Thursday, November 1, 2012

Up Next...

San Francisco Giants on top of the World once more!

An amazing day in San Francisco October 31st! San Francisco truly knows how to throw a party and parade!

Now that the confetti has been swept up and the World Series Trophy will begin making its tour, there are greater agendas looming at the San Francisco Giants front office.

Contracts and free-agent status are now in contention regarding players that were pieced together creating a brotherhood in the dugout that would never die coming to the brink of scheduling tee times on 6 different occasions, before stunning the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, sweeping them. On top of that, players that had Season ending injuries will be coming back reporting healthy in Spring.

Tim Lincecum officially became a restricted Free Agent as the the street sweepers were running along picking up what brooms left behind along Market Street. Lincecum had his most diverse and challenging year to date. Tim and Zito flipped their records, with #55 going 10-15, and #75 15-10! Talking Sports heads and analysts have weighed in their opinions regarding Tim Lincecum summing up a view of the 2-time Cy Young recipient being 'done'. Yet, Bochy gave us a look at an option of an electric shut down mid-reliever in the postseason, where Lincecum came out of the bullpen striking out 20 all together! What does one do? Lincecum took a risk not signing a 5 year 100 million contract in 2012 offseason, thinking he could possibly earn more. That may have backfired. Of course, his future now lies in the hands of Sabian and the open market. Will there be teams bidding for Timmie, thinking he will continue to have "The Right Stuff" to get the job done? Possibly not in a starting role, but he definitely put on quite the try out for a multi-inning reliever.

Then there is Barry Zito. The ballooned 7 year 126 million contract is coming to and end, with Zito displaying performances in 2012 of why he won the Cy Young 10 years ago. Zito also was clutch in 2 pivotal games in the postseason shutting down explosive line ups in St Louis and setting the tone in the first game of the World Series against Detroit and their MVP baller Verlander. Do the SF Giants risk consistency signing him for a 2 year deal? ( I'm pretty sure it will be for quite a bit less).

Moving on from the pitching questions, there are some outfield and infield dilemmas to point out. First and foremost, 2nd base. Freddy Sanchez will be coming back form injury. Marco Scutaro just turned 37. There are two hopefuls from the Giants Farm system that may be ready in 2013. In my humble opinion, every year Freddy Sanchez has been here, he has missed significant amount of time due to injury. I don't know if I would continue to shell out contracts and money to a player that seems prone. With that in mind, I would waive, trade, release Freddy Sanchez and sign Marco Scutaro to a 2 or 3 year deal- the Venezuelan's legit!

Hunter Pence? Staying. He has at least one more year left in contract, with I believe an option of arbitration. He is an amazing player. Angel Pagan and a need for another outfielder (due to the loss of Melkey Cabrera) are the begging question marks. I see San Francisco working on a deal to keep Angel Pagan around. He did well in his role both in the outfield as well as leading off. It's a matter of San Francisco turning to the open market looking for a heavy swinging outfielder, or once again possible holding pat relying on their young and upcoming home grown products. There are some heavy names hitting free agency.  A couple of them happen to be Josh Hamilton, and Matt Kemp. After all the adoring tweets broadcasted by Kemp, I would not mind if he chose to turn in his "Dodger Blue" for Black and Orange.... Not at all!

So, come February 2013, for the most part, I believe you will see a chunk of the team return, and with the wizardry of  Sabian, some fresh complimenting components to further enhance our "Gamers" representing the City on The Bay, "San Francisco".

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bochy Ball

Through eons of columns from beat writers, sports analysts, and general managers alike, a team with chemistry, great pitching, power, and a little bit of luck will usually be playing baseball in October...

When it comes to the San Francisco Giants, statistics, odds, and assumptions officially do not apply. Based on team numbers displayed in box scores and spread sheets, no one would have picked or expected San Francisco to represent the National League in the Major League Baseball World Series; even avid fans were suspect all 162 games! Based on a team that had the least amount of runs scored in MLB, the least number of home runs belted out of ballparks, mediocre number of multi-base hits, league leading numbers in stranding runners in scoring position, league leading number of errors commited on the field, and a mediocre at best starting 5 ERA amongst the MLB, no way San Francisco in the Black and Orange make it to the Fall Classic with those lackluster stats.

