Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kansas City Royals: Resourceful or reckless? | Beyond the Box Score

I would come down on the resourceful side. The recklessness is a perceptual matter, a side effect of employing game strategy that underdogs need to employ to beat favorites. As Malcolm Gladwell illustrates in his article referenced below, it's how David beats Goliath, which is with unconventional strategies or surprise. If you play a so-called "superior" opponent, one that on paper is better than you, you don't play them straight up, you gamble, you change tempo or pace, you take them off their game.

from Beyond the Box Score:
Entering the bottom of the eighth inning in the Wild Card game, the Royals had about a three percent chance of winning. Clearly, they defied the odds in that game, and chances are the Royals will win the ALDS -- it will be very difficult for the Angels to overcome a 0-2 deficit, especially with the next two games in Kansas City. Ned Yost is effectively playing with house money, as just about every steal and sac bunt the Royals have attempted turned out their way.
Historical percentages suggest this level of success can't be maintained, but if the Royals continue to have success with these plays, the odds won't matter -- success or failure dictates the odds and not the other way around. The Royals are winning with their brand of baseball, and if that success can be sustained, they can go a long way. The odds suggest the success can't be sustained -- so don't tell them the odds.

Some of this is simply the nature of how the SABR-rattlers, that currently control the narrative as far as "How the Game is Supposed to be Played", view the game. This domain used to be the stomping grounds of grizzled, old "baseball men". Now it's the domain of math geeks with pocket protectors. When the game doesn't go quite the way that their spreadsheets tell them it should they go "TILT" and scream "That does not compute, that does not compute". 

To them, luck is not the residue of design, it is the differential between the "expected result" and the "actual result". They don't understand and cannot compute that illusive quality called "chemistry" which is simply that, on some teams, talent is greater than the sum of the parts. There is a residual benefit to having a team where each player is put in roles that they can execute and allow other players to fulfill their roles without having to extend or do too much. They dismiss chemistry by saying "winning breeds chemistry". That's not true at all.

They make the mistake of viewing chemistry of guys all getting along and singing Kum Ba Yah by the campfire. That's not it at all. The Oakland A's had chemistry in the Charlie Finley days and they didn't all just get along. But they had chemistry. The Bronx Zoo Yankees had chemistry, but they didn't all get along to well. Guys played complimentary roles which allowed the stars to shine without having to do too much. It's an elusive quality and you can have it on teams as diverse as the "We are Family" Pirates as well as the Bronx Zoo Yankees.

This year, it explains why the two wild-card teams are still playing while the teams that are better on paper ( and better looking on spreadsheets ) are sitting at home watching. It's not luck. It's chemistry. Maybe the math geeks need to widen their horizons and take a science course.


How David Beats Goliath:
A great Malcolm Gladwell article titled How David Beats Goliath references a study done by political scientist Ivan Arreguín-Toft. Toft studied 200 years of “asymmetric conflicts” on the battlefield. As a lifelong fan of the underdog, I was curious about the numbers behind the “itʼs why they play the game” adage. It turned out David may just be the new Goliath. Three things jumped out:
Power is good, but itʼs no guarantee. Davidʼs odds werenʼt as bad as youʼd think. Of the 200 conflicts studied between 1800-2003, David won 28.5% of the time.
The times (and odds) are changing. Between 1800-49, the stronger side won 88% of the conflicts studied. That number dropped to 80% between 1850-99 and dropped (again) to 65% between 1900-49. Between 1950-99, it dropped, wait for it, to only 49%. Now, on average, the strong side possessed ten times the power – where “power” is measured in terms of armed forces and population – than their adversaries. And between the years 1950-99, they lost more than they won.
Itʼs about making your own rules. Why would you play by the rules that Goliath has already won on (see: Google)? When a David wins, it tends to do so by changing the rules. In his study, Toft found that by choosing an unconventional strategy, the underdogʼs winning percentage went from 28.5% to 63.6%.

The "Big Game" title goes to Madison Bumgarner for now

View image on Twitter

This is what Giants fans have been seeing for years - "Big Game" Bumgarner. The question for Bochy, Righetti and the Giants becomes, do you schedule Bummer for Games 4 and 7 and say to the Royals, in effect, "If you want to win this thing. you're going to have to go through Madison Bumgarner". I'm sure Bumgarner would sign up for the assignment. I'm not sure if Bochy will do it, out of deference to the other starting pitchers and the perception that it would feel like a bit of a panic move. But with the travel day, it almost has to be at least a consideration for the Giants staff.

from Giants Extra:
“There is no bigger stage. But he’s just Madison Bumgarner.” And he's the last ace standing. - Giants Extra:
He is 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA in three World Series starts and 3-1 with a 1.40 ERA this October while starting five of the Giants’ 11 games and throwing at least seven innings each time. This postseason has humbled one big name after the next, but Bumgarner is better than he has ever been. 
"There is no bigger stage,” right fielder Hunter Pence said. “But he’s just Madison Bumgarner.” 
Right now, he’s not just Madison Bumgarner. He’s the best big-game pitcher in a sport that wears you down over 162 games and then forms your legacy with snapshots taken as the weather cools. The Giants didn’t particularly need Bumgarner to be brilliant Tuesday, not with the lineup jumping on Shields, the Royals’ ace curiously nicknamed Big Game James."
'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cord cutters: Is a la carte streaming a better deal than cable? | Tampa Bay Times

A silhouetted coaxial cable. Cord cutters rejoiced last week after HBO and CBS announced plans to sell stand-alone streaming services, a move that cable and satellite television providers have resisted for years. But cutting the cord won’t mean cutting out your cable provider, and some would-be customers may balk when they see just how much paying a la carte actually costs. [Associated Press]
A silhouetted coaxial cable. Cord cutters rejoiced last week after HBO and CBS announced plans to sell stand-alone streaming services, a move that cable and satellite television providers have resisted for years. But cutting the cord won’t mean cutting out your cable provider, and some would-be customers may balk when they see just how much paying a la carte actually costs. [Associated Press]

Remember, you heard it here first. Cut the Cord!!! You won't look back. Aside from the freedom of choice as to what enters your home, you won't miss the "crass commercialism" ie: the commercials of the current system they jam down your throat. Your the consumer, you've always had the power of choice right at your fingertips.
~;::::::;( )">  ¯\_( )_/¯

from Tampa Bay Times:
Cord cutters: Is a la carte streaming a better deal than cable? | Tampa Bay Times:

Cord cutters rejoiced last week after HBO and CBS announced plans to sell stand-alone streaming services, a move that cable and satellite television providers have resisted for years. Customers tired of paying big fees for hundreds of channels they never watch just to have access to a few favorite shows might be expected to start cancelling cable service in droves. Get Netflix, throw in HBO, add a network here and there — why would anyone sign up now for cable? Is a la carte streaming a better deal?

