The blog will re-start next weekend. We will have lots to talk about then. The Giants are playing horribly right now, making multiple errors in every game on the road trip.
Is it mental? Is it physical? It seems like the former is bringing on the latter.
We'll see how they do against Washington.
There you have it...
The soap opera called baseball.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Thursday, February 7, 2013
By Daniel Smith
The games of baseball and poker are both games that have roots in American culture. Many of use have played the game at one time or another or watched the game on television. Both of these games are very similar in how they are perceived and even their relative excitement levels. Today we take a quick look at both games and compare these areas.
Someone that watches the game of baseball for the first time might be convinced that there isn't much going on. For long stretches of the game, the pitcher throws the ball and the batter either strikes out, grounds out, or hits a fly ball out to result in each side going down in order. While true fans of the game love pitching duels, casual fans can quickly become bored.
However, that all can change within an instant as a player gets on base as a result of a base hit and a power hitter comes to bat. The coach decides to gamble and pitches to him. On a 1-1 pitch, the crack of the bat is hit and the pitcher watches as the ball flies about 435 ft into the left field bleachers for a home run. Fans are now cheering and screaming and there is a ton of excitement as the runners circle the bases to give their team the lead.
In a lot of ways, poker is much like the game of baseball. When a casual fan watches a typical poker game, they usually see numerous hands folded without any actions to speak about. Someone raises and everyone folds is a common theme in many poker games. Real poker fans appreciate this part of the game, but this can be boring to normal fans. That is why pre-edited poker shows are much more highly rated than non-edited shows.
Like in baseball, the excitement level can change in a minute. There is a raise, followed by a call and multiple players see a flop. A check is followed by a bet, and then a raise. Fans start to pay attention to see what the original raiser does, and that player moves all-in. He receives a call and now fans are on their feet and once the cards are revealed, fans either cheer for their player's hand to hold up or they start screaming for the needed card. Once the hand is played out, the fans of the winning player explode in celebration as the loser heads over to be consoled by friends after suffering a colossal defeat.
As you can see, both baseball and poker are very similar in how the games are perceived and their relative excitement levels. They are both games that are deceptively boring but can explode into high drama action at any moment. That could by why many baseball players have picked up the game recreationally and some even enjoy it as a career after their days of playing are through.
Posted by Vinnie Cestone at 7:59 AM
Sunday, December 2, 2012
By Vince Cestone
Andrew Susac is living his childhood dream—playing professional baseball for the organization he grew up rooting for.
Susac is the starting catcher for the Class-A San Jose Giants, a minor-league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The determined prospect must start at the bottom before accomplishing his goal – being a San Francisco Giant.
Susac, like many Giants’ faithful, braved the cold winds of Candlestick Park and reaped the rewards of beautiful AT&T Park. As a baseball player from Roseville, Calif., the Giants have always been part of his life.
“Me and my dad always went to Candlestick Park when I was young, and then, AT&T when it got built,” Susac said. “I loved Matt Williams, Will Clark, J.T. Snow. The Giants have been in my blood my whole life.”
The Giants selected Susac in the second round of the 2011 draft (86th overall pick). On the day he was drafted, Susac said his family was elated with him, their rising star.
“The day I got drafted, it was a room full of tears, and everyone was so excited,” said Susac, who debuted professionally in 2012. “It was out of the blue, and you know, I was so pumped up.”
As a young, minor-league player, Susac said he must maintain focus in San Jose, and not beyond, to achieve his goals. He hit just .244 for San Jose in 2012 but had nine home runs and 52 RBIs in 102 games.
Although he said his batting average was lower than he would have liked, Susac can get on base. His 2012 on-base percentage was a respectable .351 and had 55 walks in 361 at-bats.
Susac said he is confident he will figure out his swing.
“Well, [I’m] not showing too much right now, but I’m still getting used to…playing every day,” Susac said. “I’d like to think I hit for power, but putting the ball in play and getting base hits right now is my main goal.”
The Giants’ talented young catcher first experienced success as a 2010 Cape Cod League All-Star.
As a sophomore playing for Oregon State University last year, he led the team in home runs and was second in RBIs. Although the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him out of high school, Susac opted to play college baseball to mature.
“I just thought I had to grow up a little bit, be on my own.” Susac said. “It’s a tough life out here, and I could not imagine doing this at 17, 18 years old. I’m glad I…got some experience being on my own, doing my own laundry…but a college education isn’t bad either.
