Sunday, July 22, 2012

My Problems with the MLB All-Star Game

It's that time of year again (well, past that time, by now). That's right! Major League Baseball's All-Star Weekend and all the festivities that it brings. (By the way, I've always found it odd that baseball calls it All-Star Weekend when the game is on a Tuesday). For those of you that don't follow baseball or missed the game, the San Francisco Giants National League won, giving them home field advantage in the World Series.  The City by the Bay was well represented with Melky Cabrera winning MVP, Pablo Sandoval hitting the first ever bases clearing triple in All-Star Game history, Buster Posey catching some solid innings, and Matt Cain dominating the first couple innings as the NL starter, making it relatively easy for the NL to hang on.

Prior to the game, nationally the Giants fans were ripped for "stuffing the voting" so that Giants players would make the cut over others. Giants' fans did not take kindly to this accusation, and have had an attitude of "told you so" ever since the game. Being a Giants fan, I was fine with the representation SF got, but being an aspiring sports writer, it was also easy for me to see the point the national audience had. Let's break it down.

Melky Cabrera and Matt Cain deserved to be there. No question.
Pablo Sandoval was hurt for awhile and though he's good, David Wright should have started over him.
Buster Posey is a bit of an anomaly because he got to start after Yadier Molina had to leave for personal reasons and sat out the festivities. Lots of people wanted to see Carlos Ruiz start over Posey, and I wouldn't have had a problem with it, but Posey is having a great year behind the dish and I was okay with him starting as well.

The problem with the All-Star Game and how players are selected? They're voted in by fans, who have proven for years they're not experts on the sport. Fans vote in their favorite players, regardless of the year they're having. This happens in both baseball and basketball. Basketball is the worst with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming consistently being voted into All-Star Games way past their actually good years. Baseball isn't quite as bad, but I still disagree with allowing fans to vote on it.

Baseball needs to stop having the All-Star Game mean anything also. The whole "it matters now" is stupid. A one game exhibition between the two leagues should not determine who gets home field advantage in the World Series. It should go to the team with the best record at the end of the year.

I propose that baseball does one of two things in the future:

1) Stop letting the fans vote in anyone, and reward the players with the best stats in the big categories (hits, home runs, runs batted in, batting average, etc. for batters; wins, strikeouts, WHIP, earned run average, saves, etc. for pitchers). Then we would truly see the best players in the game represented at each All-Star Game and there wouldn't be any upset people screaming "My player leads the league in every stat but isn't starting! This is stupid and is because ESPN is biased!"

2) This is the alternate route that I would hate, but understand. That is, stop caring about stats or anything and let the fans vote in every player AND what position they play. If fans want to see Matt Kemp catching for Buster Posey in the All-Star Game, let it happen. I don't think fans are that stupid, and we would see the stars play their normal positions, but it's supposed to be a game for the fans, so MLB should give them total power. Of course, this option would make it so they would absolutely have to stop having the All-Star Game count for anything.

Long story short? Baseball should either take control from the fans or give entirely to them for the All-Star Game, and stop having it count for something in the post-season. After all, Spring Training records don't affect regular season wins. Why should the All-Star Game?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Let's Change the NBA!

To all of you NBA haters out there, I know the season is finally over and you don't want to talk about it until next September. Well, you should probably find something else to read then, cause this is all NBA.

First off, congratulations to the superhuman Lebron James and his Miami Heat on being the 2012 NBA champions, defeating a worn down Oklahoma City Thunder team. Don't be surprised to see these two teams meet in the Finals again soon. I've already called that the Lebron's Heat and Durant's Thunder Finals will be the matchup of the teens, just like Bird's Celtics against Magic's Lakers was in the 80's. Also, as Bill Simmons pointed out in this article, "If you can't appreciate what Lebron James is doing right now, you need to start following a different sport."

Hate the guy or love the guy, you have to respect what he did in the NBA Playoffs this year. Now, let's fix the NBA so we don't have to see what took place this year ever happen again. Let's start off with a little speculation on the league being "fixed."

