The Southpaw south·paw (southpô)
A left-handed person, especially a left-handed baseball pitcher.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Something to Cheer For
With Barry Bonds' hot start this season, he's even looking better then Barry Bonds. This has prompted some interesting articles to be written about him . . . and most interesting is the idea that Bonds could hit .400 this year.
THEN, I noticed that Eric Neel of ESPN's Page 2 chimed in as well.
A common theme right now seems to be that Bonds will hit MANY homers this year because, well, the Giants suck. There, I said it. I don't know what the Post-Bonds-Era Plans are in San Francisco, but they better be good . . . because after him, they're TERRIBLE.
Don't get me wrong, they've got tons of role players . . . but they all fill the same holes. Neifi, Snow . . . defensive replacements with no bat. Tucker, Hammonds, Mohr . . . 4th Outfielder (all your 4th Outfielder are belong to us). Durham can get on base, but he bats THREE spots ahead of Barry, leaving plenty of opportunities for the Outmakers to do their dirty work before Bonds gets to the plate. And even when the Giants are getting SHELLED, Superman walks to first.
On another Superman related note, John Kruk gives Barry a pass in his rant against showing up pitchers on home runs. For the most part I agree with this, so long as it's ok for players to BE EXCITED when they hit a home run. Personally, I love it when pitchers get pumped up after getting an out (K or otherwise). Likewise, I like to see guys get excited after hitting a home run. Why many feel the need to gaze at it like their "too cool for school" makes little sense to me, unless it is an absolute BOMB or if they're watching it go down the line wondering if it lands fair/foul.
Then again, the Giants may need to celebrate as much as possible if things keep going in the direction they are. If the season continues this way, the Giants will be battling the Rockies in the standings, and the Legends (Williams, Ruth, Aaron, etc.) in the history books.
Editor's Note: Almost missed this one...Jim Caple talks about West Coast Rivalries, and mentions that Bonds has "swung and missed seven times this season...[and] swung and hit a home run nine times." Unbelieveable.
Thoughts while attending my first Major League game of the season, from SBC Park in San Francisco...
Dustin Hermanson looked TERRIBLE. They should have had someone warming up in the Top of the 2nd (or at LEAST the Top of the 3rd). He was lucky to get out through 2 scoreless innings.
Brian Giles absolutely crushed his homer into Right-Centerfield. There was no question, and that's one of the deepest parts of the pack (if you take into account the height of the wall).
It's really strange to see some of the batting stances in Major League Baseball. Growing up, coaches always tell players that they'll "never" hit the ball with an odd stance. Watching Giles start from a relative crouch and Grissom spread wide with BOTH feet pointed inwards and his bat point straight down his back, that obviously isn't the case.
With the above taken into consideration, I only think it's ok if it's a natural (for the player) stance. Emulating Gary Sheffield's bat swagger just because he's your favorite player has no place in the little leagues.
The Giants seem like the perfect team to support Barry's run at Ruth and Aaron. Nobody will pitch to him if the game is close, but I think the Giants will be in a lot of situations like they were last night when Barry hit 667. When Barry came up, it was 6-0 Padres with one runner on. After Bonds hit his 2-run shot, and Felix followed two batters later with a solo blast, it was still 6-3 Padres.
Tanner Boyle was batting 8th last night, in a move that shocked and pleased me. Unfortunately, J.T.-"G.I.D.P." Snow was batting second. Can someone convince Felipe to move Grissom into the 2 slot, and Barry into the 3? Why must we continue to see terrible out-makers crush any hopes of a rally at the top of the order? Durham had a good game, but you'd never know it because D.P. Snow was his counter-weight (to be fair: Durham grounded into a double-play that possibly killed the 9th inning rally started by Alfonzo, but I'm convinced that Snow would have done the same if Durham had somehow gotten safely to first).
Something that really struck me as interesting, David Aardsma went out to the bullpen at LEAST 4 times to warm up throughout the game. Were they just trying to get some work in, or were they yo-yo-ing him in the pen? I remember reading about how Lou Pinella(?) used to do that a lot to his relievers, and they said it was the main reason they underperformed. MAN, I wish I could remember the details, as it may be relevent if this becomes a regular problem.
