It Rained On My Parade

Madison Bumgarner Fathead on display at the World Series victory parade in San Francisco, CA. October 31, 2014It’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.

Losing Lincecum

Timmy exhalesSan 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:

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On Saturday Night, SF Giants Were One and Done


The San Francisco media began its “magic number” countdown about a week ago — the magic number being the number of wins required to clinch a playoff spot, regardless how well/poorly the runner-up team (i.e. the LA Dodgers) performs.  By Thursday morning, the San Francisco Giants’ magic number was five.

Because I had tickets to both Saturday’s and Sunday’s games against the San Diego Padres, I did more math than is advisable for a history major, trying to pinpoint the likelihood I’d be at AT&T Park to see the Giants win the National League West.  It’s not really about statistical probability, of course.  Barring some kind of Red Sox-style collapse, it was only a matter of time before they clinched.  But how MUCH time would depend on how much torture the baseball gods chose to inflict.

The gods were merciful, and the Giants beat the Padres handily on Saturday night to win the division.  Nervous energy hung in the air like the Bay Area marine layer, but the team played like vets who had been there before.  No torture necessary.

When Angel Pagan caught Mark Kotsay’s pop up to end the game, the place went insane.  It’s hard to describe the electricity and elation in such an enormous venue, where everyone is pulling for the same thing (or, “on the same rope” as Zen master/GM Brian Sabean likes to say). Everywhere you looked, fans were smiling, high-fiving and hugging, and no one was rushing for the exits to beat the traffic.  I stuck around until Giants’ president and CEO Larry Baer got hold of the microphone, and began his shameless plug for playoff merchandise.

The fact that starters – including my particular favorite, Tim Lincecum – didn’t play on Sunday was a bit of a disappointment, although no one could begrudge them their day off.  It gave the rookies some valuable playing time.  It also allowed people like me, who have been laser-focused on the playoffs, to just relax in the stellar weather, unclench our jaws, put down our cameras…. and enjoy the game.


I Was Mad… But Then Came Madbum!

Rory McIlroy and Sergio RomoI have more than 100 reasons to dislike San Francisco Giants Chief Operating Officer Larry Baer tonight, and each has a dollar sign in front of it.

It was Irish Heritage Night at AT&T Park, and I went to the game in search of a Rory McIlroy bobblehead, and a photo-op of him (Rory, not the bobblehead) throwing out the first pitch.  I splurged on a seat in my favorite section by the Giants dugout.  It’s Larry territory — perfect for photo taking.

Rory threw pretty well for someone who once divulged on Twitter that the only sport he doesn’t care for is… baseball.  Then, I couldn’t believe it – he joined us all in Costa del Baerville, taking a seat four rows in front of me, next to Larry!

Unfortunately, this is when the trouble started.  It was crazy.  Streams of Larry Baer’s BFFs appeared out of nowhere, and stood fawning over Rory and air kissing one another — even after the game started.

For the rest of us, the expectation that one should wait until an at-bat is finished before getting up/returning to one’s seat applies.  Don’t time your restroom break just right? You may be forced to crawl back to your seat on your belly.

Not so for Larry and friends.

Baer was positively giddy, glad-handing and moving his friends and family around constantly.  At one point, while he was standing and blocking everyone’s view, Melky Caberea hit a smoking foul ball that whizzed no more than five feet from his head.  I don’t wish Larry injury, but I’m not sure getting bonked on the head would necessarily do him much harm.  (ZING!)

I’ve always been fairly ambivalent about Baer, but after tonight I know this for sure:  There is not a down-to-earth bone in his body.  He flamboyantly worked the crowd in “his” section.  The problem is, no more than 75% of the folks sitting there appeared to be his guests.  The rest of us paid a substantial amount of money for our tickets and wanted to watch THE GAME instead of Larry pressing the flesh.

The next time Larry Baer decides to throw a party during a Giants game, I would respectfully suggest that he rent a luxury suite upstairs.  He can certainly afford it.

Despite my feud with Larry and his entourage, I would be remiss if I didn’t say… it was a great game for the Giants.  I got a bobblehead, albeit a slightly defective one. Rory’s tiny driver keeps falling out of his hand.  I think a dab of Liquid Nails may be in order, but I suspect that’s not regulation and the USGA will disapprove.

Madison Bumgarner hit his first Major League home run tonight.  How could I stay mad, when I was so happy for Madbum?  Brandon Belt hit one too, and more than one helpful fan yelled down to Manager Bruce Bochy — just to make sure he saw it.