Friday, June 29, 2007

Murphy's or Finagle's Law...Whatever, it's the 2007 Giants

The 20007 season for the San Francisco Giants has been like Murphy's Law. "Anything that can go wrong will."

In Wednesday's game vs. the San Diego Padres, there was a routine grounder that somehow found it's way under Kevin Frandsen's glove and those who witnessed the play had a hard time believing what they had seen. Those being Giant's broadcasters Jon Miller and Dave Fleming.

On Friday night Dave Roberts had a pop up hit off of his glove with two out and the runners moving, both scoring to make the 2-1 Giants' lead into a 3-2 deficit.

These are just a couple of plays that have afflicted the Giants recently but overall the 2007 season has had it's peculiarities and it has been frustrating, to say the least.

I don't think it has anything to do with Mike Murphy, the onetime San Francisco Seals' bat boy from 1954-1957. He then became the visiting clubhouse assistant from 1960 up until 1980, when he was named Equipment Manager. He is fondly known by former and current Giants as "Murph," a guy who is recognized as the best at what he does. Nope, Mike Murphy has nothing to do with Murphy's Law, it's just a coincidence that his surname is Murphy.

Finagle's Law of Dynamic Negatives is a running joke that involved the worship of the dread god Finagle and his mad prophet Murphy. Some technical and scientific cultures (e.g. paleontologists) know it under the name of "Sod's Law," (more common in Great Britain).

Hanlon's Razor, a corollary of Finagle's Law is "never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

(Note: Finagle,Sod and Hanlon all have a link of some kind to Murphy's Law. If interested, you can look up Murphy's Law and you would find more names that have some sort of affiliation with the bit of folklore. They were not included in the aforementioned in efforts to keep it brief.)

kevin marquez


Well, June is almost over. And our San Francisco Giants have certainly had a JUNE SWOON for the ages this season. With two games left to play, the Giants have gone 8-17 (.320) so far this month. Ecch. What a swoon it's been.

At the end of May, the Giants' record stood at 25-27. Not great, but hovering right around the .500 mark. But June has just been out-and-out Fugly.

There's plenty of history of Swoonin' in June in Giants history, but surely this June must rank up there (or down there) with one of the very worst in club history.

See ya later, June. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Why is Everybody Always Picking on Pedro

Remember the old Coaster song, Charlie Brown? In the lyrics was the question, "Why is everybody always picking on me?" If Pedro Feliz has family that listens to the English version of the Giants' broadcast he would have good reason to ask such a question. Without having ever heard a syllable of the Spanish broadcast (SAP) I can guarantee that those broadcasters aren't as blunt in their descriptions of Pedro.

Whenever Pedro Feliz gets picked to do the post game show on the Giants' radio station (680KNBR) he always comes off as a bit timid. Is it possible he's gotten word, or heard himself, how the great Jon Miller attacks him with his vivid word description of how Feliz mindlessly swung at pitches nowhere near the strike zone? Miller's choice of adjectives are oft-times hilarious and were very much the fodder used by the unoriginal guy, "what's his name?," who got fired last season from his KNBR talkshow gig.

When it comes to telling it like it is, Jon Miller's the one you want at the microphone. He is the best at his craft and I am forever grateful to listen to his accounts of each game he's here to do.

In Tuesday's game on KTVU, Channel 2, during his broadcast with former hurler Mike Krukow (and he can hurl out the baseball phrase-ology with the best of them) as his sidekick, Miller was saying while in real life it wasn't a good thing to steal but in (the game of) baseball it was good to steal. That in fact, it is a blessing.

Think about that for a minute. That's pure genius and funny too! (I'm surprised the laughing Mike Krukow didn't refer to the Miller remark as a pearl.)

I enjoy the Miller play-by-play and wouldn't want to listen to anyone elses description if I had a choice but I have noticed over the years that he has a no holds barred approach to Feliz. Sure, he'll get on players from time to time but it's nowhere near the tenacity or sticktoitiveness he displays while he paints this virtual masterpiece in a way only the inimitable Jon Miller can do when Pedro Feliz is in the batter's box. The clarity is matchless, it's simply the equivalent of Hi-Def on the radio.

kevin marquez

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who was the Best

In an interview with Ford Frick winning, legendary announcer, Lon Simmons, the question was asked, "Who do you think was the best in the game?"

Willie Mays was the greatest ballplayer I ever saw...Barry Bonds is the best hitter I ever saw. Willie McCovey was a pretty good one too!"

It's all a matter of opinion based on the player you saw the most, isn't it? I think so. I mean if someone interjected with Roberto Clemente as a player he or she thought was the best you might think that person appreciated the defensive side of the game but #21 had 3,000 hits. Without a doubt, he or she spent some time in Pittsburgh, PA and witnessed #21 in person.

That's what makes baseball forums so fun to read. You get to compare perspectives and every now and then someone comes up with an angle you may not have thought of or maybe even reminded you of how you felt but for some reason your opinion has strayed for whatever reason. (Perhaps you've read or heard so much of the same thing that you just wanted something different.)

I grew up thinking the world of Willie Mays. His abilities piqued my curiosity as I focused my attention toward the African-American players more so than any other ethnicity. Because I was beginning to learn about the game of baseball it seemed a good way to do that was to find out about the better ballplayers.

I cut my teeth on America's pastime at the end of the 1960s. A decade dominated by African-American athletes. Of course, I didn't stop there it was, for me, a good place to start. I collected baseball cards and everything about this game fascinated me. I just absorbed it all . Some of it, I misinterpreted.

Like thinking #6, right-fielder for the Detroit Tigers from June 25, 1953 until October 2, 1974 (all as a Tiger) and the youngest player to lead the league in batting average when he hit .340 in 1955 at age 20, had a battery named after him.

I thought the Eveready alkaline battery was named for the hall of famer. Gee, he's still playing and there's a battery named for this guy. How good is that?

kevin marquez

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Rest in Peace Rod Beck.....Shooter

Rodney Roy Beck passed away early Sunday morning on June 24, 2007. He was a guy who made a good impression on everyone who met him.

I never heard a bad word about him. That's a testament to the kind of person he was and these kinds of people are the ones we miss most when their time to leave us happens.

He had 286 saves in his major league career. His career best was as a Chicago Cub in 1998, when he had 51.
His best as a Giant was in 1993 when he had 48. Both times he was second best. (Second best in a statistical sense, because the man was always tops in the minds of those who met him in person.) In 1994 he won the Rolaids Relief award.

I remember the way he leaned over and his pitching arm would just swing back and forth as he looked in to get the sign from the catcher. He sort of had that Wild Wild West look about him. Like the batter just called him out and he was just about finished walking his 20 paces before turning around and firing. He had the scraggily hair coming out from under his ball cap and he sported a fu manchu, sort of in the Al Hrabosky vain, I suppose. (Although, Hrabosky's act was of someone about to go postal as he had a tantrum before each and every batter stepped into the batter's box. He'd step off of the mound, face the centerfielder, and begin talking to himself. And before he took his place back on the mound he'd slap his throwing hand into his glove like a mad quarterback breaking up a huddle of one.)

Shooter's style was more of a Western theme as he was about to draw and fire his next pitch past the batter.

