Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Separating Dreams From Reality On The 49ers Coaching Situation


Let's make one thing clear, in the past few days that the 49ers' 2010 season has been officially over, the 49ers' organization has not missed a step. They have made all the moves the fans want and all the moves needed to have this team move forward from this most disappointing of seasons.

First things first, fire Mike Singletary. Check. His unemployment was assured quite awhile before putting Alex Smith in with 9 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter of Week 16, I'm sure.

Less than 24 hours after that, many people's dreams became reality when it was revealed that Eddie DeBartolo would be a consultant to the 49ers' ownership. Not a better move could be made, and I have a feeling he may be doing much more than being just a consultant.

A day later, Bill Parcells was asked to help with the search for a new general manager. More good news. Finally some people with heads on their shoulders making decisions.

Which brings us to #1 on the list of "Things The 49ers Need Accomplished If They Ever Want To Make The Playoffs Again." The general manager.

Now I'm not too up-to-date on who is who in the world of general manager candidates, but it seems to me the 49ers may have their two main candidates already selected for a fight to the death. That would be Tony Softli, the former VP of Player Personnel for the Rams, and Trent Baalke, the stand-in GM after Scot McCloughan's fall from grace.

From what it sounds like, we may be seeing Trent Baalke making the decisions in the near future, but we will find out more by next week.

#2 on the list, head coach.

Now I will keep this short and sweet, and I hope I'm not the first one to be the bearer of bad news. But we can have wild fantasies about Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher, even Brian Billick. What is so attractive about the 49ers that a premiere coach like those will want to come to San Francisco? Gruden is so sought after right now that he pretty much will be able to pick the perfect position with the perfect franchise exactly how he wants it. And Cowher and Billick are much in the same boat.

What is so attractive to Gruden about a team with a 29 year old owner, no significant offensive coordinator, no GM in place, and a mess at QB?

I don't want to say stop dreaming, but think realistically here. Odds are a re-tread coach such as Mangini, McDaniels, Marvin Lewis, etc. will be more realistic for the 49ers' head coaching position. What will draw them here is the cast of offensive weapons. Davis, Gore, Crabtree, Morgan were all not used to their full potential in Singletary's system. An offensive mind could change some things.

Now, if those cast of characters draws someone like Gruden, then now we're talking, but realistically, you can bring in as many consultants as you want or look like you are making all the right moves, but until I see Gruden in red and gold, it's all just talk.

But the 49ers' ownership is on the right track to start.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Things That Need To Happen For The 49ers To Make the Playoffs


As if it isn't ridiculous enough that we are talking about a 5-8 team having a chance at making the playoffs, the 49ers actually have a more than legitimate shot.

But let's roll through some scenarios that need to happen in order for the 49ers to get that shot. Remember, the 49ers will own the tiebreaker among the NFC West teams if tied at the end of the season.

1. Win. The 49ers don't have to win their next 3 games, although that would help, but they need to win 2 of the next 3, and that needs to include beating the Rams in Week 16. As of now, the Rams are tied with the Seahawks at 6-7 for the division lead, although the Rams hold the tiebreaker. Let's be real, though. The 49ers do not need to win in San Diego this week. If they do, that's great, it only helps their chances and those chances get extremely high with a win this week. Again, it is not a must. What is a must is a win at St. Louis the following week. The division pretty much comes down to that game for the 49ers, and they need to win or their season is over. Tack on a win at home against Arizona the following week and the 49ers are headed to the playoffs.

2. The Rams need to lose against either the Chiefs or Seattle. Or both. Pretty much, the Rams need to lose 2 of their next 3 games, and one of them needs to be against the 49ers. Now if the Chiefs beat the Rams this week, then things get a lot more clearer for the 49ers, but a Rams win and a 49er loss would call for a Seattle victory against the Rams in Week 17, but let's not go there.

3. Seattle loses to Atlanta and Tampa Bay, then beats St. Louis. Don't forget the Seattle Seahawks are still in this playoff picture, I know, we forgot after that butt-whooping they were handed by the 49ers last week. They do have 3 tough opponents coming up, and the way they are playing, I doubt if they win any of them, but nonetheless, do not count them out. The 49ers need their help. They need the Seahawks to lose 2 of their next 3 games, but have that one win be against the Rams in Week 17. A tall order, I know, but very possible if you think about it.

4. 49ers beat NFC West. The one thing the 49ers have been good at all year is beating the NFC West. They are 1-0 against the Rams and Cardinals, and 1-1 against the Seahawks. The 49ers have games against the Cardinals and Rams left in their division. If they win those, they will get the divisional tiebreaker, which only leaves the Rams and Seahawks to lose 2 of their next 3 games for the 49ers to win the NFC West. Again, very possible. From the outside, the 49ers have already beaten the Rams once before, and the Cardinals just aren't very good. Let's not assume anything, though.

5. Help. The 49ers need help from teams like the Falcons, Bucs, and Chiefs, maybe even the Seahawks. A win by the Chiefs over the Rams this week, makes the 49ers/Rams game the following week what it all comes down to. On the other side, the 49ers need the Falcons to beat the Seahawks, and yet have the Seahawks turn around and beat the Rams. Yes, I know, we are asking for a lot, but these scenarios are more than likely, which is why the 49ers can even dream of the playoffs right now.

Or the 49ers could just win their next 3 games. Wouldn't that be simple.

One last thing I want to add on. For the 49ers to make the playoffs, they need to have Alex Smith at QB. He gives them the best playbook and the best chance at winning games.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Top 5 Prospects In the Giants Organization


A couple years ago, there were inklings that the Giants would have a slew of strong players coming from their farm system. They went by the names Posey, Bumgarner, Sandoval, etc. Now, those players played a significant role in helping the Giants win the 2010 World Series.

So with that kind of success coming from the minors so recently, that means the Giants farm system is depleted, right? Well, a little, but there are still a few names lingering down there that most certainly will get call-ups real soon. Here are a few:

5. SS- Brandon Crawford
I'm sure you have heard rumblings of this kid becoming the next Giants shortstop. Maybe even thought he would be the Opening Day starter at SS in the 2011 season now with Juan Uribe taking a hike. That was before the Tejada signing. Not sure if he is MLB ready just yet. Don't get me wrong, his defensive skills are MLB ready, but his bat sure needs some work if he is to progress to the next level. He played in A-San Jose then worked his way up to AA-Richmond last season and seems to be a promising infielder for the Giants in the near future. That is really the reason why he is on this list. I'm really not impressed with him as a Major League player just yet, but he seems to be the closest to gettting the call to the pros because of his defense and the void the Giants have at shortstop.

4. OF- Francisco Peguero
One growing similarity you will notice between the top prospects for the Giants is speed. Peguero may be at the top of that list. But although he can steal bases like nobody's business, his plate discipline may need some work. If you can't envision this guy or haven't seen him play, just think of a skinnier Pablo Sandoval who still swings at everything, yet Peguero can put the bat on the ball. He is a tough strike out, which is why the Giants like him. Problem is he swings at everything. He is in a real battle with Darrren Ford for the starting CF of the future.

3. SP- Zack Wheeler
Many remember when he was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft. The 20 year old potential starting pitcher for the Giants, and top pitching prospect, has huge upside in the future. But that is all he has right now. He had a rough season last year and that has sparked some concerns about how fast he will rise to the Majors. Don't expect him in San Francisco anytime soon. This is not a Madison Bumgarner who blew through the minors. Wheeler will have a slow rise to the Majors. He will need to fix his wildness problem if anything is to change. Hopes are he starts in A-San Jose in 2011.

2. CF- Gary Brown
Speedy and athletic will describe Brown. He was the 24th overall pick by the Giants in this last 2010 draft. He has modest power, but doubts about him hitting consistently may have him down this list a little farther for some, but I like him. He is a top of the order type of hitter and is another talented CF prospect for the Giants. He hit .438 with 41 RBI's and 31 SB in college at Cal State Fullerton, and was called one of the fastest players in the country. We'll know more about him when he presumably starts in A-San Jose in 2011.

1. 1B- Brandon Belt
This is an easy pick right here. Belt is the best player in the Giants farm system, no doubt. I don't want to talk him up too much, but .383 with 10 HR's and 62 RBI's in 77 games in A-San Jose last season may do the job for me. Again, I don't want to get everyone's hopes up, but he is being very much compared to Buster Posey in terms of upside. If you haven't seen him play, picture the future John Olerud. A skinny, hit for average player. At 6'5" 195 lbs., he may need to put on some weight, but there has not been a hitting prospect in the Giants' farm system with this much anticipation, well, since Posey. Odds are, he does the same thing as Posey did last season. Belt will start in AAA-Fresno, but given an injury or lack of hitting from someone in San Francisco, Belt is on the first plane to the Major Leagues.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giants Done Dealing?


The San Francisco Giants have had a surprisingly up and down offseason so far in the last month since their World Series Championship.

