Tagged: Denard Span

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!!

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!!

Spring Cleaning in Arizona

I like sweeps!  This one was extra sweet for a lot of reasons.  First off, and probably most importantly, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy continued to perform well after the dreadful start to their seasons.  Both gave the team the opportunity to win once again.  I like this trend, and am seriously hoping it can continue.  If they can keep this up, we are in great shape.  Also during this series, some of the guys started to get hot.  Denard Span went 2 for 5 on Thursday, 2 for 4 on Friday and 4 for 4 on Saturday.  Buster also got his average up during this series.  And I’m so relieved that Angel Pagan and Joe Panik are back and getting right back at it.  Plus how about that Trevor Brown hitting a homerun for us while filling in for Buster!  Love it!  Finally, we won a game against Zack Greinke for the first time ever.  Beautiful!  A 5-game winning streak is hopefully a sign that things are turning around for my boys.

Today’s game was the only one I actually got to watch completely.  Not a whole lot of action, but there were lots of interesting things that happened.  I think I feel a list coming on…

  • You know how guys get high fives in the dugout after they hit a homerun? Well after Trevor Brown hit his today, he proceeded to start the high fiving, but in the process left one guy hanging – Buster!  It was so funny!  Of all people to do that to, his fellow catcher!
  • Johnny Cueto likes to blow bubbles in the dugout. Big bubbles.  Humongous bubbles.  Today they showed him blowing one that was almost as big as his head.  They also showed the wad of gum which must have contained 10 pieces.  Here’s some video of him from today’s game.  And I love how the cameramen keep switching back to him in the process.  Those kind of things make watching baseball that much more fun.  Plus it makes me love Johnny Cueto that much more.
  • One bummer was how the game ended. That double play was amazing, but I hate it when the last call of the game has to be decided in New York.  It was obvious that Belt had the out at first, but I’m still wondering about the play at second.  It sure looked like Crawford pulled his foot off before making the tag.  Guess the guys in New York couldn’t see enough to overturn it.  Glad that D-Back got called out by the umpire initially, otherwise that game could still be going on.  Even Crawford seemed a little wishy washy when talking about it in his post-game interview.
  • Then after that double play, the umpire totally blew it when relaying what they said in New York to the crowd. He made the signal for out at first and safe at second.  It was supposed to be out at both first and second.  How do you possibly get that wrong?  The same call at both bases!  Sheesh!  He had to go through the motions about three times before he got it right.  The umpire that did the blowing of the call is Jerry Layne.  Who’s in for buying that man some glasses?  Or a hearing aid?  The best part of that call was how Jim Kozimor of CSN was doing the blown call dance in the post-game.  I’m thinking it will be the next dance craze.

There was also an opportunity for increasing our baseball knowledge in this game.  I’ve always wondered what exactly the rules are for a foul tip.  Is it like a foul so if it’s caught it’s an out?  Or is a foul tip somehow different than a regular foul?  There was an incident in the game today that involved a foul tip.  A D-back hit a foul tip that hit Trevor Brown in the chest, but Brown caught it on the rebound before it touched the ground.  Brown thought that this was an out (the batter already had 2 strikes on him).  So what is the official ruling on this?  Well, I did some research, and it turns out that a foul tip is very different from a regular foul.  MLB defines a foul tip as “a batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught.  It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play.  It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand.”  In this case, since the ball rebounded off of Trevor’s chest without touching his hands first, it was not a catch, so it was just a foul ball, not a strike.  And since you can’t strike out on a foul ball, the guy was not out.  The key is that it has to hit the catcher’s hands first.  Also, the path of the ball has to be “sharp and direct” to be designated a foul tip, so any significant deviation from a straight path of the ball would not be considered a foul tip.  I guess “sharp and direct” is judged at the discretion of the umpire.  So I learned something today because I did not think a foul tip counted as a strike unless the ball was in the strike zone.  I also didn’t know that if a foul tip is caught, the ball is still in play.  For example, you can steal on a foul tip that is caught.  I hope you were able to learn something from all this as well.

