The Beginning of the 2015 Giants Season

The beginning of a new baseball season always starts with great anticipation, and excitement. Of course, a lot of this also depends on how the past season ended. If it ended with your team on top by winning the whole enchilada, the World Series then, there is nothing left to ask for. The offseason may be shorter depending on if your team played into October or not. Hopefully, you got to celebrate with a big World Series parade. This is exactly how I was able to celebrate…with the Giants having won their third World Series in five years, and a big huge parade. I got to hear people call the Giants a dynasty. I never ever thought that I would ever hear this in my lifetime.

Once you get past the enjoyment and the hangover of the playoffs and the World Series, and the aftermath of it, there is not much more to do but wait and see what happens in the Winter Meetings with trades and free agent signings. Going into the offseason, every team has questions, and it doesn’t change even if your team wins the World Series. The Giants were able to sign their own free agent pitchers—Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, and Ryan Vogelsong, but not a big name free agent pitcher like Max Scherzer, James Shields or Jon Lester. We’ll see what happens with the Giants pitching with Matt Cain coming back from injury, Tim Lincecum coming back from an inconsistent year, and Madison Bumgardner coming back from a monster year, including an awesome playoff run. The Giants did lose Pablo Sandoval who left and signed with the Boston Red Sox. Sandoval burnt his bridges with the Giants organization and with his former team mates and his fans, making public comments about how he was glad to no longer be a Giants player. Sandoval was severely lacking in maturity and tact; you don’t burn your former team mates, because it can always come back around on you. Sandoval said that he was only going to miss Hunter Pence and manager Bruce Bochy—not a nice way to treat your former team mates. I think that a lot of Sandoval’s animosity came from the Giants not wanting him to eat his way out of baseball; Sandoval had weight issues and the Giants were rightfully concerned about it.

In the offseason, the Giants traded for Casey McGeHee to play third base. He came from the Miami Marlins for a couple minor leaguers, and the Giants signed Nori Aoki as a free agent to provide depth in the outfield. Aoki last year played for the Kansas City Royals and played against the Giants in last year’s World Series. Aoki was forced to provide depth much sooner than expected with a Spring Training injury to Hunter Pence who is not expected back until the middle of April or beginning of May.

Health is always an issue with sports teams. How much someone can produce and at what competitive level are they able to perform is always the question. Angel Pagan is back from his back issues of last year, which is a good addition to the team. He was gone for too much of last year. I honestly never thought that the Giants would win in the playoffs or in the World Series with Gregor Blanco as their starting center fielder. I was wrong, but he is still an offensive downgrade from the skills of Angel Pagan. Healthy teams tend to be successful teams, and this year is not starting off well for the Giants, but it is far too early to ‘get your dauber down,’ as former manager Roger Craig would say. Possible injuries to Matt Cain and Brandon Belt have made more question marks for this team too early in the season, but you just have to persevere.

Baseball, like life, is a game of seasons, and I’ve always found it interesting and at times sad to see players get older and then get replaced by younger players, and on and on it goes. Last year, for me personally, was a tough year with a lot of loss—losing my mother was particularly tough, along with a childhood friend who I’d known since I was six years old (he helped introduce me to baseball), a college friend who I loved dearly and a work friend, who taught me so much when I first joined his department. Baseball loses people all year long, as we all do. During this past offseason, there were three baseball deaths that struck particularly close to home with the Giants organization. The first was the death of Al Rosen at age 91. He played third base for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950’s, and he was the last player alive from the 1954 Cleveland Indians American League Champion team which was swept by Willie Mays’ New York Giants team. Rosen became the Giants General Manager towards the end of the 1985 baseball as the Giants were suffering through the franchise’s first 100 loss season. He brought the team back by creating a winning attitude and a winning philosophy along with their manager Roger Craig; the Giants won the division in 1987 and the National League pennant in 1989. Nick Peters, a sportswriter, who had written about the San Francisco Giants for 48 years, died at the age of 75 of a neurological disease. I had the pleasure of meeting him once out at AT & T Park. He wasn’t able to sign his books for me due to his illness, but he did stamp them for me with his autograph and he sent them back to me—the sign of a real and true gentleman.  And, only a couple days ago, former Giants broadcaster Lon Simmons died of cancer at age 91. He had such a great rich voice. It just exuded baseball, even though he also broadcast 49ers football, as well. These people made sincere contributions to baseball, and they’ll certainly be missed.

While the baseball season has already started, I am still waiting with great anticipation for the home opener for the Giants. This will take place on April 13th, and it will include the raising of the World Series Championship banner. I love this!! Between all the games in October, the parade downtown, and the ring ceremony, this is one of the most special events to take place.  It means that for the entire year of 2015, the Giants will be the defending World Series Champs until the next World Series is decided.

I also take great pride in the fact that I haven’t missed a Giants home opener since 1995. I skipped that year due to the strike of 1994, and prior to that I was going to every home opener since 1988. It was tough getting tickets for the Opening Game at Pac Bell Park, now AT & T Park, but I did manage to get them. I’m not sure who’s starting this year and I don’t care. I am just thrilled with the idea of being there, with the bunting, and the whole celebration. However, once the game starts, it is game on. And I love it.

Who knows what will happen in the 2015 baseball season? It is a long season with so many twists and turns, and great accomplishments, and fluke plays. There is great pitching, great hitting and great defense all season long. Every game is different from every other game, and this is truly part of what makes baseball great. Even if the Giants don’t win the World Series this year that it will still be a great baseball season, just not so much for me.  Ah, the joys of being a baseball fan rooting for the team you love.

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