April 2012

Worst feared for the Beard: San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson likely needs surgery

So clearly, nothing was wrong with Brian Wilson, eh Giants?.

The San Francisco Giants closer is likely headed for surgery on his right elbow after an MRI show structural damage and an issue with the ligament, the Associated Press reported.

FILE - In this July 10, 2011, file photo, San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson adjusts his neck during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets in San Francisco. Wilson is likely headed for surgery on his right elbow after an MRI showed structural damage and an issue with the ligament, and his season could be in jeopardy. Manager Bruce Bochy and athletic trainer Dave Groeschner say the club will seek at least one other opinion and probably two, including from the renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, who performs Tommy John elbow-reconstruction surgeries. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

While Saturday’s comes as a bit of a surprise, in another sense it doesn’t at all.

Wilson was handled very delicately all spring. He made a late start before appearing in a spring training game.  Then spent the rest of spring training pitching in minor league games.

He made his regular-season debut on Wednesday in Colorado, giving up one run in a non-save situation.

He recorded his first save of the season Thursday in Colorado, when he pitched the ninth with a three-run lead. After giving up one run, Wilson left the bases loaded before recording the final out.

In that outing, manager Bruce Bochy and trainer Dave Groeschner came out to visit Wilson after the pitcher “tweaked his ankle.” He finished the inning out, even though he had clearly lost velocity on his pitches.

The Associated Press reported that the Giants will seek at least one other opinion, probably two, including renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews.

Wilson, 30, reported discomfort in his elbow on Friday and was sent for tests. Translation: The pain from his “tweaked ankle” radiated all the way to his elbow by Friday.

Actual translation: Wilson never tweaked his ankle at all. Reporters after the game said Wilson did not ice his ankle after the game, and was seen walking with no noticeable limp and in flip-flops.

He was to be examined by team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki on Saturday night.

In the short team, it means that Wilson will undoubtedly be placed on the disabled list, clearing a roster spot for Ryan Vogelsong who will be activated from the DL and make his first start on Sunday.

We’d expect Santiago Casilla to act as the Giants closer for now, but Sergio Romo could also be a candidate.

Look for the Giants to find closer candidates from within the current active roster before going to alternates in the minors, like Fresno closer Heath Hembree.

In the long term, Wilson is making $8.5 million in 2012, and 2013 is his final arbitration eligible season.

San Francisco Giants 5, Pittsburgh Pirates 0: Matt Cain and the nearly perfect opener

BOX SCORE

As home openers go, that was about perfect.

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain, right, tips his cap to the crowd after throwing a complete game shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates in their Opening Day baseball game in San Francisco, Friday, April 13, 2012. Giants catcher Buster Posey. left, looks on. San Francisco won the game 5-0. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Buster Posey spanked a first-inning pitch off the center field wall for a two-out RBI double in his first official at-bat at home since suffering a season-ending injury last season.

Aubrey Huff smacked a one-hop splash hit (you know, how we like splash hits, even though this wasn’t an official one) to give the Giants their seventh 4+ run game of the season.

And, of course, there was Matt Cain.

Cain has a losing record for his career, through no fault of his own as he’s been a historic victim of poor run support.

But on Friday, all the support Cain would need is the first-inning double by Posey. He faced 28 batters for the Giants’ second complete-game shutout in five days.

“What a day by Matt,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve all seen him locked in like this. He was as good as he’s been.”

The lone blemish? A sixth-inning single by Pirates’ pitcher James McDonald, a career .069 hitter.

“You think about, it’s like ‘Man, the pitcher stood in his way for a perfect game,’ ” McDonald said.

Cain was thinking about it.

“I was definitely aware of it, but I’m thinking there, ‘I’m behind in the count 2-1, but I’m throwing something to the outer third of the plate,’ ” Cain said. “He put a good swing on it. He did his job. He can hit.”

After that his, Cain went back to work, setting down the final 10 Pirates for a 106-pitch complete game that was over in a litte more than two hours.

UP NEXT

Barry Zito faces Charlie Morton as the Giants play the Pirates at 6:05 p.m.

Friday Farm Report: Roger Kieschnick hottest among hot Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies also will be celebrating their home opener on Friday. But the Grizzlies enjoyed a bit more success than the mother club on the road, going 6-2.

