Saturday, September 29, 2007

Shaw Den Froy Deh

Well, the Giants 2007 season is now (mercifully) drawing to a close. And it's perhaps understandable that we Orange-and-Black loyalists are focused primarily on our own feelings of frustration with the present and uncertainty about the future.

And it's perhaps likewise understandable that we might look around the NL West with some envy at our division rivals -- who at first glance seem so filled with promise and hopes of contention for 2008 and beyond.

Look below the surface, though, and all may not as rosy as it seems for at least one division rival -- the hated Dodgers.

Will their large ($120 Million payroll) and talented kids mixing in with their veterans, one might fear that Da Bums are poised to take over from Arizona or San Diego as the preeminent team in the division. However, it's a very real possibility that they may instead turn into the Dodgers of the past decade or so -- a collection of high-priced loners continually upset with one another and continuing to underachieve.

I mean, surely, by now you've heard about Jeff Kent scolding the Dodgers' younger players for "not getting it" and failing to play the game right. Apparently this is just a public vocalization of what has been a season-long rift between Dodger vets and the Dodger puppies.

According to the LA Times: "There has been an obvious and growing tension all season between the Dodgers' veterans and youngsters. Publicly, at least, that discord had remained largely under control and Kent is the only one who has spoken out on the record."

Next, there is reportedly widespread dissatisfaction with manager Grady Little within the Dodger clubhouse and among Dodgers fans, many of whom have been very vocal in calling for his head as well as suggesting that maybe it's time to show new GM Ned Colletti the door:

And so now the Dodgers, a team that went from 1954 to '96 with only two managers, have die-hard fans calling for them to fire their fifth manager since that time. It has been less than two years since the last one, Jim Tracy, was cashiered.

To be sure, not everyone thinks Little is the Dodgers' biggest problem. Some have blamed injuries, but Colletti is also taking a good deal of heat. He has a mixed record at best in player acquisitions, and there's a strong case to be made that most credit for whatever success the Dodgers are having should go to assistant GM of scouting Logan White, the man in charge of drafting most of the team's young talent. White and vice president/assistant GM Kim Ng are among the top candidates for any major league GM openings, and plenty have suggested that the Dodgers would be worse off to lose either of those two than Colletti.

Wow. I don't recall anything like this happening with the A's -- or the Diamondbacks. Maybe it's just 'cause it's LA and the payroll is $120 Million.

Here's what
Fox Sports had to say about it:

When we heard that notorious clubhouse lawyer Jeff Kent had criticized the comportment of some of the Dodgers' younger players, we just assumed L.A.'s resident grumpy old man was getting his kicks by alienating another generation of teammates before riding his dirt bike off into the sunset.

But the more we hear, the more it seems Kent was onto something regarding his younger teammates' lack of professionalism and proper respect for the game (not to mention their elders)…the hunch is that you will be hearing Matt Kemp's name in virtually every Dodger trade rumor until he is eventually dealt.

...And here's the LA Times, once again -- (just get a load of the article's title):

The Youth Movement is a Flop

Bill Plaschke, LA Times -- September 21, 2007

This youth movement has officially gotten old.

I thought it would work, I really did, but I admit today that I am wrong.

By using the last couple of months to integrate, the Dodgers have done nothing but alienate.

This mixture of kids and veterans is no longer charming, it's combustible.

The fans are mad. The front office is mad. And now, their future Hall of Fame second baseman is stomping and snorting mad.

In the wake of a barely-show-up loss Thursday in Colorado, a fifth consecutive defeat that essentially ended their playoff hopes, quiet Jeff Kent quaked.

Using words like "perplexing" and "curious" and "bitter," he took veiled shots at Manager Grady Little and direct shots at the Dodgers' kids. ."


Turns out, the clubhouse has been more eccentric than eclectic. The kids have driven veterans crazy with mistakes. The veterans have driven their manager nutty over lineup decisions.

The fans have turned on nearly all of them, howling at Little, chastising Colletti, booing the first bad pitch, begging for the sort of mass firings they once abhorred.

And now, the Dodgers' most celebrated player is spraying around blame like it was a 2-and-0 fastball.

Read the whole thing, it's truly an eye-opener.

Schadenfreude: from the German -- a term meaning "taking delight in the misery of others."

Perhaps it isn't exactly noble. But as we head into an uncertain Winter for our Gigantes, I'll take it. For now, at least.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jeff Keppinger: Not to be confused with Don Kessinger

Currently on the Cincinnati Redlegs roster is a player named Jeff Keppinger. He plays shortstop.

With the emerging Brandon Phillips at second sack for the Redlegs, Keppinger is steadily putting up offensive numbers that has to have Cincinnati Red fans taking notice.

