Results tagged ‘ Giants ’

It’s Angels Contract Tuesday

The Angels signed contracts today, avoiding four of their six remaining possible arbitration cases, with Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Reggie Willits and Kendry Morales. Wait, Kendry? The Angels and a Scott Boras client reached a deal quickly and amicably? No snarling, gnashing of teeth or packing up of toys and running home swearing never to play with one another again? Apparently so, and amen to that I say. So, is this the dawn of a new era? Doubtful. I chalk it up to the classiness of the client (which as we all know, especially after watching contract negotiations this year, only goes so far) and an early Boras lull into a false sense of security before Kendry becomes a free agent. But for now we’ll take it…and it’s highly possible teeth were gnashed in private.

In other Tuesday Angels news, the team apparently traded dollar amounts with the other two arbitration eligible players, Jered Weaver and Mike Napoli. In terms of baseball dollars (you know, what’s an extra million give or take), the numbers being reported in the papers don’t look like the players asking prices and the Angels offers are too far apart. Personally, I hope the Angels just give Weaver and Napoli what they’re asking for. Weaver pitched an All-Star year and filled John Lackey’s vacated ace shoes like he’s been wearing them his whole career and meeting his request now might earn us some good will in negotiations when he’s a free agent…okay, he’s Scott Boras’ client so probably not, but it couldn’t hurt. Napoli did everything the team asked of him and more…okay his runners in scoring position clutch was a little broken, but when has that not been an off and on issue? He still had the most home runs of anyone on the team, a career high for him in a year where career lows ran rampant through the clubhouse, and he moved over to first base and played it admirably well when the team needed a first basemen.

Wow, did typing that ever bring on a flood of memories. (Yeah, yeah. I digress. You are all shocked.) Memorial Day weekend. My husband and I were in Cambria. Oh no, the whole home stand against the Mariners was blacked out on the Central Coast! No problem, we can catch bits of the games on our phones. Wait. Kendry did what? Naps is playing first? The next day we desperately platooned our Blackberries to “watch” the game on MLB.com Gameday intermittently with Cambria and Paso Robles’ notoriously sketchy cell phone signals and wound up jumping up and down like loons in the middle of a Giants territory bar while the Giant’s season ticket holder bar owner (great guy and a great bar by the way – been favorite of ours for years) chuckled at us when the Angels actually pulled it off. As long as everyone is healthy and hale this season, this officially becomes a good memory.

At any rate, the 2011 team is starting to take shape…and it’s pretty much the same shape as last year but, for whatever reason. Call it not losing any more key players this year? Call it Kendry’s back? Call it plain old fashioned excitement because I’m starting to see the barest glimpse of Spring Training on the horizon like that first glimmer of the beacon on top of the Luxor seen from just outside of Baker? For whatever reason, I am starting to feel just the tiniest bit of that preseason optimism.

“Nothing Is Remotely Imminent” eh?

I guess I’ll let Nolan Ryan off on a technicality. I mean there isn’t a whole lot that’s remote in the 48 hour distance between that statement and a signed contract now is there? No, that pretty much is just imminent. What was it I was saying a few weeks ago about the different front offices playing a little too much Diplomacy this off season? If I were actually sitting in on this particular game of Diplomacy I might say well played in addition to growling less sportsmanlike comments but, as it is, I’m just growling.

So Adrian Beltre is a Ranger and the Angels missed the boat again. I understand that the free agent market got outrageously expensive again this year. Under normal circumstances, I think sticking to one’s principals is laudable but, right now, claiming to stick to their principals just looks like the Angels front office is making a piss poor excuse for terrible performance. We didn’t strike out this off season, we barely even bothered to step up to the plate. And they better not start carting out Takahashi and Downs again like those signings make for a fine off season on their own and anything else would just have been gravy. Those signings were a great start, alas apparently on a road to nowhere. When nothing else followed, just admit that you messed up. That way you only look really stupid instead of abysmally stupid.

If I am being rational, I know this isn’t the absolute end of the world. If I am being rational, I know that there is no one player who is the answer for us in a vacuum without any other changes. If we had landed Beltre and, defying all reason, the rest of bats went missing for most of the season again, a season with only Beltre and Weaver consistently performing to expectations isn’t going to be any prettier than one where Weaver more or less consistently performed to expectations alone. If the bats actually show up, I think the team that hits the field in 2011, as it stands right now, is a better team than the one that hit the field in 2010. Rationally though, I really don’t know if that is enough.

