Tuesday, May 31, 2011

28-26

Always a classic

Life is Meaningless: Giants Lose, 4-3


For the first half of the game, it was the best the Giants had played in weeks. They kept moving the line. They took advantage of Cardinals mistakes. They got a hit with a runner in scoring position! Their young guys, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, got starts. Aubrey Huff sat this one out. The Brandons got hits and took walks. The Giants hitters went deep into counts and made Chris Carpenter throw a ton of pitches. They made an opposing starter toss 100 pitches through five innings.

Then, it became the worst Giants game since Scott Cousins took Buster Posey into a back alley and pumped rounds into his kneecaps. The Giants wasted leadoff doubles. They brought Huff into a pinch-hit situation. They brought Rowand into a pinch-hit situation. Eli Whiteside struck out a bunch of times and said a bunch of cusses. The Giants bullpen imploded, giving up three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Brandon Belt is probably injured.

Does Bochy learn that Michael Tejada should not bat second in the lineup? Does he learn after this that "LOOGY Javier Lopez" means "Left-handed one-out guy Javier Lopez" and not "This guy can probably get three outs from St. Louis's right-handed Murderer's Row Javier Lopez?" No, I would bet any sum that he does not. I'm guessing tomorrow night we get Tejada back in the two-hole, Huff back in the three-hole, Belt on the DL, Burrell playing shortstop, and Time Lincecum throwing a one-hitter that the Giants lose, 6-0.

That's my prediction, anyway.

Giants Use Up All Their Runs for the Week, Beat Cardinals 7-3

KABLAMMO

So the Giants actually scored some runs against Genius Tony LaRussa and his Genius Band of St. LaRussas. Andres Torres mashed a grand slam and nearly lapped all the baserunners watching it go over the fence. Cody Ross clobbered a monster home run. Brandon Crawford got a key RBI. Madison Bumgarner was amazing, allowing only two runs, and those only came as the direct result of a horrifically blown call by an ump.

Even Tejada had a couple of singles, which of course came courtesy of the only way Michael Tejada can get a hit these days: a ground ball that manages to barely miss several gloves in succession. I would be worried about the fact that Tejada always seems to just get a couple singles right when his hitless streaks are about to become inexcusable, but beat writer extraordinaire Andrew Baggarly seems to get the impression dude's on the verge of either losing his starting job or getting straight DFA'd as soon as Pablo Sandoval can reasonably swing a bat again, which is a matter of weeks now. With recent call-ups Crawford and Burriss and the stalwart Mike Fontenot all contributing more to the team than Mikey T, it's hard not to agree. Even if you're Bruce "Gritty Veteran Fetish" Bochy.

Speaking of gritty veterans, Aaron Rowand took a pickoff throw directly to the dick yesterday, so he's questionable at the moment for today, but will be starting if his dick feels strong. Why will he be starting? His small sample size past success against today's Cardinals pitcher, of course. Bay City Ball today had a succinct post comparing the projected stats for Rowand against those of Belt. The results may not surprise anyone!

Good to see that the Giants just allowed the Marlins to sweep them in order to lull the Marlins into a false sense of confidence, allowing them to be repeatedly, utterly thrashed by the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. I'm just glad nothing bad happened during that Marlins series!

Anyway, these are the May 2011 Giants. Some days they can't score a single run against a mediocre pitching staff. Some days they hit grand slams. You know what doesn't happen on any days? Aubry Huff contributing. He was 0-for-4 yesterday with a walk, which I guess is good. He drew 83 walks and scored 100 runs in 2010. Baggs points out that in 2011, Huff's on pace for 49 walks and 43 runs. If you remixed all of Huff's at-bats this season into a YouTube video, it would sound like this:

popup popup popup
grounder, double-play
whiff whiff whiff whiff AARGH
popup double-play, weakly hit topper
whiff whiff swinging bunt
*REGGAETON HORN*

Blue Jays 11, Indians 1: JO-JO WINS! JO-JO WINS! JO-JO WINS!

Special Memorial Day hats in a country without Memorial Day: MLB, ladies and gentlemen.
By the bristling beard of Odin, Jo-Jo did it! The twenty-eight game winless streak is over! And in not unfine style, too: Jo-Jo spread eight hits and four walks over his nine innings of some how-only-one-run ball. The only damage came on an upper-deck blast from Shelley "Is A Girl's Name, Bro, Be Serious" Duncan in the fifth, the fifteenth time someone has hit it into the 500s in the now sort of long history of the SkyDome/Rogers Centre. Now that the streak is over, we can look back and reflect on how there is no way he would have stayed in the majors this season if he hadn't been left handed. What a rare gift.


Fausto Carmona, who took his league-awesomest name with him to the mound for the Indians last night, had a much rougher outing, and looked a lot like the Jo-Jo Reyes of pretty much every start for the last three years than Jo-Jo 2.0 or Jo-Jo Reborn or whatever it is we decide (as a people) to call this magnificent new beast. Carmona got lit up early and often, and gave up seven (although a mere five earned) in a bat-around fourth. Corey Patterson's crazy little spell is over, as he was held hitless along with the still-cuttable Juan Rivera and the kind of terrible Aaron Hill, but everyone else in the lineup was good for at least a couple hits. Jose Bautista continued to pour sand in the bathing suit area of the haters, going 2-3 with a walk, a double, a run scored, and a pair batted in. He's at 4.8 WAR and I would remind you that it is still totally May.


