GBC Reader Vol. 2, Issue 4 – Slowly Improving Giants with Six Game Win Streak in May

The last ten days have been promising for the G-men. We took 3 of 4 from the Nemesis at the Yard! It was great. Kershaw beat us and Cueto got a little hot under the collar, resulting in a bench-clearing kerfuffle, but it was great to #BeatLA again.

We had a 17-inning game that ended on a Buster Posey walkoff HR! Around the Foghorn’s Vince Cestone ruminates it could be the game that turns things around.

Stat Man Doug Bruzzone has two pieces on our pitchers and our hitting that are interesting.

Barry Bonds is Finally Getting a Plaque on the Giants Wall of Fame

Brisbee’s take has a complete list of those honored and this gem: “If you’re agitated by the Belt Wars, you have no idea what it was like to live through the Great Snow Conflicts.”

While Haft has some nice, clean history and stats of the greatest power hitter to ever play the game (the GPHOAT) up on the Giants site.

Pence went on the DL and the Giants called Mac Williamson up. But he hasn’t done much yet. Christian Arroyo has been the star of May thus far. The rookie was called up and immediately brought fireworks and a clutch bat that seemed to juice the team. He needs a nickname and I prefer Spanky, case he looks like Spanky from Our Gang, but I am old, so it looks like the memory-less Millennials are gonna settle on The Kid or Boss Baby.

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GBC Reader Vol. 2, Issue 3: Thankful to Turn the Calendar Page

The first month of the season was turbulent, chaotic and unpredictable.

MadBum ripped two home runs on Opening Day, the only pitcher in history to achieve such a feat, and we lost. We scored a bunch of runs in the next several games and lost, then we lost Skip for a coupla games and a buncha guys for more and we lost, and then we didn’t score many runs and lost.

That adds up to 17 losses and a 9-17 month of April good for dead last in the National League West. There was always some weird issue in addition to the ones we were expecting – namely LF and the bullpen – and it’s apparent nobody’s comfortable except Johnny Cueto.

BASG sighting! SB’s take on the off-field difficulties stacking up for the G-men is a good read and very relevant.

Here’s AlPav’s Slideshow of Takeaways from the Giants opening month.

Daniel Sperry at Around the Foghorn calls the Giants’ April “Bad, Really Bad” but he includes some positives.

While his colleague Justin Rodgers asks and tries to answer what it will take to turn the season around.

Christian Arroyo is the star of the week: here’s Kaila Cruz at AtF on the kid. Everybody’s looking for a nickname and I am cool with #BossBaby.

BASG also chimed in loudly in favor of the Arroyo call up and brought up how the Boss Baby and Michael Morse have brought back the fun, reminding us of some of our fun times in the recent past.

On cue, here’s Michael Morse talking to Giants baseball bats to get hits out of ’em.

Ty Blach had another great start, pointed out by Michael Wagaman.

This is a team in transition from the World Series Championship Era (2010-2014), an era that’s deceptively long because Madison Bumgarner was almost single-handedly responsible for the last Championship, winning the WC play-in game and game seven at Kaufmann Stadium for us. The Nemesis has won the division four straight years while the Giants have just managed to stay in the playoffs twice via wildcard and #MadBum.

Our attempts to stay in it while re-organizing have been a war of attrition. Since the last Championship team, we’ve lost: Pablo Sandoval and Matt Duffy at 3B; Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez, Romo and Petit from the ‘pen; Vogelsong, Zito, Lincecum, Hudson, Peavy from the starters (and Cain has been absent).

ESPN Sr. Writer David Schoenfeld expands on this thought very effectively in his piece from a couple of days ago, Spring Setbacks Thwart NL Contenders and thankfully he includes the woes of the nemesis for some pain relief.

The nemesis and the Rockies and D-Backs have been tooling to win and it’s unrealistic in the modern game to expect to just fall back into the lead. It’s almost impossible to repeat as a champion these days. (There hasn’t yet been a back-to-back WS Champ in the 21st Century).

That said, when they’re rolling we have a pretty great starting rotation. Matt Cain has looked considerably better lately and though Samardzija is struggling now, I feel it is sort of his m.o. to pick it up as the season goes on. Bum, Cueto and Moore are legit playoff starters.

Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence and Buster Posey are all playing well. Though the bats with RISP are still just so bad.

Eduardo Nuñez and Denard Span have good at-bats and the platoon of LF are trying to find an identity. The addition of Morse is a real shot-in-the-arm.

The bullpen is a hot mess, but Mark Melancon is an elite closer and he has the capacity to anchor this squad and hopefully they can pull it together.

I am just blathering because we just don’t look very good right now … I don’t know what else to say, so I will just say

 

Go Giants!

 

love,

MTK

 

 

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Grief and Injury in the Fam

I haven’t got much to say about the twin issues that suddenly struck the Giants out of the blue – the sudden death of Brandon Crawford’s sister-in-law and the dirt bike accident  that put Madison Bumgarner on the DL for the first time in his career. But I thought I’d use this space to take a second to reflect on how baseball is a family.

You all are my family.

“My Giants Family,” is what I call you when I feel I need to be specific talking to strangers. We are intensely together in spirit every year for at least eight months as our brothers play baseball and fight for another World Series championship.

The long season from April to October, the 162 – 175 games, the multiple games a week – all of this binds us. It takes place daily, weekly, all summer, yearly, as we all live our lives and go about our business, and we are intimately attached to one another through it all.

We all know when someone on the team has something as minor as a hangnail! or a busted clavicle (get better soon JP).

We know if one of the players is getting married (Congrats Hunter and Lexi) or are having a baby (Congrats Hunter and Shelley).

Heck, we know if someone farts in the clubhouse (miss you, Jean).

It’s all pretty intimate.

When Brandon and Jalynne lost her sister last week, I didn’t want anything more than to be there for them. I didn’t care about wins, losses or the standings. It is an incredibly sad stroke of ill luck for a wonderful family within our family. I just wanted to help out.

By the same token, Madison’s dirt bike accident is a family matter, too. I am not as concerned it happened as I am that he’s all right.

I was proud of him for standing erect before a phalanx of reporters and owning up to it not being the most prudent move, but honestly, I know the guy likes to ranch and ride and slay snakes to save jackrabbits. I know he’s a man’s man. I don’t begrudge him a hobby like dirt bike riding, ’cause he’s my brother and I assume it’s the  kinda thing he’d do on an off day.

The beginning of this season has been filled with weird misfortunes among which the death of our sister-in-law is the most significant and important. It exceeds the petty concerns of win-loss and standings.

Of course I want to #BeatLA, but as Brandon and Jalynne grieve, and Madison mends and rehabs, I wish and pray most for the health and happiness of our entire family, irrespective of the record.

My best to you all.

Go Giants.

Love,

MTK

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GBC Reader Vol. 2, Issue 2: 2017 Giants, a Work in Progress

Well the first fourteen games (four series) of the season are behind us and a couple of things are already clear.

  1. The NL West is going to be a dogfight. The Rockies, Dodgers and D-backs all expect to be in the hunt.
  2. The Giants are unsettled in left field and in the middle inning bullpen.

Though we’re 5-9 and tied for last in the division with the Padres, we’re only four back because everyone in the NL West is actively beating up on each other. I have a strong feeling that’s how it’s going to be all year.

To get the Negative Nelly out of the way first, Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat is convinced after just 14 games that the Giants “dynasty is over,” and that we are not going to make the playoffs.

Me, I am not so sure. There’s a lot of baseball left to play.

Pluses and Minuses

Johnny Cueto is 3-0 while Madison Bumgarner has yet to win in three starts. Once again a Cy Young campaign for MadBum’s hamstrung early. sigh.

Our Gold Glovers Joe Panik and Brandon Crawford look awesome, but we lost Buster Posey to a fastball to the head. John Shea wrote this excellent piece on the after effects of getting hit in the head by a 90+mph baseball. It is reported that Posey may play in the series against Kansas City that starts tonight.

Nick Hundley has been really good in Posey’s absence, a stable veteran behind the plate who instills confidence in the position of backup C.

Nuñez ABs are fun to watch and he is a demon on the bases, but his play at third has been up and down. Let’s hope it’s early season stuff. I really like the guy.

Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence are looking good at the plate.

