Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Offseason Discussion I

OK, that's over.



(photo from espn.go.com)

Regardless of what may happen and what may have driven this decision, the Giants need a third baseman and a left fielder, to fill at least 2 positions in the rotation, and probably some relief.  Discuss





Sunday, November 23, 2014

Huddy in 2014




This is a graph I put together of Tim Hudson's 2014 season.  The horizontal axis is each start during the regular season.  On the vertical axis, I have shown the innings pitched, in red, and the bases Huddy surrendered (from hits, walks and hit-by-pitches) per innings pitched.  I thought this might give a better, although still incomplete picture than merely hits/BB/hbp or earned runs.

As you can see, as the season progressed, his innings pitched per game went down, slightly, and his bases per inning pitched tended upward slightly, even leaving out the terrible 1 inning game against LA on September 13.  But Tim Hudson also pitched in the playoffs and World Series (won by the Giants!!!).   Everyone remembers his start in game 7 (won by the Giants!!!).  It didn't go well.  He threw 1 and 2/3 innings, gave 3 hits, walked 1 and gave up 2 runs.

On October 4, Huddy gave us 7 1/4 innings of work, giving up 1 run on 7 hits.  He walked no one and struck out 8.  That was the 18 inning game against Washington, the Giants winning 2-1.  He pitched again October 14, against St. Louis, in game 3 of the NLCS at ATT Park, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits in 6 1/3 innings.  The Giants won that game, 5-4 in the 10th.  Then, he pitched game 3 of the World Series at ATT on October 24 before the October 29 game 7.  In game 3, he picked up the loss, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up 3 runs to Kansas City.

So here is my conclusion: Tim Hudson had a hell of a season for the Giants.  He was an ace at the beginning of the year, although he ran out of some steam towards the end.  Once he got some rest (he had not pitched since September 24 before the Washington game), he pitched pretty damn well.  He is, by his own admission, an old man.  But recall that he pitched so well during the early part of the season that he was rewarded with a trip to the All Star game.  We would not have been in the playoffs without his contribution.  I fully expect him to be rested and sharp for the 2015 season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Yes! Yes! Yes!


I think this photo (my birthday present, thanks Nance) is from this game.

Can't stop thinking about that incredible post-season.

It's a great time to be a Giants fan.

--M.C.





p.s. RIP Ray Sadecki. He was a good pitcher who had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of the Cepeda trade. I think the Giants, as Sabes said after 2010, have buried those bones. The lefty was from KC and also pitched for the Royals in the mid-70s after leaving SF.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Across America with the Giants

The 2014 World Series was a unique experience as my wife and I were traveling and we enjoyed the entire event while on the road. We watched Game One in Santa Clarita which is, surprisingly, the third-largest city in Los Angeles County. It was only recently incorporated (1987) and is composed of several former separate communities like Newhall, Saugus, and Valencia. At 1200 feet elevation it sits on the southern edge of the Transverse Ranges before the descent into the San Fernando Valley. It is probably best-known for Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park. We had planned to avoid the downtown LA traffic by crossing the city later in the evening and hoped to stop somewhere along I-5 to watch the game. If you have ever driven to Southern California along that route you know there's not much to choose from. I had identified a likely spot, a sports bar called the Tilted Kilt, which turned out to be in one of those boulevard lined mega-shopping complexes that are no more attractive than the box store strip malls that blight our country's mid-sized towns. The restaurant itself was big and clean and horribly modern with over two dozen televisions. The food was the usual fare but decent overall and the beer selection was passable. It's a "guy" place with scantily clad cute waitresses in tartan halter tops and mini-skirts. Madison Bumgarner and the Giants kicked ass so it was really quite pleasant despite the characterless setting. And we missed the infamous LA rush hour and made it to our South Bay destination in good time. We noticed one or two other Giants fans in the place who actually left before the end. No Dodgers fans seemed to be present--at least none were sporting their blue, and no one else seemed particularly passionate about the event.