Also I would like to mention that I am taking last night's result as conclusive evidence that I have been right all along to put no stock in the Indians' record. They have been playing reasonably well  I guess but have been padding their record against garbage teams and are nowhere near the best teams in baseball. No offense, Neil, but this is as bad as the AL Central has looked in a while. The Indians have finally had to play a stretch of games against AL East (i.e. real) teams, and they've been outscored 48-15 over their last seven. They're not good. And yet they are 31-20, and five games ahead of the Tigers. The Blue Jays, who in fact are good, with reasonable pitching and the third-best offense in the league, are 28-26, good for two games behind Boston and New York for both the division and the Wild Card. I am not doing a thing about how the playoff format is unfair or anything like that because that is loser talk of the highest order; I actually like that the Blue Jays compete (lol ok "play") in the toughest division in any league. But let's all just settle down about the Cleveland Indians, is what I'm saying here.  


KS  

Monday, May 30, 2011

27-26



Three cheers for fan interference! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip hooray!

Just Pathetic: Giants Lose, 6-0

San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford can't handle a  ground ball hit by Milwaukee Brewers' Ryan Braun during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 29, 2011, in Milwaukee.
See, the ball is a metaphor for the Giants' playoff chances.

How many times must Aubrey Huff have a swinging strikeout or double-play groundout with runners in scoring position before Bochy is forced to admit that he's stinking on ice? One thousand times? Probably one thousand. I love Aubrey to death, but he is killing this team. It's not just his fault, though: everyone else on the Giants sucks too. Huff is just the guy hitting third or fourth every day. Really. Every day. Brandon Belt started yesterday. Know where he started? Left field. Know who's batting second today? Michael Tejada. Brandon Belt's sitting again today. You know who's playing instead? Aaron Rowand.

The Giants need to trade for six Jose Reyeii and have Pablo Sandoval come back ASAP. Since that won't be happening, we'll just hope for lightning to strike again. Should be any day now.

The Diamondbacks are in first place in the NL West for the first time since 2008. I'd rather have them there than the Rockies, but maybe this year's D-Backs are last year's Giants. (They're not.)

The Giants didn't get swept by the Brewers, so that's something. They start a series against the Cardinals today, and given today's lineup, this is a pretty good start for a Redbirds sweep with minimal effort. Tony LaRussa can finally bat his pitcher in the cleanup spot. He can go with a six-man infield. He can have his pitcher throw from center field. The Giants still won't be scoring any runs.

Blue Jays 13, White Sox 4: Laughers: No Laughing Matter

This probably looked way cooler in their heads.
It is a shame that when E5's first home run of the season finally came it turned out to be a solo shot. Oh wait it is totally not a shame because the reason there was nobody on base is that Aaron Hill also just hit his first home run of the season and it was no ordinary home run but instead a grand slam. And sure, it is entirely possible that the italicized smugness I have just subjected you to is not, strictly speaking, warranted, as here we are at the end of May and those are two everyday players who are just now hitting their first home runs, but let me tell you that it felt like smug italics when it happened and I am not about to be dishonest about the way that moment felt because were I do so I would have failed you as a writer.


The Blue Jays scored early and often, and it was awesome. Sox starter John Danks needed fifty-two pitches to get out of the bat-around first inning, which is by any metric an epically shitty outing. Danks stayed fiery, though, and got into it a little bit with Jose Bautista in the fourth. With your permission, I would like to now quote extensively from this article:


Danks was [. . .] forthcoming when asked to discussed his anger toward Toronto slugger Jose Bautista, who slammed his bat after popping up a pitch in the fourth inning with the Jays leading 9-2.

"I told him to run the bases," Danks said. "He was out there acting like a (bleeping) clown. He’s a good player. He’s had a great 1 ½ years. No doubt, he's one of the best hitters in the league. But he’s out there acting like he’s Babe Ruth. That’s horse(bleep), totally. I just told him to run the base and quit acting like a clown.

"He ran haflway down the line and spiked the bat. I get it. He’s mad at himself. I threw him a 3-1 fastball that he missed. Then I threw him another heater. He’s a good hitter. He's had a great couple years, but he’s not that good to act like he needs to hit every ball out of the park.

"That’s just the way I feel. I have pride. I really do. I've had a (lousy) year, but I have pride. I’m not going to let him show me up. I just told him to run the bases and quit acting like a clown."

Bautista told reporters that his base running "should not be (Danks') concern, anyway."

"I was upset at myself for missing a pitch," Bautista said. "If he took it the wrong way, I'm sorry. I'm not here to make him feel good.

"It really doesn't matter to me what he thought. What I'm not going to allow is when I'm running by him, him yelling at me again. So I yelled back at him."  
Feisty! It was silly but kind of fun. It lacked the air of genuine menace that surrounded my favourite shouting match in Blue Jays history -- Carlos Delgado yelling at Orlando Hernandez in Spanish with such venom and volume that I could easily hear it from the upper deck in left field -- but I enjoyed it all the same.


Also enjoyable: seeing Ricky Romero finally get some run support. He had allowed two or fewer runs in something like eight of ten starts this year but came into the game with an almost shabby 4-4 record, so this was, you know, better. Romero is in fact totally good, but it seems like not everybody knows that. My firm belief is that they should, though.


It would be poor form indeed were I not to conclude by saluting Corey Patterson's 4-5 (with a HR) yesterday, giving him nine hits in his last two games. Dave Schoenfield has a nice piece at ESPN.com about the strange arc of Patterson's career, from can't-miss-prospect to journeyman.  Schoenfield notes that before you start feeling too bad about how things went for Patterson for a number of years, he's made about $13 million playing professional baseball, so he'd be alright even if he hadn't managed the nine hits this weekend. What a union, man. What a union. 


KS 

26-26

King Arthur or Justin Verlander? Or ARE THEY THE SAME DUDE???