Ahhh.... Luckily what creates a "Winning" franchise requires more ingredients than a triple crown winner, a Cy Young recipient, and MVP team savior... Just ask Hunter Pence, or should I say "Preacher Pence", whom addressed the team during their initial elimination series against the Cincinnati Reds, "We accept each other for who we are, and go out there and play for each other!" Since that eloquent pep talk (and he now gives one before each game), Giants have gone 6-0 in elimination games this postseason, Sweeping the Cincinatti Reds in Cincinatti, and bringing a NLCS on the brink of postseason tee times back to San Francisco from St. Louis after losing the first two games in the BBQ capital of the USA. What exactly is it that makes San Francisco persevere and seem virtually as immortal as a cock roach roaming around alive in a nuclear winter? That my friends, is a complex contest, which I am happy to break down. Its what San Franciscans (and Bay Area diehard baseball fans) like to call “Bochy Ball”.  

Through out Spring Training, and the marathon of months leading up to October, Bruce Bochy and the managing staff of the San Francisco Giants have creatively compiled a “Band of Ballers” that somehow worked through plugging holes in Season ending injuries to an All-Star closer (Brian Wilson out with Shoulder injury, the Bull Pen creatively becomes closer by committee), an All-Star Second baseman who went down with Season ending Shoulder Surgery (Freddy Sanchez aggravated an injury thought to be healed, out at beginning of year, and a hand full of plug-ins ranging from Pill, Theriot, to finally acquiring the perfect fit in NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro picked up at the trade deadline from Colorado Rockies), a set up relief pitcher suspended for 100 days testing positive for the 2nd time of illegal PEDs (Mota left a huge hole in options of the closing bull pen by committee, Sabian and Bochy played reliever roulette with remainder of the staff along with acquiring Kontos and Mejias), an anemic and sluggish offense committing errors left an right along the infield, shocking performances (or lack there of) from a back-to-back Cy Young Ace pitcher (Tim Lincecum's ERA blew up and seemed could not get out of the 3rd inning of a game without being handled by opposing offenses across MLB Ball Parks) along with yo-yo performances from the remainder of the starting pitching staff (Vogelsong and Bumgarner seemed to be cruising to potential 20 win seasons, when August came along and reminded both of the definition of ‘dead arm’). 

Last but not least, the Giants’ received a final blow when its major offense contributor (and MVP of the All Star Game giving home field to NLCS winner in the World Series, as well as leading BA in NL)  Melkey Cabrera was suspended for testing positive for an illegal PED (performance enhancing drug). Not only did it devastate an already anemic offensive line up, the franchise was literally blind-sided by the news seemingly coming out of left field.

With the San Francisco Giants NL West nemesis, Los Angeles Dodgers acquiuring money men (a blockbuster of a trade bringing the likes of Adrien Gonzales, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford over from Boston) combined with the team losing their clean up hitter, I am not proud to admit doom hit the airwaves and fans’ guts in and around the Bay. 
Everyone assumed Larry Baer, Brian Sabian, and Brucy Bochy were backed in to a corner to make a move. The most shocking and bold move was made by the franchise, they did nothing… The San Francisco Giants franchise had a positive outlook and faith in their GM, their Manager, and the coaching staff to make it work with the mixture of players they’ve groomed and acquired, to give them the best shot at making the postseason. When the San Francisco Giants decided to stand pat, it reminded me of a quote I recently ran across, “It's not about what happens, it's about perspective. I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.” ~Michelle Sedas

 It worked! Actually it was a gem! In hindsight, I realized the GM and Bochy knew not to screw with the chemistry brewing in the dugout. The combination of a little bit of luck, line up tinkering, a tightened up Defense, a pitching staff seeing career numbers from their 4th  (Vogelsong) and 5th (Barry Zito ended up with 15 wins!) starters as well as bull pen, they had all ingredients to make another run for a World Series appearance. There is a philosophy Bochy brings to his line up most other managers heed from- he’s not afraid to bench a player, or move one to a different hole in the batting order, to achieve best results.  It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, it matters what you’re doing. Some of the greatest moves recently have been moving former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum to the bull pen (and he has been lights out in mid-inning relief), moving the likes of Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence up and down the batting line up to improve hitting success, and keeping left handed and right handed hitters on the 40 man roster that can be explosive in pinch hitting situations. Bruce Bochy must have a PHD in pitcher vs hitter match ups, usually (and obvious) resulting in a winning outcome. Bochy has been nothing short of a world renowned conductor guiding all the instruments through a melodic masterpiece concerto with a crescendo final movement booming as strong as the 1812 Overture.

