Friday, May 4, 2007

Reasons To Be Cheerful Part #252

1) The Giants came from behind to beat the Phillies 6-2 in exciting fashion.
2) I really love it when a bone-headed, pants-wetting manager such as Charlie "Thanks Q" Manuel of the Phillies orders Barry Bonds walked with two outs and the bases empty while his team trails by a run. Then pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney singled, Feliz walked (another miracle) to load the bases, and then Omar, mired in a slump, singles up the middle to drive in two runs. Durham singled next, driving in Feliz for another two-out, three run rally. Thanks Chuck!
3) Little used back-up catcher EliezerAlfonzo knocked in the first three Giants runs with a bases loaded pinch double. Alfonzo appears to be making the most of his chances to play, knocking out three hits in yesterday's 9-7 loss to Philly after he'd come in to rest Benjie Molina. Eliezer was a good story last year too, when he came out of nowhere to take over for Mike Matheny, who's career was ended by one too many foul tips off the mask. Alfonzo filled in admirably, and I was kind of surprised he wasn't given a chance to keep the job, but I guess the team felt a little timid to give it to a journeyman, aging minor leaguer. Oh well, for now he's one of two very good catchers on the Giants roster.
4) Although it doesn't really make me cheerful, Lance Niekro was designated for assignment tonight, meaning he shouldn't be an annoyance to me any more. Maybe he'll clear waivers and regroup in Fresno, maybe not.
5) Armando Benitez pitched the ninth tonight, even though it was too big a lead for a save, and retired the Phils in order after missing a chance Wednesday by being out with a sore knee.
6) My favorite non-Giant in the league, Julio Franco, broke his own record tonight. He AGAIN became the oldest man to hit a homerun in MLB history at 48. He hit it off of another over-40 dude, rat faced, mullet-headed grouchy grouch Randy Johnson. Julio, just two years younger than I. Maybe I can still have a major league career.
Old Man Ribbie

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Barry, Barry, Benjie and The Baby Bull

The ageless Barry Bonds lined his 9th homerun of the season tonight in the Giants 5-3 win over The Rockies.

Bonds hit his 743rd career bomb, a laser beam into the right field arcade, and as Jon Miller said on the broadcast tonight "The ball was in the hands of the guy who caught it before they heard the crack of the bat." In the eighth, with the Rockies leading 3-2, the Giants managed to load the bases for Barry Bonds. Sitting at home listening to the radio, I could actually hear Rox pitcher Manny Corpus wetting his pants. Bonds lined a single past Todd Helton to put the Giants ahead 4-3. Building a team around a 42 year old man with surgically repaired knees seemed like such a stupid idea before the season started. But Bonds is no shadow of his former self, he IS his former self. Simply amazing.

Barry Zito had some trouble tonight. He's one of those frustrating guys who throws a LOT of pitches, five and six pitch atbats for almost every batter. He's still a good pitcher, because a lot of those high-pitch AB result in outs, but tonight he went out after Bonds' HR gave him a 2-0 lead and gave those two runs right back. But he managed to go seven innings without giving up any more than those two.

I also have to talk about the catching situation. The Giants over the last few years have had some great guys catching--Benito "Let Me Tell You Songteen" Santiago, Mike Matheny and current backup Eliezer Alphonzo...but I think Benjie Molina may be my favorite. He's been clutch at the bat. Tonight he got a hit in the eighth to drive in an insurance run, something he seems to do whenever he's given a chance. And he's great for the pitchers. In a post game interview, Brad Hennessey said that before the final out, Benjie told him "Here's what's going to happen. I'm going to call for a fastball, you're going to throw it on the outside, and we'll get him to hit it to the big part of the ballpark." Benjie called fastball, Hennessey pitched it on the black, and Troy Tulowitzki hit a high fly ball to Randy Winn in right to end the game. If that doesn't build trust, nothing does. I love Benjie Molina. Platonically of course.

In the news tonight we learn Giants Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda, the Baby Bull, got popped tonight in beautiful Cordelia, California speeding along the freeway burning a fat one, while holding some white powder. I myself have in the rather recent past blown through Cordelia while smoking a joint, but I didn't speed and I surely wasn't holding any powdered drugs. Bad judgment on Cha-Cha's part. But I still love the big, semi-ambulatory lug. Platonically of course.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Stinky Stinky Stinkity Stink

Q: What's the difference between a concrete road pylon and Lance Niekro?

