For those of you who have been living on another planet, here’s the question: what color is #thedress, really? And the answer is–just like the answer to every important color question–it’s Black and Orange. Why? Because those are the GIANTS colors, and they are the only colors that matter, the only colors that count.
Can you feel it? There’s a little hum in the air–it’s electric–or maybe it’s just me shaking with excitement. Pitchers and catchers reported to camp yesterday, with the full complement due to arrive next week–although some of the guys are already there. Of course they are–they’re GIANTS.
I didn’t think winter would ever end.
But it has, finally, and pretty soon we’ll start hearing more about Mad Bum’s energy–he’s rarin’ to go; Matt Cain’s health–he says he feels great, like he’s 18 again; how Lincecum is coming along–he spent the off-season working out some of the kinks with his dad; what Peavy’s been up to–who’s going to to play guitar with him this year? I miss Flan already–and last, but by no means least, how Hudson is feeling?–his recovery is a little behind schedule.
Next week we’ll get our first peek at the new guys: Casey McGehee at 3rd–he’s one of the guys that showed up early, I like that about him–and Nori Aoki, the new outfielder. I’m excited. I can’t wait. Did I mention how excited I am? This past winter was way too long, but it’s over–and pretty soon you’ll be hearing from me regularly.
The 1st spring training game is Tuesday, March 3rd at 12:05 pm PST against the A’s.
That’s it–I just wanted to dust off the blog and give a GIANTS shout out to everyone. It sure feels good to be back–or at least–in the ballpark.
It’s 2015! Know what that means? Someone else will win the World Series this year!? I don’t know about you, but I had a hard time writing that. Forget saying it out loud. I go into every new season thinking ‘this is the one!” Sorry, it’s been ingrained in my brain since I could form cognitive thought. And then in 2010–when it actually was “the year”–remember how we felt? Wow, that was an amazing feeling, wasn’t it? When we won it again in 2012–we started to think “yeah, it’s our year, it’s an even year.” Then it was “our year” again in 2014, and let’s face it–against all odds–even the naysayers, the baseball gurus, the ‘talking heads’ had to admit: the GIANTS are magical in the even years; the GIANTS own the even years.
Does that mean we go into the odd years–like this one–thinking it’s someone else’s year? Hell NO! We go into this year thinking–as always–this is our year. Because every year is our year, and the minute we give up our winning GIANTS attitude, that’s when the GIANTS will have to play without the 26th man on the bench–the GIANTS Fans. We have a saying: “Together we’re GIANT”. You bet your ass we are–it’s not just a marketing promotion. It may have started out that way, but it has quickly become a GIANTS frame of mind. And trust me when I tell you this: not one of the 25 players who make it out of spring training and head for the big show–whether it’s a first-time rookie or a returning veteran–are going to play this year with anything less than a winning attitude. They are, after all, GIANTS.
Why, the GIANTS, of course–who else?
I believe, don’t you?
MLB’s 2014 Winter Meeting is over. Lots of GMs made moves–picking up a player here, sending a player there. But not our GM–no, our GM didn’t make any moves. It wasn’t for lack of trying. As GIANTS VP Bobby Evans said when Lester eliminated the GIANTS from his short list: “we did not receive a rose.” Nobody asked, but here’s what I think–Good! We don’t need no stinking roses. Jon Lester’s price tag put him at $25 million a year. $25 million!!
Let’s make a comparison–the GIANTS have the 2014 World Series MVP, the Sports Illustrated 2014 Sportsman of the Year, and a 2014 Silver Slugger Award winner in the starting rotation. That’s not 3 different pitchers, that’s just one guy–our ace–Madison Bumgarner. You want to know what MadBum was paid for the stellar performance that outclassed every other pitcher in the MLB in 2014? His base salary was $3.75 million. Next year his salary jumps to a whopping $6.75 million. In 2012, MadBum entered into a contact with the GIANTS for $35 million over 5 years. I know, it doesn’t include incentives or bonuses–hopefully they’re taking good care of the man who basically put the entire team on his back and carried them to the promise land. Hopefully. There is just no way the GIANTS front office could justify paying Jon Lester–who is a very good pitcher, don’t get me wrong, the kid has talent but he’s no Madison Bumgarner–the equivalent of 4.3 times what they pay Bumgarner. It wouldn’t be right and it wouldn’t be just.