'via Blog this'

Orwell was only wrong about the date

Proving once again that you can be right on your thesis and off a bit on the timing. - CS

Coaching Association of Canada publishes Long-Term Athlete Development for Parents document |

Coaching Association of Canada publishes Long-Term Athlete Development for Parents document | News |
Coaching Association of Canada publishes Long-Term Athlete Development for Parents document
Tuesday, 7 February, 2012
Many parents are looking for answers to explain what is right for their child when it comes to athletic development.  As a coach, you need something that will help explain the facts in an easy, accurate, and user-friendly manner.  The Coaching Association of Canada, in coordination with Canadian Sport for Life, has created the following document: “Long-Term Athlete Development Information for Parents” to help coaches educate the parents of the children in their programs.
This document provides an overview of the LTAD model, describing each of the seven stages in easy-to-understand language.  It gives solid and concrete advice on what parents can do to encourage their child’s current physical, and athletic development and suggests tips to help them assist their child as they move into the later stages of development. This handy tool is something coaches will want to have readily available at all times to share with parents.  We encourage all CAC Partners to share the following link with their Learning Facilitators, member clubs, coaches and parents.
'via Blog this'

2014 Arizona League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports -

Michael Santos (Photo by Bill Mitchell).

At 19 years old, he's a few years away at best, but 93 MPH at this age will open up some eyes.

from Baseball America:
2014 Arizona League Top 20 Prospects With Scouting Reports -

10. Michael Santos, rhp, Giants

Michael Santos (Photo by Bill Mitchell).
Age: 19. B-T: R-R. Ht: 6-4. Wt: 170. Signed: Dominican Republic, 2012.

 One of the biggest surprises of the AZL season was the performance of Santos, who came into the league with four professional starts under his belt but came a late collapse away from winning the league ERA title. The Giants signed him for $250,000 in 2012 and held him out of action for most of two seasons so that he could build strength on his lanky but loose-armed, athletic body.

The Giants turned Santos loose this season, and he turned out to be one of the most impressive pitchers in the league. His 93 mph fastball already has plenty of life and he stands to add velocity as he fills out.

“If that fastball gets a couple of miles (per hour) on it, it’s going to be harder to be touched,” Giants manager Nestor Rojas said.

Santos can spin a curveball from 68-74 mph and consistently throw it for strikes. It’s an advanced pitch considering his experience level, and he will only add power. His changeup shows potential for being a third quality pitch. Like Keury Mella from last year’s AZL Giants team, Santos may be ready to move up to full-season ball for an encore.

'via Blog this'

SF Giants prospect Michael Santos | AZL Giants 2014

GIANT Potential 

Arizona Fall League Update

Before we get too deep in World Series minutiae.

Arizona Fall League Update 10/20 « Inside the San Jose Giants:
An update on former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:

Daniel Carbonell: .200 AVG (5-25), HR, 4 RBI
Blake Miller: .235 AVG (4-17), 2B, 3 RBI
Kelby Tomlinson: .043 AVG (1-23), RBI, 4 SB

Clayton Blackburn: 2 games, 0-0, 4.50 ERA (1 ER/2.0 IP), 0 BB, 1 SO
Tyler Mizenko: 1 game, 0-0, 13.50 ERA (1 ER/0.2 IP), 2 BB, 0 SO
Steven Okert: 4 games, 0-0, 1.50 ERA (1 ER/6.0 IP), 1 BB, 9 SO, 1 SV
Tyler Rogers: 3 games, 0-0, 0.00 ERA (0 ER/4.0 IP), 0 BB, 3 SO

'via Blog this'

Monday, October 20, 2014

Is Buster Posey the face of MLB? He's already "The Logo"

I thought he was well before these other "Johnny Come Lately's". Put me down for YES!!

from ESPN:

""Yeah," said Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans, flashing that very look. "I mean, when you talk about Derek Jeter, I don't know how Buster's story will be written or how history will play out in terms of his career, but he's certainly got a foundation for that.

When you think about what Jeter has stood for -- respect for the game, and playing the game the right way, and providing quiet leadership -- at some level, Buster has all those qualities."

Then, as this concept began to swirl around Evans' brain, he found himself checking one "Jeter-esque" box after another.

"You can't be a catcher on three postseason teams, like Buster has been, and not provide leadership," Evans said. "He's obviously a leader on the field and in the clubhouse, but the way he carries himself in the public is exemplary. Very dignified. Very strong family man. Well respected. Very professional with the media."

Right. Right. Right. Right. And right.

But hang on. There's more. Bobby Evans was just getting rolling.

"He loves the game," Evans went on. "He plays it hard. He's had MVP seasons. Won two World Series in a three-year span, with a chance to win a third. He was the rookie of the year. Won a batting title the year he won the MVP. Coming out of college, he won the Johnny Bench award and the Golden Spikes award. An All-Star, multiple times. And in terms of jersey sales, he and Jeter are one-two, I believe. So in terms of national popularity, he's got that national visibility. That's a lot of similarities."

Yeah, you might say that. In fact, he just did say that.

Posey was once the fifth pick in the first round of the amateur draft. Jeter was the sixth. Posey had an .866 OPS in his first five full seasons. Jeter had an .865 OPS in his."

