Tagged: Conor Gillaspie

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!!

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Bliss and Barf

So, do you want the good news or the bad news first on this Opening Day?  I think I’ll start with the bad so I can end with the good.  And I feel some lists coming on:

Bad List (Barf):

  • Two of the five runs scored today by the Giants were scored by the pitcher. Where’s the power??  Belt, Posey, and Parker were hitless in a hitter’s park.  Granted it was against Greinke, but Buster hits well against Greinke usually.  And Belt and Parker are lefties.
  • Once Madison got into the stretch, the game fell apart. All momentum lost.
  • Pitchers blew saves not once but twice IN A SINGLE GAME!! And one was blown by the guy who was supposed to stop all this.  Andrew Baggarly even predicted it on Twitter – “Don’t forget – you can blow more than one save in a game.”  Thanks, Mr. Jinx.  I love how the abbreviation for blown save in the box score is BS – BECAUSE THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT IT IS!!!
  • They didn’t show the National Anthem on TV so I missed out on some of the Opening Day festivity glory. Thanks new NBC Sports Bay Area for robbing me of my hooplah!
  • We lost. We can’t go 162-0 anymore.  Dreams shattered.

Good List (Bliss):

  • Stud muffin Madison Bumgarner took a perfect game into the 6th
  • Madison Bumgarner, the starting pitcher, hit two homeruns. WHAT??  He’s the only pitcher IN MLB HISTORY to ever hit 2 homeruns in an Opening Day game.
  • Madison Bumgarner now has the most career home runs (16) of any Giants pitcher EVER and the most of any current pitcher.
  • Madison Bumgarner has the highest batting average (1.000 – he went 2 for 2 with a walk) and the highest number of homeruns (2) in all of baseball (hey, it’s true!!). Sorry all of this was overshadowed by the loss today, Dude.
  • Eduardo Nunez went 3 for 4 today. He also made a great defensive play, saving extra bases.
  • Though Brandon Belt didn’t get a hit, he did walk twice. Good eye, Kid.
  • Conor Gillaspie came through with a pinch hit RBI – exactly what he was hired to do.  Nice one!
  • Ty Blach and Hunter Strickland pitched really well in relief. There’s hope for that bullpen.
  • Greinke didn’t look great – hopefully it stays that way throughout the season.
  • I actually got to watch my boys play in a game that counted. BASEBALL IS BACK!!

Bliss and barf – if you are a true baseball fan, you have to take the bad with the good.  Guess that’s why we love it so much.  The rollercoaster ride never ends!  Next game is on Tuesday against the D-Backs.  Get some rest, Boys, and shrug this one off.  We know there is more bliss hiding in there somewhere.  You can do it!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  AVENGE MAD BUM!!

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!!

Pitchers and Catchers Report in 13 Days!!

I seriously need to update this thing more often!  Even though baseball hasn’t started yet (but it will very soon!!), there has been some news to update you on regarding our boys.  Here’s a list to get you up-to-date with what’s happened in the past month:

