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10 Possible Reasons People Walk Off Against the Giants So Much

(Okay, so much might be an overstatement.  But once is too many.  Once traumatizes me enough to write a blog post.  And it’s been at least two times this year, so I’m overdue.  Therefore, I present to you: my semi-reprinted blog post from May 21st, last year.  You can read the original right here.  Then proceed.)

10.  The opposing teams are being paid off to not just win, but walk-off win. There are a lot of suspects for this.  The TV networks.  Or B-Squad players who want more innings and opportunities.  Or ridiculously wealthy season ticket holders who want excitement and a little more bang for their buck.  Or, as applies to the Mariners, Starbucks.  They’re from Seattle, right?  So maybe they sell more espressos when there are walk-offs or something.

9.  They have a strange condition like Bella Swan (Twilight, anyone?) that leads them to thrill seek.

8.  Josh Byrnes/Ned Colletti/Kevin Towers/Daniel O’Dowd put their heads together and put a spell on the Giants so that they would not just lose, but lose in cruel and unusual ways.  I know, I love those guys too!

7.  It’s totally random and there is no explanation.

6.  Walk-off win years happen every so, we-get-walked-off-against-years happen every so often too.   I’m not real strong on math, so maybe some probability experts could take it from here?

5.  The Giants are doing it on purpose, because they’re on a mission to prove to Sabes that they really have no offense and they really need to do tons of trades and things before they will be good.

4.  They’re borderline really good, which is why they lose so closely.  (Encouraging, right?  Kinda-sorta.)

3.  They peak too early.  By inning 9, they’ve done everything they’re going to do.  I don’t totally buy this but, hey, they say it all the time about political candidates and everyone knows the politics media is smartsmart.

2.  Karma for giving out Orange-and-Black Fedoras at AT&T Park last season.  Doing evil things can cause you to be cursed, you know.

1.  It’s something in the water.  My vote goes to that.

I need to go lust after pictures of Angels Stadium now.  I am rather partial to that place, although not its inhabitants.  Note to any Giants fans who might be down there for the series: it’s quite lovely, but also Weird with a capital W.  Like, Twilight-Zone weird.  It’s something in the atmosphere.  You’ll know if you go.  Or maybe it was just a fluke the night I was there and you’ll leave thinking, She is cray-zee.  Which I might be.  But that place is still weird.

Diamond Girl

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My Cupcake Calendar Knows Andy Pettitte, Kinda

Since there never seems to be enough time for anything on a Friday, I’m going to put allthebaseballnewsyoucouldeverwant into a 10 piece rundown.  ‘K?  K.

10.  The Giants lost the final game against Houston yesterday, but seriously, who’s thinking about that?  I, for one, am still coasting on the perfect game and ten runs and all of that fabulousness.  Zito gets out of jail free, in terms of blog ripping.

9.  Birthday bonanza!  Andy Pettitte is turning 40 today and that reminded me that I’ve been meaning to talk about him.  Do you see what he’s doing over in New York?  He’s rocking a 2.81 ERA over six starts and showing no signs of slowing.  Ah-mazing.  Can I please be like that when I’m 40?

8.  Also having a birthday today is our very own Tim Lincecum.  Say what you will about him at this moment, I got to thinking about when I was at the stadium on his birthday two years ago and we all sang Happy Birthday to him as he signed autographs.  It’s a rather nice memory.  I think we should all have peace on earth and goodwill to all, especially Tiny Tim.  And I think I have a good feeling about his start tomorrow in Seattle provided, of course, that my sunglasses are present.

7.  It is also Neil Patrick Harris’s birthday, for whatever it’s worth.  Actually, this is what it’s worth.  It seems appropriate for my blog, because I think it all the time after I publish a post.

6.  Aubrey Huff apparently injured his knee jumping over the railing to celebrate da perfect game.  Ow.  CSNBayArea reports he’s headed to the DL and we’re going to be seeing Justin Christian in his place.  The plot thickens.

5.  My cupcake calendar (Do. Not. Laugh.) has had birthday cupcakes for the past few days and today, as well.  It knows me!  It’s psychic!  It knows Timmy and Andy and Neily!  Maybe!  Probably not, but still!

4.  Madison Bumgarner is facing King Felix on Sunday and I cannot wait.  It promises to be a great pitching matchup/total blowout, just because we all thought it would be a great pitching matchup.

3.  For once, I am totally rooting for the Diamondbacks as they take on the Angels who are a nerve-inducing 3.0 back from Texas.  Go Diamondbacks.  I can’t bring myself to include an exclamation point, but seriously, beat them Angels.  (Scoreboard watching?  Heck yes.)

2.  I think I’ve failed to talk about the now infamous “Clown question, bro,” incident, so I am going to do right that right now.  Bryce Harper has got some serious ‘tude.  I alternate between loving it and loathing it.  His use of “bro” which needs to die now is kind of edging me onto the loathing it side, but the deadpan delivery is helping with the love.

1.  Oh, did you hear?  Matt Cain pitched a perfect game.  Yeah.

Diamond Girl

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In Case You Ever Wondered What An Eugenio Velez in a Toy Shop Is Like…

Baseball Sundays are just the best, aren’t they?  The Giants won very tidily in Arizona today, by a final of 7-3 and got loads of hits in the process.  14, to be precise.  Is that the best or is that the best?  After such an up-and-down couple of weeks, a game that just goes down nicely is an anomaly and a welcome one, at that.  Gregor Blanco and Brett Pill were the stars of the show and Barry Zito squeezed out a quality start, too.  It is games like these that make you think – or, at least, hope – that the squad can work things out.  It may not be neat, but it may work.  They are back at .500 with 17 wins and 17 losses and they are six games out from the first place Dodgers.  Not terribly shabby for May 13th.  I think we may make it out alive, after all.