For those who don't know, the NBA season almost didn't happen this year, because the players locked out. Eventually the sides came to agreement, and fans were given a shortened 66 game season instead of the usual 82. At the beginning of the year the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Houston Rockets had agreed to a three team trade that would send star Chris Paul to the Lakers, while the Lakeshow would send big players to the Rockets. At the time the Hornets didn't have an owner, so David Stern (NBA commissioner acting as owner), vetoed the trade citing "basketball reasons." Roughly translated, I think "basketball reasons" means "I'm sick of the Lakers getting anything good." This was fine by me and many other Laker haters, because it's always fun to see LA get screwed. Even though I mocked my roommate (a well documented huge Lakers fan) for it at the time, I admitted it seemed a bit sketchy. Paul was eventually sent to the LA anyway to play for the little brother Clippers and the combo of him and Blake Griffin propelled the Clips into the playoffs. 

Fast forward to the end of the season, as the league is still trying to find a buyer for the Hornets. The Charlotte Bobcats are finishing up one of the worst seasons in professional sports' history, and the worst season ever in NBA history. Let me put it this way. If I grabbed the best 11 guys that I play basketball with three times a week, and we played the Charlotte Bobcats 66 times, I think we would finish with close to the same record they had (7 wins, 59 losses). The New Orleans Hornets finished the year 21-45. Still not good, but not the worst. You'll see why this matters in a bit. 

The NBA has a lottery system where the worst teams are given lottery balls to see who gets to pick first in the draft. It's an attempt to prevent tanking, but as many of the top ten lottery teams (most notably the Golden State Warriors) proved last season, it's not working. What were the odds of the Bobcats or Hornets winning the lottery? Charlotte - 25%, New Orleans - 14.8% as reported by

This was one of the few years where the top pick was considered a guarantee in Anthony Davis. Well, a couple weeks before the draft, the NBA announced that Tom Benson (owner of the NFL's New Orleans Saints) was going to purchase the Hornets. Then the lottery hit, and guess who won the number one overall pick in the draft? Hint: it was one of the two teams I've mentioned a lot and it wasn't the Bobcats.

When Jim Rome (who is a cancer to the sports world) asked David Stern if the lottery was fixed, Stern lost his mind, screaming at Rome and making it personal. 
Stern, know how to fix this? MAKE THE LOTTERY SELECTION PUBLIC. Don't do it behind closed doors. Do it on national TV, just like the draft. Also, have someone that doesn't have any interest in the league do the selections. If they don't care, they're not going to "fix" anything. 

I also like Bill Simmons idea of giving the best chances of winning the lottery to teams who just barely miss the playoffs. As he says, "What's wrong with keeping good teams good and bad teams bad? You need both." Let's get rid of the problem that mediocre teams stay mediocre while great teams stay great and miserable teams improve.

Next problem? The playoffs.

If the NBA had a playoff beard ritual like the NHL has, and MLB has started, the teams that went to the Finals would look like Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings by the end. THE PLAYOFFS ARE TOO FREAKING LONG. Playoffs should last a month at MOST, not the two months they do in the NBA. Let's make it so instead of 16 of the 30 (you mathematicians have probably figured out that means more than half the league goes to the playoffs), the best twelve teams go, with the top two ranked teams getting a BYE in the second round. Now teams with the best record are rewarded and we won't have situations like the Celtics trying to lose so they don't have to face one team in the first round. 

Next: Flopping

I'll give the NBA credit here. David Stern has tried to stop flopping, going so far as to suggest making it a penalty next year (the same way flagrant's can be upgraded/downgraded after review). It's a huge problem. In my opinion the top five floppers in the league are: 1. Dwyane Wade (I spelled his first name right; look it up) 2. Chris Paul 3. Kobe Bryant 4. Blake Griffin and 5. Paul Pierce. Notice anything there? Chances are, even if someone doesn't follow the NBA, they've heard all of these names before. Wonder why? That leads us to our next problem