I’m curious – what did you all think about the Casilla incident the other day?  Here’s what happened:  On Friday night, Bochy brought in Casilla with one out in the ninth.  The score at that point was 4-2 Giants.  The first two batters he faced singled, placing guys at first and third.  He then struck a guy out, but walked Paul “Goldy” Goldschmidt (aka “The Timmy Killer”) to load the bases.  Next up would be Jake Lamb.  Lamb had hit a game tying, ninth inning homer off of Casilla last month in San Francisco.  What would you do in this situation?  Well, Bochy decided not to take the risk and called on Javier Lopez to make the last out against Lamb (which he did), a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup.  But Casilla was not pleased with being taken out of the game at this point, and this is how he reacted.  A couple of things come into play here.  First, it’s not totally Casilla’s fault that the bases were loaded.  It was probably a good decision not to give Goldschmidt any good pitches due to his history with the Giants.  A homerun at that point would have lost the game.  Second, the closer is the closer.  He’s supposed to be the guy who ends the game for you.  You’re supposed to count on his adrenaline to end it.  If you don’t have faith in the closer, they won’t come through for you in the future.  However, I also see Bochy’s point in putting in Javi with the history that Casilla had with Lamb.  Overall, though, I’m very disappointed in the way Casilla reacted to Bochy.  He’s just not that kind of guy and he let his emotions get to him.  He was extremely disrespectful to his manager – so out of character.  In the end, Casilla did approach Bochy on his own the next day and apologized.  Plus Bochy put him in as closer in the next two games, so it appears there are no ill effects due to his behavior.  But I still have a yucky feeling about the whole thing.  Would love to hear your thoughts on this.  And Santiago, you’re still my boy.

Here’s a look at one of the dark sides of baseball that I really hate.  A fight broke out at the Rangers vs. Blue Jays game today.  It all started when Jose Bautista made a hard slide into Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor.  Odor thought the slide was illegal, words were exchanged, and Odor hauled off and punched Bautista in the face.  Here is the video of this horrible incident.  Bautista and Odor were ejected as well as Toronto’s Josh Donaldson and Rangers bench coach Steve Buechele.  But then once the game restarted, Blue Jays reliever Jesse Chavez hit Prince Fielder with the next pitch.  Chavez was also ejected because umpires had warned both sides earlier after Bautista was hit by a pitch.  I hate it when guys lose their temper and do stuff like this.  Even though there was some history with Bautista, nothing can justify this type of response (he flipped his bat in dramatic fashion after a 3-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Rangers last season).  This is one of the most vicious attacks during a game that I’ve ever seen.  Come on, guys!  Put a cap on that testosterone!  It will be interesting to see what types of punishments the league levies on these guys after all this.

Now back to my boys – they take on the Padres in San Diego in a 3-game series starting Tuesday, then they come home for a 3-game series against the Cubs.  I’m feeling pretty good about the Padres series, but the Cubs are another story.  Their win record stands at 27-9.  I have faith in my boys, though, and I’m hoping they can come out and rise to the occasion.  Have a happy flight to San Diego, enjoy your day off, then win some games for us!  Plus you can savor being in first place alone in the NL West because the Dodgers lost to the Cardinals today!  GO GIANTS!!  KEEP THE WINNING STREAK GOING!

Train to Reign in a New Season

Yikes, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged!  So many things to chat about!  First off, I need to mention my Spring Training trip – another successful adventure with my brothers.  We were in Arizona for 4 days, and while there attended 3 Giants games.  The trip had some bad and good aspects, so I feel some lists coming on.  Here are the good and the bad of this trip (and some things I learned for next time):

Bad Things (first so I can end on a high note because it was really a great trip):

  • We accidentally planned the trip on Easter weekend. I had already bought game tickets before I realized this.  Besides the fact that I didn’t get to spend Easter with the rest of my family, this meant that both airline and game ticket prices were much more than usual.  Won’t do that again.
  • Didn’t end up getting any current players’ autographs even though I waited for hours before all three games.
  • Went on a hike of Camelback Mountain not knowing that it is an extremely difficult hike, so we didn’t make it to the top (my brother said his back was hurting about half way up – I think he was lying because he didn’t want me to die. I’m not the greatest hiker.).
  • When we got back to the car after hiking Camelback Mountain, we were greeted by a parking ticket. Beware – it’s not obvious where the no parking zones are!
  • We lost all three games we attended, including a shutout by the Dodgers and a game that lasted over 4 hours that was on ESPN (and it only went 9 innings!).

