San Francisco Giants fans-staring out our windows

rogers_hornsbyRogers Hornsby 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 know just how he feels. I’m doing the same.

I am looking forward to baseball more than ever before. I streamed Fanfest from sfgiants.com and it made me crave SF Giants baseball. I am beyond ready for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report on Valentine’s Day. That’s even better than chocolates.

I spent the winter watching politics, and folks–that is an unholy bloodsport.

When the season starts I don’t want to hear another word about voter fraud, Russian hackers, crowd size comparisons, alternative facts (although I’ve thought of about a million ways we can use them) or that damn border wall. I can’t wait for good old American baseball. It’s the cure for what ails us.

Unfortunately, this past election has divided houses, families, communities, states, ethnic groups and an entire country. Baseball is different. In baseball the only thing we hate are our rivals–like the Dodgers–but that’s never divided us, it’s just good-natured fun. The Dodgers are the team we love to hate, but some of us have found ourselves at the yard sitting next to a Dodger fan, sharing a beer and enjoying their company. Who knew?

I have relatives who are Dodgers fans. It’s true. And we have an ongoing friendly disagreement when it comes to our rivalry. They say something rude about my Giants, I have a nasty rejoinder about the blue crew. It’s just for fun and we usually leave laughing.  At least no one has gotten bruised, battered or bloody. So far.

I’m ready to get back to arguing about baseball. Let the politicians eat each other for lunch. With relish.

Toni Cecchetti

12 February 2017

SF Giants-Cubs got our goat

10-11mlbf_1205696683_th_45This wasn’t your usual Giants torture. No, this was much worse. The Giants took the lead in the first and kept it inning after inning. The Cubs scored, the Giants scored. I caught a glimpse of Bobby Evan’s up in the bigwigs box. He looked like he was chewing his nails to the quick. I was past that. I was chewing my fingers to the bone–waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Part of my nervousness was because Matt Moore was on the mound. Earlier in the year, he went from practical perfection to the opposite end of the spectrum in less than a month-twice-when we were in LA when playing the Dodgers. I have faith in him–he’s a Giant after all–but he still makes me nervous.

I shouldn’t have been. Moore was even better than practical perfection. Not only did he come out dealing, he came out swinging–with an RBI single in the fourth. He pitched eight solid, allowing only two runs on two hits and two walks. He struck out ten. It was a spectacular outing and he looked like a champion. The other shoe stayed on.

It slipped off in the ninth as the Giants took a three-run lead into the top of the inning and allowed the Cubs to tie it up, and then score the go-ahead run. The Giants stayed silent in the bottom of the inning.The final score was:

Giants 5, Cubs 6

The Giants died as they lived, with a blown save in the ninth. It’s too bad, because Matt Moore earned that win. And Conor Gillaspie didn’t get the NLDS MVP. I know there’s no such thing, but I was naming him MVP anyway, he deserved it.

It’s disappointing and unbelievable because the Giants haven’t lost a post season elimination game in years. No reason to think they’d start now. Monday night’s game was proof positive the Giants are like the Goonies, they never say die.

I’m sad. Not because the guys didn’t win. It’s because this is it. No more Giants baseball till April. The hunt for Orange October is over, but you haven’t heard the last of me. I’ll check in from time to time.

I’ll just say this for now, get the bullpen squared away and wait till next year!

Toni Cecchetti

11 October 2016

 

SF Giants Extra Torture

10-10-giantswin1000_xgn2knwx_es70ybcxAnother Giants Torture game. I don’t mind them though. Torture means we’re still in it. When the torture stops, it’s over. Kind of reminds me of the old joke-why did the idiot keep hitting himself in the head? Because it feels so good when he stops.

The big difference is Giants torture doesn’t feel better when it stops. It feels worse–much, much worse.

The Cubs struck first, scoring in the second inning when the reigning Cy Young Award winning pitcher, Jake Arrieta, raked a three-run homer, putting the baby bears on the board.

The Giants answered back in the third–Denard Span hit a double and scored on Buster Posey’s single. They scored again in the fifth–this time Denard hit a triple and came home on Brandon Belt’s sac fly.

It wasn’t Madison Bumgarner’s greatest outing. His post season magic wasn’t working for the first time in over 23 post season innings. He pitched five innings, allowed three runs–one was a home run–on seven hits and one walk. He struck out four. It seemed the game was doomed.

And then it wasn’t. In the eighth inning, the Giants gathered up their “magic wandoo” and started scoring Giants-style, moving the line along. Brandon Belt hit a single and Buster Posey drew a walk.  Conor Gillaspie kept the rally going by roping a line drive to right for a triple scoring Belt and Buster. Conor scored on Brandon Crawford’s single. Crawford stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error, but was still on third when the inning was over.

The Giants had a two-run lead with Sergio Romo on the mound to close in the ninth. But we’re talking Giants torture, right? Romo gave up a single and a home run, tying the game. And it’s on to extra innings. Free post season baseball.

