Monthly Archives: June 2011

Mad Bum and Glory ….. Pretty Cool!

Madison Bumgarner, the ultimate Pitcher!

Remember that old  “thrill of victory,  agony of defeat” thing?  It was an ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” theme  back in the 60’s and it’s been going through my head as I’m writing about Madison Bumgarner’s performance tonight.  Last Tuesday, for those of you who’ve been in solitary confinement or otherwise unable to know what’s going on in the baseball world this past week,   Madison Bumgarner broke some records.  Well not actually broke them, but matched those that

Discussing the Cy Young?

hadn’t been touched since the early 1900’s.  It was the most unbelievable first inning I’ve ever watched in baseball….any baseball, including T-ball and Little League.  The Bum lasted exactly 1/3 inning in which time he  allowed nine hits and eight runs, and recorded only one out in the first third of the first inning.  It was an inter-league game between the Giants and Minnesota Twins.  I could hardly breathe watching Bumgarner leave the game and head towards the dugout to sit and watch the remaining 8 2/3 innings in shame and embarrassment.  After the game he somehow managed to hold his head high, speak  intelligently with reporters and answer each question thoughtfully, speaking softly in a monotone, and promised to learn from his mistakes and do penance and say one our father and three hail mary’s.   I really felt for this kid and all day I was going through some sort of anxiety wondering how he, and I, would make it through tonight’s game after the first “ball” was called, probably on the first pitch.  

So tonight when the 5:05 game between the Giants and the Cleveland Indians started right on time, on ESPN, in front of the entire world to see,  Madison Bumgarner threw his first pitch.  And then another, and another.  And he proceeded throwing precision pitches culminating with 11 strike-outs through the seventh inning!   OMG!  It’s what we  live for in baseball…..our local hero just did the impossible and the crowd’s giving him a standing ovation and I’m giving him hoots and  hollers jumping around the living room telly.   

Just another usual ordinary game for the Giants, ending with a final score 3-1.  Same old stuff.  But as far as the SF Giants 21 year old pitcher Madison Bumgarner goes?   He’s back!   Mad Bum and all his glory and I’m back there to watch him do it all over again.  Tuesday – total disgrace; Sunday – en route to the Cy Young!   Don’t you just love it?  Baseball, I mean.  Pretty darn cool.

 

One Son’s Baseball Story …

Here’s another Father’s Day post I felt compelled to share.  It’s written by Stephen Jordan,  Managing Editor of Pastime Post, and was a recent winner in a contest sponsored by Bernadette Pasley, Lady at the Bat.   But this one comes with a warning “Grab a Kleenex”!

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“My father was not around much when I was a child, sadly enough. Over the years, our constant connection though was always through sports. We could always talk long-distance on the phone, always being physically separated by countless states, about baseball and football. It was the sturdy cement foundation of all of our conversations, and it was the glue that held our relationship together, no matter how strained it truly might have been. 

I will always recall one story more than others: upon reflection it seems to capture a special magic I shared with my two brothers and our father. It was the summer of 2007. 

It was not a perfect relationship that we all shared with Dad. As a kid, personally I had wished Dad could attend some of my baseball games, y’know in Little League and in High School. That never happened. Dad was an alcoholic troubled by his demons. Nonetheless, I do know, however, in my heart and mind how much he loved all of us kids, and the special place he always had in his heart for us kids, and sports. 

Me and my family would always listen with great interest to my youngest brother Scottie, whenever he would share with us his rare and wild sports predictions (only when the spirit struck him so; he would never predict anything unless he “had that feeling”). His curious, unprovoked predictions historically had always turned out to be spot-on correct. So, when he spoke about his premonitions, we all listened. 

My Dad started referring to Scottie as “the Guru” during Barry Bonds homerun race to catch Hank Aaron’s mark of 755 homers. (None of us were every Bonds fans for sure, but we were all sports history buffs, and we did fully realize the magnitude of that moment and the importance of that baseball record.) Scottie scratched his head and threw out a prediction that Bonds would hit homerun number 754 on July 27, 2007. He “felt it.” My Dad laughed and expressed his skepticism. Bonds prior homerun, number 753 was hit nine days earlier.