Great Things that made up for the Bad Things:

  • I got to see my boys play up close and personal.
  • We made sure we purchased tickets in the shade this year. So much more comfortable, and worth the extra we paid for them.
  • I got Darrell Evans’ autograph (even though I had to pay for it) and took a picture with him. Such a nice guy.
  • I got to chat with a bunch of other retired players, including Gaylord Perry and George Foster.
  • I got Dave Fleming’s autograph (he was the only Giants broadcaster I was missing). Actually, I also got to chat with Erwin Higueros (one of the Spanish language broadcasters) and I was a dummy and didn’t think to get his autograph as well.  He’s such a friendly guy!
  • I chatted with Jon Miller about my failed hike up Camelback Mountain (he has made it up several times). Also got to shake his hand this time.
  • We found a couple of new restaurants that were fantastic – Joe’s Farm Grill (best tuna steak sandwich I’ve ever had – they have a farm on site where they get their produce) and Little Miss BBQ (be prepared for a looooooong line, but well worth it).
  • Got to see Juan Perez and Travis Ishikawa play for the Cubs and White Sox respectively. Really miss those guys.  Travis even hit a homerun!  Unfortunately, neither made their team’s starting roster.
  • Got to see Bob Costas up close and personal during the game that was on ESPN. That man sure has had a lot of work done!
  • Got to see Tim Hudson in the dugout during one of the games (I think he was there because Madison was pitching).
  • Got to see Gregor Blanco hitting balls to his son in the infield before one of the games.
  • Had a close encounter with Sergio Romo’s family during one game. They were sitting on the other side of the aisle from us while Sergio was pitching.  When he gave up a homerun, his son put his face in his hand and yelled, “OH, DAD!!”
  • Got to boo Mat Latos when he pitched for the White Sox (he stunk that day).
  • The weather was milder than it’s ever been for us there – between 82 and 87 degrees.
  • Got to meet and speak with tons of awesome Giants fans. One even showed my Larry Baer’s business card!
  • Of course, one of the best parts was getting to hang out and be silly with my brothers.

A week later, it was time for real baseball.  I could not believe how ready I was for the season to start.  When I heard Mike Krukow mention on KNBR one morning that there should be no more “jimmyjacking”, I knew the season had officially started!  Here’s the 25-man roster for your 2016 San Francisco Giants (I can just hear Renel saying this!):

Pitchers:

Madison Bumgarner

Matt Cain

Santiago Casilla

Johnny Cueto

Cory Gearrin

Chris Heston

George Kontos

Javier Lopez

Josh Osich

Jake Peavy

Sergio Romo

Jeff Samardzija

Hunter Strickland

Catchers:

Trevor Brown

Buster Posey

Infielders:

Ehire Adrianza

Brandon Belt

Brandon Crawford

Matt Duffy

Joe Panik

Kelby Tomlinson

Outfielders:

Gregor Blanco

Angel Pagan

Hunter Pence

Denard Span

Some notes about this lineup:  Andrew Susac probably would have been the backup catcher if it wasn’t for the fact that he was having tendinitis in his surgically-repaired wrist this spring.  He was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento because the Giants still want him to get regular playing time while he is recovering.  Lucky for Trevor Brown!  Also of note is that all our starting pitchers are healthy (as I’m typing this, I’m hoping I’m not jinxing anything).  There was some question about whether this would be the case during Spring Training, and Chris Heston was ready and willing if he was needed to fill in.  I love Chris, but so glad he’s not needed right now.  And I am so, so excited about our starting lineup!  I really enjoyed watching Johnny Cueto pitch the other day and love his style.  It seems like he never has the same motion twice, plus he doesn’t waste any time getting to his next pitch.  Haven’t had a chance to see Samardzija in action, but boy that guy sure is animated in the clubhouse!  I think Hunter has a new buddy!  I’m really excited about Cory Gearrin being in the bullpen.  He definitely proved his worth during spring training, and I’m sure he’ll be an asset.  Meanwhile Ehire Adrianza gets another shot at coming off the bench.  He sure proved himself today with some great defensive plays and that homerun off of Kershaw!  Also with Hunter Strickland starting off in the bullpen this season, it will be interesting to see if Bochy tries him as closer at some point.  Santiago better be on his toes because Hunter is waiting in the wings.

Denard Span is another player that I’m really excited about, both for his offense and defense.  It’s been great to get to know him better through some interviews I’ve seen on the internet.  Here’s one that he did with Randy Winn.  I love the format of this interview – very low key with a former player and a current player discussing the ins and outs of playing in AT&T Park.  Denard also was allowed to be a guest writer for the Brandon and Brandon blog today.  You can see what he wrote here.  It’s also a nice view into his personality, and gives some insight into how other teams view our boys.  And his sense of humor seems to fit right in!