Once again, the pesky underdogs from San Francisco are giving their opponents headaches, and unnerving frustrations. Somehow with a BA hovering closer to .200 than .300 is beating the touted best pitching in MLB. Somehow the pitching staff has figured out the most feared power hitters amongst MLB. How do they do that? A little bit of luck, a whole lot of faith, and a masterful manager. All the San Francisco Giants needed was an in… A ticket to the Fall Show… From there, the players, the coaches, and everyone involved from the owners down to us fans believe they not only belong there, but can win it again! Bring the trophy home boys! 

What? You haven’t heard the 1812 Overture?
Take a listen:

You need to close your eyes and enjoy the 16 minutes of masterful music! This is the piece played that usually opens up 4th of July fireworks across USA!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stealing First!

The Texas Rangers held 1st place in the AL West Major League Baseball standings for 176 days, and 161 games... Yet, on the day 1st place counted (after the 162nd game), They found themselves traveling home to save their hopes as a "Wild Card" contender to keep alive a return trip (for a third straight year) to the Fall Classic, World Series of Baseball, as the AL representative. Billy Bean, of "Money Ball" fame and long time GM magician for the Oakland Athletics compiled (unbeknownst to baseball analysts and fans alike) a perfect chemistry of rookies and unknowns with "The Right Stuff" to burst the bubble and assumptions across the landscape of Baseball lore. A team with an astonishing vintage $55 million dollar budget rose from the depths of the only dual sport decrepit (creaking and archaic concrete) stadium left standing in the US located in the East Bay of Northern California, to slash the assumptions and expectations of all competition near and far in the American League. 

What's more stunning, is the statistics. Since June 1, Oakland A's have gone 72-39, a .648 winning percentage! That winning angle comes close to insanity... The Texas Rangers went  62-49 with significant drops in July (going 9-14) and September (going 15-13) for practically 50% baseball at .558! Oakland was on a mission. No team in history of MLB with 9 games to go, and 5 games behind, made a statement on where they felt they should be going, the playoffs. 

Before the trading deadline, July 31, it appeared Oakland Athletics were unloading, trading away Gio Gonzales (starting pitcher), and Kirk Suzuki (catcher), evaluated as two of their premier players to the Washington Nationals. Well, those two did contribute to the Nationals first playoff appearance since relocation from Montreal, Canada in 2004 (formerly the Expos). I don't think there are many sports analysts outside of Oakland, CA whom could even name more than two players on the 25 man roster in Oakland! ( I know I would struggle, being a San Francisco Giants Fan). 

More interesting than that, Oakland Athletics go in to the playoffs undoubtedly with the best starting pitching, bullpen, and hitting (the triple threat), yet NO ONE seems threatened by them or feels they're the most dangerous team to face in the playoffs to make the "Fall Classic". Overlooking Oakland may be the mistake every other team and analyst makes in 2012.  The only persons whom seem dialed in to their threat, are the beat reporters, and sports analysts, who've quietly watched their rise out of the "Stepchild" City of Oakland CA. 

Only the delirious folks surrounding the NorCal corridor are excited about a desired and long overdue "Battle of the Bay" World Series. 1989 literally shook the earth, bringing a Championship to Oakland. Will the Earth shake again in 2012? These 'wild and crazy' fans that seem to know "nothing" about baseball have been enjoying the rise of talent no one seems to notice anywhere else in Anytown USA. Hmmmm..... Maybe West Coast Sports Lovers should have a "Gripe" versus the trends and headlines around our Nation. 

I am absolutely enjoying the view of a little known team in Cali stealing a title from the Big Blue Boys in Texas! 

Enjoy the Gallery! 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The "Hunt" for October...

