Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tiger and Tim

I was checking out the following article about the decline of one of golf's greatest recent stars:

And I found myself immediately thinking of our own Tim Lincecum. Yes, I know it does not take much for me to go there, but you must admit there are some basic similarities. Young, flashy, superstars that took their sport by storm and quickly climbed to the absolute top. Then both crashed, hard and fast. During their amazing glory days they each established huge, adoring fan bases that are still to this day clinging to their memories and denying their eyes. 

With Tiger's injuries it may be easier to understand the big drop off.  However, it seems that a big key is his lack of confidence, especially with his short game.  Doesn't that sound a bit like it could be the key for Tim's lack of command? Isn't it wild that two such dominant performers may ultimately be undone by their own insecurities?

Anybody else see a connection, or am I just seeing Tim shadows everywhere?

Oh yeah, they both had pushy, controlling Sports Fathers.  Maybe that is a factor? Hmmmm....

Monday, January 26, 2015

Manfred's Mann(ifesto)

I was thinking it was about time to post about Ryan Vogelsong's signing, and what it means for Yusmeiro Petit and Tim Lincecum, but Mr. Rob Manfred, the new Commissioner of Baseball, has caught my attention, and not in a positive way.

This, from Mark Townsend on Yahoo Sports: "Manfred made it clear that examining the pace of the game is first on his list of priorities, but not far behind will be finding ways to 'inject additional offense into the game.'  Without being prompted for an example, Manfred specifically mentioned he'd be open to pursuing the elimination of defensive shifts, which he says gives the defensive team a competitive advantage."

So here we have it.  More offense, which means higher scores, more hits, more baserunners, more pitches, more home runs, more cap doffs after home runs, etc.  Yet a shorter game.  How is that going to work?

It is my belief that in the past few years, we have seen the sunset in the playing careers of a number of the game's historically great hitters, and are witnessing some of the game's great pitching performances.  Not that there haven't been great hitters and great pitchers in every era, but that the numbers on the field at once have shifted from hitters to pitchers.  Think of the great sluggers in history.  Yet can you imagine talking about seeing Barry Bonds and Mark McGuire play each other?  Or McGuire and Sosa in the same division?  You can blame PED's if you wish for the spate of great hitters, but remember, at the time, the home run race "saved baseball" by drawing fans into the game.

And now, although baseball clearly doesn't need saving, there seems to be a perceived need for more offense.  There are only so many ways to get offense.  You wind baseballs tighter (like that hasn't been done before), you handicap defense (by, like, not letting them move around on the field), you change the dimensions by making fences shorter or lowering the mound, which is really just a physical rather than an operational way of handicapping defense, or, finally, you let the batters improve.  PED's????  Corked bats?????

They lowered the mound after 1968's season in which Bob Gibson (one of my childhood heros, along with Juan Marichal) posted a 1.12 era.   Yet guys like Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle didn't need a lower mound to become baseball legends.   (Maybe you can detect a bias towards pitching, not that I could ever pitch worth a damn.)  In 1969, the runs per game went up, then up in 1970.   Then down, down, up, down, up, down, up, down and then up, so that in 1980, MLB averaged 4.29 runs per game, a little higher than 1973's 4.21 (1968 was 3.42, due in part to Mr. Gibson).  In 1999 and 2000, runs per game were more than 5, but have not been 5 or less than 4 since.

But the fact of the matter is that more offense will make a game longer.  There is no way around it.  You can put pressure on batters, like making them stand in the box.  I am not convinced that this would appreciably speed up the game, although it would make batters less annoying.  I think that any increase in offense would offset any possible time savings in games.  Pitching changes after more offense?  Yeah, that will eat up any savings from harassing batters.

So, let's think for a minute about this other statement - that defensive shifts gives the defense a competitive advantage.  Why is that?  Isn't every defensive alignment designed to help the defense, from the wheel play, to charging a bunt, to shifting a center fielder?  You don't put more people on the field in a defensive shift, you merely re-arrange them.  That means that there are big holes in other areas of the field.  That doesn't sound like a competitive advantage to me, it sounds like a very big risk, and if the offense can't exploit it, well then, it is no different than a fat pitch over the middle that the batter fails to put into the seats.  Mark said it well, that offenses will (or at least should) adjust.  There is no competitive advantage in a defensive arrangement, regardless of Mr. Manfred's statement.

