Monday, June 30, 2008

Time To Leave an Impression

The time is NOW to leave an impression- on every visiting team- that playing at AT&T is where the San Francisco Giants call home. Now is the time to make an impactful, if not an indelible orange and black mark, on any team who thinks they can have their way with our San Francisco Giants.

With the Chicago Cubs, smarting from having been swept by their cross-city rival Chicago White Sox, arriving in San Francisco for a four-game series, they may be ripe for the picking (on). As good as the Cubs have been they are reeling right now and the Giants have to take advantage of any potential sign of weakness and exploit it.

Bilk them, milk them, abuse and misuse the reeling Cubbies because you've got to do something to right the ship that has you as the team with the league's worst home record.

Going into tonight's game, the Giants are exactly ten (10) games below .500 percent. AND they are TEN games below .500, (14-W and 24-L) at home. It's time to leave an impression...

Giants Notes: The Giants are a combined 25-9 in games started by Jonathan Sanchez and Tim Lincecum. (All the rumors had the Giants looking to send Sanchez elsewhere. This just goes to show that sometimes the best trade is the one that isn't made.)

Veterans Rich Aurilia (.287), Ray Durham (.290), Randy Winn (.295), Aaron Rowand (.297), and Benji Molina (.307) continue to add stability to a team whose youngsters are contributing more and more as Fred Lewis (.281) and John Bowker (.274) are inserted into the lineup.

Sure, Omar Visquel is struggling to find holes in the field when he bats, but he still fills holes when he's at the shortstop position. His field vision and physical conditioning are so superior that it's not likely his replacement will cover the ground he does or have the innate ability to know where to go with the ball. Omar has such an uncanny knack it appears to the casual observer that he's anticipating but it's the experience of the gifted athlete. A team can only hope the player, who has the uneviable task of replacing Senor Omar, hits for higher average.

(thanks to the Fresno Bee for the Sanchez/Lincecum fact)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hello, Goombye...Pretty Much the Way It Is

Before yesterday's outstanding pitching performance, by announcer Mike Krukow's favorite rising star, Jonathan Sanchez, a Gigante was designated for assignment.

Charles Vincent Chulk, born on December 19, 1978 and drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2000 amateur draft (in the 12th round) is no longer Vinnie Choke. Or Vinnie Boom Bah. Or ... fill-in your own nickname. He's designated for assignment Vinnie.

In his stead is a youngster, from the Connecticut Defenders, (whose won/loss record is currently at W-35 L-41) the Giants' Double-A affiliate, who has been deemed the next phenom to wear the orange and black with the rest of the big leaguers.

His name is Sergio Romo. His numbers read as follows: W-1 L-3, ERA-4.00, G-24, Saves-11, IP-27, Hits Allowed-22, Runs-12, BB-7, K's-30, HR-1. (When Vinnie Chulk becomes Vinnie Goombye and I, personally, referred to him as BoomBah, Home Runs allowed is a statistic that apparently matters to Giants' brass as well as yours truly.)

Note: Jose Elephant Ear Castillo has been playing very good defense lately and been hitting well too. It was high time I showed Jose Elephant Ear some love. Because I truly believe: If they are wearing the orange and black it must be recognized when they are worthy.

Kevin Marquez (thanks to San Francisco Giants' website)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Leave Him In There

Yesterday's line score of the Giants/Royals game:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
SF 2 3 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 10 16 2
KC 0 0 2 1 2 5 1 0 X 11 14 2

When starter Tim Lincecum left the game after pitching a long 5 innings it was left up to the law firm of: Yabu, Taschner and Chulk. And when Yabu failed to get a single out it was apparent the Giants would be in trouble. Taschner managed an out but got the hook from Manager Bruce Bochy in favor of Vinnie "BoomBah" Chulk and he got the batter to hit a liner right at Emmanuel Burriss. But the kid doesn't have the ability to scan the field, the way years of playing have taught Omar Visquel (one of the game's best students), and he was unable to spot the runner way off third base, choosing instead to go the short route to second base and that runner was able to get back in time. Vinnie made the pitch but the play was not executed.