Buster Posey Swing Analysis

Notre Dame is confused - FSU didn't get rewarded, Notre Dame got punished

“Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to be your ruin” – Aesop

Seems like there is a whole lot of confusion going on at Notre Dame lately. This is what happens when you sell your soul to the devil. You should know better and lead better. Shame on Notre Dame!!!

DUDE!!! I saw the play live and I said to myself, "Dang, TWO guys blocking / setting picks down field. Easy call." and I don't even officiate football. Kelly is freaking delusional. But he fits in well with the current culture down there at South Bend. 

from Bleacher Report:
Kelly: FSU's Blown Coverage 'Rewarded'
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was livid after a controversial offensive pass interference call wiped out the Irish's potential game-winning touchdown i...
Preview by Yahoo

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was livid after a controversial offensive pass interference call wiped out the Irish's potential game-winning touchdown in their 31-27 loss Saturday to Florida State. With a day to ruminate and further clarification provided by the officiating crew, reporters asked if he better understood the call Sunday.
Per Matt Fortuna of, Kelly said:
Actually I have less clarity. I guess it was actually called on Will Fuller, not C.J. (Prosise). So [it] just adds more uncertainty as to the final play. But again, the play itself, in terms of what we ask our kids to do, it was pretty clear what happened on the play: Florida State blew the coverage and they got rewarded for it. It's unfortunate.
However, ACC coordinator of football officials Doug Rhoads defended the crew's call Sunday. Rhoads specifically cites the wide receivers blocking downfield on a forward pass as a violation, noting that neither player attempted to run a route.
"Offensive players on passing plays are restricted from going downfield and blocking anytime from the snap," Rhoads said, per Zach Barnett of College Football Talk. "If the ball is first touched behind the line of scrimmage then that would be legal and it's okay, but if it's touched beyond the line then it's offensive pass interference."
But this is an institution that has been selling out for quit a while now, so why should anybody be surprised. I liked them better when they at least gave the impressions that they stood for something. They have not just lowered their standards lately as many in the "win at all costs crowd" clamored for, they have pile driven their standards into the ground. Shame on Notre Dame!!!

Notre Dame is confused
The University of Notre Dame has decided "to extend benefits to all legally married persons, including same-sex spouses…." Renowned Notre Dame law pro...
Preview by Yahoo

Renowned Notre Dame law professor Gerry Bradley has set out the civil law options Notre Dame could have pursued and Bp. Kevin Rhoades has put the university on notice that their decision does not seem commensurate with the duties Catholic institutions owe to Catholic (not to mention natural law) truths.

Honor Thy Opponent

"I have tried to teach them to show class, to have pride, and to display character. I think football, winning games, takes care of itself if you do that." -Paul Bear Bryant

Some good news...

Athletic Management : Momentum Media:

Honor Thy Opponent

In the Bakersfield, Calif., area, the issue of proper etiquette for when a player lays injured on the field took center stage recently. The discussion was spurred by fans of Liberty High School freshman team who became incensed when players from the Frontier High School team did not take a knee after a Liberty player lay on the turf and appeared to be unconscious.

Instead of dropping to a knee in solidarity with the Liberty players, the Frontier team was called to the sidelines--despite chants coming from the Liberty stands calling for the players to take a knee. But according to Frontier administrators, the team was behaving according to protocol.

"The protocol at Frontier High School is to stand respectfully and quietly on the sidelines while the injured opposing player is being attended to," Kern High School District spokeswoman Lisa Krch said in the email to the Bakersfield Californian. "No one is allowed to talk and there is no coaching at that time, either. During this particular incident, the Frontier coach saw an injured player and sent his student athletes to the sideline."

Adding to the discussion was Christopher Meyers, Director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics and a philosophy professor at Cal State Bakersfield, who called the tradition of taking a knee "a terrific expression of sportsmanship and respect."

"I am thrilled to see it moving out of youth sports into high school and collegiate athletics," Meyers said in an email to the Bakersfield Californian. "One of the key values of sports activity is the development and enhancement of character, as revealed in the virtues of honesty, honor and fair play.

"So long as 'taking a knee' is meant sincerely--and by every account, it appears to be--it is a wonderful example of exactly those virtues," Meyers continued. "Student-players should thus be encouraged, but not required, to participate and I would hope coaches would embrace the character-building opportunity it affords."

On a positive sportsmanship note, after losing to Copperas Cove (Tex.) High School, Ellison (Tex.) High School Head Coach Trent Gregory quickly gathered his emotions and called the opposing players over and asked them to huddle around them. The reason?
"I just wanted to thank them," Gregory told, "for showing respect to our team and our program and our school."
Gregory also shared words of encouragement as Copperas Cove prepared for a potential District 12-6A championship-deciding game in the coming week. The move caught the Bulldawgs off guard.
"That has never happened to me before," Copperas Cove senior linebacker Michael Sumrall said. "That is good sportsmanship. It shows that he doesn't just care about himself and his team but that he cares about others, including his opponents."
"It is not always about wins and losses," Gregory said. "We always want to win, but it is about growing young men with character to have respect for each other."
'via Blog this'

Giants receive residual dividend from Zito signing

I didn't always feel this way, but he was worth every penny and then some. Great story.

from MLB Trade Rumors:
Quick Hits: Ramirez, Hitting Coaches, Hudson, Zito – MLB Trade Rumors:
Barry Zito‘s seven-year contract with the Giants didn’t turn out so well, but he did help them land Tim Hudson, Ryan Hood of writes. When both pitchers were free agents last winter, Hudson called his former Athletics teammate to see what he thought of playing in San Francisco. “I said it’s a first-rate organization, from the top down,” says Zito, who assured Hudson that Giants fans had changed since the two pitchers had played together in Oakland. “Giants fans had a little more of a rep of just coming out for baseball games and not really having a die-hard presence and creating an intimidating atmosphere. It was very light. I told him 2010 changed everything.” Hudson posted a 3.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 189 1/3 innings for the Giants this season. Zito, meanwhile, says he determined in August 2013 that he would “take some time away from the game and focus on family.” He did not pitch this season.
'via Blog this'

I suppose the issue of whether Zito's contract turned out well or not depends on your perspective and on what it is specifically that you value in life. If you're purely measuring W-L's versus dollars and cents, then you know what, maybe you're right, it a was a horse-shit signing. The ESPN tag line used to be be "The games aren't played on the field, they're played inside a little TV box". Well, dad-gum it, you can't measure everything in life inside an excel spreadsheet.