There's really NOTHING like going to a live baseball game. It's at LEAST 10 times better then watching it on TV, and at least 5 times better then listening to it on radio (I give radio such a large advange here because you can still listen to the radio AT the stadium, a la Steve Bartman). You just pick up so much more then any announcer gives you. How great would it be if all announcers stopped with the small talk/useless repeating of information and give you some REAL insites about what's actually GOING ON at the game. As Larry King said during his 5 Good Minutes on PTI yesterday, one of the reasons that baseball is great is because you can agrue about why a fielder moves over two steps. You just don't get that unless you're THERE.
The Padres brought in Eddie Oropesa in the Bottom of the 7th apparently for the SOLE PURPOSE of Intentionally Walking Barry Bonds. He threw 4 pitches and was yanked. Unless this was a strategy to prevent/induce a pinch hitter AFTER Bonds, I just don't understand it. The only other explaination was that they wanted to give him an APPERANCE, possibly for an incentive clause? I'm streatching, I know. As an aside, Barry took off his "body armor" after the first pitch, most likely to save time, but possibly even to "dare" the pitcher to give him a pitch inside. I just imagined the wheels turning for the Pitcher, Catcher, Coaches, and other players . . . "HEY, maybe he won't be so brave if I/we throw inside NOW!" I found it entertaining.
Sean Burroughs had a GREAT game. He was almost unstoppable at the plate. Stepping up to the plate at 4-for-4 with 2 doubles, he nubs one that barely makes it to the infield dirt. Feliz picks it up and fires it over to first, and BARELY gets him. Burroughs was TRUCKING down to first. Absolutely GREAT to see. If Feliz makes any hesitation, maybe he's safe. Great example for the kids. Which brings me to...
Superman. He's stronger then a locomotive, can leap tall buildings with a single bound, but he is NOT faster then a speeding bullet. He may not even be faster then an aging catcher . . . at least if you're taking effort into account. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade Barry for ANY other player in the game, but he definitely "looks out for his health" when he's in the field. The best (or worst?) example was a ball that was hit to the left-field wall. Grissom came all the way over from Center to get it, and he HAD to have traveled 2.5-3 times the distance that Barry would have needed to. And I'm not talking about a gapper in-between them . . . this was in LEFT FIELD. On the plus side, Barry's healthy and Grissom knows that he needs to do things like this, so it ends up not being too harmful. It's just an observation, really.
On a brighter note, Barry Bonds has an .OPS OVER 2! 2.051 to be exact. INCREDIBLE.
Warren Sapp was at the game, bundled up in at much Giants gear as he could get his hands on (remember when I mentioned that it gets cold in the bay, well last night was beautiful, and Warren was bundled like it was Antarctica . . . long ways from Florida, huh?), and he was booed mightily by the San Fran fans. If you're wondering why, he's a Raider, and there's a huge local rivalry between Niner fans and Raider fans. I thought it was pretty funny that he was trying NOT to be seen, and then got booed when he was discovered, but I found it strange that they booed him while wearing the Giants gear. Isn't he friends with Bonds? Maybe he really IS a Giants fan. Then again, he IS a filthy Raider. I wonder if he'll grow his hair out now like Jerry did.
Pierzynski looked terrible at the plate. During the game, I found myself making mental notes of what A.J., J.T., Michael Tucker, Jeffrey Hammonds, Dustin Mohr, and Eric Young are making, and wondering if it was equal to what the Angels are paying Vladimir this season (and that's not even counting Neifi's money! - I just thought about new "signings").
Incidentally, the above mentioned players make about $8 million (closer to $7.5 million if you keep Mohr) according to ESPN's 2004 salaries. Vlad's getting $11 million. Could the Giants have afforded to add $3/3.5 million to their payroll for VLADIMIR FREAKING GUERRERO?!?!? They could have run Feliz at first for Snow, played Ransom when Alfonzo needed days off, and put Yorvit behind the plate. OH, and they still would have Nathan in the pen . . . or another young position player to start ahead of Perez (placing him in his god-given role as defensive replacement) from a different trade. Would they REALLY have been worse for this? And if you're concerned about the long-term effects his salary will have on the roster, Barry's not playing forever. What you've got is built in cap-space, and a successor to the throne. And yet, I've been repeatedly told that I'm CRAZY to think that the Giants would be able to get Vlad, ever since I brought it up OVER A YEAR AGO, back when I started The Southpaw. How crazy was it to think that the ANGELS could get Vlad? All I can say is that I'm glad I'm not a GM sometimes. Just for fun, look below for the 2004 Giants lineup with the above change(s).