Bottom line–the GIANTS walk away from the Winter Meeting without making a single move. So be it. It’s not the first time. I caution all you GIANTS fans out there–never challenge Brian Sabean to a game of chicken. The guy doesn’t flinch. Hell, he doesn’t even blink. He’s got nerves of steel and he won’t make a move unless he is certain it’s the right one for the club. It’s worked so far. Is there another GM in the game today flashing big-time Baseball Bling 3 times in 5 years? The answer is–not in the National League. The only other NL team to take the Fall Classic 3 times in 5 years was the Cardinals–in 1942, 1944, & 1946–but the GIANTS are the 1st in the NL since then. In the American League a few teams have done it–the Yankees several times. Anyway, you get my drift–question Sabean all you want, but you can’t argue with his record. Yeah, sure, he pulls moves that have us scratching our heads sometimes–like that prima ballerina Beltran for our best pitching prospect, or Aaron Rowand or Dan Uggla? I’m still trying to figure that one out–but more often than not, Sabean quiets the Lunatic Fringe with his uncanny results. Think Scutaro. Javy Lopez. Melky (juiced or not–he made a difference). Pagan. Pence. Peavy. And those are just a few of the recent ones–we can go all day–but I’ll stop now.
All in all, I think we have to give Sabean, or, as Brad Pitt likes to call him–Sabey Sabes–credit where credit is due. He’s doing something right–the results speak for themselves. So, he didn’t make any moves at the Winter Meeting. So what? He’s taking his time and taking stock. And the rest of us? The Lunatic Fringe as he refers to us? We’ll have to send on our thanks for another championship season.
The hot corner is getting a complete makeover. First, our loveable Kung Fu Panda chose Boston over San Francisco. I thought that was going to be the only heartbreak GIANTS fans would suffer this off-season. Or the biggest one. And then this happened: this morning, on his Facebook page, Tim Flannery, our 3rd base coach–the best there is in the bigs–announced his retirement. Yesterday, when I heard Pablo was defecting to Beantown I wrote a blog entitled “It’s Hard to Say Good-Bye,” and it is hard. The Kung Fu Panda is a fan favorite and a clubhouse favorite–he is not only loved by the fans, but by his fellow players too. It’s a big loss for San Francisco. But, I’m going to come right out and say it–probably at the risk of ticking off the Panda People–it might be hard to say good-bye to Pablo, but it’s not hard to say good-bye to Tim Flannery–it’s downright impossible.
Tim Flannery is a champion. No, I’m not talking about being a World Series Champion–that goes without saying. He is also another type of champion–an advocate, a supporter, a counselor. He is a champion of the entire San Francisco GIANTS organization–I don’t know him personally, but I don’t think it is a secret that he is loyal to the team. It shows in his deeds and actions. He supports Bochy, I don’t think he’s ever publicly disagreed with Bochy–maybe they’ve never disagreed, but that is unlikely, since they’ve worked together for so many years. They’re going to disagree some time–but we’ll never know. His job doesn’t stop at 3rd base coach. Sometimes, before a game, we’ll find him down on the field singing the National Anthem with his friends Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Other times will find him working with the players as the resident bunting instructor–showing them how to lay down the perfect bunt.