  • My beloved Gregor Blanco will be leaving the Giants. He was offered a minor league deal by the Diamondbacks and will be battling for a spot on their team during Spring Training.  At least I might get a chance to see him again as we will be attending a D-Backs game in March.  I am really going to miss that guy.  He definitely came through for us when we needed some outfield support.  Plus he made several amazing catches (including the one in the Matt Cain perfect game) and clutch hits (remember that leadoff homerun in Game 2 of the 2014 World Series?).  Besides his production, he is just an all-around nice guy, so I’m sure he’ll be missed in the clubhouse as well.  Best of luck, Gregor.  And thank you for not spitting!!
  • Santiago Casilla will also be leaving as he signed a 2-year contract with the Oakland A’s. At least he doesn’t have very far to travel!  I think everyone expected this after his performance last season, but I will really miss Santiago as well.  He always gave it his best and he was another really nice dude.  I won’t miss the torture in those late innings, though.  Glad he was picked up by another team.  Best of luck, Santiago.  Thanks for helping us win those rings.
  • Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith all avoided arbitration with the Giants and signed 1 year deals. Gillaspie gets $1.4 million, Kontos gets $1.75 million, Nuñez gets $4.2 million, and Will Smith gets $2.5 million.  Very excited about all these guys coming back.  Conor earned his place on the team as a backup third baseman with his amazing post-season play.  George was a treasured gem in an otherwise lackluster bullpen, posting a solid 2.56 ERA and 1.16 WHIP last season (plus he’s adorable!).  Eduardo came through with some amazing support both offensively and defensively at third after the Matt Duffy trade (still hard for me to type that).  He may even see some time in left field next season as he has experience in that role.  We need some outfield backup with Angel and Gregor leaving.  And Will showed much promise at the end of the season.  He’s a much needed lefty in the bullpen with the probable exit of Javier Lopez.
  • Still haven’t had confirmation whether Sergio Romo or Javier Lopez will be coming back, but at this point it doesn’t look good. On KNBR this morning, Duane Kuiper mentioned that if Javier isn’t offered a major league contract up front, he probably will retire.  He could definitely have a second career in baseball as an announcer, though.  That guy is so intelligent and witty!  On the other hand, Sergio Romo would be willing to try out for a team during Spring Training (even though he’s never had to do that before).  Romo mentioned in an interview that he would love to come back, but at this point he’s assuming it’s not in the cards.  I would have to agree.  Supposedly the Mets and the Nationals have shown interest in him.  Will keep you updated if I hear anything.  I love Sergio and all he did for us during his time on the Giants, but I have to say his disrespect of Bruce Bochy near the end of last season has left a sour taste in my mouth.  Sergio will be pitching for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
  • The Giants signed Korean 3rd baseman Jae-gyun Hwang to a minor-league deal. He will be competing for an infield roster spot during Spring Training.  I mentioned him as a person of interest in my last blog.  He did really well in the Korean League, so we’ll see how that translates here.  There’s going to be a lot of infield competition this season!
  • The most surprising move to me was the signing of Nick Hundley, former starting catcher for both the Padres and the Rockies. He was given a major-league contract, agreeing to a 1-year, $2 million dollar deal, meaning that he will most likely be Buster’s backup catcher.  Hundley hit .260 with the Rockies last season, but that was in a park that is super batter friendly.  Still that’s above average for a backup catcher, and he is a veteran behind the plate so I’m sure guys will feel comfortable pitching to him.  I remember Hundley from watching games where he was our opponent, and what I remember is that you need to watch out when he comes up to the plate!  Definitely made a good impression on me!  This addition surprised me because I assumed Trevor Brown would be the backup catcher, but I guess even though the starters like to pitch to him, his bat has been a bit too quiet for comfort.  Trevor is a guy who may also be able to play another position, making the Spring Training competition that much more lively.  Welcome to the team, Nick.  Wonder how he’s going to adjust to the lower altitude?
  • As one player gets added to the roster, another must leave. Thus when Nick Hundley was signed, Ehire Adrianza was designated for assignment to make room for him.  I liked Adrianza, but I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t released sooner.  He was never really that impressive.  Today he was claimed off of waivers by the Brewers, so at least he’ll be on a team again.  Thanks, Ehire, and good luck to you in Milwaukie.

I also heard that one of my favorite ex-Giants players, Ryan Vogelsong, signed a minor-league deal with the Twins.  I’m so happy he’s able to continue playing baseball.  I love that guy!  And I’m sure he’ll continue to battle, giving it his all and surprising people.  Keep on going, Vogey!  Wishing you the best.  And all the best to your lovely wife Nicole as well.

I heard on KNBR about a study that was done on the effects of jet lag on baseball players.  At first I said, “DUH jet lag affects baseball players!” but some of the results were interesting.  They found the offense of jet-lagged home teams is much more affected than that of jet-lagged away teams, and eastward travel had more negative effects on home teams than on away teams.  Negative effects on offense were related to base running, such as stolen bases, number of doubles and triples, and hitting into more double plays.  Pitchers were especially affected, giving up more home runs.  This effect was large enough to erase the home field advantage for the pitcher.  The other weird thing is that there are worse ill effects from eastward jet lag than westward jet lag.  If this is true, our boys, who are usually travelling eastward to games, would be at a disadvantage.  But of course, they are amazing, and they do well for us regardless!!  Pretty interesting stuff after all.  Wonder how much they spent for that study, though.  As a result, you may see teams sending starting pitchers to away games ahead of the rest of the team in order to allow the jet lag to wear off.