Again, if I’m being rational, it’s a long season and we haven’t started Spring Training yet. Everybody has to play 162 games, blah, blah, blah and all of the other clichés. But, seriously, a lot can happen in that amount of time, especially in California baseball. My sister and I have always said that no one, but no can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (or, sadly, defeat from the jaws of victory but let’s not go there right now) in the most unexpected of ways like California baseball teams. Angels, Dodgers, Giants, A’s and Padres fans, you all know what I’m talking about. And tomorrow…okay maybe by next week, I will probably truly believe all of this and the other hopeful posts I have made on this blog again.

But tonight I don’t feel like being rational. I am angry, enough so that I didn’t so much type this as I beat and pounded it into the keyboard. Whether or not Beltre was the answer, I just wanted something, anything to point at and say, look, the front office is really trying this off season instead of well, just being trying.

Rumors, Bloody Rumors + Giants/Dodgers Family Hijinks

The Rangers signed Beltre, except for the fact that they didn’t. That was totally a rumor. No wait, new rumors from more credible sources say that it’s the second rumor that was only a rumor. Beltre is signing on the Rangers’ dotted line right now. But wait, no. The people who are responsible for the rumor that the rumor about the first rumor being only a rumor was really just a rumor too, are now also guilty of spreading a rumor. Moose bites hurt. A lot. And now for something completely different…

This is the Hot Stove news I read on my Blackberry as we left a family holiday party this evening. And, yes, because I came in on the tail end of all of the rumor and counter rumor, to me it really did sound that Python-esque. The final word on all of the rumors? According to MLB.com, the Rangers do not have a deal with Beltre, nor is a deal imminent. The article goes on to quote Nolan Ryan this evening saying “As of right now, Michael Young is our third baseman. We haven’t done anything.” While I tend to think that, with Young’s bat and glove at third base, the Rangers wouldn’t really be interested in Beltre at this price, I did notice that Ryan’s no isn’t exactly a long term no and it’s not like the Rangers haven’t asked Young to switch positions for someone else before. I believe that MLB.com’s article is the final word on Beltre and the Rangers today but Monday? Tuesday? Wednesday? Next week? Who knows.

* * * * *

The family holiday party this evening was our annual post Christmas get together with my mother’s side of the family. The Giants cousins come down from Merced and Fresno and the Dodgers cousins come from all over L.A. and Orange County and then there are my husband and I. Surprisingly, baseball is not usually a big topic of conversation. This year, of course, it was not to be avoided.

I was pleased to see one cousin from Merced whom I have not seen in about two years because he’s been very ill. He’s recently recovered almost completely. “Oh I’m feeling so much better and it’s the strangest thing. Do you know what the turning point was? Game 6!” I had to laugh and congratulate him, of course. And that was pretty much the tone for the evening. My cousins are still so ecstatic and cute over the Giants win that I can’t help but be happy for them all over again. Of course, they’re still a little chip on their shoulders over the Giants’ champion status. Mentions of the Angels or 2002 still bring about hissing – yes, literal hissing – and a chorus of too soon, too soon. They’re a little sensitive about the Dodgers rivalry too, all of which kept me in stitches for large portions of the evening.

My dad picked up on this, I think, because during a discussion about baseball announcers, he pounced. One cousin mentioned that he likes the Giants radio announcers so much, he will gladly put up with the delay in order to hear the radio broadcast while he watches the game muted on TV. My father got this mischievous twinkle in eye and said that, over the years, he’s done the same thing with Vin Scully’s broadcasts…after the Dodgers beat the Giants and head into the post season. My cousin started to sputter angrily about the Dodgers bad season and how he expects the same from them next year and so on, until he realized everyone else was cracking up on both sides of the fan divide, including my father. Then the conversation became playful and teasing again. You simply can’t let family get your goat that easily.

I may have been laughing the loudest of anyone. I don’t think I have ever seen my father talk trash before. But he and my mother were high school sweethearts so he has known all of these cousins, her cousins, since they were in high school and, in some cases, much, much younger. I think I just got a tiny glimpse of what they were all like getting together as kids and that was neat to see. Family and baseball both have the power to take even the most grown up among us back to the carefree silliness of our childhood and thank Heaven for that!