He is a champion of the players–he doesn’t merely send a player down the 3rd baseline to home plate–oftentimes he runs right along with them. While he is running, Kruk and Kuip pipe in with: “my butt’s on the line, my butt’s on the line, my butt’s on the line”–their impersonation of the thoughts running through Flan’s mind when he runs a player home. To relax when the team is away he likes to find an enclosed stairwell where he can sit and play his guitar–he says the acoustics are better in stairwells. Recently he invited Jake Peavy to join him for their rendition of Pancho and Lefty. You can check it out on YouTube:
He is a champion of the fans–evidenced most recently by his Facebook announcement of his retirement–check it out on his Facebook page: Tim Flannery and Lunatic Fringe –it includes a sincere, heartfelt message to the fans. And then there’s Bryan Stow. Remember him? Tim Flannery does. Bryan Stow is the GIANTS fan who was severely beaten in LA in April 2011. He is still working on his recovery. In the meantime, he can’t work and he has enormous medical expenses. Tim Flannery and his band–Lunatic Fringe–were instrumental (pun anyone?!) in raising a ton of money for Bryan Stow I don’t think selfless can even begin to describe our 3rd base coach.
He will be missed. And I’m sorry, Panda People, we’re going to miss him a lot more than Pablo Sandoval. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m way more sad to see Flan go. Sabean will find another 3rd baseman–of that there is no doubt. There are 3rd basemen everywhere. But a bunting instructing, National Anthem singing, benefit concert giving, guitar playing 3rd base coach? They only made one–Tim Flannery. When he announced his retirement he said “I just now feel it is the time to send myself home safely.” The selfless part of me–very small part–applauds him and wishes him well, and to always return home safely. The selfish part of me just wants him to stay.
They say no one is irreplaceable. Maybe not. But Tim Flannery comes pretty damn close.
It’s no secret–The Giant Panda is now a Panda with Red Sox. I woke up this morning to reports that Pablo made a deal with the Red Sox for 5 years and close to $100 million. Then I checked my Twitter feed and learned that the reports were denied by Pablo’s agent, but that he would make his decision today. He did. The Panda is moving to Fenway. And the GIANTS are looking for a 3rd baseman. There are lots of rumors and speculation–but one thing I do know–we still have Joaquin Arias. I’m sure Sabean is looking for a replacement for the Panda–who swore he wanted to stay with the GIANTS. The GIANTS reportedly matched the Boston offer, so I’m a little perplexed. Bottom line is this: the GIANTS won’t be the same without him. Not saying they will be worse, not saying they will be better–but it will be different. I agree with the statement released by the GIANTS this afternoon: “His connection with Giants fans – young and old – is truly special and he will be greatly missed. We wish him nothing but the best in Boston.”
I also know this: the Panda People will miss him most of all. I honestly don’t think Pablo will find the love in Boston like he did here in San Francisco. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the Royal Rooters will change their rally cry from Tessie to Pablo.
I do love a parade. Thanksgiving Day wouldn’t be the same without the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It is the parade that sets the standard for all parades. Only 1 parade tops it in my book–the San Francisco GIANTS World Series Championship Parade. The good news is lately we’ve been seeing it almost as much as Macy’s famous parade. World Series Champions like to celebrate their victory with a parade–and why not? Parades are fun, parades are happy. Have you ever been to a parade where the paraders–or spectators, for that matter–were crying? I didn’t think so. Parades are a celebration, and nobody, I mean NOBODY, knows how to celebrate like the San Francisco GIANTS and their fans. The big difference between the Macy’s Parade and the GIANTS Parade? Instead of ginormous balloon creations–you get buses, cable cars and vintage automobiles full of GIANTS. See why it’s better than Macy’s?
To the San Francisco GIANTS and the entire GIANTS family:
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! What a year!! Being a San Francisco GIANTS fan this year has been–as it always is–more fun than you can imagine. How many fans of other MLB teams can boast about their players like San Francisco fans? Think about it–how many MLB starting pitchers are credited by their teammates as “putting the whole team on his back and bringing everyone along for the ride?” Just how many of those pitchers do you know would hop off a broken-down bus–ready to crack the hood and see what the problem is? How many other MLB teams have their right-fielder ballyhooed with signs from the fans of the opposing team? How many other MLB teams have a indubitable petting zoo–complete with a panda, a baby giraffe, a horse, and a white shark? Don’t worry, you can pet the white shark–he doesn’t bite. How about the Superheroes–SuperSpeed, Beast Mode, Batman, you name it, they’re all there. Or how about a rookie 2nd baseman who showed up in June, clearly he came to play–he definitely brought his bat, is an absolute magician with his glove, or bare hand–and took to the job like a seasoned veteran. And a 1st baseman-turned left fielder, who was with us in 2010 and came back in 2014 to hit the Bobby Thomson-esque walk-off homerun which led to “the GIANTS win the pennant!” “the GIANTS win the pennant!” “the GIANTS win the pennant!” “the GIANTS win the pennant! They should have played Russ Hodges walk-off call from that game–it had a lot more zing.