Moneyball be damned!!!

Giants may have more than a World Series dividend coming their way soon

This is an interesting point and one that could keep the Giants strong for a long time. Another $15-20 million that can be allocated to payroll is another strong bat or a quality pitcher or two to add to the rotation. If they could only find a way to work that number into the 2015-16 budget. Might mean the difference between Panda staying or leaving. It would be tough to let him go if they win a third ring with him, budget concerns or not. And listen, we're not running any bake sales to raise money for Giants ownership. They've won at the cash register every bit as much as the Giants players have won on the field.

The stadium is a crown jewel of the franchise and the atmosphere, the dimensions allows them to attract players that allow them to continue being competitive. One feeds off the other.

from Chicago Sun-Times:
Giants weren’t always the model of baseball success - Chicago Sun-Times:
The $20 million annual debt service on the construction loan comes off the books in two years, and the idea of Sabean with money to spend can’t be comforting to his front-office rivals. But he probably will continue to mix and match — Hunter Pence and Travis Ishikawa were once Ellis Burks and Reggie Sanders — and trust his grossly competent manager, Bruce Bochy, to make it work.
'via Blog this'

Giants core strength

Giants rely on core of 4 relievers

The Giants not so secret weapon. Two lefties and two righties provide Bochy a ton of flexibility and maneuverability in the late innings. As we have seen lately it has allowed him to leave both Matt Williams and Mike Matheny lying in a cloud of second guessing the wake of their series with the Giants.

from Yahoo Sports:
Giants rely on core of 4 relievers - Yahoo Sports:
Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo are among the seven players who have played in all three postseason runs for San Francisco since 2010, providing stability to a role that can be so hard for some teams to fill come October.
'via Blog this'

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Giants "We Own the Pennant" T-Shirts Flying Off Shelves | CSN Bay Area

View image on Twitter

Sorry, maybe I don't fly as high as some birds on this, cool looking shirt, but the terminology is just BAD. You don't OWN the pennant. If you are fortunate, you rent/lease it on a yearly basis. We are going to play the 2015 season, right? And it will be an odd-numbered year, right? So unless we suspend the laws of math or change the way we count things in some weird-ass Common Core type of way, this is just Bad Karma, IMO.

Hopefully this doesn't bite the Gigantes on the ass, but I guess it already has/will since this crap is out there in the universe and junk. Maybe I just don't get it?
~;::::::;( )">  ¯\_( )_/¯

from CSN Bay Area:
Giants "We Own the Pennant" T-Shirts Flying Off Shelves | CSN Bay Area:
Get your orange on while you still can.

"We Own the Pennant" t-shirts were flying off store shelves within minutes of the San Francisco Giants winning the NL Championship series — a dramatic 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in game 5 Thursday night.
'via Blog this'

Friday, October 17, 2014

Planning, rehab went into Morse’s pinch home run | San Francisco Chronicle

That Bonds guy is going to be a pretty good hitting coach someday.  Good for Morse -- unlike Lincecum who continues to languish -- in that he helped his off-season stock tremendously. So much so, that the Giants may not be able to afford him. And Sandoval. And Romo. And Peavy. Well, maybe Vogie. But enjoy the moments while they last Giants fans because an odd number year soon comes this way. Sabean has some tough decisions with the payroll going forward and a bunch of money tied up in guys who have spent a lot of time in the training room and/or on the bench. ( Looking at Cain, Lincecum, Scutaro and Pagan - $55M or one third of the projected payroll )

from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Planning, rehab went into Morse’s pinch home run - San Francisco Chronicle:
Behind the scenes, not long before his at-bat, in the indoor cage a few steps below the Giants’ dugout, Morse had minor-league instructor Jose Alguacil, called up late in the season to throw batting practice, among other things, emulate Neshek’s delivery. He anticipated Neshek replacing starter Adam Wainwright, who worked seven innings.
So Alguacil dropped his arm slot and threw from the side, allowing Morse to see pitches from the distinctive angle, which he later cited as a reason he successfully saw Neshek’s slider (he also cited a pregame tip from Barry Bonds, who reminded Morse to get his front foot down.). Similarly, Morse had John Yandle, a left-handed batting practice pitcher, copy Randy Choate’s sidearm delivery during Game 4.
'via Blog this'

The accelerated education of one Joe Panik and the power of models


Just like in real estate, where it's all about comparables. Comparables, comparables, comparables!! Who is this guy like? It helps scouts to categorize and evaluate. It helps hitting instructors to evaluate and teach. It helps players to understand how to piece together and fix their game in order to advance.

All along the communication chain, the glue that holds everything together is comparables. It's like the scene in "The Graduate" where the old pro sidles up to young Dustin Hoffman and whispers the secret to success in the future: "Plastics". In the baseball version, he would whisper: "Comparables"

It also demonstrates the underrated power of mimicry in a player's development. Who is your model? Who do you mimic? Almost as much as the age-old "to be a champion, pick your parents well" mantra from the "It's in the genes crowd", in baseball which is not an athletic skill dominated sport, it's indeed more important to "pick your models well". JMO. Plus, you can't really well "pick your parents" but you can pick your nose and your models, that's for sure.