The heroes of Monday night’s game were Denard Span and Conor Gillaspie. They were the architects of the scoring runs. To top it off Denard Span made a show stopping–literally, because Bochy asked for a replay review–play when he caught a low line drive to center in the top of the 12th. He kept the ball in his glove, rolled and jumped up with the ball secure. The second base umpire ruled it a trapped ball. Span had that WTF look on his face and signaled to the bench that he caught the ball. After the review, the boys in New York sided with Span and the runner was out.

We suffered through another replay review in the top of the 13th when the Cubs pinch hitter ground into a nicely turned double play–Crawford to Panik to Belt. Again the review went our way. In the bottom of the inning, Crawford led off with a double and Joe Panik drove a hit to center, scoring Crawford for the walk off win. After 13 innings, the final score was:

Giants 6, Cubs 5

Giants and Cubs meet up again at the Cove tomorrow with Matt Moore on the mound for the Giants. Game time is 5:30 pm and the game will be on FS1 again. You can tune into KNBR 680 and hear our broadcasters call the game while watching the Fox Sports feed–go for the Japanese movie-dubbed-in-English kind of  experience just for kicks.

Don’t Stop BeliEVEN.

Toni Cecchetti

10 October 2016

SF Giants another one bites the dust

10-08-mlbf_1204304283_th_45We lost another one to the Cubs. The Cubs! They’re little bears for gawdsakes. I’m not worried though. We’ve been down this road before.

Remember 2012? Ashkon sang “down 0-2, after two quiet nights…” yeah. Well, we bounced back from that and we’ll–baseball gods willing–bounce back from this.

At least that’s what I hope. I’m just looking forward to more Giants baseball.

Jeff Samardzija took the mound in his old home stadium, but didn’t last long. He pitched two innings, allowing four runs on six hits and one walk. He struck out one. He was sticking with his fastball and the Cubs had his number.

The Giants managed to score in the third. Joe Panik drove a liner to left for a double, and Gregor Blanco–who pinch hit in the pitchers spot–doubled on a line drive to center, scoring Panik. Denard Span’s groundout moved Blanco to third and Brandon Belt’s sac fly brought Blanco home.

Samardzija left the game after the second, and the Cubs pitcher took a comebacker off Angel Pagan in the fourth. The pitcher ended up leaving the game and the game became the Battle of the Bullpens. I thought we might have a chance there, but their bullpen kept our guys scoreless.

The Cubs relief pitcher hit a home run in the fourth, off Giants reliever George Kontos, who was pitching in his childhood stadium. Pitching at Wrigley was his dream growing up in Chicago and according to his Instagram post, he was excited and proud to be there as a Giant. I was proud of him too.

The Giants didn’t score again. Even after we brought in our super-special, not so secret weapon–Madison Bumgarner–to pinch hit in the fifth. He didn’t hit a bomb–like he did during batting practice–but he got some wood on the ball and reached first on a fielding error, then moved to second on a throwing error. He advanced to third on Denard Span’s groundout, but was left stranded when the inning ended. The final score was:

Giants 2, Cubs 5

So settle in, get comfy. This down 0-2 stuff fits the Giants like an old shoe. We got this. Don’t Stop BeliEVEN.

We play the Cubs again–Monday, October 10th–at home. Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound for the Giants, so you know I like our chances. Promise me if you go to the game you will make some noise. Lots and lots of noise. The game starts at 6:30 pm and will be broadcast on FS1, ESPN Radio and KNBR 680. Tune in your TV on mute and crank up the radio to hear our guys call the game. It’s a different world.

Toni Cecchetti

08 October 2016

SF Giants so close

10-07-9533961-johnny-cueto-mlb-san-francisco-giants-arizona-diamondbacks-850x560Friday night’s opening NLDS playoff game at Wrigley Field was so close, razor edge close–then it turned into a big disappointment. But it ain’t over yet.

Much like Wednesday’s winner-take-all game in New York, Friday’s game was a pitching duel to the death, but with the game winning run scored in the bottom of the eighth instead of the top of the ninth.

The kids–Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson–pulled off massively huge defensive plays, saving the game in early innings. Their contributions cannot be overlooked.

Johnny Cueto was lights out. In fact, I’d have to say he outpitched the Cubs pitcher. Except that one silly pitch in the eighth inning that a Cub sent flying and sent Angel Pagan into the ivy.

Buster Posey gave it his best shot to tie it up with a two-out double in the ninth, but got left aboard when Hunter Pence groundout. The final score was:

Giants 0, Cubs 1

For those who are scoreboard watching, the American League teams–not that we care–are in travel mode, so Saturday’s games are all about the National League. The Dodgers at Nationals game is at 1:00 pm on FS1, and the Giants at Cubs–the game we care about most–is on at 5:00 pm on the MLB Network. Mute your TV and turn on your radio, our guys are on KNBR 680.

Sure Game 1 in Chicago was disappointing, but it’s October baseball and we’re still in it. C’mon, we’ve been througher times than this. Like the week before last.