I have a fun video to share with you.  Bruce Bochy did this piece with Yahoo Sports where he opened a pack of 25-year-old baseball cards and commented on each of the guys.  Man, he knows everyone!  It was so cool because he had stories about almost every single one.  Listening to the interview I realized how much I miss that guy!  Here is the interview.

Also came across a heart-warming baseball story that I wanted to share.  It’s not about the Giants but the San Diego Padres.  The story involves pitcher Matt Lachappa.  He was drafted in the second round of the 1993 draft by the Padres and played Class A ball for them in Rancho Cucamonga.  In April 1996, while warming up for a relief appearance, he stopped and clutched his chest and then fell to the ground.  The team’s trainer got to him quickly and performed CPR for 20 minutes until help arrived.  Surprisingly at such a young age, Lachappa had suffered a heart attack.  He survived, but the lack of oxygen to his brain for that period took its toll, leaving him unable to walk and slowing his speech.  Of course, sadly, Matt could no longer play baseball, plus he would be burdened with hefty medical bills if he lost his insurance from the team.  But Priscilla Oppenhiemer, director of minor league operations at the time, wasn’t going to let that happen.  She asked why the team couldn’t continue to offer Lachappa a contract with insurance benefits each year, and she got no resistance.  So to this day, Matt Lachappa is signed to a minor league contract with the Padres and continues to have his medical bills paid through the team.  That’s a great story right there.  Baseball people take care of their own!

I can finally count the days to FanFest on my fingers!!  It’s only 10 days away!  Can’t wait!  I wonder if the guys that are going to the World Baseball Classic will be wearing their countries’ jerseys again this time.  And I’m hoping that Angel and I can score that Peet’s orange mug that we barely missed out on last year!  Will be so wonderful to be in my happy place and see my boys again.  I’ll keep my ears open for any late off-season news for you, though there’s not much time left for any major moves.  Let me know if any of you are going to FanFest and we can try and meet up.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!!  LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING MY BOYS AGAIN!!

Oh, Happy Day!

I don’t usually get excited when I hear that the owners and the players’ union in Major League Baseball have a new collective bargaining agreement.  Yes, there was some worry that the process was taking too long this year, and there was even some mention of a possible lockout if they didn’t make the deadline, but with all that money on the line you knew they were extremely motivated to find common ground.  But they came together and got ‘er done in time.  There is something in the agreement that I didn’t know was being discussed but which directly affects part of what I do here, namely counting spits, and I am more than excited about this.  I am thrilled to announce that the MLB has banned smokeless tobacco.  (cue the angels singing) Hallelujah!  Isn’t this incredible?  Now the one caveat is that if you played at all during the 2016 season or before, you are grandfathered in and can still chew to your heart’s content, but otherwise YOU CAN’T CHEW!!!  I am so excited about this!!  I’m almost positive this is in response to the untimely death of Tony Gwynn a couple of years back due to salivary gland cancer.  Gwynn and his family attributed his cancer to his habit of chewing tobacco.  I am very proud of all those involved in making this decision as I’m sure it will not only improve the health of many players but it will almost definitely save lives.  Way to go, MLB!!  What a wonderful tribute to the life and talent of Tony Gwynn.  Plus, I wonder if this will cause my spit counts to drastically decrease.  I can only hope so!!

There were many other things decided upon in the CBA.  Here are a few of the more interesting points:

  • The regular season was lengthened to give the boys some extra days off. They deserve it – a 162-game season is harsh enough.  And time with the family is important to their well-being.
  • World Series home team advantage will now go to the team with the better record, not to the winner of the All-Star Game. This seems so much more fair to me, and I bet they’ll still take the All-Star game seriously even though there is nothing at stake any longer.  They will still be on the big stage after all representing their team.
  • Clubs will play games in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and London over the next five years in order to increase the popularity of baseball worldwide. This can include regular season games, and the players will get extra compensation for playing in these countries.  MLB is all about making the game more popular in other countries right now.  Will be fun to see how fans react in other countries – not just fun for us but fun for the players.  And will they still eat hot dogs?  Or fish and chips?
  • One thing I’m really thankful for is that the league is ramping up drug testing and making penalties for offenders harsher. There will be increased testing for human growth hormone, with double the amount of random testing during the season and triple the amount during the off-season.  Players caught taking stimulants will be warned after their first offense plus have increased random testing, be suspended 50 games for a second offense, 100 for a third, and up to permanent suspension for a fourth violation.  Plus if you are suspended, now you don’t accrue service time during the suspension, thus closing a loophole in the previous agreement.
  • The league’s domestic violence policy has remained intact, plus there will be new anti-hazing and anti-bullying policies. Sad to think that this actually exists in baseball, but glad to hear they’re doing something about it.