The Aubrey Huff signing was on the top of their list, and they got that done quickly, but the Giants hit a bit of a speed bump when their walking catch phrase Juan Uribe parted San Francisco for enemy Hollywood. The Giants would counter, though, with the signing of Miguel Tejada who will fill the void at shortstop, or third base, or wherever the heck they plan on putting him. It's really not clear.

But what has some Giants fans a little disturbed is the Pat Burrell signing. Now, theres no problem in signing Pat Burrell, especially for the $1 million petty change they paid him (by the way, Burrell would have signed with SF for peanuts). But the fact GM Brian Sabean signed him so early in the offseason has some a little ticked off.

The Giants seemed to make it clear that after Burrell's performance in the World Series, he was going to be last on the Giants' list of who to sign. Then why one month into the offseason did the Giants sign him? Does this mean they're done?

It sure seems that way, although let's not jump to conclusions until after the Winter Meetings. But odds are the Giants are done making moves.

Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals for bajillions, and Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford are about to get straight paid by the Yankees, or whoever outbids them (I say no one). So get your heads out of the gutter with those thoughts, Giants fans.

I sure hope the Giants aren't done. They need a legit shortstop or legit third baseman, because I don't see Tejada making it through an entire season at shortstop. What happens if Pablo Sandoval stinks up the joint like he did last year? Is Mike Fontenot or Ryan Rohlinger the answer? Not if they want to repeat as World Champs.

Jason Bartlett is still out there for trade and I wouldn't mind him running the infield in 2011. But all Giants rumors involving Bartlett faded away after the Tejada and Burrell signings.

So they're done dealing, right?

Well, let's give it some time, I mean, the Winter Meetings do sometimes get General Managers a little frisky.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bye Bye UUUU-Ribe


There will be no more Uuuuu-ribe chants coming from AT&T Park in the near future. The next time Juan Uribe comes to the city of San Francisco, there will be a mixture of boo's and mixed applause. But mostly boo's, I mean, he will be playing for the Dodgers.

The fans of San Francisco have the right to boo him. Uribe pulled one of the dirtiest moves in the book yesterday by signing with the enemy Dodgers in what is obviously a money motivated move to LA by Uribe.

Uribe signed with the Dodgers for 3 yrs./$21 million. Do you think the Giants were going to match that offer? Not for a utility player they weren't.

But in a sense the Giants are losing part of what made this team who they were. Uribe represents what the Giants season was all about and what they stood for. He would swing as hard as he could, and it was either a lined shot or a swing and a miss. Such was the Giants season.

Uribe is not a traitor for joining the Dodgers. He saw a deal where he could get rich, it just happened to be with his former team's arch rival. It's his first professional chance at getting paid, and he wasn't going to think twice about passing that up at age 31.

I'm sure he wasn't even thinking about missing those Uuuuu-Ribe chants Giants fans had come to love. They were fun while they lasted. Now no more.

Don't forget, the Giants had a chance to match that offer by the Dodgers, GM Brian Sabean just chose not to pay through the nose for a guy who batted .248 last season. But the Dodgers were.

So what does this mean from a Giants perspective? It means that Sabean may have something up his sleeve if he didn't even think about matching the Uribe offer. There have been murmurs of maybe Miguel Tejada coming to SF, and Mychael Urban this morning suggested a trade for Marco Scutaro from Boston.

But may I make my own suggestion for Jason Bartlett of Tampa Bay. He bats for average and would be an upgrade over Renteria or Uribe, whoever they decide to replace him with.

The Giants have money now. It will be nice to see them use it in the coming weeks.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Win Or Call It A Season For the 49ers On MNF


I might be stating the obvious here, but the San Francisco 49ers need to win on Monday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

Sure, we've been saying this for weeks now. Every game is a must win if you start the season 0-5. But this week is actually a 'must win.'

On Sunday, the NFC West's 'elite' (ya we'll call them that) Seattle Seahawks got obliterated by the KC Chiefs, and the 'Fighting Sam Bradford's' (also known as the St. Louis Rams) snuck by Denver. That would mean Seattle and St. Louis are tied atop the NFC West at 5-6. Wow. How competitive...

There's a problem, though, you die hard 49er fans. Is it the fact that the die hard 49er fans may be the only type of 49er fan left? Possibly, but no. It's that the 49ers' record is 3-7 and time is ticking on the their season.

The Good News: 49ers still have to play the Seahawks and Rams.

The Bad News: There's only 6 games left.

The Reality: Every week I find it harder and harder to come up with possibilities where the 49ers can win the NFC West.

So, yes, this is a 'must win' game because I don't see the 49ers doing much damage in the Frozen Tundra next Sunday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bad Weekend For Bay Area Pro Teams


Good thing the San Francisco Giants just won the World Series, otherwise the catastrophe that was this weekend in Bay Area professional sports would be enough to drive a Bay Area sports fan off a cliff.

The word of the weekend, children, is "Frustration."

Be it the Sharks, Warriors, 49ers, or even Raiders, every game that was played by those teams was as frustrating for a sports fan as it gets. These teams put up a record of 0-5 this weekend, quite possibly the worst culmination of 3 days in a long time for Bay Area sports.

We'll start with the Warriors who played two games this weekend against the NY Knicks and LA Lakers. I know they are missing David Lee, but the performance early against the Knicks was lackluster and the effort in the 2nd half was not enough to pull one out.

By the way, why was 6'3" Stephen Curry guarding 6'10" Danilo Gallinari with the game on the line? I was getting sick to my stomach watching Gallinari drill 3-pointer after 3-pointer in the eye of Curry.

As for the Laker game, tragic is more like it, and we'll leave it at that. Anytime a team loses by 30 points, the best analysis is no analysis.

The Sharks did not fair much better. Playing the red hot Colombus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Sharks could not find the net and were shut-out 3-0 on their home ice for the first time in over a year.

Either Todd McClellan needs to split up that 1st line, or they just need to play better. They are not contributing at all, and the Sharks cannot thrive on the great play from Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture alone.

Need I dignify the 49ers with post-game analysis? A game that was needed to be won was not. That falls directly on the head coach, and there have been murmurs that the loss may have Singletary with one foot out the door. Finally.

The Raiders seemed to be the Bay Area's only hope on Sunday. Yet a big game against the Steelers that could have showed the NFL they were for real resulted in a disappointing blow out. Did they just have a bad game, or are these the true Raiders? The Raiders aren't a bad team, but they're not at all on the Steelers level.

Maybe this week will go a bit better for the Bay Area. The Sharks host the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, followed by the Canucks and Oilers on the road.

The Warriors are in a state of disarray right now after their hot start. A game at home tonight against the Denver Nuggets could get ugly, but the Rockets, Grizzlies, and T-Wolves on the road this week may be what this team needs to get back on track.

To the Bay Area sports fans, it can only get better from here.....right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Warriors Are Nothing Without Lee


Let's face it. Since off-season pick-up David Lee has been injured, the Warriors remind people a whole lot of the team that was thrown out on the court the last few seasons.

You know how you can tell? For several trips down the floor last night, everyone and their mother knew what play was going to be run. It's called the "Monta Is Our Only Option" play. I bet you can guess what happens, huh? The Warriors throw the ball around for a bit, acting like there is actually a play being run, and then sooner or later Ellis is isolated and goes one-on-one with whoever is guarding him at that point.

The outcome is one of three: a bucket, defensive foul, or offensive foul. That's a 33% chance of something good happening. I don't like those odds. And last night, the odds seemed worse than that.

The Warriors made a great move signing Lee and trading Anthony Randolph who has had little or no effect on the Knicks' season so far. Lee brings rebounding and a post to mid-range game. He is a legit power forward, something that the Warriors have needed for years.

The best part about Lee is that he takes the attention off Ellis and Curry for a second.

He hasn't put up crazy numbers so far this season (14 ppg, 11 rpg), but Lee brings the team options other than "find Curry for 3" or "Let Monta Just Go." If the ball goes inside to Lee, he can use a post-up move, pass to a slasher, or dish it beyond the arc to someone (preferably Curry) for 3.

Those seem like better odds of scoring a bucket, right?

This is a better team than last year, and although their record so far may be a little wishful, it is not far off.

With Lee, they are a contender for the playoffs. Without, you're looking at the failure that was the last few seasons.

Feel better David Lee.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sharks Heating Up, Play Best Game Of the Year


For those who thought the Sharks were on the verge of laying down this year, may I direct you to the box score of last night's thrashing of the "Team to beat" LA Kings.

The Sharks had 6 goals by 6 different players, including at least 1 goal from each of the 4 lines.

The Sharks were already dubbed a mediocre team this early in the season, yet these last 3 games have shown that maybe they just needed a little time to rev things up a bit. Oh, and Jumbo Joe Thornton is back.

Sure, you know what you are going to get from the 1st line pretty much every night. They're arguably the best line in hockey. What is cool to see is the 2nd line produce, no matter who Todd McClellan throws out on that line every night.