I would like to thank all of those people who called KNBR680AM, the Sports Leader, to talk about their Rod Beck moments because people who give to others need to be recognized for the caring individuals they are/were. Outward kindness can never go unnoticed and to all of those who have been kind to me and made me feel like I belonged I want to say Thank you.

Thank you Rod Beck. You will be missed.

kevin marquez

That's Baseball...

Wow. Giants win in dramatic fashion 6-5 over the Bronx Bombers in 13 innings to snap the eight game losing streak. Safe to say, it's been a painful stretch in a painful season. Is there anybody at all left on the Giants bandwagon at this point?

The Giants record now stands at 31-41. 44% of the season has been played. The Giants would have to win something like 59 of the remaining 90 games to get into the postseason. Hard to even contemplate that they'll do so, the way they've been playing these past weeks.

If the Giants had managed just ONE additional win per week over these first 12 weeeks of the 2007 season, they would be sitting atop the NL West, tied with the Madres for the best record in the National League. That's right, just one more win per week.

Just one more win per week. Just one more hit, one more defensive play made, and over time you're in a vastly different place. Baseball is like life in that way. It's not huge, wide-ranging changes but rather small bits of change, spread out through time that make the difference between first place and the cellar. Turn the battleship just a couple of degrees from its current heading and, over time, the ship ends up in much different location.

Craig and I will be out there at the yard this afternoon for the Giants/Yankees finale. I don't know if it will be moving the battleship in a different direction or anything like that, but it would be nice to get a series win, for a change.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Word to Sabes.....Sign Omar

Word to Brian Sabean, Sign Omar Visquel to play the rest of his career in orange and black. He has done nothing except make his presence felt and his attitude is a glowing positive. The man's effort can never be questioned and his ability to field his position is second to none.

Like Barry Bonds, when you first considered signing Omar Visquel all the man has done since you had the good sense to sign him is make you look good. Please don't ever forget that.

Every Giants' fan cherishes each moment they get to see or hear (on the radio) an Omar Visquel play in the field. He is simply the best.

Shortstop is a position where you have to have the best glove and Omar fills that pre-requisite.

Please don't let his batting average get the best of you. Instead look to his fielding prowess and the intensity he brings to the park each and every day. The man displays one of the best attitudes I can ever recall, as a fan, when I think of a ballplayer's disposition. (And one should never diss-his-position because he's Cooperstown material.)

Sure, the Giants are an old team. But it's not Omar nor is it Barry who is failing to produce. The local scribes and talk shows have to have some fodder for discussion but they too know that Omar and Barry are players worthy of your consideration when it comes to deciding the roster for next year.

And, oh by the way, Omar has this career games at shortstop record he is approaching and it would sure be nice to see him do it in orange and black.

kevin marquez

Friday, June 22, 2007

You're a Bum, Not a Fan

Okay, we all know the Giants are struggling. But we're Giants' fans, so it's orange and black attack, no matter what.

And if you ARE a Giants' fan and you're fortunate enough to have tickets to a ballgame at AT&T Park there is something you need to know. If the ball is hit in the direction of where you are seated and you are situated in an area where the ball has a chance to be in play, IF the Giants are in the field, GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY!!!!!!!!!!

Note: Baseball is a game of inches and it takes 27 outs for a complete game. If you're clueless-like actions prevent the home team from making an out, when they're on the field, you really should be removed from the game. Or at least booed incessantly by surrounding fans. Because you just made bum status. (Bum status never goes away. It's sort of an indelible mark that forever enhances your existence as a halfwit.)

So let's review...A true fan of baseball knows there's a game going on and it's not about just rooting for the home team. Those who show up sporting the latest orange and black fashions, as they sashay from aisle to aisle, wouldn't know enough to GET OUT OF THE WAY of a baseball because they're at the ballgame simply because it's sheik to be at the game.

Whenever someone interferes with a player's opportunity to make a play, they are NOT A FAN, they're an ignoramus ticket holder.

kevin marquez

Thursday, June 21, 2007

1962 World Series Revisited

By now we've all heard several "expert" accounts of what happened in the 1962 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. The jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching, head-shaking in disbelief final play of the series -a line drive by Willie McCovey right at second-baseman Bobby Richardson- that gave the Yankees their World Series victory.

But upon further review I was able to uncover the kind of Giant baseball that we 2007 Giants' fans have become accustomed to. Thanks to here's a recollection of what really cost the San Francisco Giants their chance at World Series championship glory.

Lots of scribes chastised Matty Alou for not being able to score on Willie Mays' double in the 9th inning of Game 7 at Candlestick Park. The play where Roger Maris got all kinds of kudos/love on a throw into home plate. Some scribes blamed the inclement weather for slowing the ball down so slow-footed Roger could gather it in time to twirl and throw his seed to the dish but I have some evidence that proves blaming Matty (one of the Gigantes worst trades, by the way) was just a pencil pusher's wishful thinking.

The Yankees had Elston Howard at catcher. These days Yogi Berra was a backup backstop and part-time outfielder. Bill Skowron was the first baseman. Bobby Richardson was the second-baseman, Tom Tresh the shortstop and my pick for series MVP (not Ralph Terry), Clete Boyer was at the hot corner. In the outfield was Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and left field was by committee. Some guy named Hector Lopez, Johnny Blanchard, Yogi and young Joe Pepitone.

The Giants had Ed Bailey and Tom Haller at catcher. Orlando Cepeda at 1B. Chuck Hiller at 2B. Jose Pagan at SS. Jim Davenport at 3B. Felipe Alou-LF, Willie Mays-CF, Willie McCovey-RF.

Game One: NY Yanks 6 SF Giants 2 @ Candlestick Park
Whitey Ford got the Win. Clete Boyer hit a homer.

Game Two: Jack Sanford of the SF Giants pitched a 2-0 shutout. Willie McCovey hit a homer. Series tied at 1-1.

Game Three: Yankees win, 3-2. Bill Stafford got the complete game win. Billy Pierce the loss.
The game was deadlocked in a 0-0 tie heading into the bottom of the 7th inning.
Tom Tresh opened the inning with a single to center. Mickey Mantle followed with a single to left. Both runners advanced one base on an error by none other than Felipe Alou. Roger Maris then singled to right field and both runners scored. (2-0 Yankees.) Mc Covey bobbled the ball in right and Maris went to second base. Elston Howard flied out to Mays in centerfield and Maris went to third base. Skowron was hit by a pitch. Runners on 1st and 3rd base. Clete Boyer hit a grounder, scoring Maris from third. (3-0 Yankees.)

Giants in the top of the 9th. Mays led off inning with a double . McCovey grounded out to second base, Mays to third. One out. Cepeda flied out to right field . Two outs. Ed Bailey homered. (3-2, Yankees.) Davenport flied out. Game over, Yankees win. Yankees were up 2-1.

Game Four. 7-3 San Francisco. Series tied at 2-2. (Chuck Hiller hit a grand slam.)

Game Five, won by the Yankees 5-3. Yankees up 3-2.
Jack Sanford got the loss despite striking out 10 Yankees.

