Thursday, April 21, 2016

As of April 21, 2016: The Giants are Major League Baseball's Worst Team. Kruk and Kuip are Calling it "April Fools"

This team started out of the gates as if they were following the same path as the local NBA basketball team, the Bay Area's most popular team, the Golden State Warriors. Winning 6 of their first 8 games while taking both series. And then something happened. All the hitters took leave of the strike zone and some fielders began booting the ball. All the while the bullpen, a source of strength in all of their World Series championship seasons began to show signs of fatigue. A leak in the USS San Francisco Giants has made them appear more like the Titanic. (At least in April 2016.)

We knew the staff was getting old and now is the time for some new, as yet, unproven talent to step onto the mound and show that they belong in the big leagues.

Right now on April 21st, all of their line drives are landing in foul territory while the opponent is hitting looping-liners that are finding spaces. Swinging bunts are all the rage when playing the Giants because it's damn near a hit every time! Matt Cain looks like "the Horse" for four innings and then all hell breaks loose. Jeff Samardzija on two separate occasions has tried to bunt a runner over and both times bunted into a double-play. In the same game the opposing pitcher has reached base safely and also scored a run. Who do you think won the game?

Guys like Jake Lamb are looking better than Robert Redford did in The Natural.

I tell ya it's rough. To be a Giants' fan these days is to be Rodney Dangerfield. Simply put, it's not easy being a Giants' fan. Fortunately, it is only April. How did Kruk (Mike Krukow) and Kuip (Duane Kuiper) describe April in their pregame KNBR radio show? "April baseball in the major leagues is April Fools."


Kevin J. Marquez

Friday, April 15, 2016

Somewhere where the Peanut Shells Roam

With all the statistics kept for major league baseball, has anyone bothered keeping the stat for when an umpire "squeezes" a pitcher on a 2-strike count and then the next pitch is clobbered? At this precise moment is when the broadcaster asks, 'Where did that miss?' or 'Was that an umpire's balk?' and then the next pitch changes everything in the game because the ball is bouncing around the warning track somewhere where the peanut shells roam.

I have said it before and dammit I'll say it again, the game of baseball is in the eyes of the home plate umpire. How he determines what is and is not a strike is how the game flows. Forget all the 'this takes long or that takes long' it is ALL on the person calling balls and strikes.

We have seen so far that the Giants have a good hitting lineup but the game REQUIRES that you get 27 outs. You need to have the ability to catch the ball as well as hit it where 'they ain't.' Now, throw in an inconsistent ump who doesn't know a strike from a ball and well, you have chaos.

(I don't quite think this is what Mel Brooks had in mind when he partnered in with Buck Henry for the television sitcom "Get Smart" which had Maxwell Smart and his crew constantly battling with chaos. Although, they spelled it with a "K" (KAOS). "K"... if only the umpire would have...)


Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, April 11, 2016

The 2016 San Francisco Giants' season is Here

Nice start.

Winning two of three in Milwaukee and then three of four from the Dodgers after they (LA) shutout San Diego in all three games is impressive.

The two losses: First loss was because high priced pitcher Jeff Samardzija failed to bunt a runner over (in fact, he bunted into a double-play) while the opposing pitcher, "Youngman" (no relation to Henny) was able to single and score a run, the difference in the game.

Loss number two was narrowed down to a ground ball hit to Kelby Tomlinson, in the rain, and it fooled him enough for him not to field it cleanly and instead of starting a game-ending double-play he allows the tying run to score and it eventually leads to a Dodger win.

But Manager Bruce Bochy made a mistake in pinch-hitting for Tomlinson with regular second baseman Joe Panik. Tomlinson had everything in the game to gain from getting a chance to redeem himself while Panik was riding pine in the rain all day. Tomlinson can hit and he was removed from his opportunity to make something happen. Why is Tomlinson on the roster?

Sorry Boch-y, you over managed in that situation. Panik was cold and not ready while his able teammate was aching to get the chance to right his wrong.

All is good though, the Giants are 5-2 after the first 7 games of the 2016 season.


Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, August 31, 2015

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball!!!

Yes people are getting injured at the ballgame. They have been getting injured since the game decided they could make money charging "fans" admission to the daily contest.

You knew right from the start, that to avoid injury you had to pay attention to what is going on in THE GAME!!!! Keep your eye on the ball was something the fans had to do as well as those in uniform on the field.

If you choose to feast on whatever delicacies the venue has to offer you may not be in position to make a play on a foul ball headed in your direction. It was originally thought that if you brought a glove you would have the protection you needed (provided you were "watching the game!").

I hear all this "netting" and other protective devices to protect those who just are in no position to protect themselves from an orb flying at the speed of sound. A sound that becomes a hush, the instant it smacks someone.

Heck, at AT&T, there is an area, next to the Big Glove, where a slide is in constant use by children. These people are probably out of range of one of those flying orbs but against the Washington Nationals, Ian Desmond, smacked one that landed in the vicinity. Close enough to let those "sliders" and their guardians know that you are at a place where things can happen that have little or nothing to do with what you are doing. I mean, come on, you go to AT&T to play on the slides? If you're the guardian of that little boy or girl, shouldn't you be paying attention to the immediate surroundings at all times? So when you hear the "crack of the bat" you had better know where the ball is?

If you're reaching over to catch a ball being tossed to you by a player or ball person, hadn't you be paying attention to the possibility of falling if the throw causes you to lean out over the railing? How badly do you need that ball if your life is at stake?

I can see a mesh type of netting going from foul pole to foul pole but that totally eliminates the chances of capturing a foul ball or going to the game early enough to see batting practice so your odds of getting a foul ball increase dramatically.

