Bruce Bochy insists that it’s no big deal, that Buster Posey wasn’t going to catch both Tuesday night and Wednesday’s day game against the Rockies, so he chose to let him rest tonight and play tomorrow.
Oh, by the way, Tim Lincecum is pitching tonight.
Coincidence? A Posey aversion to Lincecum? A full-fledge conspiracy going into Game 8 of the long season?
Bochy was cagey in his dugout interview tonight and pretty much said what he’s been saying all along about the “Timmy/Buster” catching situation.
In the political realm, you would say he’s pumping up his cover-story– a scenario that satisfies the need for an answer.
What is puzzling is if Hector Sanchez becomes Lincecum’s “personal catcher,” say like the Green Hornet’s Kato, does that help the Giants more than Lincecum?
Sanchez was not exactly doing Lincecum any favors behind the plate in the Dodger game. Lincecum is hard to catch, true, but Sanchez wasn’t making him look better.
So it’s Sanchez’ bat the Giants want in there? Well, what about Posey’s bat? Don’t you want your first string catcher in there?
As Bochy puts it, it’s just coincidence.
“Most of this will be how it falls,” said Boch. “It’s not a bad thing when a back up catcher ends up with the same pitcher.”
OK, and then when it’s not coincidence, then what is it?
Conspiracy theorists start your engines.
Incidentally, it’s the 71st Anniversay of the fall of Bataan, offically known as the “Day of Valor.” It’s a national holiday in the Philippines, but also an important part of America’s WWII history.
Lincecum won’t be facing the odds of those Filipino scouts in Bataan, but he will be going to battle tonight without the National League MVP behind the plate.
In the sports biz, the quest for the ring keeps aging jocks in ointment.
But what about the sports fan? Does the Giants opening day celebration weekend– three days of hoopla and some OK baseball—really have to feel like Wagner’s Ring cycle?
(True, Wagner had four operas, but the Giants seemed to skip over “Siegfied” and end with Sunday’s game that felt a bit like “Twilight of the Gods”).
In some ways, it’s almost too bad they have to play a game.
It’s so much more fun to see Tim Lincecum get his ring and greet the Giants legends ( today it was Mays, McCovey, Marichal, Cepeda, and Gaylord Perry). It’s certainly easier on the emotions.
It’s all ups, no downs. Unless you’re looking at your ring.
So early in the season, compared to a “celebration” an actual game is somewhat anti-climactic.
Or at least, sets up a game for the drama we saw on Sunday, where we start high, rise to a peak, then finish tragically.
Oh, well. That’s why they play 162—and we endure all of them.
The celebration was a total Giants extravaganza with the Tiffany rings brought into AT&T Park via cable car, and then hand delivered by the city’s finest grip men to the Giants.
There were symbols galore in such a dramatic entrance.
Rings were given out.
And the streamers flew.
Oh yeah, and then there was that game.
All I can say this morning is, it’s a good thing Maggie Thatcher died.
The Iron Lady wasn’t Lou Gehrig, but the passing of a world leader puts things in perspective and flushes the news cycle of the trivial. (Though if you are still mourning the 49ers Super Bowl loss, you can’t be helped.)
The Giants lost the game 14-3, and if you’re wondering when did David Akers join the Giants and doesn’t he usually miss his field goals, once again, you can’t be helped.
No, we’re talking baseball and Matt Cain here, and as perfect as Cain was for one special night in 2012, he was just as abysmally imperfect for Sunday’s garish loss.
For the first three innings, Cain seemed like Cain, retiring the Cardinals in order, with two strikeouts.
Cain really was perfect. But then came that 4th that was beyond imperfect: nine runs and no explanation.
The Cardinals hit six singles, two walks and a ground-rule double to go up 7-2, and Cain was out of the game.
Cain talked later about how the game can be humbling. Perhaps, the Giants needed that on the weekend they celebrated the highs of last year.