The commentators were fleshing out the story last night of how Panik picked Wade Boggs as a hitting model such that even though he did everything else right-handed, he hit left-handed and wondered aloud what might have been if he had modeled Derek Jeter instead. Well picked, Joe Panik. Well picked

This is, once again, a beauty from Grant Brisbee over at McCovey Chronicles.

from McCovey Chronicles:
The Giants won the pennant, and here's video proof - McCovey Chronicles:

Joe Panik

The transcendent story of how Panik hit the first home run was first relayed by Gregor Blanco after the game. Blanco said that Panik kept watching video of Bill Mueller demolishing Mariano Rivera's cutter. Look at that video, all grainy and 10 years old. Now picture Panik hunkered down in the clubhouse and watching it over and over and over again. What was he looking for? How Mueller's arms came in, or how he kept his head still? Here's a still shot of the homer:



The Giants were having great at-bats against Adam Wainwright at one point. His fastball was up, and the Giants were hitting it hard. That slowly started to slip away, and after two quick outs, Gregor Blanco singled. That allowed Panik to channel that Mueller magic.
Reminder: Mueller is one of my all-time favorite Giants. He dabbled in Dodgers at the end of his career, but I still dig his early stuff. I still listen to my Police albums without feeling weird about it. And I've been screaming for as long as Panik's been up that he had Mueller's left-handed swing. I'm a stridently terrible baseball analyst, so I didn't expect anyone to listen, but it's all I could think of over the first two weeks Panik was up.
Someone in the Giants organization saw the same thing. Someone sidled up and told Panik that he had a Bill Mueller swing and it stuck with him. Or maybe Panik's known it for years. However it happened, it led to Panik watching ancient video of his forefathers to see how to hit a danged cutter.
That video helped Panik hit a dinger in the NLCS game that sent the Giants to the World Series.

'via Blog this'

The REAL REASON why these Giants WIN in OCTOBER! - They play a GREAT second fiddle - Ishikawa's walk to a walk-off

'It takes more grace than I can tell
To play the second fiddle well.'

Wait, What!?!? What does that mean? Second fiddle? We're not talking about the opera here, we're talking about baseball, right? Let me explain, but first here is Bumgarner's quote about winning the NLCS MVP immediately after the game. Sure, everyone says this kind of stuff, yeah, yeah....but this team is full of guys like this that defer credit to their teammates.

from Giants Extra:
POSTGAME NOTES: Morse makes good on Bum's call; Ishikawa has "career-defining" moment; Affeldt shows off the wheels - Giants Extra:
"— Madison Bumgarner gave up a couple of homers but got through the eighth, and that helped the Giants immensely. You could tell tonight that the bullpen was gassed. For that, and for Game 1, Bumgarner was named NLCS MVP.
“I’m truly thankful and honored for that,” he said. “I don’t think you can go wrong, you can pick anybody. We had so many guys play a big part in every game.”
Bumgarner picked up the trophy on the stage. And then he picked up six beers, one more than the last round …"
'via Blog this'

This is a team that lives and breathes the Leonard Bernstein quote above and those who are musically inclined probably know where I'm going with this, but remember how the Fox announcers gushed at how hard it was to get Buster Posey to talk about himself, he wouldn't do it he was so busy deflecting credit to his teammates and felt more comfortable talking about them rather than himself.


It's the epitome of that elusive quality called team chemistry and it's the reason why the Giants win in October even though the pundits, the so-called experts downplay their chances for success. The Giants have great second fiddlers and everyone is looking at the first violin players.

The conductor of a symphony orchestra was once asked what is the most difficult instrument to play. He responded, "Second violin. I can find plenty of first violinists, but to find someone who can play second violin with enthusiasm -- that is a problem. And if we have no second violin, we have no harmony.

The Background:
'It takes more grace than I can tell
To play the second fiddle well.'
                  A statement attributed to the late Leonard Bernstein, the famous conductor of the New York Philharmonic, states: 'The hardest instrument in the orchestra to play is second fiddle.'
            A fellow named Bo Bradham attended a fiddle camp in September of 1996 and wrote about that experience.  The story is recounted of a fiddler from Texas named Randy Elmore who was at a 'jam session' the first night of camp.  Bo states that [Randy] sat there quietly, and every time Mark [O'Conner, an accomplish fiddler in his own right] played a tune, Randy was right there with the second fiddle part.  'Playing second fiddle' has become synonymous with being out of the limelight, not the lead dog, but you know and I know just how hard it is to do, and how uncommon it is for someone to be really good at it.  Moreover, it speaks volumes about someone to volunteer for that difficult but unglamorous part.  I was intrigued by Bo's statement so I contacted Randy Elmore in order to get an understanding of what it means to play second fiddle.[2] 
I was fascinated to learn that the fiddle and the violin are the exact same instrument.  The only difference between them, however, is the musician and the music being played on the instrument.  For example, the instrument is called a violin when the musician plays classical music in an orchestra at Carnegie Hall.  The same instrument is called a fiddle when the musician plays Bluegrass music or other 'non-classical- music for events such as a square dance, or a ho-down, at the State Fair.
The person playing first fiddle plays the melody.  This is the tune that people know and the audience listens for at a concert.  Mr. Elmore chuckled when he said that, in reality, the first fiddle is the boring part because the fiddler only plays the melody and should not deviate from it.  The second fiddle, on the other hand, plays the harmony.  Mr. Elmore thought this was the fun part because the fiddler could be creative with the harmony and do fancy finger work.  This is the harder part because the fiddler must know how to harmonize the music as well as play higher notes as he moves his fingers up the throat of the fiddle.  It takes much practice to play this part well.  The purpose of the second fiddle is to play a supporting role and compliment the first fiddle, thus making the first fiddle look and sound good.  The audience does not realize that the second fiddler is playing his heart out in order to make the first fiddler look good; yet the second fiddler does not get any credit for what is played.  Thus, this part is unglamorous.
The irony of the moment is not lost on me that this arrived in my mailbox today and it might seem as if I am "forcing" the theme somewhat. I receive a quarterly hard copy of the series in advance via snail mail and had read ahead into mid_October and bookmarked this passage specifically for further research.

To see the details play themselves out in such dramatic fashion was to say the least serendipitous.

This as well. Travis Ishikawa shows once again the eternal beauty of the game. You can indeed go home again. Such a great story of perseverance and faith.

