Saturday, October 21, 2017

Heads start rolling

This being the Giants, where loyalty is generally rewarded, the heads rolled upstairs instead of out in the street. But we had to know there would be a shake-up. I suppose the biggest question of all is the manager. At some point Bochy will trade in his cap and cleats but I think that's still a year or two away. There's no clear heir apparent despite my belief that they are grooming Jose Alguacil; maybe we'll have a better idea when the dust settles.

Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner move out of the dugout and bullpen and into the front office. Steve Decker (assistant hitting coach) joins the growing club of "special assistants." I saw a rumor about Chili Davis returning to the organization, and Hensley Muelens being on the block. David Bell returns in a player development capacity, replacing Shane Turner who gets an apparent promotion. (I don't claim to understand the corporate food chain. Cool job titles, though.)

It should be fun to see who gets picked for the new openings: will it be advancement from within or fresh talent from outside?

--M.C.

p.s. Hats off to Rags--18 seasons (and three managers) is a hell of a run.



***UPDATE: looks like I missed some key facts, Ron Wotus and Hensley Muelens were also both re-assigned. That makes five vacancies.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Final Four

The New York Yankees are in Texas to open the ALCS with the Houston Astros. These are two evenly matched teams and it ought to be a close contest. The Astros have the home field and I suppose that gives them a slight edge. Both offenses are the top-rated in baseball. Tomorrow the Chicago Cubs open the NLCS in Los Angeles against the number-one seed Dodgers. The Cubs outlasted the Nationals in the LDS and won an epic Game Five on the road in DC. The Yankees also clinched on the road, surviving three elimination games against the Indians. LA certainly looks like the favorite in their matchup, especially since they are well-rested and have the home field. The Cubs won despite two superb starts from Washington ace Stephen Strasburg, we'll see if they can neutralize Clayton Kershaw as well. Should be some good baseball. Enjoy!

--M.C.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Tournament Time

The final field is set for the championship chase with Boston at Houston and New York at Cleveland tonight, and with Arizona at Los Angeles and Chicago at Washington tomorrow. I see that the Astros clobbered Chris Sale, that's not a good sign for the Red Sox. Indians-Yankees seems like a tossup to me, two great bullpens. The Diamondbacks used their two best pitchers already and that seems like a big advantage for the Dodgers. Nationals-Cubs seems like another tossup, defending champs often don't go away easily. I've never been much of a prognosticator so I won't go further than that. I don't have a rooting interest, really, I'm partial to Cleveland, that winning streak was something, and I like Terry Francona. In the NL it's all about who has the best shot at beating LA, right? And I've no idea. The boys in blue are very strong this year and have a lot of good players. But this is the post-season tournament and anything can happen, as we know. I don't expect to write much about these games but I had to post something if just to move my previous post off the front page!

--M.C.


p.s. Here's a great picture of Matt Cain, courtesy of Ron. Thanks, Ron! I'll have to find a permanent place for it on the blog.




Monday, October 2, 2017

9th inning: 8-10

1st inning: 6-12
2nd inning: 6-12
3rd inning: 10-8
4th inning: 4-14
5th inning: 8-10
6th inning: 7-11
7th inning: 9-9
8th inning: 6-12
9th inning: 8-10

The final tally for 2017 is 64-98 (.395), 40 games out of first place and 23 games behind the wildcard. The Giants tie the Detroit Tigers for the worst record and will get rewarded with the number two overall pick in the 2018 June draft (the Giants had a better 2016 record than the Tigers).

It was a season in which everything went wrong. The team was a disaster from the opening bell and never found its footing. Considering the expectations and track record you could argue it was the worst season ever for the San Francisco Giants. The team was 16th of the 30 ML squads in runs allowed per game (4.79); they were 29th in runs scored per game (3.94). The league average for RA/RS was 4.65, I think you can see the problem. They couldn't hit and the pitching was sub-par. They also couldn't play the field or run the bases. The only players on the club with anything close to their expected performances were Buster Posey (.320/.400/.462, 4.3 fWAR) and Jeff Samardzija (207-2/3 IP, 3.8 fWAR).

