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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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Luckily, I Was Listening to Enya When I Read the Roster News, Plus PREDICTIONS.

So I chose a kind of a weird time to go on vacation.  While some of the biggest decisions in recent Giants-fan memory were coming out, I was walking to and from the pool and kinda-sorta trying for a tan.  (No luck there.)   When I finally started catching up, I started looping my Enya and went to Twitter.  It’s probably a good thing I had the über-calming music going because, well, my jaw pretty much dropped at the initial 25 man news.  And just as I was picking it up off the floor, I read the Chris Stewart news.  I am still attempting to connect jaw to rest of head and it’s not working terribly well.  Whoa, whoa, whoa, for lack of a better way of putting it.  I did not see any of this coming, but I am happy with it, all around.  The Giants are looking pretty young and energized going into Opening Day and what else can you really ask for?  (Other than pre-steroid scandal Ryan Braun starting in left, but hey, you can’t have it all.)

I’m sad to see Chris Stewart go, because I was rather partial to him, but I am also always glad to see guys go the Yankees.  It feels like sending them to a family member’s house, rather than to a complete stranger, to use a slightly strange analogy.  That is my inner New Yorker speaking, don’t mind it.  So in many ways, I’m actually happy for Stewart and wish him safe travels with the Yankees.

Here is my happy waving GIF, because if you don’t laugh, you might cry.  Not that I cry about baseball trades.  Usually.  Let’s not talk Bengie Molina and I’ll be fine.  Don’t get between me and my catchers, people.  People being Brian Sabean.

And now!  I’m a couple hours late this year, but I’m going to do some predictions now.  I like to do them before the season kicks off, but just bear with me.  It’s not like the first few innings of a game give me any edge on the rest of you who predicted a few days ago, so!

 National League

East:  Philadelphia Phillies

Central:  St. Louis Cardinals

West:  San Francisco Giants

Wildcards:  Colorado Rockies, Cincinnati Reds

American League

East:  New York Yankees

Central:  Detroit Tigers

West:  Texas Rangers

Wildcards:   Tampa Bay Rays, Cleveland Indians

See?  No need to worry that I have an edge, prediction-wise.  I am so terrible with ‘em that the timing makes zero difference.  But now I have put them out there and can cringe over them for the next six months or so and it just wouldn’t be baseball season without that.  Have you all made predictions?  Put them (or a link to them) in the comments so we can commiserate/I can get completely jealous of your brilliance.  ‘K?  ‘K.

Happy Pappy Opening Day!

Ever-So-Slightly-Tanned Diamond Girl

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10 Things I Am Adoring About Spring Training

So!  My fish is now safely back in his bowl and I am ready to rock and roll once more.  I’m catching up on the baseball news I missed while I slept (and slept and slept) and I think things are looking pretty fabulous for the Giants.  Blogging Spring Training is always a very welcome challenge to me, but a challenge all the same.  Aside from (doesnotjinx) injuries (doesnotjinxagin), the Giants always look pretty fabulous to me, just by nature of the fact that they are wearing baseball uniforms and throwing balls and swinging bats.  I mean, would it really be fair of me to demand more of them?  In addition to that, I hate writing Spring Training game recaps almost as much as I hate reading them, so those are out the question for my blog.  Before you snatch my baseball fan card out of my hands for that particular bombshell, allow me to explain myself.  Game recaps tend to be a snooze, unless they have lots of hilarious quotes in them and since I don’t have all-access passes to the stadium or anything, I don’t have my own quotes.  Lastly, there’s a lot of downerness.  Especially when Timmy and Vogelsong and Surkamp are all basically questionable human beings.  (Ballplayers, that is.)

So!  This is all to explain why I’m writing the list below.  To fill the obvious void I see.  Okay?  Okay.    

Let’s proceed, then.  10 Things I Am Adoring About Spring Training.  Here goes.

10.  It’s Spring Training.  And there are bees.  I could just stop the list right here.

9.  The pitchers all throwing two innings and us all whooping like mad.  I totally do it, but it still cracks me up every time.  Let’s just say we get to see a lot of different pitchers out there every game.