HD Travis Ishikawa Gives His Testimony at SF Giants Fellowship Day 8/16/14 AT&T Park

I know Mrs. TheSlav had a soft sport in her heart for Travis after we read a blurb about his incredible journey back home. And it culminates in this, Ishikawa's walk to his walk-off, what an incredible story.


Ishikawa's walk-off homer

Baseball was and is about redemption after losses, even devastating losses. It’s the game that is most like life. It is a game of children played by adults. In what other sport can you get a hit only one try out of three, failing two thirds of the time, and end up in a Hall of Fame? None. None that I know of. Thank goodness life is more like baseball than football. In what other sport can you fail magnificently, completely, repeatedly, in double digits, and still go on to win a world championship?
 Most of us cannot identify with transcendent athletes like a Michael Jordan or a Deion Sanders, or an Albert Pujols. They are way beyond our reach or pay grade. But if you love baseball, you can dream of being little Ryan Theriot, a good fielder. Or an Eric Hinske. The thing about baseball is it really does confirm to you that even the ordinary person under extraordinary circumstances can do the extraordinary, can transcend the mundane and shine for a moment.
Well last night, our faith in humanity was restored once again. The Cards did not merely beat the long odds… they stomped that sucker flat. They refused to die, refused to quit, refused to give up. Sometimes athletes just go through the motions, day after day. They have lost their joy of playing, lost the child-like glee in doing something well for its own sake. Not so in this World Series. Both those teams to a man let it all hang out and left it on the field. They did not play like professionals. They played like kids (see the picture above). They played like Ernie Banks did, who once said “let’s play two”.
Our country and our American culture has become much coarser over the span of my lifetime. When I was a child, you could never see WWF body destroying bloodsport on TV. You would never glorify taunting. Indeed you could be kicked off a team for bad sportsmanship. Today however it is not about ‘how you play the game’. It’s all about just win baby, at any cost— even at the cost of cheating with drugs, or deliberate attempts to harm someone else by throwing your body at them.
But frankly, life is not all about winning at any and all costs. It’s about character, shown even when no one is watching. It’s about the good, the true, the beautiful. It’s about sportsmanship, about caring about others. It’s about not even wanting to win unless it could be done in the right and moral way. It’s even about loving your noble and worthy adversaries.
We got glimpses of the good, the true, and the beautiful during this World Series if you were watching. Both teams left their hearts and souls out there on the field, for the good of the common cause. They knew the game was not about them as individuals so much as it was about the good of the team. Baseball is a morality play…. not a video game. But then life is a morality play as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Just the Giants being the Giants and A.J. being A.J.(ackwagon)

This is the worst acting job EVER. But the ump FELL for it. EPIC FLOP!!

You have to give it to A.J. - he is a top of the line ass-clown. He goes for the ball, then he remembers the rule, so OOPS, down goes A.J. Given that this is in slow motion, there is still a considerable delayed reaction. Hopefully, he'll take his con job back to booth real soon. Some have said that Matt Adams looks like the consummate beer-league softball player, and he looked like it on some of those throws, but A.J. IS that guy on the other team that just annoys the living S&*T out of you.

“If you play against him, you hate him. If you play with him, you hate him a little less.”- Ozzie Guillen

from the New York Post:

Giants keep conjuring up October magic | New York Post:

The Giants continue to win without home runs — they have two this postseason — but they do get contributions from so many different players and Wednesday night was no different. They put the pressure on the Cardinals and the Cardinals wilted, this time first baseman Matt Adams made two shaky throws in the Giants’ three-run sixth inning. Third base coach Tim Flannery said the Giants lead baseball in RTIs, “Runs Thrown In,’’ and this night was no different, one game after Cardinals reliever Randy Choate threw away the game on a bunt. Though these gritty Giants don’t win pretty, give them credit for fighting back.
'via Blog this'

It would be funny if both of the long shots entering the post-season end up in the World Series. Because the Royals played giddy up to get there, they wait and line up their starting rotation. The Giants, if tonight ends it, place Bumgarner at the end of the World Series rotation. That's the bad news, the good news is you're in the World Series, a trade-off I think the Giants will make. It would almost be better if the Royals have to sit and wait a week, but only the Cardinals want that option to play out at this point. For the Giants to get their druthers means a Game 7 in St. Louis.

Our ace on the hill, at home with the chance to advance to the World Series - If you had told me two months ago this would be where the Giants would be sitting, I would have said you were crazy. But here we are.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fun with Statistics II

These statistics are cumulative for the entire playoffs, not just this series but some things still stand out as trends.

For the Giants:

  • Posey is hitting well, but no pop. A .665 OPS and zero HR's.
  • Giants 2 HR's versus Cardinals 12 and the Cards were not a big HR hitting team. Biggest difference in the series so far, Giants power has left the building. The Cardinals power is surging. THAT trend needs to be reversed and reversed FAST.
  • Neither team steals bases. Giants 2-5. Cards 0-1. Station to station. 
  • Giants 27 BB's versus Cardinals 13 BB's. Who would've thought of the Giants as the more disciplined, patient hitters?
  • Pence's .639 OPS stands out almost as much as Posey's low-OPS playoffs. 
  • Brandon Belt is a walking machine at this point who, when he does choose to swing, does quite a bit of damage. 
  • Ishikawa is sooooooo close to shedding that utility-man label. Another signature moment with the bat like last night might do the trick. 
  • That would leave the Giants with a plethora of 1B/LF candidates for next year, but we'll deal with that next year. 
  • I love Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford for their defense, but the fact that the Giants are winning with the lead-off guy hitting .111 with a .179 OBA and Crawford hitting .188 is amazing. Bochy for the HOF indeed!! It is the playoffs and SSS, but still. 
  • By contrast, the Cardinals lead-off hitter (Carpenter) sports a .333 OBA and their 2nd hitter (Jay) comes in at .579 OBA. Ours is Blanco at .179 OBA and Panik .282 OBA. THAT trend needs to be reversed and reversed FAST.