I was extremely lucky to get a great deal on some Field Level tickets to the Dodgers vs. Giants game on Friday night.  I went with one of my favorite game buddies, my sister.  We had seats that were covered so we didn’t get rained on.  It was kind of cool because all the people around us were season ticket holders and they all knew each other.  They were also very nice to us newcomers.  Talk about a roller coaster of emotions during that game!  Going in, all I really hoped for was that Matt Cain had a good start.  He’s been the biggest question mark of the starting rotation.  So glad and relieved that he had a fantastic night.  Just wish he could have gotten a little more run support!  That Dodgers kid Stripling was dealing!  I don’t think anyone was expecting that.  We were both so ticked off because the few Dodgers fans around us were being extremely obnoxious.  Any time the Dodgers would get a hit, they would stand up and face all of us and flaunt it, and especially this one guy named Barajas (had his name on the back of his jersey).  We kept saying, “Sit down, Barajas!”  It was getting depressing because besides Matt’s great showing, we didn’t really have much to cheer about.  We were praying that the tides would turn so that we could shut the Dodgers fans up.  Then by the end of the 7th inning, we were afraid we were going to experience a moment in history – for our arch rivals!  My boys still hadn’t gotten a hit off that kid!  They even started sending notifications on ESPN about it.  The eighth inning came and still no hits, but he did walk Buster.  Then something happened that no one ever anticipated – Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts took the kid out!  We were all in shock – both Dodgers fans and Giants fans alike.  How could he do that, with the kid taking a no hitter into the eighth during his first major league appearance?  The only player in modern history to throw a no-hitter in his first major league start was Bobo Holloman in 1953 (thank you, Andrew Baggarly).  1953!  Dave Roberts, you’re messing with baseball history!!  After the game, I found out that Stripling had a preset pitch count because he had Tommy John surgery and they didn’t want to take any chances with his arm.  I’m sure no one anticipated what would actually happen though.  Stripling’s father even thanked Roberts today for thinking of his son’s health first.  Anyway, after all the booing and excitement of Stripling coming out, I knew things were going to be different because the Dodgers bull pen stinks.  They were ahead 2 to nothing at this point.  Then came the kid, Trevor Brown.  Skyed one out of the park to left.  One of the top ten moments I’ve ever had at a Giants game.  Take that, silly Dodger fans!  We were all screaming and high fiving, but Barajas had magically disappeared.  Of course once he got back to his seat, he got an earful!  Then it went back and forth and we ended up in extra innings.  Brandon Crawford wasted no time and shot the first pitch he saw over the left field wall.  Fabulous!  Again, everyone was screaming and hugging and life was beautiful again.  Plus the fireworks show afterwards was so much sweeter with that win.  And talk about ironic – the music for the fireworks show came from Brandon Crawford’s clubhouse playlist!  We went from the lows of worrying about witnessing a no hitter for the other team to the highs of handing it to the Dodgers with a walk off homerun.  BEAUTIFUL!  And I got to share all of it with my sister, making it that much sweeter.

Here’s a link to the 2016 Giants commercials.  My favorite one is the Bochy one, but there are several that are pretty great.

I’ll end with the news of Brandon Belt’s extension.  He received a 5-year extension which will give the Giants control over him through 2021.  It covers his last remaining year of arbitration and 4 years of free agency.  He will make $72.8 million over the 5 years starting with the 2017 season.  I always find it interesting what some of the details of these contracts are, and for Belt’s he can designate 10 teams to which he can’t be traded to without his consent.  How do they come up with these things?  Why 10?  Did they go back and forth on that number?  Overall, though, I guess it means he really wants to remain a Giant.  Happy for the guy that he’s finally gotten a commitment from the big guys, and glad he’ll be part of the home-grown core for a while.  He’s definitely earned it in my book.  Guess this also means that Buster will continue to play catcher for a while.  Glad about that, too.  In honor of the Belt extension, Pablo Sandoval did some belt extending of his own during the Red Sox game today.  Check this out.  HA HA!!!

I did the first spit count of the season today, but I think I’ll post it tomorrow as I may do another one then.  Always keeping you in anticipation!!  So happy the way the season is starting out for my boys.  Hope they can take the series from the dreaded Dodgers tomorrow.  Looking forward to another exciting Cueto start.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  BEAT LA!!

Giants FanFest 2016

The day finally arrived.  The day that officially marked the beginning of my favorite sports season.  The day I was guaranteed KNBR would no longer be covering football and would switch over to what I wanted to hear instead.  KNBR FANFEST!!  This year I went with my friend, Angel.  It was her first time attending FanFest.  She’s as huge a Giants fan as I am, so I was really excited.  And she’s a trooper as she attended with a bum foot!