Sure, this blog is called the Cha Cha Bowl. Aptly named for the first homegrown (no pun intended) superstar who wore the orange and black,for the San Francisco Giants, Orlando Cepeda. Baseball is the kind of game that it's good to keep an eye on the statistics of all players. Because we are in a day and age of free agency there is always the possibility of that player playing for your favorite team. When a star is rising,it's good to get a newsflash, especially when the Giants' front office will be out and about in search of talent to help turn this organization around and play at .500 or better for the 2008 season.

Don Kessinger was a career .252 hitter with 14 homers. But back then all shortstops were glove-men, very few hit for average. Another example of that would be Dal Maxvill. He was a career .217 hitter, with just 6 career homers. But when the Cardinals got their use out of the slick fielding shortstop, the Pirates and Oakland Athletics had him fill a roster spot.

There used to always be a spot on the roster for slick fielders who could play more than one position well. Not any more. You have to be able to hit for average, have power and oh yeh, be able to field your position. If you make too many errors you will eventually be demoted or change rosters. But teams nowadays will hold onto your services if you HIT first and field second.

This guy Keppinger is looking like a player that will hit 10-20 homers, drive in 70-90 runs and bat at least in the neighborhood of .275.

Sorry, Donny boy, but only the name will dredge up memories of number 11 fielding the shortstop position at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field from 1964-1975. Because the similarities end at the name.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Could it be fans are Tired of Winning?

Yesterday's San Mateo Times had an article about the Brooklyn Dodgers leaving Brooklyn for Los Angeles, California.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were in the World Series in 1941, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953...all losses to the mighty New York Yankees. Then in 1955 they beat those damned Yankees. And that's not counting the impossible comeback of the Giants in 1951.

As for the Oakland Athletics, they won the World Series in 1972, 1973 and 1974. In 1974, the team didn't even draw one million fans to the ball games.

Are these both a case of same ole, same ole? Somewhere boredom has to factor in to the lack of attendance for both ball clubs. Because both clubs deserved way better.

How can you ever get tired of winning? I don't know of any Yankee fans who are capable of catching something as unbelievable as, for lack of a better term, winningitis? In fact, most people have climbed aboard the Yankee bandwagon because these were fans who were tired of losing.

Kevin Marquez

Monday, September 17, 2007

Put a Fork in These Guys

It has been a practice of mine to keep track of where the San Francisco Giants are in the standings and at some time or another, when things just weren't clicking and losing was occurring more than winning it just seemed appropriate to put a fork in 'em.

This season never allowed for such a prognostication, since the Giants have been at least 10-15 games under .500 for the better part of the 2007 season.

Players who need forks in them, as their tenure in orange and black should come to end would be :

Brad Hennessey
Rich Aurilia
Ryan Klesko
Ray Durham -(although it might be okay to invite him to camp. His career warrants him another look in spring training to see if he truly has lost sight of the ball.)
Pedro Feliz?- I never really heard Bruce Bochy's feelings on Pedro. We know Bruce did well to get Rich Aurilia in the game but as for his feelings on Pedro, if he does like Pedro, the Giants will most likely re-sign him because he is more versatile than most Giants and is better on the roster than Aurilia because he hits more homers and drives in more runs.
Barry Bonds. Father Time has caught up to #25 and he'd be better served in the AL, if he still feels he can hit. And we all know he CAN still hit. If the Giants can get Bonds cheap and get him to agree to playing less and helping the youngsters I suppose something might be worked out.
Would you play for less than a lot of players who cannot hit close to what you're capable of???

If the Giants can get the right slugger someone like a Jonathan Sanchez might be involved in trade talks. And if it happens, oh well.

Lots of Giants' fans moan and groan about the A.J. Pierzynski trade or the Russ Ortiz trade. Sure, A.J. wasn't as good as advertised and Damien Moss proved to some that the world, she is... uh, flat. But before Joe Nathan was traded he had gotten in Felipe Alou's doghouse and that was enough to shop him around. Ortiz, a well-liked player within the organization, must have demanded too much money which is why the Braves jumped all over Russ and offered the Giants someone not half as established as Russ Ortiz and yet the Giants went for it... hook, line and sinker.

Nathan has been a fantastic Twin but he wasn't so special in orange and black. As for Francisco Liriano, those throw-ins are always a risky part of the business. Trades are simply a roll of the dice, you never really know how they'll turn out. You like to think you did all the necessary homework to acquire someone who seemed like the perfect fit, but you don't know until that person puts on the orange and black and performs.