OF Roger Kieschnick, once considered a top-flight hitting prospect but has been slow to develop, is off to a torrid start. He is hitting .500 with three HRs and 6 RBI in 34 at-bats. With three doubles and two triples, his slugging percentage is .971 with a 1.498 OPS.

But the grain of salt is that OF Justin Christian, who didn’t make much of an impression in his September call-up last year, then was released and resigned in the offseason, also is hitting .500 in 26 at-bats with an 1.266 OPS.

Other Grizzlies of note:

  • 2B Joaquin Arias, one of the last players cut off the Giants’ roster, is hitting .310 with 2 HRs and 11 RBI. But he’s also committed four errors.
  • OF Francisco Peguero, one of the Giants’ top prospects, is one of the few Grizzlies who is struggling to adjust to Triple-A pitching. He’s hitting .172 in 29 at-bats.
  • RP Heath Hembree has two saves, four strikeouts, one walk and two hits allowed in three scoreless innings. Four other relievers have not allowed an earned run, pitching between 2 and 41/3 innings: Steve Edlefsen, George Kontos, Shane Loux and Travis Blackley.

Double-A Richmond

  • 3B Chris Dominguez is off to hot start at Double-A, hitting .484 with 1 HR and 10 RBi in 31 ABs.
  • OF Gary Brown is not quite as toasty. He’s hitting .233 with no extra base-hits in 30 ABs.
  • SS Ehire Adrianza has done little to drop his all glove/no hit reputation. He’s hitting .154.
  • C Tommy Joseph, who was impressive in the spring, is off to a slow start at Double-A, hitting .125 with 8 strikeouts in 24 ABs.

Class A San Jose

  • OF Jarrett Parker is hitting .333 in 30 ABs with a 1.262 OPS. His BABIP is killer however, because 14 of the 20 outs he’s had were by strikeout.
  • SS Joe Panik is hitting .276 in 29 ABs. But with his eight walks in eight games, his OBP is .432.
  • C Andrew Sucac is another top-flight catching prospect off to a slow start. He’s hitting .174 in 23 ABs with 0 HR and 0 RBI.

San Francisco Giants 4, Colorado Rockies 2: Madison Bumgarner shines, Brian Wilson strains

BOX SCORE

The Giants are heading home with a win, and a severe case of the Willies.

After Madison Bumgarner pitched 7 1/3 stellar innings, Brian Wilson recorded his first save of the year with a heavy dose of drama.

“It’s not like I want to pitch in that situation,” Wilson said. “But when I do, I feel like I’ve been more successful than not.”

I guess that’s true. But we’d gladly take a 1-2-3 inning.

Wilson’s ninth-inning adventure began with a double by Troy Tulowitzki followed by an infield single by Michael Cuddyer when Brandon Crawford smothered the ball but could not throw out Cuddyer.

Wilson threw a 94-mph fastball past Wilin Rosario for strike three and the first out.

Jason Giambi singled to right to load the bases, then Todd Helton smoked a liner right at Emmaunel Burriss for the second out.

Then on a 1-0 pitch to Tyler Colvin, Wilson turned his ankle. Trainer Dave Groeschner came out and Wilson threw a warmup pitch before declaring that he was fine.

“No big deal,” Wilson said. “It’s really nothing, just one of those things they have to check in — a non-issue.”

But radar gun said something different, as Wilson strained to get his fastball to reach 90 mph the rest of the inning.

He walked Colvin to make it 4-2. Marco Scutaro worked the count to 2-2 before flying out to Nate Schierholtz in right to end the game.

“It’s Willy’s way,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Bochy added that, with Wilson throwing back-to-back days and laboring through a 32-pitch inning, that The Beard would likely not be used in Friday’s home opener against the Pirates.

In the end, the late drama almost overshadowed an outstanding effort from Bumgarner, who bounced back nicely from a rough opener last week in Arizona.

He gave up one run on four hits and two walks.

Even though the Giants score four runs for the sixth time in six games this season, it was pitching that supplied their two wins — first from Zito and Bumgarner.

“It’s our game,” Bochy said. “It’s what we count on. It means you have a chance to win the game.”

And the pitching as a whole should be better at home, as the Giants open a six-game homestead Friday.

“We’ve been on the road so much,” Bochy said. “The guys have dealt with it great. But it’s time to go home and get settled in our ballpark.”

