Tagged: Brandon Crawford

Turning a Corner?

We’re all about accentuating the positive here at Giants Fan Carm.  So today’s blog is going to be all about the positive.  I just have this feeling that things are going to be different with the boys from here on in.  Why?  I feel one of my lists coming on…

  • They’ve won 2 games in a row. This is only the second time this season that they’ve been able to do this.  Sad on the one hand, but if we’re looking at the glass as half full, this is a happy thing.  Let’s see if they can pull off the win today to set a streak record for the season.  They can do this!
  • Out of the blue, they have this crazy power streak going on. In the last 6 games they’ve hit a total of 10 homeruns, and in 4 of those games 2 guys hit homers.  It’s been a Bye, Bye, Baby Bonanza!  That accounts for more than a third of the homeruns they’ve hit all season.  Plus Buster hit homeruns in three consecutive games.  I know this team is not built on power, but it doesn’t hurt.  And everyone likes to see the long ball and hear Bye, Bye Baby.
  • Speaking of homers, one of them was a walkoff by Buster in the 17th.  We haven’t been able to celebrate many walkoffs this season, and walkoff bombs are the best.  But the best thing about this walkoff was Buster’s reaction, and it’s one of the main reasons I think they are at a turning point.  Check this out.  Notice Buster’s reaction as he gets close to home.  He throws his helmet in the air and raises his arms up as he nears the plate.  Who was that guy???  This was not your typical, calm, not-expressing-any-emotion Buster.  I think he did this on purpose to energize his team.  And I think it’s working.
  • Span is back. I know there are a lot of Span haters out there, but his coming back has also been an energizer.  Two of the above-mentioned homers came from Span, and they were in his first two games back.  In his first three games back, he’s hitting .500.  WOW!!  And you can’t deny that he’s the best defensive center fielder we have.  Welcome back, Denard!
  • Justin Ruggiano. The guy had a slow start offensively when he first came up to the Bigs on May 6th, but in his last 3 games he’s hit .385 and he provided one of the above-mentioned bombs yesterday.  Could this finally be the solution to our outfield problems?  I am staying cautiously optimistic.  He’s in the lineup today so we’ll see if he can keep it going.
  • Brandon Crawford is back off the DL. I mention this for two reasons:  the guy is one of the key pieces of the Giants puzzle both offensively and especially defensively, plus I knew this would make Ginny happy.

Ginny and I sent inspirational rally pictures to several of the guys via Twitter, so I like to think we’ve contributed to all this somehow as well.  So come on, everybody!  Get those rally caps out and keep this thing going!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  MAKE IT AN EXTRA-HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

Advertisements

These Are the Times That Try Fans’ Souls

We took a series against the Dodgers, which included a win against Clayton Kershaw.  It looked like the boys might be getting back on track.  Then in two games we gave up 27 runs, and to the Reds no less.  Adam Duvall must be eating this up.  What is going on?  This is the same team that won that series a few days ago.  The potential is there.  Why is it not showing up?  It’s definitely a tough time to be a Giants fan right now.  Am I still a die-hard Giants fan?  Am I still watching games and cheering this team on?  Am I still enduring the torture?  YES!!  That’s what being a true fan is all about.  You’re with them through the good AND the bad.  In fact, they need your support more during the bad, right?  They need it to pull them through this.  And it’s not like this kind of unexplainable slump has never happened to them before.  Look at last season.  They were flying high until the All-Star break, then it fell apart.  Not to mention other seasons where the players were the same but inexplicably the results were not.  I still have faith that something will click and they’ll get out of this.  And you know that behind the scenes, Bobby Evans is taking matters into his own hands to ensure that they come out of this.  We just have to be patient and keep supporting our boys, even though it is incredibly tough right now.  They’re still our team.

One interesting thing I heard mentioned about the Reds’ ballpark, Great American Ballpark, is that the pitcher’s mound is flatter than most in baseball.  Both Bruce Bochy and Ryan Vogelsong (in an interview on KNBR) mentioned that this can throw pitchers off.  Can that be a factor?  I wonder, especially since Matt Cain had been pitching so well before this outing.  Just something to think about (as we’re all somehow trying to explain what is going on).

