Baseball is on the way!

I made the ultimate sacrifice in 2016: I skipped Spring Training in Arizona. OK maybe it’s not the ULTIMATE sacrifice, but I’ve traveled to Arizona every year since 2012 so missing out feels like taking a line drive to the heart.

It had to be done, though. I have some apartment redecorating to do, and despite my best attempts at fuzzy math I couldn’t get my financial conscience to go along with paying for both. But don’t worry, I’m not crying because as everybody knows… THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!

I’ll Forever Be Loyal…

Most of the time, when I tell a guy I’m a hardcore fan of both the Cleveland Indians (my Major League Baseball team growing up) and the San Francisco Giants (my local team of 15+ years) he’ll respond, “You can’t do that”.

Can so, can so! And so, apparently, can a woman who attended Friday night’s Indians/Giants game at AT&T Park. Her sign pretty much sums it up. Thanks for representing, girlfriend. (P.S. I like your scarf!)

In case you are wondering how I’ll cope if the two teams ever play one another in the World Series, I say… BRING.IT.ON.  Seriously, I’ll worry about that happy, earth-shattering, first-world dilemma when I’m faced with it. Maybe this year…

“Let me live that fantasy.” (Lorde)


Sign seen at AT&T Park. "Born in Cleveland, Live in San Francisco, Love 'em both!" April 25, 2014.

Cleveland Indians: Swept Away

It was a gorgeous day at AT&T Park, where not much happened… until this happened:

The San Francisco Giants celebrate Brandon Hicks' 3-run walk off home run against the Cleveland Indians. AT&T Park. April 27, 2014.
Walk Off!


San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Hicks hit a three-run walk off home run in the 9th inning to beat the Cleveland Indians, and make it a clean sweep of the three-game series for the Giants. For most of the game, it seemed as if the lack of familiarity with either pitcher would translate into low scoring — until Hicks got the pitch he acted as if he’d been waiting for all day. Final score: 4-1.

I’m sorry for my Tribe, but thankfully this won’t be my last chance to see them play live in 2014.  I’ll be catching a game in Seattle in June and, aside from my ongoing fantasy of someday moving to the emerald city, I have no affiliation with the Mariners. The Indians will have my 100% loyalty, and there will be no hand wringing over which team’s cap I’ll wear.

Now, please enjoy the pics, as I excuse myself to curl up on my sofa under a down comforter and spoon with a bottle of Vicks NyQuil.

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Giants vs. Indians: For Me, There’s Always a Bright Side

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum on the mound at AT&t Park. April 26, 2014Yesterday, I watched the Cleveland Indians battle the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. The Tribe started out strong, and led into the fifth inning – that’s when things started to fall apart. Thanks to big hits by Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco and Buster Posey (HR), the Giants came back to win 5-3.

I’m always a little torn when the Giants and Indians play each other. For this series, in the name of fairness, I got one ticket near the visitors dugout (Saturday) and one near the Giants dugout (today). I bought them quite a while ago, not knowing who would be pitching. There I was, in my red and blue Tribe gear, while my favorite Giant Timmy Lincecum was on the mound. I felt like a monster.

Back then I also had no idea the games would coincide with the worst cold I’ve had in years. For the past two days I’ve felt like someone is riding a pogo stick inside my sinuses, my throat is raw and glands in my tongue are so swollen I can barely talk. Luckily I didn’t buy a ticket to Friday night’s game. The Indians played poorly, and if the preponderance of stocking caps, scarves and down jackets I saw on TV were any indication, it was FAR too cold out there for a sickie like me.

So to recap: I stayed home for game one, and the Tribe lost. Yesterday I sat in Tribetown and wore my Indians gear… and they lost again. Today I have a ticket near the Giants dugout, and I suppose I’ll wear Giants gear.

If the Tribe doesn’t get the win, it’s possible that whether I go to a game – and what I wear to it – has no bearing on how well a team performs. In other words, the outcome has nothing to do with me, and my many superstitions?

I’m on lots of meds right now, but that would really be a bitter pill to swallow.

Stopped Cold at AT&T Park

San Francisco Giants vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, April 10, 2014. AT&T Park. San Francisco, CA.
AT&T Park (April 10, 2014)


On Thursday, I shivered through my first regular season San Francisco Giants game of 2014.  The night air was so cold, I had to slip into my down jacket before the end of the second inning — not a good sign. Unfortunately, I forgot my gloves.