Matt Moore looks good for about 78- 85 pitches and then the drop off seems a little crazy. The fact Bochy doesn’t feel he can trust our ‘pen hurts in Moore’s starts.

But Mark Melancon turned around after his weak opening day showing and has looked considerably better.

Jeff Samardzija, like last year, is probably going to take a few starts to get going.

Matt Cain got a win! (Olney comments below)

LF has been a problem and it was compounded when Jarrett Parker made a great play only to crash into the wall and destroy his clavicle – gone eight to ten weeks.

On to the Reader

With Parker going down Chris Marrero could be seeing more time in left field. Kaila Cruz thinks that’s a good thing.

We traded Clayton Blackburn to the Rangers for a 21-year-old unproven utility infielder named Frandy De La Rosa – Brisbee explains why.

Jake Mastroianni has a closer look at the pitching and offense two weeks into the season.

Buster Olney had this to say about Matt The Big Horse and his win.

The Giants’ Matt Cain is facing a similar transition to the one that CC Sabathia has had to go through — adjusting to the reality that he cannot throw as hard as he used to and learning to mix his pitches differently. In Cain’s most recent start against Arizona, he did what catchers and pitchers refer to as pitching backward — by throwing breaking balls in counts in which pitchers typically throw fastballs and using his off-speed stuff to set up the less frequent use of his fastball. Cain allowed one run in five innings. Sabathia recalled an at-bat in which he pitched to Russell Martin a couple of years ago, when the left-hander had it in his mind that he would bust a fastball past his former teammate — but the best he could do was 90 mph, which Martin clubbed for a homer. Sabathia says now that he wishes he had started altering speeds with his pitches earlier in his career.

  • Buster Olney on ESPN

If you haven’t yet read the sweet, sweet quotes in AlPav’s look back at Madison Bumgarner’s relief appearance in Game seven of the 2014 WS in KC, do it now.

Love,

MTK

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Series Recap: Opening Series in Phoenix

ugh.

Madison Bumgarner’s historic two home runs in game one of the season were wasted in a bullpen implosion that included Melancon. The debacle was followed by a win for Cueto in game 2, but the G-men couldn’t put it together after that and the snakes took the first series 3-1. Samardzija gotshellacked for three HRs, Matt Moore looked great  until Brandon Belt made a rare error, and then he collapsed into a heap and fell apart.

Dwelling in the cellar of the NL West with the Padres to open the season, the Giants now have an opportunity to separate themselves with three games down in San Diego, where I’m certain there will be the usual cadre of screaming SF gamers to assist the fellas in their pursuit back up the standings.

It’s only the first series of the year and indeed after last year – when we had the hottest, first half in all of baseball only to have an epic second half collapse – I’m cool with losing a few as we settle in and find a groove. We lost three key players in our ‘pen, and have a new look on 3rd and in LF. It’s gonna take time.

Trouble is, the NL West is gonna require maximum wins, especially against division rivals. At this point, the Rockies, Dodgers and D-Backs are all 3-1, while we and the Pads are at 1-3. To stay in the hunt for the second wildcard is going to be difficult with this competition.

The Rockies had a great winter adding Dave Holland and Ian Desmond to an already pretty good team that features Nolan Arenado. While they did pick on a weak Brewers squad to win their opening series, it will be really interesting to see what happens against the Dodgers at altitude this week – can they get to the nemesis’ pitchers?

With the butterflies and yips of opening day and the opening series of the year behind them, the Giants need to jump on the Padres, while the Rockies and Dodgers beat up each other. But looking for a sweep as we head to San Diego, I’m not encouraged Matt Cain’s on the mound today to start things off. We all love the big horse, but he’s been a slow-moving train wreck ever since the perfect game.

Sweep the Pads.

Come On, Big Horse, make it happen!

 

 

 

love,

mtk

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GBC Reader Volume 2, Issue 1: Torture While All Hail Madison Bumgarner

Opening day in Phoenix was a massive, thick-beamed wood rollercoaster ride built by Madison Bumgarner that went off the rails in such a familiar manner it felt sickening – or for the less dramatic and more experienced fans, like typical Giants baseball.

During the frustration, I got into a Twitter discussion over the use of the word ‘torture’ to describe Giants baseball.