With the Giants ahead 1-0 going into the bottom of the 4th, Tom Tresh led off with a double. Mantle walked and Maris hit a grounder that forced Mantle. Runners on 1st and 3rd, one out.
Sanford threw a wild pitch. Tom Tresh scored. Score 1-1.

In the San Francisco half of the 5th inning Jose Pagan homered. SF-2 NY-1.

In the New York half of the 6th inning. Richardson singled. Tresh sacrificed him to second base. Mantle grounded out second to first, Richardson moved to third base. Catcher Haller allowed a passed ball, Richardson scored. Game tied at 2-2.....This is what cost the Giants the '62 Series. It's all about Game 5... Both Yankee runs scored on a passed ball and a wild pitch. Makes you wonder was the pitcher wild or the catcher just not getting his body in front of the ball. Two gift runs.

In the 8th, Ralph Terry struck out. Kubek singled. Richardson singled and Tom Tresh hit a homer. (NY-5 SF-2). Yankees 3 Giants2

Game 6: 5-2 Giants. Series knotted up at 3-3.
Game 7: 1-0 Yankees. Yankees win the Series 4-3.

They lost two (2) games because of two errors in one inning (Alou, McCovey) and a couple of miscues between the pitcher and catcher. (One passed ball by Haller and one wild pitch by Sanford). The inability to catch the ball is what cost them the 1962 World Series.

Not Matty Alou's stopping at third base on a Willie Mays double. The only guy that could have scored on that hit was the man who hit it. Because even if the throw was as good as legend has it, Willie would've done his patented hook slide and got around the tag. Somehow some way, #24 would've made it happen. Unfortunately, that's not the way this script was written.

Sort of reminds me of the 2007 Giants, in that they found ways to lose. History does tend to repeat itself.

kevin marquez

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do We Need Base Coaches or Cardboard Cut-outs?

Base running is as much a part of the game as is catching the ball and throwing it. It's what a batter does after he hits the ball.
It is essential that the bases be run properly or you don't score runs.

How basic is that?

This is something you should have grasped in Little League. From the time you first put on a uniform, you knew that if you reached first base, made to second base then went on to third and were able to cross the plate, you scored. Do this enough and your team has a real good chance of winning.

If you happened to do more things good on the baseball diamond- than most- those who are paid to scout prospects make you an offer to play baseball for the team they represent.

If you have proved to the coaches and executives that you are no fluke, your play will be rewarded by your being elevated to your level of minor league play until it is deemed you are ready for the Major Leagues.

Through it all, you could not have shown anybody that you forgot how to run the bases or you would not have been promoted to the major league level.

So why, as long as I can remember, do the San Francisco Giants not know how to run the bases? What is the purpose of having base coaches if the batter-runner, or pinch-runner ignores their signals?

The Giants may as well take turns with who they want to coach first and third base by using cardboard cut-outs. It could be a picture of anyone pointing toward the next base or even up at the Jumbo Tron. That way the knucklehead base runner could watch himself run into an out along with all the other disheartened hometown fans.

On the road it could become the new sensation in major league baseball. Headlines in the local papers across the country could read: See the San Francisco Giants run the bases. It's a laugh riot! Two Thumbs up!!!!!! It may replace the Weenie race at Brewer home games as one of the more fun things to see at the ole ballgame.

Lately, each loss gives Giants' fans another reason to hide their head in the sand.

kevin marquez

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Good Enough to Lose

It's June 19, 2007 and it's safe to say, the San Francisco Giants are playing good enough to lose.

With an almost innate ability to bumble any offensive play that requires the skills to execute a bunt or hit-and-run, the Giants are leaving their pitching staff in the unenviable position of either having to stabilize the game by not allowing any more runs and or find Duane Kuiper's corked bat, the one he allegedly brought to batting practice before one game that his teammate used (Andre Thornton)to hit a grand slam. (Kuiper told the bat boy to "lose" the bat so there would be no evidence if the authorities were to investigate.)
This inability to execute basic baseball fundamentals puts unnecessary pressure on the player who already bears the burden of responsibility far beyond anyone else on the field. That player, being the pitcher.

There are going to be those games when the hitters are seeing the ball well and the umpire is not. It's an accepted part of the game. But to be put in the position of having to pitch in the stress-filled environment of a team playing catch-up, time and time again, may cause some sort of ripple effect.

The expectancy of having little support may force a pitcher to do too much and this may lead to injury, both physically and mentally. (Sort of like when a batter goes into a slump. He forgets all that he's done to get to where he was before the slump.) Because of the need to try something new in hopes of achieving a different outcome this may take away from that pitcher's strengths and expose him to weaknesses he never knew he had. Everything he worked on to get him to where he was at peak performance is now lost because he was getting credited for the loss even though it wasn't really his fault.

Mental injuries can lead to physical injuries.

And it all starts when you're on a team that plays good enough to lose.

kevin marquez

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day Message

I called my dad to wish him a Happy Father's Day and it was during the Giants at Red Sox game. He was not pleased with the Giants' efforts and harped on their inability to play situational baseball.

This is something EVERY Giants' fan is fully aware of and are probably tired of hearing about.

Then he jumped all over television broadcaster Mike Krukow, saying how the guy knows everything and never shuts up. I laughed because Krukow is a bit of a know-it-all and he can be excessive in his descriptions and accounts.

Mike Krukow was a career 124W 117L pitcher with a lifetime ERA of 3.90.
He won 20-games one time, as a Giant in 1986 when he was 20-9. (It should be duly noted that for the better part of Krukow's career he played on .500 or worse teams. So to be 7 games above .500 in the won/loss category does prove that he was no slouch.)

And yet if you heard his color commentary you'd think he'd have won a couple of Cy Young Awards and been named to a few All-Star games. But he did neither.

He sounds like a guy who does his homework and will go for the funny bone whenever the opportunity arises but to someone who just wants to watch the game and have to listen to this former player comment about how the pitcher throws the 2-seamer and 4-seamer and he has the ability to get Uncle Charlie over the plate at any time, it can be a bit too much.

Some of us do not care if the pitch was a slider, change-up, splitter, curve, screwball or fastball. We only want to know if it was a strike and where it missed. If the screwball doing the play-by-play would limit all the baseball jargon the game might be more enjoyable to watch on television.

Me, I don't mind all of the descriptions so much because I prefer the radio broadcast to the telecast. Although, there are times when the over-analyzing of things does take away from what just happened. I mean, I can hear the cheers or jeers in the background while the announcer is babbling about some play an inning or two ago while the game is in progress. With some announcers (namely Dave Fleming) most of the stuff you get is after the fact.
The background noises tell you what just happened before Fleming does.

It was good talking to my dad. I wished him a Happy Father's Day and to take his mind off of the struggling Giants I did say, "I'm liking what I'm reading about the 49ers."

His voice perked up noticeably. The 49ers are a San Franciscan's treat, if you savor sports. The five (5) time Super Bowl champions can do a lot to lift the spirits of a Giants' fan, that's for sure.

kevin marquez

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Are There Tabs Kept on "Almosts"

With all of the statistics kept in baseball I wonder where the "almosts" are filed.

are those hits that aren't hits due to a scorekeeper's ruling, an umpire's ruling that the ball is fair or foul, out of play (umpire's judgment) or rule book definition type stuff (umpire's interpretation).