As far as the Hot Stove League goes, still not a lot of news but a few tidbits to mention.  Cory Gearrin and Ehire Adrianza were signed to one-year contracts.  Gearrin will get $1.05 million plus performance bonuses, and Adrianza will get $600K while in the majors and $300K while in the minors (guess that’s how they do it when a guy will potentially be in the minors for a big chunk of the season).  The Giants have also tendered offers to Conor Gillaspie, George Kontos, Eduardo Nuñez, and Will Smith, saving them from free agency.  They will either receive a contract soon or go through the arbitration process.  Regarding the opening in left field with the departure of Angel Pagan, Bobby Evans mentioned that he would like to give Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson the opportunity to take that role.  He’s still keeping all options open for acquiring a player, but he thinks they would do fine as well.  I would have to agree with him, and I’m sure they will play better if they see more playing time.  The strongest rumor to date revolves around the Giants possibly obtaining a closer.  According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, free agent Mark Melancon (formerly of the Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates) has multiple 4-year, $60 million plus offers, with the Nationals and the Giants definitely in the mix.  Crasnick thinks the Giants have the strongest offer.  Melancon pitched in 75 games last year for 71 1/3 innings, had an ERA of 1.34, and WHIP of 0.90, struck out 65 while only walking 12, and logged 47 saves.  Hope Jerry is right and we get him.  What a relief that would be (haha – get it??)!

The Winter Meetings started today in Maryland, so there will probably be some important moves made in the next few days.  All 30 front offices will be there with lots of opportunity to negotiate.  While doing some research, I learned that the Winter Meetings are actually a minor league networking event, but the major league teams always tag along.  Can’t wait to hear some solid news.  Bobby Evans, work your magic!

I’m always impressed by how active my boys are in community service.  I learned recently that one of our newest members, Matt Moore, supports a charity that benefits our veterans.  It’s the cycling based non-profit organization Ride 2 Recovery.  They use biking to help vets get out and active.  They’ve gotten many off medication in the process.  They also fund research into vet related issues like PTSD.  Moore did not choose a charity that supports veterans by chance.  He has a personal stake.  His father was in the Air Force for 23 years.  One of his best friends is a combat-wounded veteran.  Matt hopes that his work with the charity can reduce the extremely high suicide rate amongst vets as well.  Approximately 20 veterans commit suicide each day.  “That’s something you can’t really walk away from,” Moore said recently.  “I believe that it’s our duty to take care of the people who have protected and served our country and provide help when they need it.”  Nice work, Matt.  If you’d like to help Matt’s cause, you can get more info at www.ride2recovery.com.

Well, I purchased our first set of game tickets for our Spring Training trip!  I can almost taste those hot dogs, smell that freshly-mown grass, and feel that intense heat already!  I miss everything about baseball.  Will keep you posted if I hear any news about player transactions.  Hopefully we’ll hear something at least about a closer soon (probably right after I post this – that seems to happen a lot!).  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!

I Like It!

The wins just keep coming!  The boys are still doing fine with key players out of the picture.  As Kruk mentioned on KNBR this morning, you hope in that position that they can maintain at .500, but you never expect something like this.  They can’t seem to get a win for Madison though (lost his last two even though he pitched beautifully), but hopefully that is just a fluke.  At this moment, they are tied with Texas for the most wins in all of baseball, and they’re 7 ½ games ahead of the Dodgers.  Who would believe they could do this with Pence, Cain, Romo, and Duffy out?  I was at the game yesterday, and I felt like it ended so perfectly for this winning streak that they’ve had.  Tied in the ninth inning, Ramiro Peña hits a double, then Conor Gillaspie brings him in with a walkoff double to win the game.  So much contribution from the substitutes.  And of course, the regulars are strutting their stuff as well, especially Angel, the Brandons, and Joe Panik.  Beautiful.  Happy time to be a Giants fan.