We all fell in love with Mike Krukow’s term in 2010 because it felt like a pure assessment of the near-misses that made it up: the earthquake, the 100 win season fail, the Angels in ’02, Pudge in front of the plate.

But personally, the torture I felt for 30 years was washed away by the immense wave of relief I felt on November 1, 2010 when we finally won it all for the first time in SF.

Giants fan Ted G, 57, disagrees. For him, SF Giants baseball is uniquely agonizing across decades win or lose. He thinks Krukow’s phrase, “Giants Baseball … Torture,” is emblematic of our pathos as an organization and the struggles we eternally endure.

“The term torture has nothing to do with not winning. Totally about how they go about creating situations that are torture.” – Ted G, @TedSFGman

I can see that, but whatever remnants of the feeling of torture that may have remained for me were certainly washed away by winning the way we did in 2012 – my favorite of the championships. We had to retire Melky Cabrera. Pablo hit 3Hrs – two off Verlander – and Romo dared and won with an incredible fastball to end it with Miggy looking.

Madison going out there in 2014 and ripping it away from the Royals cemented my feeling that we have earned well-deserved titles, establishing a kind of dynasty in an era when the back-to-back World Series championship has disappeared.

There hasn’t been a back-to-back World Series Champion in the 21st century. So for me, this ain’t torture any more, it’s working the details.

But enough about torture, lets get to

The first GBC Reader of the year:

It was a rough game because of the blown saves, but being opening day on the road, it really shouldn’t matter that much in the face of what Madison Bumgarner accomplished: the first pitcher in the 140 years of this game to hit two home runs on opening day put himself in position to win twice before the bullpen’s struggles came to bear. It was epic and #TheLegendofMadBum continues to grow.

Ashley Verala, the West Coast Fan Girl @wcoastfangirl has a sweet piece she calls Last True Renaissance Man of Major League Baseball about our Mad Bum.

Brisbee noted that Bumgarner was also the first Giant to hit two dingers on Opening Day since Barry Lamar. And Grant’s coverage of the debacle it became is actually considerably temperate – I think fatherhood is mellowing him out.

Hank is back in his seat for another long season and here’s his takeaways.

MLB dot com Columnist Joe Posnanski has some really excellent things to say about Madison’s performance, really putting the scale of MadBum’s audacity in nice perspective. He includes Statcast data regarding the speed of these HRs that if you haven’t checked out yet, you gotta see.

Haft chose to focus on MadBum’s dominance on the mound. Man, did he look good.

I like AlPav’s headline for his pretty close-up view of the guts of this one. Ruthian Game For the Ages from Bumgarner pretty much sums it up.

Baggs however seems to have felt more like I did. His piece drips with the wretched agony of cheating MadBum of the win.

But Mark Simon and Sarah Langs at ESPN were enthralled by our heroic pitcher.

I didn’t really have time to make this great, but hey, it’s the first one of the year. I’ll add some links later if I find more content.

I also apologized on Twitter for rage tweeting the value of Mark Melancon’s contract excessively yesterday. I am sorry. It was petty lashing out at the collapse and an irrelevant memory of last year that fueled my rage.

Which brings us to Jake Mastroianni’s piece about everyone who overreacted to the opening day loss.

Happy New Year everyone.

Love ya,

MTK

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Screeee! Thunk-thunk-thunk! Is This Thing On? Opening Day and GBC is Back

It’s opening day! Madison Bumgarner vs. Zach Greinke in Arizona. Here’s your starting lineup:

  1. Denard Span – CF
  2. Brandon Belt – 1B
  3. Hunter Pence – RF
  4. Buster Posey – C
  5. Brandon Crawford – SS
  6. Eduardo Nuñez – 3B
  7. Jarrett Parker – LF
  8. Joe Panik – 2B
  9. Madison Bumgarner – P

Grant Brisbee wrote that the Giants considered using MadBum in the 8-slot! But that the serious shortage of left-handed batting made it unrealistic.

I miss the switch-hitting Panda. He’s in pretty good physical condition this year and I think Boston just might start getting some value from ol’ Pablo, the greatest bad-ball hitter in recent memory.

I hope so. I’d be happy for him.

I got nothing. Just needed to dust this off for the season.

Happy Opening Day, Everyone.

Love,

MTK

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