Make no mistake, we–GIANTS fans–love our GIANTS. And they love us. When the GIANTS play at home, they play before a packed house–every night. One of the media people asked Pablo what he thought about playing in front of a packed Kauffman Stadium, he told them it’s like that every night at AT&T. The GIANTS games sell out every night–and have for the last several seasons. The Royals games didn’t sell out until they got to the post season. The only reason I’m picking on the Royals is because Ned Yost made headline news when he called out the Kansas City fans for not supporting the Royals after an abysmal 13,000 fans turned out one night in August. GIANTS fans are die-hard, tried and true. When you see someone on the street or in the grocery store–wearing their colors–GIANTS fans will stop and talk about the last game, about the next game, the Panda’s latest antics, Hunter’s latest speech, and in the off-season–Sabean’s latest trade or deal. Sabean likes to call us “the lunatic fringe”, but I’m willing to bet he loves us anyway. And don’t get me started on fair-weather fans–a fan is a fan is a fan–whether you’ve been a fan since birth or you just started sporting the orange and black–everyone has to start somewhere! Welcome aboard! The more, the merrier. TOGETHER we are GIANT.
I don’t think I missed a game this year. On the days the GIANTS weren’t playing I felt lost, cut adrift–even panicky at times. Rogers Hornsby, Hall of Fame infielder, whose playing career spanned 23 seasons–including one where he was both a player and manager of the New York GIANTS, once said: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” I understand. Completely. On those days off I got a taste of what the winter was going to be like–and it wasn’t good. Luckily, I haven’t experienced it too much yet–the MLB Network replayed the entire postseason over the weekend. But now I’m starting to feel it a little bit. Like any other addiction, I’m getting the shakes, the cold sweats–the panic, and it’s not the good Panik–it’s the bad kind–the kind that requires alcohol, valium or more baseball. The good news is the Arizona Fall League is in full swing. When that’s over? Stop by some time, I’ll be staring out the window, waiting for spring.
No, I’m not talking about the prime-time soap opera from the 80’s–I’m talking about the San Francisco GIANTS of this decade. 3 World Series titles in 5 years. How in the world did they do it? TOGETHER. It wasn’t just a marketing slogan for the guys–it’s how they worked, how they played.
Last night’s game was a testament to that. A huge testament to that–especially when our Ace, our number 1 starter and the starting pitcher for 2 World Series games already–came into the game as a relief pitcher in the bottom of the 5th. That’s right–Bumgarner in relief–and he stayed until the last out was made. Affeldt pitched 2.1 innings and got credit for the win, Bumgarner got the save. This is BochyBall at it’s finest.
I’m not gonna lie to you–there were a couple of scary moments last night–Hudson couldn’t find his spot and ended up hitting a batter, one of the Royals batters got a hit off Bumgarner in an attempt to get a rally started–that thankfully fizzled. But the play that had us all chewing our nails–the one that had every GIANTS fan out of their seats, screaming NO!–was the Royals base hit in the bottom of the 9th, that turned into a triple when it got by Blanco. Add to that Perez kicking it away before picking it up and throwing it in–and you had the scariest moment of the entire postseason. I think the
GIANTS caught a bit of a break when the Royals 3rd base coach put up the stop sign. So, there we are, 2 outs, bottom of the 9th, Bumgarner is on the mound facing the Royals’ catcher–the guy that got hit by a pitch in the 2nd. The tying run is on 3rd base. 1 swing of the bat was all that stood between the GIANTS and the promised land. I don’t think there was a GIANTS fan anywhere in America that wasn’t at the edge of their seat–if they were even sitting. The batter chased a couple of pitches, then popped it up, down the 3rd baseline, and Pablo was underneath it–caught it and collapsed. Game over. Series over. The final score was:
It was an edge of your seat serious championship fight. Yeah, there were some scary moments, but not once, not ever did GIANTS fans stop believing.