On the night of July 27, 2007 though, sure enough, Bonds hit homerun number 754, as was predicted by the Guru. Dad seemed to become more interested in Scottie’s predictions. He demanded that Scottie predict when the next Bonds homerun was going to happen. After a little bit of thought, Scottie informed Dad that Bonds would tie Aaron at 755 on August 4, 2007. When making his predictions, he would never say “I believe that . . .” and then state his prediction. Instead, he would always say, “X will happen, on Y date,” as though it were previously written in the stars, or the bible or something. 

True to form, Bonds slugged 755 on August 4, 2007. The prediction came true, again. Dad simply could not believe it! He shouted to his boys, “Wholly Sh–! My boy’s a f—in’ psychic!” “When is Bonds going to pass Aaron?,” Dad asked of the Guru. Scottie scratched his head, then looked up at the sky. “Tuesday.” “Tuesday, August 7th, he’ll get homerun number 756!” My Dad replied, “You’re damn straight I’ll be staying up for that one. No more falling asleep for me on that night. I have to watch history in the making!” Dad was so excited on the phone, stating how it was going to be so great to see. “You can predict it all Scottie! “Bet everything,” Dad had said. “Bet the farm on this!”

Sadly, on the morning of August 7th, me and my siblings received a phone call from the complex Dad was living at in Atlanta, Georgia. The kids all learned that Dad had died that morning. He had lived to only 62 years of age. 

As that painful day slogged along, and the reality of our father’s death slowly settled into our collective minds, me and my family all wondered if that night Bonds would actually hit that 756th homerun. And, as if this were written by some twisted Hollywood scribbler, Bonds indeed hit that record-breaking homerun, on August 7, 2007–the same day my father died, the same day Scottie had predicted the record would be made.
We had sports. We had baseball. It kept us away from all of life’s unpleasantries. We shared that final moment without Dad with us, but he sure was in our hearts that night and thereafter. We cried when it had happened. I can only hope he watched the feat from his eternal seat within the clouds. 

We still love you Dad. We miss you. Happy Father’s Day to you.”

Baseball Then and Now ~ Happy Father’s Day!

Uploaded to Youtube by  on May 19, 2011

Wow! Amazing Catch will Surprise Even You!

Take a look.  This post doesn’t need an explanation.  We’ve got to get out to these Minor League ballgames more often folks!  And the catch is made by, of all things, a ball “babe”!  I’m told this is a Gatorade commercial that aired over a year ago, but I’m sure I would have remembered it.  But no matter.  They might want to consider her for the next Spiderman sequel.  Just saying …..

Evan Longoria? Calm, Cool and Collected.

Well from all accounts, this is not a staged video.  This is Evan Longoria being, well, Evan Longoria.  And who said he’s only around for his good looks?  Some kind of cool huh?

Locker Room Interviews ….. a Waste of Time?

I read and review hundreds of sports reports and baseball blogs every month and once in a while a story resonates with me so much I’m compelled to share it.    Today has one of those stories and it’s about those pesky locker room interviews after the game where microphones are shoved in the players faces and reporters are yelling … what, I don’t know, because I can never hear the question … and the players are trying to be calm and cool, giving respectable answers that will satisfy the coaches, management and rest of the team.  

I’ve rarely heard a question asked that I thought was important or even remotely entertaining. “How did you feel, what did you think” ….. adds nothing to the insight of the game.  I’d like to know what it was the umpire said to you that made you laugh out loud after a play, or what it was you yelled at the pitcher after being nailed by a pitch for the second time this game.  Craig Calcaterra at NBC Sports had some insight into this very thing in his blog this morning and almost as fun as the article are the comments that readers shared.   Here’s the article: 

Over at the Wall Street Journal today Craig Wolff writes about something I’ve been thinking about for a long time: what purpose, exactly, does it serve to have reporters in the locker room before and after games? Read the thinking-it-through parts of it all, which are good, but here’s the central question I think:

In the end, no matter what becomes of this American tradition, it’s probably time to start asking if all this standing around amounts to loitering and is worth the strain it puts on the relationship between press and players. It’s not clear that either side derives much from the transaction.