In all professional sports spanning the United States, reaching the playoffs in Major League Baseball is one of the most difficult and exclusive achievement. The "Hunt" for October baseball is daunting, arduous, and a mentally taxing feat of any professional athlete, as well as the veteran core managing their path.  Before 1995, 30 teams clawed their way through 162 games at a chance to be one of the 4 (then 6) teams with the most wins vying for a Pennant Championship. Two teams from the National league, and two from the American League. If you win the Pennant, you reach the Holy Grail of Championships, a best of 7 World Series. Since 1995, MLB has decided to bequeath a generous opportunity upon MLB teams to reach October baseball for 4 more teams, and in 2012, expanded it further to give 10 teams an opportunity at October Glory.

It began in the early 1900's with a shocker trade between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees that sent the most famous polarizing figure in baseball from defending the Green Monster to building his house in the South Bronx, Babe Ruth. For a measly share in a Broadway Production, Boston Red Sox coughed up the most famous player of baseball to the New York Yankees, whom began their dynasty on World Series appearances (Yankees tout the most World Series Championships, 27). Through the 20th Century on through the first decade of the Millennium, with so many teams, so few spots, there are a handful of owners deciding to bloat their payroll to attract players whom they believe will be the answer to acquiring a ticket to October. Depending on the audience (as well as allegiance, shall we say), and choice perspective of phrases, many fans observe bloated payrolls, and scooping up the greatest of athletes to pack the field as attempts to "Buy" a championship. "There's no such thing in Sports. Some organizations spend", was an opinion given by John Kincade of ESPN regarding an observation given at the most recent blockbuster deal between Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, sending Adrian Gonzales, Josh Beckett, Clay Crawford, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers. As a San Francisco Giants fan, I had to pick my jaw up from my car floor, as well as many other words not legal to express by the FCC, I personally disclosed back at the radio (yes, sports dorks yell at the TV, and when in car, the radio) ending with "Those mother bleepin bleepin Dodgers bleepin bleepin owners are going to buy their way back to the postseason!"  What is the popular opinion? Have team owners bought their way to a World Series ring? Or, is it a matter of willingness to spend the money to acquire a team to produce now whom management and owners feel would be the best option to produce on the field, put tushes in the seats, and an appearance in October? Or, is it truly a statement by the owners to invest in a dynasty and their future? As by my disclosed biased comments, opinions vary based upon if you're a fan, media, or players. 

Let's take a closer look at some historical acquisitions and collection of teams in modern day baseball era... Let's begin with the most dominant team in baseball, New York Yankees. Yankees have been blessed to have a collection of owners through the years that brought a requirement of "Winning" as the standard within the clubhouse. NY Yankees owner Dan Topping had claim and ownership on the 'player' market back in the Hey Day of the Yankees success in the 1960's; The most spectacular trade in the Day was a 12 player deal the Yankees made with the Kansas City Athletics that sent the likes of Ken Boyer, Art Ditmar, and Bobby Shantz to the Yankees, securing a Pennant rich future for the popular pinned-striped club. As reported at various sports statistics site, this statement plainly advises, "The Yankees thoroughly and cruelly dominated MLB in those days, and one of their chief mechanisms for doing so was to keep an extra stable of players within their reach". If anything, regardless of owner, New York Yankees maintained the the same mission, Be the most prominent and winningest franchise in baseball history. So far, they've succeeded in their goal. Of course, they've taken risks, and spent quite a bit of doe to make that a fruition.  George Steinbrenner acquired the New York Yankees in 1973, and continued the expectations of Yankee fans to produce a Pennant winning product. There were dark days of Yankee history throughout his ownership, yet he began his intentions on the right foot when he brought Reggie Jackson on to the Yankee squad. In the dark days of "Summer of Sam", New York Yankees brought back winning ways in 1977 and 1978. With legal issues, it took Steinbrenner almost 20 years to rebuild another run at the World Series Championship. It eventually paid off for George and the Yankee fan base when they won World Series rings in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2009.  I cannot begin to list the number of players and monies spent in between World Series appearances. It seemed there wasn't an All Star free agent or prime prospect untouchable to sign or trade to the pin stripes! 