Game Two we spent in the home of our dear friend BRZ in Lomita and that was good as the Giants got a whipping by the Royals. It's always nice to have true fans around to commiserate with. We endured Fox and Joe Buck as best we could and had a splendid visit before our train trip. Taking walks around the area we of course wore our caps but LA fans had already forgotten their season and had turned their thoughts to the myriad of other distractions that abound down there. Game Three happened while we were on the Southwest Chief heading to Chicago and we had to depend on text updates from JCP and various bits of info from other passengers. We didn't encounter any real baseball fans although one of the dining car attendants made a point of lamenting the tough loss with us the next morning. I was not prepared to fully follow the action but I was relaxed and philosophical about the disconnect as that is very much part of my travel outlook. Spontaneity and serendipity are really what journeys are all about. We pulled in to Kansas City the morning of Game Four and I saw a few Royals caps on people in the station but once again did not encounter any baseball fans on the train. That evening after we were settled in our hotel in Chicago we took a walk around the neighborhood and discovered Kitty O'Shea's Pub and Restaurant in the ground floor of the Hilton just across the street. We ate dinner and drank to excess and had a grand time watching the epic come-from-behind Giants victory. We spent the first half of the game talking with a lively gentleman whose mother was a devoted Royals fan. He was an intelligent student of the game and knew quite a bit about the Giants and their players. He left before the onslaught but the bartender, who was from Dublin, had a rooting interest for KC. It seems he won a bet from his "bruddah" on the Super Bowl and rather than a payoff had doubled down on the Series. I love the Irish version of the "th" sound in English--you get everything from "t" to "d" and lots in between. Let's just say if an Irishman calls you "tick" it's not a compliment.

Game Five we watched in our room after a long day of walks exploring the city. Madison Bumgarner was sensational of course, and we got to enjoy it in comfort. We wore our Giants gear around town but there was a Blackhawks game happening that evening and the sports fans around seemed focused on the young hockey season. We did talk to a couple in Grant Park earlier in the day who saw our colors and knew we were tourists and gave us some pointers about where to go and what to see. We were on the train for Game Six and had to rely on text updates once again. No one had any interest as far as we could tell which was fine as that contest was decided early as the Giants were trounced. We made it to Philadelphia for Game Seven after an exhausting journey and once again watched it in the comfort of our room. The Giants were brilliant (that Bumgarner fellow was pretty good again) and we celebrated quietly together before collapsing from our extended travel ordeal.

Philadelphia, we found out, is a real baseball town. Strangers would see our SF garb and say "congratulations" or "you guys must be pumped" and whatnot. It was fun. Lots of people wanted to talk about Madison Bumgarner, Panda, Hunter Pence, and even rookie Joe Panik. There was still a buzz about the Series even though the long season was over and there was little or no rooting interest in either team. At NoirCon (the crime writing conference we were there for) we met one of my literary heroes, Eddie Muller, who is from San Francisco. He saw our caps and came over to gush about the championship. We enjoyed several fun and fruitful conversations with Eddie over the next few days. He was charming and approachable as well as a passionate and intelligent fan. Several of the conference attendees were also baseball types and we would chat in the elevator in the hotel or at breaks in the proceedings. Drinking beers (and eating pirogies) with the British writer Richard Godwin and his wife after the conference ended was great as he was very interested in Raising Matt Cain and wanted to know what I attributed the team's spectacular run to. For an Englishman he had a fair interest in our national pastime and knew more than I expected. I told him about the great job the team had done drafting amateur talent, the wisdom of picking Bruce Bochy to be the field manager, and the club culture of valuing players and their contributions. It was a thumbnail sketch and off-the-cuff but I think I hit the key points. Obviously it has been a lot of fun to bask in the glory of the orange-and-black.

I remember telling many of the folks we discussed the season with that I pinch myself every morning about the recent dynastic success of our beloved ballclub. It's an amazing time to be a Giants fan and a great payoff for decades of loyalty. It's particularly rewarding because I started this blog near the end of the 2007 season and the team's ascendancy coincided perfectly with us hitting our stride as bloggers. I hope I have thanked all of you who have been reading along with us enough over the years for being a part of RMC. It's nice to know people are reading when you write something and the discussions and arguments and everything have been great. Some of you out there in comment land are my friends and we've shared the ups and downs over the years. Some of you I only know virtually from our internet encounters but I feel we've been through a lot together and I hope some day to buy you a beer and shake your hand if we ever meet in the real world!

We are just at the start of our cross-country train journey back home to California. And there's wifi! What's up with that? Where was this connection when I needed it?

