Saturday, December 27, 2008

Randall David Johnson (Big Unit)...An Aide to 27 Outs

The San Francisco Giants have made a history of signing players at the end of their career. Off hand I recall Rich "Goose" Gossage and Steve "Lefty" Carlton making stops to don the orange and black. Warren Spahn, Ron Kline and Bill Monboquette were also San Francisco Giants.

It doesn't hurt that Randy Johnson is a former Cy Young winner but better than that is how effective the Big Unit was last season. He, by all accounts, has some gas left in the tank. Unlike the aforementioned veterans who paid a visit.

I had the Unit on my fantasy team, last season and from experience I agree with Brian Sabean's feelings. The Big Unit continues to strike out batters at an alarming rate, which makes him dominating. But like the Giants of last year, his team (Arizona) had difficulty scoring runs. This is an issue that has yet to be addressed by Brian Sabean and Gang, but you gotta admit, the pitching staff is looking good. And I get the feeling Sabean will not be satisfied until he does acquire a hitter who has the capability of driving the ball to the gaps and the wide-open spaces where only outstanding plays on defense will prevent this batter from succeeding at AT&T.

One thing is for sure, YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH PITCHING. With that in mind, Brian Sabean needs to be sure the fielders behind these stellar arms can catch and throw. Because as bad as the Giants need a couple of power hitters, it will not mean much if they themselves cannot catch what the opponents hit at 'em.

Twenty seven outs.

With good pitching and good defense that's all ya need.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Remember Dock Phillip Ellis

Dock Phillip Ellis Born on March 11, 1945 in Los Angeles, California.

He passed away the other day. I don't recall the actual date. He was 63.

He claimed to have pitched his only no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. In that game, versus the San Diego Padres, he issued eight (8) bases on balls.

His career won/loss record was 138-119 with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.46, from 1968 thru 1979 inclusive.

His best season was 1971. That season he fininshed 19-9 with the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. 1971 was the only year he made an All-Star appearance and what a memorable one it was. Dock was the pitcher who served up that prodigious home run to Reginald Martinez Jackson at Tiger Stadium. You know, the one that caromed off of the light tower!

It was also 1971 that an impressionable boy got an autograph from #17 Dock Ellis. Mr. Ellis, as I called him, made quite an impression on me. Made me feel worthy of having his signature. Unlike the inimical behavior of Willie "Pops" Stargell. Stargell was not amused and said as much as he scrawled Stargell in my autograph book. I knew Stargell was good but after the way he went about signing a kid's book I lost interest in him. If I had idolized him it would have been a crushing blow that day at Candlestick Park.

Dock Ellis had nothing to do with the San Francisco Giants. Probably beat them more than they beat him when it was his day to pitch. But he provided a valuable lesson to yours truly that I cannot let go unnoticed.

It just made me realize that I don't necessarily have to idolize the players but to just appreciate what they do. And if they're nice to people I want to root for them. Not against them, like I did whenever I heard Stargell's name mentioned. To me, Wilver Stargell was a bum! In the same class as most umpires.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference and Yahoo Sports for some info on Dock Ellis)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gigantes Not Worthy?

Writer Will Leitch contributes to The Sporting News in a column he calls Will's World.
He has good insights but in his piece for the November 24, 2008 edition entitled Change You Can Believe In he omits the orange and black.

Here's some excerpts from that article.

Technically, your team is in one of five (5) states:

(1) Champion/Perpetual Contender
The Patriots, Red Sox, Phillies, Colts, Cardinals(St.Louis), Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, Steelers, Giants (New York). Their coaches are at the top of their games and are considered among the best in their field.

(2) A Step Away
The Buccaneers, Titans, Hornets, Cavaliers,Eagles, Dodgers, Cubs, Panthers. By any measure a success but unable (so far) to reach that upper rung. Their coaches' jobs are safe, at least for another couple of years.

(3) Reeling
The Chargers, Jaguars, Mets, Blue Jays, Saints, Rockies, Browns, Mavericks, Brewers, Nuggets, Warriors. Expectations have not been met. Their coaches know better than to turn on sports radio.

(4) Rebuilding/On the Way Up. The Blazers, Royals, Thunder, Cardinals (Arizona), Falcons, Dolphins. Fans who are accustomed to losing see some light, thanks largely to new coaches with new visions. Why couldn't this include the 49ers? Or for that matter the Celtics? Up until last season the Celtics emitted an odor that was skunk-like and the organization itself was in a funk. The 49ers appear to be heading in the right direction. As are the San Francisco Giants. But no mention. Oh, the 49ers get mentioned in #5, but it's inaccurate.

(5) Bottoming Out. The Mariners, Wizards, Nets, Rams, 49ers, Seahawks, Bengals, Lions, Chiefs, Pirates, Nationals. The nightmare you imagined has arrived. Their coaches have been fired or are on their way out. There appears no end to the suffering.

Word to Will. You claimed in one article that you were an Arizona Cardinal fan. And how tough it's been being so loyal to a team so bad. Well, they slipped into the playoffs by default moreso than anything one could derive of as positive. They're in the worst division in the National Football League and then when it did appear the Cardinals were worthy of positive acknowledgement they go back to stinking up the joint. Their success is at best a fluke.

For you not to mention that the Giants far exceeded anyone's expectations during the 2008 season is a failure to recognize what is happening to the orange and black. To leave them completely out of your article, like the Oakland Raiders, well it's a mockery.

I truly believe the Giants belong in the A Step Away category. The same way I believe the Arizona Cardinals are a step away from mediocrity.

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

News from Henry Schulman, Giants' beat writer

Seems there's a little interest in recently unsigned third-sacker, Ty Wiggington. Wigginton belted 20+ homers last year, albeit in the comfy cozy confines of Houston's Enron-Minute Maid Park. A far cry from AT&T's manly dimensions that always include the obstacle of weather.

But beat writer, Henry Schulman has some information that may be of interest to Giants fans.

The player's name is Jesus Guzman.

Guzman is 24-years old, who is positioned at third base in the Venezuelan League, won the Texas League batting title in 2008 and he just set a Venezuelan League record by driving in 57 runs. He has 11 homers for the Caracas Lions, which is one short of the league lead co-held by Pablo Sandoval.

The Giants recently signed Guzman, by offering more money than crosstown Oakland, to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training.

Of course, you cannot overplay this because numbers in the Venezuelan League or Mexican League are a bit different than those of the major leagues. For example, Neifi Perez was a superstar in these leagues. And even though he proved to be a slick fielder he has proven to be anything but a consistent, reliable hitter in the majors. So, by all means, keep that in mind.

The one thing Jesus Guzman has over Neifi is that Jesus has never been known for his glove-work. Which could mean he is the real deal when he steps into the batter's box. Now if the Giants can find someone to work on his fielding enough so they won't have to hide him (because we Giants' fans know, the BALL WILL SURELY FIND HIM). Kind of like a late inning replacement. It always seems the ball is hit their way.

(thanks to beat writer Henry Schulman)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wait Just A Minute

During the off-season of any sport is the time to spread rumors. What's the line from the Fleetwood Mac album, of the same name, Rumours (1977), thunder only happens when it's raining, players only love you when they're playing?

C.C. Sabathia a San Francisco Giant? Where did that dream come from?

Would it really have been that wise to throw out that kind of money for that length of time for an out-of-shape hurler who will have to change his strength and conditioning to even hope to fulfill that contract.

Since 2001, at age 20, C.C. has thrown this number of innings...180 (2001), 210 (2002), 197+(2003), 188 (2004), 196+ (2005), 192+ (2006), 241+ (2007), and 253 last season (2008). He turned 28 last July 21st. But his conditioning leaves me no alternative but to think he will not play for seven more seasons and be serviceable.

The Giants' very own Barry Zito has similar numbers but Zito takes much better care of himself. Here are Barry's numbers since he broke into the majors in 2000, when he threw 92 innings.

  1. 2001- 214+
  2. 2002- 229+
  3. 2003- 231+
  4. 2004- 213
  5. 2005- 228+
  6. 2006- 221
  7. 2007- 196+
  8. 2008- 180.

Barry Zito has proven to be very durable throughout his career. And when it's all said and done Zito still may give the Giants all they wanted when they signed him on December 29, 2006, which is a World Series title. Because he'll be healthy and the team will have been built from the bottom up with quality players who bust tail-without flail. They will catch the ball on defense ('cause you need to make 3 outs each time you take the field) and hit the ball when it's their turn to bat. A lot will depend on their ability to execute so they can utilize their speed. But the front office is assembling a roster worthy of their competition.

But let's face it, their pitchers have to show they can throw strikes, and not when they are ahead no balls and two strikes but often enough to keep the umpires believing they can.

Show a little faith in Brian Sabean and Gang. The airwaves are full of talk shows that air opinions, of little substance, because they are only trying to elicit some excitable fans to call in and blur the focus. Too much time spent wondering about what could be. Even the Razor needs to 'button it up,' (to quote a substitute teacher I had back in elementary school). Just think of all the couch time spent by people who became confused enough to seek the help of a professional commonly referred to as a shrink. Simply because they spend so much time dwelling on how they think things will be before they even happen.

On that note, I go to the Jim Morrison lyrics that will never die...the future is uncertain, the end is always near...I woke up this morning and grabbed myself a beer.

Go Giants. Go Gigantes. Just go farther than ya did last year, okay?

Kevin Marquez

Monday, December 8, 2008

Encouraging Article About Giants in NOV26-DEC2, 2008 Sporting News

Jorge L. Ortiz wrote a very positive piece about the San Francisco Giants. The title he used was Young Talent Points the Way.

Ortiz opens the article... By their own admission, the San Francisco Giants took too long to embark on a youth movement...they found it less painful than expected.

