Saturday, July 23, 2016

Unbelievably Uncommon

Santiago Casilla is of a rare breed who thrives in desparate situations but somewhat staggers in any form of prosperity whatsoever. After all, who can feel secure in the fact that some things are better than others. Who's to say what is comfortable and what is uncomfortable? To each, his/her own.

Give him a lead and he'll make you sweat. Give him a "do-able" situation and he'll act as if there was something that did not need to be there. He just isn't comfortable in certain state of affairs. I think this is why Bruce Bochy puts him in the role of closer.  Casilla has a knack of pulling off things that appear highly unlikely. 

Whether it seems like there is no way he can blow "this" save opportunity or the Giants have managed to scrape across a couple of runs to make it harder for him to "BLOW" the save his mindset is only accommodating for the high-wire act above roaring flames and anything less than that is something not worthy according to his demeanor. 

On July 23, 2016, at Yankee Stadium III, he pulled off an amazing performance that was built just for him. Yes, we know that Yankee Stadium was the "House that Ruth Built" but on this Saturday in 90 degree temperatures this was what Casilla needed to show the major league baseball world that he truly does belong. 

Casilla would get the win and it snapped a 6-game losing streak for the Giants, since the All-Star break. 

Never question Bruce Bochy. And, oh by the way, this coming up week during the Cincinnati Reds homestand there will be a Bruce Bochy gnome night. If you are superstitious you might want to make an effort to pick one up.


Kevin J. Marquez




Thursday, July 21, 2016

Not a Student of the Game

On July 20, 2016, at Boston's Fenway Park,in what must've seemed like a made for television movie, Gregor Blanco came to bat with the bases loaded as a pinch-hitter and the Giants down 8-7.  This after the Red Sox had jumped out to an 8-0 lead!

In from the bullpen came Matt Barnes, a 6'4" right-hander from the University of Connecticut to see if he could douse the flame of this intense rally. And while the warm-ups are being thrown I'm wondering if Blanco is thinking about ways he could really mess with the reliever. The way I read how the old Negro Leaguers did it. Test the pitcher's fielding prowess by laying a bunt down the first base line (which is generally in the opposite direction of the pitcher's follow through when he throws right-handed). 

But then Gregor Blanco would have to be a Student of the Game to think along these lines and what happened was most definitely worst case scenario. He grounded one to the fortuitous Hanley Ramirez, who was having the game of his life in a pretty notable career mind you, stepped on first base then threw home in time to tag the runner from third (who just so happened to be Brandon Belt). 

Never again would the Giants threaten to take the lead in this game. With players like Brandon Belt and Buster Posey struggling mightily at the plate to drive runners in, along with shortstop Brandon Crawford missing some opportunities, this game seemed unlikely after the Red Sox jumped out to an 8-0 lead.

The strike zone of home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater was favorable to the Red Sox up until the 4th inning when he seemed to not like the movement of Drew Pomerantz's pitches any longer. And look what happened? Damn near an epic comeback stalled by a player's inability to be a student of the game. 


Kevin J. Marquez

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Two Wrongs Don't Make it Right or Dave Eddings is on the Wrong Side of Balls and Strikes

On June 26, 2016, at AT&T Park, the home plate umpire was Doug Eddings. It is possible the baseball gods made what must seem like a typographical error in judgment when Paul Emmell got bonked in the head by the backswing of an Angels' batter. I think by seeing the job Doug Eddings did today and the recent Paul White article that lists Eddings as tied for first for most calls overturned that a mistake has been made. It was Eddings not Emmell who needed the gentle reminder.


Umpires with most overturned calls:
Seth Buckminster: 7
Doug Eddings: 7 
Angel Hernandez: 6
Bill Welke: 6
Adrian Johnson: 5

Jim Reynolds: 5

Much like the Warren Beatty movie, "Heaven Can Wait," I think the powers that be got their facts jumbled or transposed the information. For shame. 

Eddings is as confused a balls and strikes umpire as there has ever been. In fact, he is so wishy-washy I actually was empathetic towards one C.B. Bucknor. (No worries, moments after the Giants won this game on a walk-off double by Conor Gillespie my angst and total dismay of Bucknor instantaneously returned as his is still the top competition for Eddings as the league's worst at deciphering balls from strikes.)

The capacity crowd that filed in for the Giants/Phillies game got to witness for themselves how a bad balls and strikes umpire can change the complexion of a game like nothing else.

After an inning when the Giants scored 4 runs to take a 5-1 lead it was duly noted by starter Johnny Cueto that three of his teammates had been hit-by-pitches. So in the next inning Cueto did what old school ballplayers insisted he do and that was to plunk a Phillie batter. And he waited until there were two out. When it happened Eddings did the appropriate thing which was to issue warnings to both benches because that is the MLB procedure umpires must follow when the beanballs are flying. But it did not end there.

Eddings is not only a poor judge of what makes a pitch a strike or a ball but he also gave this listener (of the broadcast) reason to believe he has rabbit ears. According to play-by-play announcer, Dave Fleming, after the Phillie batter was struck coach Larry Bowa barked incessantly at Eddings. Meanwhile, the next batter at the plate became a lottery winner of strikes allowed  during his at-bat which exceeded the rulebook number of three. And if you, like I, pay attention to these intricate details you'll know that big leaguers generally take advantage of any "extra strikes." 

The Phillies would score 2 runs that inning making the score 5-3. And eventually would tie the game 5-5. The game was tied at 6-6 and 7-7 before Gillespie's walk-off double in the bottom of the 9th inning. AT&T was the house of thrills ONLY because the Giants won. Had they lost Eddings would have tossed momentum and victory into the salivating jaws of defeat. Because Eddings' interpretation of a strike is NOT in the rulebook and to make matters worse he appeared to "even things up" to appease the bellyaching Bowa. 

Kevin J. Marquez





Thursday, June 2, 2016

Pence on the Bench (Due to Injury)

Who are the Giants going to replace Hunter Pence with aside from the cups of coffee Mac Williamson has received? I don't think Williamson is MLB ready. Heck, Johnny Depp lookalike Jarrett Parker is far more advanced than Williamson and I still the book on him is humongous.

Just as the bullpen is having May, June, and July to mold into form while Bruce Bochy, Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner, Vice President and Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel, Dick Tidrow, and, of course, Brian Sabean figure out who stays on the roster and who needs to be replaced. A lot of this, we the fan, will be able to determine based on what we see the relievers do when they are called upon. Or seeing the outfield of below average arm strength (Span and Pagan) get run on it seems likely that something will happen during the trade deadline. Somewhere, at some time, a decision to make a move to snag some talent that is not wearing orange and black now or in July may need to happen.

It's a long season and the brass has time to make this very important decision that will go a long way into how successful the San Francisco Giants will be in this 2016 season.

Kevin J. Marquez

In today's game at Turner Field (Atlanta Braves) Madison Bumgarner hit his 13th career home run. That ties him with "Fat" Freddie Fitzsimmons in the NY-SF Giants history.

"Caveman" Don Robinson, a guy I once saw hit a pinch-hit home run from the right field nose-bleeds at the 'Stick, hit 13 career rocks over the fence.

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