I’m Not Here

While I was excited that MLBlogs was moving everybody to WordPress.com and away from the horror that is Moveable Type, I guess I wasn’t that excited because it took me three months to get around to checking out the relocation.

Since I’m retired and not really here, I’m not sure why I felt the need to change the look of this blog, other than I’ve never really liked the three themes we were offered at the old MLBlogs and was excited about the opportunity to use any WordPress theme I want.  In the end, I went the unoriginal route and am trying out their latest and greatest theme. I’m not sure I love it, but there’s lots of fun stuff to play with, so I’m keeping it for now.  (I hope there’s a way to change the link color to something other than Dodger Blue though!)

As for the year-in-baseball so far, this is my second year actively following the Giants, and it pretty much reminds me of last year.  They can pitch, they can’t hit, their roster is full of “old guys” nobody wanted and rookies with crazy potential, and they are constantly being written off as an impossibility but continue to be contenders.  Actually, the only real difference between this year and last year is that they have been first in their division for a much greater duration than they were last year because the unstoppable Padres are a thing of the past and dead last.

Without this blog, I must admit to not paying as much attention to the team this year as I did the year prior.  I don’t have to know what happened in a game or series if I don’t have to write about it.  Not that I watched ever game religiously last year either (I have a family that competes with the television) but if I missed a game last year, I made a point to at least watch the highlights and read the recaps.  I’m not quite as religious about that now.

But that said, I still listen to sports radio and have kept up with the team’s status and player changes, and sneak in a game every once in awhile on the television when the kids are asleep and the wife is engrossed in a gardening book.  I’ve even gone to two live games so far this season (I am 2-0) and have another scheduled for next week, which I think ties me for last year’s game attendance count.

So to recap, I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I am into them as much as I was last year, I guess it just feels “less” because I’m not constantly forming what I see and hear into paragraphs.  Is that good or bad?  Am I back or just goofing around?  I don’t know, but here’s another post.

WordPress sure is cool, isn’t it?

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Giants-Rangers Game 1: First Down

The Giants add another pitcher’s pelt to their wall next to Jimenez, Latos, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.  Here’s Cliff Lee’s new post-season stats:

Rk Series Date Tm Opp Rslt H R BB SO HR
1 2009 NLDS g1 Oct 7 PHI COL W,5-1 6 1 0 5 0
2 2009 NLDS g4 Oct 12 PHI @ COL W,5-4 5 3 3 5 0
3 2009 NLCS g3 Oct 18 PHI LAD W,11-0 3 0 0 10 0
4 2009 WS g1 Oct 28 PHI @ NYY W,6-1 6 1 0 10 0
5 2009 WS g5 Nov 2 PHI NYY W,8-6 7 5 3 3 0
2010 Postseason Series Tm Opp Rslt H R BB SO HR
6 2010 ALDS g1 Oct 6 TEX @ TBR W,5-1 5 1 0 10 1
7 2010 ALDS g5 Oct 12 TEX @ TBR W,5-1 6 1 0 11 0
8 2010 ALCS g3 Oct 18 TEX @ NYY W,8-0 2 0 1 13 0
9 2010 WS g1 Oct 27 TEX @ SFG L,7-11 8 7 1 7 0
48 19 8 74 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/28/2010.
That “L” on the last row? That’s the Giants.  Not only does nobody think the Giants are going to win this series, absolutely nobody saw them defeating Lee, especially in an 11-7 game.  The Giants don’t have offense, what was that about?
Even I’m somewhat baffled.  I’m not sure what any of it means.  I would have preferred that the Giants kept the 8-2 score they had in the 5th, that makes more sense to me.  The Giants strength all season has been their ability to keep runs at bay.  So it concerns me that after Lincecum leaves the game the bullpen gives up 5 more runs in 4 innings.  Yes, the Giants scored 11 runs and took the win, but can they do that all the time?  Are they going to have to?  They’ve only scored double digits fourteen times this season. 
On the other hand, I’ve heard the Rangers are pretty good about not giving up runs too, especially Cliff “third greatest post-season pitcher of all time” Lee, and yet they gave up 11.  So I really have no idea what to make of this game.  Maybe it was a fluke for both teams. 
I would like to think that the Rangers 3 runs in the 9th were mostly because Bochy didn’t put in Wilson right away, per usual, and I would like to think that the reason he did that was because the Giants were far enough ahead that he wanted to save Wilson and give other closers a chance to see some action.  Of course, it didn’t work out for Ramirez or Affeldt and Wilson ended up coming in anyway, but maybe those last 3 runs were “freebies” or something.  
Another “battle of the great pitchers of all time” hype that didn’t live up to itself.  Despite giving up more runs, Lee tied Lincecum in the hits department, dominated him in strikeouts and ultimately ended up with a slightly better ERA, even though he pitched one less inning.  But obviously, given the amount of runs in the game, neither star pitcher gave his best performance and the media was once again sad.
The tack-on offense was just amazing last night.  Consider that the Rangers had 8 hits off Lincecum but only generated 4 runs, while the Giants had 8 hits off Lee and generated 7 runs.  The singles and double just kept coming, and it always seem like it was when there were two outs.  Freddie Sanchez made World Series history by hitting three doubles in one game, generating three RBIs.  Posey, Schierholtz, Ross, Huff and Ishikawa all got to contribute RBIs and Juan UUUU-Ribe once again batted one out of the park with two on base.  God I love that guy.  He doesn’t always hit, but when he hits it’s always good.
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Aside from the lame Fox announcers, two things I hated about last night’s presentation: 1) They completely skipped the opening pitch by Giants hall-of-famers in favor of focusing on two igits in the press box who, by their own admission later in the game, don’t know what they’re talking about.  How come I had to watch them instead of watching Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey?  I don’t even know what they said.  Who cares what they said!  2) Didn’t get to see whether or not the crowd cheered when they announced Bengie Molina.  That was a discussion around the bay area all week, as to whether that would happen.  I heard on the radio this morning that they did in fact cheer his name, and I’m glad for it. I love the Bengie, even if he’s in the wrong colors.  
Speaking of Bengie, his latest blog entry is full of warm-hearted goodness.  My favorite bit:
The first time I was up, I wished Posey luck and he wished me luck. Then I looked out at Lincecum and touched the bill of my cap, and he touched his in response.
 
