Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lincecum's Full House

On June 25, 2014, I was wondering what to do for the day game between the Giants and Padres. After the two games before (on Monday and Tuesday) I probably shouldn't have put much thought into it, but I'm unemployed and awaiting a call as to whether I will or will not be hired. So I have what some might refer to as nervous energy.

Shall I walk to Golden Gate Park or just get a bite to eat and listen to Lincecum vs. Ian Kennedy on 680 KNBR? The two pitchers used to go head-to-head in college when Tim was on the University of Washington and Kennedy on the Trojans of USC. So I was kind of looking forward to the meeting. Besides, I had a book I was reading that I was fully invested in and I wanted to finish it. (Johnny Cash, The Life)

After six innings I started thinking, 'Hmmm, the home plate umpire has a pitcher's strike zone and Lincecum was breezing through the Padre batting order. The 7th inning was quick and the Giants scored two runs to make it 4-0.

The Eighth inning was of no difficulty and the ninth had a grounder in which Lincecum actually made the play on. Sometimes he's so tangled up in the wind-up of his he is in no position to field. So you knew that yesterday he was feeling pretty good. Then the grounder to Panik, love that name, and his second no-hitter is in the book.

He even got two hits and scored two runs. Wow, he expressed joy over that feat himself.

Then I began to think about pitchers who pitched great games and also did well with the bat. And I remembered on June 23, 1971 (yes, I had to look up the actual date) Rick Wise, of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter and hit two home runs in the game. He would hit two homers again in one game that season, finishing that season with 6 homers.

I remembered a game in 1966, when I was a kid when Tony Cloniger belted two grand slams against our beloved Giants. When I looked it up I was re-assured that it was on a Sunday, July 3, 1966. Why is that? Because I was at my cousins house for someone's birthday. Sunday would have been the day, for sure. In Cloniger's game he had AB-5 R-2 H-3 RBI-9. And he also served up a big fly to his opposing pitcher, Ray Sadecki. The guy we got in the Orlando Cepeda trade.

And I would be remissed, Holy Cow! if I didn't mention Buster Posey. Here was yet another example of how this ballplayer rises to the occasion. He went 4-for-4 and it was his blast off the bricks that upped the count from 2-0 to 4-0. Clutch. What is clutch? To me, it is doing what it takes when it matters most. And much like the pitcher in yesterday's classic, the two of these guys have shown San Francisco Giants' fans they have what it takes to make "it" happen. These two are winners.

No matter how many callers waste the listeners time to whine about how Timmy blows or Posey is overrated, on the Sports Leader (KNBR680AM), we all know that when the chips are down these two ballplayers find a way to get in the win column.

(thanks to for making my memories more accurate than they might have been)

Oh, what's Lincecum's full house?...55 2,2,2 (2-Cy Youngs, 2-World Series rings, 2-no-hitters)

Kevin J. Marquez

Monday, June 16, 2014

Who Are These Guys?

In back to back to back games in which their closer threw a pitch that was hit in such a way as to "fool" Angel Pagan and the failue to execute a double-play in Sunday's game led to comeback victories by the Colorado Rockies the one thing that really captured my attention was the umpires' effort to make themselves known.

Two unknown umpires, youths breaking onto the scene, both had the attitude that they were going to make themselves known by subscribing to a strike zone not in your 2014 Major League Rulebook. Their strike zone will not be found in any rule book, unless, of course, they have come out with their own. And if this is true, who do they think they are, to shove aside the rules that have been etched in the book since it was decided that an unbiased arbiter rule on the plays made by one team on another team?

Sure, in the 1800s there was plenty of hiring "their own" going on. In 1893, the distance from the pitcher's mound to home plate increased from 50 feet to 60 feet and six inches. And it was around this time that some stabilization was being assigned to the rules of the game. In 1883, foul balls caught on the bounce were outs in the Junior Circuit. But the National League said no more to that rule.

It wasn't until 1933 that the major leagues adopted the three-umpires system. In 1952, a four-man team was instituted for all regular season major league games.

When the mounds were lowered after the 1968 season, the strike zone for 1969 was altered as such: The Strike Zone is that space over home plate which is between the batter's armpits and the top of his knees when he assumes a natural stance. Rickey Henderson's stance would not be considered natural as I'm sure he had umpires explain why they called the pitches the manner in which they did.

In 1988, the strike zone was that area over home plate, the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants. Lower level is the line at the top of the knees. The Strike Zone shall be determined from a batter's stance as the batter prepares to swing at the pitched ball.

In 1996, The strike zone is expanded on the lower end, moving from the top of the knees to the bottom of the knees (bottom has been identified as the hollow beneath the kneecap. "Hollow" is that place the doctor hits with the rubber hammer to check your reflexes.)

Chris Segal on Saturday and Mike Muchlinski on Sunday basically said, 'to hell with that interpretation.' I'm here to make a name for myself and I'm calling what I think is the perfect pitch for a strike. Pitchers had to work harder to get calls and batters weren't confident the umpires knew what an actual strike was and some were called out on strikes more than once. Which is a signal that they weren't sure what the umpire was calling a strike.

This an inexcusable error on the home plate umpire's part. They aren't there to deceive the batters and pitchers. Fans cannot enjoy a game they paid hard earned money to see and not know themselves what was being called a strike.

Jon Miller, in one of his rambling rants so much as said that Segal was averse at calling strikes. That he seemed to not want to call the pitch a strike. No bueno.

Muchlinski tossed Bruce Bochy at the game's end on Sunday but not before Bochy vented his displeasure of the intermittant strike zone displayed over the weekend.

Something just doesn't seem right when those who were hired to adhere to the rules can't seem to. Ya think?

Kevin J. Marquez

Thursday, June 5, 2014

From Torture to Unbelievable to Panik

Joe Panik is the name to remember.

He has always been referred to as a professional hitter. The former number one draft choice, in 2011 amateur draft, out of St. Johns University, has a way of getting on base and is competitive. His walks/strikeouts ratio is respectable. Whenever I read anything on him I am reminded of Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox. I'm not putting him in Pedroia's class just yet but his style of play is similar. He needs only the opportunity to prove he belongs.

Giant fans know that the Giants will make the necessary adjustments to the roster to assist them in their quest for the 2014 World Championship. And I'm saying they already have their second-baseman. Heck, Marco Scutaro may be able to crack the roster as a pinch-hitter.

In 2010, there was torture.

In 2012, there was worry, doubt and dread.

In 2014, with the possibility of calling up Joe Panik we how have apprehension because of the early success. Giant fans are aware that the Los Angeles Dodgers are an extremely talented group of individuals. But we also know the Giants are a "team" that plays within its limitations and brings the best out of one another on a consistent basis. Giant's fans just don't want any frustration with the team after it has shown the importance of "teamwork" throughout its run to the World Series and the success they have attained in the aforementioned years (2010, 2012).

Please Giants, do not tease us, even though it appears to be PANIK time!

Kevin J. Marquez