Mixed Reviews on the World Series?!

Congratulations Giants and Giants fans! And, what a game! That was the quintessential pivotal World Series game kids act out when they pretend. Bottom of the ninth, the hot closer of the post season takes the mound, facing the heart of the opposing team’s line up and plows through the first three guys to save a two run squeaker, following six innings of an epic pitcher’s duel. Seriously, what a game!

Given my reaction to last night’s game, it was really odd to read the comments on my FaceBook page and listen to my coworkers griping about it this morning, and not because they’re Rangers fans either…and only five among the dozens are Dodgers fans ;). “Wow, I feel like the baseball season didn’t end this year, it fizzled.” and “Rangers and Giants? Wasn’t that the little league World Series?” and “With these teams, I just couldn’t bring myself to care.” were among my “favorite” comments. Really people? Were we watching the same post season?

I have read enough of all of your blogs to know that these sentiments no more describe everyone’s feelings than they do mine. However, the television ratings certainly indicate that a lot of casual baseball fans do feel this way and that annoyed me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but today’s complainers are the same people who, in my experience, would be griping “Not again! How unfair!” if we had enjoyed a Yankees/Phillies match up instead. (And, if a few plays had gone a different way, we would have. Both the Yankees and the Phillies played great ball this year.) I know this to be true because, prior to the conclusions of the NLCS and the ALCS, the complainers in my hearing were already engaging in a little anticipatory “Not again! How unfair!” griping – not that this is any more fair or reality based a complaint than the others.

Clearly, the casual baseball fans in my general vicinity do not know what would entertain them. All snark aside though, this helped me realize that enjoying baseball for baseball’s sake takes context. You have to know the teams and the players involved in order to appreciate the strategies and stories within each game. Diehard fans always have context. Casual fans may or may not have context, depending on the match up. And, the most casual of fans must always have a very broad, surface context provided for them – it’s a subway/freeway series, one or both of the teams is one of the most storied franchises in baseball, one of the teams involved experienced a recent tragedy that made national headlines, etc. Given this, it’s no wonder my complainers didn’t enjoy the Series. If the only context they have is the broad, surface context, they can never appreciate a World Series like this one and aren’t really giving other World Series match ups the appreciation they deserve either. As if we didn’t know this already, it really is so much more fun to be a fan!

Enjoying the Postseason When Your Team Doesn’t Have a Postseason

I am a happily spoiled fan and, more often than not, I’ve enjoyed the pleasure of rooting for the Angels for at least part of the post season since I came back to baseball (long story, see my bio for the Reader’s Digest version). Not this year, of course *sigh*, but more often than not. If or when the Angels don’t make it to the next level of play, I usually “adopt” the team I like the most players on to root for because it’s October. The League Division Series. The League Championship Series! The World Series!! The last little bit of Major League Baseball that has to tide us over all the way until April!!! How can I not watch? And what fun would it be just to watch if I wasn’t rooting for someone? Couldn’t do it and not much fun at all, that’s for sure.

This season I adopted the Giants, to the endless delight of all of my Giants fanatic extended family and more than a little groaning from my immediate family who are, now and forever, citizens of Dodgertown. Yes, I am quite the odd woman out around the Thanksgiving table with this bunch, but I digress. While the postseason would obviously be a lot more fun if the Angels were in the thick of things, it has still been a lot of fun. Watching this Giants team feels very familiar to an Angels fan. Giants fans actually gave this combination of serious skill, occasional gaffes and luck on both sides of the spectrum a name – the Torture. Though Angels fans have not been as creative, I think we all get it, perhaps more than any other team’s fan base could.

The thing is, when it isn’t really your team you’re rooting for, it may be a lot of fun, but the same passion just isn’t there. I’m rooting for the Giants. I really am. I want them to win, but if the game is on too late (we watch it on delay because of our work schedules), I have very little problem stopping the DVR, checking the final box scores and going to bed. That would never happen with the Angels except under extremely extenuating circumstances during normal league play, let alone during the postseason. With only borrowed skin in the game, as it were, I can completely admire Josh Hamilton’s amazing diving catch last night in the second inning for the thing of beauty it was, without the deep growl I would usually add when he does this against us. It’s just different.

But, when your team doesn’t have a post season, what’s a girl to do? Watch basketball? *cue uproarious laughter* I think not. So, go Giants…for one to three more games, anyway.

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