I'm sure we'll have much to talk about in the off-season, like always, but I'm going to take it nice and slow and put some energy into my other projects over the next few months. I hope my fellow authors will chime in and post up their opinions on the things the team needs for 2015 and beyond.

GO GIANTS!


--M.C.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Giants Take Crown From Royals!

Madison Bumgarner and the Giants win Game Seven in Kansas City to claim the World Series title! Obviously the hero is the superstar lefty, but you have to acknowledge the incredible play by Joe Panik to start a crucial double play and back up the good effort from Jeremy Affeldt. Pablo Sandoval had four hits, he and Pence would have been co-MVPs if not for the big fella from Hickory. And Mike Morse, much-maligned as a brain-dead slugger and then out of action for much of the stretch run, delivered two huge RBIs to give the Giants and Bumgarner just enough. It was an incredible display of baseball by the orange and black. In the 9th we all had a terrifying moment when Gregor Blanco let a ball get past him and put a runner on third base, but MadBum overpowered Salvador Perez to end it.


MADISON BUMGARNER IS THE ULTIMATE ACE AND THE GIANTS ARE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS FOR 2014!!!


--M.C.

It's On!!

After 4 it is 3-2 Giants.
Panik's DP is the play of the game so far.
Two great PAs from DH Morse as well.
Affeldt got the outs he needed to get in relief of Huddy.
Bottom of the 5th and in comes Madison Bumgarner.
Perez (and Wotus) save a run!
Blown chance for Giants.
Big hitters for KC in the 6th.
Wow, another great display from MadBum.
Six innings down, three to go, Giants clinging to a one-run lead.
Davis puts up a zero.
MadBum back out for the bottom of the 7th.
Another zero with help from the Panda!
Giants can't solve Davis and MadBum is back out for the 8th.
He does it again and it's on to the 9th!
Holland gets it done for KC.
Boch is going for all the marbles with MadBum!




GIANTS WIN!!!!!!!

Jake Peavy, Severe Buzz Kill - Prelude to Game 7 Giants Win

My World Series Game 6 day got off to a crappy start yesterday, when I read this on MLBTradeRumors:

  • Jake Peavy told reporters, including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago-Sun Times, that he will be interested to see where his close friend Jon Lester signs this offseason. Peavy had no qualms in stating that he’d like to once again be teammates with his friend: “I’ve certainly talked to Jon Lester because we’re buddies,” said Peavy. “So I have a feel for what he does. And I certainly know that Chicago would interest him and interest me.” Peavy clarified that he’s not suggesting a package deal for the Cubs, but rather, “There’s a package deal out there for any team.” Wittenmyer spoke to a few people close to Peavy who believe the Cubs would be high on his offseason wishlist, however, having spent several years there with the White Sox.

This is what the guy is worried out about just prior to the biggest start of his career???  Well, I hope that he & Jon Lester have great late careers, losing games for the Cubs.

What a crappy event that was last night.  The Posey AB in the 3rd inning was the only moment of hope, but that ended poorly on the first pitch.  Oh well ... better to lose 10-0, than 1-0.

We are now faced with having to become the first road Team to win a Game 7 since the 1979 Pirates of 'We Are Family' fame.  A little Pence speech, a solid start by Hudson, who I do not think is going to pull a Peavy on us, & some crafty Bochy bullpen management, & we could be in a position to do so.  Of course, there is the little matter of having to score a run or two, too.  If anyone is due for a big extra-base knock or two or three, it is our Leader, Buster.  So, bring it, Buster - it's not too late.  Table-setters, get on for him, & let's party like it's 2010 & 2012.

Go Giants!!!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Maddy, Maddy, Maddy and Juan

RIP Oscar Tavaras.  The young Cardinal outfielder apparently died today in a car accident in the DR.  He as a rising star who had only a short season with the Cardinals.

Madison Bumgarner was spectacular.  He threw the first shutout in a World Series game since Josh Beckett in 2003 for the Marlins.  He earned his fourth career World Series victory.  In 31 innings of World Series ball, he has given up a total of 1 run.  Tonight, he threw 117 pitches, 84 of them were strikes.  He allowed 4 hits and struck out 8.  He allowed 1 runner to reach 2nd base.  He did not walk anyone.  When the game started, before Maddy settled down, I thought he looked tired.  Not from watching him pitch, but just from the look on his face, as though he had a touch of the Giants flu.  Shows how well I can read the taciturn lefty, as he gave up a single to Salvador Perez to start the 2nd inning and promptly retired the side on strikeouts.  Madison Bumgarner is 25 years old.