One staple of that 2nd line is Ryane Clowe who has 2 goals and 4 assists in the last 4 games, and has been the reason why the Sharks are on a 3-game winning streak right now.

But what concerned the Sharks prior to the season has been the Sharks best asset in my opinion. I'm talking about the youngsters Mitchell, Couture, and McGinn. But mostly Mitchell and Couture, although McGinn, 22, does not get enough credit for the little things he does.

Couture, 21, has 6 goals and 4 assists on the year, while Mitchell, 25, has tallied 3 goals and 2 assists. McClellan has moved them up and down the lines so often, it's impressive to see how little that fazes their play.

With the team starting to come together, the Sharks are starting to heat up and we shouldn't be surprised. This has been the best regular season team in all of hockey these past few years. What made you think any different?

In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. And the Kings got a rude awakening last night at The Tank.

Monday, November 15, 2010

With Troy Smith At the Helm, 49ers Hang By Slightly Thicker Thread


If you weren't sold on Troy Smith as quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, you sure were by Sunday night.

Smith went 17/28 for 356 yards including a late 4th quarter drive culminating in a touchdown to Michael Crabtree with 2 minutes to play in regulation that could have sent chills up your spine if you were so inclined.

It was a huge win for the 49ers not only because it was against division rival St. Louis who fell to 4-5, but because the 49ers really don't have any choice from here on out but to win. They put themselves in a hole early in the season going 0-5, but now have put 2 wins back-to-back and look rather impressive with the "other" Smith at the helm.

Smith brings something different to this team. Maybe it was the 65 yard deep ball to Josh Morgan in the 1st quarter, but it seems Smith takes logical chances deep. When Alex Smith went deep, it usually meant bad news. But when Troy Smith throws deep, the ball seems to have life and the receivers seem to be better timed to catch it. Weird.

Taking good chances deep leads to more holes for Frank Gore to run through and a chance for OC Mike Johnson to open up the playbook a little more.

With Alex Smith, you needed him in the shotgun for him to do damage, if that. That led to Gore running into brickwalls. On Sunday, Gore ran for 87 yards and had 67 receiving yards. He was used on Sunday like he was always meant to be used, smashmouth runner paired with good receiving skills.

A happy Gore is a happy offense is a happy team......with wins.

Troy Smith has made life happy for this team within just a couple of weeks.

A big win against a legit division opponent could fuel something in the underbelly of this 49ers team. The problem is they don't have much room for error.

But that's nothing 4 remaining games against the NFC West can't fix.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sharks Unimpressive So Far, Blame the Previous Seasons


Not to say there is something wrong with the Sharks, but when they have been that good for so many years, a start of 6-5-2 is just not acceptable.

It's true. We have been accustomed to such a high level of play each of these last several seasons that when the Sharks start losing a couple games people start to worry. Don't.

Something doesn't seem right, though. Maybe it's the loss of Nabokov in net, maybe it's the loss of Malhotra, or maybe it's the fact this team suddenly looks real young with Mitchell, Couture, and McGinn all on the 3rd line.

First order of business, the defense looks ridiculous. It's probably not the best way to welcome two new goalies onto the team, but maybe the retirement of defenseman Rob Blake hurt this team more than we thought. There seems to be no leadership on that defense, no person to stand up and say that this level of play is unacceptable. Blake brought that to this team last year, and I know Dan Boyle is trying.

Bad defense leads to bad goaltending, and that is what we have thus far in the season.

Although the Sharks are off to a rough start, after watching these last couple of games, this team seems to be getting more familiar with one another. They have been quicker, the defense isn't as bad, and when that happens goaltending seems to flourish. And Antero Niittymaki has benefitted from that going 5-2 in his last 7 starts.

Make no mistake, this Western Conference is legitimate this season. It will not be as easy to win the West as it was in previous seasons. Even winning their own division may be a problem this year with the LA Kings being as good as they are.

This early in the season, it really is hard to predict how everything will go down, but the Sharks take a little time to get started, it's a fact. They're getting used to each other and life without Nabokov and a few other key players that have played big roles in the past.

Once Joe Thornton is back in the line-up, I think you will see this team's season officially begin.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Warriors Hot Out the Gate


The Golden State Warriors are 4-0 on their home court for the first time since the 1990-91 season when Run TMC was running house. So let's forget about the World Champion Giants and focus our hopes and dreams on the new-look Warriors. Right? Eh.

The Warriors look good out the gate, let's give them that. A constantly evolving new style of play to override Don Nelson's run 'n gun basketball, new coach Keith Smart is pushing all the right buttons. He is seemingly teaching a team that is young and full of potential how the NBA is played, and doing it well as a matter of fact.

The addition of David Lee looks extremely smart right now. He has benefitted both himself and Andris Biedrins who is looking awfully good when he isn't the only rebounder on the floor like he was in previous seasons.

On thing that has stood out, rebounding is not a problem anymore.

Remember when second-chance points for the opposing team frustrated the hell out of you in previous seasons? I'm not going to say it's gone, but opposing team's second-chance points are limited these days.

The Warriors are talented and can do great things season with the additions of Lee and Dorell Wright to go with the backcourt of Ellis and Curry (pending they both stay healthy).

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Is this just a good start for a below average team? Or is this a playoff-bound team willing to work hard both at home and on the road? We will soon find out.

Just a little perspective. The way the Western Conference sets up this season, there are 7 teams pretty much a lock for the playoffs (Lakers, Suns, Mavs, Hornets, Spurs, Nuggets, Thunder...in no particular order).

But let's get real. The Warriors are legitimite contenders for that 8th spot. Why not?

Sure, it is too early to predict how this team will play out, but I like what I see. I like Keith Smart. I like David Lee and the addition of Dorell Wright. I like the backcourt of Ellis and Curry.

Can they put it all together?

Talk to me in a month or so.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Winning With 'Misfit' Roster May Never Happen Again


Brian Wilson heaved the final pitch, a slider middle-in starting at the defenseless Nelson Cruz's elbow and ending across the heart of the plate with a swing and a miss. Wilson turned to center field, as we saw him do 48 times in the regular season and 6 additonal times in the 2010 playoffs, and throw up his crossed arms with fingers pointed to the sky.

The Giants won the World Series. The Torture is over.

"I wanna rage...right now."

52 years in the making for the city of San Francisco. This team of idiots did something that none of the infamous Giants players of the past could do, bring a World Series Championship to San Francisco.

But guys like Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, and Edgar Renteria did?

Who are these guys and how did they just win a World Championship?

When I think World Series, I think about the Yankees or some big market ball club with big market names like Jeter. Not Cody Ross.

Before the 2010 playoffs, could a fan on the east coast even name 3 players on the Giants? Doubt it. Fact!

The 2010 Giants were a collection of cast-offs and misfits who dared to show the nation that they were, in fact, a bunch of no-name players with big hearts, big bats, and big arms.

Might we see this ever again? A team of throw-away players winning it all?

Who knew about Matt Cain or Madison Bumgarner? Or Buster Posey and Andres Torres?

These are not household names, but their performance in the 2010 playoffs sure changed that.

To win World Series of the past, you need big name bats and big name arms to boot. The Giants had one big name and that was Tim Lincecum, only because he has won 2 Cy Young Awards.

We will never see a team with a cast-off like Aubrey Huff batting 3rd, or a throw-away like Pat Burrell batting 5th, win a championship ever again.

This team reached down for a little extra because they had to. They were against the odds to begin with. Nothing to prove. Something the Yankees or Phillies couldn't do.

The Giants made a mockery of Major League Baseball and ESPN, for that matter, being a team from the west coast with no-name players. Then why does this feel so deserving?

They may have not been the best in all of 2010, but they were the best for the last month and a half. Isn't that the point?

Call them what you want, but the fact is this roster does not have any no-names anymore. Sure, they were cast-offs and misfits, idiots and beard growers. But for this next year, they are World Series Champions.

Monday, November 1, 2010

When the Lights Go Down In the City, Giants Are World Series Champs


Does it seem real yet?

Our beloved Giants who came into this season worried about so many things have found a way to snatch away a World Series Championship from the hands of the overwhelmingly favored Yankees, Phillies, and Rangers. This truly is an underog story.

How many times have you heard this? A team of unwanted players comes together and wins a championship.

Not in real life you didn't.

How shocked are the Yankees and Phillies with payrolls through the roof? They're looking up at a team whose biggest signing this offseason was Aubrey Huff, who nobody wanted. The Giants did Huff a favor, and in Game 4, he repaid them.

I want to thank...ummmm...Big Time Timmy Jim...Cainer...Mad Bum...ahhhh! I know I'm forgetting someone.

You can even throw Jonathan Sanchez in there for his role down the stretch of the playoff run.

This Giants team was poised to make a run in these playoffs with pitching like that. They did not disappoint. And how could they? There were zero expectations for them.

Never in a million years would the Giants be favored to win the World Series with this team. That's why it's amazing what they've accomplished.