As the Giants also try anything to make things better, there have been more roster moves since last I blogged.  Neil Ramirez was DFA’d and claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.  Best of luck with your new team, Neil.  He had some promising moments, but gave up 6 runs on 2 different occasions – not what you need from a reliever.  He was replaced with Bryan Morris.  Morris played for the Marlins last season.  He’s had a pretty rough start, giving up 5 runs in 2 innings in his first two appearances, but yesterday he was able to pitch a hit-free inning, so maybe things are looking up (please??).  Chris Stratton (who started out great and then fizzled) was sent down to Sacramento and replace with Josh Osich.  Osich has pitched in 3 1/3 innings since his callup and has only allowed 1 hit.  ALLELUIA!!  Plus it’s nice having another lefty option in the bullpen.  Then due to his lackluster offense (2 hits in 22 at bats – sigh), Drew Stubbs was DFA’d and replaced with Justin Ruggiano.  Ruggiano was a standout in Spring Training and has a history of hitting well off of lefties, so there is some hope he can help out.  But he’s 35.  Sigh.  And he only played 9 games for the Mets and Rangers last season, plus he underwent shoulder surgery near the end of the season.  Double sigh.  Plus he went hitless in 3 at bats yesterday.  Heavy sigh.  Finally, Brandon Crawford remains on the DL with his groin strain, but he should be back soon.  I’m seriously hoping that having him back will be the needed spark to get something going.  Plus I’m sure it will warm Ginny’s heart, and that’s always a happy thing!

Since I’m always looking for the positive here, I would like to end with some happy memories of my favorite game of the season.  It was the April 26th game against the Dodgers.  I’m going to list all the happy things about this game to emphasize that this team does still have what it takes to win games:

  • We beat the Dodgers. That’s always a happy thing.
  • Christian Arroyo hit his first major league homerun off of Sergio Romo, and with a guy on base. I like homeruns with guys on base.  Not used to seeing this.
  • We were behind by 3 runs and came back to win it. Usually when we are behind by even 1 run this season, I figure that’s the end of it (I hate to admit that, but it’s true).  But we came back from a 3-run deficit.  It’s possible.  And possible with this team.
  • Our bullpen (Okert, Strickland, Melancon, Law) allowed only 2 hits and no runs in 4 innings. They can do it.
  • Michael Morse, in his first at bat after being called up to the Bigs this season, as a pinch-hitter in the 8th, hit a game-tying homerun. He did exactly what he was called up to do.  And watching the joy on his face as he ran the bases finally brought back some joy to that clubhouse.
  • Unsung hero Gorkys Hernandez started the 10th inning rally by getting a hit and then stealing second. Nice way to get things going, Gorkys.  I don’t care what anyone says, I love this guy, and I still think he has potential to do good things for this team.

I felt so good after this game – couldn’t remember the last time I felt that way.  And I realized a huge part of it was due to Michael Morse.  He brings joy to that clubhouse.  But it was kind of weird because he rushed into the clubhouse after he hit that homerun, and it was like the guys didn’t know how to respond.  Last year if that had happened, guys would have been going nuts.  But this time it was as if Morse was celebrating alone.  Afterwards, he just went to the clubhouse fence to watch the game and it looked like he was trying his best to remain calm.  Why???  Bring the silly and happy back, Michael!  Go nuts with Hunter again!  I loved that.  And it might just be what this team needs.  It’s like they’ve forgotten how to celebrate.  Might help them to stop grinding and relax.  Take Michael’s advice and talk to your bats (Did you all see this?  Love this kind of stuff!).

And keeping things light-hearted, I’ve got a new spit count for you.  It just happens to be from that joyous game:

April 26th

Giants:

  • Cueto 8 (4 were seeds)
  • Law 8
  • Arroyo 7
  • Gillaspie 5
  • Nuñez 2
  • Wotus 1 (seeds)
  • Samardzija 1 (seeds)
  • Bochy 1

Dodgers:

  • Grandal 2
  • Kershaw 1
  • Turner 1
  • Gonzalez 1
  • Toles 1
  • Roberts 1

Game Spit Master General = Tie between Cueto and Law at 8

That’s a total of 40 spits during a 3 hour and 10 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.8 minutes.

