History was made Monday night at AT&T Park.
The Giants’ Denard Span hit the first leadoff Splash Hit by a San Francisco Giant in the 17-year history of AT&T Park when he opened the bottom of the first Monday by putting a ball into McCovey Cove. The Giants went on to win 11-5, improving the franchise’s record to 48-20 in games they hit a Splash Hits, including the last eight.
You can watch it here.
After going 112 games between Splash Hits – the longest such drought in stadium history – it only took only four games for the Giants to get another.
Brandon Belt his Splash Hit No. 69 on Wednesday. Span hit No. 70 on Monday.
In doing so, Span became the 20th Giant to record a Splash Hit.
It also meant the number of Splash Hits by Barry Bonds matched the number by players other than Bonds: 35 each.
So in other words, it takes 19 Giants to equal one Barry Bonds. Here is how it breaks down.
Barry Bonds 35
Everyone else 35
- Pablo Sandoval 7
- Brandon Belt 5
- Brandon Crawford 2
- Aubrey Huff 2
- Andres Torres 2
- Ryan Klesko 2
- Michael Tucker 2
- Felipe Crespo 2
- JT Snow 1
- Jose Cruz Jr. 1
- A.J. Pierzynski 1
- Randy Winn 1
- Fred Lewis 1
- John Bowker 1
- Nate Schierholtz 1
- Carlos Beltran 1
- Tyler Colvin 1
- Travis Ishikawa 1
- Denard Span 1
San Francisco Giants fans can’t complain (but that doesn’t stop them). It’s been a good season so far for the Giants.
Entering Monday’s game against the Brewers, the Giants are 38-26 and hold a five-game lead over the Dodgers in the National League West.
But can I make one little suggestion?
Dear Giants, how about a nice, six-run victory every once in a while?
The Giants have supplied their fans with a lot of excitement in 2016. Maybe too much for our blood pressure.
- The Giants’ win over the Dodgers on Sunday night was their 15th one-run win of the season, tying the Phillies for the most in the majors.
- It was the 22nd one-run game the Giants have been involved in this season, putting them fourth in the majors behind the Reds (24), Astros (23) and Padres (23).
- Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Giants’ fifth extra-inning win of the season, second-most in the majors behind the Astros (6).
- Saturday’s win was also the Giants’ sixth walk-off win of the season, most in the majors this season.
- In fact, the Giants have won just three of their last seven games – all three wins were by one-run, including two 2-1 victories.
So, either you can say the Giants are clutch or fortuitous.
Their +3 record against their pythagorean record might indicate that latter.
But there could be good news ahead.
Starting with Monday’s game against the Brewers, the Giants will play 21 of their 25 games against teams currently with a losing record.
The Giants are 24-13 against teams with a losing record this season. Of course, if you removed the Padres from that, the Giants are just 15-13.
So there’s a chance for the Giants to actually pad their lead in the NL West, while they wait for injured players like Hunter Pence and Sergio Romo to return.
Santiago Casilla has been an enigma for the San Francisco Giants this season. And even more enigmatic is how San Francisco Giants regard their team’s closer.
The vitriol spilled over on social media Friday night after Casilla gave up a solo home run to a struggling Justin Turner in the top of the ninth inning, allowing the Los Angeles Dodgers to beat the Giants 3-2 at AT&T Park.
It left most Giants fans in one of two camps.
Camp A: “Casilla is a disaster,” “I’ve had enough of Casilla,” “We need to find a new closer.”
Camp B fans will point to Casilla’s long track record of solid seasons and certain statistics that would seem to indicate the Camp A folks are wrong. Camp B folks get upset when manager Bruce Bochy pulls Casilla in the ninth inning WITH THE LEAD, something he’s done twice this season. “You don’t do that to your closer,” they said.
So who’s right?
Well, to put it simply, neither. They are both wrong. And here’s why.
First, let’s go down memory lane.
Brian Wilson was the Giants’ closer from late in 2007 to early in 2012, when he blew out his elbow.