You can take any player off the Rangers roster right now and put them on the Giants, and they are going to bat either 3rd, 4th, or 5th in this line-up.

Then how did they win? Destiny, torture and it was all worth it.

A group of good 'ol guys who finished first. Misfits, if you will.

What else do you call them? Misfits? Idiots?

How about World Series Champs?!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

National News Doubting Giants, What Else Is New?


If you have been paying any attention to the World Series coverage on any of the big TV stations like ESPN or MLB Network, you know that the Giants are underdogs heading into the World Series. What else is new?

Of course they are! Why shouldn't they be? The Giants cannot match the hitting of the Rangers, and you can make an argument that the Rangers have the better pitching staff.

These two teams matched up in the 2010 World Series are from opposite sides of the baseball spectrum. The Rangers tend to win games by 5 or more runs with their big bats that complement their big pitching, and the Giants tend to win games by 1 or 2 runs while scoring no more than 5 runs a game. You can credit that to the Giants consistently good pitching, or that the teams they have played just were not hot enough offensively, as it seems the national panel of "baseball experts" has taken to it.

"The Phillies were not hot offensively coming into the NLCS. The Rangers are hot right now."

On ESPN.com, you can find a list of all the baseball analysts ESPN has to offer. Only 4 of the 20 chose the Giants to win the World Series over the Rangers.

In their defense, how can you make an argument for the Giants to win? They don't score runs, most of the times their pitching is spot-on, but when it's off, it's off as we witnessed with Jonathan Sanchez in Game 6 of the NLCS.

What the baseball analysts at ESPN didn't take into account is the "wildcard factor."

I'm talking about timely hitting, a bullpen that can carry the team if needed, and an ability to win the close games. The Giants have that. They showed it against the Braves and Phillies.

But the Giants didn't have a choice because this is the style of baseball they play. Torture baseball. For better or worse. Good pitching mixed with timely hitting, and the ability to close out close games. It's all they know.

The Giants were counted out in the Phillies series as well. The Phillies had the better hitting and the best all-around pitching. Problem was they didn't have timely hitting, and that was ultimately their downfall.

So no matter how much ESPN counts out the Giants in the World Series, pay no mind. The Giants have been counted out before, and they're used to it. This team seems more like a team of destiny, and they will find a way to win. It just hasn't hit us yet.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Torture Never Felt So Good


Did you expect it to happen any other way?

The entire 2010 San Francisco Giants season would have been a lie had the NLCS clinching game not come down to a tension-driven, palm-sweating, ulcer-forming torturefest.

The San Francisco Giants are headed to the 2010 World Series, and well-deserving of it.

Let's face it. This is a team of misfits, forgotten by their respective teams who have found home in San Francisco. I'm talking about guys like Pat Burrell, who Tampa Bay basically payed to go away; Andres Torres, who is a career minor-leaguer and had 3 hits last night; Aubrey Huff and Freddy Sanchez, who have never been in a playoff situation before; Cody Ross, who was placed on waivers by the Florida Marlins and picked up by the Giants just so the division-leading Padres couldn't snag him. Now he is your NLCS MVP.

"They're idiots!" as Joe Buck so fondly called them. But these idiots with dyed black beards and forgotten players are headed to the World Series. Enough said.

Leave it to this team to clinch a trip to the World Series in the most nerve-racking way possible, though.

Jonathan Sanchez getting yanked in the 3rd inning certainly wasn't a good sign. Neither was the fact he left the Giants in mental disarray after he and Chase Utley sat down and had a tea party in the middle of the diamond.

Ok, it was a benches-clearing brawl, but it sure felt like two chicks going at it.

Yet the Giants did it. This time, they did it behind the heels of their bullpen. 7 innings of 0 runs, including Jeremy Affeldt, who hadn't even pitched in the Braves series, turning the tide for the Giants by going 2 innings of no-hit ball.

And how big a breath of fresh air did you take after Juan Uribe flipped the bat and thew those hands up? He knew it and every Giants fan who has ever witnessed a Uribe homer knew it. That ball was gone.

'Destiny' is a good word for it. Or 'Torture.' Or both!

How about a 'torturistic destiny?' Works for me.

But never has torture felt so good.

One final note. The fans of Philadelphia really showed their true colors last night, booing the Giants off the field after winning the game. Rude and disrespectful to a team who has shown nothing but class during these playoffs.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Joe Buck: 'Giants Are A Bunch Of Idiots'


Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are the worst. There's no doubt about it, Buck hates the Giants and any team that isn't a legitimate favorite, and McCarver just isn't bright.

McCarver: 'He is a good two-strike hitter, but he strikes out a lot.'

Enough said.

As for Buck, he is a notorious hater of all things not him, but the fact he seems to throw his arrogant one-sided opinions into his play-by-play calls is simply unprofessional. Nobody cares about your opinions. Just give us the game straight without showing us how full of yourself you actually are.

But one thing he said last night struck me as an actual intellectually flattering statement to the Giants, albeit a back-handed compliment.

'The Giants are a bunch of idiots just crazy to pull this thing off," Buck said.

It seems like Buck was the pot calling the kettle black, but, of course, he was referencing the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox who were given the name 'idiots' because of their long hair, 'don't care' attitude, and 'cowboy-up' mentality.

Now, dying your beard jet black is an idiot move in its own right, but Buck was correct. This 2010 Giants team is a bunch of idiots. Huff, Burrell, Uribe, Sandoval, these are all eccentric characters who could be referred to as something far worse, but 'idiot' is the polite term.

Between Sandoval's pre-at-bat routine, Wilson's Jim Rome interview, and the fact that Lincecum looks like a 13 year-old girl from behind is proof enough that this team is unusual.

But doesn't the fact that these idiots torture us fans and we love it make us idiots as well?

Yes, but it hurts so good.

These torture-enjoying idiots from the west coast may be just crazy enough to pull this thing off. And Joe Buck will be a witness to it all, accompanied by Tim McCarver's insightful analysis and color commentary.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Struggling 49ers and Up-Beat Raiders Collide in Week 6 Matchup


In the not too distant past, you will not find a season in which the Raiders (2-3) have looked so much better than the 49ers (0-5) this early in the season. Of course, who hasn't looked better than the 49ers? Well, the Panthers and Bills, but they don't count anyway.

Make no mistake about this 49ers/Raiders matchup this Sunday, the 49ers are the favorites. It doesn't matter what each team's record is, the 49ers are supposed to win this game.

You can call it the "Battle of the Bay" or whatever you want, I prefer "Getting Off the Shneid", if you're a 49er fan, or were one to start the season.

For the Raiders, there is no pressure on them. Coming into this season, they looked up at the Week 6 matchup and saw an automatic loss at the hands of the 49ers, who were supposed to run away with the NFC West. Now, they are thinking they can obliterate this team that is in absolute turmoil. Kick 'em while they're down.

No doubt about it, if the 49ers lose this Sunday, there will be changes. No matter what they say leading up to then. If the 49ers fail to score, bye bye Alex Smith, enter David Carr, or Alex Smith #2 as he is so fondly nicknamed.

This game is a season-changer for the 49ers. If they win, that's great, they got their 1st win. If they lose, goodbye season, hello change. That would most likey start at head coach. No matter how in love the ownership is with Singletary, there is no excuse for an 0-6 season and a loss to the Raiders at that.

Don't forget, the 49ers have a pretty favorable schedule here on out. I counted 8 favorable matchups, 5 of which are against the NFC West.

So this week is the jump start the 49ers needed. And for the Raiders, it's the respect in the Bay Area they've always wanted.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Giants Down Braves, Phils A Much Bigger Beast


Thank God GM Brian Sabean is as vindictive as he is. Had he not picked up Cody Ross off waivers from Florida just to spite the Padres late in the season, the Giants might be headed in the opposite direction they are now.

Ross went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI's in Game 4 last night, including a HR and a clutch RBI single to put them ahead late.

With runs coming at a minimum in this series, you can make an argument that Ross was the MVP in this series, although another argument can be made for Buster Posey. We will also accept that answer.

Nevertheless, the Giants won, not that we were doubting them or anything...Torture. They gave one away in Game 2, and stole the final 2 games to win the series. Take it or leave it, it's Giants baseball.

But the Giants were supposed to be here, at least that's what we were telling ourselves. A starting rotation like that can carry a team, and it carried this one to a win over Atlanta.

But a bigger beast awaits the Giants in the next round. The Phillies, quite possibly, could be the best team to come through the MLB in some time. Pitching, hitting, you name it, they got it. Game on.

And talk about being thrown right into the jaws of this series. Roy Halladay will introduce the Giants to the NLCS real quick on Saturday. He's the best pitcher going right now. Period.

Good move by Bochy not starting Lincecum for Game 4, although I don't think there was any doubt Bumgarner was your starter, no matter what he said.

Lincecum will play 2nd-tier to Halladay on Saturday, and the Giants will play 2nd-tier to the Phillies the entire series. It's how nationl TV works. It's up to them to prove America wrong, because as of now they are huge underdogs to an amazing team.

