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The End of the SF Giants 2013 Season

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As difficult as it is for me to admit, the 2013 baseball season is over for the Giants, and it’s been over for quite a while. The Giants were just recently mathematically eliminated. The Giants’ 2013 season has been over for a while due to too many critical injuries, inconsistent pitching, poor defense (at critical times) and a lack of clutch hitting with runners on base. The last two Giants games I went to were against the Colorado Rockies on September 9th and 10th and the contrast between those two games was incredible. In the first game, Tim Lincecum pitched quite well and quite effectively despite not striking out a lot of hitters. There were three great defensive plays at third base by Pablo Sandoval, a Brandon Belt game-tying double in the 8th inning and the Belt game winning single in the bottom of the 10th inning. In the second game, the Giants were able to build up a 6-0 lead by the fifth inning, lead by a 1st inning three run homerun off the bat of Hunter Pence. Ryan Vogelsong pitched well enough and kept the Rockies off the scoreboard until the 5th inning. In that inning, the Rockies were able to put five runs with three of them coming on a homerun by Michael Cuddyer. Vogelsong was pulled after the fifth inning and the bullpen took over. The bullpen was ineffective and gave up the lead in the 6th inning. The Rockies extended their lead in the 8th inning. The Giants were able to claw back to tie the game at 8-8 in the 8th inning on a Pence two-run single. The Rockies took the lead on a 9th inning homerun by Michael Cuddyer, his second homerun of the game and the Giants were unable to come back that time.

 

Most winning teams have the benefit of good health and good luck throughout the course of the season and this has definitely not been case with the Giants this year. Their centerfielder, Angel Pagan was out for three months (half a season) with leg problems and in that time the Giants were twenty games below .500. The Giants also have had injuries to Santiago Casilla, Ryan Vogelsong and Pablo Sandoval. The loss of these key players had a negative impact on how the Giants played this year. The little things that the Giants were doing in their successful years of 2010 and 2012 are things that they haven’t done in 2013 and unfortunately sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

 

As much as I wanted to deny that this was going to be a bad year for the Giants, I was forced to admit the inevitably sad reality of the situation. The reality is that this was a horrible year for the Giants. I am still hoping that the Giants are able to avoid being the second team in Major League Baseball history to win the World Series in one year and finish in last place the next year; the only other team to do this was the 1998 Florida Marlins. The Marlins traded off all their best players the next year while a lot of the Giants’ problems stem from too many injuries.

 

However, there were some highlights during the season. I had the joy of watching catchers Buster Posey and Guillermo Quiroz hit game-winning walk-off homeruns in back-to-back games versus the Los Angeles Dodgers. I saw Tim Lincecum, on television, throw a no-hitter versus the San Diego Padres and I saw centerfielder Angel Pagan hit a game-ending inside the park homerun versus the Colorado Rockies, which might have caused his first leg injury and lost him for three months of the season. I still think that the Giants are a good baseball team which just had some bad breaks. I am sure that they are looking forward to the being able to re-group in the offseason and get ready for the next season.

 

Another aspect of rooting for a team having a bad year is looking to see what free agents might be available next year and who on your team might possibly leave. The Giants have four major free agents—Hunter Pence, who most Giants fans would love to see come back, Tim Lincecum, who’s had a mixed year, but did throw his first career No-Hitter, Javier Lopez, who is a key lefty pitcher in the Giants’ bullpen and Barry Zito, who sadly I don’t think anyone wants back. Yes, there are other free agents, but those are the major ones. I do think that the Giants will exercise their club option on Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants have young pitchers in their minor league system, but I’m not sure that they’re ready yet for the majors. Yes, I would like to have Pence and Lincecum come back with the Giants. Sadly, I think that it is time for Zito to move on, but I sincerely appreciate his contributions to the Giants in 2010 and in 2012. One thing I always liked about Barry Zito is that he behaved as a professional his whole time with the Giants; he didn’t complain about a lack of run support or poor defense. He went about his job to the best of his ability and never complained. I know Giants fans have been hard on him because of his huge contract and his lack of productivity. I believe that fans are not fully aware of the stress and pressure that players go through in their professional sports careers. Yes, if they make it to the majors they might make a lot of money, but the chances of making it to the top level are very small, and even then, their careers are very short, usually averaging only about three years. What I find sad are those professional athletes who don’t realize that money and fame won’t necessarily buy you happiness and that they might actually want to do something more with their lives after their career ends.