Initially, Bochy said the Giants would use a bullpen-by-committee in the ninth inning, but quickly Casilla took over the closer roll and was sporting a 1.32 ERA by June 18. But by July 18, his ERA ballooned to 3.34 and he was replaced by Sergio Romo in the closer roll.
Romo held that job until the end of June in 2014 when his ERA sat at 5.01 and he had five blown saves in 27 opportunities. Casilla took over, recorded 17 saves in the final three months of the season and finished with 1.70 ERA.
Casilla remained the closer in 2015, ranking fourth in the National League with 38 saves. That’s the good stat. The bad stat was that out of 28 MLB relievers with 20 or more saves in 2015, Casilla ranked 22nd in save percentage.
That trend has continued into 2016. Out of 26 MLB relievers with 11 or more saves, Casilla ranked 23rd in save percentage. His four blown saves are second-most in the majors.
But Casilla’ enigmatic pitching personality goes deeper than that.
Casilla’s 2016 ERA of 2.96 is the highest of his seven-year Giants career when he posted annual ERAs of 1.95, 1.74, 2.84, 2.16, 1.70 and 2.79. But it’s not THAT much higher, his supporters will say. And that’s true. It’s certainly not the 5.01 ERA Romo had when he got yanked as closer in 2014.
And here’s a stat that will likely stun the anti-Casilla crowd: His 2016 WHIP of 1.11 is the second-best WHIP since he became a regular major leaguer in 2007, only surpassed by his 0.86 in 2014.
Casilla has added to his pitching repertoire recently. He’s always had his two-seam fastball and hard-breaking slider. Now, he tosses in the occasional curveball and changeup. And that has led to his strikeout rate to climb. Last year he fanned 9.6 per 9 innings, a career-high. This year, the number has jumped to 11.5. And his 2016 walk rate of 2.6 is the second-lowest of his career.
So what’s going wrong in 2016. Well, we can narrow that down to his home run rate, which currently sits 1.5 per 9 innings, a career-high. His next highest is 1.1, last posted in in 2012.
Casilla has always struggled with control of his pitches. But this year, instead of missing out of the strike zone, he’s missing in it.
All four of the home runs he’s allowed this season have been allowed at AT&T Park. Three of the four were allowed to the first batter Casilla faced. It’s the main reason why he has a 4.50 ERA at AT&T Park this season and 0.87 ERA on the road.
That’s Casilla in a nutshell: Really good or really mediocre.
OK, so you want to get rid of Casilla as closer. What other options do the Giants have?
Cory Gearrin? The journeyman pitcher has done well this season (2.36 ERA) bouncing back from injury. He has the lowest WHIP of the Giants’ bullpen (0.94), but his K/9 is low for a closer (6.4).
Hunter Strickland? I think the Giants viewed Strickland as a closer of the future, but I’m not sure they think he’s there yet. He has a 3.22 ERA, 9.7 K/9 and the lowest FIP among Giants relievers (1.92). He also got off to a rough start in 2016. But since the start of May, he has a 2.08 ERA.
Sergio Romo? He’s on the DL and is not expected back until later this month at the earliest.
You want a trade? Well, at this point in the season, a trade means one of two things: Paying a very, very high price in prospects and/or acquiring a pitcher with a ton of baggage (in the form of pricey contract and stats uglier than Casilla’s). The Giants won’t pursue that route until after the All-Star break.
So then what’s the solution?
It’s a bullpen-by-committee with Casilla the lead option in the ninth.
If you haven’t had the need to play matchups to get out of tight spots in the seventh or eighth, play matchups in the ninth. That likely will more situations like what happened Wednesday against the Red Sox, when Casilla faced the first two batters, then Javier Lopez faced two lefties and Strickland got the save getting one batter on one pitch.
Casilla, and his supporters, just need to deal with that. Casilla is a good relief pitcher, but he’s no Mariano Rivera, locked-down, game-over closer. So he has not earned the right to get that ninth inning while everyone else in the bullpen sits and watches. You don’t blow four saves in two months and expect to get that right.
