SF Giants: C’mon Arizona

The SF Giants didn’t make it into the postseason. Arizona did. You have one job, Diamondbacks: Beat LA.

The Giants have been in your shoes. Down 0-2 in the division series. We went on the road to Cincinnati and kicked the Reds A-double-S all over the Great American Bandbox. We beat them in their own house.

That’s where you have the advantage, Arizona. Step it up.  You’re going to your home with one job. #BeatLA.

If I were more talented I’d write you a nice anthem, a lá Ashkon, to give you inspiration. But I’m not. Here’s one for you—just change the names to fit your team. We’ll let you borrow it, but we get it back when you’re done. Or should I say, when you’ve won?

We’ll loan you Ashkon’s “We Are the Champions” when you win it all.

So get busy Arizona. We gave you one job. In the words of the great god of sneakers—”Just Do It!”

Toni Cecchetti

8 October 2017

SF Giants October Awareness

really pinkOctober is breast cancer awareness month. Breast cancer survivors don’t need the reminder, but the rest of us could use the nudge.

Below is an incredible story written by Dr Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.

If you’re wondering what this has to do with the Giants, I will tell you this—it’s a feel-good story you have to read all the way to the end to get the connection. I won’t spoil the surprise.

Read it. It’s a good story and you won’t be sorry. And in the end, it’s a good story that is loosely related to baseball.

The Week My Husband Left And My House Was Burgled I Secured A Grant To Begin The Project That Became BRCA1

Dr Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle

The week of April Fools’ Day of 1981 began badly. That Sunday night my husband told me he was leaving me. He had fallen in love with one of his graduate students, and they were headed back to the tropics the next day.

I was completely devastated. It was totally unexpected. 33 years later, I still don’t know what to say about it. I was just beside myself.

He gave me a new vacuum cleaner to soften the blow.

It was the middle of spring quarter at Berkeley, so the next morning I had my class, as usual. And I had to either teach it or explain why not. It was far easier to teach, so I dropped off our daughter, Emily – who was five and three-quarters at the time – at kindergarten, along with her faithful Aussie, her Australian shepherd, who went everywhere with her. I headed down to school and taught my class.

As I was leaving, my department chairman caught up with me. He said, “Come into my office.”

I said, “Fine.” (I had hoped to escape.)

I went into his office, and he said, “I wanted to tell you, I’ve just learned you’ve been awarded tenure.” And of course I burst into tears.

Now, this department chairman, bless him, was a gentleman a full generation older than me. He had three grown sons. He had no daughters. He had certainly never had a young woman assistant professor in his charge before.

And he took my shoulders, and he stepped back, and he said, “No one’s ever reacted like that before.” He said, “Sit down, sit down. What’s the matter?”

I said, “It’s not the tenure. It’s that my husband told me last night he was leaving me.”

He looked at me, opened the drawer of his desk, pulled out a huge bottle of Jack Daniels, poured me a half a glass of it, and said, “Drink this. You’ll feel better.” It was 9:30 on Monday morning. So I did – and I did. I made it through the day, got sober, and around 3:30 headed back up the hill to pick up Emily from school. She hopped in the car with Ernie, her dog, and we drove home.

We got home, walked up the stairs, opened the house… and it was absolute chaos.

Someone had broken in. Everything was completely trashed. In retrospect what must have happened was that my then husband had often worked at home, and whoever had been casing the neighbourhood must have left our house aside because he was often there. But that day, of course, he hadn’t been there, so we were vulnerable, and we were robbed.

So I called 911, and a young Berkeley police officer came up and went through the house. Of course, I had no idea what had been taken and what hadn’t, because my husband had taken many things with him on Sunday night. I wasn’t sure what should still be there or not. I explained that to Officer Rodriguez, and he said, “As you figure it out, make a list.”

Then he went upstairs with Emily. They opened the door of her room, and it was eighteen inches deep of just chaos. The bed had been pulled apart, curtains pulled down, drawers all dumped out. Emily -five and three-quarters – looked at Officer Rodriguez and said, “I can’t tell if the burglars were in here or not.” And Officer Rodriguez, to his eternal credit, did not crack a smile. He handed her his card and said, “Young lady, if you discover that anything is missing, please give me a call.”

So now it’s Monday night. I was scheduled later that week to give a presentation in Washington, D.C., to the National Institutes of Health. The way this worked in those days was, if you were a young professor, applying for the first time for a large grant, you were quite frequently asked to come to the NIH and give what was called a “reverse site visit.” You’d explain what you planned to do, and then it would be decided if you were going to be granted quite a substantial amount of money over five years.