(So you can see where an umpire might think he's the bee's knees. That he is mooey/muy importante. A legend in his own mind. Et cetera, et cetera, etc. This accentuates why, on a previous post, I am compelled to honor that type of umpire behavior with a Pie in the Face.)

Not all almosts are umpire-aided. Sometimes things are out of our control. We do what we can and whatever will be, will be... (que sera sera, no?)

The best example of an almost happened to Barry's dad, Bobby Bonds.

He was set to become the first major leaguer to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases if not for a home run that was cancelled due to inclement weather. (A rule book definition of an incomplete game.)

In the Giants' return to Fenway Park, Barry Bonds hit a ball over the foul pole that was ruled foul. There was no gathering of the troops to make sure the call was accurate. The first -base umpire saw it all the way. Would he admit it if he wasn't quite paying attention until he heard the roar of the crowd and then suddenly had to get into position? Which would mean he was out of position, either at the crack of the bat or after the pressure of the moment caused a clamping of his lower intestines? The umpire of whom I speak is Charlie Reliford.

(I did not see this at-bat. I only have to go by the paint-by-number descriptions of Jon Miller. And Miller discussed Reliford's behavior, in-part, because of Reliford's bad body language as home plate umpire in the next game. And for an announcer, probably the best- painter of a baseball scenario- going, choosing not let the Reliford attitude go, the way lower intestines relieve the body of its gases, I have to award Charlie Reliford with a Pie in the Face.)

kevin marquez

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Curtis Charles Flood

Born on January 18, 1938 in Houston, Texas. As a youth he moved to Oakland, CA and was signed in 1956 by the Cincinnati Redlegs. (The Reds signed another Oakland star on the rise, in 1956, by the name of Vada Pinson.)

In 1957 the Reds traded Curt Flood with Joe Taylor to the St. Louis Cardinals for Marty Kutyna, Ted Wieand and Willard Schmidt. (Gee, Giants' fans gotta shake their heads knowing that the Cardinals once again got the better end of the deal...Orlando Cepeda...Jack Clark..)

In St. Louis, Curt Flood wore the number #21. Flood would bat .300 six (6) times and earn seven (7) consecutive Golden Gloves from 1963 thru 1969 inclusive.

In 1964 he led the National League in hits with 211.

And after a stellar career with the St. Louis Cardinals they traded #21 along with Byron Browne (OF), Joe Hoerner (P) and Tim McCarver (C) to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jerry Johnson (who would later pitch for the San Francisco Giants), (INF) Cookie Rojas and (1B) Richie "Dick" Allen.

But Curtis Charles Flood refused to go. (St. Louis would later trade Bob Browning and (1B)
Willie Montanez -another who would play for the Giants- to complete the trade.)

He believed that major league baseball's decades old reserve clause was unfair in that it kept players beholden for life to the team with whom they originally signed, even when they had satisfied the terms and conditions of those contracts.

When Flood initially contacted Marvin Miller, Miller warned him that the commissioner would deny his suit.

If he pursued and possibly won a court challenge, the lengthy appeals process would exhaust his playing career and his defiance would shatter any hope of future employment in the industry. Reluctantly, because he could not oppose the principle of a worker's right to choose his employer, Miller recommended that the union pay Flood's legal and travel-related expenses, if not his living expenses.

Los Angeles Dodger delegate, Tom Haller (former Giant player who would become a Giant GM after this stunt) bluntly posed the question, "Are you doing this simply because you're black and you feel baseball has been discriminatory?"

The executive board voted unanimously to back Flood's case. Miller then arranged for Flood to be represented by former Steelworkers' Superior and US Supreme Court Justice, Arthur Goldberg. Goldberg offered to accept the case pro bono to ease a potential drain on the association's cash reserves.

Flood's case was in 1970. And even though he lost because it was ruled that Commissioner Bowie Kuhn acted the way he did for the good of the game, Flood opened the eyes and ears of everyone associated with professional sports in North America.

In 1975, the reserve clause was struck down when arbiter, Peter Seitz, ruled that since pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally played for one season without a contract they could become free agents. This decision essentially dismantled the reserve clause and opened the door to widespread free agency.

Curtis Charles Flood died on January 20, 1997, two days after his 59th birthday.
He fought for something he believed in and now every professional athlete has it better because of him.

Curtis Charles Flood deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because of what he accomplished as a player and as a person who fought for what he believed to be an unfairness in the system and risked his career in sticking up for his beliefs.

The Hall of Fame is all about individuals whose presence changed the way things were done.
How players raised the bar of efficiency to a new level not yet seen before they came along.
Curt Flood changed the way the game is managed in the front office. His efforts have made it so much better for each and every player who is/was skilled enough to attract some interest from a major league/professional franchise.

Curt Flood raised the bar, set a new standard for how players should be treated. He carried on Jackie Roosevelt Robinson's name the way #42 would have wanted. He didn't get credit for being the one who introduced someone into a league- that up until then hadn't allowed people of that certain someone's ethnicity- the way Branch Rickey did. He put his own career on the line to open the eyes of others.

kevin marquez

(Some of my notes are from Wikipedia and also from a book entitled: Much More Than A Game: Players, Owners and American baseball since 1921. by Robert F. Burk.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just Who was Branch Rickey?

He was born Wesley Branch Rickey, the son of Frank W. and Emily Thompson Rickey, born in Stockdale, OH on December 20, 1881. His nickname was: Mahatma. (Kicked or tripped over the bucket for the last time on December 9, 1965.)

Just who was Branch Rickey and why was he involved in the major leagues?

He played for the St. Louis Browns in 1905 but was known for his inability to catch the ball. And yet he was a catcher in the major leagues.
He set a major league record for stolen bases allowed in one game by a catcher at 13. Talk about unbreakable records, this one distinguishes it's owner significantly.

Is this how he "caught" someone's eye, by setting this record? Enough to allow him back into the Major Leagues?

It's been documented how demented the early owners of baseball franchises were so you have to think some owners had a penchant for rolling the dice, so to speak, and one of them took a chance. The owner may have lost a bet with someone (in the relatively small fraternity of owners) and could not go back on his word because every other owner knew.

How did the man get credit for pulling all the right strings to allow Jackie Robinson into the Major Leagues? A person who was penurious, not frugal, as a GM with the St. Louis Cardinals (during the "Gas House Gang" days). Somehow, got credit for signing Roberto Clemente to a professional contract. (Unfortunately, Clemente was signed merely as a way of preventing someone else in the division from signing him. We all know, Clemente, (known as "the Great One" to Latins everywhere) was later purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

It's as if the major leagues allowed the name of Branch Rickey to be credited with signing Roberto Clemente because Rickey was known for his finding ways to let ethnics into the major leagues. He may have still been associated with the Dodgers but him being linked to Clemente, Wow! that's a story I'd like to hear.

Why has Major League Baseball went out of its way to allow Wesley "Branch" Rickey into the major leagues?

Legally there had to be lawyers swarming around the majors during this time. The game was beginning to look like something profitable. And society was taking a liking to it. The game conformed to society as well. Acknowledging no games and then double-headers (2 for the price of 1) on Sundays and having a day game for the "Ladies."