Can the Giants win this series? Can the Giants' pitching stay solid? Can the Giants score some runs??? So many questions heading into this series. All will be answered soon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Giants' NL West Championship a Culmination of the Past Few Years



A couple years back, I attended a San Jose Giants game, the Giants Single-A affiliate. I attended partly because I live in San Jose, partly because the SJ Giants were/are a really good team, and mostly because I had caught a wiff of the pitcher-catcher duo of Bumgarner/Posey.

It was a fact back then, the Giants had a good core of young potential talent. It was just up to the Giants organization to raise these kids into superstars who could one day lead the Giants ball club to the promised land.

On Sunday, they did that.

A few years ago, the Giants promised that the young talent we saw climbing the minor league ladder would be great. They promised that the young hurlers of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner would be the starting rotation of the future. And we sat with patience anticipating what could be. The Giants organization didn't disappoint on this one.

Just a few years later, look what has happened. Lincecum is a 2-time Cy Young Award winner, Cain was dubbed the Giants best pitcher this season, Bumgarner is a rising star pitching far more mature than his age, and Sanchez literally clinched the NL West by himself on Sunday.

Oh ya, there's also a guy name Posey who may have clinched the Rookie of the Year on Sunday as well.

So, in some ways, this year's NL West Championship is a culmination of all that. It's a culmination of the past few years of sitting and waiting for the young stars in the minors to grow into fantastic ballplayers. It's fulfillment of a promise by the Giants organization to the fans saying that this young core group would lead this team one day. That became a reality on Sunday when the Giants' young stars led this ball club to the postseason for the first time in seven years.

Sure, it seems like Giants fans have waited forever for this to happen, but we all saw it coming, Lincecum, Cain, Posey, etc. The young talent was all there. And we witnessed it bloom on Sunday, we will watch it mature in these 2010 playoffs, and we will continue to see these young players be a success for years to come.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Giants NL West Champs


On Thursday, it was not if, but when will the Giants clinch the NL West. Now, in game 162, it was not when, but if. But the San Francisco Giants pulled it off on Sunday and are champions of the NL West, thus confirming the motto, "Giants Baseball...Torture."

But this one was hard fought, and no doubt did the the Giants show Sunday what they had in their arsenal for the playoffs, real good pitching mixed with solid hitters.

Today's savior, and yes there is a new one one every day it seems, is Jonathan Sanchez. Honestly, if the man starting on Thursday didnt have back-to-back Cy Young Awards, Sanchez is my man. He has been the Giants' best pitcher recently, and he will get rewarded for that by starting the third game of the Giants/Braves series that will start on Thursday at 6:30pm.

As for a 'Giants Season in Review,' ask yourself this question, would the Giants be NL West Champs without Huff, Burrell, Fontenot, Ross, and Guillen? No chance. You can say that especially for Huff and Burrell, really. Huff supplying numbers that were not expected at the start of the season, and Burrell with timely hit after timely hit.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, thank Brian Sabean. Yes, the man everybody wanted a piece of at the beginning of the season because he couldn't bring a legit bat to San Francisco. Turns out, he did get the legit bat. Huff Daddy. Credit, Sabean for signing Huff in the offseason for nickles and dimes, as well as taking Burrell "off the Rays' hands."

But all-in-all, this Giants season was a season of fulfillment. The Giants made a promise years ago when the likes of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner were all young and full of potential, that this would be the pitching staff of the future that would secure playoff appearance after playoff appearance for this ball club. Some years later, look what happened. The Giants arguably have the best rotation going right now and can carry that into the 2010 playoffs with them.

It's just that, though. We've always said with that pitching staff, if the Giants get into the playoffs then look out. Now is the time to see what the young guns we yearned so much to see a few years ago can do in October.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blame Singletary For 49ers Not Meeting Expectations


It would seem to me that a team that was as underprepared for their first game of the season as the 49ers were against the Seahawks in Week 1 should point the finger in the direction of the man with the headset.

It is his job to get his team prepared for the season, and it is his job to make sure everyone is on the same page and that there are no communication issues on the field. If anything, it's to not look ridiculous and embarrassed when on the field. Check that one off the list.

After the 49ers' lackluster performance in Arrowhead on Sunday, things need to change, and it starts from the top. Is Mike Singletary the man for the job? Or is he just a bunch of billboard catch phrases that get kids psyched up? Time will tell. One thing is for sure, Singletary looks confused on game days. Just throwing it out there, but Singletary has never been a head coach at any level until the 49ers hired him. It's been showing.

First order of business, let's fire the Offensive Coordinator. That will accomplish a lot. An 8th Offensive Coordinator in 8 seasons is an embarrasment in itself, but Jimmy Raye had nothing and was nothing but a hinderance to this team. He had no imagination even though he was given the imaginative players to have that type of playbook. His offense was bland and vanilla, and when you have Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree on your team your offense needs to be anything but.

Bottom line, the people that needed to get the ball weren't getting it. That's a problem. So is an 0-3 start.

Enter QB Coach Mike Johnson as Off. Coordinator. Seems like the problem two of the last three weeks has been the QB, so let's hire the man who spends the most time with him. The 49ers had no choice, though. They're hoping to strike gold in Johnson who just seems the standard move to make following a Off. Coordinator's departure. But the players seem to back him, and that is a good sign.

They're not done, though. Reports are that Takeo Spikes and Michael Lewis will lose their starting roles. Why all the change? Just a hunch, but the defense may be this team's strongest asset next to punting. It probably didn't appear that way on Sunday against the Chiefs, but write that one off as 'giving up halfway through the game.' Ya, that's what we're going with...

If the 49ers want to turn this season around, or even avoid rebuilding yet again, it's on Singletary. Maybe the mindset he has isn't for this team or these players. So change it, or get out. There have been far too many losing seasons in this last decade and far too many seasons without a playoff appearance.

With playoff hopes looking glim and 'must win games' in the near future, pointed fingers need to remain at Singletary.

Cain Eases the Pain of 49ers' and Raiders' Debacles


Thank God the San Francisco Giants played an afternoon game on Sunday. The pain Bay Area fans were feeling by noon, and then again by 4pm was nullified, at least a little, by Matt Cain's crafty performance on the mound.

The earliest game on Sunday may have stung the worst, though. The 49ers were up against an unproven, yet 2-0, Chiefs team that seemed the perfect match for the 49ers on both sides of the ball. Except it turned out the 49ers were no match for the Chiefs, who showed that they were for real and that the 49ers are nowhere near where everyone thinks they should be, NFC West Champs. Not the way they're playing.

The 49ers were dominated in every aspect of the game on Sunday, less than a week removed from a spirited performance on Monday night. Many minds would think they could take that momentum of challenging the Super Bowl Champs into Sunday's game against the Chiefs. No chance, never had any. The Chiefs two-headed monster rushing duo were running at will against that laxidasical defensive line, and Matt Cassel, although not sharp, was able to piece the 49ers' secondary with ease. Disappointing.

As the 49ers were beat outright, the Raiders outright beat themselves. A well-played game the whole way, Janikowski's 2 missed kicks cost the Raiders what could have been a well-deserved win against the Cardinals. Even then, if Janikowski had chipped in the 3rd FG from 32 yards to win the game, all would have been forgotten. He had made 19 of 19 from 30-40 yards to that point. You can make that 19 of 20 now.

But as the Raiders and 49ers shot themselves in the foot time and time again, Matt Cain seemed to put his foot down for all the Bay Area and save them from one horrible Sunday afternoon in sports. Cain took a no-hit bid into the 8th inning and would ultimately lead the Giants to a 4-2 win in Colorado, and solo first place in the NL West yet again.

Cain pitched great, especially with the "juiced ball" conditions. He has no doubt been the Cy Young of the Giants season on a team that boasts past and possible future Cy Young Award winners. He has been consistent despite the starting rotation having its ups-and-downs. He should be regarded as their #1 pitcher.

The Giants were able to take a 1/2 game lead in the division and virtually knock out the Rockies from playoff contention at the same time on Sunday. The Giants/Padres playoff implications will no doubt come down to the last series of the year in San Francisco right where the Giants would prefer it. For that series, the Giants will have Zito, Cain, and Sanchez heading to the hill, with the Giants showing no signs of altering the rotation for the finale.

Meanwhile, the Giants will host the D-Backs Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. While the Padres host the Cubs in a 4-game series starting tonight.

A little advice, let the chips fall where they may for the 49ers and Raiders this week. With the 49ers in Atlanta and the Raiders playing the Texans, let's focus on the Giants on Sunday. For the sake of us going crazy. At this moment, they are the only true contenders in the Bay Area right now because they have shown us they are. The 49ers and Raiders have not.

Monday, September 20, 2010

49ers Put On Good Show, Fall To 0-2


The 49ers gave it all they had Monday night on national television. In the end, the Saints did what Super Bowl Champions do, win by any way possible.