So the big question everyone is asking: are the GIANTS a dynasty? Considering that they are only the 4th team in this century with 3 championship titles in a 5-year span–joining the Lakers, the Spurs and the Patriots, all considered dynasties in their sports–I’d say:
YES!! YES!! YES!! The GIANTS are most definitely a dynasty.
I’m going to do something I usually don’t do–instead of talking about last night’s game, I’m going to talk about tonight’s game. Why? There’s not a whole to say about last night’s game. I will say this: it’s history. It reminds me of this kid I know–his parents were chewing him out because he got a ‘D’ in History. His reply? “That’s right–it’s a ‘D’ and it’s history.” Last night’s game was the same–it wasn’t an elimination game, and it’s over. The GIANTS and the Royals are split. Again. But, let’s face it: when it comes to elimination games, the GIANTS are the absolute best. They are unsurpassable. Remember 2012? The GIANTS did some of their best work when their backs were against the wall. The 1st two games of the NLDS went to the Reds–at AT&T Park! The GIANTS went to Cincinnati and played the next 3 games–all elimination games and won. All three games. After Game 4 in the NLCS, the Cardinals were up 3-1, a GIANTS loss would eliminate the GIANTS. What did they do? Well, of course, they sure didn’t lose! They won the next 3 games–each and every one of them an elimination game. The GIANTS faced the Pirates in a 1 game elimination game to kick off the current post season–and they won that too.
There are 3 good things that came from last night’s loss: 1) it allows the GIANTS to play an elimination game–which we all know is something they thrive on, 2) it gives the GIANTS one more day with each other, and 3) Hudson gets a mulligan, a do-over. I like that. I wasn’t satisfied with the way Hudson’s only World Series start turned out–and I like the idea that he gets another shot.
Here’s the thing about tonight’s game. It’s all or nothing, do or die time. I put my faith in Bochy & Co. and the GIANTS. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wants the GIANTS to win more than the GIANTS. Not even me. I’d say good luck–but they don’t really need it–they have everything it takes to beat the Royals. Whether it’s Ishikawa or Juan Perez in left, Michael Morse as DH, hitting the big fly or a base hit, Hunter with his wild and wacky at-bats that somehow manage to work, or the Panda crushing pitches–that have no business being hit–for an extra bag or two, these guys get the job done. I believe in the GIANTS. I never stopped believing.
There is just one other thing that is good about last night’s game–I get one more day with these guys. What’s wrong with that?
I knew better than to ask the baseball gods for another win. Asking–read begging and pleading–for the win Saturday night was a little presumptuous–somewhat impudent, bordering on impertinent, as a matter of fact, almost insolent. In other words, I had no chits left to cash. I hoped, really, really hoped that the GIANTS would win Game 5. Somebody up there must like me. Or maybe–probably–somebody up there really likes the GIANTS. That’s more than likely the case–MLB Jesus is a big GIANTS fan. I know what you’re thinking–who the heck is MLB Jesus??Or maybe you’re already familiar. For those who don’t know him–he’s a fixture on Twitter. He usually tweets during baseball games making comments like: “Time to stare into the deep dark hole that is Joe Buck’s soul” or “Blessed be the righteous @KNBR and all Franciscans keeping the faith” and “Blessed be Gregor Blanco for he steals without sin.” If you have a Twitter account, follow him–if you don’t have Twitter account, get one, then follow him.