I am watching the Rangers (hopefully) rip through the Angels on ESPN, so I have to get going, but I would like to leave you with this two Mother’s Day stories.  This first one comes from the Giants official blog about former Giant Eugenio Velez and it’s a smile-worthy story.

“Pura Eugenia Vancamper named her son after herself, and they always had a particularly close bond. She knew early on that baseball had a hold on him. When she let her three children choose a toy one day at a store, her older son chose a truck, her daughter a doll and Eugenio, still just a toddler, went straight for the plastic bat and ball. She tried to talk him into a tricycle but he insisted on the bat and ball.”

This story, about Texas’ Alexi Ogando, is also wonderfully heart-warming.

“It took five years for that second chance to come, but it did come, and there came a day last July when Fefa Ogando was not cooking in San Pedro de Macoris. She was riding in a truck through Phoenix streets that were lined with baseball fans. Her son was on the back of the truck during the Red Carpet Parade on his way to his first All-Star Game at Chase Field, and the fans were shouting ‘Ogando! Ogando!’

Fefa Ogando turned to Rangers broadcaster Eleno Ornelas and said, ‘They know my son’s name! I can’t believe it. Thank you so much for talking me into coming here!’”

Lastly, of course, our very own Gregor Blanco dedicated his fantastic game to his mother, who passed away six years ago.  Bittersweet, but mostly sweet.  A very lovely day around Major League baseball.  Totally talking about the mother stories, but did I also mention that Nelson Cruz just hit a grand-slam in Texas?  Yes.  A lovely day.

Diamond Girl

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10 Reasons I Am Excited Right About Now (Warning: April Fool Contained Inside)

I went out today and actually sat in the sunshine and had a picnic.  It’s been raining here in the Bay Area for what feels like forever, so it was pretty amazing.  I finished “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World” by Michael Lewis (which is absolutely, fabulously good and you should read it right now, even if your eyes cross at the word “subprime”) and then I caught the end of the ballgame and felt rather wonderful.  I love many things about Spring Training, but I also cannot wait for the real thing to begin and for all the final roster cuts and all that jazz.  I also can’t wait for the Giants to be back in San Francisco.  You are free to call me crazy, but let me finish first.  I do not generally consider myself a psychic, but when the Giants are in town?  I can totally feel the presence.   Now I also believe that eating these Vitamin C gummy bears actually keeps me from getting sick, so I am probably not a source.  But it’s all psychological, so who can really argue with me?

Anyhow.  This year, rather than repeating last year’s Goodbye Spring Training – which you can read here, if you are so inclined – I am going to infuse a little bit of optimism into the (theoretical) mix.  Ready?  Okay.  This is 10 Reasons I Am Excited Right About Now.  The “now” I refer to is 5:55pm on the day the Giants played their last Spring Training game of 2012.  You’re welcome, historians 5000 years hence.

10.  Zito’s new mechanics!  Yeah.  April Fool’s.  I got you there, right?  Right?

9.  All of the various injured players re-proving themselves.  Along with the young guys who just crack the team, the injured players have got to be some of the most fascinating storylines of the year.  Lookin’ at you, Buster Posey.

8.  Speaking of which, Buster Posey.  Can I (for once) speak for the whole of the Giants fanbase, when I say we are tremendously, tremendously stoked?

7.  The Bruce Bochy show.  KNBR listeners, you know of what I speak.  Non-KNBR listeners, why the heck don’t you listen?

6.  Interleague Play.  I still object on some sort of deep, moral grounds, Bud Selig, but since the Giants get the AL West this year, I am borderline mollified for the time being.  Aside from the obvious they-are-playing-the-Rangers, I’m interested to see the matchup with the resident Interesting Team of the year, the Angels.  Who also have quite a nice dining area which serves basically cold hamburgers, for whatever it’s worth.

5.  The draft.  It’s still many months off, but the beginning of the season does signal how it’s getting closer and pretty soon, we’ll be treated to the draft breakdowns in the media and all that fun stuff.  July, it’s Emily calling, can you please come a wee bit sooner?

4.  The Hobbit movie.  Well, I am.

3.  Never using the Despicable Me balloon scene photos againBecause the Giants are not going to disappoint me that way this year.  Positive affirmations are everything, people.

2.  More animal themed hats at AT&T Park!  And that right there was my second April Fool’s.  Aside from the obvious fashion-faux-pas-ness of them (it’s hard, you know, to adequately match an outfit to a giraffe-print hat), there’s the issue of short people like yours truly not really at all being able to see over them.  Consideration is key, People Who Attend AT&T Park.  Because we’re getting back… together and all that.

1.  Since I don’t want to be lame and say the smell of fresh grass… I’ll just say cinnamon roasted walnuts.  Not the ones they sell at the park, mind you, because I am boycotting those because of labor issues with Diamond Foods, their manufacturer (not to be confused with Diamond Girl), but the other brands you can buy at the grocery story.  They are dee-lish-us.  And I am excited.  Excited excited.  

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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