It was so thrilling to get all decked out in my Giants attire that morning (even though that morning started for me at 4:30 am).  I picked Angel up and we had to start the day with our standard trip to Starbucks (both of us are Starbucks lovers).  The weather report said it was supposed to be a high of 66 in the City that day with no rain, so we weren’t prepared for wet weather.  Thus when we hit about Los Altos on Highway 280, we were a little shocked at the heavy fog we encountered.  Would there be fog in the City as well?  Would we be waiting in line for over 2 hours drenched in mist?  Luckily, the fog dissipated as we got closer to the ballpark.  Whew!

Ah, the feeling you get as AT&T Park comes into view.  Pure bliss.  Like seeing an old friend.  We parked in Lot A (parking was supposed to be $10, but for some reason we got charged $16).  Then we set out to wait in line with all the other fans.  We got to the park at about 7:45 am and were waiting right in front of the entrance about 10 people back.  I think that is the sweet spot time because the line grew exponentially after that.  We made friends with three girls in line behind us, all college age.  Turns out that we had several life connections as one of them had just graduated from UC Davis (my alma mater), one was planning on transferring there, and they all were from Antioch (I lived there for 19 years)!  I even wondered if I had ever subbed in their classes while I lived there!  Their goal was to get Brandon Crawford’s autograph – hope it worked out for them.  Really nice kids.  Chatting with them made the time pass quickly, and before we knew it, it was 10:00 am and the gates were opened.

We had a different overall strategy for FanFest this year.  I’ve given up on trying to get autographs.  Last year, even though we got in line at 6 am, I still would have had a 2 hour wait to get any autographs.  Waste of precious FanFest time.  So instead we started off at the Giants’ Clubhouse tour.  I had always wanted to do this, but the lines later in the day are always too long.  We were able to walk right in and we were the only ones in there, so we could spend as much time as we wanted getting goosebumps being in the boys’ home.  We got to see where they eat, their lockers, and we got to walk down the stairs they take to the field.  So cool!  The funniest part was that we got to see where they keep the gum!  5 flavors:  Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, Spearmint, and Winterfresh.

Next we tried to walk into the dugout (which you’ve been able to do before), but it was cordoned off.   We decided to hit the sponsor tents instead.  We just missed getting some cool orange Peet’s coffee mugs, but we did get orange Giants shirts and some free coffee.  We also watched Brandon Crawford being interviewed by KNBR on the field for a bit.  Not sure I’m into his man bun, but at least it keeps the hair out of his beautiful face.

After being on the field, we headed to the Press Box.  I had never gone in there before, and again we were able to walk right in.  Those guys have a sweet view of the field.  I noticed that each of the media outlets has an assigned seat.  Who knew?  I had fun fantasizing about covering a game from in there.  The Willie Mac Award plaque with the names of the previous winners was displayed on the wall.  We also got to peek into the area where Renel does her thing, but it was closed off.  And of course, being the sillies we are, we had to use the Press Box restroom because we knew that’s the one Renel uses.  One stall – just for her.  I even took a picture!

When we left the Press Box, we realized that we could use elevators that are normally blocked off to fans, so we headed to the Club Level in one of these elevators.  We ended up in a hallway that went right by Bobby Evans office!  As we continued on our way we passed a table where they were promoting park tours.  One of the people at the table was the head of park tours, and she was wearing her 2014 World Series ring.  She was gracious enough to let both of us try it on!  I asked the other guy at the table where his ring was, and he said he didn’t have one – yet.  He had high hopes that the even year would bring him one as well.

After that we headed to the Q&A stage on the Club Level.  We got there as Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Bruce Bochy were being interviewed by Kate Scott of KNBR.  We were pretty far back in the crowd, but we could still see them.  So cool to have them right there in front of us.  I even got to ask Joe Panik a question!  I asked him who would win the homerun contest between him and Matt Duffy this season.  He seemed a little embarrassed by the question, and of course he said he would if he was able to play the entire season (he was out with an injury for a decent part of the season last year).  Crawford also said Panik would win, also mentioning the fact that it’s much harder for lefties to hit homers at AT&T Park.  At the end of the session, the three posed for pictures together.  Never realized how tall Boch is – he was at least 3 inches taller than either Panik or Crawford plus he’s huge!

After those three left, the apple of Angel’s eye arrived.  BUSTER!  He was in the next session with Denard Span and Matt Duffy.  They were being interviewed by Larry Krueger of KNBR.  Since a lot of people left after the previous session, we were able to get much closer to the stage, and Angel was in heaven.  At one point, she waved to Buster, and he waved back!  Day made!  The interesting part about this session was that Denard Span mentioned that he still hadn’t officially been told that he would be playing center field, even though in the previous session Bochy said he would be.  Guess they hadn’t been able to break the news to Angel in person yet and make it official.  Nice that they care about how he is going to take it.  It was nice to get a feel for Denard’s personality – he’s really funny and should mix well with the rest of the boys.  We were both dying to ask questions during this session, but goofball Larry Krueger only allowed 2 questions during the last 5 minutes.  One guy standing next to me kept complaining loudly enough for the guys on stage to hear.  Hope Kate was able to school Larry and he’ll do better next season.

