Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Go Out on a High Note

In what can be described as a disappointing season, wouldn't it be something if the San Francisco Giants can pull it all together and finish this 2007 season on a high note?

After last night's off key, terribly sung National Anthem, which heard a cacophony of boos, and rightly so, the Giants were able to muster up a couple of hits together with another solid pitching effort from their starter (Barry Zito) and solid bullpen work by Brian "Wouldn't It Be Nice" Wilson and their closer, who is on a bit of a roll (sans the lettuce and tomatoes), Brian Hennessey.

Mixing young with old is somehow working now when it wasn't working before. The top of the order has been productive with Dave Roberts and Rajai Davis and I guess the ball is finding holes it wasn't finding from April thru July. And while the hits are mysteriously finding areas on the field where fielders are not positioned and perhaps even more important than that serendipitous revelation is now when the opponent hits a scorcher it's finding a Giants' glove .

The 0-2 pitches are still killing the Giants but they too have been feasting on opponents' 0-2 servings.

I guess it had to figure, in the long baseball season it wouldn't always go the way of the Giants' opponent.

Go Giants!!

Kevin Marquez

Friday, August 24, 2007

What Have YOU Done For Me Lately?

(From Baseball for the Love of It, Hall of Famers Tell it Like It Was, by Anthony Conner)

Stanley Coveleski put it best when he said:

It's a tough racket. There's always someone sitting on the bench just itching to get in there in your place. Wants your job in the worst way: back to the coal mines for you, pal.

The pressure never lets up. Doesn't matter what you did yesterday. That's history. It's tomorrow that counts. So you worry all the time. It never ends. Lord, baseball is a worrying thing.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Props to Pedro Feliz

For the most part the only press Pedro Feliz gets is usually negative. But the fact is he fields a damned good third base and doesn't miss games due to illness and or injury.

His versatility is invaluable. He's capable of playing third base, first base, outfield, shortstop and if needed showed he can handle the tools of ignorance as well.

And he's also a pretty good insurance policy when playing in front of #25, Barry Bonds, who is NOT the liability some like to say he is but still, having Feliz in front of him makes a difference.

Feliz is also good for 20 homers and 70 runs batted in.

So all of the "no think" comments about #7 are valid but you could find fault with every player if you tried hard enough. We sometimes forget the good some players do and I just wanted to say, "It's okay if you flail away, Pedro Feebaliz (pronounced Feeble-eeze)...All hitters go through those tough spells. I appreciate your glove and that you are usually there for roll call."

Kevin Marquez

Friday, August 17, 2007

Danny Ortmeier

What happened to Freddie Lewis? Or Nate Scheirholtz? (Apologies to Nate, if I misspelled his surname. I'm feeling a bit Dan Quayle-ish. Wanna bet ole Danny Quayle'd hurt himself trying to spell Nate's last name?)

I'm getting the feeling the Giants' brass likes the switch-hitting Dan Ortmeier. Having him play at first-base and the outfield says they're finding a way to get him the every day lineup.

I like it. Gives US a chance to see some youngsters acclimate themselves to the rigors of major league baseball.

Something good will come out of this dismal season. I'm not about to give up on Bruce Bochy. He's too good of a manager. The same goes for Brian Sabean and staff.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Frandsen Needs to Lighten Up

I saw in, Baseball For the Love of It- Hall of Famers Tell it Like it Was, by Anthony J. Connor, Roy Campanella say how he played in 5 World Series in 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956 and how he considered himself to be a pretty lucky fella. But he was disappointed that they only won once, in 1955.

Roy: "One of our problems I believe is that we were trying too hard. You know there is such a thing as trying too hard. You get all knotted up. We wanted to beat the Yankees so badly that we maybe became a little overanxious.

That's quite the dynasty considering Giants' fans know what it took for the Giants to overcome the Dodgers in 1951.

Giants' fans currently have a youngster who falls directly into the category of trying too hard and perhaps even beats himself up when he fails to execute on the ball field. That player is Kevin Frandsen. I'm not so sure the Giants'organization should allow too much time for Frandsen to correct this problem. It's the kind of thing only Frandsen can rid himself of and if there aren't any players in their minor league systems than can replace the headcase that is Frandsen, the organization has more problems than just getting its major league club back on the road to being in contention in the National League West division.

Kevin Marquez

Harry "the Hat" Walker

On the outside, looking in, it appears the baseball Hall of Fame is for players who put up fantastic numbers offensively, could handle their position adequately when in the field with longevity.