The college experience paid off. Baseball America rated Susac the No. 6 prospect in the Giants’ organization, and the big club awarded him an invite to major league spring training.
Susac only had three at-bats last spring (1-for-3), but he showed the Giants his skill set. Susac is still learning and strives to improve, especially on his high strikeout total.
Susac struck out 100 times in 361 at-bats and said he is ready to challenge himself to put the ball in play. He is diligently working to improve.
“You don’t have a chance to get a base hit when you’re striking out that much,” Susac said. “Just taking it day by day, keeping the same head, level head, going after it ever day. It’s a different process playing every day, and I’m trying to get used to it.”
Susac has great company at catcher, including Buster Posey and Hector Sanchez. Despite the tough competition behind the plate, Susac said assertively he will remain a catcher.
“I’m a catcher for life. I love catching,” Susac said. “You can’t worry about things you can’t control.”
Although Susac’s offense has not clicked in San Jose, the catching prospect said his defense rarely slumps.
“I would like to think of myself as a plus defender,” Susac said. “I run into little patches where I have to refresh my skill set here and there, but I got a good arm, got a quick release.”
Susac also said he takes pride in his ball-blocking ability, and more importantly, calling the right pitches.
“I block the ball, but calling the game is the biggest part of moving up in the system,” he said.
Susac already reached milestones most aspiring baseball players could only dream. Although he is riding buses and paying his dues in the organization he rooted for as a child, he is just happy to be in the Giants’ system.
“It’s a dream come true,” Susac said. The day I got drafted, it was a room full of tears and everyone was so excited. It was out of the blue, and you know, I was so pumped up.”
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Posted by Vinnie Cestone at 6:36 AM
Sunday, November 18, 2012
By Vince Cestone
The San Francisco Giants’ 2012 World Series championship season culminated with a victory parade down Market Street, but the team’s recipe for success was to come together at the right time.
|HarshLight/flickr via Creative Commons|
When the Giants faced any sort of adversity, their unity helped them overcome it. The Giants’ biggest hurdle to climb was the loss of their best hitter Melky Cabrera, who was suspended 50 games in August for using performance-enhancing drugs.
Without their number three hitter, the Giants did not panic. Instead, the other 24 players stepped up to the challenge.
Giants’ shortstop Brandon Crawford played flawless defense and improved his hitting in the second half. From August through the end of the regular season, Crawford hit .285 and played gold glove-like shortstop.
Crawford said his team turned the Melky suspension from a negative into a positive—and eventually, into its second World Series championship in San Francisco.
“I really think we all kind of came together, especially since the Melky suspension,” Crawford said. “Everybody just kind of stepped up. Obviously, guys like Buster [Posey] and Angel [Pagan] getting on base all the time, and the addition of Hunter [Pence] and Marco [Scutaro] [were] huge…so we all kind of just put it together and we [were] on a pretty good roll.”
Crawford stepped up when it mattered—in his first postseason, where he got key hits and only committed one error in 16 playoff games.
In Game 5 of the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Cincinnati Reds, Crawford started the scoring with an RBI-triple—the Giants won the game 6-4 to advance to the National League Championship Series (NLCS). Another big hit for Crawford came in Game 5 of the NLCS in St. Louis, where his 2-RBI single helped the Giants come back and win the best-of-seven series after falling behind three-games-to-one.
The Giants suffered a big blow in April when All-Star closer Brian Wilson was forced to have season-ending Tommy John surgery because of an elbow injury. With their closer lost for the year, the Giants did not dwell on their misery for long.
Instead, the team showed its relentless desire to never give up when Sergio Romo emerged as closer in the second half of the season and throughout the playoffs. In the postseason, Romo was lights out, posting a 0.84 earned-run average in 10.2 innings pitched with nine strikeouts and a miniscule 0.47 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched).
Romo credited the Giants’ selflessness for their success, even through all the adversity.
“We all play together with the same mindset, the same goal, and we’re all pulling on the same rope at the same time,” Romo said. “There’s not a selfish bone on this team, and I think that’s a big key to why we’re doing so well—why we’re in the position we’re in.”
Although first baseman Brett Pill was left off the playoff roster, he echoes what Romo said about the Giant’s unity and positive vibes.
“We’re all friends off the field, and when we get here during the games, that definitely helps…and I’m pulling for everyone, and they’re pulling more me,” Pill said. “It’s just a good atmosphere.”