After that we headed to the View Level to see if we could spy some of the guys who were signing autographs up there.  That’s the thing – you don’t have to wait in those long lines to get close to the players, especially if they are changing shifts when you get there.  At the first booth they were about to change, and Dave Righetti and Mac Williamson walked right by me.  You just don’t realize how very tall those guys are!  They were replaced by Joe Panik, Ehire Adrianza, and Hensley Meulens.  Joe walked right by me as he approached the table.  Was able to get close enough to get some great shots of them, including several of Joe Panik’s beautiful smile.  As I was taking pictures, another fan near me wasn’t sure who Hensley was, and I told her that he was the batting coach and mentioned that he was knighted so you had to call him “Sir”.  Hensley must have overheard this because he turned to me, smiled and gave me a thumbs up!

At the next booth I saw Jarrett Parker and Dave Righetti (again) just sitting there, not signing yet.  I decided to strike up a conversation with Jarrett, saying that it was amazing he had hit 3 homeruns in one game and telling him that I had seen him hit the grand slam over the centerfield fence at Spring Training.  He said, “Thank you for the support!”  Then I realized why they were just waiting there as Hunter Pence walked right past me headed for their table.  He was taking selfies with everyone as he walked.  He was so generous with his time.  Even while he was signing autographs, he would get up from the table and take selfies with people in the crowd.  The guy must have been exhausted at the end of the day!  As they left their table, I tried to get close enough to Jarrett Parker to take a selfie, but the guy seemed kind of overwhelmed by the whole thing.  I did get close enough to realize how tall he is.  You just don’t realize it watching them on TV.

By that time, it was 3:00 pm and FanFest was over.  Amazing how quickly 5 hours can fly when you are in heaven!  We headed out and got to glimpse a couple of guys as they headed out of the parking lot.  What a fabulous day I got to share with my bud!  And the weather turned out to be gorgeous.  Definitely has me amped up for the season to come.

The boys are in Arizona as we speak getting ready for their Spring Training games.  Love seeing the videos of them practicing, including one of Madison blowing a snot rocket as he walks alongside Jeff Samardzija!  Check it out!  Looking forward to my Spring Training adventure with my brothers at the end of March.  We’re even going to a Giants/Dodgers game this season.  Can’t wait!  Hope they televise a lot of the Spring Training games so I can get an early fix.  It’s also fun to see the kids that are up-and-coming.  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!  WELCOME BACK!!

And the Spending Continues!

Just when I was reveling in the fact that the Giants went and spent a ton of money to improve their pitching this off season, they go and surprise us all and spend some more, this time to improve the outfield.  I’m extremely late chiming in on this one, but the Giants signed outfielder Denard Span on January 7th to a 3 year, $31 million contract.  He played for the Nationals last season, batting .301 with an OBP of .365 and stealing 11 bases, making him a shoe in as the lead-off hitter.  He’s also an exceptionally good outfielder, a Gold Glove finalist in both 2013 and 2014.  Most people I spoke with had no idea who Denard was, but I sure did.  I had chosen him several times as a Beat the Streak pick the last few seasons, meaning the guy can hit, and consistently.  So needless to say I was extremely pleased when I heard the news.

There are two potential problems, though – his age (he’ll be 32 when the season starts) and injuries (he only played in 61 games last season because of injuries).  Overall though, I think the Giants made an excellent acquisition in Span.  And based on his introductory press conference (which you can see here in case you missed it), it sounds like the Giants will have Denard play center and Angel play left.  This may have been the motivation for going after Denard in the first place – Angel’s had his share of injuries as well, his fielding abilities are questionable, and it’s his walk year so he may not be coming back next season.  Plus how can you not love a guy who says he’s willing to do anything for the team, even back up Buster!  And that personality and great sense of humor will fit in perfectly in our clubhouse.  Plus he’s got a great smile!  Welcome to the fold, Denard!  Looking forward to some spectacular catches this season!

