PLAY BALL!!

Tomorrow’s the day we’ve all been waiting for!  The baseball drought is over!  It’s time to play ball again!  The National Anthem, hot dogs, the crack of the bat, the cheers, the crazy outfits, the kiss cam, Kruk and Kuip, Tony singing, and my boys in their real Giants uniforms are all back!  The Giants start off their season in Arizona playing the D-Backs – Bumgarner vs. Greinke.  I am thrilled that I can watch my boys regularly again.  Tomorrow’s game will be extra special with all the opening day ceremonies – love ALL of it!!  Planning on spending the entire afternoon in front of the tube on the couch enjoying my boys and the official start of the 2017 season.  That reminds me – I have to get my Beat the Streak picks in!  Wonder which one of my boys matches up well against Greinke.  Hmmmmm… it says Buster, Eduardo Nunez, and Nick Hundley all have batting averages above .300 against him.  Gotta love that!!  Maybe I’ll start my first streak of the season off by picking Buster!  Are you all going to be watching along with me?

I wanted to see what the final 25-man roster is, but it hasn’t been updated on the sfgiants.com site yet.  I found an article that says they are still making some last-minute tweaks.  It did answer a question about who will be the 5th starter, though.  Matt Cain has earned that job over rookie Ty Blach, though Blach will be on the 25-man roster as a long relief option.  He may also see some time as a lefty specialist since the team lost Will Smith to a season ending elbow injury.  Kelby Tomlinson, Albert Suarez, and Josh Osich were optioned to Triple A.  The five backup position players will be Nick Hundley (catcher), Conor Gillaspie (infield), Gorkys Hernandez (outfield), Aaron Hill (infield), and the surprise of the Spring, Chris Marrero.  Marrero can play in the outfield or also at first base.  Marrero wowed his way onto the team with his power bat – he finished tied for second in homeruns this spring in all of baseball.  His defense is a little lacking, but I am so excited to see some pop in the lineup.  He will form a platoon in left field with Jarrett Parker who also showed promise in the spring.  Marrerro’s kind of similar to Michael Morse – not the greatest defender, but a powerful bat.  And though my boy Michael Morse will not be on the 25-man roster due to an injury he sustained during spring training, there is talk that he will be rehabbing in an attempt at possibly joining the team later in the season.  He also had a great spring and impressed the big wigs enough that they are still considering him.  So very happy for him!  Do your work and get back with us soon, Michael!  Hunter misses you!  Once Morse or Mac Williamson are healthy again, they would probably replace Marrero in the outfield (unless Marrero gets super hot – you never know!).

Had a fantastic time at Spring Training in Arizona last month.  I went with my brothers Nick and Paul and my sister Kathleen.  We always have a great time on our trips because we’re all pretty mellow and just go with the flow.  We watched 3 games in 4 days – all away games.  I actually plan our trips that way because away games are so much cheaper.  It’s always fun to watch the new kids and see the old familiar faces.  And being in a ballpark again is always fabulous!  We went to Surprise for the first time this year, and the ball park was really nice – a bit further out than most but not too bad.  I have to say that I’ve really liked all the Spring Training ballparks we’ve ever been to.  Besides Scottsdale Stadium, my favorite is Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (plus I love that name!).  We watched the Giants play the D-Backs there this year (a preview of tomorrow’s game).  Gregor Blanco started for the D-Backs – it was so nice to see him out there, even if it wasn’t for the Giants.  He did really well in that game, and he does have a minor league deal with them, but he won’t be starting in the bigs due to a strained oblique.  Hope he heals quickly so he can join the team – love that guy and wish him all the best.  Besides games this year, we also adventured to a couple of new spots in Arizona – South Mountain Park and Papago Park.  We drove to the top of South Mountain Park and enjoyed the spectacular view of the Phoenix area and beautiful dessert.  At Papago Park, we climbed up a mountain with a hole in it (the climb was really mild – I’m not a climber – but the view was great).  I recommend both places if you are ever there.  We were lucky to stumble upon them.

One fun thing to do is to sample the food in these parks.  It’s almost like being in the team’s real park foodwise because many of the parks carry the signature food from their team’s home park.  We got to sample two ballpark delicacies on this trip.  At Salt River Fields, we tried the signature hot dog of the Diamondbacks.  It’s called a Mega Dog – a huge hot dog covered in pulled pork and jalapeno mac and cheese – fantastic!  Then at Goodyear Ballpark, I got to try the signature food of the Cincinnati Reds – a Skyline Chili Coney Dog.  It was a hot dog smothered in Skyline Chili (famous in Cincinnati – we had it there on our trip in 2012) with onions and cheese.  It was really small, but really tasty.