This was a fairly low spitting game.  It was weird because it started out being super low spitting, then the spitting accelerated as the game progressed.  I’ve also noticed that when games are televised on KOTR as this one was (KOTR is my local station that carries games not televised on NBC Sports Bay Area), the picture is not as clear and they don’t do as many closeups, so this could cause my counts to be lower.  Also the award for most disgusting spit during this game goes to Conor Gillaspie who ejected a large brown wad from his mouth at one point.  Thanks for making me ill, Conor.

I have some exciting news to mention as I end this.  I won a Twitter contest and I get to have dinner with Marty Lurie from KNBR!!!  I am so excited to meet Marty and talk Giants baseball with him.  Really looking forward to it.  Hoping that the boys can turn it around by then so that it can really be a celebration!  Getting ready to watch today’s game and hoping that Johnny can bring them a win in his old park.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  WE’VE STILL GOT YOUR BACK!!

Injuries and Call Ups

Geez, what a crazy ride it’s been since Madison got injured last Thursday!  I can’t believe how many roster moves have been made.  Some are really sad, but some are super great.  Here’s the list:

  • Chris Marrero was DFA’d. I think we all knew this one was coming as he hadn’t shown the same offense that he did in Spring Training, hitting only .132 in 38 at bats.
  • To replace Marrero (and set off a firecracker under this team), the Giants succumbed to all the pressure and brought up Christian Arroyo from Triple A. This is the move I am most excited about, and I’m sure everyone else is as well.  Management kept saying they wanted to wait for him to have a full year at Triple A, but I guess that just goes to show you how desperate they were to change things up with our dismal start.  He’s playing at third so he can feel comfortable in the bigs, and Eduardo Nunez has been moved out to left field.  Christian’s played in two games so far, and though his bat hasn’t been super hot yet (give the kid some time), he has gotten his first hit (and against Clayton Kershaw no less – nice story he’ll have to tell for the rest of his life), and he did hit a ball in his first game to move Brandon Crawford to third, allowing him to eventually score.  Plus he’s shown some defensive prowess, even throwing out Yasmani Grandal at first after his hit ricocheted off of Matt Cain, sending him to the ground for a front row seat on the play.  I love that the kid went over and picked Cain up!  He’s also got the gift of gab – what Duane Kuiper calls the “6th tool”.  In his post-game interview with Amy G. he told the story of getting called up and just wouldn’t stop!  Amy didn’t have to say anything!  I am so looking forward to what this kid can do for us.
  • Aaron Hill was put on the DL with a right forearm strain. Again, probably won’t see much affect from this because his numbers weren’t that great so far.
  • Denard Span made an amazing catch in the outfield this week, but ended up crashing into a wall and suffering a shoulder sprain. At first he wasn’t put on the DL, but now his shoulder’s been acting up so he was today.  Man, that catch was beautiful!
  • To fill in at center field, Drew Stubbs was called up. He’s played in the last two games and hasn’t logged a hit yet, but he’s done a great job in center field.  We’ll have to see if his bat warms up.
  • Then today, since Span was put on the DL, my boy Michael Morse was called up. YAY!!!!  It happened!!  He made it!!  What a true fantasy this is for this guy.  To think it all started with a conversation with Bobby Evans at Hunter Pence’s wedding.  I bet Hunter is thrilled to have his buddy back.  Can’t wait to see them together in the dugout tonight (though he is not in the lineup).  Hope Michael can bring some pop back to this team.  According to Andrew Baggarly, Morse will help off the bench and start occasionally at first base.  Welcome back, Michael!!  Can’t wait to hear Take On Me again!
  • Chris Stratton was called up to fill the spot left by Madison’s departure. He pitched three innings in relief of Matt Moore in the game where Matt got lit up by the Rockies, and he did an amazing job.  He didn’t allow a hit, allowed only one walk, and tallied 3 strikeouts.  I am really excited about this kid.  He also shows great poise and confidence on the mound.  Looking forward to seeing more of him (and not really sure why he hasn’t come into a game since – maybe since he pitched 3 innings and that’s a lot for a reliever?).
  • Brandon Crawford is on bereavement leave for the next three days so that he can attend services for his sister in law. Apparently the minimum you can take off for such things is three days.  He only needed two, but as it turns out he suffered a groin injury in yesterday’s game and may even end up on the DL when he gets back.  I sure hope not.  I’m so tired of documenting injuries on this team so far!  There are enough guys out!
  • Kelby Tomlinson was called up today to provide some infield help while Brandon’s out. So glad he’s back.  I love that guy and I’m hoping to see a lot of him this season.
  • Finally Matt Cain injured his hamstring in his stellar performance on Monday night. It was so sad that he had to leave after 6 innings while he had been doing so well.  The guy’s numbers for this season are just crazy and so unexpected.  He’s the ace so far this season, with a 2.42 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in the 4 games he’s pitched.  Who would have thunk?  Thankfully, the x-ray results on the hamstring injury came back negative so he avoided a major injury, but we’ll have to see if he is able to make his next scheduled start.  If not, maybe they can put Stratton in – I love that guy!