Ryan Vogelsong120100000100.500.500.5001.000
Michael Morse220100000000.500.500.5001.000
Andrew Susac220100000000.500.500.5001.000
Tim Hudson230100000100.333.333.333.667
Brandon Belt8284900167601.321.444.429.873
Pablo Sandoval83561130013600.314.385.400.785
Buster Posey83631100022201.306.359.306.665
Travis Ishikawa8211620042300.286.348.381.729
Joe Panik8373901022100.
Hunter Pence8335830023611.242.306.333.639
Brandon Crawford8324610153800.188.250.313.563
Juan Pérez7121200001100.
Gregor Blanco8361400023410.
Jake Peavy230000000000.
Yusmeiro Petit110000000000.
Joaquín Árias110000010000.
Madison Bumgarner390000001500.
Gary Brown110000000100.
Matt Duffy440000000100.

from the Cardinals:

  • Aside from the occasional bolts of lightning, Holliday, Adams, Grichuk and Perlata are really struggling, as was Molina with the bat before he went down. 
  • The offense is almost being carried by John Jay, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong. 
  • They Giants have to shut down Wong's power. 
  • Matt Carpenter is really, really, really underrated as a hitter. One of the toughest outs in the league IMO. He puts some quality AB's out there on a consistent basis and like Panik, I think suffers in that you have to see him for an extended period of time to really appreciate him. 

Jon Jay72231100011201.500.577.5001.077
Oscar Taveras552200110100.400.4001.0001.400
Matt Carpenter7295930481900.310.333.8281.161
Yadier Molina6212510000300.
Kolten Wong6212521251400.238.273.714.987
Jhonny Peralta7232510014500.217.333.261.594
Randal Grichuk72735002311000.185.214.407.622
Matt Holliday7284500131500.
Matt Adams7234400254400.174.296.435.731
A.J. Pierzynski140000000100.
John Lackey230000000100.
Adam Wainwright220000000100.
Lance Lynn240000000300.
Peter Bourjos420000000100.
Daniel Descalso210000000000.
Shelby Miller110000000100.
Pete Kozma250000000300.
Tony Cruz220000000200.
Marco Gonzales200000000000N/A.000N/A.000

Giants Top Minor League Prospects

  • 1. Kyle Crick 6-4,220 RHP Power pitcher in the Matt Cain mold. High K-rate comes with High BB-rate. Low 90's FB with sink. Can be a top of the rotation starter once command/control issues ironed out. Mechanics are sound.
  • 2. Tyler Beede 6-4, 215 RHP from Vanderbilt projects as top of the rotation starter
  • 3. Clayton Blackburn 6-3, 220 RHP Good low 90's FB with sink, excellent command of stuff, good secondary pitches. His 8.64 K/BB ratio is off the charts efficient.
  • 4. Ty Blach 6-1, 210 LHP Glavine comps will give him a chance to rise fast.
  • 5. Daniel Carbonell 6-2, 215 Cuban signee, speedy, switch-hitting CF with power potential. Could be a five-tool player if he hits.
  • 6. Chris Stratton 6-3, 185 RHP Mississippi State Decent four-pitch mix, solid pitching frame. Can run FB to 94 MPH with movement. Throws SL/CB, with the slider the better of the two.
  • 7. Mac Williamson 6-4, 240 OF Wake Forest grad with five-tool potential if he hits advanced pitching.
  • 8. Derek Law 6-2, 210 RHP power arm with some deceptiveness in his delivery, copuld be a dark horse to contribute in 2014
  • 9. Adalberto Mejia 6-3,195 LHP Throws strikes and mixes pitches well. Good secondary stuff, projects as middle rotation guy. Keeps ball down and gets outs.
  • _10. Kendry Flores 6-2, 175 RHP very efficient pitcher, could also move fast
  • _11. Matt Duffy 6-2, 170 SS from Long Beach State is turning heads with quick bat, good command of strike zone, gap power hitter at best, good base runner with average speed.
  • _12. Steven Okert 6-3, 210 LHP Oklahoma product, another power lefty prospect.
  • _13. Keury Mella 6-2, 200 RHP Dominican signee is really opening eyes with a nice power arm
  • _14. Joan Gregorio 6-7, 180 RHP potential closer material
  • _15. Aramis Garcia 6-2, 220 C from Florida INTL projects as a good bat behind the dish with enough defensive skill to play there long-term
  • _16. Luis Ysla 6-1, 185 LHP from Venezeula cruises at 92-94MPH snd touches 97 on occasion, max effort delivery concerns, iffy slider, projects as reliever.
  • _17. Gustavo Cabrera 6-0, 190 OF INTL signee, 16 year-old compared to Justin Upton. Injuries slowed his progress in 2014
  • _18. Martin Agosta 6-1, 180 RHP FB up to 94 mph with some sink. Plus secondary stuff, shows ability to mix pitches.
  • _19. Christian Arroyo 6-1, 180 SS very efficient with the bat, good hitting approach, test will be how he handles advanced pitching
  • _20 Ryder Jones 6-2, 200 3B polished bat with some pop. Good athleticism for the corner IF