He posts good statistics and references, such as... The Giants 72-90 record in 2008 marked their fourth consecutive losing season, the franchises longest such stretch since 1974-77, but they went 28-27 with a youth-laden lineup in the season's final two months.

Includes some quotes by Brian Sabean like: Not only were they entertaining, but most days we had a chance to win, which showed people some progess and hope.

And some thoughtful opinions to round out this article. Giant fans have reason to believe as Mr. Ortiz makes good enough points to think this thing could turn around. Maybe sooner than later.

Sports Weekly has the kind of quality in a publication that reminds me of Playboy magazine. Sure you buy the mag for the photos but the writing is worthy of as much praise as those photos. Wink, wink.

(thanks to Sports Weekly AND Jorge L. Ortiz)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, December 5, 2008

Moves for 2009 elicit a response

The San Francisco Giants have signed 3 veteran players. The top brass thought it better to go elsewhere to get some players that can get them in the 2009 National League West race.

First it was Jeremy Affeldt (born 6/6/79). A left-handed long relief specialist.

Then it was Bob Howry (born 8-4-73). A right-handed middle relief specialist.

SS-Edgar Renteria (born 8/7/75). Two rings (Florida vs Giants) and (Cardinals).

But if you look at their current roster there are a few names of players who have no bio but they do have some fantasy comparisons to keep you interested.

It's December and the Winter meetings take place this coming monday, December 8.

Due to the aformentioned 3 signings, I am intrigued by Sabean and Gang. If they do choose to purchase Christmas gifts, I'm hoping they don't visit Whoville.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Maple Not Ash, Not Lately

Terminology for a baseball bat.

The barrel is the thick part of the bat, where the bat is meant to hit the ball. The part of the barrel best for hitting the ball with, according to construction and swinging style, is often called the sweet spot.

The bat drop of a baseball bat is the difference of its weight (in ounces) to its length (in inches). For example, a 30-ounce bat, 33-inch long bat has a bat drop of minus 3 (30-33=-3). Larger bat drops help to increase swing speed. Bats with smaller drops create more power.

Supposedly the first player to use a maple bat was Joe Carter. The former Cub and Toronto Blue Jay hero, who ended his career wearing orange and black as a Giant.

Barry Bonds used the bat the season he passed Mark McGwire for the single-season record of home runs, when he hit 73 to McGwire's 70. And during that devastating year, 2001, when you think of the rubble and smoke where the Twin Towers stood a short while ago on 9/11, and someone speaks of maple bats, you might think of flying chunks of wood. But when number 25 stepped into the batter's box, you saw nothing but a ball taking a ride or lots of pitches out of the strike zone.

Recently, Major League baseball has debated whether maple bats are safe to use, due to the tendency for them to shatter into pieces. And this is where the major leagues is at. MLB needs more information before a decision on maple bats can be made. What are their limitations, as far as the adjustments made to the bat by the player who purchases them.

Some good information on this subject was received by reading John Donovan's article in on June 17, 2008. He starts out the piece with: In the parlance of batmakers, it's not the species, it's what you do with the species.

Maple bats are generally considered denser, heavier and less flexible than their ash counterparts. "Maple bats break much more dramatically because of the shorter grain structure. When they break they explode, " says Rick Redman of Louisville slugger, the biggest supplier of bats to major league baseball (mlb).

Louisville slugger, the imprimatur (license to print) of batmaker Hillerich & Bradsby, now makes more maple bats for big leaguers than ash bats.

Jim Sherwood, who runs the Baseball Research Center at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, has done research for MLB into how maple bats break. The league, too, has started to compile some information on its own. But no data has been released.

Jim Anderson says his company (Max Bat's) would welcome revised regulations on bat specifications. The current rules, he says, allow for barrels that are too big (up to 2 3/4 in diameter) and handles that might be considered by some as too skinny (and sometimes are made even skinnier when players shave them to cut down on weight.) The relationship between the size of the barrel (Anderson says they should be no bigger than 2 1/2 in diameter) and the size of the handle (regulation states it can be no skinnier than 16/19 of an inch), if too severe, may well cause bats to snap.

The rules on the relationship between the length of the bat and the weight of it also should be revised, he says. Anderson's company, for example, would like to see a limit of what he calls "minus -2" between the length of the bat (in inches) and its weight (in ounces). "It's not the wood species. It's the profile."

All of these changes would presumably enable the companies that make maple bats- there are more than 30 (no exact number was given) registered batmakers with MLB, all of whom must carry liability insurance- to use better wood stock to produce safer, more dependable bats.

Tom Verducci (of Inside Baseball) wrote a piece that appeared in on June 17, 2008. Verducci mentions how commissioner Bud Selig has expressed his concern about the maple bats and will have his major league baseball officials meet. This date was set at June 24th. According to Verducci, doing nothing no longer is an option. Well, nothing has happened yet and we're just about to enter December of 2008.

The league has to look at all the facts and establish guidelines every bit as important as the steroid policy because these bats are a threat to someone's safety.

You need to go all the way back to 1893- when flat-sided bats were banned with a rule stating "bats must be completely round" -to find a change to hitter's equipment as the one that might be forthcoming.

Baseball will NOT be able to claim, in court, that it was unaware of the hazards caused by maple bats, which routinely break apart in large jagged pieces that put players and, most especially, fans in harms way. Major League Baseball has been collecting breakage information for years from club equipment managers and, most obviously, seen the scary highlights nightly.

Approximately 55% of major leaguers use maple bats.

"I'm not so much worried myself," Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen said. "I'm locked in and concentrated on every pitch and every swing. I can see the ball and the bat. But I don't want my family sitting near the field unless they are behind the (backstop) screen. The bats are a hazard for fans more so than players."

Rolen said he tried maple bats briefly, but gave them up when two of those bats exploded even though he made contact with the baseball on the sweet spot of the barrel, a common complaint among maple users.

Players who prefer maple bats note that they do not flake like ash bats can and tend to maintain their hardness longer-as long as they don't bust in half.

Nimbleness and responsiveness never have been part of baseball's strong suits. But the danger of maple bats is unmistakable.

And as a reminder, Verducci adds...

Baseball players gradually have moved toward light bats with thick barrels and thin handles, in part because they have learned to hit with metal bats. For instance, Babe Ruth, in 1927, wielded a 35" bat that weighed 40 ounces while becoming the Father of power hitting (I like Dad of Dong). But Ruth probably didn't need such weight, or mass, in his bat. Because the bat already has so much more mass than the ball, bat speed (velocity) is much more significant than the mass.

(thanks to Tom Verducci, John Donovan, and Baseball-Reference)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lineup Cards

Inspired by a Steve Wulf article in the October 20, 2008 issue of ESPN magazine, entitled Between the Lines, I wanted to share some of his insights and hopefully they'll make your own imagination runneth wild with the way it used to be...between the lines.

Historically, Henry Chadwick is listed as one of baseball's first real chroniclers, I guess that means other writers were sent on baseball assignments but Mr. Chadwick took them more seriously because the game had a place in his heart and he felt the game deserved more than a piece written by someone "on the outside looking in."

In 1867, Chadwick advised, "Let your first striker always be the coolest hand of the nine." And in this simple sentence Chadwick may have hit upon the ideal leadoff man. As records are, Mr. Wulf was able to come up wasn't until 1908 that the fourth-place hitter in the lineup was called "the cleaner-up."

In the early days of baseball, batting orders were in the hands of the team captains, not managers, and captains were not averse to such chicanery as changing the order during the middle of the game. Because such behavior was not exhibiting the integrity of the game the National League (Senior Circuit) adopted a new rule in 1881 that required "the captain of each nine to furnish the entire batting order by nine o'clock on the morning of each game." Thus the lineup card became an official document.

(According to Steve Wulf) Science: Baltimore Oriole manager, Earl Weaver, was one of the first managers to rely heavily on statistics. He would use index cards prepared by Orioles statistician, Charles Steinberg. But in the 1979 playoffs against the California Angels, recently acquired John Montague was warming up in the bullpen and Weaver didn't have a card for him. So he called Steinberg in the press box and asked him to look up Montague's stats. Weaver then sent his daughter, a stadium attendant, to retrieve the data. She came running downstairs, through the Orioles' clubhouse and past a naked Jim Palmer (she says she shielded her eyes) and handed the card to her father. Upon seeing that John Lowenstein owned Montague, Weaver said, "LOWENSTEIN, GRAB A BAT." He homered to win the game.

(According to Steve Wulf) Dumb Luck: Joe Morgan (not the Hall of Famer) once filled out his Red Sox lineup card after confusing White Sox starting pitcher Shawn Hillegas, a righty, with Paul Kilgus, a lefty. As Joe Castiglione, the longtime Boston announcer, recalls, "We're scratching our heads upstairs, wondering why Rick Cerone, the righty-hitting catcher, is in the lineup instead of Rich Gedman, the lefty-hitting catcher. Lo and behold, Cerone hits a home run to win the game. So much for managerial genius."

(According to Wulf) Protocol: Doug"Rooster" Radar, when he was managing the Texas Rangers in the 1980s, once gave the umpire a card on which the other team's lineup included the names of the umpires. His point, of course, was that they were favoring the other side anyway.

Retired-Umpire Bruce Froemming, whose sense of humor is the antithesis of his body type, which is to say, undernourished. He had a Pacific Coast League memory. "Portland. One night, Joe Adcock got really mad at us, and the next day, he brought out the lineup on a roll of toilet paper. Had to throw him out right there." My question for the calorically challenged Froemming, "Did you laugh?" Because if you did, throwing him out only proves what a lunkhead you were. Ya gotta have a sense of humor if you're an umpire. And not one that requires a surgeon's ability to find the ticklish spot by way of deep tissue massage.