I had as special a relationship with Timmy as I have had with any pitcher. Maybe because he was so young when I began catching him and I became a mentor to him. We have texted since I was traded but I had not seen him or talked to him in person until the game yesterday. I had heard he had said really nice things about me to the press.
 
When he came up to bat for the first time, I stood and told him, “I want you to know that hits or no hits, win or lose, you’re my boy.”

“Hey, Be-Mo, I love you.”

Then we both got to work.

Awesome.  

Game 1 is in the bag.  Cliff Lee defeated.  The Giants are 1-0.  We’re still making the media scratch their heads in bewilderment.  Keep it up!  

GO GIANTS!


WORLD SERIES WIN COUNTER
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Features

Hey, another first for me.  I’m the featured blog this uh…day?  Week?  Arbitrary amount of time? Anyway, thanks to whomever picks that stuff, that’s awesome!  Oh the pressure…

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Weird to see myself called “Kaiser The Great” on the front page.  I guess it never occurred to me to change my display name to my actual name.  Done!  Nice to meet you, everybody.
The leaders list for September came also came out.  I’m always curious who makes up the Top 50 fan blogs.  So I cataloged a couple stats:
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I thought there’d be more females represented on the pie, but maybe that’s just me who happens to be reading mostly female written blogs.  Still a pretty good number considering sports are a “male thing” stereotypically. 

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No shocker that the Yankee blogs reign, but not really by much.  Giants come in third behind Phillies and general MLB content, so that’s cool. There’s only 20 teams on the list so 10 teams aren’t being represented, but I’m too lazy to figure out which ones.  I wish MLBlogs had a way a list of all blogs on their site, broken up by team/subject.  

Clinchez

FRIDAY

I was really hoping for a Matt Cain victory on Friday.  Not only is he my current favorite starting pitcher, but it was his birthday, and it would have got the pressure off right away so that I could enjoy a stress-free weekend.  Unfortunately no such luck.  I wasn’t able to watch the game, as my step-daughter was only going to be with us on Friday this weekend, so I sacrificed baseball in favor of a pizza-kid movie evening, but I kept up with it on MLB’s Game Day, periodically checking in to watch as the Padres hit a home run in the second…third…fourth inning, ultimately taking the game 6-4.  Oh well, Giants baseball is not about making things easy for fans, and we’ve still got two more games to go so it’s cool…right?
SATURDAY
While I haven’t been especially confident in Zito lately (which is a shame, because he was real fun at the beginning of the season) I had this weird fantasy that he would destroy the Padres to ensure himself a spot in the post-season, maybe even throw a shut out or perfect game or something, just to make up for all his bad luck.  But a fantasy it was.  Again I couldn’t watch the game, because a family friend of my wife’s family planned a wedding during baseball season for some weird reason.  But at one point we took a break between wedding and reception at a sports bar and I got to see my Giants losing, but also witness another UUUU-RIBE home run.  Afterwards I followed the score on my cellphone as the Giants lost again 4-2.
So okay now we had one more chance before tying with the Padres and having to play a tiebreaker in their home town.  But what are the odds that a team could lose three games in a row?  Or four?  While proceeding to drink mass quantities of free alcohol, I desperately tried to recall if and when and how often the Giants have had a 4+ game losing string this season, or this season post-All-Star break, and I couldn’t think of any examples, but I was pretty sure they must have at some point.  I was starting to feel the panic.
But then the rum kicked in and I realized with perfect clarity what they were doing.  They were waiting for Mat Latos.  Of course!  Why not clinch it when Mat Latos is pitching?  It’s way more dramatic.  The guy trash talked this team, so of course the Giants want to make sure he’s the reason they clinch it.  Plus Jonathan Sanchez will be pitching, and he talked a bunch of bravado about beating the Padres in August and didn’t come through, so this would be HIS chance to back up his bold statements.  That MUST be why they’re playing it this way…right?  Right?  
SUNDAY
Right!
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The Giants finally take the victory with a 3-0 shut out.  Sanchez and the bullpen give up four hits and zero runs while Latos only makes it six innings, giving up two of the three runs.  AND Sanchez got the runs rolling with a triple off Latos in the third inning!  
Again, I ended up following much of the game via the computer (seriously, I’m the worst baseball watcher ever) but I tuned in at the bottom of the eight, just in time to see Posey hit his last home run of the regular season.  From there it was just a matter of Mr. Wilson getting us three outs, which is his specialty, and it was over!  The pressure was off!  Bouncing ensued!  
There’s still a big hill or three to climb, but the Padres are gone!  Not even wild card, just GONE.  That alone is a victory for the Giants this year in my book.  
Tomorrow I’ll start examining the stats and theorizing on our chances of dominating the National League.  Today though, I’m just going to enjoy the feeling of triumph.  
Congratulations Giants!  
MONDAY
Hey look!  I made the first page!  (No I’m not the girl holding the sign…)
mlblogsfront.jpg
Not a huge deal I guess for the veteran bloggers out there, but it’s a first for me, and a nice bit of icing on a great NL West clinching weekend!  I guess I’d better start spelling things right now…