It was terribly important. I had not done this before. It was brand-new. It was going to be my first large grant on my own. The plan had been for Emily to stay with her dad and for my mom to come out, arriving the next day – Tuesday – to help out. That had seemed, at the time, like a great plan.

My mom, who was living in Chicago, obviously didn’t know anything about the events of the previous 24 hours, so I thought, I’ll just wait and explain it to her when she gets here. It seemed far better than calling her at what, by now, was quite late in Chicago because of all the business with the burglary and the police and all that.

So the next day, we picked up my mom at San Francisco Airport, and driving back to Berkeley, I explained to her what happened on Sunday. She was very, very upset. She said, “I can’t believe you’ve let this family come apart. I can’t believe this child will grow up without a father” (which was never true and has never been true since).

urbanisme

“How could you do this? How could you not put your family first?” Emily was sitting there in the car.

And, “I just cannot imagine,” she said. “I’m going to go talk to Rob.”

I said, “He’s back in Costa Rica.”

“This just can’t be,” and she became more and more upset. By the time we got home to Berkeley, she was extremely agitated. Emily was terrified. It was clearly not going to work for her to care for Emily.

After a couple of hours, my mom said, “I’m going home. I just can’t imagine that this has happened. You must stay here and take care of your child. How can you even think of running off to the East Coast at a time like this?”

To put it into context now, years later, my father had died not long before, after my mom had nursed him for more than 20 years. Just two months after this visit, my mother was diagnosed with epilepsy. So, in context, her reaction was not as irrational as it seemed in that moment, but at the time, of course, it was devastating. So I said, “Okay. You’re right. I’ll arrange for you to have a ticket to go home tomorrow. We’ll take you out to the airport, and I’ll cancel the trip.”

I called my mentor, who had been my postdoc adviser at UC San Francisco until just a couple of years before. He was already in Washington, D.C., by happenstance at an oncology meeting, and I said, “I’m not going to be able to come,” and I explained briefly what had happened. Of course, he knew me well. And he just listened to all this. He had grown daughters and said, “Look, come.”

I said, “I can’t.”

He said, “Bring Emily. Emily and I know each other. I’ll sit with her while you’re giving your presentation.” He had grandchildren of his own.

He said, “It will be fine.”

I said, “She doesn’t have a ticket.”

He said, “As soon as we hang up the phone, I’m going to call the airline and get her a ticket. Pick up the ticket at the airport tomorrow when you take your mom back. It’ll be on the same flight as yours. Everything will be fine.”
I said, “You sure?”

And he said, “Yes. I have to call the airline now. Good night,” and he hung up. (In those days it was very easy to rearrange tickets.)

I arranged for my mother to have a ticket to go back to Chicago. Her flight was at 10 o’clock in the morning. So we left Berkeley in plenty of time, in principle, to get to San Francisco Airport. But it was one of those days where the Bay Bridge was just totally jammed up. It was a horrible drive across. What should have been a drive of 45 minutes took an hour and 45 minutes. When we finally arrived, my mom’s flight was about to leave in 15 minutes, Emily’s and my flight was going to leave in 45 minutes, and in front of the counter to pick up tickets was a long, long line. And, of course, we had our suitcases. My mom was carrying hers, and she was already fairly frail.

So Emily and my mother and I were standing in the line, and I said, “Mom, can you make it down to your plane on your own?” Bear in mind, there were no checkpoints in those days, but there were, of course, very long corridors.

She said, “No.”

So I said to Emily, “I’m going to need to go with Grandmom down to her plane.”

And my mother shrieked, “You can’t leave that child here alone!” (Fair enough.)

Suddenly this unmistakable voice above and behind me said, “Emily and I will be fine.”

I turned around to the man standing behind us, and I said, “Thank you.”

My mother looked at me and said, “You can’t leave Emily with a total stranger.”

And I said, “Mom, if you can’t trust Joe DiMaggio, who can you trust?”

joe di maggio

Joe DiMaggio, a famous American baseball player, who just like us was standing there, waiting in line – looked at me, looked at my mother, and gave Emily a huge grin. And then he put out his hand and said, “Hi, Emily, I’m Joe.”

Emily shook his hand, and she said, “Hello, Joe, I’m Emily.”

And I said, “Mom, let’s go.”