(the last insert about Bruce Froemming came by way of Steve Wulf but it was I who felt the need to add everything after...Had to throw him out right there.)

(thanks to Steve Wulf of ESPN magazine for his insights)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting Ready for 2009: Your San Francisco Giants

The shuffling of players began in October. Brian Sabean and gang have their work cut out for them and they will provide the effort necessary to rebuild the San Francisco Giants back into a contender.

Oft times it is those questions nobody can answer that makes for our toughest choices in life. Fortunately, for this up coming 2009 season, the Sabean Gang has the experiences of the 2008 season to help them make the right choice(s).

Beginning in October this is what the Giants have done so far (as seen on the San Francisco Giant website under transactions):

- Sent Tyler Walker (RHP) and Eliezer Alfonzo (C) outright to Triple A Fresno. Walker refused the assignment and therefore will become a free agent.

- Sent Kevin Correia (RHP), Geno Espineli (LHP), Brad Hennessey (RHP), Scott McClain (INF) and Ivan Ochoa (INF) outright to Triple A Fresno.

- Signed Ivan Ochoa on 10/30/08.

- Activated Noah Lowry (LHP) and Merkin Valdez (RHP) from the 60-day disabled list.

- Invited Justin Miller (RHP) to Spring Training.
- Invited Josh Phelps (1B) to Spring Training.
As for Miller, I thought he pitched for the Astros. But there were four(4)Justin Millers listed in Baseball-Reference and the first one, who pitched for the LA Dodgers, is 20-years old with a combined 6-12 record in the minor leagues. The second Justin Miller, pitched for the Tigers' farm system and the third Justin pitched for the Texas Rangers farm system. Then there was a Justin Miller, simply listed as Justin Mark Miller - Minors.
This Justin Miller had some major league experience and is a right-handed pitcher. His last 2 seasons were with the Florida Marlins, where he posted a combined W-9 L-2 record while totalling 107-innings pitched. In those innings he allowed 9-HR. Walked-44 and Struck out-117. His career numbers are 21-W 11-L with an ERA of 5.16. He does have 33 games started. But honestly, I couldn't tell you which Justin Miller the Giants invited to Spring Training. I'm thinking it was the one who played his last two seasons with the Fish in Florida. Because the other 3 are not over 22 years of age.

Josh Phelps is a little easier. It's not likely there are too many major leaguers named Josh Phelps. From 2002 to 2008 he has 1394-AB and in those at-bats, has 64-HR. His batting average over that span is .273.

I recall the 2007 season when he finished his season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Having come over from the New York Yankees where he was batting .263 he lit it up. Batting .351. He had a combined 157-AB 21-R 48-H 7-HR 31-RBI that season. 13-runs, 27-hits (including 4 doubles, 2-triples and 5-homers) and 19-RBI came while with the Pirates.

He was on the Cardinals roster last season. Phelps turns 31 on May 12, 2009.

On November 17th, the Giants signed Jeremy Affeldt, a left-handed specialist whose career began in Kansas City and was dealt to the Colorado Rockies before last season where he posted respectable numbers for the Cincinnati Reds.

In his career, pitching for less than .500 teams he has a 26-W 28-L record (8-5 with the Rockies in 2006-07).

As per the Associated Press...The San Francisco Giants signed Jeremy Affeldt to a 2-year contract at $8 million. The article said the Giants had wanted Affeldt for the past two years. One of Brian Sabean's off-season priorities was to bolster the club's inconsistent bullpen. The Giants often had problems in the middle innings between starters and closer Brian Wilson.
Affeldt can pitch multiple innings. Affeldt, 29, pitched for the Reds last season with a 1-1 record and an ERA of 3.33. He led the Reds with 74 appearances. Struck out 80 and walked 25 in 78 1/3 innings.

The Giants roster has a quality group of left-handers reporting to Spring Training. With the signing of Affeldt, he and Alex Hinshaw, Pat Misch, Jack Taschner, Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito round out the staff of southpaws.

(thanks to Associated Press, San Francisco Giants website and Baseball-Reference.)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, November 7, 2008

This Day in Baseball...Always keeping former or current Giants in mind

This day in baseball is seen daily on the website,
I will throw a few out there about players who either played or managed or coached for the San Francisco Giants.

These truly are fun facts.

On November 4th...

1976: The first mass-market free agent re-entry draft was helt at New York's Plaza Hotel. Among those available are: Reggie Jackson, Willie McCovey, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace, Don Gullett, Nate Colbert, Rollie Fingers, Don Baylor and Bobby Grich. McCovey and Colbert are the only two (2) players not selected, but McCovey will catch on with the San Francisco Giants in spring training and have a banner year as first-baseman for the Gigantes at Candlestick Park.

McCovey's 1977 offensive numbers: AB-478 R-54 H-134 2B-21 HR-28 RBI-86 AVG.-.280

1987: Benito Santiago, San Diego Padre cather, who ended the season with a 34-game hitting streak, is the unanimous selection as National League Rookie of the Year.

November 7th...

1957: Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Jack Sanford, who posted a 19-8 record with 180-Ks and an ERA of 3.08 is named National League Rookie of the Year. Sanford beats out his teammate, first-sacker, Eddie Bouchee.
(Sanford played for the Giants from 1959 to 1965. On December 3, 1958 he was traded by the Phillies to the Giants for Valmy Thomas and Ruben Gomez. On August 18, 1965 the California Angels purchased the contract of Jack Sanford from the San Francisco Giants.

Sanford was a significant contributor during the 1962 season when the Giants fell to the Yankees 4-games to-3 in the 1962 World Series. His World Series numbers were:
G-3 Games Started-3 ERA-1.93 W-1 L-2 CG-1 IP-23.1 H-16 ER-5 BB-8 Ks-19.)

1963: Elston Howard, New York Yankee catcher, becomes the first black player to win the American League MVP. Howard beat out Al Kaline. Howard had 248 votes and Kaline 148 votes.

1967: Orlando Cepeda, first-baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals, becomes only the second National League player to unanimously win the MVP. Cepeda, who was traded by the Giants on May 8, 1966, batted .325 with 25-HR and 111-RBI, as he led the Cardinals to a World Series championship. Not exactly stellar in the post-season but his regular season number got 'em there!
New York Giants pitcher, Carl Hubbell, swept the NL MVP voting in 1936.

Note: It may have been Cepeda's post-season numbers that had the Giants' brass choose him to be traded vs. Willie McCovey.
Cepeda in 1962 with SF vs NYYanks: AB-19 R-1 H-3 RBI-2 AVG.-.158
Cepeda in 1967 with STL vs Boston: AB-29 R-1 H-3 RBI-1 AVG.-.103
Cepeda in 1968 with STL vs Detroit: AB-28 R-2 H-7 HR-2 RBI-6 AVG.-.250
Cepeda in 1969 in NLCS with ATL vs NY Mets: AB-11 R-2 H-5 HR-1 RBI-3 AVG.-.455

The only year his team won was in 1967.

November 8th...

1966: Frank Robinson is the American League MVP. He is the first player to win the MVP in both leagues. (Robinson was a manager for the San Francisco Giants from 1981 thru 1984 inclusive. He was also the first black manager ever in major league baseball when he was player manager for the Cleveland Indians in 1975.)

(hats off to Baseball-Reference. Thank you Baseball-Reference for these neat little ditties of baseball facts.)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Crop Dusting

How umpires are judged begins and ends with the home plate umpire and how he differentiates between balls and strikes. Because from this comes the pitcher's need to make adjustments and the batter then is able to see this and make his own determinations of what he will be doing when it's his turn to step into the batter's box.

In the October 6, 2008 ESPN magazine, Buster Olney, seen regularly on ESPN's Baseball Tonight, described umpire Tim McClelland as deliberative and his strike zone as 'consistent but confined, in keeping with his reputation.' Like it's okay for McClelland to have this kind of strike zone because that's the way he's been doing it for years. So because it has been accepted by his bosses that's it end of story!

This is where I say ask the umpire about his strike zone. By explaining to the umpire that when you put his strike zone up against the rulebook definition and diagram of what a strike is, 'How did you come up with this as your strike zone?'

Olney then has a list of 6 umpires and their strikeouts per 9 innings in 2008. The 3 most generous umps were inserted under the heading of Pitcher's Friend and the 3 stingiest are under the heading of Pitcher's Foes. (It's based on a minimum of 350 innings behind the plate. The source:

Pitcher's Friends

  1. Phil Cuzzi 7.64
  2. Dan Iassogna 7.56
  3. Tim Tschida 7.47

Pitcher's Foes

  1. Jerry Crawford 5.91
  2. Ed Rapuano 6.18
  3. Tim McClelland 6.19

Of course, those under the heading of Pitcher's friends are the umpires whose actions are telling the batter that he had better be up their swinging while those listed as Pitcher's Foes are making it more difficult to hit the corners by taking that part of the plate away from the pitcher. Therefore, more often than not, the pitcher has to groove one over a fat part of the plate and the fans get to see a mammoth home run or a ball hit into the gap for extra-bases.

Umpiring home plate is the stigma of umpires. And the majority of these men in blue are merely crop dusting when it's their turn to call balls and strikes.

Crop dusting (as defined by the Urban dictionary) is: farting while walking or walking while farting.

(thanks to ESPN magazine and the Urban dictionary)

Kevin Marquez

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Way We Were (by Sporting News magazine 9/29/08

Elroy Face, a pitcher from 1953-1969, was a union carpenter (one year); self-employed handyman; tire salesman. Pay: $2-4 an hour.

This is the same Elroy Leon Face who in 1959 had an 18-1 won/loss record. Nowadays that year would have netted him an insurmountable contract. Unfortunately for Elroy, things didn't work that way when he was playing. He was a relief specialist, maybe the first successful one in National League history.

