Sunday, March 17, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: Mgr

3. Dusty Baker: 1993-2002

I didn't want to go here. I tried so hard not to pick Dusty. I was being totally subjective when it came to managers, then I really looked in to the candidates. Scary as it seems, Dusty landed in my top 3. There were so many times during his tenure in San Francisco that I disagreed with Dusty. But then there were players and teams that responded to him. So I am trying to put my feelings aside. I don't really like Dusty anymore. He waited too long to bring in Robb Nen in Game 6, he started Salomon fucking Torres on the last day in 1993, and then ruined more arms in Chicago. There were times though that we all loved Dusty and the job he was doing. So I am remembering those times, and how good the Giants were during that stretch of time.

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: RP

3. Brian Wilson: 2006-2012

If Brian Wilson had stayed healthy for the 2012 season he might have been at the top of this list. With relief pitchers it was harder to set guidelines to rank them. So I went with the "Screw it, these are my favorites" this time. Wilson was the closer when the Giants finally won a championship in San Francisco in 2010. The role on the Giants as closer seems to have 3 guys, and that's this list.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: SP

3. Juan Marichal: 1960-73

Just like in his playing days, Juan Marichal gets a little lost in the rich pitching history of the Giants. During his career he was overshadowed by such greats as Koufax, Gibson, and Seaver. On this list he has to take a back seat as well. Marichal was known as the "Dominican Dandy", and let's face it, for the leg kick pictured above. I grew up with that photo on the wall of my basement. So many times I tried to mimic the leg kick, so many times I almost hurt myself trying. My dad was a huge Marichal fan and would talk about him with great affection. The July 1963 game that Marichal pitched against Warren Spahn is the stuff of legends. He went 16 shutout innings, striking out 10, and allowing 8 hits. Spahn matched him pitch for pitch. Finally in the bottom of the 16th, Mays won it for him with a solo shot. It was an amazing performance.

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: RF

3. Bobby Bonds: 1968-1974

Before he became the nomadic ballplayer, Bobby Bonds spent his first 7 years with the San Francisco Giants. He was a leadoff hitter and speedy outfielder with a lot of promise. Playing alongside Mays as a youngster didn't hurt. It's where Bobby learned the game. He had a .273 average while in the orange and black, with 263 stolen bases in those 7 years.
We all know he struck out a whole helluva lot. It was worth it when he got on base.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: CF

3. Bobby Thomson: 1946-53,57

Before he hit the most famous home run in baseball history, Bobby Thomson was the starting CF for the New York Giants. I know he hit fame when he was a 3rd baseman, but Thomson had a few really good years before Willie Mays took over the job permanently in May of 1951. Good thing Bobby was versatile.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: LF

3. Jeffrey Leonard: 1981-1988

His first couple of seasons with the Giants Jeffrey Leonard really didn't contribute. Then, he turned in to a solid Major League outfielder that even helped his team win a division title.  Leonard hit 19 or more HR's 3 different times with the Giants. I tried to find someone else for this slot, I really did. There was no one else.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: SS

3. Rich Aurilia: 1995-2003,07-09

Early in Rich Aurilia's career we didn't know what kind of a player he was just yet. It took him a few years to get his stroke in the big leagues. Once he found it, it was 5 straight years of good production. Between 1999-2003 Aurilia hit 13 or more HR's each year. His best year was 2001 when he made the All Star team and batted .324 with 37 HR and 97 RBI. He also led all of Major League Baseball with 206 hits in 2001 and won the SIlver Slugger.

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: 3B

3. Darrell Evans: 1976-1983

The deep tradition of 3rd baseman I thought I would find is really not there. There have been some pretty good ones for a few years, but not great. That's why Evans come in third on this list. He is basically an example of all the other guys that plugged in at third base. His stats weren't overwhelming, but they were consistent enough. I never saw Evans play, and really only hear of him from other Giants fans in passing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: 2B

3. Robby Thompson: 1986-1996 

Any Giants fan that is in their mid 30's like me loves Robby Thompson. We grew up with him as our second baseman. He was always right there, starting and batting 2nd. You knew you could count on Robby to be in the lineup. This is not one of the stronger positions in Giants history, so a solid sentimental favorite makes the cut.

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: 1B

3. Will Clark: 1986-1993

Will Clark was one of my favorites growing up. How could he not be? His nickname was "The Thrill" and boy did he. In his first AB in the Majors, Will Clark hit a home run off Nolan Ryan. He was one of the cornerstones of some good Giants teams in the late 80's and early 90's. As a Giant Will was a 5 time All Star, and hit .299. He hit 19 or more HR's 5 different times.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: Catcher

3. Wes Westrum: 1947-1957 

The guy with the most games played at the catcher position in franchise history is Wes Westrum. I'll never know what his parents were thinking naming him Wes. That's like naming a kid Tom Thomas. Anyway, Westrum was the backstop for some great staffs of the last 11 years in New York. He was a 2 time all star and won a World Series in 1954.