One of the things about being a sports fan is that the outcomes are random. If you like movies of a particular ilk, say rom-coms or super-hero franchises, you can pick those when you go out and you will stand a good chance of getting your money's worth. If you go to the circus or to the opera you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Sporting events don't give us that luxury. You have to take a risk--the performance could be a dud. Imagine if Broadway musicals had the variation we see in ballgames. Tuesday night's Hamilton could really stink but Sunday's would be epic, for example. Who would stand such a thing?

What we learn in life is to take the bitter with the sweet. There's no way to separate the bad from the good as the world is all jumbled up. It's not neat out there, it's messy, and it can't be untangled. We love the Giants so they drive us crazy. If we didn't care it would be a lot easier. But we do, so it isn't. We cry "wait 'til next year" when things are bleak. The 2018 Giants may be bad, or they may bounce back, there's no way to know for sure. One thing I'm sure of is that I'll be right here, chiming in on my beloved orange-and-blackers, and hoping you'll join me.

As always, my heartfelt thanks to all of you for reading, lurking, commenting, and posting. This is our 10th full season of blogging here at RMC, that's over 2200 posts! Writing about the Giants has taught me much about myself. It's brought into focus my lifelong relationship to baseball, allowed me to muse often on the nature of fandom, and forced me to ride out the highs and lows with some degree of equanimity. I can't wait to see what next year brings.

--M.C.




p.s. Baseball is a slow, sluggish game with frequent and trivial interruptions, offering the spectator many opportunities to reflect at leisure upon the situation on the field. This is what a fan loves most about the game.   --Edward Abbey (from Vox Clamantis in Deserto)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

64 and Done

SD 4 SF 5 

Well, this cesspool of a season is finally over and the amount of happiness that gives me is quite disturbing.  Today ended with the flash of a walk off homer ( by Pablo Sandoval, no less ) and some loving speeches for a great departing Giant; but there is nothing that can take away the stink and scars from of this year.  It started in April really.  And by May it was a done deal.  Amazing in a sick way.  This team is different than any of the other big losing squads of my youth and it has affected me more than I ever expected.

After years of genuine contention, all bets are now off and we all start from scratch.  Truthfully, I'm not sure I'm up for it any more.  One thing I learned from this horror of a team is that there are times to walk away from it.  I regained some of my life by getting away from this team and I liked it.  So, all I can say is that I will let you know about next year and just how much I want to jump in again.

Time for me to pull the plug on baseball for awhile.  Maybe I'll check out the Indians for Mom's sake but I doubt it.  Enjoy the post season, but if the doggers do well, please don't tell me.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

G-Fans Bid Cain Adieu

SD 3  SF 2
It was only fitting that Matt Cain would pitch well in his farewell; it was only fitting that the Giants would tag their teammate with another ND. You are what you is, like FZ sez, and Matt Cain is (was) a hard-luck pitcher. At the same time, he had an outstanding career, and his exploits will forever be etched in SFG lore. The fans got their celebration today, desperately needed in this un-celebratory season, and the Tennessee Stud got a proper send-off. Bit of drama in the 5th, his final frame, after walking the leadoff man he got a visit from Boch, the crowd booed, then the skipper left him in, and then they cheered. Matty did his part: twelve pitches to three batters for another scoreless inning.

Cain's line was 5 IP (18 batters, 73 pitches), 2 H 1 W, 4 K, and zero runs allowed in his 331st start. He turns 33 tomorrow having pitched professionally since he was 17 years old, all in the Giants organization, making his major league debut in 2005.

The Giants had a 1-0 lead after the 5th when Cain was pulled. The Padres tied it in the 6th. The Giants went ahead in the 7th. They took a 2-1 lead to the 9th, and with two strikes, two outs, and two on, a two-bagger scored two and the Rockies went ahead 3-2. That was the final--the Giants lose in Cain's last start. But that's the story of 2017. It will be over soon, I promise.

