30 July 2010

103 down. 59 to go.

Got a few minutes between politico events here in the City by the Bay, so I plopped myself down at Philz and pulled out the ol' laptop to give you my one-word comment on yesterday's "contest". And that word, is "Meh." I'm not going to obsess over one game in a sport where you play 162 before it's all said and done, and you shouldn't either. Just look at it this way: The boys were saving all their hits for the ducking Fodgers. BTW: Squish, squish, no hitting streak record for Buster, but man is this kid a class act. Let's get back to thinking about winning. Damn right, BP! Speaking of which, did anyone else notice #MadBum entered the game 4 for his last 4 with a sub 1.50 ERA? Bonus question: When's the last time you thought of the name Todd Wellemeyer? War Panda for coming up huge with the doink that kept this from being the sixth no-hitter of the (not even two-thirds completed) season. I don't think a loss would slow down the Giants one bit. Getting no-no'd in their own yard? Yeah, that could do it. See you at the Cove tonight, my little droogies. Don't forget to follow along on the ol' Twitter thingie.

29 July 2010

102 down. 60 to go.

This is a game of signs and symbols, and Wednesday's tilt was no different. After blowing a 7-run lead with three to play, the Orange and Black had two paths in front of them, like a kid reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book: 1. Blow the game completely; 2. Win. Championship teams take the latter path. Teams that plan on golfing in October take the former. But it's not a conscious choice. You're either a championship-caliber team, or you're not. You're either a deep, resilient, hardscrabble team, or you're a pocket full of posies — no offense to the one we call "Buster". So while it burns me to no end that "Dirty" Sanchez, Denny "Don't Call Me Lenny" Bautista, and Brian "Torture" Wilson blew a laugher, I can't be that upset, because when I look in the standings this morning, it goes down as a W. Doesn't matter how we got there. In sports, the end result is all that counts. It's important to remember lessons like that when you're pulling your hair out after "His Name Is" Dan Uggla brings his one-man wrecking crew to bear for the umpteenth time in this series. BTW: I linked you to some Shoe-gate copy yesterday, and I don't want to get too deep into it today. Suffice it to say that, no, I don't think Weezy's footwear and the surrounding "controversy" had anything to do with him blowing the save. Did he let his ego get the better of him when he chucked a 3-2 fastball into Uggla's happy zone? Maybe, but should we really be surprised? This guy goes balls-to-the-wall at all times. Doesn't matter what shoes he's wearing or what opposing managers whose names are hardly household material have to say about them. It's always a crap shoot with the Weez, but 91% percent of the time, he's on the mound for the final out of the game. A couple other notes: Buster keeps marching on. With Strasburg headed to the DL and BP now getting national attention from ESPN and others, the path to ROY honors is set. But honestly, I don't give a mess about awards. I love this kid because he makes us a contender. Without him, we'd be floundering around .500 with the Rocks and Doyers. Oh yeah, and if you follow my Twitter thingie, you may have noticed I got into it with Marlins rookie Logan Morrison (@LoMoMarlins), who called out Giants fans in a tweet before the game. The kid had a good game despite my incessant taunts, but I hope MadBum keeps him winless for his career today. He's batting second again, so I'll have ample opportunities to jib and jab. That is all.

28 July 2010

101 down. 61 to go.

And then, it was 20... Kinda felt like a playoff game as opposed to a weeknight tilt against one of the league's younger teams. The heated atmosphere even came through in HD. So much to praise from this one: we held our own against the hottest pitcher in the game; we hung three runs on his line for the first time in three months; Juan U-RIBE and Edgar "Dude, where's my bat speed?" Rentería came up huge against the Florida bullpen;  Buster stayed hot and is fast approaching Stretch McCovey's San Francisco hit streak record; Aaron "Automatic 0-2" Rowand picked up another pair of hits; Serg and B-Weezy held it down in relief of a hit-and-miss Shotgun Cain... I could go on, but let's just say this: Good win, boys. Didn't hurt that the Hated Ones shut out the Fathers in San Diego, putting the Orange and Black just 2.5 back in the West, the closest they've been in months. That's not to say Butch was thinking blue. It's still far too early in this race to start rooting for the Doyers. Besides, we're leading the Wild Card Division, so who cares about the West, right? BTW: If you're lovin' Weezy's new bright orange kicks, check out this item from Henry Schulman's Splash blog on SFGate.com. According to the Twitter feed of CSN's Amy G, Wilson received the questionable cleats unsolicited from Nike. Apparently, they magically appeared in his locker at the All-Star Game in Anaheim. This makes me wish Phil Knight would visit in the middle of the night and leave a pair of Jordans in my closet. How 'bout it, Phil?

