Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Five Stages of Petco Park Death
2) Hope. Well, maybe this year will be different. The Giants are playing good baseball, they're off to a hot start, and their offense has been rolling on all cylinders. I mean, a ballpark can't have ownage on a team forever, right? Right?
3) Rage. It's the sixth inning. Kevin Correia has given up one hit and has thrown 50 pitches. The Padres have mustered just two singles and yet have somehow scored four runs. As Bengie Molina hits a first-pitch chopper to the deep shortstop hole and gets thrown out by 50 feet, you feel that blood vessel in your temple getting dangerously close to exploding. The Giants get two runners on but some unknown sidearmer strikes Mark Derosa out on three straight sliders off the plate to end the threat. The urge to wage war on the neighborhood with a board and rusty nail continues to rise.
4) Depression. The game rattles on into the late innings. The bottom of the order is up against the Padre closer, but you don't care. You sank into the loving grasp of your tenth bottle of Newcastle long ago and now Heath Bell looks like some strange, amorphous blob hucking foreign objects at stick men. What's this? In the midst of the drunken stupor, you realize that Juan Uribe has just tied the game with a home run. It doesn't matter. The Giants are doomed. Time for number eleven...
5) Devastation. Scott Hairston has just ended the game with a long, extra inning home run. Again.
I missed all of Tuesday's 1-0 loss because I was out with friends. I was spared most of Wednesday's loss because I was at work. For these reasons, and these reasons only, I am still sane enough to type stuff on a keyboard semi-coherently.
Tim Lincecum's long hair is Jesus-length at this point. Maybe he can act as the savior from the brutal four-game losing streak the Giants just suffered through. If he descends from the sky bathed in white light and flanked by seraphs at each side, so much the better.
--There's a Hole In My Heart, As Deep As a Wellemeyer...
All right, let's just get this out of the way. Todd Wellemeyer sucks. Every Giants fan in the world was willing to put their better judgement aside in hopes that Wellemeyer would grab the fifth starter job by the barrel and reign fiery hell upon with NL hitters. As Rod Stewart's "Reason To Believe" was played repeatedly on iPods in Giants fans' living rooms everywhere, Wellemeyer's pitching history was subsequently ignored and his poor stuff was glossed over.
Well, after three starts of batting practice, Wellemeyer is in full blown Tomko territory. The guy was marketed as a control pitcher, but he's walked 11 batters in 14 innings. He's got nothing on his pitches. Watching him throw is like watching Ryan Sadowski's grizzled older brother. The Giants really expect this guy to stop the Phillies this weekend? Give me a break.
--As you well know, Pablo Sandoval is just one awesome dude. This, however, raises his coolness level to epic heights. How did Giants fans luck out so much to be graced with this guy and Tim Lincecum at virtually the same time?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Hell Comes to Munchkinland
The Good: Matt Cain overcame some early shakiness to pitch six strong innings. My opinion on Juan Uribe has done a complete 180 in the past year, going from baffled hatred to borderline man-crush territory. Please don't let the dream die, Juan.
The Bad: Jeremy Affeldt doesn't look sharp at all. Eugenio Velez is...stop me if you've heard this before...still awful. Eckstein, Eckstein, Eckstein.
Also, if anyone still wants to claim that replay on home runs is a bad thing, I direct you to Clayton Richard's long double in tonight's game. It was a long drive that clearly short-hopped the wall, but was initially, and inexplicably, called a home run. It was a home run only in the sense that Avatar was a deep, original story. The call was immediately overturned, but it came perilously close to being the worst blown call in the history of blown calls.
Let's see...two emotionally draining losses in a row? And two more at Petco Park? Excuse me while I go cry into my pillow.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Shot to the Heart, and Manny's to Blame
Despite it, I'm not as depressed as I should be. Let me count the reasons.
1) It's still early in the season. Yay. Imagine if that home run happened in a late-September series or, gasp, if it decided a pennant race. I'd be dangling off a skyscraper right now.
2)Sergio Romo coughed it up, and he's been awesome lately, so he gets a mulligan. I mean, how can you be mad at Romo? He's so friggin' cool. He's like Lester Freamon cool.
3) The Giants are still plating runs. Even down 7-0 early on Friday, they clawed their way back to make the Dodgers sweat it a little. The Giants we know and love from the past few seasons would have just rolled over and died. This newfound ability to cross that strangely-shaped object they call "home plate" may not last, but I'll take whatever encouragement I can get.
4) The evidence continues to pile up that this new, competent Barry Zito is the one that is going to stay around. If this keeps up, when reminded by Dodger fans about Zito awful contract, we can simply retort, "Yeah, well, he's not the worst pitcher in the world. And he's no Darren Dreifort." This time two years ago you couldn't say that at all.