Because I forgot to mention this earlier, the Giants lost last night.
C - Yorvit Torrealba
1B - Pedro Feliz
2B - Ray Durham
SS - Tanner Boyle (or cheap IF from Joe Nathan trade)
3B - Edgardo Alfonzo
LF - Barry Bonds
CF - Marquis Grissom
RF - Vladimir Guerrero
Payroll: +$3-4 million9:40 AM
Last night Barry Bonds hit his 667th career home run (wasting no time escaping the dreaded 666). The Giants vision board showed the ball landing in McCovey Cove, and then switched back to Barry trotting around the bases. All we saw of the ball was the SAME GUY who got 660 and 661 paddling over to get it. Unbelievable!
Later, they go BACK to the replay between innings, and show the WHOLE CLIP of the ball landing in the cove, and as said gentlman is paddling over, a fan on the sidewalk JUMPS THE RAILING into the water and gets the ball.
Now THAT'S unbelievable.
IF you've never been to San Francisco, it gets pretty cold by the bay. The water gets VERY COLD (there's a reason they thought Alcatraz was escape proof). He was paying for it afterwards (and I'm not exactly guessing either, they showed him out of the water, soaking wet, smiling, and shivering). I hope it was worth it.
The other day while watching the Giants on TV, they gave a little promo about upcoming "event" nights at SBC "Don't Call Me Pac Bell" Park. One of these event nights was Singles Night. I joked that we, being married with a child, should go as either an incentive for singles to settle down, or just because it would be funny.
Well, last night was Singles Night . . . and I was there with my father-in-law. From what I could tell, the only difference between "Singles Night" at SBC Park and any other game night at SBC Park is that they played a dating game around the 5th/6th inning.
The game was called "For Love or Playstation?".
A bachelorette got to see video interviews from 3 bachelors but couldn't hear anything they said over the booing from the crowd. She ended up making an arbitrary decision, at which point the "twist" of the game came into play. The bachelor who was chosen then got to choose between an all-expense paid date with said bachelorette (limo, dinner, Giants game, etc.) or a brand new Playstation 2.
I'll let you guess what he chose . . . and remember that the story wouldn't even be worth retelling if he went on the date.
Tonight I will be attending my first game EVER at SBC Park. I hope it's as nice as Pac Bell Park was . . . that was a BEAUTY!
With any luck, I'll get to witness #667 . . . or maybe even a WIN (I think the odds are 3:2 in favor of Barry passing Ruth this season over the Giants taking the West, but it's still early).
A friend of mine (even though he's a Dodger fan) went to the first game of the SF-LA series, so he's riding high right now. It's okay though, because at Matt Herges reminds us, this happened in 2000 as well . . . and where were the Dodgers in October? Exactly. Here's his quote, in case you missed it:
I know it sucks that we got swept by the Dodgers, but think back to 2000. It's definitely not panic time. Sure, it stinks, but we go back there this weekend and we can return the favor. I know they're riding high right now, but it's way early."
Tonight the Giants send Hermanson to the hill to lead the team back to .500 and sole possession of second place in the NL West. From there the target is the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
I've found that rooting for the Giants this year is something like rooting for the Bad News Bears. You look at a lot of their players and think that the team doesn't look good beyond their best pitcher (Jason "Whurlitzer" Schmidt) and best hitter ("Kelly Leak" Bonds), and yet you still expect them to win in the end. They've even got the old likable castoff (from the Expos anyway) manager in Felipe "Buttermaker" Alou.
Oh, and the role of the fisty no-hitting shortstop Tanner Boyle will be played by Neifi "No-Hit" Perez.
The Giants almost pulled off the win last night in San Diego...
1-0 Padres going into the top of the ninth, Giants score 2 runs off of Trevor Hoffman to take the lead.
2-1 Giants, bottom of the 9th, Herges comes in for the save, Burroughs knocks in Greene.