Hopefully, this off-season brings the Giants the fruits of their labor. Perhaps a shout out from Harry Belafonte, "Come Mister Talisman," wouldn't hurt. In the world of free agency and acquisitions it may be better to be lucky than good.

Go Giants, 2008!

Kevin Marquez

Friday, September 14, 2007

As a Fan You Know that Some Players Don't Rate

J.D. Drew and Milton Bradley change uniforms almost as often as most people change their socks. If you're a fan of these teams both Drew and Bradley have played for it's a little disturbing to be rooting yourself silly only to find out this player sees fit to play elsewhere more often than not.

More often than not J.D. Drew and Milton Bradley are permanent fixtures on the disabled list. This has to irritate the team owners who willingly shelled out the cash in hopes that just once
the player would pay them back by producing on the field and not spending so much time off of the active roster.

David Jonathan Drew was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and after he got his feet wet for a couple of seasons chose to play with the Atlanta Braves. In the 2004 season, with Atlanta, he hit a career high 31 home runs. You'd have thought he found his place to play but no, the next season he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was in his second and last season, in Los Angeles, that he batted in a career high 100 runs. Again he departed for the riches of Boston Red Sox baseball, where he is currently playing.

Drew's a .280 hitter, having hit .323 in 2001, with St. Louis, in 109 games. The baseball season is 162-games long, but don't tell J.D. Drew because he wants a lot of money even though he will miss 7 weeks of the season. Can you imagine having a job where it would be okay to miss that much time and still expect to be paid handsomely?

Milton Bradley was drafted by the now extinct Montreal Expos and traded to the Cleveland Indians. In 2003, with the Tribe, Bradley batted .321 in 101 games. Again, don't expect Milton to be there for an entire season without spending ample time on the disabled list. He plays when he wants to, know what I mean?

His uniform changes went like this: Montreal, Cleveland, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland and now San Diego. He's good for a month and then he'll take a month off. Then he'll have a nagging injury between his ears. As if someone did something he didn't approve of and suddenly its "trade me somewhere else." And he gets his wish. Teams fawn all over this guy who has never hit 20 homers or driven in 70 runs in a season throughout his career.

It's tough being a fan when the owners of your favorite team signs players like J.D. Drew or Milton Bradley because you know those guys will not be there for the long haul. We like the idea of knowing our players are durable and reliable enough to be counted on for an entire season.
That's not asking a whole lot considering what these bums asked for AND GOT when they were signed by our favorite team.

Unfortunately, some players just don't rate. Such is the life of a fan. It does explain why we do meet people in our life who simply have no interest at all in spectator sports. If most players were like J.D. Drew and Milton Bradley, why would you want to root for the home team?

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Good Defense Never Gets Old, Sign Omar Already!!!!!!!

On September 10th it was PU because Brad Hennessey let one go... as someone named Salazar, hit his first homer of the season and just like that a W becomes a loss.

With the improvement of Brian "Wouldn't it be Nice" Wilson and the remarkable recovery from Tommy John surgery of Tyler Walker, maybe this dredges up Bad Hennessey's name as a throw-in during trade talks because he has to be considered expendable.

(Note: Last season, Salazar hit his first and only homer of the year again versus the lowly Gigantes. So both of Salazar's home runs in the majors came at the expense of your San Francisco Giants.)

On September 11th, Omar Visquel ended the game with a diving stop of a bounder up the middle. He rolled around and flipped the ball to Ray Durham who got the force before throwing to first base for the game ending double-play. Win goes to Tyler Walker, his second in the teams' last three games.

In going over the replay of Visquel's play, former infieder turned broadcaster, Duane Kuiper exuberantly if not emphatically stated, "Good defense never gets old."

An apropos statement considering he was talking about the ageless one, Omar Visquel.

To not sign Omar Visquel would be criminal.

Kevin Marquez

Friday, September 7, 2007

Thinking of 2008 with Kevin Correia

Kevin Correia is 3-0 in the role of a starter and would be 4-0 if the bullpen didn't do its best to maintain the dubious statistic of allowing runners inherited to score.

Should Kevin C return to the starting rotation next season? Heck yes! If he can build up enough arm strength, that would extend him deeper than the 6th inning of a game, pencil him in right now.

On offense, the Giants have to be at the top or rocking back and forth, when it comes to grounding into twin-killings. Double-plays. Ray Durham, Kevin Frandsen, Ryan Klesko, Rich Aurilia, Benjie Molina and Randy Winn (in that order) have been far too giving when it comes to ending the inning suddenly.

On the upside, after listening to Brian Sabean on his radio show (KNBR/680) I was encouraged by the possibility of Omar Visquel returning for another season simply because nobody does it better at the shortstop position than #13.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blind As A Bat

(These are the typical feelings and associations that occur on game day, for yours truly and hopefully everyone else who plays ball.)