It was a great show by the 49ers, though. Of course, we all knew what the Saints were capable of. Alex Smith showed up, quite a surprise. Not many expected much out of him after last week, especially going up against the Saints' defense.

In the end, you can tally this one up as the 49ers shooting themselves in the foot. Sure, it doesn't seem like that. The 49ers played a great game against a great team, but the safety and "gimme" touchdown that followed early in the 1st quarter happened to be the deciding factor.

Give Smith credit, though. 23/32 for 275 and 1 TD, we haven't seen those numbers in awhile. The 2 interceptions cost him, sure, and they couldn't come at worse times. They were momentum busters, and the 49ers could use all the momentum they could get on Monday night.

But I'll attribute Monday's success (yes, that's what I'm calling it) to the offensive line. They are young and inexperienced, but they gelled last night giving Smith time in the pocket and Gore lanes to run in.

The 49ers were a couple dumb mistakes away from upsetting the Super Bowl Champs on national TV, but the Saints are where they are because they can win games like that in that fashion. Never thought I'd see the day when the 49ers were "too" eager to score a touchdown. They left just too much time on the clock, and Drew Brees knows what to do with it.

So the 49ers are 0-2 with a hill to climb from here. Monday night was a bright spot in this season, though. They showed up to the challenge that was the Saints, and fans should be proud despite their team's record.

One bit of advice, throw Vernon Davis the ball. He had 4 catches, but only targeted 7 times, while Josh Morgan was targeted 8 times. Game in and game out, Davis needs to be the #1 target despite being the TE. He deserves the most targets because he creates the biggest mismatches.

The road for the 49ers doesn't get much easier from here. They travel to Kansas City next week to face an impressive Chiefs team, and from there they head to Atlanta.

They would be wise to get a win next week in Arrowhead.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Communication Ruins 49ers In Week 1


How many of you saw this coming? Talented defense, undefeated preseason, another year for Coach Mike Singletary, another year for Alex Smith under the same offensive coordinator.....Week 1 loss?

The 49ers in their Week 1 game against the Seattle Seahawks were quickly dubbed as the most dissapointing of all the teams to play on Sunday. Just as the 49ers were receiving national attention for being the projected winners of the NFC West, they quickly shot those down themselves. That lasted a good while..

Another question: How many of you thought "Super Bowl" when Nate Clements intercepted the very first pass of the NFL season? Ok, maybe a stretch, but I'm sure some were thinking it, if not then a breeze to the NFC West title. There's a long way to go now, as if the road before Week 1 wasn't long enough.

The 49ers stunk in all aspects, mediocre defense, poor quarterbacking, the rushing attack was horrid, I can't think of any other degrading adjectives..

You can say what you want, but the meltdown for the 49ers began when 3 trips to the red zone in the 1st half resulted in 6 points. That will deflate any team, especially the defense.

The confusion amongst the offense was too obvious, and the man under center with the "C" on his chest was quite the opposite of what he was truly supposed to be, a leader. There was no communication on Sunday.

Blame who you want, though, but I choose Mike Singletary, no doubt. The 49ers looked underprepared and that reflects on your head coach. Enough said. Pete Carroll made Singletary look ridiculous on Sunday, and Singletary will receive some heat for that.

The 49ers should regroup and think long and hard about how they are going to choose to move on from this joke that was Sunday's game in Seattle. The 49ers were supposed to win that game, by a lot. Now, the Super Bowl champs come to town for Monday Night Football, and if you don't think Singletary will get heat for this week's underpreparedness, then an underprepared team on national TV should do the trick.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Uribe Shines As Giants 1 Game Back In The West


If I had told you 2 weeks ago the San Diego Padres were going to lose 10 straight games, would you have believed me? The Padres were tied for the best record in baseball. Probably not.

In fact, at that point 2 weeks ago, I bet most Giants fans had given up on the NL West and focused solely on the NL Wildcard. Fast forward to today, the Giants are 1 game back of the Padres, and the Phillies may be separating themselves in the NL Wildcard. The ol' switcheroo.

This is why September baseball is great. If chills didn't run down your spine when Juan Uribe unloaded on the Jonathan Broxton hanging slider Saturday night, or if you didn't rise from your couch when Uribe repeated the act again yesterday, then you don't have a soul.

Sure, the Giants stole one from the Dodgers on Saturday, but think of it this way. The Padres are 0-10 in their last 10 games, while the Giants are just 5-5. Yes, they did grab 5 games from the Padres in that stretch, but you can make an argument that the Padres are lucky to have the lead in the NL West the way they're playing.

This last series against the Dodgers was just what the Giants needed, though. Big wins against a team they don't rather care for. In this series, the offense lit back up, and pitching, although not outstanding, was better than series previous.

By the way, if there is one pitcher I want to start a game for the Giants right now, it's Jonathan Sanchez.

On the flipside of that, the Giants need to make 1 huge move down the stretch: Switch to a 4-man rotation, Zito to the bullpen.

From LA, the Giants will travel to Arizona to face the worst team in NL West on Monday. In exchange, the Dodgers receive the Padres. Giants fans will never be rooting for the Dodgers harder than in this series.

In these next 3 days, the Giants will need to worry less about the Padres and more about beating the D-Backs, a team who got them good in their last meeting.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ex-Blackhawk Niemi To The Sharks


Former Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, according to sources.

The Sharks had been looking for a clear-set goalie to start their 2010 season, although their recent pick-up of Antero Nittymaki from Tampa Bay seemed to be the default option, at least to start.

If you would recall, Niemi played the role of the brick wall in front of Chicago's net last season when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

Niemi was only in net because of first-stringer Cristobal Huet's benching late in the season. Niemi surprised the world, and probably himself, when he lead the Blackhawks to the Cup.

The team most annoyed with Niemi's success last season is probably his current team, the Sharks. The Sharks were swept in the Western Conference Semi's after they couldn't get a puck past Niemi. Now that Niemi is on their side, their attitude toward him may be a little different.

But let's analyze this for a second. Next to the Anaheim Ducks, the Blackhawks are most likely the Sharks' greatest rival because of the way the two teams continuously meet in the playoffs or how they are always on top of the conference.

If you're not too much into hockey, I liken this towards the Giants/Rockies or Giants/Padres series. It's not the Dodgers, but pretty close.

Niemi coming to the Sharks is like Ubaldo Jimenez or Mat Latos coming to the Giants, just a little less talent on Niemi's end.

Whether Sharks fans like this or not, or however they feel about a goalie who single-handedly eliminated their team the previous season and now becomes apart of it, Niemi makes this Sharks team a lot stronger than they were before they had him.

Will Niemi be given the starting spot? The Sharks won't admit it off the bat, but you would have to believe that a Stanley Cup winning goalie would have to be the only way to go. Especially over Nittymaki, who last played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, one of worst teams in the NHL last season.

Niemi fills the void that was left after Evgeni Nabokov departed. Instead of a goalie that proved everything in the regular season and nothing in the playoffs, you now have a goalie who has somewhat proven himself in the regular season and is overwhelmingly proven in the playoffs. Nabby Who?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Giants' Pitching Could Be Downfall


Who would have thought that this far into the season, the Giants' pitching rotation would be hurting and not helping their playoff chances?

The ringleader of this circus that every starting pitcher the Giants have (except for Matt Cain) seems to perform in is Tim Lincecum. Yes, the 2-time NL Cy Young Award winner is the downfall of the Giants to this point.

Cain seems to be the only one holding this fort, that is their playoff chances, up. The Giants have a total of 2 quality starts by their starting rotation in the last 7 games, both by Cain. That's not what the Giants are about. They're about having one of the top starting rotations in baseball, and not bad bullpen either. Instead, at this point in the season, the Giants are about come-from-behind wins and staying afloat in the NL Wildcard race.

We saw glimpses of hope from Lincecum in the past couple of starts, but are glimpses of hope really what you want to see from your #1 starter? I want to see consistency and a leader that despite the rest of the rotation's problems, he would still go out there and give a quality start. We haven't seen that. And if we don't see it in the near future, you won't see the Giants past September.

It irks me to think about the possibility of the Giants missing out on the playoffs because of their starting rotation. What a topsy-turvy season this has been. The Giants had a scorching pitching staff in the beginning of the season, but they had no offense. Now they have offense, but no scorching pitching staff. I would one day like to live in a world where the Giants have both a scorching pitching staff and an offense to boot.

If the pitching staff gets kicking somewhere between now and the end of the season, we may be able to see that. For now, squeaking out wins and staying afloat may be the last option if the Giants want to remain the playoff hunt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"The Freak" Not Looking "Freakish"


Although the Giants' recent power surge has distracted from the issue a little bit, the question still looms, what's wrong with Tim Lincecum?

The 2-time Cy Young Award winner has looked anything but in the last month and a half. He has been less of an ace and more of a hinderance to this Giants ball club that needs solid outings more than ever this time in the season.