 

I know you’ve all been waiting with baited breath, but your wait is now over.  I have the first spit count of the season for you!  Here you go:

April 22nd

Giants:

  • Gillaspie 6
  • Bochy 4 (all seeds)
  • Nunez 3 (2 of these were seeds)
  • Moore 2
  • Stratton 2
  • Span 1
  • Belt 1
  • Posey 1
  • Reyes 1
  • Meulens 1 (seeds)
  • Panik 1
  • Marrero 1

Rockies:

  • Arenado 4
  • Reynolds 4
  • Story 4
  • LeMahieu 3
  • Senzatela 2
  • Cardullo 2
  • Blackmon 1

Misc.:

  • Umpire (Rob Drake) 14 !!!!!
  • Fan 1
  • Fan 1

Game Spit Master General = Drake at 14

Giants Game Spit Master General = Gillaspie at 6

That’s a total of 60 spits during a 3 hour game for an average of 1 spit every 3 minutes.

At first I thought this was the first time an umpire won out as the Game Spit Master General.  Then I seemed to recall the name of said umpire – Rob Drake.  I looked it up, and indeed he was the Game Spit Master General for the game on August 24th, 2012!  And during that game, he logged a whopping 40 spits!  So at least he’s calmed it down a bit!  I kept noticing him lifting his mask and finally realized he was doing it to expel saliva.  Sheesh!  Why does an umpire need to spit??  These were the first fan spits logged in a while – two different guys.  Really??  Matt Moore wins the award for most disgusting spit – one of his ended up mostly on his face, and he wiped it away with his glove!  Blech!  Also noticed during this game that Moore is also a snot rocket launcher – he launched 3 today.  Kudos to Neil Ramirez today – he may have given up 6 runs in one inning during this game (including walking one in), but he didn’t get caught spitting once!  Hoping he keeps up the non-spitting this season (and keeps guys off the bases while doing it).

Going to leave today with a question:  Why does Nick Hundley only wear one shoulder protector behind the plate?  It’s over his right shoulder.  Check it out next time he’s in the lineup.  Anybody have a clue?  Please leave a comment if you know why.  Going to the game on Saturday with my entire family – all 11 of us!  So excited to get to my first game.  The giveaway that day is the two flaps down hat, so I’m hoping to get a picture of all of us together wearing it!  Also hoping that we can take these next two games against the Dodgers.  My boys always seem to rise to the occasion against their arch rivals.  They won Monday, and even though they lost yesterday, they did battle and keep it close (and it was Kershaw after all).  Plus Ty Blach did an amazing job – what a relief that we can count on this kid to get us out of a jam.  Will be cheering them on tonight from my living room.  Come on boys!  You can do it!  Bring us some energy in the clubhouse, Michael!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA!!

Rough Start

On paper, it looked like the Giants would have smooth sailing at the beginning of their 2017 season – NL West matchups for the first two weeks against the Diamondbacks, Padres, and Rockies.  Not even any games against the Dodgers.  Who would have predicted that after 13 games they would be sitting at the bottom of the NL West with a 5-8 record?  Not to mention that the Diamondbacks would be at the top of that list?  Craziness!  There have definitely been some exciting moments, but these last couple of weeks have been rough.