Sunday, May 29, 2011

25-26

Blue Jays 9, White Sox 8 (F/14): OH YEAH RIGHT COREY PATTERSON

OH. YEAH. RIGHT.
When Juan Rivera, who I am less sure should be cut but still mostly sure, ripped a three-run double off the wall in the seventh to put the Blue Jays ahead 8-6 and wake me up from my slumber in the car (I don't usually sleep in the car with baseball on the radio in the afternoon, but yesterday I did, and let's just leave it there), I was pretty sure we had gone ahead for good. But of course not, because Frank Francisco is still the closer. Consider, if you will, the ERAs of the seven Blue Jays pitchers who yesterday toed the rubber: 2.62, 1.80, 2.74, 5.40, 6.59, 1.64, 3.97. As learned baseball enthusiasts of the information age, we all recognize the imperfections of ERA as a measure of overall pitcher worth independent of defense, and we know that there are certainly better stats to measure the impact of relief pitchers in particular. But what I want to suggest to you here is that even if you didn't know anything about anything, with the game on the line in the ninth inning, you wouldn't put the guy with the 6.59 ERA out there would you? Of course you wouldn't. You would still be better than that.

Francisco's blowery -- and let us be fair: the damage came on a two-out bloop to right, but still -- did however set the stage for Corey Patterson's fourteenth-inning heroics. Patterson, who we apparently have, hit his walk-off home run as part of a 5-7 day with four runs scored, so thank you, Corey Patterson. That is awesome of you. Jose Bautista once again suffered from an outstandular condition that saw him go 3-4 with two walks, a double, a three-run home run, and three runs scored. Let any who still dare to hate reveal themselves now and be laughed at for being dumb and wrong.   

A wild one! Too bad Carlos Villanueva had kind of a rough outing. Today, though, it is Ricky Romero on the hill, and I have every intention of listening to at least some of the game this afternoon while I mow the lawn. It will be summer. 

KS

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Giants and Brewers have Sucking Contest, Brewers Suck Slightly Less, Win 3-2

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Wil Nieves waits for the throw as San Francisco Giants' Aaron Rowand scores during the eighth inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 28, 2011, in Milwaukee. Rowand scored from second on a hit by Pat Burrell.
Aaron Rowand delivers a mighty kick to the nuts of Will Nieves

Well, the Giants did the unthinkable today: scored two runs to come from behind and tie a ballgame late while fielding their absolute worst lineup. Imagine if their good players had been in there today! Well, anyway, it's good that they can break up a no-hitter and end up getting more hits than their opponent, even if they can't score any runs. It's the moral victories that matter, I suppose. Not more than actual victories, but you know. The Giants will take what they can get.

The rubber game is tomorrow and Brandon Belt is rumored to get some of those elusive "at-bats" the kids are always talking about these days. I hope he hits five home runs, one of which bounces back into the Giants dugout and breaks Aubrey Huff's hand or something.

Brandon Crawford. Eli Whiteside. Giants Win, 5-4

Image courtesy of the incomparable Natto.

Brandon Crawford, promoted from high-A, hit a grand slam in his first major league game. Eli Whiteside countered Prince Fielder's forearm shiver with a Falcon Punch. The Giants win a vitally important game, and that is awesome.

Blue Jays 4, White Sox 2: . . . And You Shall Know Him by The Trail of Smoke

Juan Pierre: still little after all these years.
I opted for the "Trail of Smoke" headline because the National Post had already taken "Blue Jays Bail Out Drabek's Walkathon." Both are true, in that yes, Kyle Drabek continues to walk a ton of dudes -- five more last night in six-and-two-thirds, including a bases-loaded walk in a forty-two-pitch fifth that could have been way worse than just one run in were it not for the smoke he threw to get out of it. See? 


This game was pretty rad for a couple of other reasons, too, including not one but two triples (Juan Pierre, Rajai Davis) and two pretty snazzy grabs by Corey Patterson in the second, one at the wall and one coming in. The Rajai Davis/Jose Molina (yeah, Jose Molina) double steal was pretty choice, coming as it did only a day after my recent freakout  re: baserunning heroics. Also let it be said for the millionth time that Mark Buerhle works superfast out there, and it is a pleasure, Mark Buerhle, a pleasure. Good game, White Sox, good game! It is really too bad Gordon Beckham got hit in the face with a one-hop throw from the outfield. 


Finally, it has come to my attention that the Boston Red Sox are now in first place in the AL East, and the Yankees are currently atop the AL Wild Card standings. This goes without saying, but I wish nothing but horrible misfortune and the most shameful losses on both.


KS   

25-25

Friday, May 27, 2011

White Sox 3, Blue Jays 1: Ugh.

I will post pictures of Juan Rivera provided they are unflattering.
The easy and probably correct way to bemoan last night's 3-1 Blue Jays loss to the White Sox is to talk about John McDonald's throwing error that put Alex(is) Rios on base to start the ninth. It would be an understatement to suggest that McDonald is usually sure handed or something like that. He's usually awesome out there. And he absolutely needs to be: it's the only reason he's in the major leagues. All of his value (as a player; probably not as a man but I do not know him) is in his glove as he is a negative WAAB (Wins Above an Awful Butt) contributor with the bat. When he messes up in the field, everyone seems pretty quick to be like but he's usually so good with the glove out there which is true but not a defense, as being so good with the glove out there is all he brings to the table. All. Every bit. There is nothing else. I like him, but let us be real. 


Less galling, but still really pretty galling, was Juan Rivera's remarkably bad toss to Mark Rzepcynski covering the bag at first as speedy little Juan Pierre booked it down the line. It's not like a good toss would have gotten him, but it would have kept the ball from dribbling away and allowing Rios to score. Two errors in the ninth inning of a tie game at home: yikes.