Sure, maybe it's just a rough patch and we should cut the guy some slack for setting the bar so high to this point. But Lincecum picked the wrong time in the season to do it. Could Lincecum be the downfall of this Giants' postseason push? He sure isn't helping.

Blame this on several things, if you will: His hair, his mechanics, the bar he has set for himself since winning the Cy Young. I'll take 'all the above.'

He should cut his hair, that's a given. The guy looks ridiculous.

The meat and potatoes of the Lincecum problem, though, is his mechanics. The mechanics that got him to where he is today are not the one's he has used in his last several starts. And there lies your problem.

Reports are a month ago he changed his funky mechanics that he has used since forever, and things took a turn for the worst. Now that he wants those old reliable mechanics back, he can't find them. Or they're taking longer than expected to find.

What can be done to get Lincecum back in #1 starter shape? Several options have been thrown out there: He could cut his hair (I'm just gonna keep throwing that one out there), hire Chris Lincecum, Tim's dad and the man behind Tim's quirky wind-up and all his success, or keep working with him and hope it's just a speed bump in this kid's long successful career.

Good news, though. Lincecum's last outing, although a loss, seemed to show a much more sharper Lincecum. Instead of fastballs at 90-91, we saw them consistently at 93-94. The location problem still looms. He was so perfect with that location last season and early this season. Location will come with good mechanics, and it seems that Lincecum does not have that right now.

Pitchers will always have obstacles thrown their way. It is how they react to those obstacles that will tell how successful that pitcher will really be. Lincecum is at his crossroads. We will see how he reacts.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Giants/Padres NL West Showdown Preview


Thanks to Jonathan Sanchez, this sort of bland, unsexy series featuring two teams at the top of their division but out of the ESPN spotlight, may have regained some of its sexiness. At least a smidge.

If you're not familiar, Sanchez' guaranteed a sweep of the 1st place Padres in this weekend's pivotal series in San Francisco. The obnoxious thing about it, Sanchez had just come off 4 innings pitched while giving up 4 runs in a loss. What was he thinking? Probably trying to psyche his team up. Not smart from your #4 starter.

The Giants came off a nice series against the Cubs, in which they took 3 of 4 games, which is what they were supposed to do. The Cubs are a poor team.

But it was a good challenge for the Giants. They knew who they were going to meet over the weekend, but they didn't let that psyche them out and possibly lose ground to the Padres.

Quite the opposite in fact. In this Cubs series, we were introduced to two new faces that could lead this Giants' penant run: Pat Burrell and Pablo Sandoval...finally.

Burrell had a gargantuan series, easily the hottest player on the Giants, and Sandoval is getting going just when the Giants need him the most, making the fact that Sabean has yet to get a legit bat in the line-up very miniscule at this point. Sabean can thank these two players.

As for the weekend shindig at AT&T Park, the Padres may have the edge. San Diego sends 2 of their best starters against the worst the Giants have to offer. Lucky for the Giants, both Sanchez and Bumgarner (the worst the Giants have to offer) are just about in tune with Richard and Latos, who are throwing for SD.

But in this first game of the series, all eyes will be on Sanchez. He opened his mouth, now he has to back it up. And an outing like he had in Atlanta will get him booed right out of the starting rotation come playoff time.

These Padres are for real, though. Don't belittle them. No matter how much the analysts told you they wouldn't be this season, or even how much they are going to go down in flames in the 2nd half of the season. They're here to stay. They made the moves at the trade deadline that they needed, and they have the young, solid pitching willing to go the distance for the rest of the season. Also, they haven't faltered at all this last week, and expect nothing less this weekend.

The series will be pressure-filled, maybe even a little dirty with some words exchanged, but this is a statement series for one team in a 3-game series. The Padres riding high, the Giants riding higher. This weekend series will tell us a lot about how this NL West race will go down.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pressure On Giants To Make A Move?


Sure, the Giants have won 21 of 27 games or something like that. But there may be one story that overshadows that at this time in the season.

Two big moves went down the other day, and they didn't even involve the Giants. At least at this point.

The Washington Nationals placed "country strong" Adam Dunn on waivers the other day. Then the KC Royals designated Jose Guillen for assignment this afternoon.

Both players have been discussed in the Giants organization within the last year, and both players are prime for the picking now that they are technically on the market and on the Giants' immediate radar.

Already, we have heard hints of the Giants "discussing" the option of acquiring Guillen.

And just the other day we heard Dunn's options for a trade could be down to the Rockies or Giants. So if GM Brian Sabean wasn't stressed and tired after the trade deadline, you better believe he will be after this hooplah is over with.

The chances of acquiring Adam Dunn are far less likely than the Giants acquiring Jose Guillen. Dunn is front page news, and the Nationals are going to want to front page talent in return for him. For the record, Jonathan Sanchez is not front page talent. It would seem like the Nationals would want Madison Bumgarner and maybe more for Dunn's services. I doubt that will sit well the Giants' front office.

As for Guillen, he is on the move. The Royals quit on him and his struggles in the past weeks. Good for the Royals to move out such a big name as him and focus more on their younger players they have coming up.

Guillen is batting .255 with 16 HR's and 62 RBI's this season.

The Giants have several options here. Either wait and see how the market reacts to Guillen, or pursue him like he will actually make a difference. The Royals are desperate to get rid of him, possibly by any means necessary. This means if they cannot find a suitor for him, you may see him signing with a contender on his own.

My advice, Guillen is struggling, and I hope that the pressure on Sabean to get a bat and get a bat now doesn't affect his thought-pattern on this player who is clearly overpaid and not producing like his paycheck says he should.

Back to Dunn. The asking price may be too high for the Giants, but it won't hurt to try. Honestly, I just want the Giants to show a little interest in him, maybe throw Jonathan Sanchez out there. And if it doesn't work out, it's totally understandable because Dunn was far out of their price range to begin with.

What I don't want the Giants to do is panic and give up good young players because of the pressure to get a bat. The Giants are cruising right now. Don't fix something that didn't need to be fixed in the first place.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

No Bat, No Big


Sure, it would have been nice to get a solid big bat in the heart of the line-up, but was it really going to change the make-up of this team?

Jose Guillen would have been nice. Maybe even an Adam Dunn if we're really getting silly. And where were the Giants on Ryan Ludwick? The Padres and Dodgers made their teams better (on paper), but there was no counter-punch from the boys in SF. Why not?

Let's be reasonable here. AT&T Park is no place a big bat wants to go if they want to continue being a "big bat." So we knew it wasn't going to be any game-changer. But even I expected the Giants to make some kind of offensive move. Turns out the only offensive move was shipping their best offensive player in their farm system elsewhere (John Bowker).

This is not to say the Giants didn't do a good job in getting what they needed to get. They needed a left-handed reliever and they got him in Javier Lopez. So you won't be seeing Jonathan Sanchez in the 8th inning anymore. Both Lopez and Ramon Ramirez, legitimate reliever acquired by the Giants from the Red Sox, are going to play big parts for the Giants in the stretch run.

What does that mean for the rest of the Giants bullpen? It means they can stop using tools like Santiago Casilla and Denny Bautista, who are either on point or obviously off. The Giants don't need that, they can't afford that. Not with the Padres playing genuine baseball and making trades to back it up.

Don't panic. Deep down we knew Corey Hart or Prince Fielder wouldn't be entering the Bay. No that we wanted them (which we did). The Giants are hitting well right now, why break that mojo up? There was no need for a big-time trade for a slugger. The fact that Pat Burrell and Pablo Sandoval haven't been hitting is the reason why the Giants were looking elsewhere for a bat in the first place. If Burrell or Sandoval start hitting (preferably Burrell AND Sandoval start hitting), then there's your bat you were looking to trade for. It was there the whole time.

The Giants addressed the need that was going to affect them the most down the stretch. A continuous savage starting rotation now paired with a stable bullpen is just what the Giants needed. And the bats will follow their lead.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Giants Try To Stay Hot In Chavez Ravine


The Giants bring their hot 2nd-half start to Chavez Ravine this week. Probably one of the more important series thus far this season.

The Dodgers are coming off being swept in St. Louis, while the Giants are coming off taking 3 of 4 from the NY Mets. Seems like the perfect time for the Giants, right? Not quite, remember the last series against the Dodgers...

The Giants have not faired well against the NL West, and this is the perfect test for this team that has gotten off to a hot 2nd-half start, both with their pitching and their hitting. And they will take the heart of that into LA this week. Bumgarner, Lincecum, Zito sounds like the perfect rotation against the hated Dodgers.

This is a pivotal series for both teams. The Dodgers are treading water fast, and the Giants are making their move in the division, although they lost a 1/2 game in the division in that Mets series despite taking 3 of 4. How that happened, I have no idea.

But expect that. The Padres are for real and are not going down without a fight. Expect no different from the Rockies as well. No Tulowitzki, no problem.