I went to the game yesterday with my brothers and my niece.  So much fun.  Torture, but fun.  Every time we got a lead, the Phillies would match it.  But we won out in the end.  And it’s always a fun experience being with my family, eating pizza, seeds, and licorice, and enjoying the play of my boys.  During the game, the Phillies pitcher hit three of our guys.  Then my boy Johnny Cueto hit one of their guys.  In a post game interview, Johnny said it was an accident, but my no-longer-naïve baseball self knows that it was done on purpose to show that Cueto cares about his teammates, an act that I still find pretty silly.  You don’t need to hurt someone on the other team to support your own guys.  And obviously the other guy didn’t do it on purpose because one time he hit a guy with the bases loaded.  Mike Krukow agreed that Cueto probably did this on purpose and didn’t see anything wrong with it.  Guess pitchers have to stick together.  But it also brought up another interesting issue.  Both Cueto and Krukow mentioned that after Cueto hit the guy, the strike zone magically shrunk for him.  Pitches that had been strikes earlier in the game were now being called balls.  It’s like the umpire was teaching Cueto a lesson.  And that could explain why Cueto’s game was off after that.  I would imagine that would really mess with your head.  All this could be resolved if they used technology to call strikes and balls (I’m going to keep harping on this until they do it!).

During the game, I was chatting with a kid sitting next to me about baseball.  I love chatting people up about my love of the game when I’m enjoying one at the park.  After the Phillies pitcher had hit his third batter, he asked me if there was a limit to guys you can hit before you are ejected from a game.  Good question, Kid!  I didn’t know the answer, so I asked my brother, Nick.  He said that there was no limit – that it was based on if, in the umpire’s opinion, there was intent to hit the batter or not.  That’s why the Phillies pitcher could do it three times and not get a warning, but Johnny got a warning after one time – the umpire assumed Johnny did it in retaliation.  I guess you would hope a guy would be pulled from the game before he hit too many guys as each time he’s giving up a walk.  I decided to pursue this further, and did some research on what the record is for the most batters hit by a pitch in a game.  The record for a single game is a tie at 6 between Ed Knouff (April 25th, 1887) and John Grimes (July 31st, 1897).  The record for a single inning is 3, and there are too many players who have achieved this to list.  Plus several of those guys did it in consecutive order!  Kind of crazy.  I’d be freaking out if I was next at bat!  At least that record shows you that they would probably be pulled from the game before the number gets too high.

While doing this research, I came across an interesting article that discusses how intentionally throwing a ball at a player is a crazy idea.  You can check it out here.  Be sure to click on the links to some incidents that started feuds leading to hit batters.  So much silliness!  I pretty much agree with what the article is saying.  If you think about it, it is equivalent to a felony.  And the penalty is not very severe.  What are your thoughts?

If you missed Gillaspie’s walkoff on Sunday, here you go.  And if you did catch it, who doesn’t love to relive a walkoff?  My favorite part of this video – Kuip mentioning that Bochy calls Gillaspie “Mr. Happy”.  I’m dying!  The most ironic nickname ever!  I love Conor, but he’s always so serious!

More fun times with my boys:  Did you see the end of the game on Friday night?  You know how the outfielders always meet and jump up and chest bump each other?  Well, at the end of that game the outfielders were Angel, Denard, and Gregor.  And Angel and Gregor had a few tricks up their sleeve.  They planned ahead of time not to jump, and Denard ended up jumping by himself!  Too funny!  Apparently Denard already has plans for revenge.  Love this stuff!  I tried to find the video to share with you to no avail.  I’ll keep looking.

I guess Timmy’s luck at the plate was short-lived.  He got lit up by the A’s in his second meeting with them last week, giving up 4 runs and lasting only 3 innings.  Sigh.  Will be keeping an eye on him.  Hope he can do much better than that next time.

The Giants start a 4-game series against the A’s tonight – 2 games in San Francisco and then 2 in Oakland.  I’m going to the game tomorrow night with my brother, Nick.  We were able to get $10 View Level tickets from the mom of the kid I spoke with at the game yesterday (they won them and couldn’t go – SCORE!).  I’m hoping my boys can continue with their winning ways as the A’s stink right now.  Come on, Boys!  Keep it up!  GO GIANTS!  BEAT THE ATHLETICS!

Injuries, Shminjuries!

