Sam

Posts Tagged ‘Giants’

Spring Training, circa 2011

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 5:42 am

I was talking to a friend in Hong Kong yesterday and he mentioned that it was the first day of Spring Training. Whenever someone talks about Spring Training, I cannot help but think of a wonderful Roger Angell essay, “The old folks behind home,” first published in the New Yorker in 1962 and re-published in Angell’s collection of baseball essays, The Summer Game. Angell’s is a wonderful essay that describes the adagio pace of spring training as it once was, games played in front of sparse crowds, fans -many of them retirees rich in their knowledge of the game – and players mingling in casual proximity as if in the produce section at a local supermarket. I love this essay and read it every March, for this is how I remember Spring training as well.

How different is spring training nowadays. Most games are sold-out, attracting crowds in some parks that would equal crowds during the regular season. A crowd of 15,000 for a Grapefruit League contest, for example, would have been unheard of when I was a kid but it is routine today. As the attendance figures have escalated, so have the ticket prices. In the 1960s a spring training ticket cost $ 0.50. Today when I looked on EBAY there were over 5000 listings for tickets and the going price seemed to be about $ 25.00. Regrettably, the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues are no longer names that resonate as teams are wont to schedule some spring training games in their regular season ballparks or even abroad. It is not uncommon nowadays for teams to play an exhibition game in Tokyo, of all places. Worst of all, teams have fantasy camps to go along with the big-league camp which means that at some point during the spring you have to suffer images of your boyhood idols wearing anachronistic polyester uniforms that do not conceal the comestible excesses of retirement.

In essence Spring Training has become every bit as bad the regular season. The only difference is that games don’t count in the standings.

Who knows that will probably change soon as well.

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Meaningless statistics

In Uncategorized on November 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm

It being November, I told myself I was not going to write any more about baseball. In November people should turn their thoughts to football and Thanksgiving, and nothing else. I am The Sports Purist after all. But seeing as the Giants World Series celebration is not until tomorrow I will chime in on one more very irritating custom nowadays, namely the overuse of statistics during broadcasts.

Statistics, most of them quite meaningless, have come to dominate baseball broadcasts nowadays. Computers can do amazing things such as tell you what a player’s average is against a certain pitcher or in a particular ballpark. Unfortunately they can also tell you what a player’s average was on days when he ate a tuna sandwhich as opposed to roast beef. One statistic that we hear all the time now, for example, is that so and so  led the league in RBIs with runners in scoring position with two outs and two strikes . Do we really care about this kind of statistic ?  I think not, especially when we learn that so and so is a lifetime .248 hitter who promptly strikes out with the bases loaded – as if on cue.

Another case in point: yesterday following the Giants triumph. Chris Rose of FOX informed Edgar Renteria that he was one of only four players to have game winning hits in two separate World Series. As he named the three other players Rose hesitated before each name with all the studied drama of Bob Barker revealing what is behind Door # 1, Door # 2 and Door # 3.  Renteria appeared dumb with astonishment to learn that he was in the class of three legendary Hall of Famers.  Or maybe he simply didn’t understand what Rose was saying since his English is not that good. Who knows, but the mere fact, that Edgar Renteria is mentioned in the same breath as Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio and Yogi Berra tells you what a meaningless statistic it was.

OK, that is enough baseball for the year.

Why I don’t like the Giants

In Uncategorized on October 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I am from the Bay Area where I grew up a Giants fan. In fact, if I had to name one sports team that informed my childhood it would be the San Francisco Giants. I love to recall those great Giants teams of the late 60s and early 70s – with Mays, McCovey, Marichal et al. as well as the Giants of the early 80s with Jack Clark, Greg Minton Darrell Evans et al. I still wear my 1965 Giants hat as if it were a religious artifact. Paradoxically, however, I root against the team that now that plays at ATT Park. People are puzzled by this. My reasons, however, are as follows:

1.) The Giants have turned their back on tradition. Of the three original NY teams, only the Giants wear uniforms different from those they wore in NY. The Dodgers and Yankees wear the same uniforms in 2010 that they wore in 1960. The Giants,on the other hand, have changed their uniform style at least five times since moving to San Francisco. For years fans clamoured for the team to bring back the the uniforms of the Mays, McCovey & Marichal era.  When the ownership changed hands in 1993, the marketing dept said they were bringing back the old uniforms but what we got, and what the Giants still wear 17 years later, is a bastardization of that classic 60s look.  The lettering on the road uniform is too small and on the home uniform too large.  Why they just couldn’t replicate every detail of  the old uniforms, as the Yanks and Dodgers do,  I have no idea.  Stupid.

2.) Neither the Yankees nor the Dodgers have a mascot, obviously aware that such buffoonery is not befitting of their august traditions. The Giants, on the other hand, have pandered to the masses with mascots such as “The Crazy Crab” and “Lou Seal.” Mascots are for expansion teams ( the teams are usually so bad management has to come up with something to entertain the fans) not for time-honoured franchises.

3.) The Giants have no Bob Sheppard, no Vin Scully, no Ross Porter. The Management simply hasn’t seen fit to attach any importance to continuity in the broadcast booth, failing to understand that fans sometimes grow to love a team because of the team’s announcers. Although the team’s current announcers, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper have established themselves with local fans, beloved broadcasters of an earlier era were discarded like empty milk cartons. Once again, management has turned its back on tradition. Sheer stupidity.

4.) Giants fans cheered Barry Bonds as he was being indicted on perjury charges, oblivious to his deep moral flaws and failing to understand that the Giants, as one of the older franchises, have a standard to uphold. Bonds was quite simply a disgrace to a franchise that boasts the great names of McGraw, Mathewson, Hubbell, Ott, Mays, McCovey et al.  But even today Giants mangement and fans embrace him.

5.)  The new breed of Giants fan is a transplant. He has moved to the Bay Area to work in the computer industry where he makes well over 100K a year. His car of choice is a BMW or mini-Cooper and he reads books on Kindle. He is ignorant of the history of franchise and goes to a game just because it has become “the thing to do in San Francisco”. He spends much of his time at the ballpark on his cell phone or waiting in long lines for garlic fries and a gourmet burger. He wears a replica jersey.

If you go to a Giants game nowadays and the guy next to you is a slob with mustard stains on his shirt who knows who Jim Ray Hart is then you have won the lottery. Alas, usually they have never heard of him and you are left sitting there in silence staring at your beer …..and wishing “Lou Seal” would just go away.