Casilla has been very good against right-handed batters. They are hitting .182 against him this season, and the home run by Turner was the first by a RH batter this season against Casilla. Righties have slugged .255 vs. Casilla this season.
But lefties, it’s a different story. Lefties are hitting .278 with .333 OBP and .611 slugging. That’s a .944 OPS, boys and girls. That’s precisely the reason Bochy hooked Casilla the other day when the tying run was on second and David Ortiz was coming to the plate. Ortiz’s track record, especially against righties, combined with Casilla’s numbers against lefties, the math didn’t add up.
So going forward, I’m fine with giving the ball to Casilla in the ninth, particularly when righties are coming up. But you always have someone in the bullpen ready to go. And at the first sign of trouble with lefties coming up, you make the move.
Oh, and to all those folks who lost their marbles when Bochy hooked Casilla with the lead in the ninth? Both times Bochy did that, the Giants won.
Let me repeat that.
THE …. GIANTS …. WON.
Isn’t that what we’re after here?
- For the first time in more than a decade, the San Francisco Giants didn’t have a top-30 pick in the first-year player draft.So the Giants were pleasantly surprised to see Vanderbilt outfielder Bryan Reynolds still on the board when they made the 59th pick in the 2016 draft.
“We were very happy he was available for us in the second round, and I must say we wer surprised he was getting to us,” Giants scouting director John Barr told the San Jose Mercury News. “We felt he was a guy more than likely would be gone before we could select.”
The Giants had Reynolds, a switch-hitting center fielder, rated as a first-round player. But they forfeited their first-round pick when they signed Jeff Samardzija as a free agent last winter.
A three-year starter at Vanderbilt, Reynolds hit .346 in the Cape Cod League, and the Giants see him as a top-of-the-lineup player.
The scouting community rated Reynolds as a safe pick with somewhat low ceiling, much like the way Joe Panik was rated when the Giants were said to “reach” to pick him in the first round in 2011.
But the Giants actually have a decent track record in the draft in recent years. Every first-player-drafted by San Francisco Giants from 2006-2012 made it to the majors, even Gary Brown.
So how might Reynolds fare? Well, let’s take a look at how players take in the top-60 picks by the Giants have fared in the last 10 years.
Certainly, the Giants have struck gold in the draft, but those have largely been top-10 picks: Tim Lincecum (No. 10, 2006), Madison Bumgarner (No. 10, 2007) and Buster Posey (No. 5, 2008). I’d also rate Joe Panik (No. 29, 2011) is a solid find.
Several other players taken in the top-60 in recent years have used to acquire key players in trades. Charlie Culberson (No. 51, 2007) was traded for Marco Scutaro in 2012, Tim Alderson (No. 22, 2007) was dealt for Freddy Sanchez in 2009, Zach Wheeler (No. 6, 2009) was traded for Carlos Beltran in 2011 and Tommy Joseph (No. 55, 2009) was part of the Hunter Pence deal in 2012.
But, of course, there have been players who made marginal or no big-league contributions to the Giants: Emmanuel Burris (No. 33, 2006), Wendell Fairley (No. 29, 2007), Nick Noonan (No. 32, 2007), Jackson Williams (No. 43, 2007), Conor Gillaspie (No. 37, 2008) and Gary Brown (No. 24, 2010).
The jury is still out on players drafted since 2011.
- RHP Kyle Crick (No. 49, 2011) was a top-100 prospect in 2013-15. But his inability to harness his control has not allowed him to rise above Double-A. He’s currently 1-4 with 4.91 ERA at Double-A Richmond.
- RHP Chris Stratton (No. 20, 2012) made his big-league debut this season for the Giants. He has thrown two scoreless innings out of the bullpen and currently remains in the bullpen, although he seems like Bruce Bochy’s last option there.
- SS Christian Arroyo (No. 25, 2013) was drafted right out of high school and he’s produced all along the line in the minors. He’s currently the No. 62 prospect by Baseball America. He’s hitting .288 for Double-A Richmond, similar to what Matt Duffy hit when he got called up two years ago. Don’t look for that with Arroyo, as he’s only 21.