I ask these questions because I've read some baseball stories about Branch Rickey. Like the one in 1933. Rickey was the general manager of the St.Louis Cardinals and Ernie Orsatti, a Cardinal outfielder, demanded a raise of $500 which would have made his salary $5000. Orsatti was coming off a .336 season and he was usually on the leader board for stolen bases as well.

Rickey refused. When Orsatti entered the Cardinal GM's office, Rickey's telephone "rang," and the executive launched into an apparent two-way conversation with his Farm System operator. In a loud voice, for his guest to hear, Rickey indicated that he might have an outfielder ready to be sent down soon, then hung up.

The phone rang again, this time supposedly from a minor league GM, with a similar need for a soon-to-be-demoted outfielder. By the time Rickey got off the line. Orsatti's only demand was for a pen to sign the club's lowball offer sheet. Unknown to Orsatti , the telephone conversations were a charade Rickey acted out by using a foot pedal under the desk to trigger the rings of each non-existent call. (As told by Bill Veeck the former baseball owner of the Browns, White Sox and probably others as well.)

Now to be accused of doing something so lowdown as this and to still be allowed to remain in the major leagues further exploits the hypocrisy of this integrity thing baseball always likes to maintain.

In 1936, Jay Hanna "Dizzy" Dean, who won 96 gmes in his first 4 seasons, held out for $27,500. A $9000 raise from his 1933 pay. When Rickey refused, Dean upped the ante to $40,000.

Following the 1936 season, when Dean won 24 games, Rickey put the pitcher's name on the auction block and generated offers from $100,000 to $250,000 plus other players. Aware of being shopped, Dizzy demanded a $100,000 salary (in keeping with his demonstrated market value).

After the 1937 season, Branch Rickey sold Dean to the Chicago Cubs (is that what started one of the great rivalries in baseball history?) for $185,000 and 3 ballplayers worth $65,000 in salary. By selling a player contracted for only $18,000, the Cardinal executive (Rickey) personally pocketed several thousand dollars more than that $18,000 sum.

At the first sign of decline their clubs sold them. The organization not only gained from the sales, but the team payroll dropped. One clear consequence of the power farm systems gave to baseball's personnel managers was the odd pairings of rising average ages on big league rosters with a declining percentage of long-term veterans. In other words, management now had the means to squeeze major league playing careers at both ends.

The man given credit for building the minor league system was such a tyrannical, penny-pinching person that he created an even bigger monster in the game. That monster called Ill Will when it's between the player and his teams' executive/general manager. He showed how shrewd was profitable. If Ted Knight were alive, god rest his soul, he'd be the perfect guy for the part of The Branch Rickey Story. He'd only have to combine the Ted Baxter character on Mary Tyler Moore with Schmells, on Caddyshack. The author of: It's easy to grin/ when your ship comes in/ and you've got the stock market beat/ But the man worthwhile/ is the man who can smile/ when his shorts are too tight in the seat.

Branch Rickey was a crook, who had this Doctor Evil or perhaps even Lex Luther way of coming up with new promotions and this is where Jackie Robinson enters the picture.
There is an entire generation of baseball fans who think of Branch Rickey as the Mahatma, they think he initiated the breaking of the color line. That he was the only one who cared enough about integrating the African-American into the major leagues.

I don't think so.

I think Wesley "Branch" Rickey did everything for self-promotion.
I think Branch Rickey was the original Don King, without the absurd hairdo.
Because only in America could someone be so revered for being such a skinflint, selfish, self-promoting son-of-a-gun.

Depending upon your point of view, of course, I personally find it ironic that it is Wesley Branch Rickey who is the indelible mark on America's pastime. Instead of being the person responsible for uplifting the stain of breaking the color barrier (sooner) he just happened to be there when Jackie Roosevelt Robinson entered the majors in 1947. Rickey rode on Jackie's coattails and it was never ever the other way around.

The person who truly took this entrance into the major leagues to a level for the sake of other players and changed the game because of his heart and soul was Curt Flood. Curt Flood made playing the game even better than any player before him could have imagined.

Curt Flood deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for his selfless contribution to major league baseball. Because everything about the game today and from now on...oozes of Curt Flood and Hall of Fame inductee Marvin Miller.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

2007 Giants have 3 Pitching Coaches, The One that Plays is Matt Morris

Noah Lowry has to follow a man on a mission in, fellow teammate, Matt Morris.
He's 6-5 as of June 12th, on a team that doesn't score a whole heckuva lot of runs so I'd say he was doing fine.

Baseball fans over time learn to appreciate pitching because they know nothing keeps you in the game longer than solid pitching. Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Matt Morris are keeping the young and talented staff of studs in line. One is leading-by-example while the other two veterans (Rags and Gardy) are so savvy just because of the kind of guys they are but they specialize in understanding the art of pitching -the craft- so well that I like the view from where I'm sitting.

Pitching and good defense. Omar, Pedro, Dave Roberts and Randy Winn taking away any opportunity for the opponent to gain momentum.

It is bothersome that some local hacks have so much say in what they think is going to happen with or to the Giants. (I'm guessing these guys shagged a lot of flies, lots and lots of flies because they were so bad at judging them all they ever ended up doing was run after balls hit near them. Some may have just stood still and waited until the ball stopped rolling before they "shagged.")

It's bothersome to think someone who spent so little time on the ball field and had littler success is magnifying the faults of those who made it to the big leagues.

I'm shutting off my cable television connection for a while. Not have so much of this is Howard Cosell... in my face.

Let's just watch and see and hope that what we are seeing is real and not something we're over-analyzing or seeing through a magic mirror of wishful thinking it'll happen. Seeing this team take Giant baby steps. Over and over, always one more time. Until this develops an overall mojo and little steps become Big Mo. Momentum.

Let's have some fun along the way.

kevin marquez

Monday, June 11, 2007

We Needed That...

"Don't count us out yet." -- Dave Roberts, Giants Center Fielder Sparkplug.

Giants 4, Blue Jays 3. Matty Mo goes the distance. Barry Bonds goes the distance. Roberts swipes two bags, is a general nuisance at the plate and makes a balls-out catch in the top of the 9th, crashing into the "YAHOO!" sign on the left center field wall.

"YAHOO!" indeed.

The Day after Kevin posts up a piece about Complete Games and Wins, we get one of each from our stopper, the old man, Matt Morris. Thank you Kevin, thank you Dave and thank you Matt.

Of course, my wife is convinced that her presence at the ballpark tonight was the reason the Giants snapped the losing streak. I'm not taking any chances -- I'm trying to convince her that she needs to see about 70 more games in person this year.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

More Complete Games than Wins= Hall of Fame

When you think of who has the most complete games you might think the pitcher with the most wins would be the best bet and you would be right. Cy Young, winner of 511 games had 749 complete games.

On the all-time complete game list are names of players who pitched before 1900. Names that take you back to the black and white ninety mile-an-hour Charley Chaplin films. And as we discussed in an earlier article, the rules establishing the strike/ball count were different before the 20th century. But while that may be true, the pitchers still had to throw the number of innings they did to accomplish the numbers they were accredited.