It used to be that the teams needed the local paper for publicity and stuff. That’s way less necessary now than it used to be, and in fact, the situation has reversed, with papers needing the team way more for circulation purposes.  But are the postgame quotes all that useful to the reader?  Wouldn’t the reporter’s face time be better spent trying to talk to athletes about more in-depth matters in feature stories?  Shouldn’t their gameday focus be more on the game itself, with their own analysis and insight — which in the case of most reporters is considerable because they’ve seen a lot of baseball — rather than transcribing the cliches?

Mark Feinsand of the Daily News is quoted in the article talking about how being in the locker room, despite the bad, empty quotes, is important for maintaining relationships, the sorts of which no doubt would lead to better feature stories like I’d like to see.  I get that.  It just seems to me that there’s gotta be a better way.”

 

“We have a Winner” !

Yesterday, June 8, while I was in San Francisco attending a great SF Giants and Washington Nationals ball game our very special blog received it’s 20,000th “view”.   My husband, Robert, drew the winner and the winner’s been notified by email.  (I don’t know who it is because we only have subscribers listed by their email address).   Once I receive a response I’ll post the results! 

Thanks to everyone who subscribed during this special promotion and, of course, to those of you who are already subscribers.  GFBB just had its first birthday in May and we’re really pleased at the reception we’ve received from all of you and also from the baseball public in general.  We had a jolly good time with our little promotion and will do it again when we hit another milestone!

Happy baseball season.  Hope to see you at the ballpark!

MLB Draft Begins Today ….. What Does it Mean?

Bobby Crocker, Cal Poly, 2011 Draft hopeful

Here’s an article plucked from the maze of blogs this morning I found interesting.  Just being picked first in the draft, or even in the first round for that matter, doesn’t really mean a lot when it comes to measuring the  future success of a major league ball player.  Take a look at this article published this morning by Shawn Anderson,  Hall of Very Good, a favorite blogger we’ve fancied before:

A year ago, the Washington Nationals made Bryce Harper one rich fella by taking the teenager number one overall in the MLB Draft.

Just a year prior…they did the same for Stephen Strasburg.

This year, however, the Nationals don’t have the first pick and, frankly, as deep as you’ve heard the draft is…there is not a clear-cut number one pick.  But let’s not kid each other, being drafted number one doesn’t necessarily mean success.

Consider this. Since the draft started in 1965, it has produced only 23 Hall of Famers.

That said…here are ten other things you might not have known about the Hall of Fame and the MLB Draft. 

510
Hall of Famer second baseman Ryne Sandberg (then, Spokane, Washington third baseman Ryne Sandberg) was taken in the 20th round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Of the 510 players taken before him…fellow Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., World Series hero and Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Kirk Gibson and one of my all-time favorites, Kent Hrbek.

381
In 1966, Reggie Jackson was taken second overall by the Kansas City Athletics. With the first pick, the New York Mets opted to take Steven Chilcott. The catcher from Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster, California bounced around for seven seasons, playing in 331 minor league games, managing a career .248 batting average and 39 home runs. 

19
As previous stated, being drafted first overall might not always guarantee success, but for Cal Ripken Jr., being selected 48th overall was just what the doctor ordered. The “Iron Man” went on to appear in 19 All-Star Games…the most by any Hall of Famer drafted since 1965.

18 years, 6 months and 19 days
After a brief 64 game stint in the minors, 1973’s number three overall pick Robin Yount was six months shy of 19 when he made his debut as the Milwaukee Brewers starting shortstop on April 5, 1974

12
The pride of Alvin, Texas, Nolan Ryan, was selected by the New York Mets in the inaugural draft in 1965. He’d end up compiling more strikeouts than anyone else who ever took the bump (5714) and pitching well past his 46th birthday. 

7
Of the 23 Hall of Famers selected in the MLB Draft, only seven (Carlton Fisk, Reggie Jackson, Paul Molitor, Kirby Puckett, Jim Rice, Dave Winfield and Robin Yount) were taken in the first round. And of those seven selected in the first round all but one was taken in the top ten. Who didn’t go top ten? Rice was taken 15th overall in 1971.