It's, um, how do I put this nicely....terrible? Horrible? Worst of any sport that uses officials and is only getting worse? I think that might tell you how I feel about NBA referees. The players mentioned above are huge floppers because they're good players and somehow they've played themselves into a twilight zone type level in refs' heads that means, "If I lost the ball or missed that shot, obviously somebody fouled me because I'm too good to ever mess up." None of this is more evident than watching a Lakers game or the Heat/Thunder Finals. Kobe Bryant has gotten enough calls his way to seriously make people wonder if part of that ridiculous contract the Lakers are paying him isn't going to the NBA Officials Committee. Also, all season we heard if Lebron didn't win this year, he would never be one of the greatest players ever. Officials obviously didn't like that because ANY close call went to the Heat. It got so bad that Game 3 the refs were so bad the other way that it was obvious something was said to them. 

A few tweaks and most of these could be fixed. Why even have a draft lottery? Do what every other sport does and give the worst team the first overall pick. If a team tanks, it tanks. Sucks for the fans but it's part of the game. Do my playoff schedule. Make some rule changes so fouls can be reviewed and waived off if they didn't occur (ahem, Kevin Durant against Lebron in Game 4). Also, if a certain ref makes three bad calls a season, suspend him for a game. 5 bad calls in a season, suspended for a week, 10 in a season suspsend him for the next season, and 12-15 in a two year period, fire him. Fining players for flopping (which is what the NBA is talking about doing) should stop that.

Don't get me wrong. I love the NBA almost as much as I love baseball. I just think we can make it better, and if something can be made better, why isn't anyone trying to do so?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Beginning of the End for Oakland

Last Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors revealed their plans to ditch the Oracle Arena, which has been their home since 1972, except for one year when they played in San Jose, while the Oracle was remodeled. The Warriors are planning on moving back to San Francisco in 2017 and opening a brand new water front arena, down the street a bit from AT&T Park, the home of baseball's San Francisco Giants. This was met with mixed reviews, as to be expected.

The NBA, greater San Francisco Bay Area, and most of the general public welcomed this news with open arms, partly because it's been expected ever since Joe Lacob and Peter Guber took over the franchise.

The East Bay and native Oakland residents didn't take so kindly to being told that one of the most electric atmospheres was leaving for San Francisco. This entry is to tell the fans of Oakland teams that 1) they'll all be gone soon, and 2) it's actually a good thing.

Let's start with bullet point number one: They'll all be gone soon.

The Warriors announcing their plans to depart is just the first step in making this a reality. It's been known for years that the Oakland Coliseum (now called the Coliseum) and the Oracle Arena need upgrades. The Oakland Raiders of the NFL, and the Oakland A's of Major Leage Baseball, have both talked about leaving. The Warriors are just the first team to put their plans in stone and set a final farewell to the East Bay.

For a long time the NFL has wanted a team in Los Angeles, and the Raiders haven't been able to draw crowds in Oakland for almost three years, consistently blacking out the team's home games. Add in the fact that the Raiders already left for the City of Angels once, and it looks to be them or the recently purchased Jacksonville Jaguars that get to make the move. If the Jaguars end up in LA, the San Francisco 49ers are building a stadium in Santa Clara that they boast can house two home teams. Any guess as to who the other home team would be? That's right. The Oakland Raiders.

The A's have been very vocal about wanting to move to San Jose to continue their franchise. They have insisted that they can't gain any revenue at the Coliseum and that the city of Oakland has been very difficult to work with in these trying times. Once you are able to get over multi-billionaires complaining about not having enough money, the A's run into the problem that the San Francisco Giants own territorial rights to San Jose, due to their Single-A Giants team being stationed there. Major League Baseball and the commissioner's office are looking into this, and I'd expect that eventually the Giants will give in and the A's will depart for the South Bay.

If I had to guess, I'd say that by the year 2020, the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Arena will just be relics of the professional sports teams that used to reside in Oakland, as they slowly collect dust, or are used purely for musical events. The A's will be in San Jose, the Raiders in LA, and the Warriors in San Francisco.

To all of you East Bay people, none of this is bad (with the exception possibly of the Raiders).