27 July 2010

100 down. 62 to go.

Outta here? Fan interference? Did he get both feet in? Doesn't really matter now. My first live experience with instant replay ended on a positive note for Aaron Rowand and the Orange and Black, even if it didn't lead to an eventual victory. Despite the unhappy result of Game #100, it was comforting to see the bats come alive in the late innings, and I was once again impressed by my team's refusal to go quietly into the night. This is the kinda game that, even in defeat, gives me hope for the remainder of what's sure to be a wild and crazy pennant race. It was obvious the boys were spent. 18 out of 22 games on the road will do that to you. They looked flatter than a pancake for the first six innings, but when the game was on the line, they put the tying run at third and the winning run in the batter's box. That they didn't finish off the comeback is disappointing. If they hadn't even made the effort? That would be demoralizing. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You can accuse the Giants of falling short in a lot of categories, but resilience is not among them. Don't put it past these guys to come out tonight and stick a hot poker up Josh Johnson's rear end. After all, they live to rebound. BTW: War Buster Posey on his 19-gamer. How 'bout you put a little suspense into it one of these nights, kid? Where's your sense of drama? (And I don't mean coming up lame after sliding into third.) As for the guy on the bump, is there some sort of mental plague haunting the starting rotation? Why do we have the market cornered on headcase pitchers? And when are they gonna get their collective heads straight? Here's hoping it's sometime around August 1st. Otherwise, this is gonna be one torturous 62-game stretch. FYI: I'm taking a leave of absence from the Cove, but I'll be back in Section 104 for the whole Doyers series this weekend, so stay tuned to the ol' Twitter thingie.

26 July 2010

99 down. 63 to go.

First off, lemme say that it's good to know the Giants are reading my blog. Put your foot on their neck and step down. Don't let them catch their breath. Don't let them get any momentum. Don't let them feel at all good about themselves. Just crush like Obama in February of '08, like Sherman in Atlanta, like Alexander in Persia. That's how you build a winning record on the road. It's how you reel off 16 wins in 20 games. It's how you score more runs than any team in the majors in July — I am not kidding — with six games still to play. It's how you win pennants. It's a funny thing, this game of baseball. One week, the sky is falling; the next week, you're walking on air. It's hard enough for fans to navigate these unpredictable seas of emotion. I have no idea how the players retain their focus. But this team seems to have the answer: Wipe your mind clean every day. Win the game at hand. Wait until tomorrow to worry about tomorrow. Good advice for life. BTW: Nice to see Timmy back in form, but I've written that line before, and it's growing a little tired. Sooner or later, we're gonna find out what's been crawling up this kid's butt since Spring Training, and I have a feeling it's not gonna be good news. To be sure, the kind of dominance Timmy displayed over the past two seasons is typically fleeting, but this year's struggles go beyond a return to the middle. A guy with his stuff should never suffer prolonged slumps, nor should his body forget how to throw strikes for weeks at a time. But that's what we've seen from Timmy v.2010, and I'm sorry, but nobody goes to the playoffs wondering what they're gonna get out of their staff ace in any given start. Something's gotta give.

P.S. Forget ROY. If he keeps this up, Buster Posey gets my vote for MVP.

25 July 2010

98 down. 64 to go.

Friday: Jonathan "Dirty" Sanchez. What to do with this headcase? If he could find a way to get the first batter of the inning out... If he could find a way to throw strike one with consistency... If he could find a way to focus on making his pitch, one pitch at a time... The guy's pretty iffy, if you catch my drift. But boy, he's got some pretty stuff. I guess that's why it's so frustrating to see him exiting after six, even five innings. The line doesn't look bad, but he misses out on decision after decision because he simply cannot keep himself in the game, and our bullpen ain't exactly watertight right now. And it's not just hurting the Giants, and it's not just hurting him... It's hurting Team Hopey Changey. The guy needs a voodoo witch doctor to come into the clubhouse and exorcise the demon that walks the bases loaded with nobody out and leave behind the guy who finds a way out of that jam more often than not like some kind of magician. BTW: Where in the world did Andres Torres spend his days before emerging in the orange and black last season? Who the hell is this guy, and why did it take so long for him to become a beast? Giants win without Buster in the lineup = very good news.