6’6”
At 6’6”, Dave Winfield (selected fourth overall in 1973) is built more like a basketball or football player than a Major Leaguer. Well…following college, Winfield was drafted by four teams in three different sports. Not only did the San Diego Padres select him, but both the Atlanta Hawks (NBA) and the Utah Stars (ABA) selected him. And even though he never played college football, the Minnesota Vikings (NFL) selected the future baseball Hall of Famer.

3
Sure, the MLB Draft has produced 23 Hall of Famers, but, since the draft was implemented in 1965, 26 players have been enshrined. Of those 26…three (Tom Seaver in 1966, Bruce Sutter in 1971 and Roberto Alomar in 1985) were left undrafted. Thankfully, they did find themselves on the receiving end of a free agent contract just after the draft.

3
Since its not a guarantee that winning multiple MVP or Cy Young Awards (I’m looking your way Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) can ensure you a ticket to Cooperstown, Mike Schmidt and Tom Seaver know that three is enough. Schmidt has more MVP Awards than anyone else drafted since 1965 and Seaver, well, drafted or not, he has more Cy Young Awards.

0
So, yeah, 23 Hall of Famers were taken in the MLB Draft since it began in 1965, but of those 23…did you know that not one was taken number one overall? Reggie Jackson was selected the highest (second overall in 1966) and Ryne Sandberg was selected the lowest (in the 20th round in 1978). So the big question…when will this drought end? It’s pretty safe to say that when Ken Griffey Jr. takes the stage in July of 2016, he’ll be the first number one overall pick to do so. Following in his footsteps will be Chipper Jones. 

Win 2 tickets to MLB “Game of your Choice”! *

*Maximum value $200.  “Game of your Choice” as available. 

Random drawing to be held from “Garlic Fries and Baseball” subscribers list  on the  day we reach 20,000 “Views”!

  Winner Notified by Email.

Okay friends.  Here’s the deal.  We’re about 430 views away from 20,000.   At 6PM on the day we reach 20,000 hits (automatically tabulated by WordPress) we’ll draw one winner from our list of subscribers.  The lucky winner will receive two tickets to a 2011 regular season MLB game of his choice.  Maximum Value of tickets to be $200. 

 That’s it!  If you’re not already a subscriber, just click the right sidebar:  “LIKE THIS BLOG?  SUBSCRIBE HERE – IT’S FREE!   It’s easy and it’s free.  Nothing bad’s going to happen.  You’ll simply begin receiving GFBB’s blogs online as they’re posted, usually one each week.  We will never share your email address with anyone else and you can cancel your subscription at any time.

If you received this blog as an email, you’re already a subscriber and you don’t have to do anything. You’re automatically entered in the drawing.

Good luck!  I wish everyone could win.  Really, I do!     

 

Scott Cousins? ….. Irrelevant.

#28 Buster Posey

First, let me begin by saying I don’t believe Scott Cousins is irrelevant as a person, as a human being.  Of course he’s relevant.  But the story these past two weeks that has taken baseball hostage is about something else.  It’s about a love story that’s taken hold on every person who ever thought of being a Giants fan and it has everything to do with Buster Posey.  Buster’s the ultimate “guy”.   He’s become our knight in shining armor, our Casey at the Bat, our savior of all things baseball.  I don’t know exactly how this happened, but it happened.   I started collecting Buster Posey memorabilia  when he first came into our farm system after the 2008 draft.   And he lived up to everything we expected of him.  He was our hope for the future and our promise of all good things to come.  He was what it meant to be a San Francisco Giant. 

So on May 29, 2011, during a Florida Marlins – San Francisco Giants ballgame, at the top of the 12th inning, with the score tied, and the game on the line, when Buster Posey endured a career-threatening injury,  the collective gasp of everything “Giant” was heard throughout the baseball world and beyond.  We’re still reeling from the ramifications of that injury.  Some of us deal with it better than others, but of course the one who continues to suffer the most is Buster Posey, both physically and emotionally.  I was surprised when Buster came out with his statement the day after the injury with a not-so-charitable attitude toward Cousins, the agressor in the play.  But when Brian Sabean, General Manager of the SF Giants, hurled his scathing comments  directly to and about Scott Cousins, a line was crossed.  Now, all of a sudden, Scott Cousins has become irrelevant and the play at the plate has become irrelevant. 

