Monthly Archives: February 2012

Conditional Statements and Sun Power

The first batch of catchers and pitchers reported to sun-filled Arizona today!  Since it’s the Mariners, I figure this is probably the most sun they’ll see all season, so they should suck it up and work on those tans pronto, if you ask me.  It’s rather grey and dreary here in California, but I am basically sun-powering the whole city right now because I am soexcitedIcouldaboslutelyburst.  Like, soexcitedIcouldabsolutelyburst.

During the offseason, it’s all speculation and a mix of tremendous optimism and tremendous pessimism.  Then as we get really close to Spring Training and everything, that converts to mostly just optimism.  Because, as we all remember, baseball is fun whether or not you’re winning.  As long you’re not being beaten by a) the Padres, b) the Dodgers OR c) the Phillies, then all is completely well.  Or fill in your hated teams of choice in those spots.  Baseball is usually fun, I’ll say.  Except when the Giants are playing the Brewers or Rangers and my loyalties get all mixed up.

Can anyone say, “conditional statement” right now?!

Anyhow, the point is:  baseball is almost here.

We have almost survived the offseason.  (And if you haven’t, hello up there in heaven.  I’m glad to see they have good WiFi up there.)  Don’t ask how Tigger and Piglet apply to this situation.  They just do.

Diamond Girl

p.s.  How could I celebrate this fabulous day without some cupcakes?  If you answered, “You couldn’t!” then you are absolutely right.  Congratulations, you get a virtual cupcake as your prize.  And they’re even pink-ish for Valentine’s Day.  I am in love.  (With them.)

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Quiz: What Baseball Fragrance Are You?

After reading that the Yankees are going to be coming out with two original perfumes later this month, which are imaginatively titled, “New York Yankees” and “New York Yankees for Her”, I got to thinking about the whole baseball-related-perfumes thing.  I, personally, am a Brit by Burberry girl and the Italian lime, icy pear, green almond, white peony, sugared almonds (cousins to cinnamon roasted almonds- obviously why I bought it), amber, mahogany, vanilla and Tonka bean notes it contains make me feel glam and British all the time.  But I admit, I nearly bought Prada’s Amber because 1) I am a Lover of All Things Prada and b) it reminded me of olives and pizza and spaghetti.  Sometimes scents that bring up particularly vivid images, especially of food, are terribly attractive to a buyer.

So what about a scent that smells like All Things Baseball?  Whatever that means to you in particular.  We’re not all garlic fries people.  And anyone can tell you that the bleachers smell completely different than a second tier box.

So!  I now present to you a Diamond Girl original, “Create Your Own Baseball Fragrance”!  Just select a option for each question and keep track on your fingers or a spare piece of paper.  Prepare to be wowed at the end.  Now you’re ready to go.

1.  What is your favorite ballpark food?

a)  A hot dog and some fries are a classic and perfect choice.

b)  The catered sushi is the best!

c)  Can’t beat a Philly cheese steak, now can you?

d)   I whet my appetite with a soda, add a hot dog with a fun blend of condiments, one serving of fries and then top it off with a few sticks of cotton candy.

2.  What is your favorite place to sit in the stadium?

a)  As long as I can see a ballgame, anywhere is fine.

b)  The suite.  Duh.

c)  The heat of the bleachers is the best!

d)  Near the concessions stands, of course.

3.  Who is your favorite player in the Major Leagues?

a)  Buster Posy of course!  I saw him in Single A Fresno and have been following him ever since.

b)  No one is classier than A-Rod himself.

c)  If he can trash-talk, I dig him.

d)  The Kung Fu Panda is loveable and a blast to watch.

4.  What is your favorite between-innings scoreboard feature?

a)  The updates about the Minor Leagues are always interesting.

b)  When the camera shows moi and the light catches my new highlights.

c)  When the camera shows me and my buddies in our chest-paint!

d)  The features about the stadium food are a lot of fun and totally make me hungry

5.  What is your favorite color?

a)  The green of freshly mowed grass.

b)  Black and white.  Very Chanel.

c)  Team colors, yo!

d)  If it looks edible, it’s good.