Saturday: Listening to Doug Greenwald on the radio is like being transported back to the late '80s, when Will Clark was still "The Natural", and the only U-RIBE we knew was José. The guy sounds eerily like his dad, Hank, who brought me into literally thousands of games in my youth with his signature raspy voice and clear-cut call of the play. Now, with Jon Miller and Dave Flemming cavorting in Cooperstown, we get a taste of the next generation, as Doug has been called up from Fresno to broadcast this series in the desert. Listening to him call an Aubrey Huff home run gave me chills. He's still adjusting to the pace of the big league game, but I look forward to hearing more of this young prospect. BTW: The Giants are certainly acting the part of a contender: winning on the road, beating the lesser teams, and battling with the best. They won't score 10 runs very often, but they only need to score 4. When they do that, they're 47-8 (.855). That's not bad.

P.S. Butch's thoughts and prayers go out to Eugenio Velez and his family. Hang in there, Count Chocula. Humm baby!

23 July 2010

96 down. 66 to go.

Matt Cain is a horse. I know, occasionally he goes out there and lays the proverbial turd, but Bochy can ride this kid to the end of the earth and back and he'd still be ready to go out for another inning. Unfortunately, the kid sporting the new fro suffers from some of the worst run support in the Show. If he didn't have the Great Zito as a teammate, the lack of offense in Shotgun's starts would appear even more pronounced. Yet he keeps going back out the to bump and throwing strikes. He's not afraid to throw a fastball challenge to Mark Reynolds with a one-run lead. He's not gonna shy away from putting one under Chris Young's chin. If the word "gamer" applies to anyone on this Giants team, it ain't Aaron "0-fer" Rowand. It's the 25-year old blond kid from Alabama who takes the ball every five days and gives his team a chance to win. (Yeah, that's right: 25. Can you believe this kid is six months younger than Timmy?) And if the 8-8 record puts any doubt in your mind about his talents, please to consider the 3.10 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and .226 BAA. Wins aren't everything, baseball fans. Just look at Timmy's second Cy season in '09. BTW: Buster didn't waste any time extending his hit streak to 16 games, moving up to third on the all-time list of San Francisco rookies — and he got an RBI out of it, too. Looks like I may have jinxed Pablo a couple days ago with my exuberance over his apparent return to Pandamonium. I'll hold off on my commentary until he gets his head straight for good, but one thing nobody seems to be talking about — other than my roommate who astutely reminded me of it — is Sandoval's recent eye surgery, and how his new and improved peepers might be affecting his offensive production. I don't know if that's the case, and his torrid April would suggest that it's not. But food for thought, nonetheless.

22 July 2010

95 down. 67 to go.

And then, there was a dud. For all the resilience the 2010 team has shown in peeling themselves off the mat following heartbreaking losses — particularly Monday night in L.A. — they sure seem to lack the killer instinct of a championship-caliber club. Five out of 11 times this season, the Giants have failed to complete a series sweep. And while you can flip the script and say they've been successful in more than 50% of those situations — twice against the lowly Astros — those five failures could loom large on October 3rd, especially because many of them were winnable contests against low-end starters. That's not to say that Chad Billingsley isn't worth his salt — indeed, he also shut out the G-Men back in July of '08 — but the Doyers as a team were reeling, the Giants were rolling, and this was a perfect time to put a foot on their throat and step down hard. Instead, yours truly and the rest of Giants Nation wasted two and a half hours watching a re-run we can't seem to escape, and even a resurgent Pablo Sandoval couldn't save the day this time. Of course, we could chalk it up to the Curse of the Unicorn since The Other Barry is not exactly a magnet for run support. Me? I'm putting on a lack of focus. It's always been apparent with individual players like Dirty Sanchez and Panda, but now it seems to be affecting the whole team. Hence, a roller coaster season of streaks. If this team wants to compete in October, they need to iron out the inconsistencies and start bringing their A mentality — if not their A game — on a daily basis. That is all.

21 July 2010

94 down. 68 to go.