- RHP Tyler Beede (No. 14, 2014) was drafted out of Vanderbilt two years ago. After a bumpy start this season at Double-A Richmond, he currently 4-3 with 3.05 ERA. But he has produced quality starts in his last five outings. Since the start of May, his ERA is 2.25.
- C Aramis Garcia (No. 52, 2014) has been on a slow track since being drafted out of Florida International University. But he’s having his best offensive season of his minor league career. He’s hitting .298 with .359 OBP with one home run and 14 RBI in 84 at-bats for Long-A San Jose.
- RHP Phil Bickford, No. 18, 2015) is at Low-A Augusta, where he is 2-4 with a 2.89 ERA in 10 starts. He has 62 strikeouts to 14 walks in 53 innings. And he’s only 20 years old.
- 1B Chris Shaw (No. 31, 2015) is turning heads in down at Class A San Jose, where he has 13 home runs, 46 RBI, batting .294 with a .363 OBP in 55 games. He hit 12 home runs in 46 games in Shortseason-A Salem-Keizer last season.
I feel like Gandhi with a big cheeseburger.
Wait. He was a Hindu. A nice bowl of chutney.
After two months of a self-imposed hiatus on blogging, I’m back at after Brandon Belt ended the longest drought of Splash Hits in the 16-year history of AT&T Park.
I mean, after all, this blog is called MoreSplashHits.
When Belt hit a David Price pitch into McCovey Cove in the fourth inning on Wednesday, it broke a 112-game drought without a Splash Hit.
It was Splash Hit No. 69. Belt also hit Splash Hit No. 68, but that was on Sept. 25, 2014.
The 112-game drought was the second-longest drought between two non-Barry Bonds Splash Hits. That was 146 games between 2001 and 2003.
It also means that there are almost as many Barry Bonds Splash Hits (35) as non-Barry Bonds Splash Hits (34).
There was some symmetry with this home run. For example:
It was Belt’s fifth Splash Hit, putting him third on this list of players with the most Splash Hits. Next on the list is Pablo Sandoval, who had seven. Sandoval now plays for the Red Sox, the team against whom Belt homered on Wednesday.
The last Splash Hit by someone other than Belt was by Travis Ishikawa on Sept. 12, 2014.
Ishikawa, who was released by the White Sox on May 24, signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Wednesday. He’ll head to Triple-A Sacramento.
Belt’s home run Wednesday tied the game at 1-1. The Giants went on to win 2-1 on Mac Williamson’s first career home run, which went over the cars on the left-field wall.
Barry Bonds is returning to AT&T Park in uniform for the first time since playing the final game of his major league career on Sept. 26, 1997.
By the way, he went 0 for 3 in a loss to the Padres that day.
But Friday he returns in a different uniform, that of the Miami Marlins. He took a job as one of the Marlins’ hitting coaches, and the Marlins come to town with the Giants riding a five-game losing streak.
And what would be a better tribute to the all-time home run leader — yeah, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, one thing is unequivocal: Barry Bonds hit more home runs than any other player in Major League history — than for a member of the San Francisco Giants to hit a ball into McCovey Cove.
There have been 68 Splash Hits since the Giants opened their bayside ballpark in 2000 — 35 of those were supplied by Barry Bonds.
But it has been 92 games since the last Splash Hit.
The 2015 season was the first season in which the Giants went Splash Hit-less.
The 92-game Splashless streak is the longest in stadium history for the Giants.
But the current streak is just the fourth-longest streak between two Splash Hits not hit by Barry Bonds.
Here’s the list
- 146 — between Felipe Crespo’s Splash Hit on May 28, 2001 and J.T. Snow’s Splash Hit on June 5, 2003.
- 109 — between Randy Winn’s Splash Hit on Sept. 14, 2005 and Ryan Klesko’s Splash Hit on May 21, 2007
- 105 — between the opening of the stadium on April 11, 2000 and Felipe Crespo’s Splash Hit on May 28, 2001.