A: The road pylon is faster, and is a better judge of pitches.

I'd ask another question of Bruce Bochy, Giants manager. And I'll add a follow-up 1) Why do you feel the need to carry five or six first basemen on the day-to-day roster? (Follow-up) Why is Lance Niekro one of them?

I exaggerate of course. The Giants carry a mere four first basemen. Aurilia, who can play any infield position but was signed to play first, Sweeney and Klesko, who can play first base and left field, and Niekro, who can play first base. Adequately. Put a bat in his hands, and you're just plain wasting his time and yours. Apart from the signing of Feliz one day after Aurilia signed, keeping Niekro on the team was the stupidest move of the offseason. "But he was out of options!" his relatives cry. As if he wouldn't have cleared waivers. And I know the fans bitch and moan about the Giants not developing any position players in their farm system that become good Major Leaguers, but pinning that hope on Lance Niekro is a forlorn hope. You can't develop a quality major league player by letting him play in the minors until he's pushing thirty, then stick him on the Major League roster and hope that even though he has never given you a reason to believe he would not suck, he won't suck.

And even though I know he gets paid to do it, and is much better at it than me or any other fan, I was scratching my head over Bochy's management of the final Giants at bats. The Giants, down by two, had the top of the order up in the bottom of the ninth. They need at least one baserunner to get to Bonds. Wow, Dave Roberts is leading off. Pesky Dave Roberts. A guy that can work a pitcher for a walk, bunt for a hit, that kind of thing. Wrong. Pinch Hit for Roberts with Todd Linden, another fifty year old Giants prospect who is only slighty less frustrating than Niekro. Now I'll give Bochy a little benefit of the doubt--maybe Roberts tweaked a hammy or something. But damn. Linden. If you like your pinch hitters of the "flail away cluelessly" variety, Linden's a good choice. Especially if you're saving Niekro to pinch strikeout later. So, Linken strikes out. Omar, in a slump, can't get on either, but at least he lined one to left that Holliday had to dive for. Maybe Klesko can work a walk out of Rockies closer Brian Fuentes, so Bonds, hitting .800 over his career against Fuentes, can either have a swing or be walked intentionally putting the tying run on base. Giants fans, I gots good news and bad news for you. The Good news is Barry's on deck. The bad news is that Lance Niekro is at the plate. Suh-WISH!

Russ Ortiz suffered a setback with this start, retiring in the fourth after giving up eight runs on nine hits. Let's hope he just suffered some pre-game head trauma and hasn't reverted to the pitcher the Diamondbacks know and love. The bully did their job, giving up only one more run in the five innings after Russ' departure. And the Giants scored seven times. That's huge for them.

I love the Giants and hate to pick 'villains' on the club. But man I am tired of Lance Niekro. And there's only one first base. Why do the Giants need four guys for the job? In case the first three go down? Maybe a middle infielder would be nice. Because who's the backup for second base, third, and short? Aurilia, who usually starts at first. Feliz could back up the infielders too, but he's already playing third usually. Gotta have those two extra first sackers though. Oy.

Your final from La Belle Pacifique: Colorado 9, San Francisco 7

Win streak ends at one.

Back on Track. New win streak at ONE.

The Giants got back to winning with some help from the Colorado Rockies last night, winning a sloppy one by a day-shift. (9 to 5) Noah Lowry recovered after a rough start to get the win, and the Giants got a lift from the bat of Pedro Feliz, who crushed one in the first to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. Feliz to me is the most frustrating of Giants. He never met a pitch he didn't like, and was the intended target of the "Brain Dead Carribean Hitters Who Hack At Slop Nightly" controversy last year.
But he makes game-saving plays at third base and is by all accounts a friendly, likeable chap. And when he goes on a tear, he looks like a major league power hitter. The Giants must see something in him---they keep resigning him. Maybe it will all work out for the Giants.
He's got more homeruns so far than any Giant not named Bonds. Good on ya, Pete Happy. Keep taking me by surprise.

The Man Who Hated Northern California

It seems the Warriors fans (and indeed most of the Bay Area) are up in arms over certain comments by TNT's NBA commentator Charles Barkley. Apparently, he said such things as that he'd rather sleep on Alcatraz Island than in Oakland or San Francisco. Even took a shot at quaint little Sausalito. He left out Berkeley, maybe because he's heard that the British pronounce it "Barkley". "Teh Horror!" as we used to say on the old ESPN Giants Board.