For those that don't know, visiting teams in all three sports currently practice and stay in San Francisco. No team stays in Oakland, all of them opting to travel over the Bay Bridge instead. Anyone that follows these teams knows how hard it is for them to attract free agents. Moving to any of the three cities mentioned already drastically improves the chances of any of the team's signing free agents. Also, more people will come to the games overall.

The Warriors may actually take a hit in ticket sales if they don't improve their first or second year in SF, but the Raiders and A's can't get people in the seats now. Moving somewhere that lacks a professional team in that sport, automatically improves the ability to sign better talent, as plain and simple, more butts in the seats means more cash in hand for the ownership group.

While the A's and Raiders would be moving farther away, the Warriors will be exactly 13 miles away from Oracle Arena (pretty much a stone's throw in sports geographical terms). The Raiders leaving would be heartbreaking to the true Raider fans in the Bay but would ultimately improve the NFL by putting a team in LA.

And the A's moving to San Jose would increase their fan base, and possibly allow the A's to up their payroll to contend with the Giants and make it an actual rivalry again.

So while Oakland stands a good chance of losing all of it's franchises in the next couple years, they all stand to gain individually.

Make no mistake about it: Professional sports in Oakland are dead, and that's not a bad thing.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giants' Off-Season Moves: Part 2 and Random Observations

Okay, I know it's been a long time since I've updated this. I'm just super busy...or lazy, or too involved watching/talking about sports to write about them. I apparently suck at updating this. Anyway, now that we have that out of the way, let's continue on my breakdown of the Giants' off-season moves.

We left off last time with the Giants down -2 in my book. Then my buddy Peter questioned why I didn't have the Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera trade listed, which took place in November. The reason I didn't list it? For some unknown reason, the Giants don't have it listed on their site. This may be my favorite trade the Giants have made since I've (probably unhealthily) followed the franchise.

Anyone that knows me, knows I clamored for the Giants to get rid of Sanchez for years. I didn't think he was great in 2009, and loudly said they should have asked who was interested in him on November 2, 2010. For those of you wondering why such a specific date? That's the day after the Giants won the World Series, and the first official day of the off-season, which is when teams are allowed to make deals. Sanchez was a great left handed starter at points, and a guaranteed loss for the Giants at others. After they won the World Series, most of the credit (rightfully so) went to the pitching staff comprised of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Jonathan Sanchez. In my opinion, Sanchez doesn't belong in the same conversation with those three. He's an average starting pitcher that threw a no-hitter which led to a huge increase in his trade value the Giants could have used to bring a much needed big bat to San Francisco. They decided to hang on to him for one more year, and he let them down. Jonathan Sanchez was unreliable in 2011, and the Giants in the off-season decided to trade him to the Kansas City Royals for Melky Cabrera. He has a solid arm in right field and actually hits the ball enough to be threatening to opposing pitchers. He was one of the Royals' star players and the fact the Giants were able to flip Sanchez straight up for him is a steal in my eyes. This is a +4 move, which brings the total to +2. Now we can get into this year's moves.

January 2012
Jan. 18: Giants sign Brian Burress, Wilmon Rodriguez, and Gregor Blanco.
Burress and Blanco have already made appearances on the Giants this season, which Blanco making the club out of Spring Training, and Burress coming up with the amount of injuries that the bullpen has seen. Blanco is a great fourth outfielder for any club, and should be starting for the Giants next to Pagan and Cabrera right now, which he is. +1 for Gregor Blanco. Wilmon Rodriguez has never pitched at the big league level so we can't evaluate him. Brian Burress I don't understand the signing of. He's a left handed pitcher that hasn't seen success in the major leagues as his numbers show (18-25 record with a career 5.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.62). I'd say  -1 for this signing which breaks the Giants even on the day, leaving them at still a +2.

Jan. 25: Giants sign Todd Linden
Yes, the same Todd Linden that the Giants had years ago, that had one good season and then everyone kept hoping the magic would return, which it never did. Not much point in harping on this though, since he was released and is now in the New York Yankees' system. Nothing really to grade here.