What the hell can I say after that? Let's start at the end and work our way forward, shall we? First off, another strong outing from @JeremyAffeldt locking down his third (!) save of the year — and really, a tremendous job by the whole bullpen to keep the Doyers in check while the offense capitalized on some key breaks to overcome an early deficit. As for the ninth inning insanity, I don't know what to say. I suppose one could view this as karma coming back around after Sunday's umpiring debacle. It could also be attributed to the Doyers going through a stretch not unlike what the G's experienced earlier in the month when the Hated Ones invaded the Cove. Either way, the chain of events that began with Lincecum hitting Kemp and ended with Mattingly's little dance with the 18-foot circle would be too ridiculous to believe if I hadn't watched the game with my own two eyes. You truly do see something new every day in this here game of baseball. Btw: Wtf with Big Time Timmy Jim? He seemed like he had it all sorted last time out, then he throws up this dud. I can't possibly be the only one concerned about the lack of consistency from our staff ace. Meanwhile, the Panda has returned. God, please let him stay a while. Speaking of God, can I get an amen for Andres Torres? Bochy's eagle eye ends up turning him around to the right side — his weaker side — and he still crushes the game winner.

P.S. Buster F***ing Posey. (Just had to mention him since he does something routinely stupendous every day.)

20 July 2010

93 down. 69 to go.

If you want to suggest that Weezy loaded the bases in the 9th just to face Casey Blake in a game-deciding situation, I'd agree there's some smoke there. But when you snap back to reality, you realize that Weezy loads the bases half the times he takes the bump. It doesn't matter if he's got a one-run lead or a three-run lead, and it surely doesn't matter who's coming up sixth in the inning. A professional closer wants nothing more than to end the game. To give the opposition any chance to come back — let alone win — goes against the entire premise of closing. You can say Brian Wilson is a drama queen and gets off in tight spots, and you may be right. But to think that he consciously puts himself into those spots is a much less likely proposition. When Blake appeared in the box, I imagine Wilson appreciated the significance, but I doubt he'd given it much thought beforehand. Either way, the guy's 26 of 28 and tied for the MLB lead in saves. I'll take the sphincter-tightening drama if that's the end result. Props to MadBum for a fine first start at Chavez Ravine. Kudos to Nasty Nate for going yard in a rare start. Stay hot, Buster Posey. Welcome back, Pablo Sandoval?

19 July 2010

92 down. 70 to go.

Picture a game like any other game. The score is close, but the home team trails by two late. A five-game winning streak and a four-game sweep are on the line. One of the best pitchers in the game just shut down their bats for eight innings, and now they're faced with one of the most storied closers of the past decade. But something stirs in their souls, incites them to action, and sparks a winning three-run rally. The crowd bursts into spontaneous glee. The players leap over the dugout rail. The celebration is underway, and the kids are about to run the bases... That's when Phil Cuzzi makes the worst call of his professional umpiring career. He calls Travis Ishikawa out, instantly becoming the hated enemy of 38,000 people in the park and thousands of Giants fans at home. To blame the loss entirely on the blown call is not difficult. Very seldom do you see a "game-changing" call occur on what could be the final play of the game. Usually, this call comes earlier in the game, affecting every play thereafter to the point that an accurate prediction of the outcome had the call gone another way is virtually impossible. But this call is unequivocal in its meaning: Cuzzi gets it right, the Giants win, and a day when we went 1-for-15 with RISP is forgotten in a maelstrom of orange and black insanity. Instead, me and the other 38,000 suckers went home shaking our heads and dreaming up elaborate plans for revenge.

I was consumed by political activity over the weekend and did not have time to post about Saturday's game, which was fun on a lot of levels. Shotgun Cain got some offense and used it to his advantage by throwing strikes. He stretched the starters' scoreless streak to 23 innings before Ike Davis deposited one into the Arcade, in an eerie premonition of Sunday's endgame. Pablo Sandoval continued to impress in the second half with a great night against left-handed pitching. And Buster Posey... well...

17 July 2010

90 down. 72 to go.

