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Sigmund and Aesop Would Have a Field Day With Us

Aesop would have a field day with us Giants fans.  (That is my bit of wisdom for the day.  You are very welcome.  If you are a little puzzled – understandable – then read on.)

Giants fans spent the better part of the last several years, with the exception of a few World Series drunk months, calling for the Giants management to play the young guys.  Heck, play the semi-kinda-sorta-not-even-really-all-that-young guys.  We all know how Bochy loves his veterans and Sabean has a bit of a penchant for them as well.  In 2010, lightening hit a bottle and those veterans were brilliant, brilliant enough to win the team a championship.  But as 2011 showed, perhaps, it was just that:  lightening in a bottle.  Which means it can’t be repeated.  So the calling for the young guys started again.

Then partially by necessity (injuries) and maybe partially by design, it happened.  2012 has seen a whole crop of young guys decorating the Major League roster.  Observe:

Those are the birthdates of the 25 man roster right now, excluding the pitchers – because nobody has really been calling for young pitchers lately.  With a few notable exceptions, they are young, young, young.  They are also, to put it rather bluntly, losing games.  They are winning some as well and Gregor Blanco, for instance, is performing quite nicely at the moment, but a lot of them are just simply not performing.

Bruce Bochy has made a few variations of the comment “this is a part of young player’s development” and while that feels a little ridiculous at face value, it is also intriguing, I think.  The Giants could go out and get some older players off of waivers or through mini-trades, around the deadline, but even if they won with those guys, would it be worth it, exactly?  Maybe they need, at this point, to be finding younger players and building a core.  They already have a pitching core and an excellent one at that, but otherwise, they just don’t have one.  Not to be completely ornery, but if that is what they do, I am happy to wait through a few losing seasons.

Mostly, I think as fans we have to take a moment of respect for the fact they are playing the young guys, they really are.  Maybe not the young guys we want them to play, but it’s happening.  Sure, Edgar Renteria looks awfully appealing at this very second, but… I kid, I kid.

Moral of the Story:  We want what we can’t have.

Come to think of it, Sigmund (Viggo Mortensen as Sigmund, that is) might also have a field day with us.

Diamond Girl

p.s.  Currently learning to speak with an Aussie accent, by the way.  Because Billy Beane loves his Aussies, it seems, and will totally hire me if he thinks I am one.  Good career move, mais non?  I mean, good career move and g’day mate and all that.


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Playoff Expansion, First Spring Training Game, Conspiracy Theories and All That Good Stuff

Spring Training is one of my favorite times of year (well, spring, but spring is synonymous with Spring Training, right?) because of all the promise and optimism it brings, but also because of the endless news buzzing it creates.  After a long and quiet winter- if you’re a Giants fan, that is, because we’re rather sleepy in the winter like that- it’s endlessly lovely to hear real, concrete news.

I’m not talking about injury news, though, Dan Runzler, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Ryan Vogelsong et al., so don’t go getting any ideas.  I would choose a rainy, snoozy news day over a They Are Falling Like Flies day any time.

What I am talking about?  Playoff expansion, for one.  Bud Selig has gotten down to work, following his extra (baseball) life which he was granted over the offseason, and the extra wild card deal was finalized today.  I felt surprisingly ambiguous at the time of the announcement because, heck, it’s March 2nd and the Giants are playing their first Spring Training game tomorrow and the world is beautiful and the playoffs could not be farther from my mind, but as the day went on, my feelings changed.

Which, I am kind of guessing, was part of MLB’s plan.  Ready for my conspiracy theory?  Okay, here goes: MLB is doing this when everyone is out of their permanently touchy offseason modes and still basking in the glow of baseball being back, so as to soften possible backlash.  And it seems to have worked, actually.  Which, yes, could have to do with the fact that we were all expecting this by now or just that no one is genuinely outraged, but that is far of a less compelling thought.  I vote for my conspiracy theory, anyone with me?

Anywho.  The reason I’m not for those extra wild cards, I suppose, is both a pro and con of the whole thing.  I think it makes it all even more a crap shoot, to use a Billy Beane-ism.  People are saying it’s exciting because it makes the playoffs even more “everyone’s game”, which is true.  And I see the appeal of that.  I’m sure that extra wild card team will win the World Series from time to time and it will make for a fabulous story.  But with the 162 game format, I’m more of the opinion that we should shy away from that whole crapshoot thing.  Winning big in baseball is about perseverance and I like it that way.  I think this just changes the game.  For better or for worse?  Who knows.  Only time will tell.  (Other half of me:  Duh!  For worse!  But I’m trying to be all non-judgmental here, so just forget I said that.)

