Ok, so my last blog post featured a controversial statement by Pablo Sandoval that brewed up quite a sh**storm–and generated almost more views of that one blog post than I had last year for all my posts combined. It was like being served creme brûlée for dessert instead of vanilla pudding.
The lesson learned? If I want more readers, I gotta start a fight. More controversary=more readers. Nah–not gonna happen. I’m not sure how to get people riled up on purpose. I do it accidentally all the time. I guess I’ll have be happy with sedate blog posts and fewer readers. That’s ok, you guys–my regular readers are loyal, bright, interesting and fun. Not only that–you’re great GIANTS fans.
Back to the plain stuff–game recaps. The GIANTS have played every day since I last wrote, the games haven’t been much to write about, but it’s Spring Training and I’m not worried. Not mad either. How can anyone get mad at a bunch of guys who play with such heart?
The G-Men took on the Rangers–GIANTS 12, Rangers 3–with Matt Duffy and Gary Brown each going yard. Then they played the Padres–GIANTS 6, Padres 7. Next they went up against Arizona with split squads and lost both games–GIANTS 2, DBacks 12 and GIANTS 5, DBacks 10–with Quiroz contributing a HR. On Monday, the GIANTS played the team we love to hate–the dreaded Dodgers, and while the GIANTS played with a mix of new kids and veterans, LA trotted out the players that will probably make their opening day squad. It didn’t do them any good–the final score was: GIANTS 5, LA 5. Yesterday the GIANTS met up with the Padres, again–GIANTS 5, Padres 10–with Panik slugging in a HR; and today they took on the Brewers–Brandon Belt hit a HR–but the G-Men chalked up another loss. The final score was: GIANTS 3, Milwaukee 6.
The good news? Everyone’s favorite player–including Pablo Sandoval’s fave, apparently–Hunter Pence, is reportedly in good spirits and looking forward to healing–crazy hair and all. Honestly? I can’t wait for him to get better myself–as far as I’m concerned the hair is fine–have you seen mine lately?
I’m fresh out of creme brûlée. Enjoy the vanilla pudding.
WARNING: this post may contain strong, offensive language, including liberal use of F-bombs because the latest news from Pablo Sandoval about his departure from SF feels an awful lot like scorn to me. Reader discretion advised.
Enough already. It’s probably sacrilege to say this, but when it comes to why Pablo Sandoval made the move to Boston–I’m over it. So, so over it. As for the reason Pablo left San Francisco, maybe now’s the time for him to display a tiny shred of dignity–if he has any–and just let it go. He apparently has another idea–throw as many excuses as he can think of at us and see which one sticks. Honestly? None of them work for me.
The latest excuse? The one that has Pablo leaving San Francisco because he wasn’t getting the love? Horsesh*t ! Oh sure, he blames Sabean, not the fans–in fact, he doesn’t even mention the fans at all. Not even a “fu*k you very much!” He didn’t acknowledge the the thousands of fans who bought Panda hats, he didn’t even mention the die-hards that wore those huge Panda masks. The San Francisco fans were loyal to Sandoval through thick and thin–literally–when he gained weight, when he lost weight, when he got hurt, and yes, even when he was accused of rape. We stood behind him, we rooted for him, and quite frankly, we showed him plenty of love–even unconditional love.
So you can imagine how angry I was–scorned, actually–when Sandoval told Scott Miller of The Bleacher Report that leaving San Francisco was “not hard at all.” He said the only guys he would miss are Bochy and Hunter Pence. I understand leaving them had to be the toughest part about the move, but what about the other guys? Guys like MadBum, Buster, the Brandons, Sergio, Javy–I could go on–apparently he’s not going to miss any of them. And what about all those fans?–not one word for the Panda People. These aren’t your ordinary, run-of-the-mill baseball fans–we’re talking special–dedicated and loyal. Pablo’s remarks were beyond insulting and a real big slap in the face. They–we–deserved better. Shame on you Pablo. Oh, and fu*k you too.
Told you Flannery would be a much bigger loss.
The GIANTS lost their first two spring training games to their X-Bay rivals, the Oakland A’s. I’m not upset, though. Of course, I’m not thrilled and I’m certainly not jumping up and down for joy–but I can live with it. Put it in perspective: it’s Spring Training, it’s early, and the guys are working out the kinks. Like MadBum said after his 1st outing Tuesday since taking the GIANTS to the finish line–and winning–in October: “it’s about getting ready.” Let’s face it–when the GIANTS are ready, they’re unstoppable. I’m looking forward to seeing what the guys can do when they get some of the kinks worked out. The final scores were:
Tuesday–GIANTS 4, A’s 9 Wednesday–GIANTS 2, A’s 9
Today the GIANTS faced the Cubs and after 5 innings the G-Men were trailing 5-0. The GIANTS were able to put together a rally–scoring 1 run in the 6th, 2 in the 7th, and, after a walk & 5 hits–they scored 5 more runs in the 8th. But the unthinkable happened–the game cost us Hunter Pence. I wish I could–say it ain’t so–but after retiring the 1st GIANTS hitter in the 6th, Aoki, and walking the next two hitters, Hicks and Belt, the Cubs’ pitcher, Corey Black, nailed Hunter in the forearm. Sure the GIANTS got their 1st Cactus League win, but the victory was bittersweet because Hunter suffered a non-displaced fracture of his left ulna and is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks. Let’s all wish Hunter a speedy and complete recovery.
Here’s a small piece of good news from today’s game, besides the win: the Skipper’s kid–Brett Bochy–pitched a 1, 2, 3 shut-down inning, distinguishing himself as the only GIANTS pitcher who did NOT give up a hit today. Papa Bochy has got to be proud–I am, and I’ve never even met the kid. The final score was:
GIANTS 8, Cubs 6
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.