Vernon Law. Hauled milk from farmers to the dairy processing plant in Meridian, Idaho; bank teller at Meridian First National Bank. Pay: $200 per month for delivering milk; $350 per month working at the bank. Law was 17W 9L in 1965, 18W 9L in 1959. Won 20 (20-9, ERA: 3.08) in the Pirates' championship season (1960). Had a career of 162W 147L, 119-Complete games and 28-shutouts. A starter with his success, one wonders how much he could have made in today's market. And, he was the Cy Young winner for 1960 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

Monte Irvin. Hall of Fame inductee in 1973.
Two years into Irvin's career with the New York Giants, Brooklyn-based Rheingold Brewing Company signed Irvin as a representative. Pay: $5,000-plus expenses-for a gig that lasted from October 1 to February 1 from 1951-1955. Seems someone reached out to a guy who didn't get to play major league ball until he was 30 years old. Monte's best season was 1951 when he belted 24 homers, had 121-RBI and batted .312.

Carl Erskine. Major League pitcher 1948-59. In 1953 he posted a 20W 6L record with a 3.56-ERA. Was 122W 78L in a career spent entirely with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Stints: Carpenter's helper; delivery truck driver.
Pay: $50 per week. Per Erskine, "Enough to buy the groceries during the offseason."
Once Erskine fell but was not injured. It did convince him to do other work and he became a salesman for Sears during the Christmas season.

Miltiades (Milt) Sergios Pappas. Pitcher from 1957 to 1973. He was the first pitcher to win 200 games without a 20-win season. Won 209 games in his career with 164 defeats and a career ERA of 3.40. He belted 20 career homers.
Stint: Bowling instructor at Fair View Lanes in Baltimore,MD.

Al Kaline. Outfielder, 1953-1974. Elected into Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980. Career: 3007-hits, 399-HR, 1583-RBI, .297-AVE., 1622-runs. In 1955 he became the youngest player in major league history to lead the league in hitting. He led the AL with a .340 average at age 20.
Stint: Salesman at a sporting goods store.
Pay: $150 per week

Dick Groat. Shortstop 1952-1967(ended his career with San Francisco Giants).
Career: 2138-hits, .286-AVE. Named NL MVP for World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.
Best individual season: 1963 when he had 201 hits for St. Louis Cardinals.
Stint: Salesman at Jessop Steel Co, Washington, PA.
Pay: $12,000 an off-season.
On the job: "I grew to love the steel industry," said Groat. "Growing up in Pittsburgh, you better like steel people. I was with Jessop 17 years, even after I retired from baseball."

Bill Mazeroski. Second baseman, 1956-1972. Elected to Hall of Fame in 2001. Career: 138-HR, 853-RBI, .260-AVE. Game winning HR vs. Yankees in 1960 World Series, a series in which the Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27.
Stint: Roofing/siding salesman.
Pay: $400 per month.

Don Larsen. Pitcher 1953-1967. Career: 81W 91L. (Pitched for SF Giants in 1962, 1963 and 1964, compiling a 12W 12L record.) And this obscure hurler in major league baseball is the only pitcher to throw a perfect game in a World Series, doing so against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.
Stints: Went back home to San Diego and got right to work every off-season except 1956, the year of the World Series perfect game. Larsen sold insurance, farmed and worked at the post office, among other gigs.
Pay: $35-40 per week.
On the job: "It was all hard labor. And if we were late getting home, some of the positions were unavailable!"

The boys, who play the game nowadays, should learn about how it was back before free agency and maybe then some of them won't be so content to go through the motions once they've signed the big contract. All the work they put into their game and then as if relieved of having to go through the intense training they choose to play it safe, never giving it their all and falling well short of ever becoming the ballplayer they would have had they kept up with the work ethic that got them their big payday, in the first place.

Once again I choose to go to the trump card, which in my mind is BARRY BONDS. This guy returned the favor of the San Francisco Giants for their having signed him. And to those who choose to hate him for the way he behaves, regardless of why he does, you should at least have all of your facts right before you verbally assault the man. Because the man was well worth evey dollar he was paid.

(thanks to the Sporting News and Baseball-Reference)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meantime, In Between Time

So the Phillies, with a little help from their newfound friends (the umpires) defeated the surprising Tampa Bay D'Rays in the 2008 World Series. A laurel and hearty applause goes out to former Giant, Pedro Feliz.

Now it's on to the signings and trades. All the shuffling and uniform changing may be why only Sports Weekly provides the number of the player and most other publications choose not to be bothered with the erasable, hardly indelible, number.

But before we get to that let me throw out some fun facts about the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox from ESPN magazine.

(Thanks to ESPN mag for the fun facts about the two major league teams representing the city of Chicago, that toddling town.)

Betcha Didn't Know...

When they joined the National League as a charter member in 1876, the Cubs were known as the White Stockings. They had more than a dozen other nicknames before becoming the Cubs in 1902, because of their young roster.

The basket protruding from the outfield wall at Wrigley Field was installed in 1970 in an attempt to keep objects from coming onto the field, including bleacher bums!

It was legendary White Sox owner Bill Veeck who, while working for the Cubs' front office in 1937, suggested planting ivy on the outfield wall at Wrigley Field.

The tradition of flying the W or L flag from the Wrigley Field scoreboard after each game started in 1938, to inform El riders of what the Cubs had done that day.

The only ball ever to hit the Wrigley scoreboard was a golf ball struck by Sam Snead on April 17, 1951, before the Cubs' season opener, Slammin' Sammy used a 4-iron from home plate.

In 1973, South Side pitcher Steve Stone was traded for North Side icon Ron Santo. Stone is now a broadcaster for the Sox (after doing Cub games with Harry Caray, remember he was the one not hoisting a Bud every innning!) and Santo lives and dies as the Cub announcer.

Dick Allen, who drove in 113 runs in 1972, is the only White Sox player ever to lead the league in RBIs.

What's up with that Captain Morgan dance Nick Swisher does after he hits a homer? "Orlando Cabrera is the one who can dance. He came up with the handshakes, and I brought the Capt. Morgan pose from Oakland. Now, at home games, there's a fan dressed as the Capt. Morgan character. It's classic," says Swish.

When Nick Swisher was asked who was in charge, of the 2008 White Sox he responded, "Jim Thome is our clubhouse cop. When he talks, everyone listens. Then we go back to being knuckleheads."

Johnny Kling, star catcher for the 1908 World Champion Cubs, sat out the following season and won the world pocket-billiards championship. Kling returned to the team in 1910. (Just a note for all you heartbroken Cub fans. When you look at Johnny Kling's history in the major leagues, you realize that the Cubs kicked major league butt. Kling was on the Cubs in 1906, when they faced the Chicago White Sox in the World Series and lost to their crosstown rivals. Then in 1907, the Cubs again made it into the World Series against the Detroit Tigers and beat them for the title. In 1908, the Cubs defeated the Tigers once more for the World Series title. Then in 1910, the Cubs faced the Philadelphia A's and the A's won it. Not a bad run, eh?

(Kling played catcher, first-base, shortstop, and outfield. In 1903 he belted 13-triples. He stole 123 bases back in a time when caught stealing wasn't something that was kept track of, sort of reminds me of my softball team. They don't keep track of the errors they make, so history kept repeating itself, sort of. Although, this year with just the right combination/infusion of new blood, it didn't cost them as dearly as in years past.)

A group of Cubs fans have restarted the West Side Rooters Social Club, which was disbanded by team president Charles Murphy after the 1908 season. Club members claim that's the real reason the Cubs haven't won in 100 years. Ernie Banks serves as chairman and the secretary is Ryne Sandberg.

The last forfeit in the American League was by the White Sox. Between games of a July 12, 1979, doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers at Comiskey Park, the Sox held a Disco Demolition promotion, in which a local DJ blew up dance records. Thousands of fans stormed the field, lit fires and tore up the diamond.

Three-Finger Brown, the early 20th-century ace, who had only 3 fingers and a thumb on his pitching hand, holds modern-era Cubs records for ERA (1.80), complete games (206), shutouts (48), and winning percentage (.686). Six-fingered Antonio Alfonseca, who has an extra little finger on each hand, was the Cubs' closer in 2002 and holds no records.

Wrigley Field was built in 1914 on land once occupied by a seminary.

In the 1918 World Series, the Cubs played their home games at Comiskey Park because it held about 8,000 more fans. Red Sox pitcher, Babe Ruth went 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA. As a hitter in the 1932 World Series, the Babe allegedly called his shot at Wrigley. Ruth is the only man to play Fall Classics at both Chicago ballparks.

North Siders: The Cubs wore major league baseaball's first zippered jerseys in 1937, vests in 1940, and powder-blue road unis in 1941. They also sported the first- and, thankfully, only- pleated pants in 1940.

South Siders: Chisox innovations: player names on jerseys (1960), batting practice jerseys (1972), Untucked pajama jerseys with stupid-wide disco collars (1976) and the first throwback unis (1990).

Late-great (Bud man and a Bud fan) Cubs broadcaster, Harry Caray, started singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame in 1976-while announcing for the White Sox.

The Wrigley anthem "Go, Cubs, Go," played after every home WIN, was written by composer Steve Goodman.

The White Sox anthem, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" was recorded by studio musicians as a B-side in 1969. When the label released it as an A-side, the sriters created the fictitious band Stream to avoid listing their names on the single. The one-hit wonder shot up the charts, knocking "Come Together" by the Beatles out of the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1969.