 

As painful as it has been to watch the Giants this year I continued to do so both on television and at the ballpark.  Ah, yes, the joys of being a baseball fan! I found ways to distract myself from the horrible season of the Giants by watching highlight DVDs of the Giants from 2010 and 2012. I am also a collector of Giants memorabilia, sports cards and stadium giveaways. I have used this as an escape as well from a miserable season. One of my favorite ways to escape is by finding Giants stuff quite by accident.

Giants books 002

Giants books 003Occasionally, I play softball, either on Saturday mornings or with a lawyer’s league team during the week. A few months ago, I happened to be playing on Thursday evening, and afterwards, we all went out for pizza and beer as we usually do after games. I left the pizza restaurant to go catch the bus to go home. The bus stop in San Francisco was right around the corner from one of my favorite used bookstores on Clement Street & 6th Avenue. I had some time to kill before the bus was due to arrive so I went into Green Apple Books to look around. I always start with the baseball section on the second floor. My hope is that one day, I’ll have a published book or two about the San Francisco Giants and it will be there, in a used bookstore, probably at a discounted price. At first I was going to buy a new book on 1970’s Detroit Tigers pitching icon Mark ‘the Bird” Fidyrch and got to the top of the stairs to leave., but something stopped me and I went and put the book back to keep looking. I found a book called “My Giants” by Russ Hodges and AlHirshberg. Russ Hodges was a longtime Giants announcer, now deceased but in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Hodges died the year after he stopped broadcasting for the Giants in early 1971. I opened it up and found that inside the book it was inscribed “To Dan Cassidy ‘Bye Bye Baby’ Russ Hodges.” It was a real coup to find it since Hodges’ autographs are hard to find, and for only $15. Russ Hodges is also probably best known as being the announcer who announced Bobby Thomson’s ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’ against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951. It is a classic radio call.

Giants books 001My other great Giants find was the 50th anniversary reprint of a classic, “A Day in the Bleachers” by Arnold Hano. I found it at a different used bookstore. This one was located in the Hayes Valley area of San Francisco. The book describes a fan going to see the first game of the 1954 World Series, sitting in the bleachers and seeing one of the greatest catches in World Series history. It was a catch made by Willie Mays off Indians outfielder Vic Wertz and not only was it a great catch, but it was also a GREAT throw back to the infield to keep the runners from scoring. I brought the book to the front desk and noticed an autograph on the front. It wasn’t an autograph of Arnold Hano, it was an autograph by Giants Hall of Famer, Willie Mays. I mentioned this to the book dealer and she went online to look at Mays’ autograph and sure enough it was a match. She mentioned that she remembered the person she bought the book from and that it was probably authentic. I have seen Willie Mays’ autograph before and it definitely looked like the same one. I probably should have mentioned the autograph after I bought the book, but the bookseller still charged me the same price.

 

I’ll follow the Giants for the rest of the year and in the offseason, as I always do. I’ll wait and see what player transaction moves they make. However, in the meantime, I’m just waiting for the end of the baseball season, along with the end of the playoffs and the World Series. I’m only now hoping that the Dodgers don’t win in the playoffs or in the World Series. This isn’t to be mean to Dodgers fans; it is just the residue of long years of being a Giants fan. I’ll definitely watch postseason baseball as it is very exciting and the best quality baseball. And, then it’s on to 2014…

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