But what I am actually superminding about last night's game isn't any of that. It's that with Cory Patterson on first and Jose Bautista at the plate in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the eighth, John Farrell sent the runner. Patterson slid in safely, which is great, except it's awful, because that just meant the Sox quite rightly walked Bautista intentionally with a base open, which is exactly what literally everyone would do in that situation. I know I promised I would stop with the baserunning talk, but this one was nuts. John Farrell is a menace. He was asked about this obviously horrible decision after the game, and said, "The fact that he stole second is not the difference in this game." Well no, because everything fell to shit in pretty spectacular fashion the next inning, but come on John Farrell.  What I am left wondering the most about John Farrell is what does he even think this is.


Anyway. Back at it tonight. 


KS 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

25-24

Ryan Vogelsong Has the Nerve to Allow One Run, Giants Lose 1-0

San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong throws against the Florida Marlins in the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Thursday, May 26, 2011.
THE UNMITIGATED GALL

Well, this went about as well as expected on The Day After. Posey wouldn't have started today anyway, given he caught 12 innings of baseball last night, but the amazing, AMAZING news was that Brandon Belt was called up today and got to watch Aubrey Huff swing and miss at balls in the dirt roughly a million and twelve times.

Great takeaways: Ryan Vogelsong looks like he's really for real, really. He went eight strong and walked one and allowed one measly run. The Giants never had a chance from that point on.

Rumors are still flying fast and heavy about Posey's injury, how long he'll be out, and who the Giants might try to make a deal for in a vain attempt to snag an above-average rental catcher. It would all be pretty funny if not for the palpable regret. Giants get swept at home and hit the road to meet up with the red-hot Brewers. Hey, there's only holes at first, third, short, and catcher now. Things are looking up!

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3: Spare A Thought for Jo-Jo

You don't know how it feeeeeels . . . to be Jo-Jo.
What can I say -- what can anyone say -- about Jo-Jo Reyes' record-tying 28th yeah 28th straight start without a win other than that it sucks to be Jo-Jo? Lately, he's been pitching more than well enough to win and it just hasn't happened, but yesterday Jo-Jo got lit up: five runs in only three innings on a couple of home runs plus some other stuff. A deserving loss, yesterday afternoon.


So Jo-Jo now shares this strange mark of futility-yet-persistence with Matt Keough (baseball card here, mugshot here), whose non-winning streak for the Oakland Athletics lasted from September 6, 1978 through August 8, 1979, a period of time over which I was conceived, born, and began to wreck shop. When will shop next be wrecked by Jo-Jo? Hard to say. I kind of hope he sets this record first, though. It would be an oddly compelling distinction, I think.


Anyway, the last-place Toronto Blue Jays roll into Chicago tonight and it would be awesome if they could win a couple because the White Sox are pretty awful. And in case you were wondering, Jose Bautista went 1-3 with a HBP and he threw a guy out at second yesterday. On a related note, if you were wondering who the best baseball player is, it's still Jose Bautista.


KS

Requiem for Buster Posey

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29:  The glove of catcher Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants rests on the railing in the dugout before the start of the Gaints game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on April 29, 2011 in Washington, DC.

It had been a rough season for young Gerald Posey.

The reigning National League Rookie of the Year and World Series Champion had been getting dinged up for two months straight. Foul balls finding the small gaps in his catcher's gear. Bats hitting him in the hands and wrists on opponents' backswings. Sometimes taking two or three foul tips in one game right off his facemask. Giants brass and coaching staff said they were worried, and for good reason.

The postseason hero who energized and led a team to the most unlikely and overdue world championship in recent memory was starting his first full season in the majors as the most vital component of an iffy ball club. The Giants, who knocked the cover off the ball throughout Spring Training, have been utterly bereft offensively since the season began. Their first place standing in the National League West in late May is a tribute to sheer luck and little else. The team is last in runs scored in the NL, last in home runs, last in everything and -- get this -- they have a negative run differential.

Posey was the glue that held this team together. He managed the Giants well-stocked pitching staff with ability that belied his years of expertise. Posey, as it is widely reported, was a lifelong shortstop before moving behind the plate in college. As the Giants front office has wrung their hands about the abuse Posey has taken behind the plate this season, there has been a smattering of Giants fans asking, "Well, why don't we move him back to the left side of the infield? There's a hole or two over there, you know." The response, when these obvious lunatics have been humored, is that Posey is a catcher or a fill-in first baseman. Catching, we're told, is Posey's "calling." And I get that, I really do.

But I sat in the living room on Wednesday night, watching the Giants game on my computer as it went to extra innings. As Scott Cousins barreled toward Posey, I held my breath. The throw from Schierholtz in right field was a good one. It always is. It was going to be an extremely close play. An instant later, Posey's helmet flies off as he's sent sprawling. He flops to his stomach, clutching at the dirt in agony, writhing around and pounding at the ground in despair, and frustration, and hopelessness. I find myself audibly saying, "Oh no!"

I'm reminded of my grandmother, crying out from the dark of my father's bedroom, where she's laying in bed and listening to the Giants game on the radio. My grandmother -- who taught me what baseball was and who the Giants were and how to love both of them -- was no stranger to yelling at the radio during baseball games, but this was altogether different. It was a wail of despair, and I'm pretty sure the first intelligible words out of her mouth were, "Oh no!" My sister and I ran in to see what was the matter. The Giants were in Montreal, and Dave Dravecky had just tumbled off the mound after throwing a pitch, his cancer-weakened arm shattered. How could this be? We'd just been there at Candlestick, live and in person, for his comeback win against the Reds. It was only five days ago! He was right there! But then...he was gone.

Buster Posey is not Dave Dravecky. Nor is he Jorge de la Rosa, the Colorado Rockies' de facto ace, who has just gone down for the season with a ligament tear in his pitching elbow. He'll need Tommy John surgery, but as far as pitching injuries go, he's likely to return to 100%. The early news with Posey is that it's a broken leg, along with torn tendons. We probably won't see him again in 2011. We may never see him catch again. Is it career-threatening? Too soon to tell.