Now, Vinnie "BoomBah" was the only reliever getting outs. Why didn't the Giants' brain trust leave him in there to start the 7th inning? Yabu was useless, getting none of the four batters (he faced) out. Yabu served no purpose other than to fuel Kansas City's fire, at which point the Giants' coaches should have treated that as if a reliever got injured (before the game). Because they were a reliever short, since Yabu stoked (or was it stroked) the Royals without retiring a single batter.

Instead they bring in rookie Alex Hinshaw and he had to deal with the tight strike zone of Bill Welke. A bad combination. Young Alex got tossed-his first time- as he was removed from the game and complained about the ump's lack of a strike zone. It should have never happened because the better move would have been to leave Vinnie Chulk in the game. He's still on the roster because he absorbs innings by getting outs. Sure, the ball may go out of the ballpark, hence the name BoomBah (sound ball makes off the bat), but yesterday was Vinnie's game to win or lose.

At least one bad coaching decision and a no-show by Yabu cost the Giants a win. Here's a couple of quotes (one in the Comments section) to take your mind off of yesterday's brutal Yabu Dabble Do .

Walk tall as the trees
live strong as the mountains
be gentle as the spring winds
keep the warmth of summer in your heart,
and the great spirit will always be with you. - American Indian proverb, "unknown tribe"

Unknown tribe? Immediately I flashed on the Unknown comic. The guy with the paper bag on his head and eye-holes cut out. Why? Because I just learned that George Carlin passed away.

His characters Biff Barf or the hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet were classic. Or how about the Seven Words That Can Never Be Said on Television? He was arrested 7 times-how apropos is that- because he refused to drop the bit. He was a man with a high degree of intelligence and he served us well. As do all people who put smiles on our faces and make us gasp for air- and grasp for the chair we just fell out of- so that we can continue to breathe another day. Then we can gag once more as these gifted people push our buttons in a way that makes us laugh again.

Kevin Marquez

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Need to Win at Home

Before any games were played on Saturday, June 21, 2008 the standings were like this:
Arizona W39 L35
Los Angeles W34 L39 4 1/2 (Games Back)
San Francisco W32 L42 7 (GB) *****(14W 24L at home)
San Diego W32 L43 7 1/2 (GB)
Colorado W31 L43 8 (GB) 19W 18L @home

The Giants need to overcome the dimensions at AT&T the way Roger Craig's Giants overcame the elements at Candlestick Park.

Throughout the Giants' lineup there is balance. They just have to maintain that the way they are going to score runs is through proper fundamentals and solid execution. (The Giants' players appear to forget what it was that got them there after a game when they produce more than 5 runs.)

Here's a look at their statistics at this point in the season.

Fred Lewis AVG-.285, R-46, 2B-15, HR-6, RBI- 22, SB-12, CS-4.
Ray Durham AVG-.294, R-27, 2B-16, HR-X, RBI-24, SB-5, CS-1.
Randy Winn AVG-.303, R-39, 2B-22, HR-5, RBI-29, SB-10, CS-1.
Benji Molina AVG-.315, R-24, 2B-17, HR-6, RBI-45.
Aaron Rowand AVG-.307, R-34, 2B-20, HR-8, RBI-39.
Rich Aurilia AVG-.291, R-12, 2B-10, HR-5, RBI-23.

You can see that Fred Lewis may be the only youngster in the list but actually the way the Giants are bringing their youngsters along has worked so far.

Not listed, yet still contributing a lot are John Bowker (Avg.-.264, R-18, 2B-7, HR-7, RBI-29) and Emmanuel Burriss, who still doesn't have as many at-bats as Eugenio Velez (AB-87) but is hitting .299 and has stolen 6 bases in 8 attempts. And his playing time has increased while Omar Visquel struggles at the plate.

But understand that players such as Ray Durham and Rich Aurilia, although they started off-Bengi Molina-slow this season, both have begun to put up numbers Giants' fans are more accustomed to seeing. So you can see why their names are in the lineup more often than not.

I don't buy the Barry Zito has lost it story. As a member of the Oakland Athletics he had scrappy ballplayers who did what it took to win games. Unfortunately, the Giants are not there yet. They are beginning to find ways to win and execute small ball better but still they are on the losing end of many more games where simple execution is as difficult as getting a consistent strike zone out of the home plate umpire.

