Archive for August, 2011

‘The Franchise’ Episode 8: The Season Finale Brings Reflection

August 31, 2011 2 comments

It ends tonight.

I think I would give “The Franchise: A Season with the San Francisco Giants” a solid B grade. There were times where it failed with situations in which it really had a chance to provide an interesting view — the Carlos Beltran trade and the brawl with the Philadelphia Phillies, especially.

But overall, it gave us some great personal stories, and it generally did what it was supposed to do. It gave us a pretty nice amount of access to the clubhouse. It gave us the lives of the players both on and off the field. The episode about Brian Wilson’s relationship with his father, and Tim Lincecum’s private nature was the highlight episode of the season, by far.

It may not have excelled in all fields, but I think this was a very successful endeavor for Showtime (I have yet to look up the ratings), and I hope that it is able to get a team to sign on next year. The Giants have enough characters to make a follow-up season watchable, and I think they would agree to do it. But their story has been told.

In the final episode, four players who have been profiled in detail described their experience with the series and talked about what 2011 means to them.

Pablo Sandoval talked about how much he has committed himself to his craft now, losing 40 pounds over the offseason.

Ryan Vogelsong calls his own story — a pitcher who hadn’t played in the majors since 2006 comes back and turns into an All-Star — incredible. “I think, in 2011, I was supposed to have this story happen, and you guys were supposed to be here to film it.”

Brandon Belt talked about how embarrassing it was to cry on TV when he learned that he had made the big-league club out of spring training. But his year has also been about a yo-yo-like existence between San Francisco and Fresno. “It’s been a lot of ups and there’s been a lot of times where I said, ‘Hey, I’m done.’ I had just kind of given up the year, and I just didn’t care about anything. But … I took care of business so that I can get back up here as soon as possible.”

Barry Zito’s story for 2011: “Watching my team go out there, and I couldn’t be a part of it.” Injuries have ruined Zito’s season, a year in which he is making $18.5 million and many have called for the Giants to release him.

“I hear things here and there. … I rip my own heart out daily. That’s a big thing, that I can go to sleep at night knowing that I gave 100 percent. It hurts bad that it wasn’t enough in some instances. But you take it personal. And that hurts.”

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Tim Stauffer’s Tuesday Start Was Not A Walk In The Park. It Was Several

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Instead of those boring headshots, I'm going to post baseball card photos from now on. You can never go wrong with baseball cards

San Diego Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer has a pretty good idea of where the ball’s going when he’s on the bump. Going into last night’s start, he had walked 43 batters in 166 innings pitched. He walked 24 in 82.2 innings last season. So, you know, he’s got pretty good control.

But last night, he turned into Rick Ankiel, circa 2000-01. OK, maybe he didn’t miss that badly, but he certainly missed a lot.

Stauffer walked seven Dodgers and only got five outs. He walked six in the second inning alone, including pitcher Hiroki Kuroda with the bases loaded and three consecutive batters in a span of 14 pitches. He threw just 25 strikes in 61 pitches and became the 11th pitcher to walk a lucky seven in a game this season. But all of those guys reached at least the fifth inning; Stauffer couldn’t get out of the second.

Stauffer became the 19th pitcher since 1919 to walk at least seven batters in less than two innings pitched. And man, look at some of the names on that list! Do you remember how bad Daniel Cabrera was? Or how Russ Ortiz won 21 games in 2003 despite walking more than 100 batters? Ben McDonald! William VanLandingham!! Bob Feller, who is one of the 16 players to ever walk more than 200 batters in a single season. That is some tasty stuff.

And thanks to Anthony Bass, who relieved Staffer after that seventh walk and then gave up a grand slam on his first pitch, Stauffer is also just the fifth pitcher since 1919 to allow at least seven runs while pitching so few innings and giving up that many walks.

