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Written by Andy | 22 March 2011

Holy Cow!  Cubs....um....

Well, sometimes they win.  Like when they play the Padres in the last week of the season.  And Carlos Marmol is awesome.  We love Carlos Marmol.  Here is my ideal lineup:

1. Buster Posey C
2. Will Clark 1B
3. Barry Bonds LF
4. Babe Ruth RF
5. Roy Hobbs DH
6. Willie Mays CF
7. Jeff Kent circa 2000 2B
8. Matt Williams circa 1994 3B
9. Miguel Tejada circa never SS
10. Carlos Marmol P

The Cubs got better in the offseason with the additions of Carlos Pena and Matt Garza, and the renewed efforts to rid themselves of the Curse of the Billy Goat, which as I've mentioned before, involves a man who took a live goat to a game and got pissed off when he was asked to leave.  In all seriousness, the Cubs should be improved.  They have some young players who could have breakout years, including Tyler Colvin, who survived being impaled by a broken bat.  They have good pitching.  They were good in the stretch run under then-interim and now-permanent manager Mike Quade. 

Oh, who are we kidding.  They're the Cubs. 

In general, I don't feel like the wild card is going to come out of the NL Central.  The Cardinals lost Wainwright, Greineke is already hurt, though not badly, and the Reds don't scare me.  Still, this could be a fantastic four-team race and Giants fans should pay attention.  If we win the West and the wild card comes out of our division, we're probably playing the winner of the NL Central in the first round.

Do you like the Cubs?  Do you find them loveable or annoying?  Do you like their ivy-covered death trap walls?  Comment below, after the inevitable spam comment that I've been getting that always reads like this:
Subject: great post
that was a great post you can buy designer wrist watches for American $$300 or less one time only she will love it

Expectation:    5-4 or 6-3
Second Choice:  5-4?  I'd rather we not go 4-5...
Worst Case Scenario:  An accident involving a goat, Jonathan Sanchez's throwing arm, and a gatorade cooler hurled by Carlos Zambrano.

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Written by Andy | 21 March 2011

The Houston Astros are good at many things, but playing baseball isn't one of them.  For instance:

Things the Houston Astros Are Good At:
1. Not winning the world series (aren't we smug now that we won one?)
2. Locating trains inside their stadium
3. Locating flag poles inside their outfield
4. Renaming their stadium to avoid humiliating PR
5. De-Uglifying their uniforms to recover from a shameful past.

I mean, those old Astro uniforms were UGLY.  And that makes the de-uglification process that much more complicated and delicate.  First you have to remove the colors that aren't really colors but rather approximations of actual colors.  Then you have to remove 90-100% of your horizontal stripes.  And you have to reduce the size of your star so you don't look like a star-bellied sneetch.  It's tough.  So I give them credit.

I'm not sure about having a pole in the middle of the outfield.  Seems like one day, that particular ballpark quirk is going to result in somebody becoming dead, and in general I'm of the opinion that ballpark quirks should strive to avoid being lethal.  But to each his own, I guess.

The train is just annoying, but luckily the Astros don't hit that many homeruns anymore so we don't have to worry about it much.

As for not winning the World Series...well, the Astros are even more skilled than that.  They have never even won a World Series game.  Very few teams can say that.  The Rangers and Rays have won one each, but they both look at the Astros and sneer, and refuse to invite them to their weenie roasts, in part because of the stars on their bellies. 

Last year we started 7-0 against the Astros including three wins against Roy Oswalt.  We lost the last two games which just goes to show you that baseball is not a game of small sample sizes being representative.  The Astros went on a little tear at the end of the season to finish with a respectable record, but some of that was misleading...by all accounts, they were lucky to win 75 games and probably won't do that again, especially since they'll have several fewer months of Roy Oswalt.

In a weird scheudling quirk, we don't play the Astros until mid-August, at which point we play them 7 times in 9 days.  That's a lot of Astros all at once. 

