Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Two Shots of Sad

Well, just like Sunday, the pre-game stuff was great, but the actual game was awful. The first game of the Dodger series tonight began as a somber hugfest, due of course to the pregame tribute to the Giant fan who was attacked at Dodger Stadium, and to Juan Uribe's teary return to San Francisco. Uribe came on to the field and received his World Series ring amidst a chorus of "Oooooo"s and the cheerful high-fives of his former teammates. It was an appropriately touching moment dedicated to one of the most unlikely heroes in Giants history. For that brief period of time, we could forgive Uribe for donning the Dodger blue.

Then the game began, and the Giant-Dodger ceasefire quickly collapsed. The second the first pitch was thrown, the usual booing and chants of "Dodgers Suck" soon drowned out any feelings of fraternity. Not that it did any good. The Giants lost 6-1 in a game that was a big bowl of horrid fielding, bad umpiring, and double plays at every turn. Madison Bumgarner again struggled with his command (he wasn't helped by a tight strike zone), and it was all LA basically from the start.

The Dodgers have been dabbling in satanism for a long time now, but Clayton Kershaw is starting to resemble the devil himself when he takes the mound against the Giants. Even though the Giants got some runners on base against him early, those were quickly washed away by double play balls. The endless slew of twin killings enabled Kershaw to run his scoreless streak against the Giants to 23.2 innings. The knowledge that the Giants may have to face this guy four more times this year is horrifying.

Nothing to see here. As Bill James said about Jeff Bagwell..."Pass". Timmy goes tomorrow, and all will be well with the cosmos. Er, we hope.

--I think we have our answer to the age-old question of who gets sent down or released when Cody Ross comes off the DL. While it's completely unfair to judge Brandon Belt based on less than two weeks in the major leagues, I think it's clear that he's the odd man out when Ross returns. The combination of his slow start and the Aubrey Huff/Pat Burrell/Ross positional mishmash probably means that he's destined to get acquainted with the Fresno nightlife in the near future.

In a fair world, Belt would get around 200 plate appearances to prove he's major-league ready, but the Giants are in the business of defending a World Championship and I doubt they are going to be particularly patient waiting for a young hitter to develop right now. No time for this small sample size malarkey!

Not that a demotion would be bad, necessarily. After all, he is only 22 and has only 61 AAA plate appearance under his...er, belt. It's certainly possible that Belt does need more time in the minors. Even considering small sample size fooferah and the vagaries of batting average, I don't think anyone would say that Belt has been unlucky. There haven't been too many line drives coming off of his bat lately, and there have been a lot of weak ground balls. Again, that could be simply due to the quality pitching he's faced so far, but as of this moment, his days with the big club seem numbered.

Then again, he could bash .500 over the next week with four home runs and render everything I've just written completely irrelvant. Brandon, I'd love to be proven an idiot.

--Good news: Pat Burrell is on pace to smack about 50 home runs right now. Bad news: he might hit .180 while doing it. If there's one thing the Giants should be happy to have, it's Burrell's ability to launch the ball over the fence at any given time. Remember also that this guy basically took a low ball deal to stay with the Giants.

Burrell made a horrible defensive miscue in tonight's game that basically ended any chances of a Giant comeback, and that won't be his last impression of a dancing bear in the outfield this season. However, just like last year, the Giants will live with the poor defense, because it's clear they need Burrell in the lineup. Nate Schierholtz can also credit his roster spot to Burrell's ability to rake; few players necessitate a sixth inning defensive replacement quite like Burrell.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Whacked-Out Weekend

Quick story about Kyle Lohse. Those of you who, like me, have been obsessing over everything baseball since the turn of the century, might remember Lohse as the pitcher who cut his teeth as a solid back-end starter for the Twins just when they began their franchise resurgence. He had a few good years with Minnesota until 2006, when he was run out of town after posting an ERA over seven. Ever since then, he's been putzing around the National League, finding employment mostly as back-end rotation fodder, only occassionally finding effectiveness.

I know everybody hates it when someone rambles on and on about their fantasy baseball team, but I'm going to do it anyway. Back before the 2006 season, I traded two players for Lohse, hoping to solidify my pitching rotation with a decent innings-eater. I had won the league the previous year, and all I asked for from Lohse was 180 or so reasonable innings. Lohse had just come off a season where he posted a decent-looking ERA, but they were backed by awful peripherals, so I should have known better. The league I play in is a keeper league, and thank goodness the two guys I gave up didn't do jack squat in the majors again (one was Bill Mueller), because Lohse basically failed to live up to even my lowly expectations.