It was “Farewell to the ‘Stick” night — a celebration of more than 50 years of baseball and football played amidst wind, fog and swirling trash at soon-to-be-demolished Candlestick Park. The fitting promotional giveaway was a commemorative scarf that smelled awful when removed from its plastic bag. I wore it anyway. It’s no coincidence that scarves are among the most popular promos at AT&T Park. On my way home, I encountered at least one freezing fan offering to BUY one off someone.

Granted, East Coast teams play in some very cold temperatures in the early months of the season — a few years ago, the Cleveland Indians home opener was SNOWED out — but they have the scorching heat of June through August to look forward to. In San Francisco, we probably won’t see weather like that at a night game unless we make it to the post-season in October.

I’m surprised AT&T Park hasn’t tried a mittens promotional giveaway. Or a hand warmer giveaway.

Naturally, such an extremity-numbing game went to extra innings, and unfortunately the Giants wound up losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks by one run in the 10th. Still, my seat — four rows from the field, right next to the visitors dugout — was something to blog home about. I can only assume that the original owner gave up price-gouging for Lent, because I bought it on StubHub for at or near face value. Bless you, kind stranger.

Apologies for any camera shake. I shot until the shivering made it too hard to keep still…

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Tim Lincecum: Here Today…

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum enters the dugout at AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA. September 9, 2013.Monday was probably my last chance to celebrate Lincecum Day at AT&T Park in 2013.  Tim Lincecum is scheduled to pitch at home just once more, against the dreaded first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, but I have no plans to attend the game.  I decided the odds for a positive outcome were better against the Colorado Rockies, and I was right.  While the San Francisco Giants offense didn’t come through in time for Timmy to get the “W”, we beat Colorado in a 10th inning walk-off thanks to a single by Brandon Belt.

Despite the win, the Giants were officially eliminated from the National League West pennant race on Monday.  For some reason, this development was not announced over AT&T’s P.A. system.

Will Tim Lincecum wear a Giants uniform next season?  I hope so.  Yes, I have a soft spot for the guy that obviously biases me — but if we fail to keep Timmy… who will we replace him with?  His 4.67 ERA is disappointing, yet Matt Cain’s 2013 ERA is 4.53 and Ryan Vogelsong’s is 4.88. And please, let’s not talk about Barry Zito!

In other words, it’s not as if pitchers with ERAs in the 2’s are just hanging around, waiting to be signed.  (In 2009, when he won his second consecutive Cy Young award, Timmy’s ERA was 2.48.)  I sometimes think San Francisco Giants fans are so spoiled by years of great pitching from Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner, we have lost perspective.

So… here’s my humble, biased opinion on the best-case Lincecum scenario: The Giants resign Timmy to a two-year deal, while continuing to nurture prospects and shop for trades.  He threw a no-hitter once.  And he can ROCK the bullpen, based on his performance last October, so that’s an option if his performance as a starter deteriorates.

Let’s remember, Sabean, Baer and friends are businessmen, and Timmy draws crowds and puts cheeks in the seats.  Mine, to name just two.

As the baseball season enters its final weeks, enjoy these pics.  I’ll be on hand for the last Giants game of the season (fan appreciation weekend!), as is my custom.  Madison Bumgarner is slated to pitch.  Then… bring on the NBA!

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That Has a Nice Ring To It

San Francisco Giants veteran first baseman Will Clark's World Series ring.
If I were a man with a World Series ring, I’d get no-polish manicures too. I’m just saying…

As the 2013 baseball season winds down, I’m taking in as many San Francisco Giants games as my schedule – and my budget – will allow.

I was on hand when the team played the Red Sox on August 20 (the only game the Giants were destined to win in that series), as well as Friday’s game two against the Pittsburg Pirates, which did not end so well.   The Giants lost 3-1, but there were several silver linings for me.

To start, I actually had two tickets to the Pirates game (long story), and spent the first three innings with my college friend Richard, who is British, and his two fantastic children who are spending the summer in San Francisco.  His daughter Chloe educated me on the similarities and differences between baseball and rounders (a game she apparently plays to some acclaim back home).  Thankfully, there was no quiz afterwards, because I think I would have been forced to cheat.  It’s complicated!

Richard’s son Dominic asked great questions that tested my knowledge of America’s pastime.  Our best conversation of the night went something like this:

Dominic: “Is Matt Cain pitching?”
Me: “Wow, you already know the Giants’ pitchers?”
Dominic: “He’s in an Audi advert near our house.  But what about the one named Tim or something?”
Me: (*sigh*) “Pull up a chair, young man.”

