This is not as long as my usual reviews, but because I did not watch the entire episode, I can only comment on what I saw. I don’t like to do this, but I will not have the time to watch the entire first episode of The Bible this week, and I wanted to post something while it is still relevant. This may be a breath of fresh air for my readers, especially when it comes to History Channel productions, but I did not hate this opening episode at all. In fact, it actually was decent. There are still plenty of little nuggets to poke fun at, and a few cringe moments, but overall, it was a pleasing effort for those who take the Bible as the literal word of God, and those who just like it as a good story. Some highlights that caught my attention are below:
From here on out, I never want to hear another person bring up steroids and baseball ever again. I don’t want to hear how Barry Bonds’ all-time homerun record deserves an asterisk next to it. I don’t want to hear how Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa scammed the MLB fan base by cheating during the 1998 homerun race, when they hit 70 and 66 respectively. I don’t want to hear how Alex Rodriguez, if he breaks Bonds’ record, is one criminal passing another. I don’t want to hear anything about secret lists, public lists, magic lists, whatever kind of list you want to call it, and whoever might have their name on them. I don’t want to hear about records being tainted or re-writing baseball history to separate good from evil during the “Steroid Era” of Major League Baseball. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over—the witch hunt, that is, which has been going on for years now. Commissioner Bud Selig’s personal little crusade to rid the holy league of performance enhancing drugs. Though everyone knew full well it was running rampant in locker-rooms, no one decided to do anything about it, so it seems, until Barry Bonds was smashing records.
The San Francisco Giants are fresh off a world series victory and about to lose their starting shortstop Juan Uribe, to the Los Angeles Dodgers as sources are now reporting that he is close to signing a three-year deal with them. The Giants will be in desperate need for someone to fill his void, with no one in the system capable of putting up the numbers that he did—Emmanuel Burriss and Eugenio Velez have shown nothing but ineptitude.
Mike Fontenot is a player who could perhaps fill the void, but he is more suited for a platoon and fill-in role, as he is more experienced, and is a better contact hitter than some of the free-swinging Giants. It is because of this that the Giants should look to the free agent market to land themselves a shortstop, and the one player out there who is drawing attention almost daily in the papers, is Derek Jeter, who is frozen in contract negotiations with the New York Yankees.
Jeter, 36, is rumored to be seeking a six-year deal worth ~$150 million, a contract which would bring him to age 42 and pay him $25 million a season. The Yankees maintain that they will not budge from their first and only offer so far of three-years, $45 million, a deal that will pay the aging star a more realistic number. Is Jeter worth what he is seeking? Absolutely not, if you are looking at what he can provide from here on out. But if you want to look to the past and thank the player that has led this team to five World Series Championships, made the All-Star team eleven times, and all while keeping his reputation spotlessly clean with the media, then he is worth that much. One could make the argument that had George Steinbrunner still been alive, none of this would be happening, but he isn’t, and now the career-Yankee, and first ballot hall-of-famer, who will achieve his 3000th hit this season, barring injury, is standing at an impasse with the most powerful team in baseball.
It is because of this that the Giants should make him an offer. Perhaps if he does not get what he is looking for from the Yankees, he would take a smaller deal elsewhere. I would suggest something along the lines of three-years, $60 million. An amount offering to pay him more than the Yankees, but still keeping the years at a realistic number. Jeter’s play dropped off dramatically this season—his average fell more than 60 points, his hits went from 212 to 179, homeruns from 18 to 10, and strikeouts rose from 90 to 106. His numbers were not bad, by any means, but it has obviously caused some concern with Yankee brass.
If the Giants were to sign Jeter, they would have some veteran stability in the infield, something that they sorely needed on the left side of second base last season. As good and clutch as Uribe was—hitting 24 homeruns and driving in 85—he was a defensive liability (as is Sandoval). Jeter’s defense may not be Gold Glove-caliber anymore, despite winning the award this season, but his range is definitely greater than that of Uribe, and he will provide something much more valuable than anyone on this current roster, and that is patience at the plate.
People often wonder why Yankee games last three hours, and that is because they know how to hit. They take bad pitches and force the pitcher to throw strikes, something the Giants have not done since the Barry Bonds-led years in the mid-2000′s. Uribe and Sandoval led the way in free-swinging. It has it benefits, such as Uribe swinging so hard he would almost fall over, guaranteeing that if he made contact, the ball would leave the yard, but much too often he found himself striking out or hitting into a double play. This is something that plagued the Giants heavily, and was the main reason why it took this team until the final game of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot.