Onto lighter and brighter things, I am soamazinglystokedforthegametomorrow.  I will probably be missing the majority of it due to more umpire training, but I will hopefully be catching- in a purely non-Buster-Posey-ish sense- the beginning.  I’m not even sure what to say about that, except that I’m not even thinking about winning or losing or injuries just… baseball game.  Baseball game.  Say it aloud and grin to yourself.  Do it.

(Try reminding me of that whole “not about winning or losing” thing in September.  Actually, don’t.  I can be snappish, on occasion.  That sounds like an occasion.)

Diamond Girl

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A Word for Billy Beane and Five Things About 2012 to Get Excited For

I admit it: I do not know quite what Billy Beane was thinking with yesterday’s trade, which sent Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow to Arizona.  (Strategically done, of course, after the Winter Meetings because Beane is a spoilsport and doesn’t like doing things at the most dramatic time of year.  Excuse me, I’m in a bad mood with him right now.)  Looking at it unbiased, I would say it’s a gamble on the A’s part, but maybe a gamble that could pay off.

But I do have that bias.  Why, you ask?  I am not much of an A’s fan and really, really not a Diamondbacks fan.  But I am a Giants fan (duh, right there).  And that trade probably just made Arizona, oh, a thousand times better for 2012.  Really?  No slack for your across-the-bay-buddies, Billy?  I may have to renounce my Moneyball/Billy Beane love right now.  Jon Daniels so just got the Best-Dressed GM Award back, without even wearing any fabulous clothes.

After reading up on that trade, I went to look at Rangers news, but that was basically depressing too.

I told you I was having post-Winter-Meetings depression.

I figure if I’m all baseball-depressed, then everyone else must be with me.  So I’ve decided to list 5 things us Giants fan should be excited about for 2012!  Because aside from facing Cahill tons, there really is a lot to get stoked for.  Ready?  Okay.  You sure?  Okay.

5.  Vogelsong/Strong.  Vogey’s amazing breakout year in 2011 was… for lack of a better word, rather amazing.  Being the skeptic that I am, though, I want to see more of that before I go all ga-ga (not in the Lady sense).  I think we’re all really curious to see what he’s going to follow it up with and I, for one, am getting excited already.

4.  All the new wedding rings on the field.  They’ll glint.  In the stadium lights.  I think. 

3.  Angel Pagan.  Yes, I said it before, but I’ll say it again.  He has a fabulous name.

2.  Freddy Sanchez.  Picture him playing ball.  With just that image, are you not excited now?!  I am beyond, beyond excited to have him back out for the Giants.  Things are just sure to get better with him at second base.

1.  [insert cheesy line here about the smell of freshly mowed grass and hot dogs and the crack of the bat]

0.  This bonus one goes to The Dark Knight Rises.  I liked Batman Begins much better than The Dark Knight, to be perfectly honest, and unfortunately, Liam Neeson does not appear to be reprising his role in the new one (I mean, he was in a massive train explosion, but I don’t assume he’s dead) but I’m stoked to go back to Gotham City all the same. 

And, well, duh, The Hobbit.  But that’s so near the end of 2012 that it might as well be 2013.  Still, I am just about swooning over it already.

There we go.  This post just went from “Completely Depressing” to “Basically Upbeat”.  The movie talk and the cheesy line probably helped.

Diamond Girl

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162 Things I Loved About 2011 In San Francisco Giants-Land

In no particular order, in honor of the 162 games of the regular season…

162.  The walk-off on Opening Day for the second consecutive year.  And provided some awesome entertainment along the way as I drove to Fresno to see the Grizzlies Opening Night.

161.  The new and improved Pablo Sandoval.

160.  The rather awesome drama and content they provided for their reality show.

159.  Heck, they had a reality show!

158.  They carried first place for a good long while, even though they didn’t finish with it.

157.  They had All Stars.  A whole bunch of them.

156.  They gave me bragging rights for life.   We got Carlos Beltran.  (Never mind what happened afterwards.)

155.  They kinda massacred the Chamber of Horrors, aka Coors Field.

155.  NATE.  That is all.

154.  Their hitting coach who takes, “Reach for the moon, if you fall down, at least you’ll fall in the stars” very literally.  Like, he’s-going-to-the-moon literally.  It’s sure to bode well for the offense in the future.

153.  They chewed gum at the White House.  It was strangely endearing.

152.  Heck, they went to the White House!

151.  They were so resilient I can’t even express it in words.  Well, maybe I could.  But I have a whole lot more of these to write, so I’m not going to get into it.