Hope continues to spring eternal, as we approach the halfway point in the season. You still have to be pleasantly surprised by this group of guys donning the orange and black. And the front office seems to be pushing all the right buttons when it comes time to bringing someone up to the big club.

Let's hope they continue with the progress and no matter what the won/loss record is, it'll bode well for a potential free agent wanting to play for the San Francisco Giants.

(thanks to Baseball-Reference for the current stats)

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tales of Yesterday and Today

(Every bit of information, I am about to share, was heard on yesterday's San Francisco Giants' radio broadcast. The informant is, top-notch announcer, Jon Miller. As always, I check with Wikipedia to get the details as accurate as possible.)

First the Tale of Woe...Regarding Giants' third-baseman Jose "Elephant Ear" Castillo...
He has 16 hits in 78 at-bats with runners in scoring position. AND, is 0-H for 11-AB, with the bags f.o.g'd (full of Giants).
As he was looking over the This Day in Baseball notes, Jon Miller remarked that on this day, June 18, (in 1962), Hammerin' Hank Aaron belted a home run into the centerfield seats, making him only the third player to have ever hit one in those seats. Remarkably, this was one day after Hall of Famer Lou Brock reached the unreachable the day before.

And so it went for the 1962 New York Mets, losers of 120 games.

Casey Stengel reminded them of the dimensions and encouraged the pitchers to make the hitters hit it out in centerfield, rather than the much easier left field and right field foul lines.

Here are the listings of the dimensions at the Polo Grounds, where the Mets played their inaugural season (1962) in the major leagues.

1890: Left field line-335 feet
Center field- 500 feet
Right field line- 335 feet
Left field line-277 feet (not posted)
Centerfield- 433 feet (not posted)
Right field line- 258 feet (not posted)
Left field line- 279 feet (not posted) Sometimes listed at 280 feet.
Left field Upper Deck Overhang- About 250 feet
Shallow left field- 315 feet
Left center field #1- 360 feet
Left center field #2- 414 feet
Deep Left center field- 447 feet (left of bullpen curve)
Deep Left center field- 455 feet (right of bullpen curve)
Centerfield- approximately 425 feet (unposted) corners of runways
Centerfield- 483 feet (posted on front of clubhouse balcony..Sometimes 475 feet.)
Centerfield- 505 feet (unposted) sometimes given as total centerfield distance
Deep Right CF- 455 feet (left of bullpen curve)
Deep Right CF- 449 feet (right of bullpen curve)
Right Centerfield #2- 395 feet
Right Centerfield #1- 338 feet
Shallow Right Centerfield- 294 feet
Right field line- 257 feet, 3 3/8 inches (not posted) Sometimes listed as 258 feet.
Backstop- 65 feet. Sometimes given as 74 feet from home to backstop.

Putting these mammoth dimensions into play and knowing that the '62 Mets lost 120 games, you can see how unbelievably unfortunate Casey Stengel's team was and why they were fondly referred to as the amazing Mets.

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Worst Play Was By Fan

Ivan Rodriguez led off the top of the 7th inning with a well-struck line drive into the open spaces (known to AT&T regulars as Triple's Alley) and that's just where the mobile backstop wound up, at third base with a leadoff triple.

Ivan's nickname is Pudge. And I've always wondered why that was. Perhaps when he first came up as a nineteen year-old stud, with the Texas Rangers, he had some baby fat? Because for most of his career he's been lean and mean and one of the best ever to play catcher. Or was it out of respect for the star catcher at the time of Ivan's arrival, Carlton Fisk, inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 2000, whose nickname was also Pudge?

He possesses one of the best arm's and has always maintained the ability to get around the bases very proficiently. Currently he has 120 career stolen bases and been caught 58 times, just over twice as many steals as times thrown out. Not bad for someone in a crouch, most of the time, wearing the Tools of Ignorance.

After a grounder to second-baseman Ray Durham made it one out, up came clutch pinch-hitter, Edgar Renteria. He ripped one out to rightfield where Randy Winn reached across his body to snare and then, in one motion, he turned and threw a strike to Benji Molina at home. Molina caught the ball and made a swipe tag that replays showed ruffled Rodriguez' sleeve but the ump, trying to get a better vantage point, was out of position and unable to see the ruffled sleeve so he called Rodriguez safe.