I do not think it is realistic that the Giants will get Jeter; for the most part, this is just thinking out-loud. I believe that Derek Jeter will be a career-Yankee, something that fans have been wanting for essentially his entire career. But if these negotiations keep on dragging, and it does not look like a deal is in place, then the Giants should field him an offer. After all, if he signs in San Francisco he would not be labeled a traitor. The Giants and Yankees are not rivals, nor do they regularly even play each other. If he is going to leave New York, than the Golden State is one place he could go.
For the first time in my life, a team I have rooted for has won the championship. The New York Rangers won when I was three years old so I don’t remember it, and just when the San Francisco Giants were three innings away from glory in 2002, they would find a way to blow it and cause me to wait even longer. To be honest, I did not think this day would ever come. If the Giants could not win with McCovey and Cepeda; Clark, Williams, and Mitchell; Bonds, Kent, Aurilia, Schmidt, and Nen; how on earth could they possibly win with this team of misfits?
As John Kruk said on ESPN following the win, perhaps the fact they were a group of low-caliber guys, and not stars, played into their win. They did not have a solid cleanup hitter, or a number-three hitter, or any real threat of offense whatsoever. But what they did have was pitching, and as the experts always say, pitching wins championships. That moniker echoed in my mind for the last few years as Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum came into their own. But the Giants had no offense and I figured these pitchers would wind up wasting their careers in San Francisco, always pitching great, but never accomplishing anything meaningful.
But the fact is, the Giants found a way to win this season, all while acquiring many nicknames and slogans. The team of “misfits” is what is being marketed right now, but manager Bruce Bochy initially started that theme when he called his hitters the “Dirty Dozen”. Fans also bestowed on the team their mantra for this season: “San Francisco Giants baseball. Torture.”
Well, if this is torture, it never felt so great, and I can say now that it was worth it. The Giants have waited 56 years for this World Series title, and the first since they moved from New York to the city by the bay. We will now take a look at these misfits, and they how they came to win the championship.
Andres Torres (16-58; 1 HR, 3 RBI; .276)
The player who would come to be a reliable leadoff hitter played over a thousand games in the minor leagues before getting a decent shot. He was up and down in the majors, playing some with the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. Before he came to the Giants last season, he had 99 games of Major League experience in more than ten years of professional baseball. Last year he got some time with the Giants and was nothing spectacular, but this year, he cranked 16 homeruns, stole a team leading 26 bases, and was near the top of the league in doubles with 43. He won the Willie Mac award at the end of the year, as a reward for his hard work, but that would pale in comparison to this World Series. In the five games he bat .318 with one homerun and three RBI’s; this after struggling mightily in the NLDS.
Pat Burrell (6-14; 1 HR, 4 RBI; .143 AVG)
Less than thirty games into this season, the Major League career of Pat “The Bat” Burrell was teetering on the brink of non-existence. After struggling last season with the Tampa Bay Rays and being unable to correct his play and adapt to the American League this year, he was designated for assignment. The Giants, who desperately needed some punch in the lineup, took a chance and claimed Burrell, and the risk paid off. Burrell would hit 18 homeruns and drive in 55, but more importantly, he served as a mentor to the young players and was an excellent presence in the locker room. Though he struggled mightily in the playoffs this year, the Giants would not have gotten where they were without him as he was instrumental in this championship.
Cody Ross (15-51; 5 HR, 10 RBI; .294)
No player more epitomizes this Giants team than Cody Ross. After struggling on the Florida Marlins this season, he was waived in late August, destined to be picked up by a team who needed to add depth to the bench. Not even truly wanting him for what he brought to the table, the Giants grabbed Ross solely because the San Diego Padres were rumored to be interested in him. With the Giants chasing their division rival, they could not take a chance and put in a claim for him. He hit only three homeruns in 33 games with San Francisco, proving to be solid, but not a standout player. But that would all change in the playoffs: Ross would hit three homeruns in the NLCS alone, including one each in the NLDS and World Series. When they needed a clutch hit, there he was. Ross won the NLCS MVP against the Phillies and proved to be one of the Giants most valuable hitters down the stretch.
Aubrey Huff (15-56; 1 HR, 8 RBI; .268)
The Giants desperately needed a first baseman this season when they courted Nick Johnson and Adam Laroche for the job. Both of them turned down offers and the only player left who was capable of playing that position was Aubrey Huff. Forced to take a pay cut, which resulted in a bargain-contract of $3 million, the Giants signed huff and made him their number three hitter. They also made him work on his defense, and early on, he played both first base and outfield. Well, Huff would prove to be the most intelligent signing in Brian Sabean’s career, as he hit 26 homeruns and drove in 86. Huff had also never made the playoffs before this year, and with the help of a certain “good luck thong”, he was able to put up decent playoff numbers and help the Giants win this championship.