Don’t Stop Believing.

Toni Cecchetti

07 October 2016

SF Giants-We Did It!

10-05-gillaspie1440_vrrdsgdw_qtaa4ba42xSudden death. Do or die. Win or go home. Nobody does October baseball better than the Giants with everything on the line. Wednesday night’s game against the Mets was a winner take all game. And the Giants took it all. Every last bit.

It was a pitching duel to the death, with Noah “Thor” Syndegaard–the Mets Ace–on the mound for the home team, and Madison “Big Country” Bumgarner–our Ace–working with Buster Posey, making up the best battery in the bigs.

Thor gave up two walks in the fourth, but held our Giants hitless through five innings–Denard Span hit a single but got left on base in the sixth. The Giants  worked Syndegaard over pretty well though, driving his pitch count up to get to the Mets bullpen.

The ninth inning was the Giants “magic wandoo” inning.  The Mets brought in their phenom closer, but he didn’t intimidate the Giants hitters. Brandon Crawford led off with a double and Joe Panik drew a walk. Conor Gillaspie took a nice pitch and sent it to the bleachers for a “that baby is outtahere!”

Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game shut out. The final score was:

Giants 3, Mets 0

It was as exciting as a World Series Game 7. Maybe just as important. The torture lasted the entire game.

We’re off to face the Cubs in Chicago. I like our chances. Like I said–nobody does October baseball better than the Giants.

Friday’s game starts at 6:00 pm and will be on FS1 and KNBR 680. You know what to do. Don’t Stop Believing.

Toni Cecchetti

05 October 2016

SF Giants SWEEP LA!

10-02-downloadI was nervous. I even considered chewing my nails, but that’s never been my thing. So I grabbed Jobu’s rum and a couple of his cigars and settled in to watch the game.

I’m not gonna lie to you, I was concerned about our chances, you know how tough it is to sweep. But I forgot it was October and I forgot who we are. Shame on me. During the game, I wondered where these guys have been since July–but then I realized, who cares? They’re here now and that’s what matters. Giants are made for October.

This weekend the Giants faced the best three pitchers in the Dodgers rotation and defeated them all. Today was Matt Moore’s day. He pitched a fantastic game. Moore went eight solid innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks. He struck out six.

The offense was brilliant, they came out swinging. In the first inning, Denard Span led off with a base hit and Brandon Belt followed with a double. Buster Posey stepped up and hit a two RBI single scoring Span and Belt. We were off to the races.

In the third, Joe Panik hit a single, Conor Gillaspie doubled, and Matt Moore hit into a fielder’s choice that took Panik out at home. Denard Span came up next and hit a triple scoring Gillaspie and Moore. They were doing what Giants do, picking each other up. I almost cried. Happy tears.

The Giants added on in the eighth when Denard Span led off with a single and advanced to second on an error by Yasiel Puig–the Dodger outfielder all Giants and Giants fans love to hate. With two outs, Hunter Pence grabbed a bat and drove a single to right, scoring Span. Brandon Crawford hit a single that was almost caught but it dropped out of the outfielder’s glove and Hunter Pence made it home before they could gun him down at the plate.

10-02-mlbf_1200742283_th_45I don’t always mention the defense, but this must be said. The defense was fabulous. Two defensive plays stood out–Conor Gillaspie’s head first dive into the photographer’s well, hanging on to the ball even after he dropped all the way in. He came up glove first and in one piece. Denard Span made an amazing catch in center field that included a long run to the wall, the catch and a roll–keeping the ball in his glove the entire time.

Sergio Romo closed the game by giving up a single and getting the next three batters out. The final score was:

Giants 7, Dodgers 1

Today was a special game. Not just because we #beatLA, or excuse me, pulled a clean #sweepLA, but because it was legendary broadcaster Vin Scully’s last MLB broadcast. The voice of the Dodgers is retiring. The Giants organization gave him a classy send-off that included CSN-Bay Area broadcasting his call of the game during the third inning.

10-02-mlbf_1201031083_th_45Our broadcasters paid tribute to Vin by leading the crowd singing Vin’s favorite song–Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.  As much as we love Kruk and Kuip–and you know I do–they can’t sing any better than me. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Using both hands.

It was a great game and a great day to be a Giant. I said Saturday that I like our chances. We needed the win to eliminate the Cardinals. Either that, or we needed our old friend Ryan Vogelsong to lead the Pirates to a win against St. Louis. Vogelsong did his very best and when he left the game after five innings, the score was 2-1 Pirates. But the Pirates relief pitchers didn’t hang on to the lead and ended up losing to the Cardinals 10-4.

The Giants celebrated the win with champagne and new shirts that said “Made for October.”

10-02-cueto1000_winning_cx7m5x8j_w4ecvnvnIt took all 162 games to get a Wild Card spot, but we did it. The Giants are off to New York to face the Mets for a one game wild card play off Wednesday. Let’s win there. Don’t Stop Believing.

Toni Cecchetti

2 October 2016