I keep trying to thing of another time that the single most key player on a team has gone down with a season-ending injury on a potential playoff team, and I keep coming up empty. Maybe the Giants will rebound from this. Maybe Posey will come back sooner than we think. Maybe it will all be okay. But it's the uncertainty that really fills Giants fans with despair. That was the hardest part of watching Posey react to his injury last night. As someone who has gotten injured plenty and seen plenty of people I care about get severely injured, that was the one emotion I recognized most clearly: despair.

I have this awful feeling that this is what I'll be thinking about in October. Watching a young man become consumed with despair, and Giants fans being completely unable to do anything other than say, "Oh no."

SI.com with More on The Late, Great "Macho Man" Randy Savage

An early Mega Powers-style handshake. Not pictured: the other guy.
Not long ago, I provided a cursory look at Randy Savage, minor league baseball player. SI.com expands on that somewhat with, you know, a proper story. I invite you to dig it.


KS 

Giants Suffer Worst Loss of Season, Lose in 12 Innings, 7-6

Okay, so I wrote the below post during the bottom of the ninth, but amazingly Aubrey Huff got his only hit of the game to tie the it at 6 and send the game to extra innings. Most of what I wrote below still stands. This could have been an amazing comeback game, but the Giants not only lost the game and Mike Fontenot, they also lost Buster Posey when he tweaked his ankle badly on a home-plate collision as the Marlins scored the winning run.

This is terrible. This is...just terrible. Original post below, for posterity.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

San Francisco Giants' Aubrey Huff grimaces after hitting a foul ball off his foot as Florida Marlins catcher John Buck looks on during the third inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011.
This is exactly correct.

There was really no chance for the Giants to win once the Marlins plated two in the top of the first inning. Compounding matters was Aubrey Huff going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in the number three spot, looking like his numbers suggest: that he's possibly the worst position player in baseball right now. His OPS is currently sixty points lower than it was in his disastrous 2009 season. He killed literally every rally single-handedly, and ended the game for the Giants, with runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth.

Further compounding matters was the insane decisions Bruce Bochy made. Down by one run, he chose to pinch-hit AARON ROWAND against a left-hander to lead off the seventh inning, rather than Pat "Only Decent Hitter on the Giants Right Now" Burrell. Later, after Sergio Romo STRUCK OUT THE SIDE ON TEN PITCHES in the top of the eighth, Bochy chose to go with LOOGY Javier Lopez to face -- and walk three and serve up a bases-clearing double to -- five right-handed batters.

Further FURTHER compounding matters is the fact that the Giants' other number three hitter and beloved hobbit Mike Fontenot went down with a groin strain. Pinch-runner Darren Ford is also going on the DL and the Giants are recalling...Travis Ishikawa. Sabean and Bochy are adamant that they're not calling Belt up now, because -- get this -- Aubrey Huff is their first baseman and they don't need a backup.

Gotta keep reminding myself it's a damn long season and the Giants are in first place right now. But this team, man....mercy me, this team.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Earlier I Suggested That Baseball is The Worst, But Craig Robinson has Convinced Me Otherwise with A Post on His Tumblr



There can be no rebuttal. 


More of the great Craig Robinson at Flip Flop Fly Ball

KS

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 4: Baseball is The Worst and I Hate It

GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH
In truth it isn't, and I don't, but that ninth inning cut me deep. Ricky Romero had gone seven innings in Yankee Stadium, pitching his way around seven hits and three walks to allow only one run (Jeter grounding into a 5-3 double play in the seventh did not not hurt one bit). An improbably bat-around fourth had the Blue Jays up 4-1, and were it not for C. C. Sabathia's continued dominance over Jose Bautista, who knows what might have been? But here's what was: Frank Francisco fucking blew it.


If you were going to be charitable about it, you could say that this was only Francisco's second blown save of the year. But if you were of the opinion that the save stat is itself super dumb, and has poisoned yes poisoned bullpen usage for more than a generation now, you would instead point out that Francisco is just plain awful: a 6.23 ERA in his thirteen innings pitched, with twelve hits and eight walks allowed. And that's not the half of it. Well, it's definitely the half of it, and maybe more, but here is totally another thing: you can seriously run on this guy, as much or more than you can run on any other guy in the American League right now. Am I right, Curtis Granderson who is currently do it all?


Yes, you can run on this guy. And I AM currently doing it all, thank you.
 If you don't believe me, believe Curtis Granderson, who has earned that much.


None of this has been a secret. Everyone who is trying to be diplomatic about it has been saying things like, "The bullpen has been excellent this year, with the exception of Francisco, who is an adventure out there," which is the nice way of saying this guy is junk but we keep running him out there despite everybody knowing he's junk. But he's the closer so you can't just, you know, replace him with somebody who is any good, like any of a number of guys, until you decide that that new guy is fit to be deemed the closer. 


That this meltdown happened against the Yankees obviously makes it that much more galling, but if I take three deep breaths I am afforded enough perspective to realize that all this means is that the Blue Jays now sit 2.5 games behind New York for the AL East lead rather than a game behind Boston, and in the big picture -- and not even the actual big picture, but the big picture of a season of professional baseball, which, I mean, come on -- nothing is really any worse right now than it was yesterday. But when the closer everyone knows to be junk blows a save as the ball kicks off the glove of the loathsome Juan Rivera at first, it is hard not to at least entertain the thought that maybe I hate baseball, and maybe the reason I hate it is that it is the worst.