And finally, in an October Sporting News issue, was a picture of a Dodger fan (he was wearing an LA hat so I don't think he was rooting for the Cubs) holding up a sign that read:

  1. Death
  2. Taxes
  3. Cubs choking in the playoffs.

(thanks to ESPN magazine and The Sporting News)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I've Been Accused of Being Harsh on Umpires/Refs

Hey, I know I've been all over the men in blue who call balls and strikes and miss safe and out calls, most of the time. But the league has seen the ineptitude of these attitudes-in-need-of-adjustment and decided it was a good thing to go to the replay for fair/foul calls and balls that are hit for home runs but not easily distinguished by those arbiters in blue. Between ball and yellow line, foul pole, fan-leaning-over-fence, or whatever it may have been (some stadiums don't make the site line as easy to recognize as others) sometimes they need a little help and the powers that be have decided to provide them with a tool to use for this difficult decision (on some occasions).

In this 2008 Major League World Series of the Philadelphia Phillies versus the Tampa Bay DevilRays we have all seen that replay may not be limited to foul calls and home run determinations.

I have shuffled through some ideas gathered either from other sports or trial and error of baseball's past and here are a couple of those examples I'd like to share. I hope I don't stray too far from the beaten path.

In the ESPN magazine dated September 8, 2008 was a Page 2 piece on Norm Chryst, a 24-year chair umpire for tennis who says: "Instant Replay works. Best innovation since the tiebreak. It makes the game fairer and helps us get close ones right. Everyone-chair umps, line judges, players-makes mistakes. It's made some chair umps more conservative about overruling calls, and some players more willing to admit they don't always see the ball correctly. No one is perfect."

Maybe my memory doesn't serve me well, in that I was around 5 years of age when I began following major league baseball. I would read books and get as much information as I could whenever the chance became available. In other words, when I went to the library and wasn't doing a homework assignment for school I was reading something about baseball. And when the baseball books were all finished it was on to football books.

Because I was young I have memories as fresh as if they just occurred. And this was back in the day before ESPN or when games were televised as frequently as they are now. This was when fans remembered a player's jersey number because chances are his name wasn't on the back of that jersey.

My hometown Giants only showed away games versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then they branched out to one game at Wrigley Field (Cubs), one at Forbes Field (Pirates), and one at either Shea (Mets) or Crosley Field (Reds). But there were always at least 6 games vs. the Dodgers. If it was a 12-game schedule, they'd jostle the teams they would show. Maybe even Connie Mack Stadium (Phillies) or Busch (Cardinals) would be shown.

And my recollection of the umpires wasn't that they were these obnoxious individuals whose strike zones varied from one ump to the next. I recall it being rather consistent, with an ump, like any human being, having an occasional off day. But they all followed the rule book definition of what a strike was and you knew if you were watching an American League game, because of the pillowy chest protectors that league's home plate umpires wore, they would tend to call higher strikes than those umpires in the National League, who wore the inside protector.

Nowadays, you see a Cole Hamels and you wonder if he's getting the favorable strike zone, the way the Atlanta Braves did when they had Greg Maddux, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine, or if he's really that good. Then you see the opposing pitcher and you notice he isn't getting the same strike zone.

Or it could be that way for a hitter as well. I cannot help but remember the Houston Astros when they had Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio (in the days of the killer B's) when they got the favorable strike zone until the playoffs began and then once the season reached the post-season it was goodbye favorable strike zone and the Astros would flame out in the first round, every time!

Some umpires make it so a pitcher has to throw the ball over the plate. The umpire won't give the pitcher any corners and this favors the hitters, especially those with home run hitting potential. Whenever Kirk Rueter was on the mound and he had to deal with an umpire of this sort, we as fans knew it was going to be tough for Woody to get the win on that particular day/evening.

The strike zone over the years has really taken on a life of its own, because of the way each and every individual umpire has taken it upon himself to devise his own personal interpretation of what he believes the strike zone to be. Leaving people to their own interpretations of something rather than following it by the book can make for a lot of discrepancies.

So if I come off as harsh when speaking of umpires or referees I just hope you allow me the opportunity to plead my case.

(thanks to ESPN mag for the chair umpire knowledge)

Kevin Marquez

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Giving the Phillies some Brotherly Love, Sort of

I may have said that the Phillies were the first team to lose a World Series to a Canadian team (Toronto Blue Jays) in 1993, but in fact, the Blue Jays had beaten the Atlanta Braves in 1992. Making the Joe Carter homer off of Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams the second year in a row that the Blue Jays took the World Series championship.

In Sports Weekly there was a piece that was labeled, Phillies have one shining moment. And that happened in 1980, when the Mike Schmidt led Phillies defeated the Kansas City Royals for the World Series championship.

In 1950, the Phillies, known as the Whiz Kids, lost to the Yankees in four straight. By scores of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 5-2. Only two homers were hit in that World by Joltin' Joe Di Maggio (Game 2) and the other by Yogi Berra (Game 4).

The article goes on to list the times this losingest franchise in major league history has made it into the postseason.

1976- 101W 61L (Won NL East) Lost to Cincinnati 3-0 in NLCS.
1977- 101W 61L (Won NL East) Lost to Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 in NLCS.
1978- 90W 72L (Won NL East) Lost to L.A. Dodgers 3-1 in NLCS.
1980- 91W 71L (Won NL East) Beat KC Royals in World Series, 4-2.
1981- 59W 48L (Won NL East's 1st half) Lost to Montreal Expos 3-2 in divisional series.
(this may have been the first time a Canadian team had advanced as far in the major league playoff system.)
1983- 90W 72L (Won NL East) Lost to the Rick Dempsey-led (Series MVP) Baltimore Orioles, 4-1.
1993- 97W 65L (Won NL East) Lost to Toronto Blue Jays 4-2 in World Series.
2007- 89W 73L (Won NL East) Lost to Colorado Rockies 3-0 in divisional series.
2008- 92W 70L (Won NL East) Beat Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS 4-1.
Facing Tampa Bay D'Rays.

How many former Giants players are on the Philadelphia Phillies roster? Let's see, there's Pedro Feliz at third base. And Scott Eyre in the bullpen. Geoff Jenkins, after spending his entire career with the Milwaukee Brewers adds depth to the bench as does 40-year old, former Oakland Athletic, Matt Stairs.

On the Tampa Bay DevilRays roster are no former San Francisco Giants.

I'd be more worried about the ex-Giant factor than the Cub factor, these days. Cliff Floyd, DH with the Rays, played with the Cubs last year as did Scott Eyre, now with the Phillies.

The question for Giants' fans is, will Pedro Feliz get a ring before the San Francisco Giants?
Ya gotta like his chances and root hard for the Tampa Bay D'Rays.

(thanks to Sports Weekly and Baseball Reference)

Kevin Marquez

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rick Reilly Contributes

In the ESPN magazine dated September 8, 2008, Rick Reilly's column Life of Reilly has an article entitled "A Lot of Guys in the Minors Got Hosed by Steroids. They Should Sue."

Reilly's a character who spends lots of his time working on the "funny bone" of the reader. And this piece has a funny concept, although not to those who "got hosed", and someone in Hollywood should be keeping all of his/her resources open to anything. IF so, this should be something in consideration.

How about, A Harold Ramis production with Rick Moranis as one of his star players who "got hosed?"

Reilly speaks of a player, Mitch Jones who has nearly 200 home runs and in nine (9) years and he doesn't even have an at-bat. Why didn't he make it? Reilly offers: Because he was dumb enough to start his career at the exact wrong time in baseball history: during the Pharmacy Era, when old guys got young with syringes and injured guys got well with shipments from Mexico.

Reilly goes on to say: Stanford labor law professor emeritus William Gould IV says the idea "is very interesting" but that they'd need to prove three (3) things to win:
(1) A correlation between steroid use and better performance. (Please.)
(2) That baseball turned a blind eye to steroid use. (Exhibit A: baseball's own Mitchell Report. It blames Bud Selig and players association COO Gene Orza for allowing steroids to spread like crabgrass. Mitchell said there was a "code of silence" in baseball. You think? Oriole David Segui (Diego's kid) told his GM that he wanted to go to Florida to pick up juice, and the GM never reported it. A Twins visiting clubhouse attendant found a used syringe and told manager Tom Kelly, who never reported it. The thing has more conspiracies than an Oliver Stone movie.)
(3) "Nonstatutory labor exemption considerations." Gould IV says. That's just so complicated it makes our head ache, but a good shark would gobble it right up.

Mitch Jones played in the Yankees farm system from 2000 to 2006 as a corner outfielder and first baseman. He hit 39-HR in a season and nobody even blinked. That's because the Yankees had Jason Giambi at first and Gary Sheffield in right. And guess who were both cited in the Mitchell Report? Giambi and Sheffield.

(thanks to Rick Reilly of ESPN magazine and his Life of Reilly column dated 9/8/08.)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2008 World Series: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays

I got much needed information from Wikipedia in the history of baseball team nicknames. The American League team that represented Philadelphia, has since gone on to Kansas City, not because as the song Kansas City mentions 'they got a lot of pretty women and I'm gonna get me one,' but because the American League owners approved the sale of the Philadelphia A's, in 1954, to Arnold Johnson, who moved the A's to Kansas City for the 1955 season.

On December 19, 1960, Charles Oscar Finley purchased a controlling interest in the Kansas City Athletics from Johnson's estate (Johnson having died in March of that year); he then bought out minority owners a year later.

Finley refused to make deals with the New York Yankees and baseball's Good Ole Boy owners frowned at that. Those of you who were following baseball, during this time, know that the Yankees treated Kansas City as their major league farm system. (They re-acquired Billy Martin, and various pitchers they'd let go and then when they saw the pitchers had regained some of their form the Yanks' brass would quickly pluck them from the ready, willing and oh-so-able KC team. Roger Maris also came from Kansas City. It cost the Yankees very little to deal with Kansas City. No risk, whatsoever, was involved in any of these transactions!)