Killing Time

I’ve got baseball on the brain, but at the same time I’m trying not to spend too much time and effort over analyzing every little thing about today’s game.  So instead I revisisited one of my favorite baseball sites, Flip Flop Fly Ball to see what latest and greatest graphs and charts were available to peruse.  And much to my delight, there was a bobblehead chart!  Check it.    

The first thing that came to my mind was which two teams gave away a bobblehead when the Giants were visiting.  Not an easy thing to figure out without researching every teams’ bobblehead activity, which is what I ultimately ended up doing.  (Like I said, this day is crawling way too slowly towards 7 PM!)   So using Flip Flop’s own key, I made my own chart:
2010bobbleheadgrid.jpg
I found a few discrepancies in Flip Flop’s chart, but for the most part they’re the same, square-wise.  I added all the applicable teams though, so on the left side you can see what team was visiting during bobblehead day, and on the right you can see what teams gave away a bobblehead while being visiting. 
I would have assumed that most teams would decide to give away a bobblehead when they’re scheduled to play a bad team in an attempt to generate ticket sales.  The Phillies giving away a Roy Halladay bobblehead on the day they have to play the Pirates makes perfect sense.  (And photos of the sucker blew up all over Twitter, so obviously it worked!)  But then there’s the Dodgers giving away a bobblehead when the Giants came to play, and what would fill seats better than a Dodgers-Giants game?  
Note also that the Braves, Red Sox, Rockies and Yankees are too cool for bobbleheads (or draw enough ticket sales without gimmicks) and the White Sox was the only team to give away a bobble when the Red Sox and Yankees came to town (not enough of a draw for Chicago, I guess).  
I wonder if there’s a bobblehead website…

A Win and They’re In

Thanks to homers by Sandoval (yes, I said Sandoval!), Torres and Posey, the D-Backs are no more!

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And since the Padres lost last night, the magic number is now ONE.  We have to beat them ONE time in the next three games/days and the NL West is ours.  Of course, if the Padres had won last night, the magic number would have been two and we’d still have to beat them one time, as one victory for the Giants would automatically equal one loss for the Padres (aka two games) but now the Friars have to sweep us just to tie, which is much better than being able to clinch the division with a sweep.  So I’m glad for the loss, as it gives us one more chance, just in case.  
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So three games to go but man would it be nice to get it over with tonight.  If Cain and crew can trounce the Padres right up front, my weekend would be set.  Unfortunately Cain is pitching against Richard tonight, who has a pretty good record against us:
Date W L Win Loss
2010-05-12 0 5 C. Richard M. Cain
2010-05-17 0 7 C. Richard M. Cain
2010-08-13 1 8 C. Richard J. Sanchez
2010-09-10 4 9 S. Casilla C. Richard
For 2010, SFG won 5, SDP won 10.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/1/2010.
Three out of four wins, two against Cain.  But all the wins were also before the All-Star break, when the Giants were a much different team, a non-hitting team.  Now their batting average ranks seventh in the National League (Padres rank fifteen), so hopefully Richard fairs as well as he did in September.  
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The Giants won in a day game before I even got home, a new Giants magazine was on the coffee table waiting for me when I finally beat the commute and the wife decided to take one of her evening baths which freed the TV up for me to finish the Ted Williams bio I’ve been watching and make a good dent into Ken Burn’s recently released “Tenth Inning,” which turned out to be very Giants-centric, at least the beginning focusing much on Barry Bonds and his father Bobby.  All-in-all a great Giants day yesterday.  If Matt Cain can take down the Padres today, on his 26th birthday, it will be an even better Giants day.  The game is over 12 hours away and I’m going to explode.  
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