Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Scuffed Memories

It's amazing to me how certain things become great memories. Those moments that just pop up in your head without warning and make you smile. Because of the baseball you see above, I just had one of those moments.

You remember all the way back in March when a 3rd title for the Giants in 5 years was just a pipe dream? I do, and I'll remember it forever. It was back then that I took the trip to Scottsdale, Arizona for the first time to see the Giants at Spring Training.

It was a great trip that I hope to take again and again.

Before a game one day I managed to grab an Angel Pagan batting practice ball that he bounced over the fence. It was actually the first time I had gotten my hands on a baseball at a game of any kind. I've never caught a foul ball, never had a player toss me a ball, and until then I had never grabbed a BP ball.

But that's not what makes this ball special today. Sure, it's cool that I have a souvenir and all that, but you see the scuff mark on that ball? That's the memory.

The day after I secured the baseball my good friend Chris and I were playing catch in the parking lot of Scottsdale Stadium. We stretched it out a little bit and let it fly. Chris let one go that short hopped in to me and created the scuff. Truth be told, I was kinda pissed the moment it happened. First ball I've gotten and all that jazz.

Now I look at that scuff and all I can think of are great memories. It reminds me of that trip to Spring Training with friends, and being a small part of the 2014 San Francisco Giants.

It's funny how a baseball can do just that, bring up great memories. Sometimes its just a scuff, other times its a memory and a smile that will last forever.

@2outhits on Twitter

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Goodbye to some, hello to others

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster. I'm glad to be back here writing some thoughts about the San Francisco Giants.

First, I have to talk about the 2 guys that just left the Giants organization. The reality is that Pablo Sandoval could always choose another team. Then he actually did. It wasn't a shock.

It was the news that Tim Flannery would no longer be the 3rd base coach that really surprised me. So many people have their reasons for falling in love with Flannery over the years. For some its the tremendous work he's done in support of Bryan Stow. For others it's the exuberance he brings to the 3rd base coaching position. For me it's a little bit of everything.

In August of 2013 I obtained my first press pass for an MLB game down here in Florida when the Giants took on the Tampa Bay Rays. It was "my cup of coffee".

I felt so out of place and was freaked out by the whole thing. After Joe Maddon and Bruce Bochy wrapped their pregame interviews guys were just milling around the dugout. I ended up just standing there listening to Shawon Dunston talk. I had no idea what to do with myself.

That's when I spotted Flan leaning against the dugout rail. I mustered my courage and introduced myself. I mentioned his music and our conversation took off running. Over the next few minutes we talked about Jackie Greene, Bob Weir, the Lunatic Fringe and others. Then the Rays got off the field and he had to go hit fungoes.

The conversation totally disarmed me and made the rest of my night easier. Some talk about music is what made me comfortable at a baseball game. Who knew? For the rest of the night I felt like I belonged.

That's why I'm gonna miss seeing Tim Flannery down the 3rd base line. Whether he knew it or not he had a big hand in my confidence that day.  Of course I'll also miss the arm swinging and knees pumping as he sent a runner home. I'm glad he decided to go one more round with Bochy. Those 3 titles were a lot of fun.

Now the rest of what's been going on in Giants land.

  • Am I heartbroken about Pablo Sandoval? Not really. I feel a bit betrayed but that's the little kid inside me. I'm glad he grew up in a Giants uniform and wish him nothing but the best. 

  • Wouldn't Jon Lester look good in a Giants uniform? I think so too. I don't know what the Giants offered him but I hope he takes it over going to LA. The Kershaw-Lester-Greinke combo is daunting for any team to face. 

  • Today Henry Schulman found out the Giants are talking to Chase Headley to fill the 3rd base position. We also learned that means left field is not a focus this offseason. That's probably why Travis Ishikawa was inked to a one-year $1.1 million contract.

  • That probably means goodbye to Michael Morse. He's suited for a DH role and many AL teams would be willing to give multiple years. He was a good Giant and a big part of the team in 2014. Love that guy's energy.