February 2012
Feb. 8: Giants sign Guillermo Mota, Ryan Theriot, and Clay Hensley. As you already know from the previous article, Mota resigned with the Giants. He was a huge key in the bullpen for them and no one could have predicted he'd violate the drug policy of MLB and get suspended for 100 games, so that can't be held against the Giants. +1 for Mota. Ryan Theriot is another player on the level of Mike Fontenot and Jeff Keppinger, except Keppinger made more contact, and Fontenot had more (although not by much) power. To make matters worse, Ryan Theriot is currently injured. -1 for that signing. Clay Hensley is a huge addition to the Giants' bullpen, especially with the injuries they've suffered this season. Bruce Bochy has relied on Hensley in tough spots. While his record of 1-3 and a WHIP of 1.37 aren't great, his ERA is respectable at 2.35 this season, and he should continue to be a solid option for the Giants. +1 for this signing .

Feb. 15: Giants sign Ramon Ortiz
Ortiz hasn't pitched in the majors for the Giants but his big league totals feature an ERA of 4.93 (not great) and a WHIP of 1.42 (also not great). He's also been playing since 1996, which means he's been around the game awhile. Something Giants fans will hate? He was on the 2002 Anaheim Angels when they beat the Giants in the World Series. -1 for this signing.

Feb. 16: Giants sign Travis Blackley
Blackley pitched for the Giants this season. It did not go well. So poorly in fact, that the Giants waived him, just to see him come back and face his former team as a member of the Oakland A's. Here is his line for the year. (6.14 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 7.1 innings pitched, 6 runs allowed, 5 of them earned.) It's not great. This is an odd scoring because I would -1 for the Giants signing him, but +1 them for releasing him, so it still breaks even, meaning heading into March, the Giants are still at a +2.

March 2012
March 30: Giants release Mike Fontenot
Wait, what? A team that's known for being injury prone released a utility player? To make room for Ryan Theriot? Who has less power than Fontenot? Only a San Francisco Giants fan would look at this move and say, "Yep, that's my Giants." -1 for the move.

And that's pretty much it for the Giants' off-season moves. That leaves them with a +1 advantage. I liked the moves for the most part. I feel they could have done more to sign a big bat, and should have at least entertained the idea of keeping Keppinger. In the grand scheme, I feel that the Giants improved themselves minimally, but hey, any improvement is welcome. There you have it. Now, some random thoughts about current sporting events.

Giants' Season So Far
At least they're starting to hit the ball now, but with an infield comprising of Joaquin Arias, Brandon Crawford, Charlie Culberson, and Emmanuel Burriss...can the Giants really expect any offense? Also, the errors have to stop. Lincecum isn't himself this year, and while the other pitchers are pitching well, the pitching isn't as great this year to make up for the lack of offense, and defense at this point. If the Giants plan on attempting to play in October this year, they should seriously look to trading Brandon Belt for a proven hitter. They'll need one in crunch time. Pablo Sandoval coming back should help, but he and Buster Posey can't be responsible for all of the offense. Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are starting to look like themselves, but they'll need days off and the Giants need Nate Schierholtz to prove he can hit again. After a great year last year, he appears to have regressed to his 2009/10 self that swings at everything (except fastballs right down the middle with the game on the line). IF the Giants can start hitting and playing better defense, the rest of the pitching staff should be able to pick up Lincecum and keep the Giants' in games. If the Dodgers start to falter off their best in the world status, look for the Giants to come creeping up behind them, provided San Francisco can play major league caliber baseball.

Cole Hamels, I Respect You
For those of you that don't know, Cole Hamels was suspended earlier this month for hitting Nationals' phenom, Bryce Harper. When asked if it was intentional Hamels told the reporters it definitely was and the kid needed to have a proper welcome to the big leagues. He should have been suspended, but I love the fact that Hamels came out and said what was on everyone's mind. Harper may be a solid player, but he's been in the league for thirty seconds and acts like he runs it. If he doesn't learn to shut up and just play the game soon, he may face a very Lebron James-type lifestyle, where everyone will actively root against him, and no one will expect anything different when he does play well. Speaking of basketball...