The Giants have been plagued with a lot of injuries lately.  Matt Cain’s out with a right hamstring strain, Hunter Pence is out with a torn right hamstring tendon (he underwent surgery for this on June 9th), and most recently Matt Duffy is out with a left Achilles strain.  Is this Giants fan worried about how these injuries will affect her team?  NOPE!  I am so thrilled with the way my boys have bounced back from all this.  Albert Suarez has done an amazing job filling in for Matt Cain.  Both Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson have helped Gregor Blanco fill in for the ailing Hunter Pence.  And in the last two games against the Pirates, both my boy Conor Gillaspie and Ramiro Peña have performed beautifully while replacing Matt Duffy, both contributing significantly to the wins.  Even with injuries, they had an 8-game winning streak going and now they’ve won the last 10 out of 11 games.  Add to that the fact that the bullpen performed so well tonight after Jeff Samardzija came out after pitching only 3 innings.  The bullpen combination of Law, Strickland, Osich, Gearrin, and Casilla allowed exactly zero runs in six innings.  Remember how worried we were about Sergio Romo being out?  Plus the bats came alive the last two games (unfortunately not in Madison’s game, though), with my boys scoring 15 runs on Tuesday and coming back from a 6 to 1 deficit to win tonight.  What’s there to worry about??

Ramiro Peña has really made a great first impression with the Giants.  He’s played in 5 games so far, and he’s batting  .462 (6 for 13).  He’s also got 4 RBI already.  And since he’s actually been in the bigs before (he played for both the Yankees and the Braves), you can’t blame it on the pitchers not knowing how to pitch to him.  Plus his defense looks pretty good, though he did make an error today after doing so well offensively.  Conor Gillaspie did the same thing last night – he went 4 for 5 and then made an error.  I guess the excitement just gets to you.  Hey, if they can continue to play like that, they can have an error every once in a while.  So happy that Conor was able to emerge from his hitting funk.  I knew he could do it!  Looking forward to him contributing more to the offense.

It was so great to see Ryan Vogelsong yesterday during the game.  If you didn’t know, he’s on the Pirates now, but he’s on the disabled list after being hit in the face with a 92 mph fastball.  Here’s video of him getting hit (definitely not for the squeamish – the sound alone is horrible).  They showed him in the dugout (you’ll see he makes a guest appearance in one of the spit counts!).  You can see the scar below his left eye.  I heard an interview with him on KNBR, and he said that he broke 7 bones in his face.  Three of those bones actually moved into his nose (YIKES!) and they had to be surgically moved back into place.  After a month, he said his face is still pretty swollen.  He was taking pictures with Madison before the game yesterday.  I also saw Nicole Vogelsong sitting in the stands with Ali Bumgarner tonight.  I miss them so much!  Both Ryan and his wife told Mike Krukow to be sure to tell all the Giants fans how much they appreciate all the support.  Ryan says he plans on making a comeback.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for him because I think it’s a long shot.  But if anyone can do it, he can.

In minor league news our old friend Travis Ishikawa was given a minor league contract with the Giants.  Wouldn’t that be great if he could play with my boys again?  The Giants also acquired Ruben Tejada as a minor leaguer.  You may remember Tejada from the playoffs last season when idiot Chase Utley slid directly into him at second base and broke his leg.  Here’s video of the slide.  And then Utley got off scott-free.  He was originally suspended, but he fought it and got off.  Wouldn’t it be great to see Tejada in the bigs again playing in a Giants uniform against Utley of the Dodgers?  Payback is beautiful.

Tim Lincecum had his first start for the Angels against the A’s last Saturday, and he did pretty darn good!  He went 6 innings, gave up 1 run on 4 hits and walked 2.  His fastball peaked at 90 mph.  The caveat is that it was against the A’s who currently have a win/loss record of 29 and 42, but still.  I’m glad he’s made it back to pitching in the bigs and isn’t embarrassing himself.  A lot of Giants fans that I know were at that game.  We all still love the guy.  And happy to see that he’s still wearing #55.