Second silver lining:  At the end of the third inning, I headed to my seat near the Giants’ dugout.  I plopped down in my usual graceful manner, before noticing a bit of a hullabaloo in our section. The gentleman sitting directly in front of me was allowing fans to photograph his massive bling-bling ring.

It wasn’t the Pope.  It was veteran Giants first baseman Will “The Thrill” Clark.   He stuck around until the fifth inning, signing balls and taking photos with fans – always with a gracious smile.  He works in the Giants’ front office, so perhaps he’s obligated to go to a few games each season to reward fans.  However, I saw him at 2013 Spring Training too, and am certain his generosity and enthusiasm are genuine.  The man loves baseball, and clearly feels blessed to still be part of the game.

There are only 32 games left in the season. I wonder if I can squeeze in one more Tim Lincecum outing, since San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Hank Schulman has (helpfully) pointed out that Timmy may only have two more starts in a Giants uniform.

No. Way.

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Swept Up: San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs 7/28/13I attended my first San Francisco Giants game in at least a month last Sunday, July 28.  By happy coincidence, my favorite Giant, Tim Lincecum, was on the mound.

Timmy pitched great — giving up just two runs in seven innings, and striking out 10.  He also went 2-2 at the plate. You know the Giants’ offense is in serious trouble when Lincecum is the hottest hitter of the game.  And so it was that the Giants were swept by (*gulp*) the Cubbies for the first time in 20 years.  Final score: 2-1.  It’s been a long season.

So let’s look on the bright side.  The weather on Sunday was spectacular, and I got lots of great shots of Timmy on base — which doesn’t happen very often.  (Sorry, Tim.)

During the plentiful lulls in the action, I took the opportunity to experiment with my aperture and shutter speed, instead of relying so much on automatic settings.  The outcome was respectable.  (I’ll spare you the underexposed shots, in which Lincecum looks like he’s pitching during a solar eclipse, as well as the overexposed ones that resemble X-rays.)

Let’s go Giants!

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Matt Kemp: Goodness, Gracious

Los Angeles Dogers outfielder Matt Kemp warms up.
Matt Kemp

As I blogged yesterday, I attended the San Francisco Giants game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday.  A grudge match, as usual.

One thing I failed to mention in my post:  After the game — which the Dodgers lost — a gracious Matt Kemp jogged over to my section and gave half his uniform to a young, disabled Dodger fan seated almost directly in front of me.  No hoopla or posing.  No cameras around, except for the personal iPhone of someone seated nearby that was used to shoot this video.  (Unfortunately, I had already stored my camera away by that point, and the encounter happened too fast for me to pull it back out.)

No exaggeration, you could have heard a pin drop in section 125.  Kemp, who gets booed with every at-bat in AT&T Park, left a number of us pretty choked up.  The young fan was at the game with an older gentleman — probably his Dad — who was obviously thrilled and touched beyond words.

I am not much for heckling opponents, so I was never among the Matt Kemp booers to begin with.  But going forward, I may manage some polite clapping, instead of stoney silence, when he’s at the plate. 

I’m not sure I could manage flat-out cheering, though.  He does, after all, still wear Dodger blue.

A Win-Win Weekend For The San Francisco Giants

Buster Posey

It was a great weekend for San Francisco Giants baseball.  We didn’t sweep the L.A. Dodgers, but we took the series putting us 5 1/2 games out in front in the National League West.  Toward the end of Sunday’s shut-out, one of ESPN’s announcers speculated that the Dodgers now probably have a better shot at capturing a wild card spot than of winning the NL West.  Music to my ears.

I caught the first game of the series, going back on my solemn promise never to attend another Friday night Giants/Dodgers match-up, after several near-death experiences in past seasons.  I even sat near the visitor’s dugout, and while the inmates were restless… I survived without ever throwing a punch.

Four hecklers behind me were tossed pretty early on.  They were annoying, because two were Giants fans and two were Dodgers fans.  So it was nonstop screaming no matter which team was at bat.  These guys were particularly fond of the F-bomb — but apparently the police officers positioned nearby were not.

As I was leaving AT&T Park after the Giants’ 5-2 victory, the gentleman next to me summed it up nicely.  “WOW, what a game!  I have a feeling every game will be a dog fight like this one from here on out.”

I say, bring it!

I ended the night with more than 1,500 shots.  Here are some of the best, if I do say so myself.  Next up for me and my Canon… September 17 vs. the Colorado Rockies.

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