Expectation:  5-2, maybe even 6-1
Second Choice:  4-3, maybe even 5-2
Worst Case Scenario:  Andres Torres collides with the pole and without his appendix to cushion the impact, loses his spleen and maybe a kidney or three.

Ten days until baseball season.  Doesn't really feel real, does it?  Maybe if I say it some more.  Ten days until baseball season.  Ten days until baseball season.  Ten days until....what?  Brian Wilson is hurt?  Oh #$#%. 

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Written by Andy | 20 March 2011

This email showed up in my inbox today, courtesy of 24 Days of Magic staffer Seth:

"Huff will make his first start of the spring in left field Sunday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports.
Spin:
The Giants appear to be seriously considering Brandon Belt to play first base on Opening Day, so the decision to get Huff some added work in left field this spring makes a lot of sense. Even if Belt doesn't make the Opening Day roster, it's likely that Huff will end up having to play left eventually."

And this, courtesy of The Mercury News:
"He's done nothing but impress me," said Tim Lincecum

I still don't know if it's going to happen.  It didn't happen for Posey.  Forget the machinations of having to drop or trade Ishikawa/Schierholtz/Rowand, or the loss of a year of control over Belt's future by bringing him up for a couple extra months....the bottom line is that Brandon Belt is not going to start the year on the big league team to ride the bench.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with a Texas-style rotation...and that's not such a bad thing.

The rotation would be Belt, Huff, Ross, and Burrell sharing three spots.  That's not the end of the world.  Burrell doesn't need to play 7 days a week.  Huff could use a day off per week to rest.  And we still don't know if we're getting Cody "oh crap the ball is going over my head!" Ross or Cody "How you like me now, Doc Halladay?" Ross.

But then there's DeRosa, too.

Luckily I have the solution to all this:
Make Mark DeRosa younger, and let him play shortstop.
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Written by Andy | 19 March 2011

Since you're all watching basketball, I'd like to take this opportunity to say some things that I don't want anyone to know about.  And it's fine, because you're watching basketball.  If a tree falls in the forest, you know?  Same idea.

Ahem.

-I don't think I would be friends with Brian Wilson if we went to the same school or something.

-Do you think we spend too much time thinking and talking about baseball and not enough time fighting The Man and feeding the poor? 

-I was a loyal, good Giants fan during the Braves and Phillies series', confident that we would blow it somehow.  Same with game 1 of the World Series.  But after we beat Cliff Lee, I admit....I thought we would win.  I know, I know.  Bad.  But I was right, so it's ok.

- Aaron Rowand really sucks.

-I have no faith in my bracket, despite my repeated insistence to my wife that by watching basketball I'm actually "working" since I could win us $10,000 on Yahoo Sports Tournament Pick 'Em.

-I don't like "Let Timmy Smoke" shirts.  If I had my choice between wearing one of those or wearing a Dodger shirt....well....you're watching basketball, right?  I really don't like those shirts.  And I think it should be legal.  But just because something is legal doesn't mean you have to do it.  For instance:

THINGS THAT ARE LEGAL BUT MAYBE YOU SHOULDN'T DO THEM
-Making out with Mat Latos
-Eating Squash
-Refusing to give your seat up on BART to an old pregnant lady
-Picking Belmont to the sweet 16
-Putting a dress on your cat

-I think we're going to lose on Opening Day to the Fodgers.  I just do.  But the good thing is, it's only one game.  So it's no big deal.

-I write this blog not for the love of writing or the Giants but for the money and the groupies.  So I'm a little frustrated.
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Written by Andy | 16 March 2011

A topical look at the NL West....

FIRST ROUND
1. Defending World Champs
16. East Coast Media Bias

8. We resigned Ted Lilly!  Now we're going to be great!
9. We upgraded our bullpen by signing a guy named "Putz"

5. Tulo!  Cargo!  Tulo!  Cargo!
12. Maybe Matt Cain will be bad this year?

4. We're going to cheat this year even more.  We'll be 81-0 at home.  Try and stop us.
13. Look!  We have a pool in right field!