OTHER NOTES

  • Melky Cabrera went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI as he continues to swing a hot bat, hitting .385.
  • After a slow start, Brandon Crawford is heating up. He went 2 for 4 with a double and run scored and now is hitting .261.
  • Two players who are not heating up: Angel Pagan (.130) and Ryan Theriot (.125). They may both be sitting on Friday (we can only hope).

UP NEXT

Matt Cain gets the call for the home opener against James McDonald and the Pirates at 1:30 p.m. Friday at AT&T Park. That is, if the game is played. Thunder storms rolled through the Bay Area Thursday night and Friday’s forecast calls for more and a 100 percent chance of rain.

We came pretty close on a predicted lineup Thursday, so we’ll take another shot at it for Friday. Our lone doubt is the leadoff spot and whether or not Bochy has the stones (or brains) to sit Pagan on the home opener.

CF Gregor Blanco
RF Melky Cabrera
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
LF Aubrey Huff
1B Brandon Belt
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Emmanuel Burriss
P Matt Cain

The rest of the series goes:

Pirates (TBA) vs. Giants (Zito), 6:05 p.m. Saturday

Pirates (Correia) vs. Giants (Vogelsong), 1:05 p.m. Sunday

15 more Baseball 101 questions answered (No. 60-75): Diving into first, OPS, best rotation

We got derailed a bit by Buster Posey’s shingles and Tim Lincecum’s haircut.

But we continue with answering Baseball 101 questions posed by Mark Hermman of Newsday:

61. With the Wilpons having received good news in the Madoff settlement, when can Mets fans look forward to good news about the ballclub?

2014, by then very costly contracts will have expired, giving the team all sorts of flexibility.

62. How would The Boss have responded to having spent nearly $2 billion on payroll during the past 11 years and winning only half as many titles as the Red Sox and Cardinals?

By spending another $2 billion.

63. Why do players sometimes dive into first base when studies show it is quicker to run?

Ignorance. Perhaps they should spend time watching Usain Bolt run the 100 meters and notice who he doesn’t do a head-first slide across the finish line.

64. Is the total of on-base percentage and slugging percentage the best measure of a hitter’s value?

OPS is a useful, simple tool. But slugging’s heavy weight on home runs lets OPS tell us that it’s better to have a .200 hitter who belts a ton of homers than a light-hitting .300 hitter. Good news for Dave Kingman and Rob Deer, not good news for Ichiro Suzuki and Tony Gywnn. That’s why we like wOBA (weighted on base average), which levels the field a bit better.

65. Can a team possibly get anything close to an equal return if it trades Babe Ruth, Tom Seaver or any other icon at his peak?

It is possible, if the team gets a couple of prospects back who bloom into superstars. But the odds are long, and the team trading the icon at his peak is usually burned.

66. Will Derek Jeter eventually move to another position or will he just retire when he can’t play shortstop anymore?

With 3,000 hits and five World Series rings in his possession, we’re guessing he’ll retire when he can’t play shortstop anymore.

67. Is it a good idea to expand rosters to 40 on Sept. 1 or is it unfair to have minor-leaguers in big games?

It’s totally unfair. It completely changes the game. For five months, managers juggle lineup decisions, pinch-hitting and double-switches, with the limitation of having a bench the generally is comprised of five players. Then suddenly in September they don’t have to worry about that stuff as they have almost an endless supply of bench players, by comparison. In 2010, during the Giants playoff push to the World Series, they called up Darren Ford, a speedy outfielder who couldn’t hit a lick. But he could run and field. He appeared in seven September games, six as a pinch-runner. He did not have a plate appearance, but stole two bases and scored one pivotal run that helped the Giants win a key game. I understand the desire to take a look at some prospects and the need to provide roster depth late in the season when players are getting fatigued. But 40 players is too many; 30 would be better.

68. In the draft, should you go with the most talented player no matter what his age is, or play it safe and take a college guy?

Depends on your situation. If you’re a contending or hopeful team that needs a piece filled on your roster in a year or two, a college guy is the better choice. But if you have a very good team with few immediate needs or a young team that is years away from contending, a high school player may be the right pick.

69. Why is there caterwauling every year about which players aren’t chosen for the All-Star Game, followed by complaining that the game is meaningless?

The All-Star Game is all about honoring the best players. So there is a lot of debate about who are the best and most deserving players. But once the roster has been set, then the game itself is just an exhibition and it shouldn’t matter who wins.