- 92 — between Brandon Belt’s Splash Hit on Sept. 25, 2014 and now.
Barry Bonds’ final Splash Hits came on Aug. 8, 2007. That was career home run No. 757, and it came one day after he hit his record-breaking 756th home run.
There have been 23 Splash Hits since then, six by current Giants — four from Belt and two from Brandon Crawford.
There could be no better tribute for Barry’s return to AT&T than to end the drought and have someone, anyone, deliver Splash Hit No. 69.
Dear Boston Red Sox,
I know times might be a little bit tough right now in Beantown, so I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that you are appreciated.
So, from a four-decade-long San Francisco Giants fan, I would just like to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to you, on behalf of all Giants fans, for signing Pablo Sandoval away from the Giants in November 2015.
Sandoval, aka Kung Fu Panda, was a fan favorite in San Francisco for seven seasons. Panda Hats were everywhere. He was a two-time all-star, the 2012 World Series MVP, he joined Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols as the only players to hit three homers in a World Series game, he was one of only two position players to play on all three of the Giants world championship teams and he caught the final out of the 2014 World Series.
But through all those good times, there were issues with Sandoval. The Giants were well aware about how Sandoval’s weight would fluctuate more than Kirstie Alley. Truly, Sandoval could have landed a spokesman gig for Jenny Craig, if anyone could understand what the fudge he was saying (OK, given the context of this letter, we understand that the use of the word “fudge” was probably insensitive. I apologize.)
Sandoval’s weight struggle would often correlate to becoming a defensive liability and prolonged slumps at the plate. It was evident during the 2010 World Series run when Sandoval was relegated to the bench.
So Sandoval spent that offseason on an exercise regimen that produced a sleeker and more slender Panda for the 2011 season.
But by the end of that season, the plumper Panda began to return. While his agents and the Giants were working on a new contract that would cover his arbitration years, Sandoval saw his weight jump 21 pounds in 21 days during the holidays in his native Venezuela.
Knowing that the Giants would have eyes on him, Sandoval went back to his trainer in Arizona to embark on a crash course in fitness, working out seven days a week, often three times a day.
The result of that offseason was a three-year, $17 million contract. Sandoval was an All-Star in 2012 and World Series MVP.
But video emerged in the offseason after the 2012 season showing Sandoval in the Venezuela World Series, as big as ever. After manager Bruce Bochy threatened to sit him the following spring training until he got in shape, Sandoval said he needed to get his weight under control.
By August 2013, Sandoval revealded that he had lost 22 points in six weeks after hiring his brother to be his personal chef. “Everything healthy,” Sandoval said at the time. His brother “goes everywhere with me.”
Fast-forward to spring training 2014 when the Giants and Sandoval were working on a contract extension that would keep him in a Giants uniform for years to come. Sandoval’s agent wanted a deal similar to the one the Giants gave Hunter Pence the previous fall.The Giants were so sure.
Then Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vazquez, said:
“The weight issues he had before, you’ll never see that again. He will have his trainer with him until he retires.”
That’s like an addict, while leaving rehab, saying that his dependency issues are a thing of the past. In fact, that’s exactly what Sandoval’s former trainer, Eric Banning, told the Boston Herald earlier this week.
On Sandoval’s eating issues, Banning said: “He needs to be smart enough to say there’s a problem. It’s like the alcoholic that won’t admit he’s an alcoholic. Well, you can’t address that you’re an alcoholic if you don’t ever admit there’s a problem.”
Banning went even further, adding: ““He’s proven to me and shown consistently that he’s got to have somebody like me holding his hand doing that (monitoring his eating). And it’s not an exercise thing, it’s an eating thing.”
Banning worked with Sandoval during the winters of 2011 and 2012. But Banning hasn’t been in contact with the Panda since he got that three-year deal from the Giants prior to the 2012 season.
That should have been a red flag on a major concern the Giants had: What would Sandoval do about his weight after being given a long-term deal?
Despite that, the Giants were in the mix to re-sign Sandoval after the 2014 season, along with the Red Sox and Padres. They matched the Red Sox offer of six years, $95 million and reportedly showed a willingness to go to $100 million.