Hall of Famers are usually so talented at their craft that their opponents had to alter their approach if they had any chance of beating the skilled player's team. It's often said that a Hall of Famer changed the game.

Well, how about if you coached players onto greatness that eventually led your pupils into Cooperstown, New York?

Harry "the Hat" Walker was acredited with helping Stan Musial, Roberto Clemente, Matty Alou and probably had something to do with Joe Morgan, since he was manager of the Houston Astros before the blockbuster trade between the Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros took place. (Houston sent Morgan, Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo and Denis Menke to Cincy for Lee May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy "Not a Wonderful Life" Stewart.)

Roberto was never really comfortable with Danny Murtaugh, as was learned on a biography done on "the Great One" with Jimmy Smits as the narrator and Matty Alou became a league leading hitter once under the guidance of Harry "the Hat."

It just seems to me, aside from winning a set number of games and having respectable numbers as a player, it'd be nice to induct someone without whose guidance some players may have never attained the legendary status most of us attribute to that player.

(Note: It was Joe Morgan and Al Holland who were dealt by the San Francisco Giants to the Philadelphia Phillies in order to obtain Mike Krukow, Mark Davis and somebody named Charles Penigar. And ever since that day, December 14, 1982, we fans have had to endure the voice whose signature phrase is: Ride Some Pine, Meat!!!!)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Whitey Ford ...Cheating to Win a Bet

(According to Whitey Ford...from the book..Baseball as it Was..etc..by Anthony Connor.)

The 1961 All-Star game was at Candlestick Park. The game was on Tuesday and we got there on Monday, so Mickey and I headed right for the golf course. It was a place where the owner of the Giants, Horace Stoneham, was a member, and we played with his son, Peter. But we didn't have any equipment with us...so Pete Stoneham said, "Just sign my father's name, " and that was the best offer we'd had for a long time.

We didn't go so far as to buy golf clubs, but we did get new shoes, a pack of sweaters, balls and shirts, and the whole bill came to around $200.

During the match Joe DiMaggio and Lefty O'Doul were playing behind us in a twosome. The 9th hole was on an elevated green where I guess they couldn't see us from the fairway. Anyway, Mickey was getting ready to putt, and this ball came flying down and hit him right on the head, sort of glanced off his head while he was lining up his putt. I'm not sure if it was O'Doul or DiMaggio, neither one of them would admit who hit the ball off Mickey's head.

Toots Shore had a suite and he invited me and Mickey over for a little cocktail party.

So while we were telling everybody about our golf game, and how Mickey got hit in the head by a ball, I went over to Horace Stoneham to pay back the $200 tab we ran up at his club. Horace is a nice, generous man, and he didn't seem to want to take the dough back. So he said, "Look, I'll make a deal with you. If you happen to get in the game tomorrow and you get to pitch to Willie Mays, if you get him out we'll call it even. But if he gets a hit off you, then we'll double it- you owe me $400, okay?"

Mickey wouldn't go for it. No way. He knew that Mays was like 9 for 12 off of me lifetime, and he didn't have any reason to think I was going to start getting Willie out, not especially in his own ballpark. But I talked him into it. Now all I had to do was get Willie out.

The next afternoon in Candlestick Park, I started for the American League and Willie was batting fourth for the National League. I got the first two batters out, but Roberto Clemente rapped a double and here comes #24.

Well, I got two strikes on him somehow, and now the money's on the line because I might not get to throw to him again.

So I did the only smart thing possible under the circumstances: I loaded the ball up real good. You know, I never threw the spitter-well, maybe once or twice when I needed to get a guy out really bad. But this time I gave it the old saliva treatment, and then I threw Willie the biggest spitball you ever saw.

It started out almost at his chest and then it just broke down to the left, like dying when it got to the plate and dropping straight down without any spin. Willie just leaned into it a little and then stared at the ball while it snapped the hell out of sight, and the umpire shot up his right hand for strike THREE.

Okay, so I struck out Willie Mays. But to this day people are probably still wondering why Mickey came running in from center field now that the inning was over, clapping his hands over his head and jumping up in the air like we'd just won the World Series. It was a money pitch and we'd just saved ourselves $400.

Kevin Marquez

Repeat Performance

Since the acquisition of Rajai Davis (#28 on your scorecard), from the Pittsburgh Pirates, for the embittered Matt Morris, he has turned a few heads.

If, and it's a big IF, Rajai can do what Randy Winn did, a couple of years ago, then this bad season indeed has its silver lining. With Winn also in the outfield, adding Rajai would mean the orange and black would have two-thirds of its outfield in position for years to come.