The Giants scratched and clawed for their first 2 runs.  The first came in the 2nd on a Pence single, a Belt bunt for a base hit (his first in his major league career), an Ishikawa sac fly and a Crawford ground out.  The second came in the 4th, also on a Crawford single to score Pablo from 2nd base with 2 outs.  Brandon Crawford also collected the final rbi in the 8th, scoring Juan Perez from 3rd.

The 8th inning was amazing.  Pablo and Pence started off with singles off of the allegedly unhittable Kelvin Herrera, the first of the three-headed monster that the Royals use for the last three innings, usually when they are ahead.  Then the Royals brought in Wade Davis, head #2.  After Brandon Belt struck out, Juan Perez put a pitch withing inches of the top of the wall in center for a 2 run double, taking 3rd on the throw.  Final score, 5 to 0.  Hits up and down the lineup, only Gregor Blanco and Madison Bumgarner did not get a hit.

I like the look of things from here.  True, we are going back to Kansas City.  However, obviously, we are 1 game up.  Second, we get to put Morse back in the lineup.  Third, we have the following pitchers to use for multiple innings: Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit, and Tim Lincecum; the Royals can't match that.  Fourth, the bubble of the three-headed monster has been pierced, and the Royals have to be soured on their other relievers.  Finally, if you believe in momentum, we got it.
Go Giants!


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Brilliant!

The Giants kicked some serious ass tonight. I've had too many jars at the bar to give you a proper accounting of things, but that is why god invented ESPN. Go there, fer chrissakes, and read the damn summary and look at the beautiful fookin' box score. Despair was the story after last night's frustrating loss, but tonight the Giants rallied and served notice that they are a force to be reckoned with. Ryan Vogelsong looked like an absolute beast in the first two innings, but it all fell apart in the 3rd after a blown play at first base. Hey, give the Royals credit. They are a great club and if you give them a millimeter they will drive a damn Mack truck through that opening. Sound familiar? It should--the Giants worked that same magic on the Nats and the Cards. So, me buckos, if you aren't prepared for a 15-round heavyweight donnybrook then go the fuck home and drink some fecking herbal tea. This is the goddamn Series, it's serious business, and we have to be prepared for some hardcore counter-punching.

We arrived in Chi-town after 50 hours on the Amtrak and the goddamn Best Western--which advertised a bar and restaurant--feebed out big time and offered a pissant goddamn snack bar instead. Well, fuck those corporate penny-pinching arseholes! We wandered the 'hood an stumbled into Kitty O'Shea's, an Irish pub, just around the corner. Being a second-generation American of full-blooded Hibernian ancestry I knew it was home away from home. Irony of ironies, it was part of the damn Hilton. Maybe I should stop cheaping out and go for the four-star and higher when on the road. Ah well, that's another story for another time. We had some fun with the staff and drank pints of local brews and some superb Irish whiskey. We gabbed with a Royals fan, too. His mother was from KC and that meant a lot to me as my own mother is responsible for my love of baseball. Listen up: baseball fans are beautiful people. I would rather knock back brews with a proper Dodgers fan than some gobshite from San Francisco who'd rather watch football. Trust me on this. Cultivate a love of the game, man.

The Giants will travel to Kansas City for Game Six. This team is marvelous. They have been up and they have been down but one thing they have is heart. They battle until the end and fight with all their might. After the agonizing, schizophrenic 2014 season, I had no idea what to expect for the post-season. When they blasted the Pirates in Pittsburgh in the Wild Card game I told my truelove that everything else was a bonus. Then they blew through the playoffs and found themselves in the Series for the third time in five seasons. Did we ever expect a Giants team to have that kind of run in our lifetimes?

I'm greedy. I want to balance the cosmic ledger (three wins versus three losses for the SF club in the finals). I want Bochy to join the pantheon (only nine managers in the history of the game have three rings). But it's not going to be easy. It's going to be the toughest challenge yet. So gird those loins, lads.

Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night.

GO GIANTS!

--M.C.