If you got mostly A’s, your scent is… Simply Green, by Buster Posey.  Presented by a quintessential good American ballplayer, this scent is for the fans who dig baseball games of all levels, everything from Little League to the sparkly Major Leagues.  The scent combines the fresh smell of grass with notes of that distinctive freshly ironed clothes smell.  This retro perfume will you take you back to the joys of small-town America.

If you got mostly B’s, your scent is… Bâşèbãll, by Alex Rodriguez.  You ooze sophistication and love all things chic and tailored about the game of baseball.  This scent smells like clear summer days, water and the citrus notes of icy lemonade.  Perfectly suited for everything from your suite at the ballgame to a gathering later in the evening, this perfume is endorsed by one of baseball’s best socialites.

If you got mostly C’s, your scent is… Move, by Jonathan Papelbon.  Made for the people who have an equal love of both playing and watching baseball, this scent captures the essence of the heat  and movement of sports, with a unique blend of sweat and tension that will amp you up for a hot day, whether you’re on the field or in your seat.

If you got mostly D’s, your scent is… Crimson and Gold, by Pablo Sandoval.  The Kung Fu Panda is rather partial to ketchup and mustard, so he’s the perfect guy to endorse this ballpark-food-themed scent aimed at the bleacher-sitting, seed-chewing fan.  Featuring yummy whiffs of hot dogs, garlic fries and cotton candy, this is sure to leave your friends hungry for more.

If you got a mix of all of them… Congratulations, you may be a well-adjusted and semi-normal human being!  Proceed to the mall and buy a real perfume.  xoxo.

Diamond Girl

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First It Was Beautiful, Then It Was Halftime and Now It’s Baseball Season (Don’t Question My Logic)

You knew I would start this off talking about Chrysler’s new Super Bowl spot, didn’t you?

I fell absolutely in love with their ad last year, featuring Eminem and Beautiful and I was very, very excited to see what they would follow it up with this year.  Not excited enough to actually watch the game, mind you, but excited enough to check it out on YouTube and then promptly watch it, oh, twenty times a row.  I think I’m still more partial to last year’s- just because it coined the whole “Imported From Detroit” slogan and really kicked off their new look- but I think this year’s was very well done, too.  Can’t beat Clint Eastwood, right?

I do have this strange urge, though, when he says, “It’s halftime,” to yell out, “No!”  Because I know it’s a metaphor and all that but, er, Clint?  Chrysler ad people?  It ain’t halftime no more.  Excuse my double negative, but I feel pretty strongly about this.

It’s baseball season.

Sure, we’re still a couple weeks away from Catchers and Pitchers Report to Work on Their Tans Day but as soon as the guys in tight plastic outfits stop bashing into each other and the pointy brown ball gets put away (okay, I admit it, I don’t get football) our lovely sport of baseball gets center stage for a good long while.  I’m talking until Game 7 in November.  This time is all ours.

And I am (almost) as giddily excited as I always am for the Winter Meetings.  Which is to say my priorities are quite probably twisted.  No matter.  The point is, I’m excited and nothing, not even extremely long math problems that actually expect me to use my non-existent reducing skills, can kill that mood.

Plus, I had fresh éclairs for dessert last night.  So of course I’m in a good mood.  It may not even have anything to do with baseball.  Although I suspect it does.

Diamond Girl

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Nothing All That Groundbreaking

So much to talk about, so much to talk about! 

The past few days have been busy ones on the baseball scene and particularly for us Giants fans.  News!  At last!  This is all rather exciting, so let’s get into it, shall we?