But Sandoval turned them down and took the Red Sox offer, saying he wanted a “new challenge.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Red Sox.
The Giants left Sandoval go. That opened the door for Matt Duffy, who was the runner-up for the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year award.
With the draft pick they got from Sandoval signing with the Red Sox, the Giants took Chris Shaw, a left-handed hitting first baseman from Boston College. Shaw hit .287 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI in 46 games with short-season Class A Salem-Keizer last summer. He’s hitting .292 early this season with High-A San Jose.
Meanwhile, in Boston, Sandoval – after saying that he didn’t miss anyone back in San Francisco except Bruce Bochy and maybe Hunter Pence — labored through the 2015 season, hitting .245 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI – all career lows for Sandoval since becoming a full-time player in 2009, despite playing in the far more hitter friendly confines of Fenway Park. And Sandoval had become a defensive liability at third base.
Sandoval’s struggles continued into this spring, leading the Red Sox to have the Panda start the 2016 season as a bench player.
That led Sandoval’s new agent, Rick Thurman, to declare: “That’s like leaving a Ferrari in a garage.”
Wait, Rick. Is Sandoval the Ferrari or the garage in that analogy?
Then last week there was the video of Sandoval swinging at a pitch and popping his belt.
A couple of days later Sandoval developed a mysterious shoulder injury, and the Red Sox putting him on the DL without him even having an MRI. It’s almost like if Sandoval had complained of the sniffles, the Red Sox would have claimed he had pneumonia without taking his temperature.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Herald wrote: “Certainly, this new, mysterious shoulder ailment has set the team back as far as trying to deal him. It also raised a few eyebrows from Sox rivals, even in the procedural manner in which they placed him on the disabled list, and the league is reviewing that process.”
The Red Sox will send Sandoval to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on Monday. We have no doubt that Andrews will recommend Sandoval lose some weight.
The DL move has allowed the Red Sox to kick the Panda issue down the road, as the option of trading doesn’t seem in play, even as rumors involving the Padres continue to circulate. Cafardo said on AL executive doesn’t think Sandoval has any value.
The Red Sox still owe Sandoval $77 million. And while we know the Sox have deep pockets, deep enough to eat the rest of Sandoval’s contract (again, we’re sorry if the use of the word “eat” given the context of this letter is insensitive), we Giants fans are left with the relief that it’s issue the Giants don’t have to deal with.
And that’s all because of you, dear Red Sox, for stepping in during November of 2014 and saving us.
So, once again, thank you.
A San Francisco Giants fan since 1973
There has been a lot of chatter by baseball analysts on the new slide rule at second base after the first week. A lot of noise from former players.
Harold Reynolds, Mark DeRosa, Preston Wilson, Eric Byrnes, Eric Karros, Frank Thomas, et al. And almost uniformly, former players don’t like the new slide rule, basically because it is not the style of baseball they were used to playing.
Well, no duh. It isn’t. There has been a rule change.
Finally, we got some analysis that is absolutely, 100 percent, complete accurate, spot-on from a very unexpected source … MLB Network’s Billy Ripken.
Ripken broke down the new slide rule with examples of its enforcement in the opening week of the season, and every point he makes is excellent.
Here’s is his breakdown:
In his breakdown, Ripken said:
MLB is being consistent with its interpretation of this rule, calling to the letter of the law.
YES! MLB learned this two years ago with the home plate collision rule. MLB tried to give players some latitude in the enforcement of the rule. The result was sometimes it was ruled one way, then the next day it would be called the other way. This caused a lot of confusion. By enforcing the rule as it is written causes no confusion, and players and teams will learn it faster.
Ripken says he was not on board with the rule at home plate a couple of seasons back. Then he says “But last year, I didn’t miss any blow-ups. No catcher go steam-rolled, and I didn’t miss it.”
YES! We’ve been saying this for years. In fact, we even blogged about it TWO YEARS AGO. Read it yourself.