2014 Top MLB College Draft Prospects

  • 1. Michael Matuella 6-6, 225 RHP Duke Nice four pitch mix, mid 90's FB and 12-6 CB. Potential top of first rounder.
  • 2. Nathan Kirby 6-2, 185 LHP Virginia Dominant starter, 92-93 MPH FB and power curve ball. Added an effective change-up.
  • 3. Carson Fullmer 6-0 RHP Vanderbilt Mid 90's FB compliments effective breaking ball and change-up for effective three pitch mix.
  • 4. Riley Ferrell 6-1, 200 RHP TCU closer for TCU upper 90's FB touches 98-99. Nasty high 80's slider makes him virtually unhittable as closer, can transition to starter
  • 5. Alex Bregman 5-11, 180 2B/SS LSU BS Freshman of Year in 2013 has all the tools, instinctive player.
  • 6. Kyle Funkhouser 6-3, 205 RHP Louisville FB cruises at 92-94 and touches 97.
  • 7. Walker Buehler 6-1, 170 RHP Vanderbilt Low 90's FB and competitive streak, will compliment Fullmer at top of rotation for defending champs.
  • 8. Kyle Cody 6-7, 245 RHP Kentucky Fastball sits at 93-96, 3:1 K/BB ratio in Cape Cod League, secondary stuff needs work
  • 9. Cody Pence 6-6, 240 RHP Cal Poly Pomona Nice four pitch mix, 95-96 MPH FB, plus cutter and curve
  • _10. Ian Happ 5-11, 190 OF Cincinnati Switch hitter with compact, line drive stroke, hard-nosed, high energy player
  • _11. Gio Brusa 6-3, 190 OF Pacific Switch hitter with above average power
  • _12. Phil Bickford 6-4, 200 RHP Cal State Fullerton (??) Good FB, power curve ball mix.
  • _13. Marc Brakeman 6-1 180 RHP Stanford 90-95 MPH FBm 47:7 K/BB ration in Cape Cod League, good swing and miss change and slider
  • _14. Richie Martin 5-10, 170 SS Florida Athletic ING with good speed and arm strength
  • _15. C.J. Hinojosa 5-11, 180 SS Texas Good instincts, confident player. Good arm, fringy power bat
  • _16. Kevin Newman 6-1, 180 SS Arizona Back to back Cape batting titles. Average arm, speed, controls strike zone well
  • _17. Alex Young 6-3, 200 LHP TCU Low 90's FB and slider, two pitch mix, projects as a starter
  • _18. Steven Duggar 6-2, 190 OF Clemson Good speed 6.3 60yd, good bat speed from left side. Potential five-tool guy
  • _19. Kyle Twoney 6-3, 170 LHP USC Easy delivery, good FB command 94 MPH FB
  • _20. Kevin Duchene 6-2, 205 LHP Illinois High 80's FB with nice change, strike thrower, repeatable delivery, good mound presence

2014 MLB Draft - Top National HS Players

  • 1. Justin Hooper 6-7, 230 LHP De La Salle HS (CA) 6-6 athletic lefty with mid-90's FB.
  • 2. Kolby Allard 6-2, 175 LHP San Clements HS (CA) easy mid 90's FB tops at 95MPH, good command with plus breaking ball and change
  • 3. Mike Nikoriak 6-4, 205 RHP Stroudsburg HS (PA) FB sits at 94-96 with sionk. CB is inconsistent. QB prospect with Alabama commit.
  • 4. Ashe Russell 6-4, 200 RHP Cathedral Catholis HS (IN) FB that sits at 92-94 and tops at 95 with average potential breaking ball. Could rise fast.
  • 5. Beau Burrows 6-1, 200 Weatherford HS (TX) RHP FB workable breaking ball and change. FB sits at 94, tops at 96 with tilt. Texas A&M commit.
  • 6. Brendan Rogers 6-0, 195 SS Lake Mary HS (FL) Good spped and power, amooth, athletic IF. Florida State commit.
  • 7. Daz Cameron 6-1, 185 OF Eagles Landing HS (GA) Athletic and toolsy player with power and speed. Son of Mike Cameron.
  • 8. Kyle Tucker 6-3,190 OF Plant HS (FL) Solid CF who can hit. Florida commit.
  • 9. Nick Plummer 5-10, 200 OF Bloomington Brother Rice (MI) Physical, athletic lefty hitter with good bat speed.
  • Austin Riley 6-3, 220 RHP/INF DeSoto Central HS (MS) Two-way player and FB prospect as QB, FB touches 92-94 has power potential with bat from right side.
  • Chandler Day 6-4, 162 RHP Watkins Memorial HS (OH) solid 93 MPH FB
  • Chris Betts 6-2, 220 C Wilson HS (CA) Plus pure arm strength, arm stroke gets long for a catcher. needs work receiving, above average raw power from left side. Tennessee commit.
  • Cole McKay 6-5, 215 RHP Smithson Valley HS (TX) Strong frame, power pitcher with some feel for pitching. 92-94 FB with late stuff. Curve and change are both above-average with sink to the change. Louisiana State commit.
  • Corey Zangari 6-4, 230 RHP Carl Albert HS (OK) Also a catcher, his FB cruise at mid 90's and tops at 97. Breaking ball has potential but lacks consistency. Oklahoma State commit.
  • Devin Davis 6-2, 210 1B/OF Valencia HS (CA) Two-way player who leads with the power bat. Hitting ability is advanced with natural power leverage in his stroke. Loyola Marymount commit.
  • Hunter Bowling 6-7, 215 LHP American Heritage HS (FL) Great pitcher's build, projectible body. FB touches 93 MPH wit downward tilt. Slider is average, Florida commit.
  • Luken Baker 6-4, 245 RHP/OF Oak Ridge HS (TX) Big, strong, physical two-way player. 94 MPH FB with extreme power bat. TCU commit.
  • Ryan Johnson 6-3, 200 OF College Station HS (TX) Good bat speed and power bat. TCU commit.
  • Sati Santa Cruz 6-3, 230 RHP Sahaurita HS (AZ) Physical, power pitcher challenges hitters with a heavy FB that sits low 90's and touches 95. Secondary stuff needs work. Arizona commit.
  • Thomas Szapucki 6-2,185 LHP Dwyer HS (FL) Three pitch arsenal with deceptive delivery. FB is low 90's with 93 top. Slider can show above average, with a workable change.
  • Wyatt Cross 6-3, 190 C Legacy HS (CO) One of the stronger arms behind the plate, plus pop time. Good strength and athleticism. North Carolina commit.
  • _10. Donny Everett 6-2, 220 RHP Clarksville HS (TN) Power pitcher tops at 96 MH FB

2015 Top Tampa Bay Area High School Baseball Players

  • Jake Woodford RHP Plant HS Florida commit.
  • Kyke Tucker 6-3, 175 OF Plant HS Good pure hitter and defensive OF. Solid skills across the board. Florida commit.

2015 Top MLB HS Draft Prospects (NW Suburban Chicago Area)

  • Bradley Parchute RHP Marengo HS
  • Brandon Krennrich C Johnsburg HS Kentucky commit.
  • Jake Esp RHP Marmion Academy