Westwood Blues

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Congratulations to the World Champion Boston Red Sox

And congrats to all of Sam Horn's progeny and Red Sox Nation. Hey, I guess cursed teams really can win the World Series. Maybe even the San Francisco Giants.

Update: This has been making the rounds on the internet, so I thought I'd hop on board the link bandwagon. Win it For... I dare you to read the entire thing.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Magowan to Giants Fans: Drop Dead

Just hours after one of the most painful losses in franchise history put a cap on a frustrating season, the Giants managing general tightwad, Skippy McCheapskate, reassured fans that the Giants would not be in the market for any marquee names in the off season free agent market.
"It's unlikely you'll see a $14 million player on the Giants next year in addition to Barry Bonds," Magowan said. "That's too much money for two players. I don't think that's going to happen, but I think we'll have opportunities to find good players (who) will help us."
So, forget about signing Carlos Beltran or trading for Randy Johnson, but how about signing someone not quite as expensive like Magglio Ordonez or JD Drew or (choose your own free agent)? That probably won't happen either, or so speculates Joe Roderick:
"With about $66 million spoken for in salary, excluding options, the Giants won't have a lot of payroll maneuverability next season, either. So don't expect Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Delgado or even Moises Alou, manager Felipe Alou's son, in a Giants uniform."
Not that I necessarily want those specific players (in the case of Moises Alou, I certainly do not), but the general point stands. Until further notice, don't expect any big names or even mid-level names to join the Giants in the off season. Expect the Giants to continue running the habitrail of Michael Tuckers.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Giants is not move A or move B, but the general organizational philosophy of the franchise. The Giants goal is not necessarily to win a World Series; their goal is to be "competitive" on the smallest payroll possible. In fact, the Giants ownership would probably consider this season a great success. The team played one meaningless game, they drew 3.3 million fans, Barry hit historic homeruns, and they saved a few million dollars by slashing payroll in the off season.

There is great irony in the fact that the decision to go cut payroll last winter probably cost the team a playoff spot and therefore an opportunity to make millions more in postseason revenue. Penny wise, pound foolish. But such short-sightedness is standard operating procedure for the Giants ownership.

I know all of this hand waving probably won't change a thing. The Giants ownership is committed to fielding a "competitive team," but they refuse to provide the resources to take the team to the next level. Magowan does not want to pay for a slugger to hit behind Bonds. Fine. There's nothing the Lunatic Fringe can do about this. But, if he refuses to buy free agents, perhaps Magowan could use that money to buy himself a clue.


Realizing that his Hall of Fame bound superstars Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio were entering the twilight of their careers, Houston Astros owner Drayton McClane made a big push in the past several months to get his team to the World Series. They followed up an offseason in which they signed Jeff Kent by reeling in free agent pitchers Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens. When they needed another big bat in the lineup, the ownership provided the resources to pick up Carlos Beltran.

Will the Astros turn these investments into a World Series banner? Well, they're my pick to win it all, but that's not the point. The point is that the ownership group a) realized that they had in place the nucleus of a very good team that perhaps just needed a push to put it over the top, b) realized that their window of opportunity was closing quickly, and c) wanted to make one final run to win their superstars a ring.

In San Francisco, the local team has several important components of a championship caliber team. They have a dominating #1 starter in Jason Schmidt. They finally have the leadoff hitter they've been missing since Brett Butler. They have a sharp GM, a capable coaching staff, and loyal fans who fill their stadium to capacity. Oh yeah, they also have the greatest hitter since Ted Williams who just put up arguably the greatest offensive season in the history of baseball. But they need a few more useful parts to push them over the top. If there was ever a time to go for it, it's right here, right now.

While I'm in a Ranting Mood...

Because I'm an equal opportunity ranter, in addition to the ownership, I'll channel my additional frustration at the following people:

* Brian Sabean

On the opening road trip of the season, when Felipe Alou turned to David Aardsma in a critical situation it was clear that the Giants were an arm or two short in the bullpen. Sabean had the entire year to address this problem and what did he do? "Turtle piss and Dave Burba."

* My Dad

Why oh why did you have to leave the east coast for California? I could've been born a Yankee fan! In my short lifetime I could've witnessed approximately 3,658 Yankees World Series victory parades. But no, I have to be from San Francisco, the home of a cursed franchise which will never win a World Series in my lifetime!

* Joe Buck

He has nothing do with any of this, but while we're on the subject of people who bug me...It's bad enough that we have to go through a Giantsless post season, but do we really have to suffer through another October of this pretentious assgoblin butchering each game that he calls? It was so bad on Tuesday night that I had to switch the channel. How dare he make me actually watch the Vice Presidential Debate.

* Cody Ransom

Could you at least try to not suck harder than a million simultaneously collapsing galaxies?

* Neifarious

Most. Hated. Giant. Ever. But you knew that already.

* The Rockies

Ned Colletti brought up an excellent point last Friday. If the Rockies had showed up to a game in Scottsdale with a starting lineup that included six rookies, major league baseball rules would've prevented them from playing the game! So, a lineup that is not worthy of a spring training game is somehow good enough to start a game the final weekend of the season with everything on the line. Thanks, Clint.

* Bud Selig

Somehow, all of this is his fault.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

It Breaks Your Heart

"It was designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then, just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. Today, October 2, a Sunday of rain and broken branches and leaf-clogged drains and slick streets, it stopped, and summer was gone.

