Please read my response to people who say the Giants farm system is a mess. Would you rather they win minor league championships or produce the all-stars that lead to World Series championships?
On Monday morning, it was announced that Giants third-baseman Pablo Sandoval has signed a 5-year deal with the Boston Red Sox. So comes to an end San Francisco’s relationship to the All-Star (two times) who was part of a team that won three championships over five years.
Newly a free agent, Sandoval had been considering a $90m 5-year contract with the Giants, but countered with a negotiation for 7 years. When that couldn’t be fulfilled, Sandoval (along with his agent) began looking elsewhere. The rumor mills started after an in-Boston meeting last week. Shortly after, we’ve learned that the Venezuelan right-hander (and sometimes left-hander) has landed a 5-year deal worth nearly $100m.
Naturally, there has been a good deal of vitriol online in response to the move. Forget the fact that fans ought to be used to the comings and goings of players, or even that the cross-pollination of baseball personnel makes the game entirely more interesting and exciting in the long-run – I think the Giants lucked out on this one. Sandoval probably (and hopefully) has another great season or two in him…but I think we’ll look back on his career and know that we had him at the peak of his game. Spending another hundred million probably might not be the best investment for a team that DOESN’T have the second-highest budget in the MLB.
So instead of lamenting the departure, let’s celebrate his time in San Francisco. Watching him develop from a 16-year old international free agent in 2002 into a home-grown World Series MVP has been a textbook baseball success story. Fans will remember his stellar showing in the 2012 World Series, when he became the first player in history to hit three consecutive home runs against the Tigers in his first three at-bats. He was the fourth baseball player to hit three home runs in a single World Series game, which adds to a list along with Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols. His overall post-season average is a whopping .366.
And here’s Sandoval’s official goodbye, straight from his Instagram account…
To the greatest fans in San Francisco! Leaving the #SFGiants & this city I love is the most difficult decision I have ever made. I have grown up w/you, laughed & cried w/you & you have blessed me w your support, friendship & love. It has been an unforgettable @SFGiants career, a great run & 3 World Series championships in 5 yrs w/great teammates, coaches, front office & fans. I will always remember you w love & my heart will always be in #SF.
We’ll miss you, Kung Fu Panda…best of luck in Boston!
But in the past few weeks, there have been an alarming number of stories coming out about the negative after-effects of a championship title. It doesn’t shine well on the Giants, the MLB, on San Francisco, or on the state of sports at large in this country.
After Game 7, the city got predictably rowdy. Some of the street celebration was all in good fun – cheering, hugging strangers, etc. But, as it seems it always does, things took a darker turn as the night wore on. Cars began to be vandalized. When police tried to organize the mayhem, they were struck with thrown bottles. Many thrown bottles.
And then people started bonfires. BONFIRES. In the streets.
While I have a hard time believing acts like these are terribly attached to the actual game, it seems like we can’t enjoy a victorious season without the municipality falling apart for a night. It sullies the experience, and must elicit terror from people who live in the areas where all of this happens.
This year’s celebration has, so far, accounted for an estimated $140,000 in damage to cars alone. This includes police cars. In fact, several officers were hit by bottles. Some were reported to have been hospitalized. There were two injuries due to gunshots, and a stabbing. It’s truly too much.
There’s something about the culture surrounding sports these days that is toxic. Both wins and losses are often accompanied by some as an excuse to exercise testosterone and adrenaline to the fullest. Maybe what these ‘fans’ need is to spend less time watching sports and more time playing them and blowing off some steam.
Another very sad piece of fallout due to the World Series involved the parade, and the number of school children attending. Because 3,500 students skipped school to see their heroes in the parade, public schools in San Francisco lost $140,000 in state funding, which uses absentee rates as benchmarks.
Considering the role professional sports play in our culture, it is unbelievable that there isn’t an exception made for rare instances like these. Surely there are reasonable solutions that would be able to protect valuable education funding amidst the excitement of the World Series.
I look forward to the day when a national sports title fills the city with pride and excitement, not terror and dread.
Both teams have a chance to come out on top, but as a Giants fan, I’d say it’s looking very sunny for the Giants. After all, having won it all in 2010, 2012, we can now apply Adrian Bejan’s constructal law, which states (if I may simplify it greatly) that patterns in nature reinforce themselves. If they win again this time, we may confidently extrapolate that they will win at least half of all World Series going on forever. Besides the year, here are a few, possibly less absurd, reasons the Giants have a big chance of taking the title again.
First of all, we have the admirable, twenty-five-year-old left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who has managed to make up for in pitching what he lacks in personal decorum — an astonishing thought. Already Bumgarner has played in two World Series, starring in fifteen shutout innings, striking out fourteen, and yielding five hits. His pitches are both high in speed and accuracy, and the best part is Bumgarner flourishes under pressure.
The Giants’ pitcher is by no means the only successful player on the team, of course. The team’s hitters, Buster Posey, Joe Panik, Hunter Pence, and Pablo Sandoval, all know how to knock one out of the park. This offensive fantastic four knows how to pounce on weakness.
Third is Bruce Bochy, who consistently keeps his cool. The Giant’s coach expects the most from his players, and he consistently gets the results he wants. He treats champions and third-strings equally, emphasizing that baseball is team sport, not a one-man show. Bochy deserves nothing but respect from his team, other teams, and spectators alike. The authoritative-but-fair mentor is a fan favorite.
If the Giants have one thing down pat, it’s experience. This team knows what to do to make it into the World Series, and they know how to channel all of their energy into the game when they get there. This year, the Giants have sixteen players who starred in both 2010 and 2012’s World Series games, excluding Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy – two veterans who really know what it means to show up.
