Saturday, December 25, 2010

Bottom of the Order Rose to the Occasion

Thoughout the Twenty Ten major league baseball postseason, the bottom of the order had something to say about the outcome of the game. For the most part, as with everything, there are always exceptions to the rule.

The Phillies winning 6-1, in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series didn't have any production, to speak of, from the lower half of the batting order for either club. And Game 3 of the NLDS was the game when Brooks Conrad made three (3) errors (totalling 4 for the series).

Aside from that, here's what some notes I took tallied up to...

Game 1 of the Atlanta Braves vs San Francisco Divisional Series was when the Giants' eighth place hitter, Cody Ross drove in the only run of a 1-0 win for the Gigantes.

Game 2 of Atlanta vs San Francisco, Rick Ankiel, the Braves' eighth place hitter hit the game-winning homer.

Game 4 of the NLDS was when Cody Ross broke up a no-hitter by Derek Lowe by hitting a home run in the top half of the sixth inning. Ross would go on to drive in another run in the 3-2 Giants' win that enabled them to advance to the National League Championship Series.

Game 1 of the NLCS, Ross belted 2 homers off ace Roy Halladay as Giants won Game 1.
Game 3, of the NLCS, Aaron Rowand batted in the eighth slot and scored a run, while driving in another. Giants won 3-0.

Game 4, of the NLCS, Pablo Sandoval batted in the seventh hole and hit a 2-run double to help the Giants get past the Phillies, 6-5.

Game 6, of the NLCS, Juan Uribe was batting seventh, he hit the game-winning homer.

In the World Series, the Texas Rangers' eighth place hitter, Mitch Moreland, hit the 3-run homer in Game 3, to help give Texas it's only World Series victory. He would lead the team in hitting.

For the World Champion San Francisco Giants Edgar Renteria batted eighth, and he would win the most valuable player award in the series.

Let that be a lesson to one and all of those who play the game of baseball. It's not where you bat, it's when you bat.

Kevin Marquez

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Getting Better All the Time

In every Sporting News there is the section Since You Asked (You have questions, they have answers) and in the December 6, 2010 edition I found one question particularly fascinating, as well as hopeful (for us San Francisco Giants' fans).

Question: It has been a long time since we've seen a baseball player who disrupts the game the way Maury Wills did, whose presence in every at-bat had the potential to be game-changing. Are there any current players he believes can dominate the playing field in the way he did?

Answer: Maury Wills, 1962 MVP, 5-time All-Star

There are some who have the talent, the ability. But if I want to put it bluntly, I would say they just don't want to work that hard. They're just not interested in doing that. There are a lot of talented players who have speed and quickness, I don't know if they get on base.

Carl Crawford is my No.1 guy when I start naming people. He's outstanding. I'd like to meet him in-person. I can't say anything but good things about him.

Jimmy Rollins from Philly, but I think he's interested in hitting the long ball, too. He could cause some havoc getting on base.

One of my proteges, Shane Victorino. I worked with him one-on-one. He and I still communicate now and then. He could be that kind of player.

Let me name one other-Emmanuel Burriss, with the Giants. He could be that kind of a player. I would love to work with him.

(Calling all Giants' scouts, coaches and front office people. The man who could wreak the kind of havoc Wills did, on the bases, MAURY WILLS, would like to work with our very own Emmanuel Burriss. Somebody make this happen!)

(thanks to TSN for the thoughts)

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, December 13, 2010

John Feinstein Chimes in

In an article dated November 22, 2010 from Sporting News magazine, John Feinstein had this to say about major league baseball.

The World Series was a disaster. The TV ratings were horrific, as low as any in history. But it had to be. After all, no Yankees. No Red Sox. Certainly no Cubs. Not even any Phillies.

Heck, if you paid attention to the New York media, baseball would have been smart to call off the Series. Why bother? No one cared-just look at the ratings, down 28% from 2009, when the Yankees beat the Phillies.

Seriously, how much did most fans see this summer of Josh Hamilton? Or Tim Lincecum? Most people know a lot more about Yankees backup catcher, Francisco Cervelli, than they do about Giants rookie phenom Buster Posey.

It is the more casual fan, the younger fan, the potential fan who tunes into ESPN or on Saturday afternoon to watch the Fox game of the week. Those are fans getting the message that the Padres and Tigers don't actually exist-unless they happen to be playing the Yankees.

One of the measures Bud Selig pushed for early in his tenure as commissioner was the wild card. It has been wildly successful, not only because wild card teams have been extremely strong in the postseason-the Marlins have the unique distinction of having won two (2) World Series without ever having won a division title-but because it keeps so many more teams in contention deep into September.

...The Rangers in the World Series and the Giants winning the World Series is very healthy for the sport. Now, if the TV networks and their partners on Park Avenue would turn the spotlight on that more often, the game would be much better for it.

(Kudos to John Feinstein. That's what I was looking for, a little positive the Giants' way while educating the people on why it was good the San Francisco Giants were the Twenty Ten World Series champions.)