Edgar Renteria (10-35; 2 HR, 6 RBI; .286)
When Edgar Renteria finished his first season with the Giants, he was anything but loved by the fan-base. The one time clutch player and outstanding shortstop was nothing but a washed up shadow of his former self. That all looked to change early on this season, when he started the year hot. But three trips to the DL would quiet any chance of a breakout year, and force him to play in only 72 games. After sitting out the entire NLDS, Bochy inserted him into the lineup against the Phillies, where he would stay for the remainder of the playoffs. Renteria, who had the game-winning hit in the 1997 World Series that gave Florida the victory would come up clutch again and again for the Giants. He hit two homeruns in the World Series (after hitting three all season) including the game-winning homerun in Game Five, that gave the Giants a 3-2 victory. His World Series batting average would be .412, and the man with the short-swing would win the series MVP award. The only question is whether or not the 34-year-old will retire. If he chooses to do so, how many players came into the league with a championship clinching hit, and ended it in the same way?
The Giants also got key contributions from Freddy Sanchez, who won the batting title in 2005 with the Pittsburgh Pirates before experiencing a fall from grace that saw him traded to San Francisco for Tim Alderson last season. Buster Posey continued to look like a veteran, and perhaps he will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Not only was his hitting spectacular, but his defense and handling of the pitching staff was as well. Juan Uribe, who was awful during the playoffs, only had two hits in the World Series: one of which was a three-run homer, and the other was an RBI single. He also hit the series clinching homerun against Philadelphia, and a game-winning sacrifice fly two games before that.
Pablo Sandoval brought in his regular season struggles to the playoffs, and Barry Zito became the highest paid cheerleader in history by not being placed on the roster, but all will be forgiven now. Tim Lincecum’s performance was also spectacular. In this post-season alone he defeated Derek Lowe, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee (twice). Matt Cain’s performance will also go overlooked as he did not allow a run in the 21.1 innings he pitched this post-season. But perhaps the quiet hero was Madison Bumgarner, who won the clinching game in the NLDS, pitched two ultra-important relief innings in the clinching game in the NLCS, and finally, won game four in the World Series. He would finish this post-season with a 2-0 record and a 2.18 ERA.
Finally, this season could not have ended this way without the bullpen. Brian Wilson and his magnificent beard were key in shutting down their opponents. He ended the NLCS with a strikeout of Ryan Howard and the World Series with a strikeout of Nelson Cruz. Lefty specialist Javier Lopez also proved to be invaluable, as he handled the batters he faced with ease.
Overall, I never in a million years thought that the Giants would win it this season. I cannot express how happy I am at this, but not just for myself, but for my dad, who has waited more than fifty-six years for this championship. And also, for the many greats who never won in San Francisco, you can finally smile. The ghosts of 1962, 1989 and 2002 are dead and buried!
The last time the San Francisco Giants were in the playoffs, they were trailing the Florida Marlins in the NLDS by a total of two games to one. Trailing by a run in the top of the ninth inning with two outs and their season on the line, a single to shallow left field prompted the Giants to wave J.T Snow home, who was on second base. Not noted for his running ability, Snow chugged along as fast as he could, but the ball beat him to home plate, and he went barreling into Marlins catcher Ivan Rodriguez who held onto the ball and ended the Giants season. Jason Schmidt was penciled in to pitch Game Five in San Francisco, had they made it.
The Giants were in every game of that series. After Schmidt pitched a complete game shutout in Game One for the win, the Giants lost Game Two 9-5, and the next two games by only one run, with scores of 4-3 and 7-6. But nevertheless, the Giants were out of the playoffs, where they would remain for the next seven seasons.
The team the Giants will field tonight as they make their return to meaningful October baseball will be much different. There will be no Barry Bonds, or Marquis Grissom, or Rich Aurilia. Instead there will be Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Buster Posey– two of which were playing for different teams in 2003 and one of which was not even a thought. The Giants rotation is stronger this time around, however. Aside from not having the brawny and intimidating Jason Schmidt, this team makes up for it with the smaller Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain and Jonathon Sanchez are also superior to Kirk Rueter and Jerome Williams. The Giants also go from Tim Worrell, who replaced the injured Robb Nen that season as the team’s closer, to All-Star Brian Wilson.
But not only are the namesakes different, but the way the teams are built differ drastically. The 2003 team was very experienced, and borderline ancient when you look at who was the driving force behind it. A 36-year-old Grissom led the team in batting, a 39-year-old Bonds with homeruns, 42-year-old Andres Galarraga was the team’s hot bat off the bench, and 38-year-old Benito Santiago was doing the catching.
This time around, the Giants can send a 23-year-old Buster Posey to the backstop, a 24-year-old Pablo Sandoval to be the infield anchor at third base, and the “old men” on the team be 34-year-olds Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell.