150.  Santiago Casilla and his epic and previously undiscovered closing skills.

149.  Brett.                                   

148.  And Brandon.

147.  And, oh, the other Brandon too.

145.  The multitude of B’s!

144.  The incredibly pleasant surprise that was Eric Surkamp in his first start back.

142.  And the incredibly pleasant surprise that was Ryan Vogelsong all around.

141.  Chris Stewart.  And his brainiac-ness.  And his overall awesomeness.

140.  The fact that AT&T Park exists and is amazingly beautiful.  Pays to remember that, every now and then, right?

139.  D-Ro having a few more special moments.  I really hope he’s back next year in some way.

138.  Madison and his trademarked first inning meltdowns.  And yes, that he was otherwise amazing.

137.  Bruce Bochy.  ‘Nuff said.

136.  Conor Gillaspie(The name!  The name!)

135.  Those special little moments when Guillermo Mota came in for long relief and just saved us all.

134.  Getting to see Travis Ishikawa one last time, when he got his ring.

133.  OH!  Yes!  The ring ceremony…

132 …and the mismatched, mint colored boxes the rings came in…

131. …and Sergio Romo goofing off at the ceremony…

130.  …and seeing Nuekom with his adorable bowtie there (though, unfortunately, it wasn’t orange) one more time.

129.  There was also Vogey’s lovely little speech when he got the Willie Mac Award.  

128.  Remember when Tim Flannery, third base coach, sang the National Anthem?  Epic.

127.  The crazy thunder storm/rain delay in Detroit.  And the way the broadcasters filled the empty time.  That was magical.

126.  Kepp’s walk-off vs. the Astros.  So there, Houston.

124.  Crawford’s grand-slam in his first game against Milwaukee.  Remember that?  Goosebumps and smiles.

123.  The prank Ross et al. played on Huff.  Which we got to see because of aforementioned reality show.

122.  Did I mention, THE GIANTS HAD A REALITY SHOW?

121.  When Brandon Belt met a baby giraffe and took pictures with it.  That may actually be my favorite moment of the entire year.  Seriously, how utterly fantastic?

120.  That they never missed a beat, even after the loss of Posey and then Sanchez.

119.  Timmy back to being Timmy, for the most part.

118.  And Timmy and Matt Cain both reached 1000th career strikeouts, which was fabulous.

117.  Finishing ahead of the Padres.  Vendetta?  Yes, vendetta.

116.  Romo shaving.  Because that may imply that other people will shave soon.

115.  coughcoughBrianWilsoncoughcough

114.  NATE.   Again.

113.  And Nate’s upper deck shot in Colorado that his brother got.  Too many awesome things about that to mention.

112.  Slightly irrelevant, maybe, but Jon Miller not doing ESPN any more meant that he broadcasted for KNBR on the weekends.  Which was enough to make the season, right there.

111.  Together, We’re Giant.  It actually grew on me.  (But It’s Time is still, and always will be, better.)

110.  The “sellouts”.  Because they seriously cracked me up.  Especially when the upper deck was e-m-p-t-y.

109.  The little Sabean moment in Moneyball.   When Billy Beane totally played the Giants.  My rational mind was outraged and the rest of me was snickering.

108.  Watching Pablo’s defense just reappear before our very eyes.

107.  Being there for Carlos Beltran’s 300th career homerun.

106.  And speaking of homeruns… Brandon Belt had a couple to remember.

105.  And when Brandon Belt made the club out of spring training and it felt like nothing could possibly go wrong.

104.  The fact that some people didn’t get injured.  Can’t think of any?  No, I’m sure there were a few.

103.  The fact that Aubrey Huff always has good years after bad ones.  Most definitely.  This bodes well for 2012.

102.  While I hated that the cost for parking doubled, I think it was because they won the World Series. And I do love that.  So, by extension, I love the new parking rates.  Sort of.

101.  The Churros guy.  If you’ve ever been to a Major League ballpark, you know what I mean.

100-50. Looking at the new lineup every day, usually with my mouth gaping wide open.

49.  The few nice Zito moments.  They were there.  And they were smile-inducing.

48.  The fact that the year after the championship, while it wasn’t exactly a success, was not a collapse either.  This was a pennant race right down until the end.

47.  Can I just say one more thing about Chris Stewart?  His first Major League homerun rocked.

46.  When Edgar came back, if only for a bit.  *sniffles*

45.  And remember when Uribe came back?  *sniffles again*

44.  I also liked riding my first roller coast (no, really.  It’s related.) because it drove home that this season was like a roller coaster.   Which is to say seriously headache inducing, but fun afterwards.

43.  I don’t know how this all worked, but I’ve been hearing Giants ads for the Not For Sale Campaign.  If they’ve partnered, then that is most certainly something I love.

42.  Jeremy’s rebound year.  Minus the frozen burger patties.

41.  That they didn’t do anything silly like start the season in Taiwan.

40.  That they rocked their doubleheader at Wrigley.

39.  Matt Cain ruled overall, as always.

38.  That they let themselves get swept by Milwaukee in May.  I’m sure they have a crystal ball and knew they wouldn’t get into the playoffs, but the Brewers could, so they gave them that series.  Very thoughtful, you know.