When you are in motion you are seeing a blur rather than a clearer, better focussed picture. Some of the intricacies that help the development of the play unfold are sullied and you miss the necessary details that would allow you the best chance at making an accurate call. This leaves you in the predicament of assuming something happened ... and we all know about the word "assume"...(it makes an ass out of u and me.)

Add to it that the player involved was the cherubic Ivan Rodriguez, a Hall of Famer to be, and Tom Hallion chose the "safe" call.

Tigers 4 Giants 3.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Giants exploded for 5 runs. Three of the runs came across on John Bowker's 6th homer of the season and then Fred Lewis, who earlier homered, rapped a double down the left field line. Only on this play some boneheaded fan reached over to get himself a souvenir and would've cost the Giants' a run except that home plate umpire, Tom Hallion, redeemed himself for the 7th inning gaffe- which he exacerbated by promptly tossing Giants' skipper Bruce Bochy- by deeming that the runner would have scored had the reprehensible act of the fan not occurred.

The play by the fan was far worse than Tom Hallion's running toward the first base line in hopes of getting the better angle on the play. Hallion's mistake was that he tried to do too much in too little time. The manner in which the catcher caught the throw and then had to make a swipe tag shielded Hallion from seeing the play at the moment Pudge was tagged out.

The fan selfishly wanted a souvenir and Giant fans', as well as the orange and black, were fortunate the home plate umpire made the call that the runner would have scored if the fool hadn't interfered. (Sorry, but I cannot in any way, shape or form consider that guy a fan!)

Giants went on to win and a selfish act, for once, didn't cost the Giants a run or the game.

Kevin Marquez

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ichiro Suzuki - Can Do What He Wants on Diamond

In the April 21, 2008 edition of ESPN magazine there was an article on how base stealers stop stealing so many bases at the age of 33.

Born in Kasugai, Japan on October 22, 1973, Ichiro Suzuki is 34 and currently has 29 stolen bases, having been caught only two times. (See Comments on This Day in Baseball for one of Ichiro's stellar achievements so far in his career.)

I recall reading an article how his manager (John McLaren) challenged him to steal more bases. It appears Ichiro is up to the challenge, even if his team is otherwise floundering.

This just goes to show that when you are talking about someone who truly is a cut above most of those in the field of play you should always allow for the possibility that the great ones can do anything they put their minds to, regardless of age.

Maybe someone saw the article and brought it to Ichiro's attention. Maybe not. With all the media attention Ichiro gets I've got to think someone ran it by him, if only to amuse him. And he took stock and used the "bulletin board gossip" as a motivational tool to once again show everyone that Ichiro Suzuki can pretty much do what he wants on the baseball diamond.

(inspired by ESPN magazine article Steal Sign, April 21, 2008 edition)

Kevin Marquez

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Charlie Jones an AFL original

I was saddened to learn that the voice of the American Football League, a league not thought capable of competing with the legendary NFL, Charlie Jones passed away at 77 years of age.
How fitting, 77, a number that for some bizarre reason elicits AFL action at its best. Didn't one of the key San Diego Chargers have some outrageous number like 77? (Actually, #77, was retired by the Chargers, for Ernie Ladd. It was #22 that was worn by both Dickie Post and Keith Lincoln. It was sort of their magical number, the way #20 was the Detroit Lions' number..Lem Barney, Billy Sims, and finallyBarry Sanders wore the number. The Lions retired the number, for Barry Sanders. Perhaps as a ploy to get Sanders out of retirement? Well that failed, but the number lives in a sort of sui generis.)

The San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Boston/NE Patriots, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Houston Oilers have Charlie Jones to thank for putting them on the map. His unique voice and sense of humor added an ingredient to the fledgling league until Pete Rozelle and associates decided it was time to unite.

He was an NBC staple and did his share of baseball broadcasts. (Cincinnati Reds 1973-74; Colorado Rockies' first TV broadcaster, which began in 1993.) But what I remember about Charlie Jones , aside from his silver hair and stylish specs, was his willingness to say things in that waggish manner equipped with an unmistakable voice, as he expertly informed and entertained his audience and side-kick, as well. He, like all the jewels of their craft, was truly one of a kind.