Kid Nichols, on the Boston Braves before Warren Spahn, had 531 complete games. Tied with Walter "Big Train" Johnson.

I'm not so sure this is Willie McCovey 521 homers and Ted Williams 521 homers. This is more like Walter Johnson came along after the Kid and rules changed. The Kid did his thing with different rules than Walter. Because of that Walter has to be atop the Kid. The Kid was on the Braves during a time someone named George Herman Ruth was breaking into the league with the Red Sox, also from Boston.

What's interesting is how the players' complete games and wins match. It's almost uncanny.
I mean, Christy Mathewson who ended up with W=373 and 188-L and his exploits during the John McGraw days are legendary. But do we know that a guy named Pete Alexander had 437 complete games (3 more than Christy's 434) and he too had 373 wins. (he lost 208 to Christy's 188.) Pete was inducted into the Hall of Fame as Grover Pete Alexander.

For a pitcher 300 is the milestone that is equivalent to 500 homers for a hitter.
A batter may bat 4 times in a game, but a pitcher always has to pitch long enough to qualify for a win. Winning a game is far more difficult than hitting a home run.

A home run doesn't necessarily win the game.
It could.
But not if there are still many outs to be made.

A win is making plays on defense.
Some pitchers were the defense. They were on teams that were so bad you may not have noticed how good they pitched. Because they were so good
they kept their team in the game. They may have lost more than they won. Had more complete games than wins but that's baseball.

That's baseball.
More complete games than wins.
Check it out.
A pitcher who has more complete games than wins/victories is hall of fame material.

And the way the game is going now, with so few 20-game winners, there will be a pitcher inducted into Cooperstown, NY with a .500 record if he dominated any period of the game when he played. Longevity will have to factor into this equation, but you may not need to be above .500 to enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.

Perhaps the bar should be lowered. Maybe the stakes were set too high for a player who merely pitches. Is the outcome always indicative of how he pitched?

5 innings to qualify for a WIN, if you're a starter.
One out at the right moment, if you're a Vulture, the nickname of Dodger closer Phil Regan.
Either Don Drysdale or Sandy Koufax dubbed Regan the Vulture.

Probably in 1966 when Regan was 14W and 1L with 21 saves and a 1.62 ERA.
(Note: Regan started out playing for the Detroit Tigers then was traded to the Dodgers for Dick Tracewski.)

In 1959, Elroy Face of the Pittsburgh Pirates had a won/loss record of : 18W 1L and 10 saves. Who was pitching when his boy Elroy jettisoned to the mound as reliever and came away with victory, after victory?

(You think back to that time. That was one season before Bill Mazeroski hit a game winning homer against the Yankees, at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series. Elroy Leon Face had no known nickname but he may have been the original vulture.)

kevin marquez

Bad one Brad

In an extra inning game last night (June 8, 2007) at AT&T Park there was a collision at home plate between the A's Mark Kotsay and the Giants' Eliazor Alfonso and Alfonso had to be removed from the game.

Benjito Molina had already been removed when a foul tip clipped the bicep on his glove hand so the Giants had to go to the boneyard to find the suitable substitute to play catcher. That player was Pedro Feliz. So now, with Rich Aurilia already in and out of the game, who plays third base? Why Randy Winn, of course.

Who fills Winn's spot in the outfield? No more extra outfielder's on the bench since Freddie Lewis pulled an oblique muscle so it was Noah Lowry inserted into right field and Dan Ortmeier moved over to center field.

The Oakland A's had something going after a leadoff double. But what was really the mistake was pitcher Brad Hennessey pitching like he was afraid Pedro wouldn't be able to handle his breaking pitches.

Yo Brad, you yourself are a converted fielder to pitcher. You should have best understood to just do YOUR job and not to worry about what someone else may or may not do. You soft tossed one to Shannon Stewart, when you had two strikes on the guy and he reached out and touched you for the game winning 2-run single.

Bad one Brad. Not trusting in Pedro. Pedro made a nice stop on one of your pitches that didn't quite reach the plate a pitch before and yet your body language was so bad, it was as if you didn't think he could do it again? It was you who was unable to do your job, ya bum!!

kevin marquez

We Talk Back To The Pundits, They Talk Back To Us

Damon Bruce, the host of KNBR's "Sportsphone 680" show, emailed me regarding my post yesterday where I took issue with his comments last Wednesday night that Brian Sabean "doesn't get it" :

Rich - I'm glad you understand that I'm a one man show and need to get the conversation going by working up a froth, but come on ... this isn't working. You'd get better odds on having a 3rd straight losing season, than winning the West.
Bochy has to give Frandsen an outfield start? Only Roberts is on the DL? How is that even possible?
Thanks for listening, D.

First off, thank you, Damon, for the direct response. And I agree with you that "you'd get better odds on [the Giants] having a 3rd straight losing season, than winning the West." In fact, as I noted before, since Spring Training, most baseball pundits put the Giants' chances of winning the NL West at somewhere between slim and none.

Part of the point I was trying to make is this: Brian Sabean has put together a very good body of work with the Giants. Since he took over as GM, the Giants have had winning seasons 8 out of 10 years (8 straight winning seasons until 2005.) Every year except '05 and '06 the Giants finished in either 1st or 2nd place in the West. To put that in perspective: prior to Sabean's arrival, the Giants had winning seasons in only 8 out of the previous 27 years (1980-2006). In short: Brian Sabean turned the franchise around and made the Giants into a consistent winner -- in fact, he's been the architect of the 2nd winningest period in San Francisco Giants history (the best being the 1958-1971 years). And as I pointed out in my post, it's not (as is sometimes alleged) that "any GM could have won with Bonds in the lineup" -- for the four years leading up to the Sabean era, the Giants had Bonds, plus Matt Williams, and still had four straight losing seasons.

Longtime Giants fans know what a front office that "doesn't get it" looks like. And I think we want to be really careful what we wish for. Clearly, these last couple of "transitional" years have been disappointing. But to call for Sabean's ouster based on a couple of down years just doesn't make sense to me. I'm concerned that if ownership gets impatient, if they start listening to the pundits and impatient fans who have gotten comfortable and imagine winning seasons are some kind of god-given right, that they will jettison Sabean impulsively, and the club will be worse off, not better, for it.

Sometimes subtraction really is subtraction.

Also: divisions aren't won in early June.

On the other hand, I do understand that sports radio is about expressing opinions and giving the callers something to respond to and riff off of. And I give Damon Bruce a lot of credit: he does a real good job on "Sportsphone 680" handling the callers and making the show an interesting post-game event. Add to that he had a tall order, taking over as the permanent "Sportsphone 680" host shortly after the whole "hacking at slop" meltdown (after Bruce Magowan's interim stint.)

So maybe we'll just have to agree to disagree on Brian Sabean's acumen. In any event, I do appreciate that Damon Bruce wrote back to the Cha Cha Bowl, and yes, I will keep on listening to "Sportsphone 680" after Giants games.

And I'll keep the hope alive that, come October, the callers and Bruce will be celebrating the fact that the Giants have made the playoffs, in defiance of the gloomy predictions of the oddsmakers.