KS

A Step Ahead of Hollywood: Casting Moneyball II: Electric Boogaloo


As you all know by now,my beloved Oakland A's are soon to be portrayed on the silver screen in the Brad Pitt film "Moneyball", based on the Michael Lewis book by the same name. This film, as well as everyone associated with it, will no doubt win countless Oscars and the film itself will be the greatest achievement mankind will ever accomplish in any field. Knowing all of this beforehand, I have taken it upon myself to go ahead and cast the inevitable sequel. You're welcome.

Playing the role of catcher Kurt Suzuki we have...
Daniel Dae Kim! Really, it was either him or Ken Jeong. I went with acting chops over comedic value, and I stand by that decision.

1st Baseman Daric Barton will be played by...
DJ Qualls! Topher Grace was given a lot of thought for this role, but at the end of the day Mr. Qualls does a better job of capturing Barton's lack of power. DJ practically screams "popup to the catcher" or "ground into a double play".

At 2nd base, playing the role of Mark Ellis we have
Mark Ruffalo! You don't really notice when Mark Ellis is or isn't in the lineup, just like you don't really notice when Mark Ruffalo is or isn't in a movie. Inspired casting, if I say so myself.

Playing shortstop Cliff Pennington we have
Bradley Cooper! Is he qualified to play a professional athlete? Hell no, but then again, what role has Brad ever really been qualified to play other than "smarmy dick"? I'm not taking the easy way out with these decisions.

Playing much maligned 3rd baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff we have
Kevin Kouzmanoff? Damn skippy. There are certain roles in cinematic history that must be played by the person they are based on and no one else. Kouz is an unstoppable vortex of suck, and no one else is capable of capturing his essence.

In left field we have Josh Willingham, portrayed by
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson! Do they look at all alike? Nope, but there are other similarities. They're both big guys, they both miss a lot and when they do get a hit it usually is a big one.

Center fielder Coco Crisp will be played by
Lil' Wayne! Tell me you don't want to see Weezy in this joint. TELL ME. You can't. Know why? Because it would be a boldfaced lie and you know it.

Right fielder David DeJesus will be played by
George Lopez! Look, DeJesus doesn't look that Hispanic, but this movie needs some comic relief. And since Weezy and The Rock put us waaaaaaaay over budget, we're going to have to settle for George.

Designated Hitter Hideki Matsui will be played by
Ken Jeong! Look, I passed on him once for the Kurt Suzuki role, and as the old adage goes "The only truly tragic mistakes are the ones we learn nothing from". I refuse to make this mistake twice.

Playing pitcher Trevor Cahill we have
Angus T. Jones! If you need me to explain this one, well, you're a dullard.

Closer Brian Fuentes will be played by
Colin Farrell! This one is simple. Colin is a whiny little bitch, and so is Brian "I don't know what inning the manager is going put me in the game" Fuentes.

And lastly, playing the role of manager Bob Geren we have
A large rock! The rock actually would probably be a better manager, but I have confidence that he could dumb it down enough to accurately play Bob-O.

Casting agency note: Brad Pitt will not be reprising his role of "Billy Beane" in the sequel. His role will be played by a guy running on a treadmill while watching English Premiere League soccer with his back to the camera. Sort of like how Larry David portrayed George Steinbrenner on Seinfeld. It'll work. Trust me. See you at the Oscars, losers!

Giants Basically Quit Trying, Lose 5-1

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 24:  Andres Torres #56 of the San Francisco Giants reacts after he made a mistake running the bases that resulted in a double play in the third inning of their game against the Florida Marlins at AT&T Park on May 24, 2011 in San Francisco,...

This game had everything you'd expect from Bad 2011 Giants: baserunning gaffes, first-pitch outs, Aubrey Huff killing four rallies, leadoff doubles getting stranded, starting pitchers getting flustered, terrible umpiring calls, Michael Tejada celebrating doing something useless, Aaron Rowand coming in to pinch-hit and taking two strikes before swinging and missing at a slider low and away, Pat Burrell getting a key pinch-hit walk while starter Nate Schierholtz goes 0-for-4, opposing pitchers getting multiple single-digit pitch count innings, and Mike Krukow saying "That's a rough at-bat" after yet another Giants batter has a three-pitch strikeout.

The only surprising thing about this game was that the Giants got Ricky Nolasco over 100 pitches. The final score of this game really should have been 2-1. Matt Cain was the victim of literally the worst strike-calling I've ever seen in the fourth inning, no less than three times on two different batters getting an inning-ending strike three called a ball, leading to two consecutive walks, which let the Marlins extend the inning for a three-run double. It was a fiasco behind the plate all night. A pitch would be a strike, and literally the next pitch in the exact same location would be called a ball, or vice versa. The bad news is that Joe West is also on this umpiring crew.

Aubrey Huff should not be playing games right now, let alone batting third in the lineup. His WAR is the second-worst in the NL according to baseball-reference.com and he can't hit a lick. He's truly turning in a sub-Tejada performance, and it's not even close. The Giants need to call up Brandon Belt soon. A year ago I wouldn't imagine they'd dream of benching Huff, but they've done it with Rowand and cut Molina loose to make room for Posey, so it's a possibility. Two pieces of good news for today: Pablo Sandoval will probably be back ahead of schedule, and the Rockies lost their best pitcher. I'm not celebrating De La Rosa getting hurt by any means, but if the already-flustered Rockies get even more hopeless, I'm all for it.

Tonight was a demoralizing, frustrating loss. (Is there any other kind?) My prediction is a Marlins sweep, but I'll be happy to be proved wrong. It's early in the season, but this offense needs to make SOMETHING happen or we're all doomed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

25-23


Uh, well . . . and then there is this.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 3: Everybody Loves Intentional Walks

Bartolo Colon: way too fat for this nonsense.
Through five innings, the only runs on the board in this well-pitched affair came off a Robinson Cano sac fly that plated Granderson in the fourth and a pretty spectacular Jose Bautista lined shot to left centre in the first, the nineteenth home run of his hater-confounding 2011 campaign. That Bartolo Colon was getting it done was not shocking; that the spot-starting Carlos Villanueva was doing likewise caught me a little off-guard, which is really a shame-on-me scenario because he's been awesome so far out of the pen (1.48 ERA), and it's not like he's never started before, so who am I to doubt Carlos Villanueva?  