Unfortunately, we’ve already suffered some major injuries.  Buster was hit in the head by a 94-mph pitch from the Diamondbacks Taijuan Walker on Monday.  Being extremely careful with any player who potentially has a concussion, he was put on the 7-day concussion DL.  He appears to be doing well, slowly adding his normal baseball activities to his routine, but I’m sure the Giants aren’t going to rush anything.  And that’s the way it should be.  However, this leaves us without our prized catcher for at least a week.  I love Nick Hundley, and he’s really stepped up both offensively and defensively to help the team out with Buster gone, but there’s still that factor of the starting pitchers not being as used to pitching to him.  You wonder how that affects them.  Word is that if everything goes well, Buster will travel with the team to Kansas City and probably be the designated hitter for those games, giving him a longer break away from catching.  And maybe in the long run, having more time pitching to Hundley will be good for the starting rotation.

Then today, there was another devastating injury.  Jarrett Parker raced to make an amazing catch in the outfield, but in the process crashed into the wall and sustained a broken right clavicle.  There’s no estimate yet as to how long he’ll be out, but sheesh!  The guy broke his clavicle!  I’d assume it won’t be any time soon.  And of course, left field has been the position where we’ve been lacking this season.  This sure doesn’t help, especially since recently Parker had been hitting better, going 1 for 2 with a walk on Monday (finally getting his first hit this season), then 2 for 3 with a walk on Wednesday.  WHY???

It will be interesting to see who ends up taking Parker’s place.  Maybe Chris Marrero, the guy that got his first major league homerun yesterday (after 144 plate appearances in the majors), the guy who showed amazing power in the spring, and the guy who ruined Tyler Chatwood’s perfect game in the 6th today when he came in to replace Parker.  He’s also made some beautiful defensive plays.  There’s also Aaron Hill, but he hasn’t been very hot offensively.  Kelby Tomlinson is also a possibility.  Mac Williamson and Michael Morse still aren’t ready to come back.  Then recently the Giants added two more possibilities, signing both to minor league deals:  Melvin (formerly BJ) Upton and Drew Stubbs.  But though both of these guys are great defensively, they are lacking offensively, and isn’t that really what we need over there?  Some pop?  Pop from somewhere?  ANYWHERE??  This whole left field issue is really annoying, like an uninvited house guest that keeps eating all your food.  Yeah.  I don’t like it.  Wonder if Bobby Evans is making some frantic phone calls right now.  I kind of hope so.

Speaking of Melvin Upton, I was wondering why he no longer goes by BJ.  Most people suspected that since he had recently been struggling professionally that he wanted a new start.  But Upton commented, “This has nothing to do with starting a new chapter.  I just wanted to.  My father thought enough to give me his name, so why not?”  He also mentioned that most of his friends call him Mel or Melvin anyway, so it’s just natural.  Plus I would imagine having the nickname BJ would be difficult around baseball dugouts (sorry – just had to go there).  Guess Melvin wouldn’t be much easier.  Sorry.

On a much more serious note, we all received some sad news this week – a reminder that tomorrow, no matter how young we are, is never guaranteed.  I found out through an Instagram post that Jalynne Crawford made earlier this week, and even though she didn’t say exactly what happened, you could tell it was terrible.  Jennifer Pippin, Jalynne’s oldest sister, passed away suddenly on Wednesday due to a severe asthma attack.  She leaves behind her husband and two daughters, ages 9 and 6.  What a terrible tragedy for this extremely close family.  Brandon drove down to LA on Wednesday night to be with the family, then drove back on Thursday and even pinch hit in the game that night.  Then Friday, when he hit his homerun, he looked up to the heavens when he crossed home in tribute to her.  After the game, Brandon said (regarding the home run), “That one’s for Jen.  That one’s for my sister in law.  I know she was watching this game tonight.”  AWWW!!  Jalynne has set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with expenses here.  Sending my deepest condolences to all of the family members.

Did you folks watch the game on Friday night?  At one point, some of the crowd starting using their flashlights on their phones like you do at a concert.  It really caught on, and soon there were lights around the entire stadium.  The boys must have really loved that!  And they sure responded, piling on hit after hit and scoring 4 runs in the 7th inning.  That was truly beautiful!  I wonder if that will be a thing at night games from now on.  Or could it be a distraction to the pitcher?  Even if it was a distraction, would security be able to stop it?  We’ll have to wait and see.  I personally loved it!