On the Colby Rasmus play, which was not going to be a double play, Ripken says MLB needs to put the onus on the baserunner and the team. “Have some court awareness. If it’s not going to be a double play, slide into the second base.”
YES! That’s the one thing people upset about this call that people weren’t saying. They didn’t like it was a tough way to end the game. They didn’t like that the Brewers weren’t going to turn a double play. But no one was saying that then made Rasmus’ slide a dumb slide. The fault there was on Rasmus. And that’s what MLB is trying to teach players: There is no advantage in breaking this rule, so you’re better off following it. Rasmus would have been better off following the rule here.
He showed an example of Jose Bautista adjusting his slide from last week, when he was called for interference, to this week, when he successfully broke up a double play with a legal slide, by the new rule. Ripken said he liked how Bautista learned from one situation to another “whether he likes it or not, it is the rule.”
YES! We’ve said this, too. Players and teams must learn the rule and abide by it. Here’s another blog post.
If MLB keeps calling it the same way, within two weeks, we won’t be seeing this controversial plays because players will begin to adhere to the rule.
YES! Completely agree. Once players learn there is no advantage in breaking the rule, they won’t break the rule. And, guess what? You won’t miss it. The only time you will notice it is when players break the rule.
Ripken said he was never a supporter of the neighborhood play. “The base is there for a reason.”
YES! I have never been a fan of the neighborhood play. That’s because the neighborhood plays doesn’t — and more importantly HAS NEVER — resided in the rulebook. Neither has the idea of the a “legal slide” is one in which the runner can reach out and touch the base. Look it up. They aren’t there. In fact, the opposite is there. Here is the rulebook.
Rule 5.09 (a) Retiring a batter
The batter is out when:
(13) A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interferes with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play.
Well, that seems pretty clear. Why are we even having this discussion? Oh, there is a comment after the rule, which reads:
Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously, this is an umpire’s judgement play.
See, that’s where we get into trouble. The play has to not only be “deliberate” but also “unwarranted” and “unsportsmanlike.”
So the interpretation of this rule is born about of the rough and tumble days of the early 20th century when Ty Cobb would sharpen his spikes and gash at infielders. So baseball rules that Cobb’s actions are now unwarranted and unsportsmanlike. And now the interpretation is broadened to allow take-out slides as long as runner can slide and reach out and touch the base. This falls under the “umpire’s judgment” and a very loose interpretation of the three-foot wide baseline rule. But then you also need to protect the infielders, so the umpire’s judgment also included the neighborhood play. This wasn’t written into the rule, but adopted as practice by umpires under the “umpire’s judgment.” But what it actually did was move baseball further away from the original letter of the rule to protect players, when all you needed to do was enforce the rule as written.
And you do that by sticking with “deliberate” and removing “unwarranted” and “unsportsmanlike.”
The advent of replay allows us also to remove the umpire’s judgment. In an age when baserunners can be called off from coming off the bag for a fraction of a second, we can also take a look a plays at second base.
While safety is a big part of this new rule, you can’t underplay the impact that replay has made and a return to the true, original intent of the rulebook.
Last week, Giants fans were upset when second baseman Joe Panik was ruled to have come off the bag early. I responded that if first baseman Brandon Belt’s foot had come off first base before receiving the throw from Panik — and replays confirmed that — no one would have been upset. The same idea is at play at second base.
I also heard Eric Karros, sighting a comment by Mets manager Terry Collins, that he felt this new rule would result in infielders being hurt by “being comfortable around the bag.”
Having covering amateur baseball for 25 years, where the take-out slide is not legal — I can tell you this is utter hogwash. Like the home plate rule, in time, you won’t miss take-out slides, and this is just an attempt by a player lost in the past grasping at straws to try to make an argument against a change.
We will see far fewer injuries around second base under this year’s rule than we would under previous years’ rules.
And that’s the point.
So well done Billy Ripken. You are my new favorite baseball analyst.
Until you say something stupid.
The San Francisco Giants beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday as the Giants took three of four from their rivals from the south.
But, of course, you knew that was going to happen because we told you.