To see the pitching—felt to be the Giant’s strength—be so ineffective is definitely humbling (one pitching bright spot has been the relief work of Chad Gaudin). Giants’ bats have already been humbled. The Giants continued to be hapless with runners in scoring position, 2-21 coming into the game. They added to that negative stat in the first inning that initially seemed so joyous at the start. Angel Pagan, the hottest of all Giants coming into the game 6-20, hit a sinking line drive into the left-center alley that enabled him to dive into third. But he died there like a bridesmaid. Scuataro, coming into the game 2-19, took a called third strike. Then Sandoval, hot with two HRs and 4 RBI in five games, struck out swinging. And then MVP Posey added to the futility with a meek groundout.
Some sliver linings: First hits for rookie Nick Noonan, and third-string catcher Gullermo Quiroz. Quiroz’s hit came in the 9th, a pinch-hit single that gave the Giant’s one last gasp of offense.
Oh, well, the team has their rings, and a full season yet to go.
Let the people talk about whether the weekend was a bit too much.
What we’ve seen the last few years is how a winning Giants team has truly become tantamount to a public institution.
A lot of it I trust is due to Giants CEO Larry Baer growing up a Giants fan and a native San Franciscan. I knew Larry growing up. We both attended Lowell High, and were on the debate team together. (I did play JV Baseball). The other day when we talked, it wasn’t about the Giants, but our families. He told me where his kids were going to college, and I told him my kid was going to Cal, Larry’s alma mater. That deserved a fist bump. The exchange revealed how all that personal stuff, the human stuff, really matters.
That makes three-day baseball celebrations, where the players and legends and the fans gather over the game, more important than we think.
Baer and the Giants more than just connect the dots between the past and the present.
With the Giants, winning is always about timing. And playing perfect baseball, for now. Later, when they’re sharp, they can be more human. But this early in the season, when you’re not so sharp, you’ve got to get a little luckier.
On Saturday’s game, the hits came at the wrong time, the defense failed when it needed to be perfect, and the starting pitching–which had been perfect with no earned runs through four games and 26 innings—finally showed its human side.
Ryan Vogelsong talked about not throwing enough good pitches at the right time after the 6-3 loss to the Cardinals.
It’s tough. With a few breaks in that rough first inning that featured a passed ball and a wild pitch, a timely strike on a 3-2 count to former Giant Carlos Beltran would have gotten Vogelsong out of a jam unscathed.
The Giants got back the run with a Pence home run, and Vogelsong settled down. But in the fifth, a hit, a walk, a dropped ball at first, and again Beltran stepped in to hurt the Giants with a two-run single.
Early in a 162-game season, it’s a good thing they play another 150 or so.
You can’t have another celebration.
And today it’s the rings. Not Wagner’s Ring, but three days of celebrations do make the Giants opening week comparable to a Wagnerian Cycle. (Baseball has a cycle too, but I don’t think it includes a few bars from “Ride of the Valkyries.”)
More on the rings in a later post.
The Giants are great nostalgists.
And when another layer of achievement is recorded, they gladly bring in the past to welcome the new glory.
It makes the Giants one of the more humanistic baseball organizations in MLB. Sure, in baseball, the numbers tend to dehumanize things, from stats to salary figures. But in the end, it’s the human connections that make the difference.
The Giants are good at connecting greatness.
So for me, seeing MVPs like Kevin Mitchell (he of the one-hand-bare-handed grab see it on YouTube), and Jeff Kent (late of “Survivor”), next to the legends, McCovey and Mays…that was a sight. (Incidentally, no, Bonds sighting, and he won three of those MVPs).
Posey stayed off the field until the appropriate time.
A baseball star’s relationship to fans isn’t bonded in words. When the player takes great actions, the cheers are what it’s about. And as Buster emerged from the dugout, they showed the love.
Posey held his award, and then as Mays and others looked on, he gave an appropriately short, gracious speech, thanking his family.
And his teammates.
There in the dugout were three that have been the other end of his battery. In between Cain and Zito, there was Lincecum looking on.
Posey was great last year, but with a grueling season the talk has been if he’ll get enough rest to do it again this year. And that always leads to speculation about whether Posey will catch Lincecum, or take that day off. This coming week, Lincecum is scheduled to start Tuesday night, and then comeback for a Wednesday. Bochy told CSN BayArea’s Andrew Baggerly that Posey will likely rest Tuesday.