Top 10, Grissom, as my wife puts it, "Steals Bonds' Thunder" by being the first to homer in Petco Park. Giants up 3-2.
3-2 Giants, bottom of the 10th, Aardsma comes in for the save with 2 outs, and after they Padres tie it up, Burroughs knocks in Greene.
Padres 4, Giants 3.
Both Herges AND Aardsma blew a save in the same game. Herges lost his chance for a Save AND a Win.
After watching the first few games this series, I've come to realize that Neifi Perez actually DOES have a usefull spot on the Giants roster . . . utility IF backup. He's got a good arm on him, and he's made some pretty good plays in the field. The biggest problem (well, 2 actually) is his hitting and his salary. As a defensive replacement late in games, at near the league minimum . . . I'd put him on my 25 man roster unless a better & cheaper option was given to me.
Taking the above into consideration, Neifi will get FAR too many plate appearances this year. And you know things are bad when the announcers refer to him as the "free-swinging Neifi Perez" . . . ESPECIALLY when he comes to the plate in a critical situation (which is more often then I can handle).
I'm not exactly sure where Petco is located in San Diego, but they showed some people in what looked like college dorms watching the game from balconies across from another baseball field behind the stadium. I know that "The Murph" was VERY close to San Diego State, so how cool would it be to have a dorm room that had a relatively decent view of a major league stadium? That's almost as good as living across the street from Wrigley back in the good old days, before they sold tickets to watch from there.
Giants have a day off today, and they'll continue their series in S.D. Saturday.
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Day Two: Thoughts Still Rolling
Here's my thoughts on Day 2 of the (Giants) season...
4-for-4, 4 RBI, 1 Run scored . . . Neifi Perez. That puts him at .500 after his 0-for-4 last night. He also made a GREAT snow-cone catch to keep the Giants ahead. Is something wrong in the universe?
1-for-4, 1 BB (intentional) . . . Barry Bonds. That puts him at .571, so at least we know Armageddon isn't coming.
The Astros left as many runners on base (16) as the Giants have in both games (16).
Meet your newest leader on the All-Time Alphabetical Roster of MLB Players: David Aardsma (taking the honor from Hammerin' Hank Aaron). Aardsma also got a win in his first ML appearance, pitching 2 shutout innings in his home state in front of his family. Good times.
As bad as Pettitte's ERA is (10.12) it STILL isn't as bad as Felix Rodriguez's (10.80), who hit half the batters he faced. Pettitte also faced almost 8 TIMES as many batters (27-4).
The Run Differential for the Giants (+3) is smaller than the Run Differential for the Twins (+4), who have played in extra innings of BOTH of their games thus far, and almost 4 times lower than Detroit's (+11). This cannot be a good sign.
My biggest complaint about Digital Cable is that half the time the quality isn't much better than Analog Cable. My SECOND biggest complaint is the static menus that it provides. When it says "Dream Job" on ESPN2, I don't check it. When Sportscenter tells me that the Indians and Twins are in Extra Innings and I switch over to wonder why ESPN2 would go away from it to show Dream Job, there it is. It's the same reason people TIVO the next 2-4 shows after a major sporting event. Can't we come up with a system that would just KEEP RECORDING/LISTING something if it goes long? And not just sports either, it would work for Award shows and political events as well. I'm just wondering.
The Twins and Indians are 1 inning shy of 27 innings played after their first two games . . . 27 innings is equal to THREE normal games.
Jose Offerman comes up to the plate in the 15th, here's an actual exchange between my wife and I:
Me: "Jose Offerman is garbage. Don't they have a pinch hitter available?"
Her: "It surprises me how some players play so long when their track record is so bad."
Me: "He used to be good, but he's just old now. But he's a 'PROVEN VETERAN' so he's still playing".
Offerman grounds a ball up the middle, it gets through, Twins win>
Me: "I think that's as hard as he can hit it."
Jose Offerman went 2-for-2 with the GW RBI.