Finley made significant investments in the farm system for the first time in Athletic franchise history.
And then moved the team from Kansas City after the 1967 season to Oakland, California.

When Mickey Mantle first saw the Oakland A's green and gold uniforms, with white shoes he said, "They should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing."

The National League team has always been the Phillies.
The losingest franchise in major league history.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays... They are superstitiously going away from the Devil Ray name, simply going with Rays. And saying, albeit not the original design, the "ray" on their uniform goes nicely with the fact that Florida is the sunshine state.

A couple of quotes kind of tie this series together. One being a remark made by San Francisco Giant announcer (at the time of the quote) Hank Greenwald. About Bruce Sutter, a relief specialist recently elected into the major league baseball Hall of Fame, "Three more saves, and he ties John the Baptist."

This quote is in reference to Brad Lidge. The Phillie's savior of a closer who has not yet blown a save. It'll be up to the Rays to find a way to change this remarkable feat.

Both teams have to believe it's their year. If not for a bad call, funny bounce (not to the fielder's team, though), bad break or any number of things that could happen unexpectedly I leave you with some Vince Lombardi gems.

Some of us will do our jobs well
and some will not
but we will be judged by only one thing- the result.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.

The measure of who we are
is what we do
with what we have.

Let's review:
If the umpire is giving one pitcher a particular strike zone and the opposing pitcher a peculiar strike zone it behooves the benefactor of the umpire's generosity to take full advantage of what he's getting. Because as the game wears on, the favorability may change sides.

(thanks to Wikipedia, ESPN magazine and Green Bay Packers online)

Kevin Marquez

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Last Minute Thoughts about Red Sox at Devil Rays, 10/19/08 (Rays Won 3-1)

(I've got to say, the Sporting News has a magazine that is as enjoyable to read as when I was a youngster trying to learn about the players and their game. Kudos to the staff of the Sporting News, your changes have made the magazine top notch in entertainment and information.)

In the September 29th, 2008, issue of the Sporting News, there's an article entitled Bang for the Buck. It compares what the Rays paid for their players and the Yankees paid for theirs.

I'm going over the figures- which mean absolutely nothing to me because they aren't: runs batted in (RBI) or home runs (HR) or runs (R) scored- and I'm thinking, yeh, the Rays got over but the Yankees have the "no gag" factor.

Then I remembered, hey, these were the first guys to blow a lead in the post-season to the Boston Red Sox. And they were up 3-0! The Rays were down 1-0, and could have easily been down 2-0, if not for the gutty win in Game 2. And yet, the Rays did go up 3-1. And there was the Indians last year.

So the numbers of bucks paid really doesn't matter if those players (in the words of Al Davis) 'Just win, baby!.'

I have no idea what to expect other than the Rays will have the test of their baseball lives.
Can they muster up enough confidence to not let what some fans might think is the end of a good run and just get down to the business of finishing what they started when they won 3-in-a-row?

This is a fantastic series and it just proves how streaky things can be. Both teams will have won 3 in a row if the Red Sox continue their remarkable surge onto the World Series.

(final: Tampa Bay-3 Boston-1.. WP-Matt Garza LP-Jon Lester)

(thanks Sporting News)

Kevin Marquez

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Can of Corn

When I think of San Francisco Giant outfielders, I think of Barry Bonds in left field, Willie Mays in center field and Bobby Bonds in right field.

Each of the aforementioned made just about every fly ball appear like a Can of Corn. And when you factor in their offensive output, this was the greatest outfield of all-time in San Francisco Giant history.

Barry: His arm may not have been the best but his throws were accurate. He got to the ball and got it in to the cut-off man quickly enough to keep the runner from getting an extra base, more times than not.

His offensive numbers:
AB-9847 R-2227 H-2935 2B-601 3B-77 HR-762 RBI-1996 SB 514 CS-141 AVG. .298

If you don't think major league baseball is a good ole boy league then ask yourself why nobody gave this man an opportunity to play when he said he could. After all he has accomplished and the fact that he honored every contract he ever got he should be at least allowed the chance to go out on his own terms. IF NOT FOR THE FACT THAT MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL IS A GOOD OLE BOY LEAGUE, STILL!

Bobby: His arm was a cannon and he was known to strikeout too much. But when you factor in his ability to steal bases and the power he possessed in an age when batters weren't really looking to have the good walks-to-strikeout ratio, I'll take Barry's dad in a heartbeat.

His offensive numbers:
AB-7043 R-1258 H-1886 2B-302 3B-66 HR-332 RBI-1024 AVG. .268 SB-461 CS-169

Willie Howard Mays Jr. It's been said he was the greatest ever. Well the old man was pretty good in his day and was compared to Oscar Charleston, a great Negro League player. Willie Jr. was called "Kitty Kat" in his days of the Negro League because of his baserunning and fielding prowess.

Willie was my favorite ballplayer while I was growing up and that was at a time he was on the downside of his prime. I first recollected Willie Mays patrolling centerfield at the gusty Candlestick Park, where the flags were always flapping as if attached to a speedboat racing in the nearby bay. When the stadium was not enclosed and they had the phony high school type bleachers. The year was 1965. That year Willie belted 52 homers on his way to an MVP season. But it was also his 14th year in major league baseball and he was 34 years of age. At this time of his career he was probably past his prime but because the man was so great on the baseball diamond his skills allowed him to continue playing without losing a beat.

Finely tuned athletes, of limitless abilities, often go beyond reasonable expectations.

Willie's Stats: AB-10,881 R-2062 H-3283 2B-523 3B-140 HR-660 RBI-1903 AVG. .302
SB-338 CS-103

Of course, the current Giants' roster of outfielders pales in comparison. But then so does every roster when you pit the greatest versus the current. The current bunch still has time to put some numbers together, although it isn't likely any of the current roster will accumulate the stats of Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds or Willie Mays.

But the Giants did have a few surprises out in the spacious grounds of AT&T park that may provide Giants' fans with plenty of reason to cheer. For how long, who knows?

Freddie Lewis, Nate Schierholtz, and John Bowker are worthy of a second look next season to see if they can continue to improve. Randy Winn has hit .300 two years in-a-row and is solid afield. Dave Roberts brings a quality that I feel is worth having. He's as clutch a hitter as the Giants have but is even better in the clubhouse. And when your roster is filled with inexperienced players, its those steadying sorts who can still do it on the field, who are a necessity. Much like that of a player-coach.

This also looks to be the area where a trade or signing will be used to help out the team.

Last year they signed Aaron Rowand and he adds to the team but the way he finished the season really has me thinking the guy might be better served as trade bait. Because to get something you have to give something up and he just may have put himself in the mix with his strikeout-filled finish.

He fanned 126 times and received 44 bases-on-balls. The 126 was the most in his career and led the Giants (Fred Lewis whiffed 124 in 468 at-bats, Rowand had 549 ab's.)

Note: If you look at Aaron's career numbers these numbers are consistent with the numbers he's been putting up throughout his career.) So his chances of being traded are only speculation by yours truly.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, October 9, 2008

History and Current Notes on Teams in Championship Series

Boston Red Sox: In 1901, the American League, led by Ban Johnson, established a competing club in Boston. For seven (7) seasons the AL team wore dark blue stockings and had no official nickname. They were simply the "Bostons" or the "American Bostons" as in American League.

Boston being a two-team city, their 1901-07 shirts, both home and road, simply read "Boston." Except for 1902 when they sported a large letter "B" and "A" for Boston of the American League.

The temporary decision by the Boston National League team to drop the color red from their uniforms led to a history-making decision:

"Red Stockings had been part of all Boston NL teams up to 1907, but Fred Tenney, the NL clubs' manager, told Peter F. Kelley, baseball writer for the Boston Journal, he'd abandon the red stockings in favor of white stockings, because of the danger that colored stockings might cause leg injuries to become infected. (Gee, I wonder if he thought the world was flat.)

Kelley wrote a story condemning Tenney for parting with the National League club's tradition and the next day, John Irving Taylor, Boston AL club president, told Kelley, "Here's a scoop for you. I am going to grab the name RED SOX and the Boston American League club will wear red stockings."

The name Red Sox is non-standard english for "Red Socks" and short for "Red Stockings."

The familiar "Red Sox" first appeared in 1912, coincident with the opening of Fenway Park.
Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. When in Brooklyn they were originally known as Trolley Dodgers but once they moved to Los Angeles and there were no trolleys to be dodged they were simply referred to as the Dodgers.

Philadelphia Phillies. 'They've been Phillies or Quakers ever since the team entered the National League in 1883.' Phillies or Phils is a short form of Philadelphians.

Bob Carpenter acquired the Phillies in the late fall of 1943. The following spring, a new name, "Blue Jays" was selected in a fans' contest. (BBG) This change never caught on with the general public, especially as the uniform shirts continued to say Phillies, albeit with a blue jay shoulder patch. That experiment was dropped after a couple of years.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Came into the American League in 1998.
The team's logo included an illustration of a manta ray, also known as a devilfish or devilray. Although the creature (like the team for which it is named) has proven to be mostly harmless. (Exact words of Wikipedia!)

As of 2007, one version of their home uniforms said "Rays," and there were no versions that said "Devil Rays," although a patch of the manta ray was used. They were called the D-Rays in much the same way as Arizona's Diamondbacks were referred to as the "D-Backs." We have a society that is always looking to abbreviate something to save time because other things that eschew their time is so much more important.

In the August 25, 2008 edition of ESPN magazine in a column referred to as Page 2 had this as #4 of the BIG 10. MLB: Giddy out West. They love Manny in LA, and why not? He likes to leave in the 6th inning too.
#5. MLB: Stunned Back East.
Brian Cashman: The Rays will fade, right?
Theo Epstein: They have to, don't they?
J.P. Ricciardi: You two are pathetic.
Continued on Page 2 is the history of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

It's been 100 years since Jack Norworth, an anchor from Philly, wrote the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." On the New York City subway, no less. Paired with the melody by a shoe salesman Albert (no, not Al Bundy) Von Tilzer.