Going to end with some random craziness just because.  First, the other night, Mike Krukow kept saying that Conor Gillaspie was a pig farmer.  He said that’s why he doesn’t wear batting gloves – he builds up calluses on his hands so he doesn’t need them.  I didn’t realize that Conor Gillaspie was a pig farmer, so I Googled it, but nothing came up.  Is he, or was he, really a pig farmer?  Or was Kruk just being a weirdo as usual?  Is pig farmer the nickname of some weird team he played on?  If anyone knows about this, please let me know.  Then there’s this.  This is Yadier Molina, catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, stopping a wild pitch in the most unusual manner ever!  The ball stuck like Velcro to his chest protector!  I have never seen anything like this!  After the game, he denied having put pine tar or any other adhesive on his chest protector to make the ball stick.  Sounds kind of fishy to me.  Even if he had, apparently there’s no rule against it, as long as the sticky stuff is not on the skin or the ball.  Crazy!  Then I noticed last night that the Rockies catcher had a wristband on with codes for play calls.  I had only ever seen one other guy wearing this thing, but apparently they are becoming more popular.  You can even buy them on Amazon.com.  It’s a way for a coach to relay pitches or plays to the catcher with multiple signs (usually numbers) so that the other team can’t pick up on the sign.  For example, the wristband could show 10 different numbers that all mean pitch out.  Always trying to stay one step ahead of the competition.  Personally, I’m sure that would be too complicated to keep track of!

Tomorrow is the last game against the Rockies, then the boys travel to Kansas City to play on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Hoping that Buster can come back healthy by then and the pieces of this team can start working together better.  There have been many moments of promise, but also many cricket-filled innings where you are just waiting for something to happen.  Hoping the spark will come along soon.  You never know where it will come from.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  GET US SOME WINS!!

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!!

Bye, HestoPresto!

I wasn’t expecting any news so quickly after the Melancon signing, but Bobby Evans is definitely still at it.  This time the news isn’t as jaw dropping, though.  Chris Heston was traded to the Mariners today for a “player to be named later”.  It sounds like this was done in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Melancon.  I’ll never forget that no hitter he pitched 2 seasons ago, a prospect coming out of nowhere to help out in the rotation.  But he couldn’t handle being in the bullpen last season, his numbers weren’t anywhere near what they were in 2015, plus he spent most of the year on the DL with an oblique strain.  Hope he does well up there – apparently he’ll have a much better chance of getting on the 25-man roster in Seattle.  Good luck, Chris.  Thanks for the wonderful memories from that amazing game.  Now we just have to wait and see who that mystery player we’re getting will be.

I got a little more insight into the character of Mark Melancon from an interview that Tom Tolbert and John Lund from KNBR did with him.  That guy is definitely a thrill seeker!  He and his wife came up with a mutual bucket list when they got married.  Some of the things they have already crossed off are a safari, skydiving (only him), they rode down the most dangerous road in Bolivia on bikes, going in a shark cage, and a blimp ride.  Another he hasn’t yet done is going backstage at a concert, and he asked Tom and John if they could help him with that one.  He also mentioned that winning a World Series and meeting a president were also on there.  Hey, he could accomplish both with the Giants in one season!  And just in case you were wondering, his walk-up song is “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC.  He mentioned that Ryan Vogelsong helped sway him to join the Giants (they played on the Pirates together).  In fact, he said Ryan spoke of the Giants so much he started to get sick of it!  LOL!  Really looking forward to getting to know Mark better and watching him pitch FOR US!!

Another rumor that I’m not really surprised about is that Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, and Javier Lopez will most likely not be back next season.  After last year’s bullpen train wreck, I can’t say I’m very upset about this.  The blown saves killed Casilla’s chances of returning, Lopez’s ERA skyrocketed to 4.05, and Romo was starting to be predictable (plus his bad attitude and disrespect of Bochy started getting on my nerves).  Changes had to be made, and the Giants are opting to go with the youngins.  I’ll always remember the significant contributions that all three made to us winning those three rings.  I’m pretty sure if they want to continue playing, they will be picked up by some other team.  And when he retires, I’m sure Javi could easily slip into a broadcasting role – that dude is so intelligent!