The oncoming series in San Diego against the Padres has me worried. Not because the Padres are good; no, take solace in knowing that they're still comically terrible. I'm worried because all kinds of bad crap goes down when the Giants visit Petco. They don't hit, they blow leads, and Scott Hairston turns into Babe Ruth. Last year they didn't win a single game in Petco until the last series of the season. Petco is a Giant-killing dead zone, a place where they lose in very bad and wacky ways. It's kind of like Coors Field, only with its balls cut off.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Prepping For the Big Boys
After watching Eli Whiteside belt a decisive home run in today's game to propel the Giants to victory, I have to imagine that having the backup catcher smoke laser beam home runs off of you has to be pretty high on that list.
Backup catchers are, of course, just a notch above pitchers on the can't-hit scale. They're only in there because they can catch and throw and because the regular catcher can't do a day-after-night game. Their job is to play defense, call a good game, and stay out of the way. They're the guys that are hidden at the bottom of the lineup, with managers praying that they don't come up in a crucial situation. So today when Charlie Morton gave up a clout to Eli Whiteside, who has basically been an automatic out in his career, I could see him there on the mound probably wishing that were Pablo Sandoval at the plate, everything else being the same.
The Giants are 7-2, the offense looks (shockingly) good, and the talk show callers are adamant in their projections of an historic 117-win season. The team's early success, though, has been in part due to a pretty weak schedule. The Astros still haven't won a game and the Pirates are still unsuccessfully attempting their makeover after being the laughingstock of the '00s. Barry Zito and Matt Cain clearly weren't on their game in the first two Pittsburgh games. I wonder, against a real lineup, would their stat line have survived to come out respectable?
The Giants get their first true test this weekend, facing The Evil Ones in their volcanic pit. All hope abandon? Screw that noise. If there's one thing that gets us Giants fans revved up, it's the first series against the Dodgers, a means of setting the tone for the season. Or watching Orlando Hudson single-handedly embarrass us like last season. You know, whatever.
-Cheers to Aubrey Huff's awesome inside-the-park home run today that played out like it was happening in slow motion. Huff ran the bases like he was dragging a piano behind him, but he still managed to slide into home without a throw. Early returns on Huff are mixed. He's not great, but he's relatively patient and he'd have three homers by now if it weren't for that damned triple's alley.
-Jeers to the Giants' public relations staff and broadcasting crew for letting the Bengie Molina lovefest go so far that they completely ignored two of the greatest Giants catchers in their history. In their haste to anoint Molina as the franchise's RBI king at catcher, the team apparently forgot that Dick Dietz and Tom Haller were alive at one point and damn fine players as well. Molina isn't the all-time RBI leader for a Giants catcher; he's not even close. When called on the flub, Mike Krukow issued an on-air apologia. Embarrassing, to be sure, but Kruk and Kuip are so cool, who are we to truly complain?
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
It comes as no surprise that the Giants won the opening series against Houston. They are the better team right, flaws and all? What was surprising that the Giants totally beat their brains out. I mean, forget the pitching. We pretty much expected Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Matt Cain to carve up the crummy Houston lineup like an undead fiend in a shitty horror franchise reboot.
What was shocking was how effortlessly the offense racked up runs. The team was patient, they bunched hits together, they hit for power. It was sheer beauty, and it's not as if they were beating up on a bunch of low-end rotation nobodies; the only subpar starter they faced was wife-beating drunk Brett Myers. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there's a glimmer of hope that the Giants' offensive attack won't just consist of Pablo Sandoval trying to out-wacky the nine guys on the other side of the diamond. Maybe Hensley Meulens is a genius. Or maybe the Astros just stink.
-The shocker of the preseason was John Bowker, who rode a piping hot spring into a gig as the Giants' starting right fielder. Bowker gets minus points for being a Rio Americano alum (assholes had to use my high school's football field because they didn't have their own), but he has legitimate power, something the Giants desperately need. He still has a gigantic weakness for breaking balls in the dirt, and his defense was last described as undescribably bad, so skepticism is rampant, but I'm going to be an optimist and hope his success can be sustained.
Bonus Bowker points for this nugget of a story. I was watching a Giants game at the bar at a restaurant near my house last season when I mentioned something in passing about Bowker's local Sacramento roots. One of the bar waitresses overheard me and told me that her sister had dated Bowker in high school. This isn't particularly interesting, but suffice it to say, if the sister is anything as hot as this waitress was...more power to you, Bowk.
-Edgar Renteria had a game for the ages yesterday, going 5-5 with a walk. All spring we heard about how his elbow is feeling so much better after he had bone chips removed and now he can pull a baseball again. His swing does look much better, thank goodness, and Renteria is now the favorite in the race for the "Barry Zito Please God Can We Salvage Some Value From This Awful Contract" Award.
-I literally wasted my entire month of February hooked on the HBO show The Wire (and I'm preparing myself to be similarly obsessed with David Simon's new series, Treme), so it pleases me to no end to see this thread devolve into a discussion of that series, after Jeff Passan uses a terrible analogy equating Bodie Broadus's inner turmoil to that of a small market franchise in baseball. (If you haven't seen the whole series, though, don't read. Major spoilers.)