notice that for the last week or so, Angel Pagan had a hole in his beard?  It was on the left side of his face between his chin and his lip line.  I guess I noticed because I do spend a lot of time looking at that gorgeous mug!  Magically today it was gone, and the beard is back to normal.  Glad you worked that out, Angel!

The Ray Ratto Giants Insider commercial on CSN Bay Area is really creepy.  I find myself turning away from the TV when it’s on.  If you haven’t experienced it for yourself, they show Ray and mention that he goes way, way, way inside to get the scoop on the Giants.  With each “way”, the camera zooms in a little closer until you are basically inside his moustache, a place I definitely do not want to end up.  Come on, guys!  What is your marketing staff thinking??

May 25th marked the one-year anniversary of Buster Posey’s tragic incident at home plate, where Scott Cousins of the Marlins collided into him, causing him to be sidelined for the rest of the season.  Coincidentally, the Giants played the Marlins that day.  Cousins is no longer on the big league team, being sent down to the minors, so they did not meet again that day.  And we were all hoping that Buster could pull out a game-winning hit in the ninth to win the game, but that didn’t happen either as he was left on deck at the end of the game.  But look how far this boy has come in a year!  He’s got his mojo back and has been playing fabulously, hitting above .300 again and making some great plays from behind the plate.  Way to go, Buster!  Your hard work has paid off!

I learned some new baseball lingo today during the game from Kruk and Kuip.  The term “hitting a silo” or “hitting a milk bottle” means a super high pop-up.  The guys commented that kids nowadays probably don’t know what a milk bottle or a silo is!

Can’t leave without an Eli update:  I was surprised and pleased to see that Eli was included in the “30 Giants in 30 Days” feature on the CSN Bay Area website.  Eli is Day 26.  He talks about how the guys on the team are like a family.  Almost made me cry since he’s not part of the family right now.  Sigh.  On the bright side (of Whiteside – HEEEEEEEEEE!!), he homered in the Grizzlies’ game on Thursday.  I also noticed on the Grizzlies’ website that it lists him as being on the Giants’ 40-man roster.  I hadn’t noticed that before.  Maybe he will come back to play with the big boys near the end of the season.

I’m looking forward to the D-Bag games this week, and I have my trusty rubber snake at the ready!  That thing is going to be punched mercilessly over the next few days!  I hope all my boys can keep up the good work and teach the D-Bags a lesson!  Hoping that the recent successes of Buster, Joaquin Arias, Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco, and Hector Sanchez can continue and that some of the kids can pull it together and get their batting averages up.  Also keeping my fingers crossed that Timmy will do well this week – we haven’t given up on you, Kid!  GO GIANTS!

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