The doubleheader report, and a worry about my son

| July 18, 2011

We made it through the doubleheader on Saturday. All 19 innings of it. Oh sure, we ate some junk food, but not too much. I have to say I’m a little bit amazed that my little 8-year-old lasted through two entire baseball games, without once saying “I’m bored” or “I’m ready to go.” I even offered a few times. “Are you having fun? Do you want to stay?” He said yes. Every time.

It was quite a day. He even got to see the A’s win a game. They had been 0-3 in his first few trips to the park this year. And they dropped to 0-4 after the first game on Saturday. Not only did he get to see them win, but it was a 10th-inning walk-off, so that was cool.

But I’m also a little worried about the kid.

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Time to take the managers off the hook

| July 3, 2011

As is to be expected this time of year, a spirited debate is raging about the managers’ selections for the All-Star team. Giants manager Bruce Bochy found himself right in the middle of it after he named three Giants pitchers with his nine selections to fill out the NL All-Star roster. He took Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Tim Lincecum, leaving out guys like Tommy Hanson and Jordan Zimmerman.

There are two sides to this issue…

Bochy won the pennant last year, so he earned the right to favor his players and reward them for helping winning that pennant.

Yes, that’s true.

But the All-Star Game should go to the most deserving players this year, not as some reward for performance in past years.

Yes, that’s true.

See, what I’m getting at here?

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Some random thoughts to prove I’m alive

| June 15, 2011

Hey guys, it’s been a while. As I explained in that last post that had been sitting atop my blog for the past, oh, three weeks, I’m now the Editor of the Giants and A’s magazines, which doesn’t leave me as much time for blogging. But it does leave some — as I sit here and wait for things to edit — so here are a few things that have been kicking around in my head…

Realignment? Sure, what the hell

I personally don’t see the need for all this realignment talk. I like things the way are. So what if one league has two more teams and the AL West has only four teams, while the NL Central has six? Alas, if it’s going to happen, I am OK with the Astros moving to the AL West. It would create a nice little rivarly between the Astros and Rangers and it would make the trips easier for the three West Coast teams if they do a whole week in Texas.

The main problem, to many folks, of going to 15 teams in each league is that there would have to be at least one interleague series going at all times, which would take away some of the “excitement” over those games. Well, the excitement is gone already. Anyone really jacked up about seeing the Indians in San Francisco or the Marlins in Oakland this month? Yes, interleague games in September may be kinda weird for the pennant races, but there are already inter-division games in September, so what’s the big deal? The Giants hosted the Brewers last September. Is there any difference between that and the Giants-White Sox? Besides, I’ll bet the schedule-makers would be tricky enough to save the September interleague matchups for those that may not impact the pennant races (Royals-Pirates!).

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My new gig

| May 20, 2011

My loyal blog followers may have wondered what’s happened to me over the past week. Well, I’ve been absent for a good reason. I’ve been spending my time figuring out my new job: editor of the Giants and A’s magazines.

I’m pretty happy about the opportunity to continue working in the baseball media (I was afraid I might have to go work at Starbucks) and to keep doing so in the Bay Area, covering teams I know very well. I’m looking forward to doing something just different enough to be a challenge, but just similar enough to be comfortable.

If you haven’t checked out the magazines at the ballpark or in the team stores — you can even subscribe to the Giants here and the A’s here — you should do it. There’s stuff in them that you won’t find anywhere else. The cover story in the June Giants Magazine, on Madison Bumgarner, is especially good. Oh, and that Josh Willingham story on the cover of the May A’s Magazine is also excellent. (See what I did there? I wrote those.)

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “That’s great, Jeff, but what about this blog? And what about your Twitter account? We don’t want to have to wait a month to see what you have to say about the Giants and A’s!”

Well, no promises.

I will still be watching lots of Giants and A’s games and going to the ballpark regularly to work on stories for the magazines, but I can’t promise I’ll be blogging or tweeting as frequently. Also, I am now in a partnership with the Giants and A’s, so you’re all smart enough to know what that means.