The highlight of my trip this year was the single autograph I got.  At the first game we went to I just missed getting Hunter Pence’s autograph.  I noticed him signing and moved over to where he was, but by the time I got there he had to leave.  He was being so patient and friendly and signing for so many people.  I figured I had missed my chance for that trip.  Then two days later, I was lucky enough to actually be standing close to the area where he came over to sign autographs.  As he was signing, I asked him, “Are you happy to be playing with your buddy Michael (Morse) again?”  He gave me this big smile and said, “Very happy!  Great things happen when we get together!”  And luckily he eventually made his way over to me and signed my journal!  YAY!!  It was so adorable because I noticed it was taking him a while to sign.  Then he said, “I’m trying to draw you a smiley face!”  And thank goodness he told me that because I wouldn’t have known what it was otherwise!  LOL!  He’s such a cutie pie!

Congrats to Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey, and Mark Melancon (even though he didn’t play much) on their World Baseball Classic championship!  Sounds like all three had a blast playing in that series.  I know that there were a lot of comparisons to the All-Star game, but it was even nicer for them because they actually got to build a relationship with their teammates over several games, not just one.  It’s kind of more like the Olympics in that sense.  It was very nice for Brandon to be in the national spotlight, even being mentioned by the announcers as a possible WBC MVP candidate.  I had a lot of fun watching the games and enjoying the different ways different countries play and enjoy the game of baseball.  Those Japanese fans really get into it, even coming up with different songs for each of the different players!  And the Latin celebrations are fantastic!  Bottom line, though – really glad no one got hurt!!

Melancon reminds me that I have two new questions from Angel to answer.  The first is about the pronunciation of Mark Melancon’s name.  Angel wonders why you pronounce the c like an s.  I assumed it’s because it’s French.  I looked it up, and it is a French name.  The c is actually ç (cedilla), and it is pronounced like s.  Melancon is the Americanized version since we don’t have that letter in our alphabet.  Another interesting thing I discovered about the name Melancon – it means “an ill man”.  Why in the world did that first Melancon choose that as their last name???  Angel was also curious about how they select the managers for the WBC teams.  Well, I couldn’t find an outright answer to this question, but I did find out that no manager currently working in the Major Leagues can head a WBC team, although coaches are potential candidates if they are given permission from their individual clubs.  That’s why Hensley Meulens was able to manage the Netherlands team.  And Jim Leyland could manage the US team because he’s retired.  If anyone else has any insight into this question, please help Angel out.  Thanks!

Saw my first intentional walk of the season on Friday (well, preseason anyway).  Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked.  Bob Melvin, manager of the A’s, simply held up four fingers to the umpire and that was that.  One second Brandon was warming up swinging the bat and the next he was on first.  I don’t like it!!  Angel and I were texting about how much we hated it.  Oh well – I guess that’s what we’ll be seeing this season.  Even Kruk and Kuip mentioned how weird it was.  BOOO!!

There will be some new pre and post-game analysts at Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area (soon to be NBC Sports Bay Area – why do they have to change things???) this season, and I’m really excited about the additions.  Besides Javier Lopez, Matt Williams and Cody Ross will be joining the team.  I was surprised about Matt Williams because I thought he was still a manager somewhere, but I guess not.  So glad he’ll be talking about my boys.  And who doesn’t love Cody Ross??  Look forward to seeing that great smile again!

Will end today on a silly note.  I heard a crazy story about the Giants on KNBR the other day, on the Tolbert and Lund show.  Those two guys make me laugh out loud all the time!  Anyway, they were talking about how the Giants have full-time sports scientists on their medical staff.  They can use all sorts of cutting edge gadgets to make sure that the players are working at their optimum capacity.  Well, one of the areas they are interested in is proper hydration.  I can see how this would be a good thing, and I would imagine that good hydration could give the players and the team a competitive edge.  It’s just the way they are going about it is pretty hysterical.  They measure the player’s hydration by measuring their urine specific gravity.  Of course, this is accomplished by taking a urine sample, and it’s taken before batting practice.  The testing is 100% voluntary, but in order to get guys to buy into this, they’ve turned good hydration into a competition – the best hydrated player after every series wins a coveted prize.  That prize is a golden urinal trophy!  Check it out!!  And I love the Twitter quote: “Think of it as the M-V-Pee trophy!”  HAHAHAHAHA!!!!  What would you do with that thing if you won it??

Hope that the boys can carry the momentum of an A’s sweep with them to Arizona.  So looking forward to all the pomp and circumstance of an Opening Day game.  I should go out and buy some hot dogs just to feel like I’m there!  Come on, Boys!  Show us what you’ve got!  We’ll be cheering for you!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  PLAY BALL!!

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