70. Billy Martin or Joe Torre . . . Gil Hodges or Davey Johnson.

Torre. Martin was a nutbar. Johnson. Hodges was a Dodger, which is worse than being a nutbar.

71. In 1972, there were nine African-American starters in the All-Star Game. In 2011, there were four. In 1964, the Cardinals had four African-American players in the lineup for Game 7 of the World Series. In Game 7 of 2011, the Cardinals had none. Sixty-five years after Jackie Robinson’s breakthrough, how can baseball again attract top black athletes?

Continue to develop inner-city youth baseball programs. Developing baseball skills takes time and money. The best American-born players today have extensive experience with camps, clinics and travelling teams. These cost money.

72. Has a player ever presented a more honest question to a sitting President than when Babe Ruth, upon being introduced to Calvin Coolidge on a sultry Washington day, said: “Hot as hell, ain’t it, Prez?”

Nope.

73. Where does Citi Field’s Shake Shack rate among the best ballpark concessions, and what else is on the short list?

Never been to Citi Field, so couldn’t say. But I’d say any list should start and finish with Gilroy garlic fries.

74. Should you sell your Honus Wagner baseball card now or hold on to it?

Sell it now. The trading card market peaked about 20 years.

75. Who has the best starting rotation in baseball? (Fangraphs.com lists the Angels first).

Well, given that Barry Zito — the weak link of the Giants’ roation — just threw a four-hit shutout in Coors Field, it’s got to be the Giants.

Colorado Rockies 17, San Francisco Giants 8: Tim Lincecum gets haircut, then gets rocked

BOX SCORE

Well, thank God for Barry Zito.

Who would imagine we’d ever write that a week ago?

But a lot of assumptions we had about the 2012 Giants in spring training haven’t been fulfilled so far in the regular season.

We thought the offense would struggle. Nope. The Giants are averaging almost six runs a game so far this season.

We thought Brandon Belt was going to rake. No. He’s hitting .091 this season.

We though Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were ready for the season. Well, so far we haven’t seen that, particularly from Lincecum.

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum delivers against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of their baseball game in Denver, Wednesday, April 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

But before we get to the ugly details of Wednesday’s game in Colorado, let’s get to the stuff apparently everyone wants to know about — The Freak’s new haircut.

Lincecum had about 4 inches of length cut off his locks during Tuesday’s day off in Denver. But his hair was so long, it was hard to notice.

So we’ve included a picture from Wednesday game with his new haircut, and one from spring training, so you could see the difference.

The big difference we want to see is on Lincecum’s pitching.

The Freak got knocked around for six runs on eight hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career.

Yet Lincecum needed 76 pitches to get seven outs.

His velocity was good, topping out at 93 mph. But he struggled to locate his fastball, which was up and catching too much of the plate. The Rockies then pounded those pitches, even after falling

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum throws to the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a spring training baseball game, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

behind 0-2 or 1-2 in the count.

“Just sloppy baseball for me,” Lincecum said. “Not really executing pitches, missing a lot, and it’s going to hurt you, especially in this park.

If there’s silver lining, it’s that Lincecum wasn’t alone in his pitching struggles, leading some to claim that the Rockies didn’t put the baseballs into their famed humidor Wednesday.

“I actually thought his stuff was a little crisper, he was just up,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Lincecum. “He left a lot pitches up, a lot of mistakes when he was up in the count. Tough time putting hitters away, really across the board with the staff. Rough night for the staff.”

Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning, when the Giants erased a 6-0 deficit with a seven-run fourth.

But that didn’t last long as Guillermo Mota came into the game and gave up five runs (four earned) in one-plus innings. Jeremy Affeldt didn’t fare much better, giving up five more runs (two earned) in two innings.

The low-point came when the Rockies put up a seven-run inning of their own in the fifth.

Ramon Hernandez’s single scored Todd Helton with the fourth run of the inning, then the Giants failed twice on the same play to get the third out of the inning.

Angel Pagan’s throw from center was not going to be in time to get Helton at home. Brett Pill went to cut the throw off, but instead deflected it to the right of home plate.

Catcher Hector Sanchez chased the ball down and threw to Affeldt covering home in time to beat Michael Cuddyer trying to score. But Cuddyer stopped short and headed back to third.

Affeldt threw to Pablo Sandoval, who ran Cuddyer back toward home. Sandoval attempted to throw to Sanchez at home. But Pill, who was between Sandoval and Sanchez, thought the throw was to him and attempted to catch the ball and swipe tag Cuddyer going by in one motion, and failed to hold onto the ball.