While doing some research, I came across this story by Grant Brisbee detailing an interesting fact about Denard:  He’s afraid of birds.  Specifically birds flying at his head.  Someone’s going to have to have a talk with the center-field seagulls at AT&T Park and warn them to keep their distance (Ginny – can you speak with your cousins please?).  Or else maybe Denard can go through some seagull exposure therapy to overcome his anxiety.  Too funny!  Wonder if his teammates will take advantage of this fact and start planting fake seagulls in the clubhouse.  Or if seagull hats will take the place of panda hats in the stands.

Two of the Giants from last season have left us and gone elsewhere.  Mike Leake was picked up by the Cardinals, and Dan’s boy Juan Perez was signed to a minor league contract by the Cubs.  I’ll really miss both of them and hope they do well in their new homes.  Juan leaving made it easy for Denard Span to decide on his number as a Giant – he’s wearing his usual #2, Perez’s old number.

Both George Kontos and Brandon Belt have exchanged arbitration numbers with the Giants.  Kontos, who had his best season yet in 2015, is asking for $1.35 million and the Giants have offered $850K.  The numbers are so close that it is expected they’ll settle for something in between, around $1 million.  This is really nice for George who had to battle for a bull pen spot against Jean Machi last season.  Belt’s numbers are much further apart:  He’s asking for $7.5 million and Giants are offering $5.3 million.  It’s much harder to gage Belt’s value as he was injured for a large part of last season due to concussion symptoms.  Again, since the Giants haven’t gone to arbitration with a player since doing it with A.J. Pierzynski in 2004, they’ll probably come to some middle ground with Belt as well.  Interesting to hear the speculation that they probably won’t be giving Belt a multi-year offer since Buster is getting older and may end up eventually playing at first base.  Belt gets caught right in the middle of that one.  Oh well, even $5.3 million is a ton of moolah!

Just a quick mention that Giants minor league pitcher Cody Hall was traded to the Diamondbacks.  You may ask, “Who the hell is Cody Hall?”  Well, I do have a fond memory of him from Spring Training.  He’s one of the two guys that printed their name under their signature in my autograph book when they saw that I had done that under previous autographs.  Such a good kid!  Wishing you well in the heat of Arizona, Cody!

Two Giants were blessed with additions to their families recently.  Brandon Crawford’s family welcomed a son (Braxton) and Angel Pagan’s family welcomed a daughter (Larah).  Congratulations to the Crawford and Pagan families!  Babies are the best!

Can’t leave without mentioning the passing of Giants Hall of Famer Monte Irvin.  I have to admit that I knew little about Irvin before his passing, but from the overwhelming response by the baseball community to his death, I knew I had to do some research and school myself on this amazing man.  After beginning his career with all-star numbers in the Negro League, Irvin was the 7th African American baseball player to enter the Major Leagues, and the first African American to play for the Giants.  He was a member of the 1951 New York Giants team that won the National League pennant.  That season, Monte Irvin, Hank Thompson, and Willie Mays (then a 20-year-old rookie) formed the first all-black outfield in Major League Baseball history.  Also that season, Irvin hit .312 with 24 home runs and a league-leading 121 RBI and finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting, and all this at age 32.  He would go on to win a World Series with the 1954 Giants.  Willie Mays called him his mentor and his friend, saying that Irvin took him under his wing and taught him how to survive as a black man in baseball while also teaching him about dealing with life in New York.  Everyone who paid him tribute both on the radio and over the internet mentioned what a humble and decent human being he was.  Unfortunately for us, he made his home in Texas so he wasn’t around to attend Giants festivities like Willie Mays and Willie McCovey are.  However he did get to travel with the team to the White House in 2014 in celebration of the World Series victory.  President Obama even had a private meeting with Irvin and Mays, telling them that he would not be in his position if it wasn’t for trailblazers like them.  Here’s a link to the tribute video the Giants posted in his honor.  Monte died at age 96.  Fitting that his tribute comes during the blog I’m writing on Martin Luther King Day.

So baseball is almost back!  Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 17th.  That’s just 30 days away!  And FanFest is on February 13th!  Can’t wait!  So close I can taste it!  Already planning a Spring Training trip again with my brothers.  Miss all my boys so much!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!  SEE YOU SOON!!

VAMOS!

Every year I have my dreams for what the Giants will do over the off season.  And every year I’m disappointed because the Giants tend to be conservative when signing new talent.  Until this year.  They went and did it again, signing right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto this week.  After they signed Samardzija, I was sure they were done.  But I always love surprises!  Besides Greinke, Cueto was one of the most sought after pitchers in the Hot Stove League, and we nabbed him!  Just thinking about a lineup that includes Madison, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, and Cain is making me giddy.  I cannot wait for the season to start.  There is already talk about the World Series run with this lineup – I like it!  Cueto played for the Reds most of last season, then in late July he was picked up by the Royals to help them in their quest for a World Series win.  Lucky for him.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful for him to earn back-to-back rings??  Just like Jake Peavy did in 2013 with the Red Sox and 2014 with the Giants.  With that lineup, it’s definitely a possibility!  Plus it’s an even year, and we all know what that means!  Here’s a link to some highlights from the press conference where Cueto was introduced.  He’s so adorable!