Thunder will win series with Lakers 4-1
This is pretty much just in here to piss off my roommate and anyone else that roots for the Lakers. I called a long time ago this would be the outcome, with the Thunder losing Friday night's game at STAPLES. The Thunder dominated LA in Game 1, then had the Lakers hand over games to them in Games 2 and 4. The only win came, like I said, on Friday night, and even that the Thunder could have won.

What were organizers thinking?
The LA Kings, LA Clippers, and LA Lakers all had home playoff games this weekend. The problem with that? They all play at the STAPLES Center, which meant tons of floor changes, and icy underlayment for the basketball games. That resulted in players slipping all over the place in the basketball games but STAPLES Center employees refused to blame it on the ice. Basketball players don't slip as often as they did in games hosted in LA this weekend. Can we please, please get to a point where every team has their own arena so we don't see playoff situations like this again? It's annoying and frankly, a little pathetic.

Well, that's where we'll leave off. Hope you enjoyed the entry, and again, sorry on taking so long to update. I'll try not to let it happen again.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Analyzing the San Francisco Giants' Off-Season Moves: Part 1

Many people have asked me throughout the off-season, what I've thought about the Giants' moves. In short, I've said "I'm pretty okay with them. I like what they did, but I think they could have done more." This is my in depth analysis of those moves. I'll rate every move on a +/- scale between 1-5 with how much I think it will help or hurt the Giants.

Anyone that remotely followed the 2011 San Francisco Giants (which is nearly everyone around the Bay Area since they were coming off their first world title since moving West in 1956), knows that their chances at the playoffs essentially ended May 25, 2011 when Marlins' utility man Scott Cousins bowled over Posey in a bang bang play at the plate. Everyone has their opinions on that play, which I think was a perfectly legal play that had a horrific result, but this post isn't about that night. To compound matters, the Giants lost their clutch hitting second baseman Freddy Sanchez on June 10. A friend of mine were at that game and sitting about 30 rows back on the third base side when the injury occurred. We could hear Freddy Sanchez scream, and knew that it wasn't going to be a "one game missed" type of injury. No, in effect, the Giants' season was slowly imploding on itself, as for the rest of the season we'd see Brandon Crawford, Orlando Cabrera, Mike Fontenot, Bill Hall, Emmanuel Burriss, and a few others all try to plug the middle infield spots. The Giants ended the season four games out of the Wild Card race and Giants' brass knew some changes had to be made. That leads us to the moves they made:

October 2011
After watching the Texas Rangers implode in the World Series against the Cardinals, the Giants' watched quite a few of their 2010 championship players choose free agency instead of trying to work out deals to stay with the club. Here are those players:
- *Carlos Beltran (It was assumed he was a rental all along so this wasn't a shock. He signed a deal with the World Champion Cardinals where they'll look to him to help plug the huge hitting hole that Albert Pujols has left)
- Pat Burrell (He just didn't put up numbers in 2011 and the Giants' respectfully told him to look for a job elsewhere. He actually ended up retiring.)
- *Orlando Cabrera (I understand why the Giants signed him last season, but he wants more playing time than he was going to get in San Francisco. I actually looked all over and can't find where he went)
- Mark DeRosa (DeRosa spent most of his time in a Giants' uniform on the DL, and just as things looked promising for him, he hurt himself at the plate in what looked like a career ending injury. A quick Google search shows that he's in camp for the Washington Nationals this year, though.)
- Guillermo Mota (Mota's actually back with the Giants this Spring, but he opted for free agency at the end of the 2011 season.)
- Cody Ross (All the chants of "Co-dy! Co-dy!" had died out at AT&T Park during the 2011 season as Ross came back to Earth and played like the utility outfielder that he is. Understandably the Giants told him they were going in a different direction and he looked elsewhere. He signed with the Boston Red Sox who are hoping to avenge one of the greatest September collapses in MLB history.)