When the song was written in 1908, neither Norworth nor Von Tilzer had attended a major league game. The lyricist did make an appearance when the Trolley Dodgers played at Ebbets Field on June 27, 1940- it was "Jack Norworth Day."

The song inspired a 1949 musical starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra.

The Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera has a scene in which the orchestra accidentally plays "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

In 1896, the mixture of peanuts, popcorn and molasses took its name from a slang term for anything "very good." It has been in ballparks since 1907, except for a 16-day window in 2004, when the Yankees switched to Crunch'N-Munch. Fans cried out and the Bronx located team switched back.

The year "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" was released the song was number #1 on the charts for 7 weeks-longer than any other song that year. Those who have recorded it include Haydn Quartet, Der Bingle Crosby, Frank "ole blue eyes" Sinatra, Billy Joel, Aretha Franklin, the Boston Pops and Donald Duck.

In 1927, Norworth created a second edition of the song. The chorus was unchanged but the little-known verses involved a differently named heroine. Some say this is because Norworth got divorced that year. Others claim the decision was financial-by creating a new song, he extended the copyright 95 years.

1908 version:
Katie Casey was baseball mad/ Had the fever and had it bad/ just to root for the hometown crew/ ev'ry sou/Katie blew/On a Saturday her young beau/ called to see if she'd like to go/to see a show, but Miss Kate said "No./I'll tell you what you can do" (Chorus)

Katie Casey saw all the games/knew the players by their first names/ told the umpire he was wrong/all along/good and strong/when the score was just two-to-two/Katie Casey knew what to do/just to cheer up the boys she knew/she made the gang sing the song. (Chorus)

1927 version.
Nelly Kelly loved baseball games/knew the players, knew all of their names/you could see her there every day/shout "Hurray"/when they'd play/Her boyfriend by the name of Joe/said "To Coney Isle dear, let's go"/then Nelly started to fret and pout/and to him, I heard her shout: (Chorus)

Nelly Kelly was sure some fan/she would root just like any man/ told the umpire he was wrong/ all along/ good and strong/ when the score was just two-to-two/Nelly Kelly knew what to do/just to cheer up the boys she knew/she made the gang sing the song (Chorus)

Chorus: Take me out to the ball game
Take me out with the crowd
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack
I don't care if I never get back
Let me root, root, root for the home team
If they don't win it's a shame
For it's one, two, three strikes you're out
at the old ball game.

(thanks to Wikipedia and ESPN magazine, August 25, 2008 edition)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You Cannot Give the Opposition More than 27 (outs)

To err is human but to not catch the ball or throw it accurately makes hitting the ball inconsequential. There are 27 outs to be had and if it's common that you give the opposition more than 27 then you stand a chance of losing more games than you win. Even with a very potent offensive club it'll always come down to not being able to get outs and you will fall short of the prize. This year the top three teams who lost more than they should have won because they couldn't hold the lead and weren't really known for flashing the leather were the: New York Mets, Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers.

The San Francisco Giants had different looks throughout the season from skipper, Bruce Bochy, where the infield was concerned.

They began the season with Omar Visquel on the injured list and had a youngster in Brian Bocock fill in. And defensively I'm sure he was a pleasant surprise. But if you were the opponent you had to like the fact that Bocock as a hitter offerred no threat. Bocock or anyone else in the Giants' impotent lineup. (And I'm not referring to Viva Viagra. I wonder if the Elvis Presley foundation (Graceland) gets residuals for that commercial. Or, if ole EP had e.d. in his later years and its a charitable contribution from Graceland.)

But they played good defense and we all know that good defense is a pitcher's best friend. Or is that the double play? Well, you need one to get the other, anyway.

Let's take a look at the Giants' infield and how it appears, to a fan watching Comcast, what may be in store for the upcoming 2009 season.

In no particular order: Omar Visquel, I'd like him back because he's a player-manager and I think the perfect replacement for Bochy if Bochy's "free ride" ticket gets lost. Besides, everything Omar does is exemplary.

Rich Aurilia: clutch and a positive presence on the bench and in the field. He's a team leader.

Emmanuel Burris: pleasant surprise with lots of upside.

Pablo Sandoval: People will come from all over to watch Tim Lincecum pitch. They may not feel so bad if they miss Lincecum's turn in the rotation if Sandoval is playing. Either third base, first base or catcher, Holy Versatility Batman, that's some good stuff. And he can hit!

Ivan Ochoa: A perfect example of Omar's presence. This guy has made everyone forget about Bocock but needs to get his offensive game up to par to be a consideration for making the big club.

John Bowker: first-baseman-outfielder... Any time you can play a couple of positions it's good. Except Pablo is the man always and forever if Bowker doesn't get the wood going on a more consistent basis.

Steve Holm: A serviceable backup who may also feel the Pablo effect.

Travis Denker: How good does Kevin Frandsen come back from his injury and is he better than Trav?

Ryan Rohlinger: He got a little time on the diamond in the bigs... what does he do to show Bochy and his boys why he should stay? How's about swinging the bat?

Conor Gillaspie: There must be something about this guy that the Giants had him on the pine watching Omar and others do their thing. I'm befuddled at what this guy can do, which is to say I have no idea what the Giants plan to do with this guy. What infield position does he play? He had so few at-bats, I couldn't tell if he had home run power (which is something the Giants need to be getting from someone).

Eugenio Velez: The Cheetos Cheetah, has some serious pop in his bat but fizzle between the ears. He needs to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as possible so that he doesn't come off as such a bonehead. This guy is the epitome of what a project is and every roster has one.

On one hand he can be a player who steals a lot of bases and yet he has trouble with left-handed pitchers. His base-running skills may lack intelligence.

Speaking of running the bases... Why is it, whenever a pitcher reaches base (and you know this happens often with opposing pitchers vs. the Giants staff) an announcer will make some simple-minded, backward comment that the pitcher may not be familiar with the basepaths? Have the dimensions changed since he played in high school or college? The only thing that changed was his manager or coach's decision to limit his offensive play and focus on his pitching. Through no fault of the player playing (the position of pitcher) the baseball world, as far as broadcasters go, views the pitcher as an indecisive little kid whenever he reaches base.

Remember, Ruben Rivera, a Giant for a very short time, ran the bases worse than Jon Miller ever saw. And we all know Jon Miller is a very good broadcaster who is well-traveled (due to his extensive schedule of ballgames he announces) and a baseball aficionado.

Oh by the way, Rivera's position in the field was as an outfielder not pitcher.

That's one guy's opinion from the other side of a television screen.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Managers Beware of Tight Strike Zones Caused by: Umpire Sphincteritis

Lou Piniella was a heckuva ballplayer. Clutch would be a good way to describe him. He came through when it mattered most.

In the regular season he batted 5867 times and had 1705 hits for a career average of .291.

But it was the post-season where Louis Victor Piniella shined.

In the post-season he had 104-AB, 15-R, 42-H, HR-3, RBI-18, AVG. -.300
Championship series: AB-59, R-9, H-18, 2-HR, 6-RBI, AVG. .305
World Series: AB-72, R-7, H-23, 0-HR, RBI-10, AVG.-.319.

Louis Victor Piniella's combined averages were all at .300, or better, in the post-season.

In 2001, he was the manager for the 2001 Seattle Mariners. That season the Mariners finished the regular season with a W-116 L-46 record for a .716 winning percentage. Hard to top that. But what made it so heartbreaking was that this was all there was as the post-season was short-lived.

In the first round, that year, the Mariners defeated the Cleveland Indians 3 games to 2 in the best-of-five series. While that was happening, the Oakland A's let go of a 2-game lead in their best-of-five series to lose to the Yankees 3-2.

So it was Yanks versus Mariners in a best-of-seven and the Yanks rolled over Seattle, 4 games to 1.

This was the year Arizona had the magnificent one-two punch of Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson and it was enough to overtake the Yankees as the Diamondbacks took the World Series, 4-games to 3.

A team that wins 116 and has a winning percentage of over .700 should be the team that goes all the way. Only sports doesn't work that way.

Now, here we are, 7 years later. In a year when the Chicago Cubs, managed by Lou Piniella, did everything right. From game one of the regular season it's been all about the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs last winning the World Series and the current Cub ballclub has not missed a beat throughout the long season.

That is, until Game 1 of a best-of-five series versus the Dodgers that saw the Dodgers score 7 runs. It showcased the Cubs' best hurler at home, Ryan Dempster, who won 14 games at home this season and he had a most difficult time finding the plate, which led to James Loney's grand slam that blew the game wide open.

I'm watching the Brewers at Phillies in Game 2 of their best-of-five series. With Phillie pitcher Brett Myers at the plate the crowd suddenly gets the urge to cheer his ability to flail at balls as he somehow manages to make contact with enough of them for C.C. Sabathia to eventually walk him. The umpire was totally playing to the hometown crowd as the plate, through the magic of umpire sphincteritis, shrunk before our television-viewing eyes. Heck, there had to be some Phillie fans who had to be feeling the effects of their libations far sooner than they expected!

I've said it time and time again, the home plate umpire cannot be bothered with where a catcher is positioned or where he places his glove before receiving the pitch because his concern is the ball and where it is in proximity of home plate. Did the ball cross any portion of the plate? By allowing how a catcher receives the ball determine if the pitch is a strike or NOT changes the whole dynamics of the at-bat.

Much like a ball that sails down the line, did it go over the bag/base is what determines the ball being fair or foul, not where the fielder was when the ball passed the base.