That with the pitching, after a year of Bruce Bochy seasoning, has the Giants leaning in the right direction.

Not too many people have given Bruce Bochy the slightest hint of a compliment this year, but the former catcher knows pitching, as do Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner.

Ask Noah Lowry what he thinks.

As a fan, my only question is WHY have there been so many 0-2 pitches clobbered against the Giants???????? Why are the Giants so unwilling to challenge the hitters with an 0-2 count, if they cannot spot their pitches?

The announcers seem to be enamored with the idea that the pitcher had poor location because the pitch was nowhere near the glove. Word to the broadcasters, just because the pitcher didn't hit my glove didn't mean much. Some catchers didn't give a target of any kind and the game went on as usual. So to blurt out how the pitcher was nowhere near the target is mindless babble.

Kevin Marquez

Friday, August 10, 2007

Charley Gehringer on Mickey Cochrane

After last season, when Mike Matheny got a foul ball off of the noggin that gave him a concussion in which he was unable to return. I came across something Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer said about Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane and I don't ever recall hearing anyone ever attribute his lack of ability to him getting beaned. That is, untill I read this piece on Charlie Gehringer. As if someone just figured Cochrane was getting up in years and his skills naturally eroded.

You know, back in Mickey Cochrane's day, the trainers weren't as well educated as they are now. In fact, many players played in spite of what the trainers prescribed, if you know what I mean.

(from Baseball ..Hall of Famers Tell it Like it Was)

Mickey Cochrane was super leader when he was playing but after he got beaned and had to manage from the bench he didn't call them quite so well because he wasn't close enough to the scene.

When Mickey was managing from behind-the-plate, I can't ever remember him ever fouling anything up. He made snap judgments that seemed to always work, especially in 1934 and 1935 when we (Detroit Tigers) won two pennants.

After he became bench manager it seemed like he weighed everything a little more, and you can't do that in baseball-in politics maybe, but not in baseball-you've got to jump into things or you miss your chance. And after Mickey got hit in the head, it seems like we missed more chances.

Kind of makes me think he never quite got over his concussion.

Oh, by the way, a young boy born in Commerce, Oklahoma was named after Mickey Cochrane.
He would go on to hit 536 home runs. His name, Mickey Mantle.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Coolest Nickname

Happy Days had Arthur Fonzarelli. Better known as the "Fonz," a character whose attire consisted of jeans, tee shirt, leather jacket and motorcycle. Only on television could such cool happen. With his infamous, "Heyyy," whenever he happened to pass a mirror, perhaps he was the caucasian Willie Mays, who went by the "Say Hey" Kid, when he came up through Trenton, New Jersey and then onto the New York Giants in the late 1940s into the 1950s.

What do you think is the coolest nickname for a major league ballplayer? You've got the Splendid Splinter (Ted Williams), Georgia Peach (Ty Cobb), Sultan of Swat (Babe Ruth), Iron Horse (Lou Gehrig), Say Hey Kid (Willie Mays), A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez), Dizzy (Jay Hanna Dean), etc.

I'm going with Stan "the Man" Musial. Simply because I cannot think of any guy who doesn't want to be referred to as the Man. (I think in the television world, FONZ was equivalent to the man.)

(In truth, it was when Henry "Hammerin' Hank" Aaron passed Stan Musial in all-time hits that there was something more than Aaron being the all-time home run hitter. Although he had 1392 more at-bats than Stan Musial (12,354 vs. Musial's 10,972) he was able to put into prominence, in the modern day, that not all home run hitters were just sluggers. Aaron had 141 more hits than Stan the Man, in 1392 more at-bats. His lifetime batting average was .305 compared to Musial's .330.

And there were flashes of that back in the 1920's and 1930's it's just that those fellows just didn't have as many at-bats as the modern day Hank Aaron or Pete Rose.

Ty Cobb's all-time average was .366. Ted Williams had a career .344 average, with 521 home runs and he lost 6 years to the war and injury (One year he was hurt in the All-Star game.). Babe Ruth, who was walked an amazing number of times until Barry Bonds came along to shatter every free-pass record the Bambino ever set, batted .342. Lou Gehrig, a guy who was unfortunate to have a life ending disease cost him some even more impressive numbers than he had already attained, batted .340.

Longevity, as Hank mentioned in his speech to Barry Bonds, is a big factor. It allows you to accumulate numbers you might not have otherwise been able to reach. When you are as great as the aforementioned players, it's safe to say each and every one of these players could have done what it took to set a new standard. But for whatever reason fate played its part with them the way it factors into everyone's life and the chips fall where they may. You could say it was injury, military service, changing positions, whatever the case may be the great ones played for as long as they could, or were allowed, and are forever enshrined in Cooperstown, New York with the numbers attributed to their careers.