So my mother and I headed down the hall. We got to the plane, and my mother got on fine. It was probably 25 minutes by the time I got back, and by that time Emily and Joe were all the way up at the front chatting with each other by the counter.

Joe DiMaggio had wrangled Emily’s ticket for her. She was holding it. He was clearly waiting to go to his plane until I got back. I looked at him, and I said, “Thank you very much.” And he said, “My pleasure.”

He headed off down the hall. He turned right. He gave me this huge salute and wave and a tremendous grin and went off to his own plane.

Emily and I went to Washington, DC. The interview went fine. I got the grant, and that was the beginning of the work that now, 33 years later, has become the story of inherited breast cancer and the beginning of the project that became BRCA1.

marie claire king

Dr Mary-Claire King, American Cancer Society Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle

This story is cross-posted from The Moth’s latest book for a special edition of HuffPost UK’s Life Less Ordinary blog series. You can buy the book here and listen to Mary-Claire tell her story live here.

 

SF Giants End of an Era

cain.2 10.01

Sunday’s game marked a very short Orange October.

Matt Cain retired Saturday. He was back on Sunday to leave us with a few heartfelt–and tear-choked–words. Cain–the Horse–is a giant of a Giant. He pitched the only perfect game in Giants franchise history, and he left the game on his terms—after achieving the personal goal of wearing just one uniform his entire major league career.

Giants president, Larry Baer, promised a Matt Cain day in the 2018 season. Let’s hope we can honor Cain with a better season than the one he retired on.

In my house we were split when it came to starters. My husband has been a Madison Bumgarner fan since the kid got here. I was a big Matt Cain fan. I watched his perfect game pitch by pitch, knowing by the seventh inning we were in for a very special night. And when Kuip called the play by Arias “from deep third” my eyes welled with tears as I watched Brandon Belt catch the ball for the last out and stuff it into his back pocket. I cried like Cain was my own kid.

BFF Vickie is still mad I didn’t call her to let her know what was going on. I couldn’t. I’m a superstitious old gamer babe and I was sure if I called Vickie and spilled the beans, something horrible would happen to spoil the perfect game. Can you imagine how I would have felt if Gregor Blanco had missed THE catch?

Sunday’s game was a textbook Giants game. The old Giants, that is. Johnny Cueto was on the mound but his performance was not up to his usual stuff. In five innings pitched, he allowed four runs–one was a home run–twelve hits and he struck out two. The bullpen–Ty Blach, Steven Okert, Corey Gearring and Hunter Strickland–didn’t allow any runs.

After the fourth inning, the game stayed tied at four runs a piece until the 9th inning when Pablo Sandoval became the hero–like he was in the old days–with a walk off home run. Good old Giants torture. I almost didn’t recognize it.

The final score was: Giants 5, Padres 4

The Giants won their last game which made them lose their 1st round draft pick. The Giants 2017 W/L record tied with Detroit’s, but because Detroit finished a half-game behind San Francisco in 2016, the tie is broken and first pick goes to the Tigers. The Giants get the second pick. And you know what? That’s close enough. I don’t care what Frank Robinson says.

The Giants went out better than they came in. There were speeches after the game, and the only disappointment for me were the Boo’s that greeted manager Bruce Bochy from some of the crowd when it was his turn to speak. He doesn’t deserve that.

Our Giants, right or wrong. They’ve had a terrible year. I know most of us will be back next year to cheer them on anyway. Lots of decisions to be made after this winter. I’ll try to keep you posted.

See you in the spring.

Toni Cecchetti

1 October 2017

 

 

SF Giants Make Some Decisions

Crawnik

The Giants made a big decision Friday. They decided to finish the season with less than 100 losses. Good choice.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. They’re still bringing up the rear. If all goes the same, they will have the first draft pick, they are tied with Detroit, and followed by Philadelphia and the Chicago White Sox. I’ll let you know how it all shakes out. The last time the Giants came close to a No. 1 pick was in 1985, they had the second pick overall and used it to pick up some guy named Will Clark, aka “Will the Thrill.” Not a bad choice, right?

Our last Orange Friday of the 2017 season was a game reminiscent of our WS Champs—pick a season—they looked and acted like the teams who, like the Goonies, never say die. Never when they are in the postseason, anyway.

They had their hitting shoes on. 17 hits in all. Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford tied with three RBI’s each. Pablo Sandoval and Joe Panik had one RBI a piece. They were playing like Gold Glovers–which makes sense because a couple of them are–they turned a nice double play and made a couple of tough outs.