Sure, leave nothing to chance. Be all about safety. But also know that for those who ARE paying attention and did bring their glove, this is a sad day in baseball. The lifer, "old school" fan who took pride in doing everything the right way now has to take a back seat to fans who are at the game like it's some sort of amusement park. A place where they eat expensive foods and drink and have little regard for those around them.

Haven't we already experienced this sort of thing with the people who choose not to speak in the native tongue English/Spanish when they visit the United States of America? (Hint: What language is the print of the signs you see?)

Now we lifers must move over for Daddy and Mommy Warbucks. People with the money to spend on all the exorbitant food prices and souvenirs a ballpark has to offer. I understand that not everyone disrupts the flow of how things run but enough of these Joanie/Johnny come lately's and an uproar is bound to happen.

Since we're on the topic of fan safety, how about the broken bat issue? Think maybe the makers of these bats might want to go to Phineas J. Whoopee, the man at the chalkboard, one more time to see if their product can hold up to a 95 mph fastball?


Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, August 17, 2015

Leads the League in "Getting Runners Thrown Out or Holding 'em When they Should've Been Sent" or How Much Do We Miss Tim Flannery?

Baseball is a sport in which followers of the game are fascinated by statistics.

We know the leader in home runs (HR), runs batted in (RBI), runs scored (R), and the batting leader (AVG). But do we have a statistic for a third base coach? As in, how many runners has he held up that did not score? Or how many runners has he gotten thrown out at home plate?

Roberto Kelly began this season replacing one of the better third base coaches in major league baseball (Tim Flannery). Manager Bruce Bochy knows there will be growing pains. But what can be seen by the young/old man in the 22nd row is whether or not Mr. Kelly can utilize his knowledge of the situation (strength of outfielder's arm, speed of the player running the bases, ability of runner to run bases properly- use as little area to get from one base to the next- and the arms of those receiving the cutoff throw) to make an accurate decision in holding-up or sending the runner at any given time.

Is Roberto Kelly guessing? Rolling the dice on enough situations may possibly create a distance between the runner and their coach because of the "too frequent negative outcomes." Some runner (s) may have a tendency not to trust his decision making process and be thinking versus reacting to what the coach is demanding of the runner. And in the worst case scenarios these players may choose to ignore the coach and make their own decision by stopping when the coach is "waving them in" or running through the coach's stop signal.

Bochy and his braintrust need to figure out something soon or it'll be another odd-year season they come up short.


Kevin J. Marquez

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Is Cain Able?

Seeing balls leave the ballpark is becoming more and more commonplace with Matt Cain. He has an okay game and then he serves up the tasty meatball for the batter to dig into. Makes me wonder if the teams he does okay against are closer to minor league level (due to the dilution of talent because there are so many teams in the major leagues) than if he is effective.

Listening to ballgames with Cain on the mound can really test one's patience. How he usually jumps ahead in the count, say no balls and two strikes and then the batter fouls one, two, three pitches off because Cain cannot get the ball past the hitter. Then he misses the strike zone (of the home plate umpire for that particular game) on the next two pitches and now the count is two balls and two strikes.

Again, Cain tries to slip one past the batter but the batter fouls yet another pitch off. The next pitch is too close to take and the batter manages to get a piece of the ball keeping the count at 2-balls and 2-strikes. This is getting to be the theme of Matt Cain on the mound, as the usual continuum of batters battle him until they get a pitch they can handle and the ball goes such a long way that it inspires the announcer to say something like, "... And you can tell it GOODBYE!"

All too often Cain struggles to get his pitch past the batter. So much so I'm beginning to think the batter is more adjusting to the umpire's strike zone than anything Cain is doing. He battles with each hitter and by the fifth or sixth inning he puts himself in a precarious position that makes him highly susceptible to throwing a gopher ball. (Definition of gopher ball: a pitch that is hit for a home run.)

This may be the Matt Cain we may come to expect until his contract expires.


Kevin J. Marquez

Saturday, July 4, 2015

"Nip It!"

Once again the strike zone cost a team a chance at winning the game. In the nation's capital, the Giants saw a pitch called "Ball four," put a runner on base before the next batter hit one out of the park.

"Ball four" for a pitch across the belt. Nowadays, with a good number of major league umpires, ACROSS THE BELT is "high". Whatever happend to the "letters or armpits" being the limit to high strike? (the home plate umpire was John Hirschbeck)


In the following day game, Will Little, again opted for the low strike zone. How low? Across the ankles was deemed hittable by the aptly named Little, as in ye of little strike zone!

Home plate umpires take the wind out of the game's sails when they have no clue of where the pitch is going. They're not good enough to be calling balls and strikes in the major leagues if the zone is changed frequently and one pitcher is seen better than another. It's all about CONSISTENCY!!!

The installation of umpires was to see that fair play would take place in the game. But it isn't fair when one pitcher is getting the low strike while his opposing hurler is being squeezed into getting very few calls.

I don't know exactly what the grading system is for the umpires and how diligently the powers that be, doing the grading, are sticking to rewarding consistency and penalizing inconsistency.
Let's face it, some umps are consistently inconsistent. Much the same way a switch-hitter decides he ought not bat from both sides due to the dramatic decrease in productivity umpires who are consistently inconsistent behind the catcher, behind the plate, should simply umpire third - second - and first base. If that isn't fair for his fellow umpires then he should be demoted to Triple A and someone should be called up from Triple A.

In the words of Bernard "Barney" Fife, we have to "Nip It" before it costs too many teams games and their chance of making the post-season.


Kevin J. Marquez