But hey, at least he didn’t give up that many hits. In fact, Stauffer was so busy throwing pure junk, he gave up just one hit. We’ve had a few guys — Edwin Jackson and A.J. Burnett jump to mind — throw no-hitters while issuing walks without care. But they didn’t give up seven earned runs to go with it. Thus, Stauffer became just the third pitcher since 1919 to allow seven runs in three or fewer innings on no more than one hit. The Cubs’ Ryan Dempster actually did it twice: In 2001 with the Marlins and 2003 with the Reds.

I don’t expect this to happen to Stauffer again unless, like Ankiel, it becomes more of a mental than physical problem. There’s reason to expect that either, but there was no reason to expect he would match the Dodgers’ attendance in walks in one start.

My One College Football Prediction For 2011

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s all pointless.

All preseason polls are worth a price somewhere between that gum on the bottom of your shoe and a used VHS copy of “Snake Eater III: His Law” starring Lorenzo Lamas. I’ve seen that movie. I believe I was nine years old, and it was the first time I saw a woman’s tunnel of love on film.

Anyway, back to college football …

I absolutely refuse to post another top-25 preseason poll. Even though everyone knows you can pretty much pick and slot whatever teams wherever you want, I put too much pressure on myself to actually be correct on something that will turn horribly wrong after just a couple of weeks. So while a bunch of bloggers will throw out their own top-25, I’m just going to pick one team. One team to NOT win the championship that will probably win the championship. Follow?

You see, I’ve been so wrong in the last two years that it actually stands out. In 2009, I said Alabama, AP preseason No. 5, was the most overrated team. I’m not sure why, but I think it had something to do with the Crimson Tide’s lack of offense. Or at least my perception that they lacked enough offense. They ended up winning the national championship.

I said Oregon, AP preseason No. 11, was the most overrated team to start 2010 because of the off-field distractions caused by LaMichael James and the loss of Jeremiah Masoli. They reached the national championship game.

So who am I tabbing as a disappointment this year and as a result, indirectly vaulting into January’s BCS title game?

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I Am Clayton Kershaw’s Good-Luck Charm

August 31, 2011 4 comments

Well, not really. Dude’s been pretty dominant all year long, and he’s making me feel pretty smart for picking him to win the Cy Young prior to this season.

At home, Kershaw is 10-1 in 14 starts with a 1.80 ERA. But when I’m in attendance, Kershaw turns it up a notch, obviously in an effort to impress me. On Monday, I went to my tenth Dodgers game this season and for whatever reason, Kershaw has been the starter in 40 percent of those games. In those four starts, Kershaw has allowed a total of four runs and nine walks with 32 strikeouts. He has an ERA of 1.04 and a WHIP of 0.78.

Most impressive is the fact that Kershaw has pitched 34.2 innings in those four starts. Some simple multiplication tells you how awesome that is, especially when you consider Kershaw had a really tough time just making it out of the sixth as little as two years ago. Now he leads the NL in innings pitched.

Granted, one of those games — April 21 versus the Braves — went 12 innings, but which starting pitcher is expected to throw more than nine innings in any game ever?

I will be going to one more Dodgers game this season — Sept. 21 versus San Francisco. I have no idea if Kershaw will be on the mound. I would like it if he’s not because while watching him work is really fun stuff, I’m sick of going to the games that the Dodgers actually win. But if the Giants and the Dodgers keep their rotations the same for the next three weeks and I do get to see Kershaw yet again, he’ll be matched up against Tim Lincecum. I’ve got no problem with that beauty.

Lastly, this is something that I probably would have held off writing about until one of those “Running Off At The Electronic Mouth” posts, but I really need to wean off those things. For one, they don’t get almost any views and secondly, it is kind of a cheap way to mention things (read: covering my ass) I should have written about earlier in the week.

I know I’ve said this before. But this time, I’m gonna mean it.

Running Off At The Electronic Mouth, No. XXV

August 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Coming to you live from about a 25-minute drive north of the home of the best Little League Baseball team in the world … .

  • Did anyone else find this past week really depressing? It just seemed like every story — Irene not included — had a sad center to it. None more so than the news that Pat Summitt has early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. It’s a very naive viewpoint, but I just keep thinking about what she is going to be like as we honor her later in life for everything she has meant to women’s college basketball and women’s sports in general. I compare it to Muhammad Ali: An iconic sports figure known for toughness and ferocity, now captive in their own body.