Ever since I traded for him, Lohse has had exactly one even remotely good year, in 2008. Otherwise he's been barely league-average to downright awful. I don't know why I was expecting anything more from him than a basket full of sub-mediocrity, but the disappointment still haunts my roto dreams to this day. I ended up dropping Lohse in disgrace last year when his ERA couldn't get under six, a misguided investment come full circle. So as you might have guessed, it was extremely painful to watch Lohse slice through the Giant batting order this afternoon to prevent an Orange and Black three game sweep.

Despite today's disappointment, it was a very good weekend, featuring two games that the Giants miraculously won after being down to their last out. All of the excitement, however, was understandably overshadowed by slew of ceremonies commemorating both the team's World Championship and Buster Posey's Rookie of the Year Award. When Brian Wilson hoisted the Championship flag on Friday afternoon, the goosebumps nearly took complete hold of me. That was scintillating. I probably would have committed some sort of heinous crime to be there that day.

The Giants could have easily been swept this weekend, but thank goodness Ryan Franklin is still impersonating a major league closer. Late-inning heroics were brought to you by Pablo Sandoval, Aaron Rowand, and the formerly-maligned Miguel Tejada, whose bat came alive in the first two games of the series. From the brink came the Giants, teasing us fans by playing poorly, blowing leads, and generally looking dead, only to roar back to victory and remind us why we love this team so much. I'm not sure you can pack much more drama into an entire weekend. I guess it wouldn't have been appropriate if the first couple of games back at Mays Field weren't reminiscent of the torture days of 2010.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


I Hate Petco Park, and Other Assorted Rants

I only caught the last inning of the game today thanks to work, but I didn't really need to see the thing live to know how it was all going to go. The Giants finally found a way to beat the big, bad Petco Park monster in a four-game series last September, but with the new season dawning it's time to hit the reset button on their luck in San Diego's home park. The Giants lost 3-1, and the hope of any late-inning heroics could be counted on to die on the warning track.

The game followed the usual Petco Park formula: the Giants didn't hit at all and the Padres squeaked out a few runs on assorted dinks, doinks, and absurdities. Sure enough, San Diego's three runs came on a sac fly, a bases-loaded walk, and a comebacker that Madison Bumgarner bungled. No hard shots, no towering bombs. Just a bunch of crappy bleeders. So it goes.

The Giants thankfully play just one more game in San Diego on this trip before heading home to face the Cardinals. A win and a split would be nice, but it's Petco here and, honestly, I wouldn't bank on it and I frankly don't really care. I'm just assuming at this point that the season starts when the Giants get back to Mays Field and receive their World Series rings. Everything else thus far has just been exhibition.

--As loathe as I am to recount the ugliness that transpired at Dodger Stadium this weekend, one moment in particular just really turned me into Angry Paulie. In Sunday's game, with the Dodgers leading 7-3 in the eighth inning, the Giants clawed back to within three runs and then loaded the bases for Miguel Tejada. The team had just strung together several very patient, gritty at-bats against Dodger reliever Matt Guerrier. Guerrier wasn't sharp at all and ended up walking the bases loaded. With two outs and Guerrier having control problems, the next batter would probably want to take a strike and not go hacking away at anything, right?

Not in Tejada's mind. Tejada, true to mindless-swinging form, swung away at a first pitch at his shins and popped out to shallow right field. End of threat, and end of game, essentially. End of any hope that Paulie would refrain from breaking several objects when he got home.

Many culprits were to blame for the Giants' series loss this past weekend to the Dodgers. There was Jonathan Sanchez flubbing a routine comebacker to give up a lead. There was Buster Posey striking out with the bases loaded and nearly killing a Dodger fan in the process. There was Aubrey Huff falling down a lot in the outfield. Tejada isn't solely to blame, obviously, but based on his unimpressive showing early on and in the Spring, my skepticism over his ability to contribute looks justified. Swinging away like a clueless doof in that situation certainly didn't do much to change my mind.

-I've said this before on this blog, but it bears repeating in light of recent events. If you're the kind of hopeless degenerate who would actually attack or fight somebody else based upon your allegiance to a sports team, you should probably just swallow the stuff under the sink right now, because there's no hope of you ever being a useful member of society.

This disgusting story is yet another example of pathetic, peabrain morons taking a silly sport way, way too seriously. Obviously not all Dodger fans are lowlifes like the ones that brutally attacked a Giants fan the other night, but it is worth mentioning that this is hardly the first time this has happened at Dodger Stadium. Chavez Latrine, indeed.

Here's hoping for a swift and full recovery for that fan who lies in a hospital bed as we speak. When the Dodgers come into San Fran next week, Giants fans get to show that they are the vastly superior fanbase by refraining from such violence and keeping their taunts limited to some well-timed chants of "Ya Bums!" and the occasional "Dodgers Suck!" Which they do.

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