And at least one pundit -- Ken Rosenthal of Fox sports -- seems to agree with my take on Sabean: Giants could can Sabean, but shouldn't . [hat tip: LeftyMalo]

Also, some people have been asking for the link to the Sports Weekly story which ranks organizations by how many of their early-round draft choices have reached the major leagues. (The Giants were ranked 4th, ahead of the Diamondbacks (5th), A's (17th), Dodgers (24th) and Padres (28th)). You can read the whole story here.

Friday, June 8, 2007

This is the Giants' Kragen Home Run Inning

How long have the Giants had these gimmicks?

I recall Willie Mays hitting his 600th career home run off of Mike Corkins at Jack Murphy Stadium and in Lon Simmons' description of the home run he said '... and the Bye Bye Baby Bonanza!!!'

In this 2007 season I heard something that happened in the Kragen Home Run Inning that I will also never forget.
On a night when Dave Roberts hit his first homer as a Giant and against his former Los Angeles Dodger team it was for someone I am actually related to. My uncle, Manuel J. Marquez, was the name Jon Miller finally found the time to announce as the participant in the Kragen Home Run Inning. When I heard the name I can honestly say I got a good feeling and then Miller described Roberts' home run. It's a memory that makes me smile.

Anyone who listens to the Giants (on the radio) knows that every time the game enters the Kragen Home Run Inning, you don't know it's that inning until there are two outs and the batter who is swinging feebly at the ball has two strikes on him. You're trying to figure out what's going on because you just turned the game back on and just like that there are 2 outs. That's just the way this inning works.

And it works real good if the participant is someone you know.

kevin marquez

Does Benji Molina need a name change?

Does Benji Molina need a name change? He's pretty clutch and a darn good hitter, is Benji too soft sounding?
I like the idea of tipping the cap to a former Giant catcher who I thought was the best all-around athlete who caught balls and strikes.

I'm talking about Benito Santiago. And to borrow some of the flavor of Santiago let's call our 2007 Giants' catcher Benjito Molina. (pronounced Ben-jeeto)

You know, back during the heydays of Creedence Clearwater Revival, on the album entitled Pendulum (1970), the one that introduced the song Have You Ever Seen the Rain, there was also a song entitled simply Molina. That would be an excellent selection for some background vibes when Benjito begins his walk to the batter's box. The repeat chorus in that song is: Mo-lee-eee-eee- eee- nuh, where you going to!

And there's Molina on his way.

kevin marquez


On Wednesday night, following another frustrating Giants loss, I listened to KNBR's Damon Bruce ranting on and on about how bad the Giants are and how "clueless" Brian Sabean has been as GM. Bruce was in full tirade mode. He repeated over and over how other teams have gone young and how the Giants "just don't get it." His opinion was that Sabean is finished in San Francisco, and may not even last this season.

Reading Giants blogs or our local Chronicle scribes and you'll hear the same refrains repeated ad nauseam.

Let's put aside for a moment that it's early June. My blog partner Kevin pointed out to me that Earl Weaver used to say that you just gotta have your team at .500 at the All-Star break and you'll be in a good position to make a run at the post season. The Giants are 4 games below .500 right now, but let's ignore that for now.

It's clearly real fashionable right now to bash Sabean and to lionize teams like the A's who focus their energies on developing position players up through their system to the major league club.

To jump on the "dump Sabean" bandwagon means ignoring Sabean's succesful track record with the Giants since 1997. If you look at the actual numbers, you'll see that the Sabean era has been the longest protratcted winning era in San Francisco Giants history. I've heard some people assert that "any GM could win with Barry Bonds in the lineup." But this assertion just doesn't hold up when you examine the Giants winning percentage over the 4 seasons prior to Sabean's arrival (1994-1996). Those teams had Bonds in his prime -- and Matt Williams, too -- and never finished above .500.

The Sabean-bashing is emotion-based, not fact-based. It's founded on the current fetish with young players.

We all know that this Giants team is going to rely on scoring enough runs and getting good enough bullpen support to back up the terrific starting pitching we're getting -- and are likely to continue getting all season. So far, that support has not been there often enough.

Which makes me all the more upset with the move to cut Armando Benitez loose following his balky meltdown in New York. Yes, that was truly ugly. But if you read between the lines of Sabean's post-Armando-trade comments, you get the distinct impression that Sabean may have had his hand forced by management to send Armando packing. A move, I hasten to add, that most Giants pundits and the "dump Sabean" crowd applauded.

I didn't -- and don't -- like the move, because we really do not have anybody to replace Armando. Before he was traded, Armando was 9-for-11 in save chances, the New York debacle included. Yes, Armando's appearances were often nerve-wracking. But the facts say that in closing situations, he more often than not came out on the right end of things. I don't like the move, because what's our best alternative to Benitez? Closer-by-committee? Brad Hennessey? Russ Ortiz? If the Giants had dropped Armando after a viable alternative had emerged from within our own ranks -- or if we'd picked up a better alternative in a trade -- fine. But that's not what happened. It's not at all clear that this was "addition by subtraction." It may have been subtraction by subtraction. Was this really Sabean's preferred move, or did he get an exasperated call from Peter Magowan after the New York game? Maybe we'll know someday, but I have my suspicions...

Whatever the case, Armando is gone. The next few months will reveal if it helped the Giants or hurt them.

All the pundits said -- in print or on KNBR -- that the just-concluded road trip was likely going to be grueling and difficult. The Mets are one of the best teams in the NL East. The Phillies are loaded and tough, especially at home, and the Diamondbacks have also been flying high and playing really well at home. The Giants would have done well to come back home from the recent roadtrip at 5-5. As it was, the Giants went 4-6 on the trip -- not great, but far from the disaster some were predicting.

As for the allegation that "the Giants just don't get it" regarding youth, my current issue of Sports Weekly ranks all 30 clubs by percentage of their early (top 5 rounds) draft picks that have advanced to the major league level over the past 10 years.

So where did the Giants rank on the list of evaluating and developing young talent? FOURTH. Ahead of the Diamondbacks (5th), Dodgers (8th) and yes, even the A's (17th). Yes, OK, all of the Giants draft picks that have made it to the majors have been pitchers. But if you draft and develop hurlers that can help your club, you can build around them.

Excuse me if I don't characterize Sabean as an "idiot" or as being "clueless about youth" -- the numbers just don't bear this out.

Damon Bruce's frothing condemnation of Sabean reminded me of his giddy praise of Sabean last year when Shea Hillenbrand was acquired from Toronto. I know Bruce is paid to get the callers to his show worked up and talking on the air. And I don't blame Sabean for acquiring Hillenbrand and his 17 homer, ~.300 track record as a way to bolster the 2006 Giants' offensive numbers (remember that Hillenbrand was taking over for the anemic Lance Niekro). Hillenbrand underperformed for the Giants, as we all know, but the move made a great deal of sense from a tactical point of view. Not all moves GMs make pan out.

On the other hand: Bengie Molina.

My attitude: let's wait and see how this year plays out. For those who love youth, Lewis, Fransden and Ortmeier are contributing (and doing much more contributing than Ellison or Linden did this year or in past seasons.) Many teams would love to have our starting rotation. Bruce Bochy is known as a guy who is good at getting bullpens to perform well. This is very much a work in progress.