Back to Game 5–it was a great game. The GIANTS had Madison Bumgarner leading the charge and his pitching was splendiferous, there’s a word for you–it means splendid, magnificent, fine–and to be totally honest, he was über splendiferous. He pitched 9–count ‘em–9 shut out innings, with NO walks. In a World Series game! It’s a testament to Bochy’s faith in our Ace. The GIANTS defense was dialed in, and between Bumgarner’s pitching and the GIANTS defense, Kansas City didn’t have a prayer. As MLBJesus put it: “All Royalty need seek shelter, for the MadBum cometh.” Bumgarner gave up 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 walks and he struck out 8.
The GIANTS offense was dialed in. They manufactured a run in the 2nd–Hunter Pence hit a grounder up left center that just skated past the shortstop’s glove, Brandon Belt bunted him over and beat the throw to 1st, Travis Ishikawa hit a SAC fly–both runners tagged up and advanced. Brandon Crawford brought Pence home on an RBI groundout. Pablo led-off the 4th with a base hit and advanced to 2nd on Ishikawa’s single. Crawford hit a shallow fly to the center fielder–who couldn’t come up with the ball–and Pablo scored. Pablo led-off the 8th with a single, Hunter Pence followed with another single. The Royals changed pitchers, bringing in one of their “unhittable” pitchers–apparently this guy rarely gives up a hit, let’s not even think about a homerun. Then Juan Perez stepped up to the plate–quiet, unassuming, “Mystery Man” Juan Perez, whose job is to ride the pine until someone needs to be replaced in the outfield, or when they need a pinch-runner, like last night, he stayed in–and crushed a fly ball all the way out to the center field wall. It hit off the top of the wall, but stayed in the park. He was this close–picture me holding my thumb and pointer finger about an inch or two apart–to a homerun. The Royals manager looked so shocked, I thought they might have to revive him. Anyway, while all that was going on, Pablo raced home–with Hunter on his heels–literally, I thought Hunter was going to run over the Panda. Perez spied a throwing error by the Royals shortstop and quickly took 3rd. Crawford was up next–we’re going to crown him RBI King–and hit a single that scored Perez. That gave Brandon Crawford his 3rd RBI of the night. Perez got the other two. The final score was:
GIANTS 5, Royals 0
The GIANTS defense was absolutely amazing. They so made many incredible plays–too numerous to name, but here’s a few: starting in the 1st with the 2nd hitter–Panik caught the ball in a slide, he stopped, did a little spin and threw the runner out at 1st–all while he was on his knees–on his knees! Blanco raced in on a fly ball hit to shallow center in the 3rd inning, and caught it. In the 4th, the ball was hit toward 3rd, took a strange hop, but Pablo stayed with it somehow and threw to 1st in time to get the runner out. The next amazing play was my favorite–also in the 4th, the ball was hit to right field, between 1st and 2nd, Belt was there and snagged it, but needed to get to 1st before the runner–and he did–by going into a slide, reaching the base with his feet before the runner crossed the bag. Out! In the 6th, the Royals hitter popped the ball up, way up, above home plate and Posey caught it at the screen.
It was a special night. The Panda people were there, en masse, Steve Perry got the crowd stirred up with the Journey classic “Lights” his iconic homage to his San Francisco home, and Billy Crystal welcomed the crowd by showing a scoreboard video replay of Robin Williams welcoming the crowd to the 2010 World Series. Crystal also caught the ceremonial 1st pitch thrown by Robin Williams’ kids.
It was a bittersweet night for Juan Perez. He found out during the game–as did the rest of the world watching the game–that his good friend, Oscar Taveras died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic earlier in the day. He was devastated. He did his best, though, to focus on the game–he was called in to pinch-run for Travis Ishikawa in the bottom of the 6th and stayed in the game. When he came to bat in the 8th and hit that double–he dedicated it to his friend. Oscar Taveras played for the St. Louis Cardinals and he was considered one of their top prospects. He was called up earlier this year, and hit a homerun in his major league debut, off GIANTS pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. Bochy gave a statement saying Taveras was a special talent who was looking forward to a great career.
The GIANTS are going back to Kansas City. Kansas City here we come! Remember–together we’re GIANT–so let’s send the GIANTS all the positive vibes we can. It’s our year!