He just may have been insightful enough to be the nearest thing to Branch Rickey, where the AFL was concerned. Branch broke the color line, Charlie broke the NFL/AFL barrier.
As a youngster watching the early AFL, I don't think I'm off the mark in this assessment.

(I know this is a San Francisco Giants blog. But anybody who contributes to the sports medium, and contributes in a Hall of Fame caliber, will get acknowledged by yours truly.)

Kevin Marquez (thanks to Wikipedia)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Uh, Woo, Well, Well...

Look down-hearted and confused
Because lately you've been startin' to lose
Losing out on everything you might try to do
Bad Luck's there, it's got a hold on you.

Losing money, 'bout to lose your home
Done lost your woman and everything you own
Law of averages plainly states that chances go around
But if you want to know the truth about it and tell you what's pulling you down, yeah

(You got) BAD LUCK
That's what you got, that's what you got (Yes, uh)
That's what you got, that's what you got
That's what you got, that's what you got (you got)
BAD LUCK, bad luck (bad)

Played a number 'cause that number's hot stuff
But the bookies get you for every cent you've got
Walk around in a daze with your pockets bare
Go to see your woman and she aint even there

??Don't seem to give a whiz about it and all your trapped in time??
The more I think about it, I think your 'bout to lose your mind
Some people call it jinxed, some say it aint my day (huh)
But if you wanna know the truth about it and tell you what's pullin' you way down
Bad Luck
That's what you got, that's what you got (Yes uh huh)
Bad Luck
that's what you got, that's what you got (you got)
Bad Luck
that's what you got, that's what you got (you got)
BAD LUCK, BAD LUCK (bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad)

One long week
Ooh, huh
Yeah, yeah
One more thing

Law of averages plainly states that chances go around
But if you wanna know the truth about it and tell you what's pullin' you down
Down, down, down, down
Bad Luck (yes, uh). Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes with Teddy Pendergrass at lead vocal.

How many times have we heard- per radio broadcast- a Giant's batter rip one into the GAP and the ball some way, somehow managed to hit something that allowed the sphere to projectile up and over the fence for a ground-rule double and your Giants' broadcaster almost reluctantly sighs when he says how the ground-rule double cost the Giants a run because the runner would have scored easily?

If you so choose to be a Giants' fan, YOU have to be a gamer! Because being a fan of the orange and black has things that go with it some may not be able to indulge. One of them being a souvenir, of all things. You know, that giant foam finger? It's NOT the index finger.

Kevin Marquez (thanks to Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. And Teddy P.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pitch Count vs. Performance

Why is pitch count more important than the performance a pitcher is giving? Didn't you sign the guy to those big bucks to help you win games? It seems like there is always this worrying about the pitcher's health and that outweighs his performance on game day.

How, in the world, did the powers-that-be in let that happen?

You start focussing in on pitch count and you're liable to get into that pitcher's head. In other words, his unconscious. And in psychoanalysis terms that's not a good thing to do. The definition of this is: the part of the mind containing psychic material that is only rarely accessible to awareness but that has a pronounced influence on behavior.

Counting an athlete's pitches and critiquing on how you believe him to be so much more effective at a particular number... it's all over but the fat lady singing. Whatever happened to effectiveness? Some players take a little longer to get the feel for what they are doing, don't interrupt them with some silly pitch count.

Sometimes things aren't as complicated as we make them.

Why would you want to replace a guy who is doing the job? In Juan Marichal's day, pitch count was something a bored scorekeeper did. And maybe the fan out in the cheap seats.

On June 12, 2008, Johan Santana pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball that included 10 strikeouts. And yet the Mets' Powers that Be decided to put the game into the hands of the bullpen. Effectiveness had absolutely nothing to do with this maneuver. This was a pitch count decision. And to replace someone who was signed to avoid the need for bullpen help, especially after the bullpen has been so heinous, makes me wonder why?

Why not judge a pitcher by performance rather than pitch count?

Well, Billy Wagner, whose nickname-this week- could easily be Gagsner, let another game slip away. And as for those of you, fans, wondering why Willie Randolph is getting the blame, let me ask you this, whose idea was it to replace Santana?