So will the schedule dictate Posey rest when Lincecum pitches?
Maybe, but from this observers eye, it seems to be a coincidence—at this point.
I do think Posey has to be out there catching, especially Lincecum. If I were Tim, I’d want the best. And Posey is right now.
When you’re a fallen, award-winning pitcher, a tad off from greatness, it’s not like you can work things out by going to a Cy Young Anonymous.
So it’s a good thing Tim Lincecum can savor teammate Barry Zito’s miraculous comeback from the massive albatross known as the $126 million contract.
Zito was a master of craft and timing in leading the Giants to a 1-0 victory in the AT&T 2013 home opener.
He kept the Cardinal hitters off-balance in such a way that just when you thought the Cardinals were getting to him, they weren’t — as in Yadier Molina’s towering drive to left that was just west of the foul pole in the fourth inning. Zito would simply make Molina put the ball in play, and then timely defense saved the day, in this case, an inning ending 5-4-3 double play courtesy of the reigning heavyweight third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Once again, it’s the way modern Giants victories are made.
Good pitching, with timely good defense, and timely good bases-on-balls.
That was the Giants’ offense. The team walked all over the Cardinals.
The Giants’ fourth inning was like a Little League special. A Blanco walk, a single from Crawford, a bunt by Zito to load the bases, and then an RBI walk from Pagan.
But Zito, with bullpen help from Affeldt and Romo made it stand.
When it was over, I realized Giants fans have seen Zito do this time and again over the last year, and not just in the post-season when he faced the Cards and shut them down.
Perhaps it was the perception after the big contract, but Zito was considered a pariah for the longest time as he searched for a way to be great again.
But then, in a slow, almost uneventful way, he has built a new resume that is more spectacular than it may have appeared.
Going into the home opener, the Giants have won all of Zito’s last 14 starts, where the lefty went 9-0 with a 3.46 ERA. Make that 15 starts, 10-0. Who knew? And it all adds up.
It may not have looked like much while it was all happening. But the Cardinals know.
They were Zitoed. Again.
Soon to be 35, Zito is still a young guy compared to Jamie Moyer, who in 2012 was the oldest at age 50 to win an MLB game. Zito has said he’s modeled himself after Moyer, and so maybe Zito is just coming into his real prime.
With baseball, it’s always helpful to go back to kid terms, when the game was really fun. Zito is six years older than Lincecum. That’s like a junior high kid watching the high-school varsity senior. It’s hard not to imagine Lincecum taking notes as he watches the evolution of Zito.
Like I said, it’s not like you can get support from a Cy Young Anonymous.
That was the home opener, but the circumstances of the game were preceded by massive pomp, too.
In this case, the Giants were bringing home the World Series trophy, and raising a championship flag again.
Sabre me with all the stats and numbers and make it a science all you want, but the game is really about heart and corn.
So while it’s become somewhat fashionable to pooh-pooh a game day celebration (they can’t all have the drama of a Lou Gehrig farewell), I say the Giants do corn as well as anyone.
With the stadium filled with the kind of orchestral music used to spur emotion in bad films, the ceremony began. (Later, Bochy would say the pre-game indeed elicited a few “tears” among some players).
When the flag came into McCovey Cove on fire boat, I wondered who would raise the flag? Captain Hook? (Or Captain Morgan? Thankfully, no one thought of product placement).
Some pre-game rumor had it that maybe the flag raiser would be a past player, perhaps a Bonds return?
But the flag raiser(s) would be six veteran members of the team, Lincecum among them.
Lincecum seemed to beam with genuine pride as he jogged to and from centerfield to raise the flag.
That’s why it’s hard to imagine him not being a Giant forever.
Oddly, two players who were not in the group of flag-raisers were the battery of the day. Zito looked like he was meditating or something on the bull-pen mound as coach Dave Righetti stood by.
And there was the new face of the team, Buster Posey, putting on the so-called “tools of ignorance” watching but focused on the opener.
Posey gets his due with the MVP ceremony in game two of the series.
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