As a Kings fan, my team and my town have been on the receiving end of many a Chuck tirade over the years, along the lines of cowtown, backwoods, yada yada yada. And I think he once said "Say something positive about THIS place? OK. It's positively a dump." I don't think I've ever gotten mad about it. I got more upset when two chuckleheaded Sacramento DJs decided it would be great fun to call Chuck's Sacramento hotel room in the wee small hours during a Suns visit some years back. I thought that that was pretty bush league. Interestingly enough, I didn't mind at all when some room service chef (allegedly) spiked Kobe Bryant's burger and made him sick.

I don't mind any of this because I think Charles Barkley is one of the funniest non-professional comedians on the planet. I've NEVER seen him serious--unless he's actually talking about the game of basketball. He just plain makes me laugh, and that's a trait I value highly. Hell, he even talks smack about himself sometimes.

Here are some of my favorite Barkley moments.
  • After getting into an altercation in a bar with a drunk who wanted to pick a fight with him, in which he threw the guy through a window, Chuck was asked by a reporter if he had any regrets about the incident. "Yes, " replied Chuck. "I regret that we were on the first floor."
  • "You know it's going to hell when the best rapper out there is white and the best golfer is black."
  • "I was thinking about suing her for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character.
  • "Sometimes that light at the end of a tunnel is a train."
  • "Somebody hits me, I'm going to hit them back. Even if it does look like they haven't eaten in a while."
  • "I know they say it alot about brothers, but I guarantee you everybody in Finland looks alike."
  • Ernie: "Charles, what's the problem with the Knicks right now?" Charles: "They're no good."
  • "It's kinda great to see the Celtics doing well again. That was so much fun in my day to go to the Boston Garden and they spit at you and throw things at you and talk about your mom. It's just like dinner at Kenny Smith's house."

Maybe what I like best about Chuck is that during this latest San Francisco/Oakland controversy, one of his lines was "You know how bad it is? I like Sacramento better than BOTH of those cities...."

Monday, April 30, 2007

I took the weekend off. So did the Giants.....

I guess I shouldn't have been so cocky posting that broom after the Dodgers series---The Giants ended up on the wrong end of it this weekend:

Diamondbacks swept the three game series. Zito pitched well enough to win, Cain was excellent, and Morris was good until the Hudson hit yesterday. The bullpen was a study in suck. The Lord Bonds Almighty got a homerun, and was walked a hundred and fifty seven times. Or so it seemed.

I drove to the coast this weekend, just for a few hours. The Nervous Red Dog would have preferred to race along the sand untethered, but the North Coast beaches are on-leash only. Such is the case at Goat Rock State Beach, a particularly beautiful place a little north of Bodega Bay. Had there been less of a crowd, I'm afraid I would have broken this rule. (I'm talking plain sand here, not bird habitats or anything) But it sho' nuff is a beautiful place. Here's what it looks like:

This photo was taken by Donald Kinney. I found his site, Photoarrow, while looking for pictures of my beloved Northern California coastline, my favorite spot on earth. You should definitely check Donald Kinney's photo art. Do it HERE.

On the way back to reality, we stopped at Lucas Wharf in Bodega Bay for a basket of fish'n'chips. The Nervous Red Dog was quite enthusiastic about the breaded, piping hot fish filets, but was unimpressed by the chips. This was unsurprising, because the NRD has never been fond of potato. Every dog I've known has LOVED french fries, chips, bakers, anything! But not HIM. In his four years of life, he's been offered English style-chips nearly every Sunday and Tuesday night by well meaning patrons of the pub where I work. Never touches 'em. He'd sell me out for the fish though. He can't get enough. But back to the Lucas Wharf chips. The Dog didn't like them, but I thought they were great.

So even if the Giants lost three in a row, and I spent thirty five bucks I didn't have for a tank of frickin' gas, I'd have to call the weekend a roaring success. Watching the sun go down while next to the Pacific Ocean is the great salvation.

So tonight the Colorado Rockies meet the Giants at La Belle Pacifique. (AT&T Park to some) Noah Lowry to start...lets hope that they get back to winnin'.