As Cuddyer scored, Sandoval picked up the ball and threw to Brandon Crawford at third trying to cut down Hernandez trying to advance. But Hernandez pulled a Houdini act in avoiding Crawford’s tag and was safe at third. That allowed the Rockies to pile on two more runs in the inning on a double by Chris Nelson and triple by Eric Young Jr., and take a 16-7 lead.

We’ll try to find some other good news to report.

  • Nate Schierholtz got his first start of the season and belted two solo home runs and added a sacrifice fly.
  • 2B Emmanuel Burriss went 3 for 4 with three RBI.
  • Pablo Sandoval smacked two doubles, keeping his bat hot.
  • Buster Posey’s case of the shingles is not that serious, as Posey himself said. He came into warm up Affeldt between innings when Sanchez was getting his gear on. He also flied out in the eighth as a pinch-hitter.
  • Despite giving up 17 runs on 22 hits, the Giants pitchers didn’t allow a home run. Small consolation, I know.

UP NEXT

Madison Bumgarner hits the start against Jamie Moyer at 12:10 p.m. Thursday in a battle of diverse ages. We’re not sure what the lineup is going to look like, but if we had to guess, this is what we’d say.

CF Angel Pagan
LF Melky Cabrera
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Brett Pill
LF Nate Schierholtz
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Emmanuel Burriss
P Madison Bumgarner

Let’s see if we’re right.

Buster Posey gets shingles, Tim Lincecum gets a haircut, Brandon Belt gets the shaft

Wednesday started out as just as any other mid-week day after a day off in Denver that followed a Barry Zito shutout.

Then things got REALLY wacky.

First came the announced lineup for Wednesday’s game at Colorado that did not include Brandon Belt.

This came just two days after manager Bruce Bochy said, when talking about Belt’s day off on Monday: “I think we’re getting a little caught up here. There’s no panic (with Belt).” And then he said Belt would be back out there on Wednesday.

Then Wednesday’s come, and no Belt. What?

We’re guessing Bochy wanted to get Nate Schierholtz his first start on Wednesday. Then after doing that, he looked at the lineup that would have had a struggling Belt No. 5 followed by Schierholtz No. 6, then Brandon Crawford and Emmanuel Burriss, and he didn’t like it. So Aubrey Huff, who had a nice game Monday, gets the start.

OK, it’s not unreasonable. But with the lefty Jamie Moyer starting Thursday, we would expect Brett Pill to start at first base. That means no Belt starting the entire Rockies series, which is a lovely park for a struggling hitter to find his stroke.

Then, Lincecum showed up to the park with four inches of hair lopped off, saying that he “just wanted a haircut.”

But that story would take a backseat to the next nugget: Buster Posey was out of the lineup with shingles.

Shingles is triggered by the same virus that causes chicken pox, leading to painful blisters. Posey has blisters on his arm, left shoulder and back. Posey said he had chicken pox as a young child, but the virus stays dormant in the box and can be flared by a cold, lack of sleep or stress.

So beware Ozzie Guillen.

Posey said he started to feel worn down toward the end of spring training and the blisters began to emerge Sunday.

“You feel zapped,” he told CSNBayArea’s Andew Baggarly. “I just feel worn down still. I’m planning on being in there (Thursday), though.”

Posey has been told the condition generally clears in four or five days, but can last as long as three weeks.

Given that, we wouldn’t be surprised if Posey plays first base on Thursday, with Sanchez drawing another start behind the plate.

Still two hours until game time, and no word if Brian Wilson is clean-shaven or not.

San Franciso Giants notes: Ryan Vogelsong set to make 2012 debut on Sunday

Ryan Vogelsong gave up two runs on six hits over six innings of work in his second rehab start with the Fresno Grizzlies on Tuesday and is set to make his 2012 big-league debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Vogelsong threw 93 pitches, 60 for strikes. He struck out six and walked one.

Vogelsong threw five shutout innings before giving up two runs in the sixth on an soft, looping single to left, an infield single and then a two-run double.

BARRY LOVES HECTOR: If you liked what you saw from rookie catcher Hector Sanchez in his 2012 debut on Monday, you’ll see him again on Saturday, at the latest.

The Giants are planning to make Sanchez Barry Zito’s personal catcher. And why not? The combination produced Zito’s first shutout in nine seasons.