On this day in baseball, June 12, 2008, Ray Durham collected his 2,000th hit in the big leagues, as the Giants went on to win 10-7. Brian Don't Worry Baby Wilson collected his 19th save of the season with yet another stellar performance as the Giants' closer.

On June 12, 1959, San Francisco Giant lefty, Mike McCormick pitched a 5-inning no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies. Richie Ashburn rapped a single in the top of the 6th inning but the hit didn't count because the game was called due to rain.

Kevin Marquez (thanks to the Fresno Bee for This Day in Baseball stuff)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baserunning and Roster Spots

Each and every baseball game has nine versus nine. With an umpire at every base. And coaches at first and third base. The latter of which I am really beginning to wonder why, judging on the overall base-running seen at the big league level.

Batter-runners with their heads down or perhaps thinking the coach is there merely to collect his (the batter-runner's) protective devices if he only manages to reach first base. On any extra base hit it's as if the batter-runner's ears are all the coach can penetrate because all of the arm-waving isn't going to change the fact that the batter-runner isn't paying a bit of attention to that coach. In most cases, they may as well be cardboard cutouts.

In last night's game at Coors Field (Colorado) on at least two occasions the Giants ran themselves out of innings. That and another poor performance by none other than Vinnie Chulk and it was too much to overcome as the Giants' road record of seven (7) victories in-a-row came to an end. (Back to Vinnie Chulk, the nicknames for this guy are endless. One could say Vinnie Choke or use the name of Rodney Dangerfield's doctor, Vinnie Boom Bah. Because when Vinnie toes the slab, opposing batters are all about the boom bah sound their bats are about to make when connecting with one of Vinnie's servings.)

Ray Durham got caught between third and second base only after the runner on third (Omar Visquel) had to apply the brakes because rookie Travis Denker appeared to be running in quick sand at about the shortstop position only after seeing that the centerfielder had dropped Durham's arcing liner.

Then a couple of innings later, on a deep fly into center field (that took the fielder onto the warning track with his back to the plate) the runner on second base decided it was in his best interests not to tag up. Who did he think that was in centerfield? I don't know what third base coach Tim Flannery was doing to- get the wandering Giant's attention at second base- but that guy in a Colorado uniform wasn't Willie Mays he was Willy Taveras. Know your opponents, will ya!

With Vinnie "BoomBah" Choke struggling I decided to look up the names of a couple of pitchers, on the Fresno Grizzlies, who seem to be holding their own as they await the inevitable telephone call from the big club.

Geno Espinelli (Lefty) W-1, L-0, ERA-1.29, G-22, Saves-1 IP-35, H-26, R-6, BB-4, SO-25, AGE-25.
Kevin Correia W-1, L-0, ERA-1.50, G-2, IP-12, H-8, R-2, BB-0, SO-15, AGE-27 (turns 28 in August).

Nate Schierholtz AB-213, R-35, H-66, 2B-12, 3B-8, HR-10, RBI-45, SB-8, AVG.-.310, AGE-24.
Ivan Ochoa (SS) AB-202, R-34, H-63, 2B-8, 3B-4, HR-3, RBI-24, SB-15, CS-9, AVG.-.312, AGE-25.

(thanks to the Giants' website for the information on their TripleA affiliate Fresno Grizzlies)

Kevin Marquez

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Matt Cain- (Is he) not Able?

When it comes to raw ability nobody argues that Matt Cain possesses his share and then some, but so do most of the players in the major leagues, or they wouldn't be in the bigs, right?

Why doesn't Matt work on the execution of moving runners along either by bunt or making contact to a particular side of the field, opposite of where the runners will be going if he puts the ball in play? Or in fielding his position, does he put in the time to make sure that he is in position to field balls up the middle, near the mound?

He often gives the appearance of not having an idea about certain situations, relying only on his God-given ability. So when he goes mano y mano with another big leaguer, it just might be that the player with the "idea" is the one who wins most battles. Oh, sometimes, the hotter of the two, or perhaps at that moment, the better of the two, comes out on top. But in the long haul, say 4 at-bats, the opposing batter will get his knocks. And even if the batter did come out on the short-end by getting an 0-fer, if he was able to execute enough to move the runners along, maybe that was the deciding factor in the game. In other words, Matt Cain may win the individual battles but in the end does his team win the game?