There will always be comparisons about players and the times in which they played. But those of us baseball fanatics who enjoy the sport for all of its intangibles and idiosyncracies know this is as much of a reason why we like the game as it is to witness: Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Barry Bonds or Omar Visquel, play the game of baseball.

It would have been great to see George Herman "Babe" Ruth play. What a thrill that must have been. Or even to see Sadahari Oh (apologies if misspelled) or Josh Gibson. The Japanese League or Negro League had their fair share of accomplished ballplayers but we must understand one thing, in each league those who were superior probably would have succeeded in the other respective leagues. But against a stiffer competition, each and every elite athlete may or may not have done as well as the fantasy we let our imaginations run away with (also known as, the legends in our minds) in regards to our favorites and their seemingly unending list of achievements attained.

Personally, I know I ingested all of the information from books and documentaries and confabulated some possibilities much the same way we did as kids when we were playing in the sandlots. Our collective memories never failed to make everything seem bigger and better, right?

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Burleigh Grimes

(from Baseball for the Love it, Hall of Famers Tell it Like it Was by Anthony Connor)

"I can remember a reporter asking me for a quote, and I didn't know what a quote was. I thought it was some kind of soft drink."

Joltin' Joe Di Maggio

That's believable because it's very possible that there would be someone who would speak words that weren't always understood. Especially in the crazy media-hyped up world of New York.

Times were different then. Lifestyles were a lot more cultured, as all of the ethnicities were adjusting to one another, learning by trial and error, some lessons may have been of the gruff exterior type. That sort of behavior was accepted, back then.

World War I and World War II were times that had absolutely nothing to do with political correctness.

(In 1916, Burleigh Grimes was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The following is according to the right-handed pitching, well-traveled, Burleigh Grimes.)

Honus Wagner was a wonderful fellow, always having fun. Never too serious. He loved to tell whoppers. He was forty-two (42), in 1916, but still covered his position at shortstop. I remember the first game I ever pitched against Brooklyn @ Ebbets Field. It was a tight spot, about the 7th inning, score tied 1-1, with a man on first. Wagner came over to the mound from the shortstop position and said, "Make him hit it to me, kid."

Coincidentally the batter did hit a hard grounder right to short. Perfect double-play ball. I was proud of myself and figured old Honus had to be impressed. Well, the ball bounced off of Wagner's foot out to left-center field, the runner scored and the batter wound up on third base!

Old Honus came over to me with his dobber down, looking kind of annoyed. He said, "Those damned big feet have always been in my way."

At 42, Honus Wagner was still called the Flying Dutchman.
The Giants have a shortstop who doesn't have a flashy nickname, but he's Hall of Fame worthy. Omar Visquel, wow, I'd like to see the Giants bring him and Barry back next year.

Great players earn "street cred" for always performing at a level where their bar is raised a wee bit higher than any one else, regardless of age. If they say they can play, what have they done to show you they cannot? Perhaps Bonds doesn't need to spend as much time on the field as the slick fielding Visquel. Then again, Barry should get a few more at-bats than Omar.

kevin marquez

Monday, August 6, 2007

Al Lopez

(from Baseball For the Love of It. Hall of Famers Tell it Like it Was by Anthony J. Connor)

In 1928, Brooklyn called me up at the end of the year after my minor league season at Macon, GA, had ended. So I sat around on the bench for 2 1/2 weeks. Finally Wilbert Robinson (manager) put me in the last 2 days of the season; a doubleheader on Saturday and a day game on Sunday.

It was a great experience but I did not get a hit. We were playing the Pirates, and they had Glenn Wright, who was a great shortstop, and Pie Traynor at third-base. I was a pull-hitter and I hit some hard shots to the left side, but every ball was either to Wright or Traynor. I was hitting the ball good, and I thought I had hits several times, but each time I'd see that ball flying into the first-baseman's mitt.

I'd never seen infielding like that at Macon and it was kind of discouraging. I went home to Florida for the winter, thinking to myself, what have I got to do to get a base hit in this league?

(Been there, done that. Anyone who has played baseball has, bet on it.)

Kevin Marquez

Remember Mike Jackson, the Reliever?

Cliff Lee, left-handed pitcher for the Cleveland Indians has given up 8 grand slams in his young career. Quite the antithesis of one Jim Palmer, former Orioles pitcher, who never gave up a grand slam in 19 years of major league pitching.