“I’m really comfortable with him,” Zito said of Sanchez. “I thought he mixed it up real well. He has a great feel back there. I don’t think he gets enough credit as a catcher. He’s not scared to go out there and call a pitch that may not be a normal pitch to throw in a siutation.”

Zito will take the mound again on Saturday night against the Pirates. But it’s possible Sanchez could be behind the plate again on Thursday.

With the Giants playing a day game after a night game and with the left-hander Jamie Moyer on the mound, we could see Sanchez catching and Buster Posey making his first start at first base.

Given the Giants’ struggles against lefties, manager Bruce Bochy will likely want to stack Thursday’s lineup with as many right-handed bats as possible. That could include the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Sanchez, with righties Posey at first and Ryan Theriot at 2B. Bochy could also leave Posey at catcher and start Brett Pill at first base.

LINEUP JUGGLING: After getting a day off to clear his mind, Brandon Belt should be back in the starting lineup Wednesday against the Rockies.

Bochy said Belt, who started 1 for 10 with five strikeouts after an outstanding spring, was pressing a bit.

We also could see Nate Schierholtz make his first start Wednesday.

“I need to get Nate a start,” Bochy said Monday. “I know that. I need to let him get three or four at-bats.”

SET THE DVR: The Giants will make their second national TV appearance of 2012 next Tuesday when they host the Philadelphia Phillies at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. Madison Bumgarner is set to pitch for the Giants.

15 more Baseball 101 questions answered: Nos. 46-60, Ryan Braun, 30-game winners, anatomy of a curveball

Here are 15 more answers to questions about baseball posed by Mark Hermann of Newsday.

46. Given that starting pitchers do not go as deep into games as they did 40 years ago, why is it unthinkable that they work on three days of rest, as they did back then?

Pitchers today put more stress on their arms than they did 40 years ago. They pitch harder, with more sliders and split-fingered pitches. Also, teams today invest millions in their pitchers. In 1966, when the Dodgers lost Sandy Koufax to arm problems, it cost them one of the best pitchers in the game. Today, a similar injury would cost them one of the best pitchers in the game and millions and millions of dollars in guaranteed salary.

47. Which is the better mascot, Mr. Met or the onetime Mets dog Homer?

Since I didn’t know the Mets even had a dog mascot named Homer, I will go with Mr. Met. (And I know Newsday is a New York publication, but enough with New York questions).

48. Who was the best-fielding first baseman: Vic Power, Wes Parker, Keith Hernandez, Don Mattingly or someone else?

Keith Hernandez

49. How would it have worked out for each side, and for each player’s legacy, if the Yankees and Red Sox really had pulled off that fabled trade of Joe DiMaggio for Ted Williams?

As the deal is said to have occurred in 1947, the Yankees would have gone on to win eight World titles over the next 12 years, and the Red Sox would not win a World title for another 57 years … Oh, wait. …. As for individuals, Ted Williams would have been one introduced as “the greatest living baseball player” in retirement, instead of DiMaggio. But the biggest winner would have been Mickey Mantle, who would have never torn up his knee trying to avoid getting out the way of Ted Williams trying to catch a fly ball.

50. Who was the fastest player you’ve ever seen, going from first to third?

Deion Sanders

51. It’s been 43 years since the last 30-game winner (Denny McLain, 31-6 in 1968). Will anyone win 30 again?

No, not when pitchers today make only 33-35 starts a season.

52. Is Ryan Braun truly “innocent” or simply “not guilty” because of a technicality?

“Not guilty” because of a technicality.

53. Why is Opening Day in baseball such a special occasion? (Cincinnati has scheduled a pregame downtown parade for the 93rd year.)

Because baseball is every day (or just about) for six months. It is a long journey and the start should be celebrated. The NBA opener almost catches you by surprise in late October. The NFL opening week is cool. But after your team plays, you have to wait week for another game. In baseball, there’s a game the next day (or at least there should be without the influence of TV), and the next day, and the next day.

54. What will the next wave of new stadiums look like? Specifically, a half-century from now, will there be a retro movement to replicate Shea, Veterans, Three Rivers and Riverfront Stadiums?

No there won’t be a retro movement to replicate those multi-purpose, cookie-cutter facilities. They were ugly when they were built and the only bit of nostalgia that bring smiles to the faces of baseball fans related to those stadium are the images of when they were imploded.

