Westwood Blues

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Barry Speaks

Barry Bonds addressed the media upon his arrival at Giants camp. Here are some excerpts from his press conference:
Moderator: Thank you all for coming out today. Barry is here to answer your questions but he is not allowed to discuss BALCO because it's a legal matter.

Reporter: I'm Mark Fanaru-Wada, George Polk award winning investigative journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Barry, what was your reaction to my groundbreaking story reporting leaked grand jury testimony which revealed that you may have unknowingly taken steroids?

Moderator: Barry is not allowed to discuss BALCO.

Mark F-W: My question wasn't about BALCO per se. That question was about me.

Moderator: Next question, please.

Reporter: I'm Richard Hoffer from Sports Illustrated. I'm a massive tool. As the self-appointed protector of integirty of baseball and American culture, we have called on you to quit the game of baseball. Why haven't you followed our directive and quit the game you continue to shame?

Ages ago, Abner Doubleday was sent to the earth by God himself to invent this game of baseball. 90 feet between the bases. The pitcher's mound. Three strikes and you're out.

And now all these years later you have proceeded to shit on our national utopia.

(A greek chorus enters and begins humming The Battle Hymn of the Republic)

The great American national pastime. Mom, apple pie, and baseball.

Please go away. Do it for us. Do it for yourself. Do it for the children. Do it for America.

Barry Bonds: Dude, that's all lies.

Reporter: Let's talk about BALCO...

Barry Bonds: You guys are like reruns. This is old stuff, man. Rerun after rerun after rerun. Like Sanford and Sons. Hey, do you remember that episdode of Alf where Alf brings an electronic mixer into the bathtub with him to try to create a whirlpool? Alf gets electrocuted. Hilarity ensues when Alf, suffering from amnesia as a result of the electrocution, repeateadly introduces himself to the Tanners as Wayne Schlegel, Michigan Life and Casualty. And he does it over and over and over again. That's what you guys are like.


Reporter: Umm, Hi Barry, I'm Jeff Gannon from Talon News. I know I speak for millions of hard-working, salt of the earth Americans when I thank you for taking these foolhardy mediots to task for their over the top crticisms. These ivory tower elitist snobs in the punditocracy have long since divorced themselves from reality and continue to persecute you with hellacious religious fervor for no reason at all; practically branding a scarlet "S" across your bosom. And the result is that this is nothing more than a circus. A media circus I tell you!

Moderator: Um, do you have a question?

Jeff Gannon: The Dodgers are teh suck. Barry, your thoughts...

Ok, I made all that up, but read the transcript of Bonds' press conference for yourself. As always, Barry is quite entertaining.

Fashion Nugget

A key ingredient to any successful grassroots movement is outfitting your supporters with matching T-shirts. Whether its a political movement, showing your support for the wrongly imprisoned or whatever, every successful social movement must have its very own line of T-shirts.

Fortunately, our friends at Maysfield.org are more than up to the task when it comes to fashioning threads for their supporters. Check out their Cafe Press store and buy some snazzy apparel to show your support for Mays Field.


Sunday, February 20, 2005

Smoked on the Water

"In a way, he's a dying breed type of ballplayer. People talk about playing hurt and talk about putting themselves out, then there's the people who actually do it. The other thing is he didn't make a big deal out of it, go to the press and try to get publicity."

"So many people these days are trying to get headlines for being heroes, but heroes don't look for headlines, they get headlines."

-- Giants trainer, Stan Conte

Robb Nen pitched through an extraordinary amount of pain to try to bring home a World Series Trophy to San Francisco. Pitching with a torn labrum in the 2002 playoffs probably cost him his career.

In October of 2002 I couldn't help but fantasize about the Giants winning the World Series. My dreams as to exactly how the Series would end ranged from the dramatic -- a Barry Bonds walk off homer to win the Series in Game 5 -- to the bizarre -- World Series hero: Chad Zerbe. But the image I kept coming back to was #31 on the mound striking out Tim Salmon to end the Series.

Robb Nen was a gamer. He was a Giant. It just seemed right to imagine Nen throwing his arms up in celebration as a rush of teammates piled on top of him, fireworks exploding over the cove, as the scoreboard proudly proclaimed: "San Francisco Giants 2002 World Series Champions."