There were other teams during  (what will be known as) the PED (or what I would like to reference as Power) era that raised eye brows on acquisitions and payroll expansion. Let's take a look at one of the most dominant franchises in the 1990's and its 'polarizing' owner, Ted Turner and the Atlanta Braves. Ted Turner culminated one of the most dominant pitching and offense producing franchises of the 1990's. Atlanta seemed to be the perennial team in contention and actually vied for a World Series Championship between 1991 and 2005. Other mentions during the "Power" era of baseball would be the Cleveland Indians, Florida Marlins, and yes.... my beloved San Francisco Giants.  Let's recall some of those whom played for the Cleveland Indians during their mid-1990 run appearing in the playoffs, and World Series in 1995- Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome, Sandy Alomar, Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga, Kenny Lofton, Manny Ramirez, Eddie Murray, Dave Winfield, Orel Hershiser, Dennis Martinez, Jose Mesa, Charles Nagy, and Paul Assenmacher... That team was stacked! In 1993, Pittsburgh Pirates fans were decimated by the news of Barry Bonds going to the San Francisco Giants. The Pirates were dreaming of postseason play with one of the greatest players to be in their line up since the likes of Roberto Clemente. Of course, San Francisco was hoping to build a perennial power house around Barry Bonds to bring them October Schedule opportunities year in and year out. Unfortunately, that did not pay off for almost a decade, when San Francisco finally fielded a pitching staff and position player combination to get them to the World Series in 2002. San Francisco was 2 innings and a few outs away from hoisting the World Series trophy when it all unraveled in Anaheim.  It took San Francisco almost another decade to shock MLB as well as their fans fielding a home-grown team of utter rookies (along with a handful of outplaced veterans, stragglers if you may picked up from previous World Series success teams such as the White Sox and Phillies) winning the World Series Championship sweeping the heavily favored Texas Rangers in 2010! Everyone rebutted the feat as "Lightning in a Bottle", a "fluke". Yet, they beat heavily salaried and talented teams such as the Atlanta Braves, and Philadelphia Phillies... So, was it a matter of "prime performance" at "prime time", or was the San Francisco pitching staff, and managing the batting line up the core of winning? 

Let's not forget the most infamous team accumulated in the "Power" era that's tagged most as a team "Bought" for a World Series ring, the 2003 World Series Champion Florida Marlins. Let's take a peak at their roster: Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez, Derek Lee, Luis Castillo, Mike Lowell, Alex Gonzales, Todd Hollansworth, Juan Pierre, Juan Incarnacion, Miguel Cabrera, Brad Penny, Josh Beckett, and  AJ Burnett as player highlights. It was the first year a "Wild Card" got in and went all the way! Before the floors were dried in the locker room from the World Series celebration, the Florida Marlins ended up dismantling the team, which begged the question even further of their goal to acquire a ring, then move on... You would think most teams would have goals of "Dynasty"... Not with this team, or ownership group. They obviously were done with one. 

Boston Red Sox and their genius youthful GM of the Millennium, Epstein, weighed money of their own to acquire an amazing line up and pitching staff that finally broke the curse of Babe Ruth and a World Series Championship (first one in 86 years) when the 2004 Boston Red Sox came back from being down 1-3 against the hated Yankees, and swept the heavily favored St. Louis Cardinals whom everyone thought La Rosa, Renteiria, and Puljos would mop the floor with Boston... Big Papi, Manny Ramirez, Curt Schilling, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Varitek, Johnny Damon (to name a few) had other outcomes in mind... They were rewarded with the most amazing moment in my memory banks, winning the World Series Championship for the first time since 1918! 

Okay, let's return to modern times and today's reality! The Los Angeles Dodgers have pulled  the most significant deal off waiver wires in recent MLB history. The deal ultimately involved 9 players all together. It sent the likes of Adrian Gonzales, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles Dodgers, and sent picks and prospects to the Boston Red Sox. Los Angeles Dodgers absorbed 260 million in acquired payroll on the deal. The ongoing debate rumbles through the sports pages and radio discussions if this is a move to win NOW, or establish components for a legacy to acquire a potential Blockbuster television deal to blow away lucrative numbers acquired by the likes of Atlanta Braves, and New York markets (rumblings mark the TV deal north of 6 billion in potential revenue). I've heard coifs, rants, and raves from both sides of the isle; everything from "going all in" to win the NL West now and get to the playoffs, to the new ownership intentionally sending a significant message they are serious about returning to winning in Dodger Blue franchise tradition. Last World Series appearance by the Los Angeles Dodgers was in 1988. When rumors began to circle amidst social media, reactions popped up with a gamut of reactions. Attention immediately took an about face heading up Northbound to see (if any) reaction disclosed by Dodgers' nemesis, none other than the San Francisco Giants. As news broke of the waiver buster deal about to be confirmed, a closed door meeting commenced at the SF Giants front office involving Brian Sabian, Bruce Bochy, and Larry Baer. Funny enough, the timing came when Larry Baer, and Brian Sabian normally appear weekly on the local radio Giants flagship station, KNBR. Larry Baer followed through with his commitment and appeared with Tom Tolbert and Eric Byrnes last Friday a little after 5pm PST. Larry Baer commented regarding the "Precedent' of the potential acquisition, and what that would mean for the NL West, knowing both teams still had 6 head-to-head games between one another, and SF Giants with a 3 game lead in the standings. Baer was not shy of disclosing how it would be nice to acquire another piece in the batting line up, as well as in the bull pen, yet other teams have already laid claim on components they felt were right for the club. So, for now, the are content with "Standing pat with the team we have on the field" versus risking their future on an unknown component.   Of course, if something shakes loose in the upcoming weeks (say, Cody Ross, for instance), I don't think San Francisco would hesitate in picking up a commodity that has brought success in past back on board. 