I'm not in the clubhouse or at their facilities to see just how hard Matt Cain works at his craft, which should include the bat (preferably not maple or someone's safety could be at risk, eh?). I just wish he and most pitchers would use the approach of Gregory Alan Maddux, "Mad Dog" to his teammates.

Greg Maddux just goes about his business with a plan in mind. And he's going to do everything physically possible to put his team in the best position of winning the game. He won't walk batters. He'll move runners up one base, he will not be an "easy" out. And he'll rob hitters-who are trying to go back up the middle-more often than not. What was the old Clint Eastwood line in Magnum Force.."A man's got to know his limitations." Well, Greg Maddux knows his limitations but his opponents believe them to be ad infinitum.

From 1990 thru 2002 inclusive, Greg Maddux won the Gold Glove award. Then he won it again in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. He won 4 Cy Young Awards in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995.

I used to think he, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were the benefactors of the greatest strike zone known to a baseball fan. But after watching those 3 pitchers play ball for the length of time they have and for all three of them to maintain the ability to execute as they have, I came to realize that my only gripe was that I was not an Atlanta Braves' fan. I hated those guys because they were the best and it bothered me to no end how the umpires favored them. It was like my teams' only chance of defeating them was if the calls were fair but they were that good and my jealousy got the best of me.

I'd just like to see Matt Cain use every possible outlet he has so that he may execute every play to the best of his ability and to get the best results for his team. Because as long as he puts his team in the position of winning the ballgame that is and shall always be first and foremost.

Kevin Marquez (thanks to Baseball-Reference)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This Day in Baseball

Most newspapers will print up a few noteworthy things that happened on This Date in Baseball and on this day, June 5th, the home run gets center stage.

In 1955: Mickey Mantle hit a home run off of Chicago White Sox lefty, Billy Pierce (a key Giant on the 1962 team) that traveled an estimated 550 feet. The ball cleared the left-field upper deck at (the original) Comiskey Park. (Mantle's name popped up yesterday when Yankee shortstop, Derek Jeter, passed him on the all-time hits list for New York Yankees.)

In 1959: Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart hit the longest home run at Forbes Field. Stuart hit a shot over the center-field wall off Chicago Cub pitcher Glen Hobbie. (1959 was Hobbie's best season in the majors, having won-16 and lost-13, with a 3.69 ERA. Meanwhile, Stuart was legendary in his attempts at fielding his position. He came along before the designated hitter and was among the first in sluggers who's walks-to-strikeouts ratio was embarrassing. Stuart's lifetime BB-301 K's-957.)

1966: Leo "Chico" Cardenas of the Cincinnati Reds hit 4 home runs in a doubleheader. Two in the first game and two in the second game versus the Chicago Cubs. (Chico had his best power numbers that year, hitting 20-HR and driving in 81 runs. In 1971, with the Twins, he hit 18-HR, with 75-RBI. Chico was the 1965 gold glove winner for the National League at the shortstop position. He was one of the slicker fielders who had some pop in his bat, unlike say: Don Kessinger, Bud Harrelson, Gene Alley, Hal Lanier, Dal Maxvill, etc.

1986: San Diego's Steve Garvey was ejected for the first time in his career when he argued a play at home plate. Garvey, the on-deck hitter, protested the last out of a triple play, by the Atlanta Braves. Television replays showed that Bip Roberts (now a broadcaster on Giants' Comcast Network) was indeed safe.

1997: Alex Rodriguez of the Mariners became the first Seattle player to hit for the cycle vs. Detroit.

2001: Colorado pitcher, Mike Hampton hit 2 home runs , 3-RBI and recorded his 8th win as the Rockies defeated Houston 9-4.

Giants are off today. It's travel day to the nation's capital, Washington, DC to face the Nationals for a Friday to Monday series.