The trade rumors have already started.  I’ve heard the name Ryan Braun connected to the Giants, and I have to say I am not pleased about it.  After his PED scandal where he basically threw a lab worker under the bus, I’m hoping the Giants steer clear of him.  If somehow the Giants do sign him (which I don’t think they will because he’s too expensive and the Brewers will want our top prospects), I will continue to boo him.  He will never be one of my boys.  The guy is a total loser in my book.  Another interesting name that I’ve heard recently connected to the Giants is Carlos Beltran.  He’s been doing quite well for the Yankees and might be a helpful addition in the outfield.  But I still think they should give the kids (Williamson and Parker) a chance to get more playing time before resorting to going elsewhere.

On the weird front, I heard this morning on KNBR that Jake Peavy was the victim of a Ponzi scheme that bilked him of $15 million.  This represented the vast majority of his capital.  He became aware of it right before the season started.  This could explain his extremely poor performance at the beginning of the season.  Could you imagine losing that much money, money that you were counting on retiring on?  They mentioned on KNBR this morning that Jake told the head of the player’s union about it and said he wanted to share his experience with other players so that something like this couldn’t happen again to them.  Gotta love the guy for that.  Hope he can at least get some of that money back.

Congratulations to both Santiago Casilla and Billy Hayes on the addition of baby girls to their families this past week.  Santiago was out three days on paternity leave.  Came back tonight like gangbusters!

On a funny note, my cousin Manny showed me this video that was produced when Johnny Cueto first joined the Kansas City Royals.  So funny!  We need to come up with a new one to welcome him to the Giants.  Johnny loves every minute of every game and always has so much fun.  He’s always got that great smile on his face, and he’s always going all out to win.  Best entertainment there is!

I’ve got 3 new spit counts for you.  Here you go:

June 8th

Giants:

  • Bumgarner 4
  • Belt 3
  • Tomlinson 1
  • Span 1
  • Parker 1
  • Strickland 1

Red Sox:

  • Price 17
  • Vazquez 6
  • Bogaerts 6
  • Ortiz 4
  • Young 2
  • Shaw 1
  • ? 1 (someone in the dugout)

Misc.:

  • Umpires 2

Game Spit Master General = Price at 17

Giants Game Spit Master General = Bumgarner at 4

That’s a total of 50 spits during a 2 hour and 45 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 3.3 minutes.

It was interesting that David Price didn’t start spitting a lot until the later innings of the game when he was under pressure.  Also David Ortiz spits into his batting glove.  Since this was a Bumgarner start, I also did a snot rocket count.  Madison logged 7 during this game.

June 20th

Giants:

  • Bumgarner 5
  • Pagan 2
  • Hayes 1
  • Parker 1
  • Belt 1
  • Suarez 1 (seeds)
  • Cueto 1 (seeds)

Pirates:

  • Locke 11
  • Harrison 3
  • Polanco 2
  • McCutchen 1
  • Kratz 1
  • Vogelsong 1
  • Watson 1

Game Spit Master General = Locke at 11

Giants Game Spit Master General = Bumgarner at 5

That’s a total of 32 spits during a 2 hour and 25 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 4.5 minutes.

Kratz spat into his batting glove.  Again, as this was a Bumgarner start, I logged his snot rockets.  He shot off 5 during this game.

June 21st

Giants:

  • Cueto 16
  • Belt 4
  • Gillaspie 4
  • Span 2
  • Samardzija 1 (seeds)
  • Parker 1

Pirates:

  • Boscan 3
  • Harrison 3
  • Polanco 2
  • Caminero 1
  • Mercer 1
  • Hurdle 1 (seeds)

Game Spit Master General = Cueto at 16

That’s a total of 39 spits during a 3 hour and 50 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 5.9 minutes (pretty low average even though Johnny was his usual spitting self).

I noticed something spitwise during this game.  When Jarrett Parker logged his single spit, it landed in his goatee.  He had to wipe it off with his shirt.  I’ve seen Denard Span catch saliva in his beard as well.  YUCK!!  If you’re going to spit, get rid of the facial hair!  It’s just a lugie collector!  And it’s disgusting!

Tomorrow the boys play the final game of the series against the Pirates.  Not going to be able to watch as it starts at 9:35 am and I’ll be at work, but I’ll try to keep tabs on them.  I’m thinking with the way they’ve been playing, even with the injuries, they will take that game and take the series.  I know you can do it, Boys!  Just keep on doing what you’ve been doing, and please don’t get hurt!  Put more distance between yourselves and those Dodgers!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT THE BUCS!