Alas, the baseball gods had other plans. Nevertheless, this lifelong Giants fan raises his martini glass high in saluting Robb Nen. Winning a World Series would mean so very much to this franchise and this City. Robb Nen sacrificed his career trying to bring home that elusive World Series banner. Best wishes in your retirement, Robb.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

On Sabean and the Offseason

Congrats to Giants GM Brian Sabean who was awarded with a contract extension that will keep him with SF through at least 2006. The Giants actually extended Sabean's contract last year, but never publicly announced the deal. Hat tip to Andrew Baggarly of the Oakland Trib for breaking the story.

On the subject of Sabean, I wanted to make clear my feelings on the job Sabean has done assembling this year's team because I think some readers have misinterpreted my criticisms.

1) Overall, I'm mildly disappointed with the moves that the Giants have made this off season

2) I believe the Giants will go to the playoffs in 2005

Statements 1) and 2) are not mutually exclusive. I believe that it's perfectly reasonable to be a bit disapointed with a couple of the Giants' moves (or non-moves) this off season and, at the same time, still believe the Giants have a great shot at winning the division or the wild card. I'll quibble with a move here and there, but doing so does not mean that its been a "miserable offseason" for Giants fans or that I think the Giants will finish third.

Sure, some criticisms of a couple of Sabes' moves may have been a wee bit over the top. *cough* *cough* But, once one gets past the hyperbole and general silliness, I do believe that some very valid criticisms were presented. More specifically, three moves in particular that I hated:

* Dustan Mohr

Non-tendering Dustan Mohr was inexplicably stupid. You don't think that Mohr can repeat his .394 OBP from last season? Fine. But why not spend an extra $500k or so to see if it wasn't a fluke? At the very least trade him to a team that does value his skills. Giving away players with value and getting nothing in return for them is inexcusable. The Giants did not improve their team by severing ties with Dustan Mohr.

* Mike Matheny

The line of defense for the Matheny signing is that Matheny is a hard-nosed defensive catcher who has an excellent reputation for working well with his pitchers. There's certainly something to that line of thinking -- just because a particular trait may be difficult to quantify doesn't mean that that trait doesn't exist or that said trait doesn't impact team performance -- but, wow that's a lot of money and a lot of years to be paying for intangibles.

Of course, what bothered me most about the Matheny signing was that the Giants already had a comparable catcher (albeit one who isn't quite as sharp defensively). The bottom line is that I don't think Matheny was enough of an upgrade over Yorvit to justify the difference in salary. This is money that should've been spent upgrading other aspects of the team.

* Jason Christiansen

Yes, I know, forest for the trees and all that. But overpaying for easily replacable players is one of my biggest baseball GM pet peeves. As I mentioned in my entry on the JC contract, Christiansen has provided the Giants with a total of 1.5 wins over replacement level in his three years with the Giants. His career has been plagued by numerous injuries. Not to mention his sign in the clubhouse complaining about his lack of appearances was total bush league. This is not the type of player who deserves a million dollar contract.

I (and others) may rant and rave about this move or that move, but I do have enough perspective to look at the big picture. During the Sabean/Colletti era the Giants have won at least 86 games each season and have finished no lower than second in the NL West. This fact is particularly impressive when you consider that the Giants have never had the highest payroll in the division (I'm not sure if that last statement is accurate since I'm not certain how to look it up, but I'm 95% certain that it's true).

Which brings me to point #3:

3) The 2005 Giants are a better team than the 2004 Giants

Statements 1) and 3) are not mutually exclusive. The big picture for the 2005 off season is that the Giants have improved the team. Sabean didn't improve the team in the same manner that I would've, but that doesn't mean that Sabes didn't make improvements to a team that won 91 games in 2004.

The bottom line: the Giants have had a great run of success under Brian Sabean. His record speaks for itself. I'm glad to see him running the show for at least another couple of years.

A Request

I hereby propose an end to all of the lame Giants outfield jokes with a punchline involving social security, AARP, and/or geritol. Pitchers and catchers haven't even reported yet and I'm already sick of these. Can I please, please read a Giants related thread on Baseball Primer without having to sift through a bunch of "the SF outfield is so old they're old enough to collect social security HA HA HA!!!!11" lameness.

This is sort of like the people who think pronouncing Target with a French pronounciation (Tar-zjay) is uproariously funny. Ok, that was mildly amusing when I first heard it...about 14 years ago. But it's officially played out. So, I hereby declare that Giants OF social security/geritol/AARP punchlines have officially ceased to be funny.