The World Baseball Classic is back next season, running from March 6 – 22.  Last time it happened, several Giants players were involved, and there was some discussion about whether it negatively affected their seasons because of the increased playing time coming off an already extended season.  But they’re back at it again this year.  So far Buster will definitely be playing for the U.S., Johnny Cueto will pitch for the Dominican Republic, and Albert Suarez will play for Venezuela.  Brandon Crawford may also play for the U.S.  I love the fact that these guys will be representing their countries, but please, please, please, don’t get hurt!!  My favorite part of the WBC last time was watching the Latin fans in the stands – those folks love their baseball and show so much energy and emotion!  Fun times!  I hope some of the games are televised next year.

Will continue to keep you posted on the moving and shaking going on with my boys.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

Struggles in the Big Apple

The Mets are the reigning NL Champions.  In our series against them, we lost the first game (horribly, I might add – more comments later), almost took the second game (I was so hoping that they could come back), and won the third game.  I’m looking at this with glass-half-full eyes and being hopeful, especially since the first two starts were from our 4th and 5th starters, and we almost took that middle one.  Cain gave up runs, but he could still locate pitches when he needed to.  And we ended with a win going into Cincinnati.  And we’re still in a tie for first place in the division with the Dodgers.  Glass half full.

The only glass-half-empty part of all this was that Peavy start on Friday.  Have you ever seen back-to-back pitchers give up 6 runs each, and in the 3rd inning to boot??  We helped the Mets set a record that game, giving them their best single inning offensive output in their franchise’s history.  Yikes!  What are we going to do about Peavy?  I love giving guys chances, but we can’t afford for this to keep happening.  I guess Mike Broadway isn’t getting any second chances – he got sent down to the River Cats the next day, being replaced by Vin Mazzaro.  My guess is that Peavy was kept in because Bochy is loyal to his starters, hoping he could dig himself out of the hole, and Broadway was left in to save the bullpen for the upcoming long road trip.  During that game I kept wondering when does Bochy just give up and call it a loss?  He did make bench substitutions with Gillaspie and Brown for Duffy and Buster fairly early in the game.  That third inning seemed to go on for an eternity.  You start to wonder if it could just go on forever!  And what’s up with that Conforto kid on the Mets?  I’m going to have to remember that name for my Beat the Streak picks (which is currently in a 3-way tie between me and two of my brothers at 8 so far).  I’m sure Bochy won’t make any moves with Peavy in the near future (he mentioned this after the game), but I also know that if it continues much longer, there will have to be some sort of move made.  Come on, Jake!  Get it together!

Speaking of possible moves, remember Tim Lincecum?  Yeah, that guy that just about every Giants fan loves who’s been sorely missed and was supposed to have a showcase that never materialized?  Well folks, it’s about to happen.  It’s scheduled for this Friday in Arizona, and several teams are planning on attending to see what the kid’s got after his surgery, including the Giants.  Here’s a link to an interview with his dad and a story by Alex Pavlovic about it.  If you ask me, his dad sure likes being in the limelight!  A tad bit annoying!  But I have to say that I’m intrigued by all this and dying to hear how this thing goes.  And frankly, Timmy’s timing couldn’t be any better with the starter woes the Giants have been experiencing.  And if not starter, possibly long relief?  For all you Timmy lovers out there (and I know there are tons), you’ve got some hope!  Personally, I do miss seeing him in the clubhouse, and I know a lot of the players miss him as well.

Joe Panik suffered a groin injury during the game on Friday night (another major bummer about that game).  He was evaluated on Saturday and was out of the lineup both Saturday and Sunday.  He’s not expected to return until at least Tuesday, and Kelby Tomlinson will be filling in for him in the meantime.  Get better, Joe!  We need you!  And Brandon needs his double play buddy back!