Then, in the sixth, things got pretty wacky: Corey Patterson -- who doubles often, bless him -- doubled. In a tie game, with nobody out and a runner on second in the sixth, they walked Bautista, which is what is going to happen now, I guess, and so be it.  Adam Lind is still rehabbing his bad back, meaning we are utterly and completely without a cleanup hitter, and so it fell to Yunel Escobar to drop the sacrifice bunt, the first time a Blue Jay batting fourth has dropped a sac bunt since . . . Dave Winfield in 1992! Why would anyone have ever asked him to do that? Cito, man. A character. Anyway, that puts runners on second and third with one away, so Girardi decided to walk Juan Rivera to set up a potential inning-ending double play, and I get that, but man he must have been kicking himself when Aaron Hill singled in a run, Eric Thames worked a bases-loaded walk, and J. P. Arencibia ripped a three-run double. Kicking himself.


The home half of the sixth was starting to look pretty nutty too when Escobar botched a double play ball, allowing a run to score and making things at least a little ticklish for a minute there, but as bad as things might be going for you as a pitcher facing the Yankees, you know that sooner or later Jorge Posada is coming up so everything is going to be cool. Twice last night, Posada grounded out to end innings with two runners on. As an aficionado of this great sport, you have probably already heard about how Posada got all mad about batting ninth the other day, and then asked to be taken out of the lineup completely for a game, and then felt kind of silly about the whole thing and apologized? If not, that totally happened, and if you were wondering just how bad he's been, last night Jerry Howard said that Posada was 0-26 on the season batting from the right side. I'm not going to look that up, but if that is what passes for switch hitting these days then shit I'm a switch hitter, too.


Just how bad has Posada been? And please note that I have no problem with Jorge Posada, who has had a totally admirable career: totally passable defensive switch-hitting catchers with power from both sides of the plate are basically the bee's knees. But this season, he is the 25th worst player in the American League by WAR at -0.4 (he's 253rd if you are counting in the other direction), and I really like WAR as a stat for measuring awfulness because of its cumulative nature. It gives you a better picture of awfulness than rate stats: to put together a seriously negative WAR you've got to be out there actively sucking, not just be theoretically bad and sitting on the bench, you know? 


Also while plumbing the stygian depths of the Baseball Reference WAR leader board, I can't but notice that Travis Snider -- who hasn't even been in the league for a pretty good little stretch now -- was every bit as bad as it seemed: he's rocking a 6th-worst/272nd-best -0.8, and E5, who I had recently speculated might be the worst major league player getting regular playing time right now, is in fact only the 4th worst! Carl Crawford is still somehow faring even more poorly, and I had no idea Joe DiMagglio was having the kind of year he's having. Vernon, we knew he was this bad. And there's your top four. Bottom four. You know what I'm saying here. 


Finally, if you still totally hate J. P. Ricciardi (and who doesn't?), it's perhaps worth noting  that two of the worst nine players in the American League right now are being paid a combined $35 million this season on deals originally signed by the Blue Jays but mercifully foisted onto others since. When J. P. Ricciardi was all you think you know baseball in this city but you don't, we were wrong to doubt him.


I don't want to end on so sour a note, so in closing I offer this image of Jose Bautista's swing, which at this point should really be filling all of us with joy, regardless of rooting interest, because it is so awesome. And he is so awesome. And baseball? Unfailingly awesome, even at its ruinous worst.


Yep.
KS

24-23


Movin' On Up to a Deeeeluxe Apartment in the Sky.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Astros 3, Blue Jays 2: When smoke is not enough.

 
I got it, bro; NO, I GOT IT BRO; no, I got it, bro, NO, I GOT IT, BRO; no . . . 
Sure we're down 3-2 with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Yunel Escobar just legged out an infield single despite being improbably slow for a middle infielder! And woah, Corey Patterson just doubled! That's two runners in scoring position for Jose Bautista! The best hitter in all of baseball strides to the plate with a chance to win it! Surely he will seize this moment to oh wait they walked him and Aaron Hill just rolled one to third to end it. I see.


The Astros are really, really awful but the Blue Jays managed to drop two out of three to them this weekend, which, to be honest, I did not enjoy. Drabek gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks in six innings, which is totally fine for right now. He touched 96 MPH on the gun with The Walrus at the dish but it was a fastball that ran in for ball four so you can't really take that as a win. But hey, three walks in six innings is a step in the right direction (still totally leading the league).


And so the Blue Jays hit New York a mere two-and-a-half games back of the Yankees and Rays, needing only a sweep to probably take over either the division lead or the wild card, maybe. Had I mentioned previously that Jesse Litsch is on the DL and Carlos Villenueva gets his start? I don't know, man, I do not know.


KS

Sunday, May 22, 2011

23-23

Two Walk-Off Wins Sandwich Amazing Lincecum Performance, Giants Sweep A's

THIS RULED

Well, that was a hell of a series. The Giants now have seven walk-off wins this season (it is May), and Tim Lincecum is on pace for one million instances of being completely righteous. The Giants have swept three straight series in San Francisco, and are three and a half games in first, thanks to a concurrent sweep of the Rockies by the Brewers. Everyone on the Dodgers is having body parts fall off of or out of them at an alarming rate, and the Padres and Diamondbacks.