I had to watch the highlight reel. Again and again and again I clicked the remote, even though I'd seen it play out a million times. I watched the ball come out of his hand, the wide array of trajectories and angles and cuts and bends he could throw at the batter. I tried to imagine what it must feel like to be in the box when this guy's completely locked in on the bump, every pitch so tantalizingly lazy, hanging in the air for what feels like an eternity, even the fastball sitting up for ages as if it were on a tee. You feel like you should be able to hit this guy, but when the pitch comes in, your knees buckle, your hips turn to jelly, and your bat stays gently perched on your shoulder. If Barry Zito can pitch any better, I'd love to be there to see it. Matt Cain's up next in this epic game of H.O.R.S.E. between the Giants starters. Who's gonna flinch first?

P.S. It's Timmy bobblehead day, so you best get your a** to the park and get in line. A tip for my lucky readers: Head for the gate at 2nd and King. Don't know why, but they seem to run out last every time.

16 July 2010

89 down. 73 to go.

Two things happened in this one that should make us all feel tingly inside...

1. Timmy pitched his finest game of the year, a 2:11 affair that was practically over before I got to my seat after horrific and unexpected traffic on 280-N. Seriously, wtf, people? No accident. No cops. Just plain ignorant driving. News flash: It's the pedal on the right! But I digress... If this is a sign of things to come in the second half from our two-time defending baddass, then both the Giants and my fantasy team should be in the hunt come September.

2. Pablo got an extra base hit — not to mention a 2-out hit with a runner in scoring position. He didn't do much after that, but his bat looked pretty lively, even while striking out his third time up. It's not a large sample size, to be sure, but I like the attitude of "throw the first half in the garage" and focus on the days and weeks to come. We need this guy hitting on top of his game. If he doesn't snap out of the malaise he's been in since April, then Timmy could turn into Walter Johnson, and we still won't be playing in October.

P.S. Made a sojourn to the Dugout Store after the game and picked up a Steal Your Face long sleever. Getting geeked up for Jerry Night at the Cove!

15 July 2010

First half report card. Second half keys.

Butch's first half report card for your Giants

Up the middle: B+
The addition of Buster Posey, the return of Freddy Sanchez, the (earlier) mashing of Juan Uribe, and the discovery of Andres Torres has certainly improved the offense from 2009, but there have been too many games when Renteria, Rowand, and Molina failed to produce in key situations.

Corner infielders: B-
Aubrey Huff has been a revelation, and Buster's held down the fort in a new role at 1B, but the struggles of one Pablo Sandoval have put a crimp in the Giants plans for a successful 2010. If the Panda does not find a way out of the hole he's dug for himself, Sabes will need to look elsewhere for more offense (see below).

Outfield: B
The miasma Bochy has navigated here since Opening Day is not to be believed. John Bowker is one or two options away from being considered a bust. "Nasty" Nate won his RF job back with a torrent of hitting, then gave it away with an equally horrid stretch. The addition of Pat the Bat and the temporary relocation of Huff increased the outfield's productivity, and Andres Torres has added that top-of-the-order element the team has been lacking, but this is still a work in progress.

Defense: B+
Remember when this was supposed to be a liability for the 2010 Giants? Well, it turns out Aubrey Huff can pick it, "Nasty" Nate has the best RF arm in the league, and Panda has yet to let his offensive struggles affect his glove. This is not to mention the talents of Buster and Freddy up the middle. The only problem spot is a huge one: shortstop. As in, we don't have anybody with decent range to play the most dynamic position on the field.

Starting pitching: B
Maybe I'm being harsh, but I'm not as impressed as I expected to be. "Dirty" Sanchez still has a lot of work to do between the ears, and he's got to learn to control his pitch counts. Ditto to Zito, who lately has struggled to get out of the fifth inning. Matt Cain's been like Jekyll & Hyde. Todd Wellemeyer was a (huge) mistake. And Madison Bumgarner — while a tremendous prospect — still has a long way to go toward proving his capacity. Then, there's Timmy. Wtf? Luckily for us, looks like he's turning the corner. Without him on his game, winning anything is gonna be downright impossible.

Bullpen: C
The polar opposite of the defense is this alleged strength which has become a distinct liability. 88 games in, and the 'pen still lacks defined roles. The onus cannot be left at Bochy's door because, frankly, everyone down there has had trouble throwing strikes for long periods at a time. Indeed, I'm trying to think of anybody who's been consistently strong throughout the year, and I'm drawing a blank.

Closer: A-/B+
What to say about Weezy? 22 saves in 24 chances is nothing to scoff at, but the journey can be summed up in one word — and I think you know what it is: torture. Dude gets the job done, and looks the part doing it, but is it worth it if you give your entire fan base simultaneous heart attacks by loading the bases with none out in a one-run game?