Kevin J. Marquez

Eugenio Velez also Goes to Los Angeles Dodgers

Can I get a show of hands of how many people are glad Eugenio -"No Brain-y-yo" on the bases-Velez went to the dreaded Dodgers?

Talk show host (9am-Noon, KNBR 680AM) Gary Radnich has this thing whenever somebody calls about some obscure thing, although not to the caller, of course, there will be a "drop" from his producer of someone saying "nobody cares." And this move most definitely falls into that category.

Velez acted like he was blindfolded whenever he reached base and then had to figure out a way to score. He was fast but couldn't steal a bag to save his life. Was it just me or didn't it seem like he was always on the verge of being picked off whenever he did reach base?

I don't think Eugenio's in the class of Ricky Ledee. Nobody was a worse Giant than Ledee. His forgettable statistics for his year with the orange and black, 2004, were as follows:
AB-53, R-6, H-6, 2B-2, RBI-4, Base on Balls-5, Times struck out-20, BA-.113.

As I've stated before, nobody to my recollection has done this bad with at least 50 at-bats. Any manager could see after so many at-bats that he just wasn't producing.

Eugenio should do at least that good, but c'mon, how high are we setting the bar?

Kevin J. Marquez

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bumgarner Grooves When Madison has the Blues

Now I know a gal, her name is Lindsey Lou
She told me she loved me but I know it ain't true
Put on your Madison shoes
put on your Madison blues shoes
I've got the Madison blues
Now put on your Madison blues shoes

Yes, it's a borrowed line from a George Thorogood song. Who's he? Maybe you haven't heard of George but if you saw him live he'd leave a noteworthy impression. Take my word, like the aforementioned lyrics, it's all about the groove.

In an article by Josh Alper of MLB Blogger, back on June 9, 2010 he kind of "strafed" Madison. But he didn't see what Manager Bruce Bochy saw. Let's go back and rekindle the love that was back in June, when none of us had a clue what would happen in October and eventually culminate on November 1, 2010.

Bumgarner was expected to battle for a spot in the San Francisco Giants' rotation this spring after tearing up the minor leagues in 2009 and earning that cup of (insert name brand here) coffee.

But he got strafed during the exhibition season. His velocity dropped while continuing to be strafed, in his first two Triple-A outings which earned him a tongue-lashing by Brian Sabean for what must have appeared to Sir Brian like a pre-occupation with off-field matters that were the apparent cause of hindering his development. (If I might interject, "strafed" is more like an enemy attack in combat, so I don't approve of the over-exaggeration...And Madison is a married man, what sort of things could he being doing off the field that could hinder his growth as a pitcher?)

Then came Monday. He unraveled in the sixth inning after his centerfielder misplayed a fly ball.

That said, Manager Bruce Bochy didn't seem too put off by Monday night's behavior.

"He's competitive. We know that," Bochy said. "We're excited about his progress. We feel like he's a guy who's really close. If there's any move made, we're going to do it when we feel like it's the right time."

The Boch-man read it right! His man, Madison Bumgarner blew a fuse because of who knows what, besides the misplayed ball in the outfield. The fact that he went bonkers tipped off Bochy that the kid might be ready to come up to the big club and contribute.

I mean, c'mon on, I saw an article in Sporting News magazine in which an official scorer offered his little helpful hints on how he scores a game. The guy went on to say...I have my own television right next to me. It's on a 7-second delay. So I see the play live, I see it 7 seconds later, and I can rewind if I need to. What I try to do is make my initial call within 15 seconds, 20 seconds at the most. I'm looking for the initial position of the defensive player, what the defensive player's first move is, I'm looking for his angle to the ball, I'm looking to see where the batter/runner is in relation to where the defender is when he catches the ball and the position where the batter/runner is in relation to where the defender is when he throws the ball. It's all of these things.

That may be well and good, but it was 15 seconds of suck (oh, perhaps 20) that MadBum didn't agree with. The feeble call and his lack of support by his teammates put him over the edge. And we aren't even bringing up the possibility of the umpire and his strike zone.

After giving up 21 hits and 11 earned runs in his first two Class AAA starts, Bumgarner corrected the "mechanical flaw." He changed his grip, allowing him to create more of a downhill angle from his three-quarters delivery. Suddenly, he was pumping 90-plus-mph fastballs and putting up the numbers more in line with those of his first two minor league seasons (27-5, 1.65 ERA).

Bumgarner was called up in late June, settled into one of the majors' best rotations and posted a 1.18 ERA in his final six (6) starts, prompting Bochy to start him over Barry Zito in the postseason. Bumgarner won the NLDS clincher against the Braves and turned in an outing for the ages in the World Series. He dominated Game 4 by becoming the youngest rookie (21 years, 91 days) to pitch 8 scoreless innings in a World Series game.

Bumgarner not only consistently threw 90-mph fastballs but had his best changeup of the season according to pitching coach Dave Righetti. "I know how I would have felt on this stage, trying to calm down," Righetti says. "In the third or fourth inning, I might come around. For a young guy to pitch with that poise was impressive."

(the Sporting News contributed those postseason stats. Finally a contribution from TSN, about the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.)

Kevin J. Marquez