What’s up Black N Orangeans?
Oh my Will (just a joke), it seems like after every move the Giants make this off season, there’s a siege of bloggers who are throwing temper tantrums like a 15 year old girl who got her Drake CD stolen. It’s ugly guys. It’s like the whole San Francisco Giants blogging community became ESPN in just a few weeks.When Pence got his contract? “Oh…that’s too much.” When Lincecum got his salary reduction?”Oh that’s still too much!” Tim Hudson? Not that much bellyaching but i’ve read,”Why spend that much on a 38 year old pitcher?” Javier Lopez? “Where spending too much on the same guys?” Vogie? “Oh My Gaawwwwwd! Why are we just signing the team we had last year!!!!”
As for me? I happen to think that Brian Sabean knows a hell of a lot more than any of you,…and maybe me too. Let’s take this from the top.
Hunter Pence (5 years $90 million). 2013 he established Career highs in Games played: 162, Hits: 178, Stolen bases: 22, HRs: 27 (in a very homer unfriendly ballpark). Not only that…who can really put a price point on sheer will? Will, desire, determination, attitude, toughness, a player who has the rare knowledge to know what it truly means to be part of a team, in the clubhouse and on the field. Hunter Pence has been the outfielder most sought after in free agency for the past three to four years. Why? Because no one thinks they can sign him in free agency. Sabean took care of that before it even happened. Pence does not deserve to be a journeyman outfielder, he’s the type of player you build a team around. It was never sentimental…just good business sense in being able to see the complete picture.
Tim Lincecum (2 years $35 million). Let’s forget for a second that…well…this is actually a pay cut of about 8 million dollars (over two years). Lets forget that in 7 years in the majors he’s a two time Cy Young award winner, a two time World Champion (playing major roles in both as a starter and a reliever), has been a major piece in this phenomenon known as the Resurgent San Francisco Giants franchise. Let’s forget he’s a 4 time All Star. Tim Lincecum is the enigma that 29 other teams in the MLB wish they had. Regardless of his issues the past two seasons (he had 13 losses and a 2.74 era in 2011. Let’s face it…no run support.), what other 2nd, or 3rd starter are you going to get for 2 years $35 million??? Ok now ask yourself, what other 2nd or 3rd starter are you going to get to replace Timmy that’s better on his worst day?? Don’t worry, i’ll wait…! Crickets? Ok, so Timmy has to pitch now. Who better to help Timmy remake himself than Rags? Don’t worry, I’ll wait…! My next question: knowing how well Timmy has performed in the post season would you want to get to the post season and not have him at your disposal? i see the lights coming on but i’m not done yet.
Tim Hudson (2 years 23 million). When’s the last time Tim Hudson had a losing season in Major League Baseball? You guys stew on that one for a second.
Javier Lopez (3 years $13 million) Surely you gest? 4 million a year for a left handed relief specialist. Javier Lopez has been getting the big outs since he stepped foot in San Francisco. If it aint broke don’t fix it.
Ryan Vogelsong (1 year $5 million plus incentives) 27-16 in the previous two years plus he was arguably our most reliable pitcher in the 2012 post season. He has an off year so let’s just scrap the guy altogether for some guy who may or may not prove worthy of the investment. That’s why none of us are GM’s.
Regarless of what anyone says…including me, no one can truly predict what will happen. Those who get it right are pretty lucky and they’re destined to get it wrong the next year. That’s why baseball is the game that it it. That’s why baseball can’t be lassoed and controlled. one minute you’re up three games to none the next you’re crying in the visitors dugout at ATT. That’s why I look at what happens in the Hot Stove league and try to see all angles, but know that what happens…happens. So give the guys who live and breathe it everyday the benefit of the doubt…which I know you won’t anyway.
I’ve been into Orange and Black from the age of 5. My Uncle Frank from Louisiana, an avid baseball fan, came to visit me in Richmond, California back in 1974 and took me to Candlestick Park…to my first of what would be a great many San Francisco Giants games. The Legend goes, that I was pretty much into my own thing until roughly the 7th or 8th inning when I looked down from the upper deck and then looked over to my Uncle Frank and said,”Uncle Frank! They’re playing baseball down there!”. To this Uncle Frank smiled and said,”No kidding?” To this day, I can remember just one players name mentioned that day…Chris Speier. Because of this, when I started playing and following and actually understood what was going on…Chris Speier was my favorite player. I was elated in 1987 when he returned to the Orange and Black.
I remember meeting my Dad, who drove for Muni for over 35 years, at Balboa Park Bart Station on weekends. He would drive the Ball Park Express bus up to The Stick on home weekends, and I’d ride with him and go to the game. Sometimes he’d be in there with me and sometimes he have to make more trips, but I always had a blast! The Giants weren’t just my favorite baseball team, they were everything to me. I hung on to every pitch on the radio, on TV, or live at The Stick. I remember crying in 1980 when Jerry Ruess of the Dodgers no hit my Giants. I also remember a tearful retirement ceremony for Willie Mac that same year. I remember, in 1982, being down 6-0 versus Nolan Ryan and the Astros only to have Jack Clark and Reggie Smith hit back to back home runs and Darrell Evans rip a single to drive in a floundering Bob Brenly to complete the comeback and get the win. That 1982 season was magical. Unfortunately, we were knocked out of the playoff race on the second to the last day of the season. Tears quickly went to joy when the next day we returned the favor to the Dodgers…reigning World Champions.
It’s never been an easy thing to be a Giants fan. There were so many times when I wore my frustrations on my sleeve but I would be right back listening to the radio the next evening. In 1992, all my worst fears almost manifested, when it was rumored that my one childhood vice, my team , The San Francisco Giants would be moving to St. Petersburg Florida. The last game of the season had a somber, sad feeling to it as we were getting shutout by Jose Rijo and the Reds. Then we mounted a comeback or sorts and came up one run short of tying the game up against arguably the most dominate closer at the time, Rob Dibble.
