It’s been a while since my last blog post. A LONG while. I’ve been traveling more than normal, and I guess I just fell out of the blogging habit. It’s easy to do when your trips happen every few weeks, and involve weekend travel. Then your beloved baseball team makes it to the postseason. As a wildcard. And goes on the win it all, playing five nights out of seven for an entire month.
Every other year, like clockwork, my October is ocupado, thanks to the San Francisco Giants.
I’ll blog about my recent travel – which involved plenty of photography – shortly. But for now, I’m still basking in the post World Series parade glow.
The parade route wasn’t as crowded as in 2010 or 2012 – hopefully because it rained all morning, and not because we Bay Area folks are taking World Series wins for granted. Whatever the explanation, I managed to position myself in the first row against barricades on Market Street… where I stood waiting for the players’ floats for 4.5 hours, without water (except for what was soaking my hair and shoes), to avoid the need for a restroom run. Under no circumstances was I relinquishing my ideal photo-taking spot.
Totally. Worth. It.
Juan Perez and Andrew Susac
Game 7 winning pitcher Jeremy Affeldt and his son, who prepares to take care of some pesky confetti
Tim Hudson — who at age 39 is now the oldest pitcher in major league history to start a World Series Game 7 — and Hunter Strickland
Hunter Pence. Yes! Yes! Yes!
I’m not sure who the dancing Fathead folks are, but the performance was inspired and very funny
Honestly, I like the Chicago Cubs. I really do! I mean, they are a Midwestern team with a rich history, that hasn’t won a championship in… 105 years. Lest you forget, Cubbies fans, I grew up in Cleveland — so I feel your pain. But when they play the San Francisco Giants? Well, I think you know where I stand.
On Memorial Day at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the Cubs spanked the Giants 8-4 in the first game of a three game series. Uh-oh.
I had a ticket for Tuesday’s game, and luckily the outcome was better. (Final score: 4-0, in favor of the Giants.) It was a fog-free night at AT&T park — warm by Bay Area standards — and pitcher Tim Hudson was dominant. He and relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Jean Machi wrapped things up so quickly, I was home in my bed by 11 p.m. Muchas gracias, guys.
The Giants currently have the best record in professional baseball: 34-19, as of this evening.
Yesterday, 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.
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…
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!
San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum got roughed up again tonight, this time by the Atlanta Braves. He walked five, and gave up two earned runs in six innings. The Giants lost 3-0, and while there’s plenty of blame to go around (I’m thinking of Andres “Butterfingers” Torres right now), there is no denying that Timmy’s problems are not just a temporary funk. His performance has not improved this season, even though he reportedly showed up to spring training in the best physical shape of his career.
I am a longtime, diehard Lincecum fan, and his downward spiral has been tough to watch. Of course I hate to see the Giants lose and all, but what’s harder to witness is Timmy’s complete loss of confidence. The swagger and fist pumps are long gone, and now he just looks lonely and lost out there on the mound.
I’ve only seen Timmy pitch in person once this season – against the Colorado Rockies in late May – and finally got around to going through my shots of that game this evening. (I’ve been a little busy lately, for reasons I’ll blog about soon.)
His facial expression and posture are so different than in seasons past. I can see this on TV, but was surprised by how obvious the change is in these photographs.
When scrutinizing the hundreds of photos I took, deciding which to edit and keep and which to delete, I probably saved more than made sense. Each time I watch Timmy struggle mightily these days, I wonder how many more times I’ll get to see him start. I also wonder how much longer he’ll wear a Giants uniform. It’s hard for me to imagine the team without him.
These are just a few of the keepers, mostly of Timmy:
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.
Buster Posey called Monday’s extra-innings victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks possibly the best San Francisco Giants win of the season. Fitting that it happened on Labor Day because it was, at times, pretty laborious. The sixth inning in particular, when Barry Zito blew a four-run lead, felt like breaking rocks.
Of course, the Giants’ comeback starting in the eight inning — and punctuated by a Posey-Scutaro one-two punch in the 10th — was made sweeter because so many fans bailed in the seventh to beat the traffic, L.A. Dodger-fan style.
Not me. As my southern Baptist relatives would say… Oh, ye of little faith.
Knowing that the Dodgers had probably watched the Giants struggle, and smirked and puffed up as they imagined themselves closing in on first place in the NL West… well, that was pretty enjoyable too.
I took a record-high 1,281 photos at the game. I could blame a digital camera that shoots eight frames-per-second. But instead, I blame Zito and the Giants’ shaky band of middle relievers. After Barry got the hook, it took six of them — Mota, Kontos, Loux, Penny, Machi (who did great, going 1-2-3 in his first inning in the big leagues) and Romo — to finish off the Diamondbacks.
Of course, as is my custom, I had to photograph them all. My forearm ached from holding my camera, and pushing down on the shutter-release button for hours.
Whatever. I rubbed some dirt on it. It was totally worth it.
I am currently waylaid in the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, my flight delayed by at least two hours due to stormy weather in San Francisco. As I blog (and sigh, and fidget) I stare at an illuminated sign in my boarding area that reads “Temporary AREA OF REFUGE”. I have no idea what this means – refuge from what, I wonder? Unfortunately I don’t see any cots or hammocks for napping, so there appears to be no refuge here from exhaustion.
My Spring Training adventure has come to a close, and I’m a little sad to be saying goodbye to Scottsdale. Today’s weather was – no shock here — amazing, and my seats were much improved. Just like yesterday, I sat next to some really funny, friendly people. I think Scottsdale puts something in their water that brings out the nice, neighborly side of baseball fans. If so, where can I buy the stuff? I’d like to run it through the water filter at my office.
But I digress…
Today was the high note of the trip, baseball wise. First and foremost: Buster Posey had his first hit of Spring Training off Indians lefty Tony Sipp, and it was (naturally) a home run. It’s rare to see unilateral support for a player at a professional sporting event – even in the preseason. But people all around me – Giants and Indians fans alike – were exuberant.
Spring training facilities have an interesting feel — somewhere between a little league field and a big league ballpark on the intimacy scale. They aren’t rowdy but they aren’t sleepy little places either. Yet, anytime Buster Posey approached the plate a hush fell over Scottsdale Stadium. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, people didn’t just stop talking… they seemed to hold their breaths too. When he hit that home run, 10,500 fans collectively exhaled… then went crazy.
Matt Cain pitched well, allowing two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was followed by Brian Wilson, who pitched with plenty of zip, and was hitless and scoreless.
I got to see lots of familiar faces play for the Indians, Shin-Soo Choo (who famously got his hand broken by an errant Jonathan Sanchez pitch last season), Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera (who I strongly suggest fire his barber), pitcher Scott Barnes (a former Giant) and first baseman Matt LaPorta. I have a soft spot for LaPorta; he joined the Indians amid a lot of hype. When he didn’t quite live up to expectations, he was viciously mocked and vilified on Twitter until he finally deactivated his account.
How fitting for me – the girl who has a troubling conflict of interest when the Giants play the Tribe – that the game ended in a 2-2 tie after 10 innings. Nobody won… but nobody lost either.
Awesome! My flight is boarding. Adios Giants, see you in April!