Arrive at the site of the game. It won't be long until you see the familiar face of a teammate, or two or three, etc.

Put on your cleats and eventually someone will ask you if you would like to get loose and like Pavlov's dogs you reach in your bag for a ball (to warm up with your teammate) and respond with a delightful, "Sure!"

After some conversation with your teammate (and any others who may be alongside also warming up) you ask if your partner is loose and right then I begin thinking of the game that day.

I'm never concerned where I bat, as long as I'm batting, but I do like to see who's playing and where. Also, I'd like to know if we're home or away because it lets me know who bats first.

As I approach my position on the field the idea of batting never crosses my mind, even if I know I'm due to leadoff the next inning. The only time that reaches my thought process is when the third out of the preceding inning is made and only then do I begin to focus attention on my approach to batting.

It's my turn. The batter or runners before me that have reached base safely are my concern because it's up to me to get them across the plate or at least advance them to the next base. A pop-up or strike out just won't do.

As I approach the batter's box I hear some cheers from my teammates and occasionally something about a manpill as I do a little groundskeeping to help myself get adjusted to the well-used batter's box.

Then it's eyeball the pitcher time. I look at how the pitcher is playing his position, to see if a grounder up the middle will have no trouble getting past him because if he's going to give me anything I'm darn sure going to take it!

(I just flashed on a Letters to the Editor I had sent some years ago about Rod Beck. I remember saying one way for Beck to keep a batter off guard would have been to have long curly locks of hair tumbling out from under his baseball cap with a pair of Leon Hall hexagon tube earrings dangling and a big red clown's nose to go along with a grizzly five o'clock shadow, as he began swinging his throwing arm back and forth like a human grandfather's clock. It was a takeoff of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz but the idea just struck me as gut-busting, acid indigestion, gasping-for-air hillarious. Needless to say it was not selected for print. Unfortunately, for Chronicle readers, the Editor doesn't have the same sense of humor I do.)

So I'm focused on the pitcher. Knowing however he plans to pitch to me that I have to adjust my swing to make solid contact with the ball and keep it between the lines. It's all up to me to do everything right because if I am- at any time- relying on the bat to bail me out of any possible indecision I'm in serious trouble because nothing is as blind as a bat.

Except perhaps the umpire. (No offense, Merle)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Boondoggle by the Bay

The home plate umpire in yesterday's game at Colorado (9/3/07) had zero consistency while calling balls and strikes.

Players, coaches and managers don't ask for much they only want consistency. And really, as far as jobs go, how tough is it to follow the rules you were hired to adhere to and be consistent in your judgments.

I have this feeling a lot of umpires have this misunderstood attitude and or belief that if a player was deemed good enough to play in the major leagues that they can hit any pitch, any where, as long as it's near the strike zone.

These same umpires have no idea how a missed pitch here or there is often times the difference between a win and a loss. These are the same attitudes in need of adjustment who act as if they never make a mistake or have a bad day and that it is everyone else who falls victim to such unpreparedness. Sort of a godlike approach to lesser beings, if you will.

But what really makes all of this rub me wrong is an announcer like Dave Fleming, of the San Francisco Giants (KNBR/680AM).

I know listening to 2007 Giants' baseball is a bit of a boondoggle but it's a way of passing the time for a guy like me whose way around is either by foot or public transportation. Still, to endure Fleming's Wally Cleaver impersonation is a horripilation of a price to pay for not having cable television.

Whenever the game reaches a point, in Wally's mind, uh I mean Dave, he'll recap the scenario and almost on cue will emphasize how through all of this the opponent has only scored one run and just like that the opponent will burst through with a crooked number.

(I guess you could say he's a jinx, but I'm not blaming him for that superstition because it may just be a coincidence that keeps reoccurring.)

In fact, I think the painful realization of how bad Giants' pitchers have been when they are ahead in the count is so dreadful because of golly gee man Fleming. His insistence on informing his listening audience on such trivial things as to what type of pitch it was that was thrown further emphasizes ones annoyance when the opposing batter hits one back to the wall and it's GONE!! comes out of the mouth of Fleming.

Every other Giants' broadcaster is more than tolerable, they are the reason to tune into Giants baseball despite the teams' penchant for finding ways to lose. A good broadcaster lets your imagination flow and I like to imagine what might happen next based on the picture sketched by each broadcaster, except for Dave "Wally" Fleming.

Because when it's David B. Fleming's turn to announce all you need to do is call to mind the worst possible case scenario for any situational hornswoggle "Wally" is articulating to his audience and more often than not you will be accurate in your assumptions.

Kevin Marquez