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Well, That Was Better Than It Could Have Been…

…but also, probably, worse than it could have been.  In Dream Diamond Girl world where blueberry muffins grow on trees and my computer never freezes up.  Ah, Dream Diamond Girl world… okay.  Back to the point.  The Giants finished up the (what feels like endless) roadtrip today in Cinci with a 9th inning comeback – hugs, Angel Pagan – and now have a winning record, at 10-9.  Can you believe we’re 19 games into the season?  And if so, can you believe the Giants have only been on the road for less than a week?  It feels like ages, people.

I want to break it all down, because when there are no off-days, I feel perpetually rushed. 

See, I’m pretty bipolar about off-days.  On the one hand, as I’ve bemoaned before, I loathe them.  No baseball?  Shoot me, please.  On the other hand, the chance to sit back and have a mini-offseason to think things over is rather useful.  On that note…

I case you can’t see that, because my camera does night like text, that reads “Dear Bud Selig, The Giants like off-days, too.  Love, SF Diamond Girl.”

Just throwing that out there.

Anyhow.  The Giants have a pretty strong case of very good stuff and very bad stuff, but not necessarily a lot in the middle.  The Sandoval hit streak gets more amazing and weird and wonderful every day and, as it turns out, Pagan has a bit of a hit streak going as well.  The hitting with RISP numbers are still dismal and the bullpen is facing difficulties as well.  The team hasn’t quite clicked out there, save for a few times, and the minor injuries certainly build up to create trouble.  Freddy Sanchez had a setback in rehab and one series away from May, that raises some pretty serious questions.  (And I’m not talking the “Are you related to Jonathan???” kind of serious questions.”

Mostly, though, I am feeling optimistic.  No, really.  I am.  Three-and-a-half out from the Dodgers and the season is progressing.  Basically aside from Timmy’s struggles, the Giants haven’t had any huge surprises, performance-wise.  They’ve been dismal with RISP for a good long while now and as long as the pitching holds up, they are perfectly good.

And if the pitching doesn’t hold up, well, the NFL draft was today and the season isn’t that far off.  The Niners might compete and stuff, especially if they hire me as GM.  Don’t be too depressed, Giants fans.

Diamond Girl

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Report: Sabean Has Kansas City Sympathies!

Hello, blog and blog readers!  It’s been a little while, hasn’t it?  Well, a few days.  I am young and silly and see a few days as an absolute eternity, so bear with me. 

Anyhow, I have spent these past three days eating mini-cupcakes with green frosting – which, as far as I can tell, are the only upside to St. Patrick’s Day – and listening to Jon Miller on the radio, broadcasting Giants games from rainy Arizona in equally rainy California.  I love the rain and all, but this is still a little extreme.  Enter knit blanket, knit wrap and thick, knit socks.  I am all cocooned and almost warm.  So!  Time to write a blog post.

As I’ve said before, I’ve been largely encouraged by San Francisco’s showing in Spring Training so far.  There have been no massive train wrecks yet and I don’ t feel eliminated from contention on March 19th (in fact, more like completely in contention, what with extra wildcard and all) so the world feels like a bright place, indeed. 

Other than the one big ol’ raincloud and I’m not talking about the one outside my window.  I’m talking about the one named Frederick Phillip Sanchez, Jr.  I’m talking about Freddy Sanchez, peeps.  He’s ache-y and pain-y and injury prone.  We all know that.  But this latest news is still a buzz-kill of massive proportions.  I am a big believer that the mystical powers of Freddy Sanchez at second base = duh, winning so Bruce Bochy’s recent quotes that he may or may not be ready for Opening Day not good news at all.  At all, at all.  Sure, success in 2012 is going to be tied into a whole bunch of guys, not just Sanchez, but I think he’s a key element.  Right up there with Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey’s Ankle.

I’m also a tiny bit worried about the recent trade rumors swirling around Chris Stewart and Eli Whiteside and the Royal of Kansas City.  Which is not in Kansas, for the record.  Not making that mistake again.  It does seem more likely that it will be Whiteside, if anyone, because he has a relationship (no-hitter, y’all) with Jonathan Sanchez, but there’s a possibility it could be Stewart instead.  This may or may not be a terribly popular opinion, but I would really rather not lose Stewart.  I have a deep and long-held belief in Stewart and would like to see at least one more year of him in a Giants uniform as back-up catcher.  I think we might see good things.  Not Buster Posey’s Ankle level, but good all the same.

This does leave me wondering, though: do I sense a trend?  Has Brian Sabean moved his sympathies from the Mets (see:  Zach Wheeler, Andres Torres, Ramon Ramirez) to the Royals (see:  Jonathan Sanchez, potentially one of our back-up catchers)?  Does this mean the Royals are soon going to be filing for bankruptcy and Sabean feels badly, so he’s going to trade loads of our players to them?  The mysteries, the mysteries.

Diamond Girl

p.s.  C.J. Wilson has lost his Best Hair Crown for good for tweeting the loveable Mike Napoli’s phone number out as a “prank”.  I love a good prank as much as the next person, but I have to say I am 100% on Napoli’s side on this.  There’s funny and then there’s basically nasty.  This falls in the basically nasty category, or so my non-existent tarot cards say.

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Time is Ticking

I get equal parts very nervous and very excited when people rattle off their Spring Training countdowns.  (According to a website I recently discovered called www.springtrainingcountdown.com) it’s currently at 40 days, 9 hours, 35 minutes and 25 seconds.)

Excited?  Need I say why?

Nervous?  Yes, I should probably say why.  Why: because time is ticking.

(Incidentally, you should maybe/probably/definitely watch the clip that the above screenshots are from here, because Alice in Wonderland, 2010 version, is one of the most wonderful movies you are ever likely to see in your lifetime.  Not to mention, it has provided some pretty good material for my blog.)

To put it frankly, every hour we get closer to Spring Training makes the magic of the offseason-anything-can-happen vibe fade a little.  Really, we don’t even need the time and day to tell us that.  The Giants management hasn’t been any sort of epitome of subtle and the likelihood is that we’ll be setting up camp in Arizona in a month or so with the guys we have at this moment.  They’ve said that.

Which is, of course, not entirely bad.  And I am partly excited about this upcoming year.  I’m particularly excited to see Freddy Sanchez back in action and Melky Cabrera donning the orange and black and even if it’s not spectacular baseball, it’s baseball.  Baseball = good.  You knew that. 

It’s really the mindset, probably, that’s messing with me.  My mindset is still firmly placed in winter (because if I let it move on, hey, I wouldn’t get to make hot chocolate all the time) and the notion of starting the season up again makes me all squirmy and squeamish.  Until I convince myself that smoothies are as good as hot chocolate, I will probably not be able to muster an appropriate amount of excitement for Catchers and Pitchers Reportin’ Day.

This is just proof that I almost as bad at being a beginning-of-the-season-fan as  I am at being an end-of-the-season-fan.

Offseason of Hope, stay with me a little longer will you?

And bring your buddy Hot Chocolate too, please.  He’s rather nice.

Diamond Girl

p.s.  Believe me when I say I was tossing the idea for this blog post around in my head before the Obama/Alice in Wonderland party fiasco hit the news.  Which is to say I am either totally a trendsetter or far too obsessed with Tim Burton films.  The only thing I’m annoyed with Obama about right now is that I was not invited to aforementioned party.

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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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