* Neither Cabrera or Beltran were on the 2010 World Champion Giants, but they were key free agents that the Giants weren't able to resign this season.

I understand why all of these players chose free agency. The Giants were coming off a disappointing season, and players go where the money is. With the organization loudly talking about how they are/were going to keep Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain long term, it doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that will leave little room to sign big name players like Beltran.

The Giants also activated Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez from the Disable List in October but that's because the Disabled List goes away at the end of the season.

November 2011
In November the Giants mostly just added minor leaguers to their squad. However, they made a move that I don't understand....they released CF Darren Ford (who is now playing for the Seattle Mariners).

It was quite obvious that Ford was never going to be a .300 hitter, or a Gold Glove outfielder, but speed on the base path is like a lefty specialist out of the bullpen. You don't just give it up for nothing. Any true Giants fan will tell you Darren Ford is a big reason the Giants got to the playoffs in 2010, when he came in to pinch run in the 9th inning, stole second and third, and scored on a wild pitch. Honestly, none of us were ever going to tell our grandkids anything about Darren Ford except for that one game in September of 2010. I still think San Francisco should have tried to get something for him, even if it was just a minor league player. Losing the speed of Darren Ford is a -1 for the Giants.

December 2011
December 7: The Giants trade CF Andres Torres and RHP Ramon Ramirez to the New York Mets for CF Angel Pagan. 

My mother was not happy with this trade because Torres had become one of her favorite players. She may be the only one. Torres had a dream season for the Giants in 2010, but explained to everyone why it took until he was 30 years old to crack the big leagues for good in 2011. He swung at everything, and didn't hit anything. There was also this problem:

Torres getting on base in 2010: "Yes! Now we'll get a stolen base and have a runner in scoring position"
Torres getting on base in 2011: "Please don't get picked off. I know we're all taught how to run bases in little league but you keep getting picked of---oh wait, you got picked off again."

It was brutal to watch. Here are Ramon Ramirez's 2011 stats: 3-3 record, 2.62 ERA, 4 SV, and a WHIP of 1.17. Those aren't bad stats when you go down the stat line, but I distinctly remember being worried that we were going to give up leads every time he entered the game. I'll miss him more than Torres but not enough that I'm disappointed he left if it meant we could get Pagan. Essentially, we got a better, younger (albeit only by 3 years) version of Andres Torres and didn't give up much to do it. Let's say +2 on this one.

Then Eli Whiteside and Jeff Keppinger were forced into free agency when the Giants non-tendered their contracts.

The Giants had Buster Posey coming back this season, Chris Stewart still around, and promising up and coming Hector Sanchez in the minor leagues at the catcher position. Rookie Brandon Crawford, utility man Mike Fontenot, and injury prone Freddy Sanchez were all they had for middle infield depth. They knew what had to be done. they signed Eli Whiteside. I'll never defend this move. This was awful. Let's break down the two players more.

Buster Posey - injured but RotY and definite starter when he comes back
Eli Whiteside - can't hit and spent all last season dealing with an elbow injury
Chris Stewart - can't hit but has one of the best arms I've seen in a long time
Hector Sanchez - needs more time in the minors but looks promising

Eli Whiteside has no business being on that team. Posey can catch most days, and when he's playing first or resting, you play Stewart. If by some freak accident, both are unable to catch, you have Pablo Sandoval who came into the league as a catcher so he can back up. Whiteside just takes up space on a team that has enough trouble hitting already without carrying a career .218 hitter.

I already outlined the problems the Giants have at the middle infield spots. Let's also take into account that Keppinger was the only hitter that reliably put the ball in play for the Giants. How can you carry four catchers...and 3 middle infielders? Especially when two are Sanchez (who's career looks to be seriously in jeopardy) and Crawford (who could probably benefit from another season in AAA). The idea that Whiteside is who the Giants needed, and not Keppinger, will always leave me dumbfounded. That's a -3 in my book. (Keppinger is now with the Tampa Bay Rays)

For those of you keeping score at home: we're at -2 right now.