Cueto gets $130 million over 6 years from the Giants.  The interesting thing about the contract is that he can opt out after 2 years.  That means if he’s still really productive then, he can opt out and try to get more money.  However, if his performance degrades over time, the Giants are still on the hook for the entire 6 years.  I had never heard of this type of clause before, but apparently it’s becoming more popular with high-end players.  If Madison had done this, we would be paying him a ton more than he’s making right now.  He’s locked up until 2019, making $9.75 million next season and only $12 million at the end of the contract.  Compare this to Cueto’s $15 million this season and $22 million at the end of his contract – what a bargain we got in Madison!

Besides a fantastic pitcher, the Giants get much more with Cueto.  Both Kruk and Kuip commented on KNBR that he has a very animated, outgoing personality, so he’ll bring some life back to the clubhouse after the departure of guys like Pablo and Jeremy Affeldt.  His pitching delivery is also very entertaining – check this out.  He does this crazy shimmy sometimes before he delivers the pitch.  Could you imagine being the batter and trying to focus while he’s doing that?  I love it!  Kruk compared him to Red Sox legend Luis Tiant.  Here’s a video of Tiant’s delivery.  I really can’t wait to watch that every 5 days!  Also, now that the Panda hats are a thing of the past, I would imagine with Cueto on the team we’ll be seeing Giants hats with dreads hanging from them as the new headwear of choice in the stands.  Welcome to the team, Johnny!  As you said, VAMOS!

Again, as new guys arrive some old favorites depart.  The most significant for me was that Ryan Vogelsong was signed by the Pirates in a one-year deal.  Mixed emotions here – sad that he’s leaving after all he did for the team and all that he meant to the fans, but happy that he’ll still be playing ball and he’ll be closer to his home in Philadelphia.  You’ll always be a Giant to us, Ryan.  I’ll still wear my shirt proudly in his honor whenever we play against the Pirates.  Also Joaquin Arias will be going to the D-Backs, signing a minor league contract with them.  I’ll really miss him coming off the bench as he always seemed to excel when he was needed most.  Plus I’m sure Matt Cain will never forget that clutch catch he made during the last out of his perfect game.  If you need to relive any of the other sweet moments of Arias’ career with the Giants, I found this great article from the McCovey Chronicles that sums up just a few of his contributions.  Personally, I’ll never forget when I just missed getting his autograph right after he had made it to the bigs at a game we went to in Cincinnati three years ago.  He was very gracious with everyone.  I’ll miss you, Joaquin.

Still waiting to hear if they will continue to dip into the pocketbook and sign a left fielder.  The latest name added to the mix is Denard Span of the Nationals.  I recognized his name because I had chosen him several times in the Beat the Streak contest last season, meaning he’s an excellent hitter.  He batted .301 last season.  That would be nice.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  Frankly at this point, I’m perfectly happy with what we’ve got, and I think Blanco would be fine in left field, plus he can also cover for Angel if he gets injured.  We’ve got enough kids who could fill in at left as well.  Just happy the pitching’s been taken care of.  More than happy – ecstatic!

I have another installment of “Angel’s Question” for you, and I don’t even think she realizes she asked me a question!  We’ve made it a tradition for the last two years to attend the Star Wars Day at AT&T Park, and this year that game is a Dodgers game in October.  I joked that we have to start planning for that game now, and she commented, “What kind of name is ‘The Dodgers’ anyway?  Does that mean they are just trying to ‘Dodge’ getting struck down by an orange light saber?”  Well, it got me thinking about the origin of that name – Dodgers.  I did some research, and the history is very interesting.  As you know, the team originally was the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Before that, they were actually called the Trolley Dodgers by the sportswriters because Brooklynites of the time had to dodge the new electric trolley cars on their way to the ballpark.  Over time, “Trolley Dodgers” was shortened to “Dodgers” and that’s the name that stuck.  Nowadays, I guess you could consider them the “World Series Dodgers”.  HA HA!  Thanks again for the question, Angel!

Will keep my ears open for any trade news.  Can’t stand the wait for the season to begin.  Then again, there’s only 56 days until FanFest!  Until next time, GO GIANTS!!