Top 3 NY/SF Giants All Time By Position: Intro

     The extended spring training this year because of the WBC has left us with some baseball, but it's just not quite real enough. The games, be it Cactus, Grapefruit, or WBC, count for something. But not anything that really matters. I'm having a hard time getting in to the World Baseball Classic. It just feels like a traveling youth baseball tournament. The kind that has kids that played a whole house league season on other teams, and then got thrown together for a weekend or two. There's no flow to it. So I've lost interest.

     So what do I do to pass the time? Well, for some reason I've decided to rank the top 3 players at each position in Giants franchise history. The 2 years they were the Gothams, the years after that in New York as well, and the time now in San Francisco. It's not just that I seem to like projects either. I figured this was a good way for me to really get to know all of the history of the greats that have played for the Giants. We all know some obvious ones, and others are just our favorites, but sometimes there is that player you never knew about that really was great for his time. 

     I laid down some criteria for this. I am doing all fielding positions, starting and relief pitchers, and also the best 3 managers. For everyday players, they must have played a minimum of 500 games for the franchise. The Giants are one of the oldest clubs around, so there were many to choose from. As far as the pitchers went, I didn't really have any criteria. As you will see my 3 starters are obvious, and my 3 relievers are sentimental. As for managers I just made up my own rules. I'm fairly biased there, and it will probably come out in that section.

     So hopefully you enjoy. If you want to debate any of the lists feel free to comment at the bottom. I'll leave the links to each one as they come out. The first installment, Catchers, will be out about an hour after this post, then every day thereafter. Baseball season is so close, April is only 22 days away.

Eric Nathanson


Monday, March 4, 2013

On My Mind

     It was a year ago today that I saw my dad for the last time. My folks had come through Tampa while in Florida. I hadn't seen them in 4 years. I am so grateful to have had that last weekend together. We went out for breakfast and they dropped me off. It was the last time I saw him.

     I'm not weepy. I've just been thinking about him today. Lately I have focused so much on the past year we didn't share together, I have been neglecting the time we had. Today I sat down and have been watching the 2010 World Series again. I'm pausing now to watch a live game. We may have been in different states, but my dad and I shared that team.

     Thankfully a year has almost passed. There will be no "first time without" anymore. The day after my folks flew home from Tampa my dad was in the hospital. Later that night he fell into a coma. Two weeks later he was gone.

     Writing helped me come out of it when I was really mourning my pop. Today as I research a piece I want to do he keeps drifting in my head. I'm working on something nice for my dad for the one year anniversary of his death. I miss him and am really now learning how to get on without him in my life.

     He gave me the gift of baseball. Watching games and writing about the sport is cathartic for me. That's why it doesn't matter that it's a Braves-Mets game on the TV. Just the hum of the game keeps life moving.

Eric Nathanson

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Spring Training: Sunshine and Dreams

     Now that Spring Training is in full swing it's time to look ahead. I love Spring Training. The day that pitchers and catchers report is a happy day. Early morning workouts mean that the season is on the way. Early afternoon games played in quaint stadiums by young kids trying to make the club.

     Everything about it is new and fresh. No matter who your team is there is hope for the upcoming season. It's another part of baseball that makes the game unique. No other sport has a month like baseball's spring training. Yes, football has summer camp, but there is a quicker pace. Baseball allows its players to earn it in multiple real games.

     It's probably no coincidence that baseball is in Arizona and Florida during March. With the population in those states in the later years, spring training is the perfect pace. It's baseball, but just a bit slower. You get the stars, but they are done playing by the time dinner comes around at 4:30. Then the audience can tune out as 5 guys with uniform numbers over 75 take over.

     As far as results go, spring training doesn't mean a thing. Who wins, who loses, it doesn't matter. Heck just this year the Giants have already had 3 ties in 7 games. So if your team goes 22-8 this spring, it doesn't mean they will make the playoffs. Conversely if your team goes 9-20 it's no reason to panic.

     Only the 2009 Phillies have made the World Series with the exact same lineup they had on opening day in the last 4 years. Spring training is not the time for the team to fully form. It is the time of year for players to prove themselves. The true test of a team comes later on, and usually it looks a little bit different.

     I'm kicking back, putting my feet up, and watching baseball in the sunshine. It doesn't matter the teams or even the scrubs that get in. It's just great to have again.

Eric Nathanson