First, let’s talk Media Day, which was Friday.  We found out some important things like that Timmy might cut his hair, Pablo might have gained or lost weight or something but everybody’s glasses are broken and nobody’s really clear and Bruce Bochy has taken back #15, now that Beltran is safely parked anywhere but here in San Francisco.  (Otherwise known as St. Louis.  Yeah.)   Conspiracy theories abounded, which prompted me to remind people with wagging tongues that Bochy doesn’t control free agent signings and I highly doubt Brian Sabean cares what number Boch wears, but that ruins all the fun of theorizing, so then I just shut up about it and all the intricacies of front offices.  As I said, important stuff.  Angel Pagan is the new heartthrob of the moment it seems and Buster Posey is completely lovable as usual.

Forget what I said, actually.  Nothing all that groundbreaking at all.

Today, of course, was Fan Fest.  ::shivers::  I was tossing around the idea of going, after the fabulous Town Hall stream last night- more on that in a moment- but then I woke up and had French toast and enjoyed lying in bed far too much and really, why would I drag myself out to be trampled by masses of well-meaning but slightly crazed Giants fans?

If you answered, “you wouldn’t,” then you are absolutely right.  I stayed home.

Speaking of that Town Hall!  It was a really good time, actually.  More concise than usual (says Miss We Need More Extensive Interviews) and they really kept everything moving, which was good.  Kruk and Kuip were in fantastic, awkward form and ugly hoodies and badly fitting jeans abounded on the players.  Pretty much what you’d expect from that sort of event.  But seeing as it’s been months and months since a real, live, actual Major League Baseball games, I was inclined to absolutely adore every moment of it.  And live tweet it, of course.  Sorry, Twitter followers.  I know the revelations on Dan Runzler’s hair may or may not have entertained you.

I also loved the open season on Affeldt.  He takes it like a champ (World Series 2010 champ, yo) and has solidified his position as my Favorite Giant, which changes extremely often but who knows, he might hold it for a while.  His performance last night earned him it, for sure.

Huggles, y’all.  The season is getting close.  I can smell it.  It doesn’t smell like cinnamon and cranberries and pumpkin like the playoffs, unfortunately, but it does smell like fresh flowers and sunshine.  Which is good.  Very, very good.

Diamond Girl

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Part Two: Henry Schulman on Predictions, Anti-Predictions and Pro Tips for Fan Fest

You can read part one of this interview here.  Yesterday, we discussed the tempers of General Managers, Henry’s career, social media in journalism and Michael Lewis’s potential Stockholm Syndrome.

I’m not much for predictions, so let’s do some reverse predictions here if you don’t mind.  Who do you think will finish in last place in the National League West next season? 

I think the Padres will finish in last place.  I think that structurally, with their revenues they just can’t compete.  I think everyone’s gotten a little better- I mean, the Dodgers didn’t do very much to improve, but their pitching is so much better- that I think they’ll end up in last.

And which team do you think will be the first to be eliminated from the playoffs?

Well, remember this year there will probably be a one game playoff between two wildcard teams, so it’s really going to depend upon who’s pitching for those teams.

It’s such a crapshoot, with a one game playoff.

It is.  But it’s a funny question so I’ll say… Atlanta again, I think.

Always!  So, with the offseason coming to a close, which team or teams would you call the winners in the game of the offseason?  Which would you call the losers?

I think you’d probably have to say the Marlins in the National League and the Angels in the American League.  I mean simply, for the Angels, from the fact that they got Pujols.  They still don’t have a great great lineup but Pujols can be such a difference-maker and I can’t say Detroit, because they picked up Fielder, but they lose V-Mart.  And Miami just had a lot of money to spend and they weren’t an awful team to begin with.  They went out and got Reyes, for starters and spent some other money, picked up some other folks.  I think probably the Marlins did more to help themselves than any other team.

So what do you think of the CJ Wilson deal with the Angels?  Do you think it will pay off or do you think CJ will fade?

What was it, a four year deal?

I think it was longer.  Five, maybe?  [Editor’s note: Five, indeed.]

Yeah, I’m not a big fan of long term deals for pitchers, but if you’re going to give a deal to somebody, somebody like Wilson would be a good guy to give it to.  I don’t think he’s had much history of arm trouble, if I’m not mistaken.