Somehow, the summer seemed to slip by faster this time. Maybe it wasn't this summer, but all the summers that, in this, my fortieth summer, slipped by so fast. There comes a time when every summer will have something of the autumn about it. Whatever the reason, it seemed to me that I was investing more and more time in baseball, making the game do more of the work that keeps time fat and slow and lazy. I was counting on the game's deep patterns, three strikes, three outs, three times three innings, and its deepest impulse, to go out and back, to leave and to return home, to set the order of the day and to organize the daylight. I wrote a few things this last summer, this summer that did not last, nothing grand but some things, and yet that work was just camouflage. The real activity was done with the radio-not the all-seeing, all-falsifying television-and was the playing of the game in the only place it will last, the enclosed green field of the mind. There, in that warm, bright place, what the old poet called Mutability does not so quickly come.

But out here, on Sunday, October 2, where it rains all day, Dame Mutability never loses. She was in the crowd at Fenway yesterday, a gray day full of bluster and contradiction, whenn the Red Sox came up in the last half of the ninth trailing Baltimore 8-5, while the Yankees, rain delayed against Detroit, only needing to win one or have Boston lose one to win it all, sat in New York washing down cold cuts and with beer and watching the Boston game. Boston had won two, the Yankees had lost two, and suddenly it seemed as if the whole season might go to the last day, or beyond, except here was Boston losing 8-5, while New York sat in its family room and put its feet up. Lynn, both ankles hurting now as they had in July, hits a single down the right field line. The crowd stirs. It is on its feet. Hobson, third baseman, former Bear Bryant quarterback, strong, quiet, over 100 RBIs, goes for three breaking balls and is out. The goddess smiles and encourages her agent, a canny journeyman named Nelson Briles.

Now comes a pinch hitter, Bernie Carbo, onetime Rookie of the Year, erratic, quick, a shade too handsome, so laidback he is always, in his soul, stretched out in the tall grass, on arm under his head, watching the clouds and laughing; now he looks over some low stuff unworthy of him and then, uncoiling, sends one out, straight on a rising line, over the centerfield wall, no cheap Fenway shot, but all of it, the physics as elegant as the arc the ball describes.

New England is on its feet, roaring. The summer will not pass. Roaring, they recall the evening, late and cold, in 1975, the sixth game of the World Series, perhaps the greatest baseball game played in the last fifty years, when Carbo, loose and easy, had uncoiled to tie the game that Fisk would win. It is 8-7, one out, and school will never start, rain will never come, sun will warm the back of your neck forever. Now Bailey, picked up from the National League recently, big arms, heavy gut, experienced, new to the league and the club; he fouls off two and then, checking, tentative, a big man off balance, he pops a soft liner to the first baseman. It is suddenly darker and later, and the announcer doing the game coast to coast, a New Yorker who works for a New York television station, sounds relieved. His little world, well-lit, hot-combed, split-second-timed, had no capacity to absorb this much gritty, grainy, contrary reality. Cox swings a bat, stretches his long arms, bends his back, the rookie from Pawtucket who broke in two weeks earlier with a record six straight hits, the kid drafted ahead of Fred Lynn, rangy, smooth, cool. The count runs two and two, Briles is cagey, nothing too good, and Cox swings, the ball beginning toward the mound and then, in a jaunty, wayward dance, skipping past Briles, fainting to the right, skimming the last of the grass, finding the dirt, moving now like some small, purposeful marine creature negotiating the green deep, easily avoiding the jagged rock of second base, traveling steady and straight now out into the dark, silent recesses of center field.

The aisles are jammed, the place is on its feet, the wrappers, the programs, the Coke cups and peanut shells, the doctrines of an afternoon; the anxieties, the things that have to be done tomorrow, the regrets about yesterday, the accumulation of a summer: all forgotten, while hope, the anchor, bites and takes hold where a moment before it seemed we would be swept out with the tide. Rice is up. Rice whom Aaron had said was the only one he'd ever seen with the ability to break his records. Rice the best clutch hitter on the club, with the best slugging percentage in the league. Rice, so quick and strong he once checked his swing halfway through and snapped the bat in two. Rice the Hammer of God sent to scourge the Yankees, the sound was overwhelming, fathers pounded their sons on the back, cars pulled off the road, households froze, New England exulted in its blessedness, and roared its thanks for all good things, for Rice and for a summer stretching halfway through October. Briles threw, Rice swung, and it was over. One pitch, a fly to center, and it stopped. Summer died in New England and like rain sliding off a roof, the crowd slipped out of Fenway, quickly, with only a steady murmur of concern for the drive ahead remaining of the roar. Mutability had turned the seasons and translated hope to memory once again. And, once again, she had used baseball, our best invention to stay change, to bring change on. That is why it breaks my heart, that game-not because in New York they could win because Boston lost; in that, there is a rough justice, and a reminder to the Yankees of how slight and fragile are the circumstances that exalt one group of human beings over another. It breaks my heart because it was meant to foster in me again the illusion that there was something abiding, some pattern and some impulse that could come together to make a reality that would resist the corrosion; and because, after it had fostered again the most hungered-for illusion, the game was meant to stop, and betray precisely what it promised it promised.

Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion. I am not that grown up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun."

-- Bart Giamatti