So let’s take a look at our projections about Sunday’s game.
- We said the Giants would beat the Dodgers. CHECK!
- We said for the Giants to win, the Dodgers would have to score first. Well, all we really needed was a 1-0 lead so 5-0 — all in the first inning — was a little excessive, Johnny Cueto, but … CHECK!
- And we said the Giants would score 12 runs. I guess we’ll just have to settle for nine runs.
So two out of three ain’t bad.
But there was another projection that our team of analysts should have seen coming.
The Giants would go yard on Sunday.
The Giants brought out the thump, getting home runs from Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan in a 9-6 win over the Dodgers.
The Giants set a franchise mark by homering in their first seven games of the season. In fact, they’ve belted 14 total. Here they are.
Monday: Giants 12, Brewers 3
HRs: Matt Duffy, Denard Span, Joe Panik, Buster Posey.
Tuesday: Giants 2, Brewers 1
HR: Brandon Crawford
Wednesday: Brewers 4, Giants 3
Thursday: Giants 12, Dodgers 6
HR: Hunter Pence
Friday: Giants 3, Dodgers 2 (10)
HRs: Trevor Brown, Crawford
Saturday: Dodgers 3, Giants 2 (10)
HR: Madison Bumgarner, Ehire Adrianza
Sunday: Giants 9, Dodgers 6
HRs: Posey, Brandon Belt, Angel Pagan
That’s 14 home runs by 11 different players. Every starter has at least one, plus Adrianza, Brown and Bumgarner.
Last season, it took the Giants 22 games to hit 14 home runs. They have hit eight at home, which didn’t happen until May 3 last season.
However, none of those home runs went into the bay. Oh well, that will have to wait until next homestand.
Any loss is tough.
Any loss to the Dodgers is especially hard.
A loss to the Dodgers when it looked like the Giants had it won, well that’s almost unbearable.
But that’s what San Francisco Giants were faced with Saturday afternoon when the Dodgers rallied to beat the Giants 3-2 in 10 innings.
Things looked sticky when Santiago Casilla loaded the bases with one out and Adrian Gonzalez coming to bat while protecting a 2-1 lead in the ninth.
Casilla was looking for a strikeout or a pop-up. But what he really wanted was a double-play ball. And that’s exactly what he got when Gonzalez hit a grounder to second. But on a slick and rainy infield, second baseman Kelby Tomlinson mishandled the grounder, leading to only one out instead of two, and allowing the Dodgers to tie the game.
Luckily, MoreSplashHits’ team of analysts have come up with some projections based on trends so far this young 2016 season that may brighten the hearts of any Giants faithful.
Our analysts are projecting:
- The Giants will win on Sunday.
- The Giants will score 12 runs on Sunday.
- The first two things will happen provided the Giants don’t score first on Sunday.
Let’s take a closer look at these projections.
GIANTS WILL WIN ON SUNDAY: The trend so far this season has gone like this: The Giants won on Monday, they won on Tuesday, but they lost on Wednesday. The Giants won on Thursday and won on Friday, but lost on Saturday. So the trends say the Giants will win on Sunday … on their way to 108-54 season.
GIANTS WILL SCORE 12 RUNS: The Giants scored 12 runs on Monday, then played a one-run game on Tuesday and played another one-run game on Wednesday. The Giants scored 12 runs again on Thursday, then played a one-run game on Friday and another one-run game on Saturday. So trends indicate the Giants will score 12 runs on Sunday, with a five-run eighth inning.
GIANTS SHOULDN’T SCORE FIRST: Scoring first in a game is generally regarded as a good thing. It’s no fun trying to play from behind. In fact last season, the Giants were 57-32 when scoring first, and 27-46 when the opponent scored first. But this season, it’s the exact opposite. The Giants are 0-2 this season when they score first, but 4-0 when the opponent scores first. So our analysts project that the Dodgers will score first on Sunday, but will still lose. And that makes perfect sense, considering that they will be giving up 12 runs to the Giants.
So rest well, Giants fans, tomorrow will be a brighter day.