Matt Cain helped the Giants to a whole heap of wins over the years even if he didn't get the 'W' tag after each one. He was near tears in his post-game chat with AmyG, and that's only fitting.

--M.C.




p.s. Thanks to the real Matt Cain for inspiring me to spill lots of digital ink over the years!

p.p.s. Apologies to John Updike.

Friday, September 29, 2017

63!

SF 8  SD 0
The Giants break out at home behind Chris Stratton and shut out the Padres for their 63rd win. The worst the team can do now is lose 99 games. They won't repeat the ignominy of 1985's 100-loss season. It's a small comfort in a wretched campaign but it is something. I'm happy. It's the one thing I was clinging to, and it came to pass. The Giants get their fifth team shutout. The nice thing about tonight's win is that is takes the pressure off Matt Cain tomorrow. He'll likely be on a short leash anyway so now the only thing that matters is the fans getting their sentimental send-off.

Nick Hundley was this year's Willie Mac Award recipient. He seems to have made a great impression on the organization and I expect they will push hard to re-sign him. I thought Jeff Samardzija deserved consideration--he never missed his turn in the rotation and was one of only eight pitchers in baseball to log 200 innings. But Hundley, despite a .272 OBA, was a worthy awardee with his timely slugging (23 doubles, 9 homers) and solid work backing up Buster.

Go Giants!

--M.C.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Hangover Win

 SF 9 ARI 2

Even with a lopsided win, this team still makes me feel like I wasted my evening watching them.  The Diamondbacks, fresh off clinching a post season berth, played like it.  All their stars had the day off and the rest of them had apparently partied all night.  Four errors and a bunch of bad pitching later, the Giants had meaningless win #62.  Yippee!

Cueto (8-8) gave the Giants another solid outing (game score 64, 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 7 K).  He sure has had a hard time getting easy outs since coming back.  I guess that is a small criticism...but his pitch counts have been crazy lately.  Not sure that it means anything.

Our boys made a bit of noise with the bats tonight.  They scored 5 runs in an inning for the first time in 5 weeks.  Hundley had a big 4 RBI night, including the game breaking 3 run homer.  Parker got three hits, including a couple doubles.  He hit it hard to all fields and looked good doing it.

What a shame it meant not a thing.  Only a few more meaningless games left!  Thank Willie.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Two

The Giants magic number is 2.  That is, 2 wins will allow them to avoid 100 losses for 2017.  Today, in Los Angeles, was win number 61.  The Giants won 2 - 1.

2 runs.  That was enough to beat the doggers, tonight.  Madison Bumgarner on the mound, and he threw one of his best games of the year.  It took him 55 pitches to get through 5 innings, although it took him 44 more to get through another 2 2/3.  He gave up 5 hits, struck out 5 and walked 1.  1 of those hits was a home run.  It was a mistake, too much plate and it left the yard.  Isn't it funny how the Giants' mistake pitches leave the yard and the Giants' opponents mistake pitches put men on base, but the Giants don't manage to score?  Yeah, that happened, too.  Madison Bumgarner has pitched in 17 games this year.  In 11 of those games, the Giants have scored 2 runs or fewer.  Not just for him, in the whole game.  Tonight was the first game among those that resulted in a Giants victory.  Which means he did something right.  Hunter Strickland got 1 out in the 8th and Sam Dyson got a save for pitching the 9th.  Madison Bumgarner is now 4 - 9.  It only feels like this is only his 2nd win.

Come on Giants, 2 more wins!  Hyun-Jin Ryu started for the doggers, and took the loss.  He suffered a forearm contusion from a ball batted by Joe Panik.  Joe Panik has the highest batting average for the month of September of any major league baseball player.  The game ended with Yasiel Puig being thrown out trying to steal 2nd base.  He apparently got hurt running, limped off the field and apparently ran of his own volition.  Dave Roberts was not making happy faces.  Chris Stratton pitches tomorrow against Clayton Kershaw.