6. We have seriously upgraded our offense except for the part where we lost our best player
11. Huff and Torres wll regress to the statistical norm, thus resulting in losing 20 more games.

3. Law of averages says you usually don't repeat.  Something bad will happen.
14. Arizona Diamondbacks.  2011 NL West Champions

7. Matt Kemp might dump Rihanna and become good again
10. Maybe Buster Posey will get caught snorting cocaine and steroids?

2. Mat Latos and Luke Gregerson
15. What if Tejada gets hurt and Fontenot is the SS?  Or worse, what if Tejada is healthy?

SECOND ROUND

1. Defending World Champs
8. We resigned Ted Lilly!  Now we're going to be great!

5. Tulo!  Cargo!  Tulo!  Cargo!
13. Look!  We have a pool in right field!

11. Huff and Torres wll regress to the statistical norm, thus resulting in losing 20 more games.
3. Law of averages says you usually don't repeat.  Something bad will happen.

7. Matt Kemp might dump Rihanna and become good again
2. Mat Latos and Luke Gregerson

SWEET 16

1. Defending World Champs
5. Tulo!  Cargo!  Tulo!  Cargo!

3. Law of averages says you usually don't repeat.  Something bad will happen.
2. Mat Latos and Luke Gregerson

ELITE 8
1. Defending World Champs
2. Mat Latos and Luke Gregerson

NL WEST REGION CHAMPIONS:

1. Defending World Champs

FINAL FOUR
West:  Defending World Champs
East:  Best Rotation Ever!  Blah blah blah!
East Part 2: RedSoxYankees
East Part 3: YankeesRedSox

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Written by Andy | 15 March 2011

Is Brooks Conrad still on the team?
Yesssssssss.

Where do you fall on the Brooks Conrad sympathy scale?  In my experience, there are approximately four camps.

1) That was the greatest thing to ever happen, like, ever.  If only the relay throw from the outfield had hit him in the back of the head on the way to the plate, too.
2) The Giants won and that's all that matters, but I do feel sorry for that guy.
3) I'm glad we won, but sheesh.  Poor guy.
4) I wish we hadn't won like that.

People in Camp 1 need to learn to sympathize with the plight of others.  People in Camp 4 need to be beaten with a stick by people in Camp 1 after they finish sympathy training.  I can live with Camps 2 and 3.

Anyway, yes, we have to play the Braves again this year.  Only now they have Dan Uggla, a man who hit something like 13 homeruns against the Giants in a four-game series in San Francisco last summer.  Of course, they no longer have Fred McGriff who finally retired last year.  They also don't have Bobby Cox which means the games should go faster as they will be less likely to be interrupted by a hissy fit.

Where are you on the Bobby Cox legacy scale?  I think there are four camps here, too.

1) I honor and respect a great manager and beloved man.
2) He was a good manager but I don't really care.
3) Dude beat his wife.  Why are we happy about him exactly?
4) I think we can all appreciate the contradictions in any man.  Certainly Bobby Cox battled his own demons, be they alcohol, anger management, and/or a sense of entitlement.  But that doesn't mean we can't also appreciate and celebrate his accomplishments as a....hey!  Where are you going!?  I'm still pontificating!

I think Camp 1 watches too much TV.  I also would like to say that I would never beat my wife, and that would still be true even if I were capable of accomplishing said beating.

Moving on.

The Braves.  Right.  Good team.  Wild Card contender.  Big games.

We have to play them four times in August in Atlanta.  Great.  It's going to be 145 degrees.  Pablo will lose 30 more pounds in those four days alone and end up anemic.

Expectation:  Win 4 out of 7
Second Choice:  Hear the Tomahawk Chop as little as possible
Worst Case Scenario:  Bobby Cox runs onto the field and mistakes Timmy for his wife.  Stop, Bobby!  He's got a moustache!  He's a man!