55. How should baseball honor Roberto Clemente for having opened so many doors for Latin American players?

Celebrar un Día de Roberto Clemente en cada uno de los estadios cuando todos los anuncios son en español.

56. Who would you want in Game 7: Bob Gibson or Sandy Koufax?

Sandy Koufax

57. What actually makes a curveball curve, and how much of it is an optical illusion?

According to a University of California Davis study, when the spin of the ball rotates in the direction it is thrown, the stitching on the ball gathers up air as the ball rotates, creating higher air pressure on one side of the ball. The higher pressure forces the ball in the direction of the lower pressure, and the ball curves.

58. Now that Banner Day is back, which, if any, of these baseball arti- facts is worth reviving: doubleheaders, Astroturf, organ music, Bat Day?

Doubleheaders, definitely doubleheaders. And not these day-night, split-admission doubleheaders … hear that, you money-grubbing owners.

59. How many current big-leaguers know what “playing pepper” means, and how much are they missing by not playing that old hand-eye coordination game?

I’m guessing not many. When I was a kid and saw the “No pepper” signs around the ballpark, it had to explained to me. And judging by the talent on the players on the field, I don’t think they’re missing anything.

60. If baseball is ever forced to adopt a contraction plan and fold two franchises, which teams should go?

The Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m all for tradition and the Pirates go way back. But 20 years without a winning season — a period that included a brand-new beautiful ballpark opening — is downright ridiculous.

And the Oakland Athletics. Any team that thinks it needs to horde in on the Giants’ territory to survive should be contracted.

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 1-15

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 16-30

Baseball 101 answers to questions No. 31-45

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 61-75 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 76-90 — COMING SOON

Baseball 101 answers to questions Nos. 91-101 — COMING SOON

Giants 7, Rockies 0: With Barry Zito ‘anything’s possible’

BOX SCORE

If there’s one thing Giants fans have come to expect so far in the 2012 season, it’s the unexpected.

Backdropped against the prosect of the Giants possibly enduring their first 0-4 start since 1950, backdropped against the fact that Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain have ERAs of 8.44, 9.00 and 6.50, backdropped against a spring in which Zito was basically throwing batting practice in his final two outings, Barry Zito threw an absolute gem that goes beyond defying logic.

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all in baseball …” Aubrey Huff said without finishing his sentence.

He didn’t have to. Zito did all the finishing Monday.

The historic perspective is staggering.

  • It was Zito’s first complete-game shutout since 2003, four years before signing a $126 million deal with the Giants
  • It was Zito’s first complete game in which he did not issue a walk since his rookie season in 2000.
  • He became the first Giants pitcher to throw a shutout in the 18 year history of Coors Field.
  • He became the second visiting pitcher to throw a shutout at Coors in the past 13 seasons, joining Roy Oswalt.

“It was really satisfying,” Zito said. “I had a tough spring and made the adjustment I had to make, and I think my start in the minor leagues last week had a lot to do with it, just being able to work on stuff without worrying about getting guys out.”

Zito needed 112 pitches to get through nine innings. He only gave up four hits. With a couple of breaks, Zito could have taken a perfect game into the sixth inning, a no-hitter into the seventh.

In the third inning, Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin reached on a swinging bunt that Zito couldn’t get to in time to throw him out.

Marco Scutaro followed with a single up the middle that Zito should have snared. In the fourth, Troy Tulowitzki hit a shot to third base that glanced off Pablo Sandoval.

Did Zito think any of this was possible?

“Yeah sure,” Zito said. “I mean, anything’s possible.”

Almost lost in all the Zito excitement was the fact the Giants scored seven more runs and pounded out 10 more hits. Pablo Sandoval belted another homer, Aubrey Huff had a double and two walks, Hector Sanchez went 2 for 5 in his season debut, Brandon Crawford had a three-run triple. Every Giant collected at least one hit (including Zito) except Gregor Blanco.

The Giants are 1-3 despite outscoring opponents 21-17.

“Not a personal thing, but from a team standpoint, it feels great especially to win in the fashion we did,” Zito said. “We had good at-bats early. We just played good baseball overall today. It’s a good feeling to motivate us to keep it going.”
Sounds good to us.

UP NEXT

After a day off Tuesday, Tim Lincecum returns to the mound to face Jeremy Guthrie as the Giants face the Rockies at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday.

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