Lee's on pace to shatter the career mark of 10, held by both Nolan Ryan and ex-Giant Mike Jackson. Knowing that Nolan Ryan was on some average to bad teams with the California Angels and Texas Rangers, I'd have to say a few mishandled grounders were the cause of him having to get out of trouble and ten times he was unable to do so.

But recalling the exploits of one Mike Jackson, in the orange and black, I'd say he pretty much set the table and then threw a meatball at a batter who was craving Italian that day and he clobbered it for a grand salami. Ten salamis as a relief pitcher is HUGE!

kevin marquez

Sunday, August 5, 2007

No Shows in the Managerial School of Earl Weaver

August 3, 2007 in San Diego...

Unbelievably Jerry Hairston hit his second 3-run homer off of Vinnie "BoomBah" Chulk, to cost Matt Cain a victory on a night in which he struck out eleven and had yielded no runs. But on one lob (of what must look like a softball to Hairston when Vinnie's chulking it up to the plate) Cain got charged for 2 runs and a no decision.

Earlier in the season Chulk gave up a "big fly" to Hairston when Hairston was playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks and yet he was who Bruce Bochy selected as the pitcher to come in from the bullpen when it came time to remove Matt Cain.

This elicited memories of Dusty Baker replacing whomever the starting pitcher was, with Felix Rodriguez in the 2002 World Series. It didn't matter how Felix had struggled in the Series, Dusty just couldn't wait to insert him into a game if, in Dusty's eyes, the starter was appearing out of sorts.

Both Dusty Baker and current skipper Bruce Bochy apparently never took a course in Earl Weaver 101. He was a manager who would not, under any circumstances, allow a pitcher to be burned twice by the same hitter. He just saw no reason to let lightning strike twice because his glass "half empty" saw to it that once bitten was all that he'd allow. You know, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me...It's a good rule to follow unless you think it's okay to roll the dice with your career and the player you so deem as necessary for the job even though he hasn't executed against the hitter in the batter's box.

Think about it, a batter has a certain swagger to begin with, now throw in the knowledge that he has ownage, in his mind, on the pitcher and you have a monster. By putting your pitcher in against this hitter YOU are creating a monster in the hitter and serious doubt in your pitcher. Not a good combination if you look forward to winning some games with the help of this pitcher.

Bruce Bochy, this BONEHEAD award is all yours! And to Vinnie Chulk, an upright middle-finger salute is all you get.

Kevin Marquez

1946....Not so Fast, Rapid Robert Feller

After returning from military service, Bob Feller was determined to make up for lost time.

In 1946, the Cleveland Indians' pitcher was 26W 15L, while striking out 348 in 371 innings. He threw 10 shutouts and on April 30th tossed a no-hitter versus the then rival New York Yankees.

His 348 strikeouts surpassed Rube Waddell's 343 back in 1904. Some statisticians claimed Waddell's correct total was 349, even though no official stat sheets existed it is the adjusted figure of 349 that is the accepted total for Rube Waddell.

Rube Waddell was an eccentric fellow. Once while at-bat when the catcher threw to second base in an attempt to pickoff a base-runner, the errant throw went into the outfield, the runner then got up and took off for third and as he approached the bag was waved in by the third base coach.
As the throw came in for a play at the plate, Waddell stepped up and swung at it, knocking the ball over the fence. Not a home run though, he was called out for interference.

When he was asked why he did it, Rube responded: "It was the first pitch I saw, all day, that I could hit."

(Waddell's story from They Did What? by Bob Fenster. Feller's story by Anthony J. Connor's book entitled Baseball for the Love of It, Hall of Famers Tell it Like it Was.)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thanks, Tommy John

Sure, I don't like the Los Angeles Dodgers. But I do like baseball.

Tommy John surgery.

After tearing the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his elbow he was told by Dr. Frank Jobe that his career was over, because his arm was dead.

Because Tommy John wouldn't accept such a bleak diagnosis and insisted Dr. Jobe find something to fix his ailing arm the sport of baseball had a breakthrough discovery.

After drilling holes in the humerus and ulna, the surgeon threads a tendon in a figure eight to replace the torn ulnar collateral ligament. A tendon working as a ligament works better than the ligament it replaced. Amazing stuff that may have never happened had Tommy John not been so stubborn.

Thank you, Tommy John.

Now is this like steroids? Because guys who have had this type of surgery lasted several years longer than they would have had they not had the successful surgery??? And we all know, to make Cooperstown, longevity and statistics are two components.

(from Sports Illustrated 6/18/2007...Michael Weinreb)

Kevin Marquez