Also, if/when the Lady Vols stumble at some point this year or next or for however long Summitt decides to keep the head coach title, who’s going to be the first bastard to hint that the team’s struggles have something to do with Summitt’s state. I’m sure someone will call it a distraction. It’s a tasteless and offensive thought, but it’s going to happen.

  • Where have you gone, Javaris Crittenton? A McDonald’s All-American and Mr. Georgia Basketball in high school, he leaves college at Georgia Tech after one successful season.

He gets drafted in the first round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and is automatically tagged as their point guard of the future, following in the footsteps of Magic Johnson in some way.

Then traded in 2008 to the Memphis grizzlies in exchange for Pau Gasol.

Traded again that year to the Washington Wizards and pulls a gun on Gilbert Arenas in the locker room on Christmas Eve 2009.

Ends up signing with the Charlotte Bobcats for the 2010 season, but spends most of the year in the D-League.

And now, murder suspect. What a crazy fall from NBA fame in about four years time.

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2011 With The Bases Loaded

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

In honor of the New York Yankees’ three grand slams — and absurd 16 plate appearances with the bases loaded — during Thursday’s game versus Oakland, here’s how each team is doing with the sacks packed this season through Saturday, Aug. 27.

Each team is given a plate appearances/batting average/OPS breakdown followed by its grand slam total.

Angels: 82/.233/612; one home run. They are one of five teams that have hit two triples with the bases loaded.

Astros: 112/.248/.643; two home runs. It’s not very good, but some teams wouldn’t  mind this line. Frankly, it’s a little better than I thought I’d see from Houston. Oh, and Carlos Lee sprained an ankle during Sunday’s win. That lineup is now without a single name that 95 percent of the baseball-loving public would recognize.

Athletics: 117/.223/.529; one home run. The grand salami was hit by Conor Jackson. That’s the only one on his career resume, and he has just six home runs since August 2008.

Blue Jays: 104/.277/.872; five home runs. Nope, none by Jose Bautista. But Corey Patterson’s got one!

Braves: 98/.231/.629; three home runs. The Braves have sent 26 men to the plate with the bases loaded in August — already their highest number for any month this season. Despite just three hits in 19 at-bats, they have driven in 11 runs, thanks mostly to four walks and a Jason Heyward grand slam.

Brewers: 125/.283/.636; one home run. That OPS is so low because 26 of their 30 hits have been singles. Oh, and their lone grand slam came off the bat of slugger Shaun Marcum.

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Cam Newton Is No Nate Burleson

August 27, 2011 Leave a comment

OK, this is just getting silly.

In another effort to catch up on stories I’ve missed in the past few days, I must bring up what was at least our second LeBron-powder celebration in as many weeks during the NFL preseason.

I thought it was kind of neat when Nate Burleson did it. It was sort of like a middle finger to Cleveland. And when Nate Burleson is mocking your city, that’s about as rough as it gets.

But it happened again Thursday. Cam Newton scored a rushing touchdown against the Bengals — hey, nice job wrapping up, two-six — and went back to the powder well. Form could have been tighter.

I’m left with two conclusions from this, neither of which are great for Cam.

I don’t know if he and LeBron are friends, but even if so, is this really going to become the norm for Newton? Is this going to be his celebration in the NFL? Newton is such a unique talent, it would be kind of lame if the best end-zone move he could come up with is something that already has a much more successful owner.

OR … was Newton trying to follow in Burleson’s footsteps and attempting to insult the Bengals’ fans? If so, someone should probably tell him that while he was indeed in Ohio, people in Cincinnati don’t give a rat’s ass about the misfortune of their rivals sitting on Lake Erie. If anything, Bengals fans applauded Newton for that gesture because it reminded them of how much Cleveland basketball sucks these days.

I would guess that Newton has been getting a lot of cheers from opposing crowds during this preseason.