I just hope that Giants management can ignore the howls of Groupthink going on all over the place.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fighting Hydrants

Those of you who date back to Giants Vision, long before it became FSN, know that those who announce the game have fun with everything.

Right around the time there was a sign in right field counting down the number of days until moving to PacBell /AT&T Park, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow came up with a nifty label for a couple of spark plugs on the then Giants roster. Marvin Benard, (Dusty's boy) and F.P. Santangelo were always hustling and crashing into walls so the Kruk/Kuip combo came up with the Fighting Hydrants.

In one of my old VCR tapes there was a sign: Fighting Hydrants and on it was a sketch of FP, Marvin and Stan Javier. Kruk and Kuip laughed and said how Stan Javier wasn't considered a Hydrant because he was of regular stature and not sawed-off like FP and Marvin "appeared" to be. (All in good fun is the mantra for those yuksters' Kruk and Kuip. Listen to the Rap after each game on the radio. It's a hoot, especially when the Giants are winning. Jon Miller, Dave Fleming and Greg Papa all get into the act. It's Vaudevillian)

I agree with the sign maker. It's not about the height, it's all about the effort.

Tom Seaver: "If you don't think baseball is a big deal, don't play it. But if you do, play it right."

This 2007 Giants has some young Hydrants breaking onto the scene. They are contributing and its fun to see the diving and zipping around done by Dan Ortmeier, Freddie Lewis and Kevin Frandsen. And ya know, when Pedro Feliz is hitting his defensive game is solid. He has this swagger that exudes hydrant. It's as if nothing can stop him and that "no think" thing goes away. It's fleeting, as is fame, but it sure is fun to watch.

Ortmeier reminds me of Kenny Henderson. A player who came up in the mid 1960s along with Downtown Ollie Brown. A couple of years later, Barry's dad, Bobby came onto the scene. Henderson was a switch-hitter who could fly. His arm was pretty decent too!

kevin marquez

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Minor Leagues

I got to thinking the other day about ballplayers who played in the minor leagues. Wondering why they had to play in the minor leagues.

A broadcaster during the Brewers/Cubs game listed the statistics and awards of Rickey Weeks (Milwaukee-2b) and the numbers reminded me of a young Hank Aaron, the young Milwaukee Brave second baseman in 1951 and Willie Mays in 1950. What were their statistics in the minors and why did they have to lose any time in the majors? Aside from being African-American?

For some reason, it was in the players' best interest for Hank Aaron and Willie Mays to get some innings in the minor leagues.

Al Kaline and Ernie Banks didn't have to play in the minor leagues.

Not one game.

Both made it into the Hall of Fame and that's no small achievement, it's an honor of longevity and achievement. Let's hope there never comes a time when people elected into the Hall of Fame didn't deserve to be inducted. I'm just curious as to how many players performed admirably in the minor leagues and yet, for some reason have to stay in the minor leagues.

The Oakland Athletics have a player who exemplifies the lifetime minor leaguer. His name is Jack Cust.
Check these numbers out.
YEAR: 2001 TEAM: Arizona Games Played: 3
2002 Colorado 35
2003 Baltimore 27
2004 Baltimore 1
2005 not in majors
2006 San Diego 4
2007 Oakland (currently on A's roster)

Jack Cust has two things I never liked,
as a pitcher,
short arms.
-Mike Krukow

Willie Mays was signed in 1950 and first played in Trenton, New Jersey. Then he was sent to the AA (American Association) to play for a Giant affiliate, the Minneapolis Millers. Willie was hitting .353 in Trenton when they sent him to Minneapolis. In Minneapolis, Willie batted .477 in 35 games.

After this proof of how good Willie Mays was, and only then, was Willie Mays allowed to play in the major leagues.

And the proof of Hammerin' Hank Aaron's minor league visit was nearly as phenomenal. Awesome numbers throughout his career. Not only did he retire the All-Time Home Run Leader, he also has one of the better nicknames. Hammerin' Hank had more hits than Ted Williams, the Splendid Splinter.

All-Time Leaders in Hits
1- Pete Rose 4256
2- Ty Cobb 4189
3- Hank Aaron 3771
4- Stan Musial 3630
5- Tris Speaker 3514
11- Willie Mays 3283 (488 behind the Hammer)

All-Time Runs Batted In (RBI) Leaders (*asterisk denotes active player)

1- Hank Aaron 2297
2- Babe "Sultan of Swat" Ruth 2217
3- Cap Anson 2076
4- Lou"IronHorse" Gehrig 1995
5- Barry Bonds 1956*
6- Stan "the Man" Musial 1951
7- Ty "GeorgiaPeach" Cobb 1937

kevin marquez

Sunday, June 3, 2007


When the San Francisco Giants first signed Armando Benitez there was elation. Finally the Giants went out and got a top notch reliever. It was thought this was the move that would elevate the orange and black Giants into the upper echelon of competitive teams. This was going to get them into the playoffs and there was no telling how far they would go once they made it into the post season.

But almost immediately Benitez got on the Giants' fans' bad side. He showed up to training camp looking like he could've been a float in the Thanksgiving Day parade. And with the extra girth he got injured covering first base on a ball hit toward the first baseman.

When he came back, and to his credit he came back sooner than expected, he just didn't deliver.
KNBR 680 -the Sports Leader- talk show host- Ralph "Razor" Barbieri made it a daily habit to besmirch Benitez every chance he got. He made no excuses for Benitez and openly admitted that he thought Benitez was a bum. And who could disagree with Barbieri, all that he said was fact and I think many fans were tuning into KNBR680 just to hear the Razor lambaste the big goon that was Armando Benitez.

Then when he would do poorly it always seemed like he had some excuse. Manager Felipe Alou told him he had to be held accountable. Armando didn't like that and his performance suffered because of the dislike between Armando and manager Felipe Alou.

This year, when the season began, new manager, Bruce Bochy made it a point to welcome Armando Benitez and to let bygones be bygones. Newly acquired catcher Benji Molina bluntly stated while on an interview after a game that Armando and Felipe did not get along and that Armando likes being here with Bochy at the helm.
And for a while it was working. But then Armando would get hit and he'd point his finger at someone else not doing their job. The pointing of fingers at others is something that is unacceptable in all walks of life. And I'm sure Bochy and some of the guys didn't like the way Armando handled things when they weren't going well.

Finally, on May 29th, Armando Benitez imploded. He walked the leadoff batter. Balked him to second. The batter bunted him over to third. Got the next batter to pop up to shallow centerfield for the second out of the ninth inning. He needed only one out to win the game and he balks in the runner from third base. Two pitches later, Carlos Delgado hits a walk-off homer and it's adios Armando Benitez.

Some may say Armando Benitez was the worst Giant of all-time and those people would be wrong.
Personally, I think the worst Giant of all-time is Ricky Ledee. He was decent with the Phillies, horrible wearing the orange and black and then got signed by the dreaded Los Angeles Dodgers and did okay with them.
If you stink as a Giant and do better for the Dodgers, you are truly a bum! Ricky Ledee as a Giant, was a bum.

kevin marquez