Have we learned nothing from these past couple months?   I’m thinking about that awful incident involving one of our own, Bryan Stow, who was brutally beaten after a Dodger-Giants game March 31, 2011, in the stadium parking lot.   The outpouring of love and support for Bryan was incredible and this included a huge contingent of support from the Los Angeles Dodger fans.   Everyone banded together in support of this SF Giants fan who was involved in this terrible crime.  Baseball was at its finest.  

And now, the SF Giants are involved in a truly unfortunate “accident” and not only the fans, but the Giants management, are showing nothing but indignation and outrage that it could possibly happen to them, to one of their own.   Well, I’m sorry, but it did.  It happened.  And we’re all hurting.  We miss Buster.  We miss seeing him every day, in the dugout, behind the plate, at the plate.  But why do we insist on having a villain in this scenario?  Why can’t we get past this and accept it as an unfortunate accident and move forward?  Scott Cousins did not intentionally get up in the morning , arrive at the ball park, and decide this was the day he was going to nail Buster Posey with a career-threatening hit.  Cousins did what he was trained to do.  He’s a competitor and he’s supposed to try his very best to do everything he can to help his team win games.  And that’s what he was doing when this incident occurred.  That’s all he was doing.  There was no malicious intent to destroy anyone. He made a split-second decision just like all the other split-second decisions that are made on the ball field on a daily basis.  The end result was disastrous, but it was not intentional.

Not that it matters, but this morning I read an article by ESPN.Com quoting Johnny Bench  (link to one of my favorite Posey Cards here) that puts Buster Posey at fault.  Johnny Bench is considered an expert in this area, being one of the all-time greatest catchers who’s ever played the game.  He’s also an avid supporter and fan of Posey and has been quoted many times these past few years acknowledging what a fine young person and athlete and catcher he is.   Everyone has an opinion;  100 bloggers, 100 different opinions.  The reason I bring this up is because everyone makes mistakes; I make mistakes and you make mistakes, Scott Cousins makes mistakes and Johnny Bench makes mistakes.  

Will MLB change the rules?  Maybe.  But how this injury to Buster Posey happened is not as important as how we’re going to get past it.  And we will.  But the sooner the better.

MLB Bans Jim Joyce from Calling Galarraga Games!

I wrote a post last June entitled “Umpire ~ Toughest Job in Baseball“.   It was about the call Jim Joyce made on an Armando Galarraga throw to first that cost the pitcher the “perfect game”.   So when I read Craig Calcaterra’s headlines today I thought of the many games Joyce has called in the past year where Galarraga  has played and the games went without a hitch ~ smooth as silk. 

Today is the first anniversary of that infamous call and I have to say this made for a great headline!   It seems that the umpire and pitcher have entered a business venture and co-authored a book together.    The name of the book is “Nobody’s Perfect” . It was published last month and is available on Amazon

Some of the comments on Calcaterra’s blog this morning were pretty entertaining.   One mentioned an extreme dislike for a few of MLB’s umpires and suggested letting  every owner and GM in the game co-author a book and have their least favorite umpires write a chapter on the nuances of umpiring, country music, dieting, whatever, thereby eliminating them from umpiring “any” game.   After watching two really, really bad calls last night during the Cardinals-Giants game I understand what they’re saying.  Probably not a really good idea, but I get it.   Unfortunately the calls were made by two different umps so the blogger’s rationale isn’t very sound.  Eventually there wouldn’t be anyone left to call the games! 

Hmm…. you just know a movie about the two is in the works.   Wonder who’ll play Armando?   Better yet!  Who in the world could possibly play Jim Joyce?   I can see it now;  “And the award for best actor goes to ……… Jim Joyce for playing  ………. “Jim Joyce”! 

All in fun.  It’s great to see a friendly and working relationship between these two special men, and I hope the entire baseball community will embrace this as well.