…and then came Magowan and Bonds.
I don’t care what anyone says about Barry Bonds, he’s part of the reason we have celebrated two championships over the past three years. He’s part of the reason every home game at ATT Part is sold out. They can say what they want to say about him, he was a soldier for this organization. He may not have always done the right thing, he may not have treated the media in a way conducive to being a professional, but there’s no doubt that he was passionate about this game and this organization. This team wouldn’t have it’s recent success without Barry’s contributions…the non controversial contributions.
Which brings us to our current cast of characters. You know, the characters who with nothing but a wing and a prayer went into Cincinnati, down two games to none, and swept the Reds out of Great American Ball Park. You know, the guys who went down 3 games to 1 versus the defending World Champions, placed the season and the ball into the hands of Barry Zito and never looked back. You know, the team that did not flinch when baseball experts said Justin Verlander would handle the Giants lineup with ease. I guess they never saw The Panda coming. We did! You know, the guys that walked through the World Series, obviously the better team, and swept the Detroit Tigers into oblivion.
You know,…The World Champion San Francisco Giants!!
Courage defined. To become the highest paid pitcher in the Major Leagues at $126 million, and not live up to expectation, having velocity problems, and instead of being the ace of staff, becoming the 5th starter of a pitching staff of high draft picks. Having to battle control problems while being asked consistently about your contract and lack of production while simultaneously being peppered with boos from once adorning fans.A former Cy Young award winner who is left off the post season roster…and refused to fade off into the distance and put together two positive performing seasons back to back, becoming the stopper and taking the mound to stop losing streaks. To dig your cleats in and keep telling yourself I will not fail. Getting a second chance in the post season and having a rocky outing off the bat but then taking the ball with your teammates a game away from elimination, with the whole city of San Francisco at your back crying out #RallyZito…and pitching 7 2/3rd innings of shut out baseball vs the reigning world champions and posting a Game 1 victory versus arguably the best starting pitcher today. Starting a whirlwind that ultimately would win the team the World Series. Courage…Barry Zito.
With this new class of players eligible to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall Of Fame, comes with more controversy than we’ve ever experienced before. Players like Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Piazza, Sosa, all who have been associated in some way with performance enhancing drugs, are now sitting, waiting to be judged. I’ve sat and listened to all the pro’s and con’s of selecting a player in such a class, and having been a huge baseball fan all my life here’s my thoughts:
You’ve got to judge these guys the same way you’d judge in a noncontroversial year, and here’s why. no one knows the extent of PED use in this era. We only know it was extremely widespread but from player to player…we don’t know. I respect all these guys, first and foremost, but no one knows if a player like Craig Biggio ever tinkered with PED. I don’t believe he did, but I don’t know. Curt Schilling, with all his anti-PED rants, could be covering up his own demons, as did Clemens in the beginning. What about some of the players who have already been inducted into the Hall? Are we naive enough to believe that none of them are PED users? Not one? I know that isn’t true. How many of these guys have shared the same locker room as “notorious” users? Most of what we are forming our opinions on is speculation. The court of public opinion.
Secondly, we already know there’s “cheaters” in the Hall of Fame. Remember the corked bat era in baseball? There’s corkers, scuffers, high cleat sliders, and spitters, roaming the Halls right now. Are PED users, super cheaters?
Here’s what we do know. Major League Baseball turned a knowing blind eye to these guys for a long time. In fact until 2004, I believe, PED’s weren’t illegal. It was just what some players did to build they’re bodies, and recover from injuries…until long standing records started to fall. Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa didn’t just break Maris’ record, they destroyed it. Baseball was resurgent in this era. After the strike in 1994 which cost the MLB the playoffs and the World Series, baseball was floundering attendance-wise, and fans were serious. Cal Ripken Jr., McGwire, Sosa and Bonds put butts back in seats. They got fans to forget how hurt and frustrated they were and got them out to the ballpark. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not heroes, but they’re also not the big villains they’ve been made to be. For those of you who say they cheated the game, they were allowed to “cheat” scott free with no rules or regulations to stand in their way. Some of them were even encouraged to do these things. There’s no way this problem could get as widespread as it was without owners, trainers, GM’s, commissioners not playing a vital role.
Ultimately, the Baseball Writers of America will decide their fate. I believe the best pure players will be penalized more than the average players who were linked to PED which is a shame. With all it’s faults and times of poor judgement, baseball is still the best sport on the planet in my eyes.
On this Christmas morning one question has been lurking in the most distant portion of my astral plane and the more I lay in bed, the more it charges its way into my brain. The question? WHY? Why are the San Francisco Giants not favored to win the NL West? Why are we consistently thought of as not being worthy to even be chosen as one of the Top 10 Teams Right Now by MLB Network? Why does ESPN consistently NOT refer to us at all? Why did the Rangers and Tigers not know what they’d be facing in the 2010 and 2012 Fall Classic respectively? Why? Media bias!!! Everyone knows that sportscasters get their jollys by predicting outcomes. Their picks are gonna be, of course, one of the “sexy” teams. Teams with a 3,4, and 5 hitter who destroy the opposition, until they get to San Francisco. Teams with unbeatable pitchers who owns the opposing hitters, until they’re out dueled in San Francisco. It’s been said time and time again-pitching, defense and situational hitting wins championships. The experts seem to have gotten away from this thought process. It seems they want to take the quick and easy route to predicting outcomes. I’m sorry “experts”, but the more you take the easy route, the more you come out looking like a kid who hasn’t studied for the final exam and decides to wing it. You may get it right BUT the odds are not in your favor.