8.  It reminds me of the drama of years past.  I’m talking Michael Young vs. Jon Daniels, Albert Pujols vs. Cardinals, Barry Bonds vs. The Rest of the World.  There have been some epic battles and this time of year always brings them back to mind.  There’s no warring quite like Spring Training warring.

7.  The hideous black uniforms.  Just kidding.  I don’t like those at all.  I hate those.  But I had to mention ‘em all the same.  Fashion faux-pas of extraordinary proportions must be brought to light.  Just because I wear all black all the time doesn’t mean baseball players can pull that deal off.

6.   The pictures.  By the time the regular season rolls around, I think the media figures we are over the feel-good TwitPics of assorted players doing assorted things (read: nothing).  But we’re not.  We’re really not.  We love them at all times.  ‘Specially now.

5.  Battles of the first base sort.  I still have an affinity for Aubrey Huff, Brandon Belt poses with baby giraffes, for Pete’s sake, and I have been quite taken with Brett Pill’s game.  So my stance on the 1B battles is TBA.  But I am enjoying the show, for sure.

4.  Half of my besties is back, of course.  Which besties, you might ask?  I’m talking about Jon Miller and Dave Flemming, of course, Baseball Broadcasters and Besties Extraordinaire.  Dave isn’t dropping in until Opening Day, but Jon should keep me going until then.

3.  Baffling, cryptic comments from everyone and anyone.  Am I really the only one who feeds of those hilarious, masked statements from All People Who Have Connections to Baseball?  The offseason drivel just doesn’t hit the spot like this does.

2.  Buster Posey being alive and kicking and baseball-playing.  ‘Nuff said.  Tomorrow, which is supposed to be his first start of the spring, is going to be legen… wait for it, wait for it… dary!  Seriously.  Legendary.

1.  Yu Darvish.  Yep, that’s me, the Giants fan.  But seriously, I was just so absolutely, terribly excited to see his first start and will continue to be excited about his next 500 starts.  I love me some Yu.  And I want to prove that Jon Daniels was obviously completely in paying him a billion and one dollars.  Personal stake in this, y’all.

Diamond Girl

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Wrapping Up the Winter Meetings

I am already going into post-Winter-Meetings-depression mode.  That means dried apricots with whipped cream (very good) and staring dismally at the wall and pondering the meaning of life (not good at all).  As I’ve said before, the Winter Meetings are pretty much my favorite time of the year so I’m always sad when they come to a close.  But I can’t lie, right now I’m also a teensy bit happy.  Because all that drama is a little unsustainable, you know?  Which would explain the endless revolving door of reality shows on TV.

Anyhow, now all the GMs can go back to their cool offices and hang out in sporty-wanna-be-sunglasses, communicating by phone and email and all that.  Probably for the best.

Today was obviously a big one, because both Pujols and C.J. have settled on the Angels of Anaheim and signed ten and five year deals respectively this morning.

Swish is a bit surprised.  So am I.

At first I was in mega-Diamond-Girl-rage state because, yes, Dipoto we know you are new and want to show off a bit, but that’s kinda-sorta extreme. 

But after a little while I went into mega-Diamond-Girl-mellow state and decided that the Rangers still have the division in the bag.  I am sure of it.  Positive affirmations go far, you know.

I was never huge on C.J. in the confidence department anyway and they’re going to have Albert long after the Kardashian’s get pulled off air and skinny jeans go the way of shoulder pads.  This is for the best, Diamond Girl, this is for the best.  (Me talking to myself, right there.)

“Our goal is to win, but within a responsible business model,” says Jon Daniels.

Right.

Everything will be okay.

With the Giants, meanwhile, I can’t say I am sure about everything being okay.  Sabes says they’re done for the offseason (no Christmas gifts for use long-ish suffering fans?!) and that puts more than a few question marks on my world view.  There is, unfortunately, only one first base on the diamond so Huff/Pill/Belt will have to fight that one out in the boxing ring, I guess, and then I’m a wee bit skeptical of Crawford at short and of the Cabrera/Pagan/Schierholtz outfield.  Basically the whole team.  No biggie.

But I’m all into them positive affirmations today, so you know what?  I think the NL West is up for grabs and the Giants could very well grab it.

There.  We are all leaving the Winter Meetings as winners.

Winning.

Yeah.

That.

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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