Though this Giants team does not have the playoff experience that the 2003 team had, or the 2002 team that made it to the World Series, they have the energy to compete and learn along the way. Many of the Giants leaders, such as the entire starting rotation, except for Barry Zito, and offensive catalysts Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez have never even been to the playoffs. But the Giants have Pat Burrell to handle the locker room in that department, something he has been doing all season, especially the last few weeks.
It was like a Godsend when San Francisco claimed the fast-falling Burrell off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays. After struggling all of last season, and getting off to a poor start this season, he was waived and many thought his baseball career would be over; a career that saw him have four 30 HR seasons, and eight seasons with 20 or more HRs. He has done everything the Giants have asked of him, including hitting 18 HRs, but also to be a mentor in the locker room. Barry Zito has also served as the same with the team’s incredibly young pitching staff, though his numbers are not what the team would like them to be.
The Giants will now face the Atlanta Braves in the 2010 NLDS, a team that is young and exciting to watch such as themselves. I will not make any predictions, because the ones I make never come true anyway. All I am looking for is some good October baseball and some games that will make waiting the last seven years for worth it.
I apologize for not being able to cover the Giants on here as often as I should, but my hands have been tied with the Rangers. Hopefully the Giants will give me something good to write about in the next few weeks, and maybe even longer!
It was about time we got a logo for this blog, one that represented the various topics covered, including sports, movies, and history. I’m not much of a Photoshop wizard, but I managed to draw up the logo below, to be used from now on. It will not be on display on the blog’s header, because that will completely throw everything out of whack, but it will be on display as our Twitter page’s profile picture.
My new Twitter account is now http://twitter.com/GregCaggiano and not the old one, because in my stupidity, I accidentally deactivated it while trying to reset my password. Please help me get my follower totals back to where they were!
As you can see, it is paying homage to some of my favorite people, all of which have been talked about on this site. Of course that is me in the middle, and my beard is not really as thick as it seems, but due to the wonders of tinting and editing, I could give Che Guevara a run for his money.
On the left side underneath the Ranger logo, we have Brian Leetch and Henrik Lundqvist. Representing the Giants are Barry Bonds and Time Lincecum. In both occurrences, it represents my favorite player from the past, then for the present.
Across the bottom, we have my favorite director, Stanley Kubrick, along with historical figures Sir Henry Clinton, Governor William Franklin, legendary frontiersman David Crockett, and of course, one of my favorite actors, John Wayne.
I hope you enjoy!
Since the departure of Barry Bonds two seasons ago, the San Francisco Giants have undergone a youth movement. From the completely revamped and most feared starting rotation in the major leagues, to the likes of Pablo Sandoval and Eugenio Velez in the infield. The Giants will be expecting big numbers from Sandoval, dubbed the “Kung-Fu Panda” by teammate Barry Zito, a nickname that has since stuck. They will also need contributions from Velez, who has been up and down for the last three seasons as well as outfielder Fred Lewis.
Players like John Bowker and Buster Posey are no shoe-ins to make the team right out of spring training, but they too will need to be relied on to bring offense to a team who was the worst ranked run support in the entire National League last season, and not much better the year before. But with all the fresh, promising new faces in the lineup, the veterans will still have to lead the way if the team wants to make a run at the division title, and go anywhere in the playoffs.
Aaron Rowand, who saw time at lead off during the middle of last season will begin there on opening day. He does not have the blazing speed that one would like at the top of the order, but his contact ability and power may be more appealing than anyone else in the Giants’ lineup at that spot. Aubrey Huff was acquired in the off-season and they will desperately need power out of him. Huff has 15 HRs and drove in 85 RBIs but has hit 20 or more homeruns six times in his career.
Utility man Mark DeRosa will also be needed. He is likely to reach 20 homeruns because he is a right-handed batter and in order to be a successful power hitter in AT & T Park, you need to bad from the right side (save for a certain #25). He can play 1B, 2B, 3B and outfield, but he will most likely be starting in left field come opening day, with Rowand at center and Schierholtz in right.
Bengie Molina, who I feared would not sign with the Giants, ended up inking a one year deal with the team and he will bring leadership as well as offense. He has had career numbers since coming to San Francisco and has driven in no less than 80 RBIs in each of his three seasons here. But what will be more important is his ability to work the young pitching staff, which may be even younger if Kevin Pucetas and Madison Bumgarner make the team.
There really is not much to expect from Edgar Renteria, the Giants veteran shortstop. He hit well at the end of the year but that was not enough to erase a disastrous campaign in 2009. I would expect he gets the chance to start at short, but with how Juan Uribe ended last season, do not be surprised if he is even given a chance at all. The Giants need power this season and if Uribe can match what he did last year, then the team will be in for a treat.
Over the next few weeks I will be giving my stat predictions for hitters and pitchers on the Giants. The rebuild is slowly but surely getting there, and I think we are in for an exciting season in 2010.