Speaking of Aaron, Major League Baseball needs to work on their game coverage. I was able (if I had known anyway) to watch the Indians-Twins game on ESPN2 here in Sacramento, but anyone in the Twin Cities had to listen to the radio (which, btw, I think is a GREAT way to follow a game, but not when you're forced to). Just as NFL needs to make Sunday Ticket available to ALL TELEVISION PROVIDERS, MLB should allow EVERY game not televised locally by MLB teams available on their Extra Innings package. For another example of how bad this is, the A's and Giants are considered "local" teams in Sacramento, even though they're 80+ miles away. This is fine for most Giants fans, because it means that Giants games are on local television more often then not. It SUCKS for A's fans, however, because for better or worse, Sacramento is considered a Giants town. This means that the A's are on locally if (A) the Giants aren't on, and (B) the ONE channel that covers both teams locally isn't showing something else. And too bad if you have Extra Innings, because if the game is televised in the Bay Area, it's blacked out on Extra Innings in Sacramento (I covered this last year too). This NEEDS to be addressed, especially when baseball needs to market itself better. Here's a place to start.
If the playoffs started today, they would include Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Oakland, San Francisco, Tampa Bay. The NL East & Wild-Card would need to be determined, but you can obviously see my point. THIS is why the season is 162 games long.
Detroit has outscored Toronto (considered a Sleeper by many to win the AL Wild Card) almost 5-to-1 (14-3).
Rob Neyer defends his good predictions for the A's here. Maybe it's just me, but I've always found Neyer to be fairly even-handed. He hasn't struck me to be a "homer" for anyone other than the Royals (and even then he's usually more pessimistic then optimistic). But then again, SoSH called David Pinto unethical, so I guess this shouldn't surprise me.
After watching more baseball then I tought a new father would be able to, I had a lot of things on my mind. Here's some of my thoughts...
Wasn't the Roy Oswalt/Jimy Williams situation remeniscent of the Pedro/Little situation from last year's playoffs? Isn't it funny that they had the same end result? Don't teams employ managers to make the tough decisions? Oswalt pitched a great game to that point, can't you help him out?
Was I the only person who KNEW that Barry's frozen rope was gone? Even the Homers on the local telecast seemed surprised when it cleared the 10ft fence.
Here was my exact thought pattern in the 9th inning of the Giants-Astros game: "Wow! Neifi actually did something useful behind the plate! A succesfully executed that sac bunt with no outs . . . what, that was Ray Durham? Crap. Never mind." Of course, Perez when 0-for-4 with 2 Ks.
Good news, Brad Lidge looks like he'll take over nicely for Dotel as the Houston Setup Man. The bad news, Dotel may isn't having NEARLY as good of a transition into Wagner's closing shoes.
Just when I thought that nothing could be better then rallying from 3 behind on the road on Opening Day for a victory, I watch the Twins rally from 4 behind at home on Opening Day to an Extra Innings walk-off 3-run Jimmy-Jack.
Joe Mauer is a stud. If he was nervous in his first MLB game, I didn't notice (or it happened early, before I tuned in). His line: 2-for-3, 2 BB, 2 runs scored. AND he made a GREAT block at the plate to save a run late in the game. I STILL would have taken Prior, but this kid's worth the top pick.
Every time I watch the Twins, I ALWAYS notice Doug Mientkiewicz batting bare-handed. How many players do this? What are the advantages/disadvantages? Is his warm-up ball at first covered in pine tar? Am I the only one who thinks of these things?
Did the Twins trade Pierzynski because they thought Mauer was ready, or was it really because of an obscure rule that prevents a team from having too many players with difficult names? (Pierzynski/Mientkiewicz)
Speaking of names, I'm always surprised to find out that a name isn't pronounced the way I'd expect. Last night, I kept wondering who this "KaDyer" guy was on the Twins. Turns out, it was Michael Cuddyer. This whole time I thought it was pernounced "Cud-E-er". This was almost as big a shock as last season when I found out that Mark "Tex-er-ia" (Teixeira - don't ask, it was a dyslexic moment) was actually pernounced "Ter-cher-a".
Soriano's pretty good and all, but the Rangers just AREN'T interesting now that A-Rod's gone. I think this may hurt them in the short-term more then Hicks expected. Long-term, as always, depends on pitching.
I can't remember when the last time a low scoring game included a runner scoring on a bases-loaded walk in the top and bottom of the SAME INNING (3rd inning, 2-1 A's), and NO OTHER runs scored.