Bochy: B-
Like a lot of you, I'm growing tired of the special treatment for under-performing veterans while Buster's allowed to ride the pine for multiple days at a time. I'm also frustrated by his lack of fire. Say what you want about Dusty — and I could sure say a lot — he leads by example. He gets fired up. He gets pissed. When your team goes 1-for-15 with RISP over the course of a three-game series, I would expect more than, "Well, these guys are working hard, doing their best, etc." Then again, some players respond to the steady hand approach. I just don't think this is the right team for that vibe. They need a kick in the pants, and Bochy needs to be the one to give it to them.

Front office: INC
While it was obviously necessary to move Buster into a more permanent role in the lineup, the Bengie trade also netted us a decent piece for the bullpen in Chris Ray. But it remains to be seen if and how Sabes and the staff will seek to upgrade the Orange & Black before July 31st.


Butch's 3 keys to second half success

1. Pablo, Pablo, Pablo
I said it above, but if the Panda does not return to his former Kung-Fu self, the G's will need to look elsewhere for additional punch. That we're still in contention without our best bat producing at anywhere near his potential is a testament to the team Sabean has assembled. Realistically, I doubt we should expect miracles, but if Sandoval reverts to form, it would be like trading for an All-Star corner infielder and not having to give up a thing.

2. Rotation Wrangling
The starting staff was supposed to be this team's primary strength, the best in the league top-to-bottom. I believe it still is, but the numbers aren't there to prove it, and at times our staff has looked rather beatable out there. It's obviously a struggle when you're not getting a lot of run support, and our record when scoring 4 or more is insane, but there are games when we need these guys to be Supermen if we're going to make waves in October.

3. Situational Hitting
Trust me, you're not the only ones hurtling inanimate objects at the television every time Edgar Renteria grounds into a double play on the first pitch of an at bat in the eighth inning of a one-run game after the batter before him led off the inning with a single. Simply put: Get 'em over. Get 'em in. If not, you can make your tee time reservations for October 4th.

See you at the Cove...

14 July 2010

88 down. 74 to go.

As has been noted on the Twitter and Facebook thingies, I spent the past weekend at Stillwater Cove just north of Bodega Bay attending the long-awaited wedding of a couple good friends. Cell reception was non-existent up there, and even my iPhone data plan wasn't happening, so I didn't get to watch any of the series in D.C. — including the Strasburg game. However, I did have my trusty pocket radio tuned to the ol' 50,000-watt blowtorch nearly all weekend, and now that I've had a chance to watch the highlights, I'm ready to make a few observations about the series:
  1. Stephen Strasburg is, indeed, legit. I'm not saying the guy deserves to go to the All Star Game after less than two months in the Show, but he's obviously got some nasty stuff. Not that it takes much to quiet the Giants bats from time to time (see Arrieta, Jake).
  2. Buster Posey will be your National League Rookie of the Year. Yes, others got off to faster starts (see, Heyward, Jayson), but even giving him a liberal four games off the rest of the way and barring any catastrophe, the Kid is on pace to hit .350, mash 20 homers, drive in 70 runs, and post an OPS in the .900s.
  3. Madison Bumgarner is the most intimidating 20-year old I've ever seen in orange and black. This guy once threw behind a hitter in the minors because "he swung too hard" at the previous pitch. Everyone — including yours truly — was buggin' earlier in the year because he looked like Clark Kent instead of Kal-El. Shows what a little taste of Fresno can do to you. Maybe Pablo could use a trip down US-99 for a few weeks of extended Camp Panda.
I'll have more for you later including my first half report card and a look ahead to the second half. For now, I'll just say that the G's may have salvaged their season on this road trip. You'll recall I was none too optimistic following the 15-inning heart crusher in Denver — which eerily mimics my sentiments following a particularly rough series at Coors last year. The boys pretty much needed to win out going into the break to have any shot of catching anybody in the West, which they pretty much did. Meanwhile, the Fathers ran into a streaking Rock Pile over the weekend, and suddenly, the deficit is only 4 games. Of course, we've got three teams to climb over, but things were looking a lot worse a week and a half ago.

09 July 2010

85 down. 77 to go.