No announcer will ever call out an umpire for stinking up the joint and until they do these attitudes-in-need-of-adjustment in blue will continue to defy all logic with their interpretations of the strike zone.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference for the numbers)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Let's Review: Pitchers...Who left an impression, of any kind

Mike Krukow made a habit out of complimenting or downgrading the performance of pitchers when called upon during the KNBR680 Wrap. But that's his brethren, pitchers, so he feels the need to add his "so-called" expertise.

Me, as a casual observer, I'd like to offer my opinion on those pitchers who did enough for me to want them back. If they aren't mentioned in this little ditty, then I'm saying 'Adios.' Or worse yet, "Good Riddance."

Matt Cain, All I can say is, "If you were him would you want to come back to a situation where you lose game most guys win because your team doesn't manufacture enough runs?"

Tim Lincecum. What does he think when he sees Cain and Barry Zito do their job and still have no W to show for it?

Barry Zito: He righted his ship and his ability just proves that if you don't score runs you don't win. Sure, he had some bad games but for the most part he got ZERO support.

Jonathan Sanchez: This guy is trade bait.

Brian "Wouldn't It Be Nice" to "Don't Worry Baby" to "Good Vibrations" for the off-season-Wilson. The San Francisco Giants have their closer.

Alex Hinshaw deserves a shot at returning. Perhaps a consideration for an occasional start, even? Heaven's to Mergatroy! Eh Bochy?

Brad Hennessey was supposedly injured. Which is why he struggled early and was in need of being sent down. Served his time in the limited, hardly bustling metropolis of Fresno and showed he is still very serviceable.

Jack Taschner...Trade bait. But because he's a lefty, he'll get more looks than the righty could ever imagine.

Merkin Valdez: Is he healed? It's worth a look because until he got hurt he was killin' opponents.

Sergio Romo: Just may be the biggest find of all the pitchers. This guy makes the 2008 season a success IF he continues to improve, which by anyone standards would be hard to do since he was very impressive.

But I ask, has Bruce Bochy considered asking Kirk Rueter, to show up for Spring Training, so he could show the pitchers the best way to do what they do and allow themselves the opportunity to make a play in case the ball came THEIR WAY off the bat? Between the inability to put themselves in fielding position and pitching to opposing pitchers this is where the Giants, if they improve on these situations, could make a drastic change.

Kevin Marquez (next the Infield)

Monday, September 29, 2008

If You Were Matt Cain...

If you were Matt Cain, would you ever consider going to a ballclub where runs aren't so hard to come by?

In 4 years of major league ball, Cain has W-30 L-43, ERA: 3.74, BB-276, K-558, IP-665.

His record, much like that of Barry Zito, would be much better if the team for whom he pitches scored more than the 1.5 runs they average when it's his turn to pitch. (Zito has a decidedly better record when his team scores 3 runs, like the A's were very capable of doing, as opposed to the Giants, who just can't seem to score when it's Zito's turn either.)

If you were Matt Cain's agent, you would want what is best for your client. So you'd ask him if he likes the San Francisco Giant organization enough to tolerate this lack of support when it comes time to re-sign.

I'm not so sure I would. Although, we all tend to think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, it's not always better. Especially when you are on the outside looking in, so to speak. But I'd want a chance to see how far I could go in my major league career. Nobody knows if they have Hall of Fame capabilities until things begin to fall in place and you string together several seasons of quality production. And baseball is all about longevity, so unless you shined for a couple of years and set records nobody can approach you probably won't get any sculptor making any appointments to mold a likeness of you for lifetime enshrinement into Cooperstown, NY.

For the sake of the Giants keeping their rotation together, I really hope those whose job it is to evaluate players and sign the players who are the best fit for this team, which is very much on the rise, do so this off-season.

Those days of "Bye-Bye-Baby" with Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Hart... need to be revisited. I don't know about them acquiring potential Hall of Famers, but they had better get some hitters who are a threat to hit a home run any time they step into the batter's box. This past season, that threat did not exist.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference for the stats on Matt Cain)

Kevin Marquez

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Just Stay Healthy

Stay healthy. That's what my prayers will be asking for, that these guys and every player stay healthy.

In alphabetical order, I will list the names of those prospects, the players with the most potential, for making an impact next year on their respective teams. Not everyone in this article is listed, only the ones who look like can't miss were selected.

Remembering a quote from former Atlanta Falcons center, Jeff Van Note, about the word potential, Van Note claimed that was French for 'not having made it yet.'

Cleveland Indians: Carlos Santana. Of course, the guitarist has made it into elite status but this 22-year old catcher, acquired in the trade that sent Casey Blake to the Los Angeles Dodgers, hit 21-HR with 117-RBI in 130 games, all but two of them in high-A ball.

Kansas City Royals: Kila Ka'aihue. 24-year old first-baseman, hit 37-HR, 100-RBI, while batting .314 at Class AA Nortwest Arkansas (Springdale, AR) and Class AAA Omaha. He had 104 bases on balls with 67 whiffs. Nowadays when you see a player with that kind of differential between walks and strikeouts it should make you take a long look at the player. Because, oh by golly, it is rare!

New York Yankees: Catcher, Jesus Montero. 18-years old, led the Yankees farmhands with 87 RBI and had an .867 OPS for low-A-Charleston (SC.). He also had 17-HR and 34-doubles.

Oakland A's: Right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill. 20-years old. Had 19 starts at high-A Stockton, CA and Class AA Midland, TX, compiling an 11-5 won/loss record. He appeared in the All-Star Futures Game and joined Team USA in the Beijing Olympics.

Colorado Rockies: RHP Jhoulys Chacin, 20, led all minor leaguers with 18 wins and had an ERA of 2.03 at low-A Asheville, NC and high-A Modesto, CA. He also struck out 160 in 177 1/3 innings.

San Francisco Giants: lhp, Madison Bumgarner. 19-years old, went 15-3 with a 1.46 ERA, 164 K's and 21 walks in 141 2/3 innings at low A-Augusta, GA. The Giants 1st round pick (10th overall) in the 2007 draft was one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League.

After hearing the Giants bring up players, from within their farm system, throughout the season and then seeing their contributions it's not far-fetched to say their future looks promising.

The key is to stay healthy. Barring no season-or career-ending injuries these aforementioned ballplayers should bring joy to those who root for the teams in which they play.

(thanks to the September 10-16, 2008 issue of Sports Weekly)

Kevin Marquez

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Giants Hurt Dodgers Big Time!

The San Francisco Giants gave the Dodgers a taste of 'what for?' when they first lost to Arizona in 4 straight games and then they traveled to Chavez Ravine to take 2 out of 3 games.

Because, since 1958 (when the Trolley Dodgers and Giants decided to move west from New York) they have always been there to haunt and torment each other in what has been the best rivalry in baseball. It may not always count in the standings, as it does this year, but when these two teams get together you must expect the unexpected with a consistency you wish most home plate umpires possessed.

Because of what the Giants did, with a little more than a week to play, the Dodgers go into the upcoming week ahead of Arizona only leading by 2.

Yesterday (9/21) was no different. On the mound were Derek Lowe of the Dodgers and the Giants' Matt Cain (Cain is 25-6 with at least 3 runs scored, 13-1 at AT&T). Cain had never beaten the Dodgers and didn't get credit for the win yesterday either, but he sure kept the Giants in the game.

In the bottom half of the 1st inning, the first 3 Dodger batters reached base only to have Cain reach back for a little something extra and dispose of the next 3 Dodgers without anyone touching home plate. Thanks in large part to a leaping grab of a line drive by Ivan Ochoa.

Later in the game Nate Schierholtz made a diving grab to snare another Dodger hit and prevent a bases-clearing extra base-hit from happening.

Later still, Aaron Rowand threw his best throw of the season to Benjie Molina at home who swipe-tagged the Dodger runner (Angel Berroa) who was called out by the home plate umpire. Further review showed he made the proper call.

Finally, in the 11th inning, after Rowand singled then was forced out on a liner by pinch-hitter, Pablo Sandoval who hustled to beat the throw trying to prevent a double-play. Brad Hennessey came in to pinch-run and stole second base when the pitcher, Saito, didn't bother to pay any attention to Brad. Brad didn't like that he wasn't noticed and went to second base without a throw.

Eugenio Velez then beat out an infield hit. Replay again showed that the first base ump, Balkin' Bob Davidson, was correct in his ruling. With Hennessey on third base and Velez on first, the clutch hitting veteran, Rich Aurilia, stroked a liner to left and Hennessey scored the first and only run of the game.

Brian "Don't Worry Baby" Wilson came in to close the door on the Dodgers and get his 40th save.
Kudos to the fine pitching performances of Matt Cain, Alex Hinshaw, Sergio Romo (Romo faced 9 Dodgers and got all 9 out) and of course, Wilson.

With 6 games remaining the Giants play their final 3 at AT&T against the Dodgers. We'll have to wait and see if those games have any bearing on which team wins the Pacific division, Los Angeles or Arizona. I think is quite possible that the Dodgers could miss Tim Lincecum in the rotation again, as he pitched the final game of the Diamondback series before this past series.

(I can't help but think of the blip shown during Comcast telecasts of Giants games where the highlight is of Joe Morgan hitting a home run to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs. Then Darrell Evans says how he knows most of the guys over there so he doesn't want to rub it in or anything but 'Now they know how we feel,' and then the camera zooms in on his Howdy Doody-looking mug as he kiddingly says something to the effect, 'so it was a good thing that happened.')

You know the Giants' vets and rooks were feeling it yesterday and will look forward to the final 3 at AT&T just to relive that good vibration. If Brian Wilson gets the save of the game that knocks the Dodgers out of the playoffs, his nickname will change once again to Brian "Good Vibrations" Wilson.

Kevin Marquez