Chris Stratton went 6.2 innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and struck out seven. Derek Law, Kyle Crick and Josh Osich held the game to the last out. It was a sweet game to watch.

The final score was: Giants 8, Padres 0

12079433_10206156631648185_3009197668807493748_nOn a personal note, My husband and I celebrated our 38th anniversary. Tempus fugit.

Thank you Giants for a great anniversary.

Happy Anniversary Anthony!

 

 

 

 

Toni Cecchetti

29 September 2017

SF Giants bite the Snakes

Hunter Hundley 09.25

And they bit them good.

The DBacks scored a run in the first and a run in the third, so they had a two-run lead going into the fourth. And that’s when the Giants struck. Buster Posey singled and Brandon Crawford drew a walk. Jarrett Parker doubled, scoring Buster and Nick Hundley followed with a three-run home run. Hunter Pence came up with a solo home run of his own and the Giants were in business.

In the fifth, Denard Span led-off with a single and advanced to third on an error when the DBacks attempted to pick him off. Span scored when Pablo Sandoval reached on an error.

The Giants scored three more runs in the eighth after Pablo drew a walk and Kelby replaced him as a pinch runner; Jarrett singled and Kelby advanced to third on a fielding error; Hundley singled, scoring Kelby and Hunter reached on a fielding error that scored Parker. Joe Panik hit a sac fly scoring Hundley and Hunter was tagged out at third to end the inning.

The final score was: Giants 9, Arizona 2

We’re down to the wire with five games left. Here’s how it shakes out: the Giants are tied with the Phillies for dead-last, the White Sox have risen slightly above the fray and the Tigers have taken their place. The battle for the bottom continues. The winner gets first pick in next year’s draft.

We can still be winners.

Toni Cecchetti

25 September 2017

SF Giants, Giants, Giants

giants-win-world-series-1414640990

San Francisco Giants 2014: a Dynasty

Yeah, I’m shaking my head. Or as they say on social media–when annoyed–SMDH (shaking my damn head). Or sometimes when I’ve reached the limits and I’m beyond annoyed–SMFH. You know what the F stands for. Here’s a hint: it’s not firetruck.

I told you to stay tuned because I was going to report all the interesting and relevant theories I gleaned from a study of our game stats. I’m gonna need a bigger brain. Or at the very least, a better one. Every time I start looking at the rhyme or reason of why we won this game and lost that one, the thread I thought I’d carefully woven starts to unravel. Bottom line—like the experts have been saying all along, there is no rhyme or reason.

The past ten games have been a small sample size of our season this year. We won four and lost six. We are hovering at .400. People are talking rebuild.

Matt Cain is going to make his farewell appearance against the Padres in the final weekend of the season. It will be sad to see him go. He was a big part of what made this team special.

It’s the end of an era. And I’m shaking my head because we got caught up in the fervor of a dynastic run and forgot that one day we would return to this spot. It was a hard jolt because we hit rock bottom and we didn’t see it coming when the season started.

And you know what? That’s ok. Because this baseball. And anything can happen in baseball. It sure did this year.

Just wait till next year.

Toni Cecchetti

23 September 2017

SF Giants winsome and loathe many

vogey 5

Forever Giant Ryan Vogelsong and his son Ryder, as Vogey walks away from playing the game.

I haven’t written about our the Giants in a few days. It’s getting harder and harder to write something that doesn’t sound like bitching, moaning, griping or complaining. So I decided to quit. Not writing! I decided to quit bitching, moaning, griping or complaining.

I decided to get scientific. Sort of. I approached the Giants season-to-date like a huge puzzle, mostly to look for a pattern. Pick your poison—logic puzzle, jigsaw puzzle, word puzzle, math puzzle. I looked at the season from each of those angles using the stats from the games played and results so far.

Here’s how it looks:

  • the Giants have played 151 games so far, with 11 games to go. 58 wins and 93 losses.
  • the Giants best months were May and August, where we won 13 of  29 games played in each month, for a .448. The worst month was June–of course!–when we had a .333 win percentage. We lost two-thirds of the games we played in June. Ouch!

Obviously, I was going to need to take a closer look, because all these numbers tell us is we’ve had a lousy year. We all figured that out without looking at any numbers.

So, I decided to delve further. We’re gonna need a bigger boat. Or a bigger brain. Whichever will hold the myriad of statistics I’ve downloaded, charted, highlighted and studied.

Stay tuned.

Toni Cecchetti

19 September 2017

Happy Birthday Noni. Miss you more every day.