During the game on Saturday, the new rule about sliding into second base came into play.  Brandon Crawford was attempting to throw to first after tagging second base and getting Neil Walker out, but Walker slid right into him and prevented him from getting a throw off.  Bochy protested, and the play was reviewed in New York.  If the slide was deemed illegal, the guy at first would have been out.  But the guys in New York said it was not illegal and the guy at first remained on the bag.  Here’s the video of the slide.  Note that the announcers for the video are Mets announcers, and they sided with the guys in New York.  The Giants announcers, on the other hand, thought that the slide should have been deemed illegal.  Interesting how both sets of announcers sided with their team.  I have to say that rereading the rule, even though I’m a Giants fan, I have to agree with the umpires in New York.  Rule 6.01(j) states:

A “bona fide slide” for purposes of Rule 6.01 occurs when the runner: (1) begins his slide (i.e., makes contact with the ground) before reaching the base; (2) is able and attempts to reach the base with his hand or foot; (3) is able and attempts to remain on the base (except home plate) after completion of the slide; and (4) slides within reach of the base without changing his pathway for the purpose of initiating contact with a fielder.

He slid before the base, reached the base with his hand, attempted to remain on the base, and didn’t change his path.  Granted he used his legs to try to take out Crawford, but he did not break this rule.  So why don’t they change the rule to say that you have to slide AIMING YOUR FEET AT THE BAG???  Wouldn’t that make more sense, especially if the goal of the rule is to protect the fielder?  I’m really starting to hate this rule because it’s being interpreted differently by different officials and it’s not doing what it was intended to do.  Plus it’s confusing runners who don’t know exactly how they are supposed to slide any more.  I’m hoping they can fix it at some point this season because it’s not working.

Just cause I’m feeling sassy, I wanted to throw something else out there.  Everyone keeps trying to find ways to shorten a baseball game.  Three hours for a sporting event is a loooooooong time.  The limits on mound visits and pitchers warming up have helped a bit, but really only cut off a few minutes from a game.  How about this – take off one or two innings.  I know, crazy right??  But is it really?  It would definitely shorten the game, and you wouldn’t have to worry about keeping so many relievers, thus saving money for the team that could be passed on in ticket prices (even though it probably wouldn’t).  Plus a lot of people leave after the 6th inning anyway.  I know there’s a big downside to this in that all the record keeping would be messed up (like a perfect game would not mean as much), and current records couldn’t be compared to previous ones, but it might keep people’s interest more if the game were shorter.  Just saying.  Do you think I’m crazy?  Let me know in the comments, or let me know if you have any other suggestions on shortening the game.

I have a new spit count for you.  Here you go:

April 30th

Giants:

  • Gillaspie 5 (Welcome back!)
  • Duffy 3
  • Span 2
  • Belt 2
  • Strickland 2
  • Posey 1
  • Pagan 1

Mets:

  • Cespedes 5
  • Rivera 3
  • Reed 3
  • deGrom 1

Game Spit Master General = tie between Gillaspie and Cespedes at 5

That’s a total of 28 spits during a 3 hour and 10 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 6.8 minutes.

This was a relatively low-spitting game.  Guess the guys got the spit knocked out of them in that game on Friday!  However, my boy Conor Gillaspie has come back with a vengeance to his old spitting ways, especially when you consider he came in to this game half way through.  I remember from his previous stint with the Giants that he always had a huge wad in his cheek, and that habit has continued.  I did notice a never before witnessed routine that he has that involves spitting.  Three different times he spat into his hand, picked up some dirt and mixed it with the spit, then worked it into the handle of the bat.  I’m assuming he did this to improve his grip.  Yeah.  I think maybe I should send the guy either some batting gloves or some Lizard Skins (here’s a link to their website).  SHEESH!  Also, once again, Matt Duffy was caught launching a snot rocket during this game.  Sigh.

The Giants continue their road trip tomorrow with three games against the Reds, then they come back home to battle the Rockies four times.  Both the Reds and the Rockies suck, however unfortunately for us, the Reds do well at home and the Rockies do well on the road.  So Boys, I’m not going to be super greedy, but continuing with the “Slow and Steady” theme, I’d like for you to take both series.  I really think this is possible, especially with 2 Cueto, 2 Samardzija, and 1 Bumgarner start in there.  Cain and Peavy, I know you can do better than you have, too.  You can all do it, Boys.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  KEEP THE LEAD!