Thanks to all of you who have supported me and followed me during my between-jobs limbo. Don’t stray too far. Never know when I’ll be there again.

Oh, you should also be sure to check me out tonight on Chronicle Live. They’ll be cutting away from their wall-to-wall Sharks coverage for a little baseball. My segment is supposed to be at 5:45. I’ll be checking in from AT&T Park, where the Giants and A’s will be beginning their interleague series.

My top 10 games

| May 9, 2011

Just watched MLB Network’s latest in the 20 Greatest Games series, Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, which was No. 2. (No. 1 will be Game 6 of the 1975 Series, on later this month.) I … freakin … love … these … shows. At the risk of sounding like a shill for the house organ, which MLB Network is, I have to admit that these programs are exceptionally well-done and quite entertaining.

Inspired by this program, I decided to come up with my list of the top 10 games that I’ve covered in my career, which dates back to 1997. Putting them all in one post doesn’t give me the ability to be suspenseful with a countdown, so I’ll start at the top.

1. 2003 NL Division Series, Game 4, Giants vs. Marlins

The Marlins won, 7-6, to win the series, with J.T. Snow getting thrown out at the plate to end the game. It’s easy to start here. In fact, this was No. 19 on the MLB Network list.I didn’t get a chance to see the MLB Network show on this game, so I’m hoping the series will eventually be available on iTunes or I can catch it when they show it again. You can see a brief synopsis here.

A lot of stuff was going on here before the game even began. The Giants lost a heart-breaker in Game 3, thanks to Jose Cruz Jr. (who won the Gold Glove that year) dropping a fly ball. That set up a debate as to whether the Giants should bring back Jason Schmidt on three days rest to start a do-or-die Game 4, or if rookie Jerome Williams should go, saving Schmidt for Game 5. In one of the defining moments of Felipe Alou as a manager, he flat-out told the media that “Schmitty said he couldn’t go.” Ouch. Jason, meet the bottom of the bus. Alou never cared much about babying his players or looking out for their feelings. He was old school, in that way.

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Another chance to bash my arch-enemy: FIP

| May 8, 2011

I happened to be otherwise occupied throughout the entire time that Justin Verlander was working on his no-hitter Saturday, so I missed it all till after it was over. Fortunately, MLB.tv had compressed the game in a handy little package that showed all 27 of his outs, one after the other, in about five minutes. So I watched the whole thing, and as I did I couldn’t help but notice an awful lot of really weak contact. Verlander only had four strikeouts, but there were lots of easy popups and grounders.

And that made me think, once again, about one of my pet issues with a segment of the baseball community. I’ll just call ‘em the FIP People. It’s not just those who value Fielding Independent Pitching, but all of those who still believe in the underlying premise of FIP, which is that pitchers have no control over anything but walks, strikeouts and homers.

Giants and A’s fans, you’ll want to hang with me here, because this comes up with guys like Matt Cain and Trevor Cahill, who foolishly allow batters to put the ball in play rather than striking them all out.

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Andre Ethier: the one who got away

| April 30, 2011

Just watched Andre Ethier run his hitting streak to 26 games. Pretty impressive. Of course, this is the time when A’s fans have to shake their heads and lament the deal in which the A’s sent Ethier to the Dodgers for Milton Bradley in December 2005.

Obviously it’s a trade the A’s wish they could have back, but not necessarily for the reason you think. They did benefit from getting Milton Bradley, perhaps more than any other of the teams the teams that have had a turn with ol’ Milty. Bradley was a key cog of the 2006 team that went to the ALCS.

No, where the A’s went wrong was by not holding out on the Dodgers. New LA GM Ned Colletti just wanted to dump Bradley. The A’s had all the leverage. They could have had Bradley and Ethier if they’d simply played a little more hardball.

Now, about that Carlos Gonzalez deal…