37.  When Pablo Sandoval decided to retweet people who said nice things about him making the All Star team and he retweeted me.  It made me a lot happier than it rationally should have.

36.  When Bruce Bochy got congratulated by Ryan Braun on winning the World Series (minute 1:40.  I know you want to see it.)  This is what I call icing on the cake, people.

35.  NATE.  One last time.  Sorry.

34-20. This is when Diamond Girl had to leave unexpectedly to sniffle in the closet for a bit at the realization that this is really the end of the 2011 season.

19.  Okay!  Back.   Let’s do a silver lining thing now: not winning the pennant means the target-on-back will lessen or disappear.  And these Giants do better when there are no Great Expectations.  Sorry, Charles Dickens.

18.  They also helped me and my new fish bond.  I am quite positive that the reason my fish seems to be liking me more is that we’ve endured the torture holed up in my room (yep, I said torture) together.

17.  That, by some luck, these players channeled enough thoughts about balking to Bob Davidson that he actually called a balk on that fateful June day.  And also gave me a great photo-editing opportunity.

16.  Emmanuel Burriss’s nickname-picky mother.

15.  That they did not take me up on my Hawaii Vacation/gold watches offers.  Which means they didn’t do that well, but it also means I won’t be in debt for the rest of my life.

14.  Totally random memory:  Pat Burrell and Eli Whiteside both hitting triples in one game.  Weird and great.

13.  The promotions their awesome TV network came up with.  Especially the Ultimate Tim Lincecum one.  (Which I, eh, won.)

12.  The players designing endearingly horrific t-shirts.

11.  That they drafted another good-name player in the draft.  That is Joe Panik.  If only for the name, it was a good pick.

10.  Walk-offs!

9.  And more walk-offs!

8.  And even more walk-offs!

7.   The power outage in St. Louis.  Now I really credit the Cardinals (read: Tony LaRussa) for that, but it was a Giants moment anyway.  And a darn memorable one, too.

6.  When Cainer demonstrated he actually does have the ability to dress well.

5.  All the opportunities they gave me to use my dearly beloved balloon-popping set of photos from Despicable Me.  Because seriously, I love those photos.  Even if it meant they broke my heart.

4.  Last thing about Chris Stewart!  I promise!  But I remember the first time I saw him do a throwdown to second.  And I think I thought it was cupcakes and brownies and cinnamon roasted almonds all mashed into one.  (And yet it was good.  All those foods mashed together probably, um, wouldn’t be.)

3.  Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking you shouldn’t let your kids watch baseball!  It’s educational!  I mean, this year I learned what “contusion” means.  Overandoverandoveragain.

2.  It was like a magical realism book (what is a magical realism book, you ask?  Read here and be enlightened.)  Stray bits of left over magic were everywhere.  And that’s even better than full-on magic, somehow.  (Although, yes, I like full-on magic when it means winning the World Series. But don’t interrupt my poetic-ness, please.)

1.  They gave me a lot to blog about.  A lot, a lot.  So I thank them for that.  And I thank you all for bearing with me and my weirdness and my love of strange foods and for reading and commenting here as well.  It’s been a brilliant, crazy year and more fun than I can possibly express.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I need to go reminisce for a bit more and then find my antlers and morph into Ranger-Girl.  Bye-bye, 2011 season.

Diamond Girl

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Drawing Skulls and Editing Tombstone Photos, aka The Morbid Post

This time of year in baseball is precious.  Part of me hates it and misses those carefree spring games, but there’s also no feeling quite like watching clinching games, whether or not you like the teams.  It’s magical.  And it reminds me of the Giants last year.  And then I get sad all over again.

I’m actually really happy with how all the divisions have turned out.  In the AL, I like the Yankees, Tigers, and Rangers, and will be pretty happy with any outcome there, as long as whoever gets the Wildcard (Boston, Tampa Bay or Anaheim) gets eliminated in the first round.  Hey, I still think the Wildcard should be wild.  We need to get that on Bud Selig’s desk, don’t we?

In the National League, I can’t stand the Phillies or Diamondbacks but am super stoked for Milwaukee.  We shall, of course, have to see about that Wildcard.

Anyhow.  3-1 against the Diamondbacks feels like the story of this year.  It’s just a bit heartbreaking to watch, really, because the Giants do feel maddeningly close to being good, really good, but just not quite there.  It may be desperately preemptive, not to mention morbid, of me to say RIP 2011 Giants, but didn’t that feel an awful lot like The End, last night?  Or was it just me?

I was seriously up at 1:54 this morning, unable to sleep, drawing skulls.  So it may just be me.  Hopefully.

Diamond Girl

p.s.  Moneyball-day-after-thoughts?  Billy Beane did so go to college.  You lied, movie.  You totally lied.

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