Speaking of walking a runner in, Huddy had an interesting battle with Mr. Teixeira. On 3-0, he got a GIFT of a called strike, and then on 3-2 it looked like the Ump squeezed him. The universe came out ok, but it was just strange. Hudson shouldn't have had to throw the extra pitches to walk Teixeira, but who's to say that NOT throwing a 4-pitch walk actually helped him out mentally?
If Dye has a good year, the A's will be much better then many thought. I see them winning the West again, dispite all the Angel-talk.
Am I the only one who sees the similarities to the Angels and Padres? Are these the two teams that everyone thinks of as "sleepers"? They both just picked up a slugger, and have decent rotations . . . but why are they sleepers? Is southern California just not on the map for most baseball fans? Help me out.
The only team that gave #2 seed UConn a run in the Tourney was Duke, and they should have beaten the Huskies.
Did anyone else hear the announcer (don't know his name, offhand) come up with game-ending strategies for UConn's last two opponents? Both Duke and GTech eventually DID these strategies (which were good but weren't exactly genious), and both went to them too late. Where was Coach K when his players were throwing up terrible shots and not driving the lane when UConn was in foul trouble? Why did GTech let UConn burn up so much time when they were down by 25?
Why don't they play the consolidation game any more? Wouldn't it just be like printing more money? Are you telling me that nobody would watch Duke play OSU? And wouldn't it give the "Final Four" more meaning? "Four teams. Four games. One Champion."
If the Lady Huskies beat the Lady Vols, would it be the first time a school has won both championships in the same year? And is there a worse nickname for a female squad then Lady Huskies? It means either "fat" or "dog", depening on how it's used, and neither is very flattering to a woman.
It was a great Monday, and a great way to start the Major League season. Giants win, A's win, Dodgers lose . . . what more could I ask for?
Even the TIGERS, BREWERS, and PIRATES were winners . . . I LIVE for this!(tm)
One Week Today!
Today at noon, my son Kellen Thomas will be one week old. Here's the details...
March 30, 2004 @ 12:00 p.m.
8 lbs 13 oz
Head - 14 inch diameter
All natural birth, baby and mother are doing great.
The funny part of this story is that we think he was actually 9 lbs, but the birthing center that we delivered at is very pro-family, and let us bond with Kellen for about an hour and a half to two hours before weighing him, in which time he passed his first 3 bowel movements. We're pretty sure he lost at least 3 oz in that time, meaning my wife pushed 9+ pounds out without any drugs. Yet another reason I'm glad I'm a man.
Some of the most exciting things happen around this time of year, which should make for some great birthday adventures (assuming of course that he'll like sports as much as I), including trips to Arizona to visit his Great-Grandfather . . . during Spring Training; the Las Vegas 500; March Madness; and of course . . . most importantly . . . OPENING DAY.
Sorry for the extended absence, but now that the pregnancy is over, all we need to get through is the "4th Trimester" (a.k.a. recovery) and things should be back to normal.
david aardsma, rhp roger whitaker, rhp jeffery jennings, c nathan schierholtz, 3b brian buscher, 3b brooks mcniven, rhp mike wagner, lf william sadler, rhp patrick misch, lhp timothy hutting, ss kellen ludwig, rhp jesse schmidt, of
jeffery peterson, rhp ryan sadowski, rhp nick conte, c sean martin, rhp j thurmond, rhp michael mooney, of marcus sanders, ss patrick dobson, of jonathan coutlangus, cf raul rodriguez, c
sean watson, rhp nathan fogle, rhp michael kunes, lhp brian wilson, rhp nolan mulligan, rhp douglas coon, lhp omar aguilar, rhp roberto gonzalez, cf daniel desouza, cf derek barrow, 3b
eduardo baeza, rhp oscar gonzalez, cf travis nesmith, lhp cody mcallister, rhp tyson brummett, rhp timothy alvarez, lhp shannon wirth, rhp jordan hafer, 1b michael price, c dylan gonzalez, rhp
michael johnston, lhp luis martinez, c mike bell, c john odom, rhp james braden, rhp brandon federici, lhp thomas correa, ss matthew berezay, of douglas fister, rhp james popp, rhp