No, that’s right about him.

The other thing is that, like the Giants, the pitching staff is so strong that Wilson can come in and he doesn’t have to be number one, because they already have Weaver, so it’s a lot less pressure when you can come in and you don’t have to come in and be number one.  You can just come in and do your thing.

Of all the baseball players and executives you’ve interviewed over the years, who was the most fun or easiest to interview and why?

I get that question a lot.  I loved dealing with Rod Beck, he was a heck of a lot of fun and Omar Vizquel, too.  I know a lot of your blog readers will be happy to know that he was really a sweetheart to work with.

There really aren’t a lot of executives.  It’s not that they’re not nice, they’re just wary and they really don’t want to be friendly with reporters too much.  Same with managers.  You have a respectful relationship with them, but you don’t go out and hang with them.

On the current team, I like dealing with Matt Cain.  He’s dry, you’re not going to get an inflammatory quotes off him, but he’s a really good guy to deal with.  In fact, he and I have this running thing going, because he has such a dry sense of humor and such a good way of doing a straight face.  He gives me grief all the time and I keep telling him to this day, “I never know when you’re being serious or when you’re joking.”  And then he just smiles and walks away, like, “I gotcha.”  So Matt is good, that way.  I liked dealing with Andres Torres also, he was great.  He would always end each interview by thanking us and we would say, “No, we should be thanking you.”

Just to name a few!

Honestly… do you think we will ever see another commissioner of Major League Baseball who is not named Bud Selig?

The reason he keeps getting rehired is that he’s making the owners a lot of money with the TV deals.  Really, everything Bud has done helped the owners, who are reaping bajillions of dollars, so they love him.  But in answer to your question, I think there’s going to come a time when Bud really wants to spend his last years not dealing with all of these thirty owners every single day and all of the headaches.  I’m shocked that he signed this extension- they must have had to talk him into it, I would think, because he doesn’t need the money.  There’s no real issue hanging fire, aside from how they’re going to redo the playoffs and they certainly could have continued that, they’re already on that path.  So I would think this is going to be the last extension.  He’s not a young guy.

So how do you feel about playoff expansion- an extra wildcard, one game playoff, all of that?

I don’t think there’s a problem with the ten teams getting in, because it’s still ten out of thirty, which is still the fewest teams in major sports and I have no problem with creating more excitement.  I just don’t like a one game playoff.  I mean, I don’t even like a one game playoff that has been in place in case two teams tie for the division in a 162 game season.  What I would rather see them do is shorten the regular season to 154 games, which is what it was like before expansion and have the first wild card round be a best of three and then make the other three rounds the best of seven.  It’s like what we were talking about earlier, when you asked me who was going to be the first team eliminated.  Let’s say you’re the Giants and you need Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to win the last two games of the season, just so you can get to that one game wildcard playoff.  Now, all of a sudden, you have to have your third starter.  I realize that in the case of the Giants that is Madison or Vogelsong, so it’s not chopped liver, but after six months and 162 games, I would want my best pitcher at least involved in the process of the playoffs.

Or at least for the team to have a chance at more than one game.

Exactly.  But they’ll never go back to an 154 game schedule, because of TV.

Who do you think us Giants fans should be watching closely in Spring Training, in particular?

I think it’s the same guy as last year and that is Brandon Belt.  He’s such a wildcard on this team right now and he could be anything from the Opening Day first baseman in San Francisco to the Opening Day first baseman in Fresno.  He supposedly fixed some hitches in his swing in the Dominican and he had a good Dominican League season, so I think he’s going to be a guy who will constantly have eyes on him.

You didn’t ask for two, but the other guy would be Wilson, because he has really spent the last six months with a bad elbow and trying to get that back into shape, so until we actually see him throw and throw consistently, we aren’t going to know who the closer is.

I read your blog with tips to Fan Fest (you can read that here, if you missed it), so I am wondered if you have any other tips you would add to that, for Giants fans who are going on Saturday?