Kevin Marquez

Sunday, June 1, 2008

#8 for the New York Yankees: Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey

Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra (Born May 12, 1925 in St.Louis, MO.)
G-2120, AB-7555, R-1175, H-2150, 2B-321, 3B-49, HR-358, RBI-1430, BB-704, K's-414, AVG-.285
World Series totals for Berra:
G-75 AB-259, R-41, H-71, 2B-10, HR-12, RBI-39, AVG-.274.

Berra was one of only 4 players to be named MVP three times (1951, 1954 and 1955).
Berra was one of only 6 managers to lead both American League (1964-Yankees) and National League (1973-Mets) teams to the World Series.

The father of Dale Berra (Pittsburgh Pirates-INF) and Tim Berra (Baltimore Colts: KR-WR).

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon, Yogi Bear, was named after Lawrence Peter Berra.

He was taught the position of catcher under the mentorship of Bill Dickey. The Hall of Fame Yankee catcher was inducted into Cooperstown, NY in 1954.

As a fielder, Berra was truly outstanding. Quick, mobile and a great handler of pitchers, Berra led American League catchers eight (8) times in games caught and chances accepted (fielding percentage is calculated as chances accepted divided by total chances), 6 times in double-plays (a major league record), 8 times in putouts, 3 times in assists, and once (1) in fielding percentage.

Berra left the game with the AL records for catcher putouts (8723) and chances accepted (9520). He was also one of only four catchers to ever field 1.000 for the season, playing 88 errorless games in 1958.

Yogi Berra appeared in 14 World Serieses, winning 10 of them, both of which are records. It enabled him to establish the major league records for World Series games (75), At-bats (259), hits (71), doubles (10), singles (49), games caught (63) and catcher putouts (457).

In Game 3 of the World Series between the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers, Berra hit the first pinch-hit homer in World Series history off Ralph Branca. (Branca delivered the "Shot Heard Round the World" pitch to Bobby Thomson.)

(Though Berra played in 14 World Serieses, he played a full game in just 9 of them, one fewer than Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, who played full games in all ten of his Series appearances.)

In 1946, Berra wore the uniform number #38, switching to #35 the following season. In 1948, he changed to #8 to honor his mentor, Bill Dickey. In 1972, the same year Yogi Berra was inducted into Baseball's Hall of Fame, his number was retired to honor both he and Bill Dickey.

William Malcolm Dickey. Born in Bastrop, LA, he broke into the major leagues with the New York Yankees in 1928. In 1928, Goose Goslin (Washington Senators) led in hitting with a .379 average. Babe Ruth hit 54-HRs. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig (NY Yankees) tied for the league lead with 142-RBI.

AB-6300, R-930, H-1969, 2B-343, 3B-72, HR-202, RBI-1209, SB-37, BB-678, K's-289, AVG-.313.

Dickey had been regarded as Lou Gehrig's best friend on those legendary Yankee teams.

A few Yogiisms:

- (as a general comment on baseball) "Ninety percent of this game is half mental."
- "It ain't over till it's over."
- "It's like deja vu all over again."

I am amazed at the importance of getting on back in Yogi's day and before. The walks-to-strikeouts ratio was such an important statistic to the players back then. Nowadays, if you see a batter with more walks than strikeouts it's more an aberration than anything else. It's as if someone surmised, 'It's generally understood that a good hitter makes an out 2 of 3 at-bats. So it isn't important how you get out as long as you get the one hit.'

Because all that really matters (to the media or All-Star voters) is that a player is batting .300, not how productive his .300 (or better) average is for his team. Strikeouts are non-productive outs. And it should always be the concern of the person batting to make his at-bat count and not be a free-swinger but a batter who adapts to what a pitcher is doing and makes contact. (Think of the strategy that would be involved if most batters were disciplined enough not to chase bad balls or fish for something they couldn't do anything with if they were able to get the bat on it?)

Take a look at all of the batters who are thought to be "great," (the most overused word in sports) and see what their strikeouts-to-walks ratio is...That being said, only Phat Albert or Prince Albert Pujols is worthy of being called "great." Currently, Pujols has 47-BB and 20-K's. Nobody (Chase Utley, Chipper Jones, Josh Hamilton, Lance Berkman) is close to his numbers and compared to those numbers prior to the 1970s it's a joke how bad the ratio has gotten for most position players.

Kevin Marquez (thanks to Wikipedia, Baseball-Reference)