Lincecum threw a complete-game three-hit shutout, striking out only six (unusual for him), and hitting 96 and 95 MPH on his last two strikeouts in the ninth, the latter on his 133rd pitch of the game. This dude is every bit as amazing as your typical Halladay or Lee or what have you, and it bears repeating.

Everyone seemed to have a key hit this series, but usually late in the games. It is starting to look like the Giants intentionally save their one or two hits with RISP for a dramatic walk-off. Even sub-Tejada-performing Aubrey Huff had a walk-off single this weekend, for crying out loud.

Pound it, bro. I'm gonna call you Buster Brosey. That cool? Shut up, rook.

The three best at-bats of the home stand were two insanely important singles by Manny Burriss and a monster splash hit by Nate Schierholtz. This is starting to be an exciting team to watch. The only thing that really rankles is Bruce Bochy's head-scratching bullpen management. Although, after YET ANOTHER Jeremy Affeldt meltdown/lead loss today, juxtaposed with two insanely key shutdown innings by Sergio Romo, perhaps the winds of change are blowing.

22-23

Blue Jays 7, Astros 5: Our Long National 0-8 Nightmare is Over

Breaking ball imo.
Imagine, if you will, that you are Houston Astros' right-hander Brett Myers. You are a major league baseball player, so your life should be a good one, but you pitch for the Astros, so instead it is misery. But not today: today, the offense has staked you to a 4-0 lead, and you have held the hometown Blue Jays off the board into the sixth inning. Sure, Jose Molina has just led off with a solid single up the middle, but you've got just the thing for that: you will compel Yunel Escobar to ground crisply to short, a perfect double play ball! And you actually manage to do it! But on this day, the usually sure-handed Clint Barmes forgets to shut the barm door, and it goes right through the wickets (this is not a mixed metaphor it is all literally true), and now you've got two on and oh shit that's Jose Bautista isn't it? 


Now open your eyes (I asked you to close them, right?). You are not Houston Astros' right-hander Brett Myers. Brett Myers is Houston Astros right-hander Brett Myers. But aside from that single detail, everything else that has just been imagined is all too real.


Bautista hit a three-run home run in the sixth and added a solo shot in the eighth -- and let us not overlook Escobar's blast in the seventh -- as the Blue Jays overcame some fair-to-moderate shakiness from Brendan Morrow and pulled this one out late. It was awesome. Jon Rauch did his best to blow it again but Ocatavio "Don't Ask" Dotel closed it out and I thank him for that; that's real to me. Coming into the game, Bautista was mired in his worst slump of the season, I think, 0-8 with a walk in there somewhere. But yesterday he came out clean shaven, perhaps in the interest of slump busting, and he went 3-4 with a single, those two home runs, 4 RBI, a stolen base, and he threw a dude out at third. Was the dude fat? Sure: it was Carlos Lee, who is listed at 6'2", 265 lbs. Was he probably actually safe? Absolutely. But whatever, Jose Bautista owns. That's 4.3 WAR on the season now, for those of you who are (sabermetrically) scoring at home. Also his beard was mostly back by the third.  


This is in all likelihood the only time I will be able to say this all season, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it: the Blue Jays are actually the hottest team in baseball right now, with eight wins in their last ten. They're only a-game-and-a-half back in both the division and the wild card. Playoffs? Almost a certainty. Almost.


KS 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Astros 5, Blue Jays 2: But That Doesn't Even Matter Right Now

All three men here are doing their best to soldier on by their hearts are not in it.
Look, I know the bullpen blew it, and cost poor, sweet Jo-Jo his first win in nearly three years after he spread a mere five hits over seven innings of shutout baseball. I know the Astros are so incredibly horrible that even dropping one game to them is both a shame and an embarrassment. But none of that matters right now, because Randy Savage is dead.


You know the story by now: Randy Savage, hero to millions, suffered an apparent heart attack while driving yesterday and veered into oncoming traffic. His non-Miss Elizabeth wife, a passenger at the time of the horrible accident, is physically fine, but one can only imagine her emotional trauma. Our thoughts are with her today. (Miss Elizabeth herself was of course taken from us years ago, leaving in a way no one would ever choose: face down in a plate of food at Lex Luger's house.) 


"But KS," you are saying, "we are every one of us mourning the loss of Randy Savage in our own way, and in appropriate forums. Why bring this sad news to Baseball Feelings?" The answer is simple: it is because in addition to being the unmatched lord and master of the squared circle, Randy Savage was also the greatest minor league baseball player to ever step onto the field. Not because he was particularly adept at the game himself -- the numbers speak for themselves -- but because he was on a minor league baseball field, and was Macho Man Randy Savage.


This might be news to you, but I have known it almost my entire life. When I was small I had a wrestling magazine from the grocery store that explained that Randy Savage had been a promising young player but that the game of baseball had too many rules and regulations to contain the force that we would ultimately come to understand as Macho Madness. At one time or another, I have shared this fact about Randy Savage with virtually everyone I have ever known, and the responses have ranged from, "Yeah, of course I know that; everyone knows that" all the way down to "That's stupid; nobody cares." But it's true. It's true


Here's an old Orangeburg Cardinals roster that proves it:


Number nine and feelin' fine, Mean Gene Okerlund, DIG IT.
Here is a picture of Randy Savage at a Mets game:


A vantage point worthy of Macho royalty.


Here is Randy Savage in Cardinals gear but part of me worries this might have been 'shopped:


I think that is going to be a changeup.
Finally, the Macho Man as we will always remember him:


Pomp? Check. Circumstance? No doubt.
It's just sad, and hard to explain, unless you accept the explanation that Randy Savage spent most of his adult life with a billion CCs of steroids pumping through his veins and loved cocaine as though it were the lovely Elizabeth herself and so his heart blew up and he died. But even if you do accept that explanation, it's still sad.


KS