I apologize to everyone I have offended.
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Written by Andy | 15 March 2011

Great story about Timmy, including all-important details regarding his dad picking up Cy's poop.  Bad news...that jerk Drew is still hanging around with Timmy, taking up my rightful spot as his video-game friend. 

http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/little-big-man/

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Written by Andrew Hanauer | 14 March 2011

One of the discussions I hear a lot among Giants fans is whether or not I should have written "amongst" rather than "among."  My wife would have an opinion.  She's some sort of dictionary nerd.  No, seriously, the discussion I hear revolves around bandwagon Giants fans.  First it was a problem when we moved into the new park and suddenty going to Giants games became socially doable rather than a harrowing 7-hour experience that involved driving through a rough neighborhood, parking in a ditch for $20, and freezing your butt off while watching the Giants lose.  Now that we've won a World Series, the issue has returned in full force.

I hear a lot of different things.  Our staffer Eric takes the official position of this blog, which is that we welcome all fans:
"Right now the thought of people in random states buying Giants hats to be front runners makes me a bit giddy," he said. 

Our staffer James takes a slightly different approach: "Only problem I have with them is when I'm trying to watch the game but cant get a spot because you decided to bring your five toddlers to the game while wearing your Tampa Bay hat because it matches your outfit but constantly talking and saying that you wished the Giants had lost another game so they could win the Series at home."

Luckily, to get into the mind of said bandwagon fan, we secured an interview with one.  Please note that I did not answer my own questions this time.  I was actually interviewing somebody! 

When did you become a Giants fan and why?
When the Giants beat San Diego to go to the playoffs. B Dub is my boy! I knew we had that game when he came in to save the game. I didn't watch much of the season but someone told me not one batter reached base on him all season.

And then they went to the World Series! Did you get tickets?

Hell yeah! I paid $400 a pop to watch my boys in orange and black to kick some Texan ass. Funny aside: From the moment I sat down for game 2 I started telling everyone who would listen this game and series were in the bag. Someone actually told me to shut up when I was talking about Matt Cain's no hitter after the first and second innings. Bunch of posers.

In terms of Game 2, how many innings did you spend in Momo's vs. in the park itself?
I'll normally be at Momo's for the first few innings but I actually was in for the start of Game 2. My seats weren't very good though so at about the 6th inning I went to Momo's to finish the game and beat the crowds. Much better viewing and not nearly as cold. Ever sat in the upper deck at AT&T? Windbreaker is a must, I don't know how people can go there on a regular basis.

What was the most painful Giants loss of the last decade?
Can I pass? All the top Google searches for that have the football Giants listed. Gun to head any loss to the arch rival Padres hurts equally as bad.

Favorite Giant and why? You can't say Charlie Sheen. He's not on the team.
It was Panda Sandoval but he's yesterday's news. It would have to be Brian Wilson, who is the very definition of badass. Also I don't have to watch Sportscenter to see him. TMZ does a great job keeping me up to date on him. I hope they put him on the Bachelor!

Me too. Let's play a quick game of Word Association. When I say "OPS" you think:
Call of Duty: Black OPS

"Ballpark Food":
Sushi and a clean chardonnay.

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Written by Andy | 11 March 2011

Below is what happens when you interview a writer...

When did you become a Giants fan and why?


I grew up playing Little League in South Florida, but didn't really have a major league team to root for (this is way before the Marlins). After college I moved to Boston and attended my first game at Fenway. So I was originally a Red Sox fan, and suffered quite a bit for that with their '86 loss. That was the year I moved to the Bay Area, and both the Giants and the A's had interesting young homegrown cores to their teams that made them fun to follow. I really associate becoming a Giants fan with Will Clark and Robby Thompson and Roger Craig.

So you just, like, dropped the Red Sox? You didn't become part of Red Sox Nation and show up at every Red-Sox-A's game with a Varitek jersey-shirt and yell "Youuuuuuuk" every time somebody grounded out to 1st?