The test this week for the Giants, beat an NL West team, and let's go from there, because so far that is a rarity.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Warriors Trade Randolph's Potential For Proven Lee


Go figure the Golden State Warriors would find their way into the joke that was the Lebron James Decision 2010.

You just knew it. 10 seconds after the "much anticipated" suckfest that Lebron threw for himself was over (22 minutes in), the Warriors inked a controversial-for-some deal that sent a whole bunch of Warriors over to New York in exchange for big-man David Lee.

David Lee, the only true big-man in the pandemonium that was NBA Free Agency 2010, was persued by several teams, but the Knicks could not pass on the suckers from Golden State's juicy offer.

The Warriors agreed to send Azubuike, Turiaf, and Randolph to the Knicks.

I thought it would have been a little over the top to send Randolph for Lee, but that's just me.

First of all, someone stop the Warrior's front office from making any moves until the real front office steps in. They're just there for the time being. And when I mean the real front office I mean the one that will be replacing the old one when a new owner is put in place. Meanwhile, Larry Riley and Co. need not hurt this team and fan base any more than the past 2 decades have shown.

But every blind squirrel finds a nut, right? In the midst of the Warriors front office flinging around money and players, they may have struck something nice in this deal.

David Lee is a great player, an easy 20 points and 10 rebounds type of guy every night. This is the guy that the Warriors have needed and wanted over the past years. He is not a problem. The problem is did they give up too much for him?

Not sure if I care about Turiaf and Azubuike too much, but Randolph is the key player in this trade. The Knicks suckered the Warriors because I'm not sure if I was the GM of Golden State I would be able to send someone with potential star power and freakish athletic ability in exchange for a white guy.

But I like it. Maybe just my opinion but I was never sold on Anthony Randolph. He seemed immature and way over his head going up against the more premiere players on the opposing teams. It also takes a level head to play in this league and I did not think Randolph had one. Do I think he could be something someday in the NBA? Sure, if he is coached properly. In Golden State, that wasn't going to happen. So as a Warriors fan, if I know it wasn't going to happen here and was going to wait and wait for something magical to happen to him, maybe it's time to let the kid sprout elsewhere.

Think of it this way. Randolph is almost 22. Lee is 27. In 5 years will Anthony Randolph be putting up 20 and 10 like Lee? My answer, it's a little iffy, but probably not. Lee is an All-Star, that's proven. Randolph has a way to go. I'm not willing to wait around and find out if he is or not.

But hang on a sec. This still doesn't make the Warriors a contender. As of now, Monte, Curry, and Lee is a good core, but not a contending one. The only thing that has changed is that David Lee will now be the leading scorer and rebounder for a team that will be drafting in the Lottery once again in 2011. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We'll do that when a real front office is in place.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sandoval's Struggles Continue...and Continue


What happened to our beloved Panda? Yes, the guy who was the focal point of this Giants' offense; yes, the guy with the happy-go-lucky attitude and funny personality; yes, the guy this team was supposed to built around for the next several seasons.

These days, the Panda is costing the Giants wins. Sure, it takes a whole team effort to do that, but Sandoval has hurt this team more than you think.

Last night, it seemed like it all came to a head. The talk after the game was Sandoval's base running mishap and how it could have turned this game compeletely around for the Giants. And it most certainly could have. With no outs and Rowand bluffing at tagging on a shallow fly ball to right field, Sandoval takes it upon himself to make a play, the wrong one. Sandoval would be tagged out trying to tag from first base, a rookie mistake. The play really showed how inexperienced Sandoval still is in the majors.

Probably not what you would expect from the "focal point" of your offense. Is that what we are calling his role on this team these days?

Sandoval's plunge in the line-up has hurt this team more than we know. The guy who was supposed to be the #3 hitter on this team for years is now your #7 and sometimes #8 hitter. Maybe it is Bochy trying to send a message to him, or maybe this is where he actually belongs in the line-up. The 2nd half of the season will tell is, because good hitters get out of slumps.

If you had told me at the beginning of the season that Sandoval would be pinch-hit for in the bottom of the 9th inning with men on 1st and 3rd base with the Giants down 2 runs, as he was last night, I would have figured that Bochy would have been fired the next day for making such a bonehead move. "Who pinch-hits for their best hitter in such a crucial spot?" I would have said to you.

Last night, I believe I uttered the words, "Great move."

But these days, a pinch hitter in that situation was the best move for the ball club last night. It gave them a better chance. Sure, Buster Posey struck out, but it goes to show what faith the Giants have in their so-called prized hitter. Sandoval could have bounced into a double play. Posey is smarter than that.

Call it what you want, sophomore slump or just a bad first-half of the season. But the Pablo Sandoval we are seeing now may be the real one, and everything we saw before from him was just a good run by a so-so player who gave a fan base too much to hope for.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bay Area Departures- Nabby and Maggette


Evgeni Nabokov

Hopefully, many saw this coming, or at least wanted to see this coming. Sure, Nabokov is the greatest thing to ever happen to the San Jose Sharks franchise, but season after season of coming so close can only get you so far. And for Nabby, his time is up in San Jose.

There was the possibility that the Sharks would make an offer to Nabby, but GM Doug Wilson sat down this Nabby yesterday and notified him that would not be happening.

Was this the right move to make? Yes. There are a handful of free agent goalies that the Sharks can have their pick of. You know what you are getting with Nabby, a good regular season, but ultimately falling just short in the playoffs.

The Sharks now have the ability to move on in building a better team that is more built for the playoffs. It is nice to see a team that continues to improve upon what they lack. And because of that, the Sharks will improve next year yet again.

Corey Maggette

This move shocked most, but in a good way. It think that we can definitively say that the trade of Corey Maggette to the Bucks in exchange for basically nobody Tuesday was a good thing for the 'new look' Warriors. It freed up a lot of money for the team, but bottom line is the Warriors finally got a sucker team to take-on Maggette, his contract, and his 'me first' style of play.

The Warriors now have the option of going out and getting someone if they wish, and don't count on that. A good move for the Warriors at a time when the team morale is at a low going into next season is a good sign? Yes, that's what we're going with.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Giants/A's All-Star Game Hopefuls


Despite the San Francisco Giants' first-half success and the Oakland A's early success, the two teams' sexiness is at a minimum, which is why this year's All-star game could see each team being represented by the minimum of one player.

A's

The Oakland A's (34-37) got off to a great start by recent season standards, but they have slowly but surely tapered off and the AL West has become what everyone thought it would be, a 2-horse race between the Rangers and Angels.

Because of that, do not expect to hear a lot of A's All-star game talk going around, as if you predicted you would in the first place. The A's are 28th in HR's and 26th in RBI's, and the best they have to offer the All-star roster offensively is Kevin Kouzmanoff with 36 RBI's. So scratch the A's offensive prospects from the All-star roster competition, or whatever you want to call it.

Pitching-wise, the A's don't have much to offer either. It really comes down to a who's who of "not much done lately." Closer Andrew Bailey seems to be the favorite with a so-so total of 13 saves. You can also throw in Dallas Braden if you want to. He did have a perfect game, not that it matters, but he hasn't done much since then so rule him and his 4-6 record out. Trevor Cahill has statistically been the A's best starter, but his 6-2 record with a 3.21 ERA isn't going to get him an honorable mention onto the All-star team.

My pick is Andrew Bailey, mostly because he made it on the All-star team last season and the fact that he seems to be the best the A's have to offer.

Giants

The Giants ( have players worthy of the All-star game, but they don't have names that are attractive outside of the Bay Area. Juan Uribe, without a doubt, is the Giants' MVP so far this season. Down this mean he will get on the All-star team? Definitely not. In fact, we may be able to kick him out of the conversation because there is no way the MLB will let Uribe's .279 and 43 RBI's even touch the field. His name isn't of All-star caliber. Should he be on the team? Of course. Will he? No.

Tim Lincecum is a gimme if we're talking golf. Back-to-back Cy Young's and long flowing hair is enough to get any guy voted into the All-star game. So he's in.

But it really comes down to 3 players for the Giants. Brian Wilson, Barry Zito, and Matt Cain. These three could possible be battling for one All-star spot because, honestly, I do not think the MLB would take kindly to accepting 3 or 4 Giants pitchers onto the National League roster. So let's try to get it down to 1 even though all 3 deserve an All-star game bid this season.

Brian Wilson's 19 saves is good for 2nd in the National League behind Matt Capps who would seem to represent the Nationals in the All-star game. Wilson also boasts the lowest ERA of any closer with more than 15 saves.

Matt Cain is 4th in the NL with a 2.16 ERA, but a 6-5 record could cost him a trip to Anaheim.

Barry Zito has been the Giants' best pitcher in the first-half. He is 7-3 with a 3.13 ERA and is one of the top pitchers in the MLB for the first-half. What might get Zito is the long list of other NL pitchers who have much better ERA's than 3.13. In fact, there are 30 other pitchers with better ERA's.

My prediction is Lincecum and Wilson get nods to Anaheim, with Zito and Cain feeling robbed without an invite.