Well, I know I sound like one of those radio traffic reporters, but I think the key thing is to take public transit.  Don’t try to drive.  You’re either going to be in a long car line or you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for parking in a private lot, somewhere.

I would also say, although it might not be high on most people’s list, but take a tour of the press box and the broadcast booths and the clubhouse as well.  Those are kind of behind the scenes things.

And like I said on the blog, stay away from the autographs.  It’s not worth your time.  Unless you happen to be one of the lucky few to get a Lincecum or a Wilson when they happen to be at the station you happened to be standing in line at for two hours.

And bring water, too.  It’ll be a warm day.

In a similar vein, for fans who are going to Spring Training this year, any pro tips?

First of all, if you don’t have accommodations or tickets now for the two busiest weekends which are the weekends of the 9th and the 17th, then it’s probably too late.  People always tend to come around those two weeks because the Giants have their investors down there one weekend a year and because of that they schedule nothing but home games for the whole weekend, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday so a lot of fans pick that time because all the games are in Scottsdale and everything is a zoo.

So if you have the time and you’re available, I would actually recommend coming for the first weekend of games because not only will it be less crowded, but you’ll get to see a lot more of the kids coming up.  You might actually get to see Andrew Susac catching an inning or Gary Brown playing four or five innings in center field, which you might not get to see later on.

Another tip which I don’t know if I’ve ever written is that if there’s any restaurant that you’ve heard of or think you might want to go to, make your reservation now.  Like if you want to go to Don and Charlie’s, the steak and rib place that a lot of baseball people go to, don’t wait to make a reservation.

Another tip is that I know everyone wants to hang out in Scottsdale, but it can be a lot easier to get tickets and autographs if you go on the road, with the Giants.  If you happen to be in town when they’re playing the Reds in Goodyear, because Goodyear is so far out and you don’t have a lot of people from Cincinnati living in the Phoenix area, it’s fairly easy to get tickets and then the team shows up an hour or 45 minutes before the game starts and they’ve got nothing to do and no clubhouse to go into, so they’ll stand out there and sign autographs.

I don’t know how closely you’ve looked at the schedule yet, but what is one matchup in the coming season for the Giants you think we should looking out for?

The first one that jumped off the page for me was that we’re in Florida, right off the bat, in late May or so and it’s the one year anniversary of when Cousins ran into Posey, so that’s the one that jumped out at me.

Opening Day is also going to be intriguing for me because we’re opening in Arizona and the Giants always tend to start with the Dodgers, more years than not, and it always seems to be Lincecum and Kershaw (or for a while it was Zito and Kershaw) and Lincecum doesn’t do very well against Kershaw so, it’ll be interesting to see what it’s like on Opening Day, Lincecum against Kennedy.

What is one thing nobody asks you that you wish they did?

I think one thing is how long I want to stay at the Chronicle.  I’d be honored to stay there as long as I’m still kicking.  I’ve been the Giants beat writer at the Chronicle longer than anybody else except Bob Stevens who was the first Giants beat writer there and Bob was kind of a saintly guy to me, so if I could actually catch him, which would probably take another six or seven years, I’d be thrilled.

Lastly, what do you think is the rewarding part of your job and what is the most difficult part?

I always answer the second part of the question first, so I would say the most difficult part is the travel, there’s no question about that.  It’s just very wearing, the constant being on airplanes and in hotels.  It sounds glamorous, but when you’re in Cincinnati for the 34th time… you can see everything in Cincinnati the first time, no offense to them.  But that’s really the hardest part.  I’m not married now, but when I was married it was difficult, always being away.

And the most rewarding part is that I really do not only give people information they want but I entertain them as well.  The feedback I get from readers like yourself is great.  Sometimes when I write a 30 paragraph story and I say something in the 30th paragraph that’s controversial and then I get an email from someone saying, “What the heck are you talking about?!” I realize that person read the whole story.  Really, a whole generation of Giants fans at various papers kind of grew up with me as their main conduit between the players and the readers and that’s the most rewarding part, no question.

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