So I am not happy about this nonsensical manifesto of Mr. Manfred.  Since they aren't about to speed up games by eliminating tv advertising between innings, you simply are not going to speed them up AND create more offense.

I think Ryan Vogelsong's signing is a good thing.  What about a 6 man rotation for a couple of months?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lucky Fans

Siskiyou County is a great place to live. It's over six thousand square miles in size and holds fewer than fifty thousand people. That means hardly ever waiting in line, or short waits when there is a line. That was sure the case with The Trophy Tour on all three occasions. The first two were held in Mt. Shasta City Park and the latest was at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed. Most of the places on The Tour are larger cities and near metropolitan areas. We northstate fans are particularly fortunate. A gentleman by the name of Mike Rodriguez made this possible. He is the Parks Administrator for Mt. Shasta City, a Junior Giants supporter, and obviously a big fan. I'd like to say "Thanks, Mike!" on behalf of all the happy fans who live here. Here's are pictures from 2012 (top) and 2010 (below). I unfortunately did not get one this time. My bad. Next time, I suppose!

Trophy Man!

M.C., Mike R., JC      


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Giants' Silence About Pagan is Deafening

I am getting very nervous.  It is impossible to find one single word on the Internet about the comeback status of our very important, very valuable starting Center Fielder.  One would think that there would be some reassuring words or, at the very least, some words indicating concern.  But, there has been absolutely nothing.

Back Surgery is serious business, &, given the absolute silence on his part & on the part of the organization, I don't think that it is reasonable to count on Pagan at all in 2015.  Think about Scutaro in 2014 - that was another exercise in secrecy &, ultimately, in disappointment.

Is it any wonder that we have signed Aoki & Ishikawa (don't forget Justin Maxwell).  I think that it is very clear that the Giants are preparing for a Pagan-less 2015.

I hope that I am wrong.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Trophy Time, Part Two!

Love the socks!

JC and his lovely bride Robyn.

It doesn't get old.

Me (on the right) and Sue and our pals Rick and Nancy Meredith. Sue's got the 2010 cap and I've my 2010 t-shirt on underneath, just peeking through, and the 2014 cap.


Trophy Time!

"A picture is worth a thousand words."


Friday, January 16, 2015

Nori Aoki in orange and black

Who saw this coming? Not me.

Nori Aoki to sign with Giants.

I did not realize Aoki was a free agent. One year deal at $4M, with an option for 2016 ($0.7M) and performance bonuses, potentially two years and $12.5M (max).

Low cost, low risk, versatile player with a good glove. .287/.353/.387 lifetime (1811 PA).

Gregor Blanco II!

I like it.


Monday, January 12, 2015

To Tim or Not to Tim (Re-Visited)

This post by Jon deserved more action, before it was sidetracked by irrelevant talk about the Hall-of-Fame, etc..

Look ... we all know how this is going to play out.  One year or another, Tim Lincecum will discover what has been ailing him & will turn it all around with another dominant season ... correction, several more dominant seasons.  Since, unless he does that in 2015, he will be on his way elsewhere to perform this miracle, I vote for 2015.

I have reason for optimism about this.  I believe that he has been working & studying hard in the off-season, because he has been embarrassed by his odd role in the 2012 Post-Season & his virtual disappearance in the 2014 Post-Season.  We all know that he is a proud & talented guy.  We also know that he loves the Giants & San Francisco & that they love him right back.

It's Tim in 2015 - that's what I predict.  15+ wins, 200+ IP, a big role in a big season!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Let's Discuss Barry Bonds

With the Hall of Fame selections coming up we loyal Giants fans should consider the greatest baseball player that any of us have ever seen, not counting faint glimmers of memories of having seen Willie Mays in our youth.
My dominant feeling as a Bonds fan is that I've been cheated, cheated out of the pleasure of being able to gloat about how great a player he truly was, and to be overtly proud that I was there, in the stands, seeing much of it happen.
That spring when he showed up with the round face I knew immediately he had been juicing and I mostly thought, "Wow, I hope he gets away with it." But if I knew then pretty much everybody knew. And guess what? He DID get away with it.
He's on the ballot.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

To Tim or Not to Tim?

Maybe that isn't exactly the right question, but the point is that it is time to talk about our favorite local Freak. Face it, this is a juicy topic. It covers everything from hero worship, economic inequality, and our own mortality.  But mostly it gives us another good chance to crunch numbers!

With that in mind, let's start with an excellent Beyond the Box Score article that states a very clear opinion. What do you guys think?