One hour until the boys face off with rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg, so I'll make this a quick one... If anyone has any ideas for how to stop Buster Posey, they may want to forward them to the rest of the National League — particularly the Milwaukee club — because this kid is getting downright abusive. You can point out that the Brew Crew has hit a serious lull in their enthusiasm for the game of baseball, and that they did everything they could to give this series to the Giants. (Ken Macha had better be dusting off his résumé as I write this.) But like I said before, good teams take advantage when breaks come their way, and the cumulative series score of 36-7 is great news for the bats as well as the pitching staff, both of which abandoned ship during The Losing Streak. Some quick hits: The only person Zito should be pissed with is himself. That was one craptastic performance after being gifted a rare 6-0 advantage. Also, you can mark my words, Aubrey Huff will go down as one of the best moves of Brian Sabean's tenure with the Orange and Black.

Going off the grid to attend a friend's wedding in Humboldt this weekend, so you'll be without my witty asides for a few days. Hope you can find the strength to press on until Monday. If you're lucky, I may have enough 3G reception to update the ol' Twitter thingy, so stay tuned to @ArcadeDreams.

08 July 2010

84 down. 78 to go.

Have a day, Buster Posey. As Baggs tweeted after his first career grand slam: "I think Buster Posey is going to make it in this league." How much more can you say about this kid? Great approach. Great swing. Great attitude. He's even got a beautiful wife. And he's only 23? Don't mind me if I get a little weepy next time he catches MadBum. The G's may not win jack s*** this season, but there's certainly a lot worth looking forward to. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, I think it's safe to say Big Time Timmy Jim has rediscovered his mojo. When his fastball's cracking in the mid-90s — and more importantly, getting swing throughs — his change and slurve become virtually untouchable. This was the perfect start to take him into the break. With any luck, he'll get into the All-Star Game and light it up with a Fernando-esque performance, and it would be about time. Poor kid gets sick in '08, then shelled as the N.L. starter in '09. He deserves a break on the national stage, and a nation of baseball fans deserves to see him on top of his game. Let's hope the boys saved some runs for today's series finale, and that Zito's luck changes in Milwaukee. My broom is at the ready.

07 July 2010

83 down. 79 to go.

You can get all the gifts in the world, but you still have to take advantage. Pablo gave Counsell a gift, and the Brewers' shortstop gave it right back. That's baseball. Besides, MadBum earned that break with a stout performance for his first big league W. Even managed to plunk Prince Fielder — albeit far too gently. Not to mention, the kid can swing the stick. MadBat anyone? As my friend A-Kob queried on the ol' Twitter thing: "Do you think Bochy considered switching MadBum and Edgar in the lineup?" If he didn't, he should have. Renteria looks old, slow, and apathetic at the plate, and it's not like he's ever been Omar Vizquel at short. I smell a DFA in the offing. Kind of impressive this team is anywhere near .500, let alone competing in what's turned out to be a tough division: Lincecum is nowhere near the dominant force everybody's come to expect, and he really hasn't been his usual self since April; Sandoval is making a lot of people regret investing in those corny panda hats; and the bullpen's been a mine field when it was projected to be one of this team's strengths. If any two of these three elements come around in the second half, we can still make waves in the National League. If all three are still hit-and-miss on August 1st, we're toast. Simple as that.

05 July 2010

82 down. 80 to go.

A few more like that, and we'll get our legs back. For a long while, we were on the the wrong side of the great wave of karma. But just for one day, the waves of Lake Michigan were breaking our way. You can't say enough about what Aubrey Huff's meant for this team. I hope his teammates are taking notes. Was that Panda I saw driving Huff in from second to tie the game? Meanwhile, Buster Posey straight dekes everybody, including Dave Groeschner, and deposits one in the right field stands. Bum wrist, my bum. Dirty Sanchez can't seem to get through five innings in less than 261 pitches. So frustrating to see such good stuff in the hands of a guy with more mental hangups than yours truly. Someone needs to find him an ounce or two of whatever he smoked the night of his no-no. I hadn't bothered to look at the standings for more than a week, for obvious reasons. 7 games back. Jesus. Well, nothing like a thrilling pennant chase to keep the blood flowing!

P.S. Trying something new and cross-posting to Facebook via the ol' Blogspot. Hope your consumption of Under the Arcade is not inconvenienced by this change in format.