Yeah, (CENSORED) them! No, I still rooted for the Red Sox through the 2004 win, after which I started to find their fandom a little obnoxious. Wait, I take that back. I really started to resent Red Sox fans at the Coliseum where you'd see more red jerseys than green. It's different, though, when you don't grow up with a team. The roots didn't quite take hold, especially when I was following two teams closely in the paper every day in the Bay Area and was seeing them develop. I'm sure many Giants fans would consider me something less than a "true" fan because I follow both the A's and Giants and I didn't grow up in the Bay Area. But hell, I know more about Tom Haller and Chris Speier and Jack Clark than most. I've done my research, reading up on the prospects and I've bled for the Giants on plenty of occasions. The 2000 season might be the one that hurt the worst for me.

Why 2000? Because we were so much better than the Mets and handed them two of the three games? Because Dusty Baker let Mark Gardner hit for himself in the 5th inning with the bases loaded of an elimination game? Other?

We were definitely better than the Mets that year, and yes the mismanagement was a factor in that loss. Whereas the 2002 loss was horrible because it was so close, but I also felt like our bullpen had been a strength so when the Angels came back in Game 6 they earned it. In 2000 we blew it. Stupid hurts worse. The other really painful loss for me was the '93 season. 103 wins?! C'mon! God, I loved Billy Swift. He was like having our own personal Greg Maddux for a couple years.
Is that all?
You didn't even ask me about my favorite moment as a Giant fan.
Which is right here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SFN/SFN199709180.shtml
The intriguing twist? It wasn't the home run.

Of course not. It was Rod Beck getting out of the bases loaded no outs jam by striking out Mondesi and getting an ancient, ancient man to hit into a double play.

Thanks to the magic of Baseball-Reference I can correct you. Mondesi for the third hit in a row allowed by Shooter to load the bases. Then Beck struck out Zeile, and induced that double-play from Eddie Murray to get out of the inning. He faced future Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza, to start the inning, and closed it out with actual Hall of Famer, Eddie Murray. I was listening to it on radio, stuck at some desk job. Beck couldn't seem to put anybody away and that game - which we had locked up - was about to slip away. It felt like hanging by your fingernails on every pitch, and then he caught Zeile looking. And then that slow roller to Kent, who comes home hard to Brian Johnson to get the lead runner, preserve the tie, and that would've been enough. I would've settled for that. But then Johnson fired to Snow to convert the double play and we were out of the inning. I shot out of my chair with a fist-pump and a yell that got me reprimanded. Reversal of fortune, bay-bee!
My other most thrilling Giants fan moments were Will Clark's single up the middle against Mitch Williams to send the Giants to the World Series in 1989 (again, listening on the radio), and watching Aubrey Huff 'n Puff tag-up to score in Game 4 against the Phillies in the 2010 NLCS.
I had absolutely no worry that we were going to win the World Series when we got there, and there was one single moment which eased all of my anxieties. Before Game 1 the cameras had a shot of Ron Washington (a guy I respect a lot for his work with the A's) and he was wearing one of those dumbasss (sorry Andres) Phiten necklaces. And I thought, "Shit, we're not going to lose to some manager wearing a Phiten." And I was right.

If you were a Giant, and you had a no-trade clause for 5 teams, who would you put on that list?

No trades to the following teams for the following reasons:
1. The Dodgers - I've studied philosophy extensively, particularly Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and I can say with some authority that The Dodgers are categorically evil. It's an irrefutable philosophical fact.
2. The Padres - Mat Latos is the rectal itch of the National League West. Which doesn't mean I don't fear and respect him as a pitcher. And, actually, I kind of like that he's bringing the hate. I'm tired of teams acting like they respect the guys in the other dugout. On the other hand: Mat Latos *is* The Hemorrhoid of the West.
3. The Yankees – (CENSORED) them. Hank Steinbrenner looks to be an even bigger (CENSORED) than his dad, which is a serious achievement. Let's all sit back and take pleasure in the money they'll spend on the decline years of most of their team.
4. The Rays - I respect and like the team, and respect and like the organization. But that stadium is a pit and Tampa is really kind of sucky.
5. The Cardinals - I'm still kind of pissed about the way the big breweries killed craft beer in America for five decades. Up yours, Augie Busch and your little Clydesdale too.