In addition to their unity, the Giants persevered through 2-0 and 3-1 series deficits with their strong pitching. Although the Giants’ starting pitching was not as dominant as their 2010 championship season, their bullpen was.
Together, Giants’ pitchers as a whole posted a 2.88 postseason ERA, the best among National League teams in the playoffs (Atlanta had a 2.00 ERA but played in just one game). Together, they pulled for each other and made the big pitch when they needed it.
Fans did their part too.
Fan support may have motivated unlikely heroes such as the beleaguered Barry Zito and the resurgent Ryan Vogelsong to pitch the games of their lives in NLDS and NLCS elimination games. With the unifying Twitter trends #RallyZito and #RallyEnchilladas, the team may have fed off that energy and became motivated to bring a World Series title home to the fans.
One person cannot take most of the credit for the Giants’ 2012 championship. It was the unifying whole of the Giants’ community, including players, coaches, fans, and even employees, that ultimately contributed to bringing the World Series trophy to San Francisco once again.
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Posted by Vinnie Cestone at 6:16 AM
Sunday, October 14, 2012
Getty Images via NBC Bay Area
Giants celebrating after winning NLDS - San Francisco Giants v Cincinnati Reds - Game Five; Athletics dejected after ALDS Game 5 loss - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics.
By Vince Cestone
Bay Area baseball fans have been tense all week long, but the waiting period ended on Thursday.
On one side of the San Francisco Bay, fans were filled with elation. On the other side, fans were heartbroken.
Both Bay Area teams battled through adversity in their Division Series games. The Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants were each down 2-0 in their respective series, but both battled back to tie
The Giants and A’s had their dramatic moments.
The Giants barely staved off the Cincinnati Reds’ valiant comeback attempt in Game 5. Buster Posey’s grand slam in the fifth inning gave the Giants a commanding 6-0 lead, but the Reds would cut it down to 6-4 by the ninth inning.
Giants fans were nervously on their feet throughout the winner-take-all game. After Posey’s grand slam, the Reds had at least two runners on base in every inning, including the tying run at first in the ninth inning.
Sergio Romo, the anchor of the Giants’ bullpen, silenced the 44,000 people at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati by striking out Scott Rolen to end the ballgame. To add to the drama, the pitch hung up there, but the break still fooled Rolen.
While a hanging breaking ball usually means despair for Giants fans, this time it meant jubilation. No Giants reliever was more excited than Romo to get the series clinching out.
“I’m very proud that they asked me to get the last out,” Romo said. “It means a lot to me that they count on me.”
The cards fell in place for San Francisco. The only reason Romo was asked to close it out was because of an injury to Jeremy Affeldt, according to manager Bruce Bochy.
Back in the Bay Area, the A’s tried to match the Giants and advance to the American League Championship Series. They had all the momentum in the world after Wednesday night’s thrilling come-from-behind victory, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to stun the opposing Detroit Tigers (after Jose Valverde's recent blown save in New York, manager Jim Leyland may replace him in the closer role, according to Newsday).
Thursday night's American League Division Series Game 5 did not go as planned for the A’s and their fans.
Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander was just too much for Oakland. After coming alive late last night, the A’s bats chilled on ice all night never to be let out—just like their series-clinching champagne celebration.
Verlander blanked the A’s on just four hits in his complete effort. Although the A’s ultimately were done in, thanks to a four-run outburst by Detroit in the seventh inning, chants of “Lets go, Oakland!” could be emphatically heard after the game as the Tigers celebrated.
Despite facing a tough pitcher in Verlander, A’s manager Bob Melvin still stood by his team.
"We didn't think it was going to end today, not for a second," Melvin said. "We knew we were going up against a good pitcher. That didn't mean we didn't think we were going to win. We've gone up against good pitchers this year. And it's a bit of a shock when it finally does end. It was a heck of a story. It was a heck of a run for us."
The lights at the Oakland Coliseum will remain off for baseball until April 2013, but the A’s will be ready next year. Fans should expect them to benefit from their postseason experience and their relentless never-give-up attitude going forward.
As for the Giants, Orange October will continue Sunday at AT&T Park against the St. Louis Cardinals. After feeling disappointment with two crushing losses, the Giants faithful will have a chance to see their team play for at least two more games.
The lights may go down in the city of Oakland next week, but they will be shining brightly at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.
Posted by Vinnie Cestone at 6:44 AM