  • Come on back Melky Cabrera. If it wasn't for second chances most of us would be somewhere else in life. If the guys in the clubhouse are good with it, that's good enough for me.

If you've been keeping up with my non baseball life I've got good news. We're moving next week to a safer area of town. The expenses are still building so any help or sharing of our GoFundMe campaign is appreciated. Thank you very much. Here's the link: Our Modern Family.

Plenty more baseball to come during the winter, thanks for sticking around!

@2outhits on Twitter

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Give Pablo Sandoval all the money


The shine of a brand new title for the Giants has barely begun to dim as we are all forced to look ahead to next season and beyond. In years past it always felt like there was a break between the end of the World Series and the beginning of player movement via free agency, trades, and whatnot.

Now, it's less than 2 weeks after the San Francisco Giants won their 3rd title in 5 years, and we have to talk about the free agency of Pablo Sandoval.

Hope you enjoyed celebrating that title because suddenly it's back to business in the world of baseball. General managers of all the teams are meeting this week in Phoenix. It's not specifically designed for the free agent shuffle, they are there to conduct league business and review things from the previous season. 

That's what's supposed to happen. In years past it has been the Winter Meetings that have been the place for activity. Now the GM meeting lays the ground work for some off season action.

This is the reason Sandoval and his agent Gustavo Vazquez are going to Phoenix this week. To talk to other teams. It's been reported that other than the Giants he is being sought by the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and White Sox.

Does the fact that nothing but AL teams are reported to be interested stick out to you as well? That's startling and means that folks outside of Giants land have serious questions about Sandoval's ability to stay in shape and on the field.

In the past I have raised those same concerns myself. Looking back I was surprised to see that Sandoval has missed less time than I imagined. Still, none of the other teams in the NL seem to want to add him to the hot corner. There's already talk of turning him into a DH during the later years of a deal with an AL club.

I think the DH talk needs to go away until his next contract comes around. He recently turned 28 years old. By the time a 6-year deal runs out Pablo will have just turned 34 years old. His defensive skills are no longer a worry. I think he could play at least 6 more years in the field, maybe more.

It's widely known that Sandoval is looking for a 6-year deal but other reports say that he would be flexible. He's got his brother as his personal chef and has apparently retained a personal trainer to work with him until he retires.

Sandoval has played 141 games or more in 4 of his 6 full seasons in the majors . His career high was this past season when he got in to 157 games. Those other 2 seasons? That would be 2011 and 2012. In each of those seasons he played over 100 games. There's also the point that those are the 2 seasons he was named an All-Star. I don't know what that point is, but it's there somewhere.

Also, the other side of it. The way Sandoval came through in both the 2012 and 2014 championship runs cannot be overlooked. It happened, and should be used as a measuring tool. 

I know. The old thinking is "what if they never get there again?". Well you should just throw that thinking right out the window. With the machine that has been built by Brian Sabean, this team will contend for years to come.

It's the core, and Pablo has been a huge part of it. That's why he should get paid all the money. He's proven that he can be a key component on World Series winning ball clubs. This is the guy that tied a record in 2012, his 3 HR game, and set one in 2014 with 26 postseason hits, the most ever. EVER

I mean, he could just as well decide to take an offer somewhere else and coast for the rest of his career. But that wouldn't make him legendary or even Hall of Fame worthy. Staying with the Giants could do that for him.

I think his appetite is to perform in the spotlight more than anything and Sandoval knows the brightest lights are in October. Pablo thrives under pressure and delivers for himself and the team. He sees that helping the guy next to him helps himself.

He'd be foolish to walk away from San Francisco, and with all that money the Giants will rake in from this 3rd title, they can afford to bump payroll a little bit. There's only one way to keep chipping away at history for Sandoval and the Giants, if they keep doing it together.

- Eric

Note: We recorded the World Series Champs podcast last week. If you haven't checked it out yet click on over to Torturecast.com and have a listen to Episode 77. It's fun to talk about championships.