They're making a movie about the 2010 Giants, let's say. Give me some actors and who they would play, and throw in an actress to play Amy G. Brad Pitt is playing Billy Beane...who would play Sabes? DeNiro?

Casting the 2010 Giants Movie:
Kate Hudson as Amy G. Did you know Kate's father was one of the Hudson Brothers, a Saturday morning bubblegum band?
Sam Elliott as Bochy. You need the low, gravely growl of a voice. Might need a head prosthetic though to emulate Bochy's melon.
John Goodman as Sabes. Because it would be more interesting if you saw most of Sabean's free agent signings as slightly sinister and comic. "I'll show you a life of the mind!"
Gerard Butler as Wilson. You need somebody that can grow a beard, be physically imposing and yell "Sparta!" I could see going with Nicolas Cage, though, if you wanted to bring the crazy.
Wiley Wiggins as Timmy. That's a gimme. Preferably go back in time and get the 14 y.o Wiley.
Matt Damon as Buster. I thought of prettier, more godlike actors. But you need somebody who looks unassuming but can kill you with a Bic pen. For that you need to go with Jason Bourne.
Orlando Bloom as Cody Ross. You need somebody with an elven quality. Sure you could go with Liv Tyler here, but would she shave her head?
Russell Crowe as Huff. You need a leader. A grizzled leader who's willing to wear lingerie to win. Crowe is that pantywaist stud.
Cedric the Entertainer as Panda. You need somebody that can bring the pathos of Panda's plight in 2010. Michael K. Williams as Renteria. "Omar's coming!"
Wendell Pierce as Uribe. I'm staying with the Wire. I'm pretty sure Bunk could throw up the jazz hands and make it look good.
John C. Reilly as Cain. You need that stolid quality. Also, somebody who can play broad comedy and sing as we've seen Cain do many times between innings.
Sam Rockwell as Freddy Sanchez. I need somebody that can do twitchy and wear a prosthetic mole with distinction.
Benjamin Bratt as Andres Torres. Native San Franciscan! You know Bratt's all over this part.

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Written by Andy | 09 March 2011

The Marlins, much like many animals, have a life-cycle that takes them from dust to bloom and back to dust again, only to see a reblooming and then back to dust.  What the crap am I takling about?

Well...

1993-1996:  Marlins Suck
1997:  WORLD CHAMPS
1998-2002:  Marlins Suck
2003:  WORLD CHAMPS
2004-2010:  Marlins Suck

Will 2011 be the year they return to bloom?  Doubtful.  While the Marlins seriously upgraded their bullpen, they also traded their second best hitter and continue to feature a team full of young players who will be really good in 2014 when they are playing for some other team.

Last year the Giants went 5-2 against Florida, sweeping three games in Miami early in the season and then splitting four games in San Francisco in the summer.  In Florida, the Giants won one game thanks to a 9th inning homerun by Aaron Rowand.  Meanwhile, Jon Miller narrated half an inning as though he was announcing a golf tournament in reference to the fact that the stadium was completely quiet due to the lack of fans.  It was very, very funny.  Dave Fleming may have peed his pants.

I can't say the Marlins scare me, but they are a very decent team and could be in the Wild Card race which means these could be big games for the Giants if some NL West team somehow gets in front of us.  That's a terrible scenario.  If I'm worried about what the Marlins are doing in late September, it's going to be an ugly season.

Expectation: Win 4 out of 6
Second Choice: Win 3 out of 6, hear some interesting heckling from big guy sitting alone in Section 5
Worst Case Scenario:  Pudge tags JT Snow out again.

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