The Giants also signed 2B Joaquin Arias in December, who I don't know enough about to judge. His stats aren't horrible though. (In 113 games, he's a career .276 hitter with 23 RBI. His BB/K of 6/19 is pretty horrendous though.)
The other move they made was signing RHP Eric Hacker who has only pitched five games at the big league level over three years. Again, not enough to judge.

And that's where we'll end tonight. I went through the final three months of last year with you guys tonight, and next time I'll bring us up to date.

With the Giants losing the offseason battle right now by -2 in my book, I can tell you things get better. Look forward to the January-March post coming soon.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Great Ceremony That Will Be Remembered For All The Wrong Reasons

This is an odd way to start what I hope is a successful sports blog. I'm starting with a blog I don't want to write. I've had a bunch of stories lately that I'd prefer to write about: the Giants' improved (in my opinion) roster, Peyton Manning's terrible (again, in my opinion) career move, the biggest trade the Warriors have made in years....and yet, this is the article that needs to be written right now: "Fans" of the Golden State Warriors ruining  what should have been a great halftime ceremony.

You may have noticed I used quotations around the word "fan". That's because the majority of the crowd at the Oracle Arena tonight, cannot be considered fans, or at least, not fans with any class. No, these people are greedy scumbags that have proven they don't understand sports or how to be respectful.

For those of you that didn't see it, the Golden State Warriors retired Chris Mullin's #17 jersey tonight. The ceremony took place at halftime, with Greg Papa MC'ing the event. He quickly introduced the past Warrior greats such as Al Attles, Don Nelson, the other 2/3rds of "Run TMC". There was also a video tribute to Chris Mullin. After all the others spoke, it was Mullin's turn. He killed it on the mic, thanking "the greatest fans in all of sports" to loud applause. Then Joe Lacob (one of the current Warriors owners) took the mic.

He couldn't even get a word in amidst some of the loudest booing anyone has received at the hands of Warrior fans since Chris Cohan at the 2000 All-Star Game. Chris Mullin eventually had to step up and try to quiet the rowdy fans, but to no avail. It took Rick Barry basically telling "the greatest fans in the NBA" to shut the hell up.

Now, I have no idea why they booed. Could it be because the Warriors haven't had a winning season since 2007, when Lacob and Guber didn't own them? Could it be the fact that the Warriors' new ownership group kept an injured Stephen Curry all while trading the franchise player of the last seven years, Monta Ellis?

I'm sure it was a bit of both, but neither had precedent tonight at the ceremony. That ceremony was to honor Chris Mullin, not rate the performance of the current Warriors' teams. All the fans' booing did, was show everyone watching, how greedy and pathetic some people can be. It was the true definition of the "few ruining it for the many". Many fans (such as myself) were sitting at home, enjoying the ceremonies as we celebrated one of the greatest Warriors ever. Then the booing ruined it. We were ashamed, disappointed, and disgusted with our counterparts in the arena. They were there. They got to see Mullin's jersey retired in person....and they ruined it. It's absolutely pathetic.

This night will be remembered as the night fans booed Joe Lacob at center court. Not the night we celebrated one of the greatest Warriors ever, and that's something no one can ever get back.

Congratulations Oracle Arena Attendees on March 19, 2012, you ruined one of the greatest nights in the NBA. I hope you can learn to like yourselves again, because those of us true fans that understand a little bit about the NBA and the Warriors organization, lost all respect for you tonight, and it will never again be true to say that Warriors fans are the greatest in all of sports.

No, "Warriors fans" and "greatest fans" will never be synonymous again. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hello Again

Hey everyone,

I've decided to once again try to start blogging about sports. I'm going to make a more concerned effort this time to keep up with it and not just fall off. I'll probably update once or twice a week and it will be all sports. Most of my writings will be about the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants, or San Francisco 49ers, but I'm sure some other teams will get some love as well. This is pretty much just a placeholder to get this thing up and running, but it feels good to be starting over here and hopefully "Sports By Fraz" lasts awhile and I don't just randomly stop.