Lastly, the Giants have the best fan base I’ve ever encountered. Decked out in black and orange, roaring from the first inning to the ninth, no matter how long it takes to get there, and no idiots running around the stands blocking your view and screaming about selling you hot dogs or ice cream. I’ll be watching like everyone else on Tuesday, waiting for the blast of “Bye Bye Baby.” Go Giants!
Summer is officially over, and that means that a portion of the city’s football fans will give some deserved love to the Giants as they ramp up for the postseason. The baseball season is a long one, but as it winds down, the Giants look increasingly likely not only to maintain their lead for the wildcard, but maybe even take the division.
The importance of the games is magnified as we enter the final week of the regular season, including games against the first-place Dodgers. This matchup is very exciting. Besides us, the Dodgers only have to face the Cubs and the Rockies. But other than the Dodgers, we only have to defeat the Padres. The Dodgers and the Giants have played each other 16 times this year so far, with each team taking 8 wins.
What’s worrying for Bay Area fans is that Giants batters will be going up against Clayton Kershaw for the final game of the Dodgers series. A reliable left-handed pitcher, Kershaw is even better against the Giants. He currently boasts a 1.40 career ERA against San Francisco. The importance of the game may draw an even better performance.
The Giants have gained a lot of ground to be just a couple games behind first place, but the Dodgers can’t be underestimated. They’re potentially the best team in the league. And even with three losses against the Giants this week, they could still clinch the division by beating the Cubs and Rockies.
In the Central division, the Cardinals will run away with the title. No other team is close to matching their record, and their talent isn’t about to wane. Pittsburgh has been performing exceptionally, with eleven wins in their last 13 games. Not only that, but their upcoming schedule looks easy, with match ups against Cincinnati and Atlanta. Even still, they’ll most likely fall short of St. Louis.
This means that its likely that the Giants and the Cardinals will be the two wild card teams, going head to head for a chance at the playoffs. When is the National League Wild Card game? October 1st. Assuming the Giants don’t displace the Dodgers to take the division, I’ll be tuning in.
These comments were all made in reference to Tim Hudson and his recent shut-out win over the Cubs. What’s more, the comments were made by the other team!
Tim Hudson, 38, is San Francisco’s most reliable starting pitcher this season. He’s handling hitters with ease, as was the case Tuesday night against the Chicago Cubs. He threw seven innings, with five strike outs, no walks, and only six hits allowed. Hudson has allowed two earned runs or less in nine of his ten starts, and pitched seven full innings in eight of them.
Hudson’s season was questionable during the pre-season. Last year Hudson broke his right ankle while playing with Atlanta. The injury threatened to end his career. The Giants picked him up in a $23 million contract for two years in November. He has since emerged as one of the most valuable additions to the team, and a major reason they currently have the best record in the league.
Filling out the rotation is Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, both All-Stars, and two-time National League Cy Young Award recipient Tim Lincecum. Hudson, a three-time All-Star himself, is holding his own, to say the least, with an ERA of 1.92 and only two losses in 10 games.
In interviews this season, Hudson jokes that he has been tricking hitters with smoke and mirrors. In more recent comments, he says that he has simply just learned to pitch better. He says he’s studying scouting reports more often, replacing power with strategy and research. “From a command standpoint, this is probably the best I’ve been.”
Fans are less analytical about him. Upon leaving the field after the seventh inning on Tuesday, Hudson enjoyed an energetic standing ovation from the sellout crowd. The Giants were on the board with four runs, which was all that was needed after two perfect innings by relief pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Jean Machi.
Hudson started his MLB career in 1997 when he signed with the Oakland Athletics. His first game was in 1999. In 2005, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He’s a sinkerballer, throwing that pitch about half the time. Sinkerballs have significant downward movement at the plate, which tends to induce grounders. He has pitched over 200 games, one of the more senior pitchers in the league.
There’s a lot of early excitement in San Francisco surrounding the Giants. It’s far too early to start wondering what October could have in store for the team, but it’s fun to imagine a season in which this top-level playing continues. Eight games into the season, the team is on top of the National League standings. The Giants are also leading the league in home runs with 12, and a whopping 47 runs. The pitching, so far, is reminiscent of the performance that led us to two recent World Series titles.
Newcomer to the team, right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson is already turning heads and getting cheers from fans. His recent win over the Diamondbacks was impressive for a number of reasons. First, he played eight innings with only seven runs, giving the offense plenty of opportunity to take a lead. But the win also gives him the most career wins of any active pitchers in major league baseball. It looks like the two-year, $23 million deal that brought him to the Bay for two years. Some were worried about the 38-year-old player, who was recovering this winter from a broken leg and torn ankle ligament. Hudson says he’s still not up to his own standards, but for now his 90-mph sinker is doing the job.
With the loss of Barry Bonds in 2007, there has been a gaping hole in left field. There has been a new starter in that position every opening day since. Michael Morse looks the most apt to be an adequate replacement. His power has already played a large role in the success of the Giants this season. Manager Bruce Bochy remarked that it was valuable to have a ‘left-fielder who can hit the ball out of the park.’ Fans have already been enjoying the song played at Morse’s third at-bat each game. ‘Take On Me’ by A-ha has been his theme song for several years. Some are already wondering if the band will follow through on a previous promise to come and play the song live at one of Morse’s games.
Could this be another championship team? Except for those of us the Bay area, nobody is expecting much from this team…and that’s just how we were viewed in 2010 and 2012, and we all know how those seasons turned out. With so much attention in the National League on the wealthy Dodgers and reliable Cardinals, some may be missing these early warning signs that San Francisco has a hat in this season.