Other reactions I've received personally were from a dear distinguished sports colleague Len Berman, stating, " This would be precedent setting, the largest "waiver wire" blockbuster". Howard Bryant, Senior Writer for ESPN Magazine had this to share in conversation regarding the bold move, " My first thought that this was a total repudiation of the Red Sox former GM, Theo Epstein. The Red Sox squeezed as much juice out of the orange to the tune of two World Series titles and a rewritten culture; but this current group had run its course. The message on Crawford and Gonzalez to me was this: it didn't work. You weren't what we thought you were. My next was that while I understand the new owners of the Dodgers want to be bold, the truth is that each of the three big players in the deal- Josh Beckett with his back, Adrian Gonzalez with his shoulder, and Carl Crawford with Tommy John surgery... all have significant injuries. The Dodgers have a huge population, a terrific fan base, a mega television deal, which makes them in great position to make a high-risk, high-reward play. I'm just not sure these three guys were the ones to bet on. " Adrian Gonzales went on to hit a 3 run homer on his first at bat for the Dodgers. Josh Beckett was rocked in Colorado on his debut start for the Dodgers.  San Francisco remains 2.5 games ahead in the NL West with the month of September to play out.  What is your take? Does the Dodgers acquisition make  the list as one of the "Heralded Trades" of all time in MLB history?  The outcome of this move is yet to be determined... we have a month and a week, maybe a year and a month, and a week before we will truly know the impact of the moves made by the brass of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Here are a list of trades made through MLB history to refresh everyone's memory of moves made between ball clubs ultimately "Hunting" for a trip to October! 

(footnote: Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonazles actually have been swapped in trades between teams, and now find themselves playing together for the LA Dodgers... One of the most successful coaches of NY Yankees, Joe Torre, found himself on the trade block as a player back-to-back-to-back seasons)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Daddy's Box Radio...

Growing up, I was my Dad's shadow in the garage and yard helping on various projects, depending on the time of year. As we measured pieces of wood for a deck, or stacked wood on the side for Winter heating, Daddy would turn on his radio perched on a special shelf he built. The neutral colored and subtle radio box had big golden nobs, and a tweed speaker cover. Although it's appearance was bland, the sound coming from that ordinary brown cube was deep and boastful. The tube radio became a favorite and gem memory as I grew up. The programs varied from public radio stories, symphony, to one of my favorite choices, listening to America's past time, baseball.  
My fondest memories came from the other traveling radio box built in our family car traversing to and from vast lands far and wide West of the Mississippi. My brother, sister and I spent countless hours with Daddy on our Summer road trips to any distant destination (usually a National Park). That incredible deep sound and intimacy of his car radio carved a significant space in my mind... 

What seemed like the middle of the night to a 7 year-old, my dad would adjust the dial and like 'magic' out of thin air, we would have the pleasure of listening to an Athletics, Giants, or Dodgers baseball game from hundreds of miles away.... Announcers have that incredible talent of creating the vision of action on the diamond out of their selective verbiage, and blessed drama-driven voices. From the back seat of a Datsun 510 hatchback appeared an emerald green field... dugouts... umpires... and finally baseball players donning stirrups and black cleats roaming the outfield and bases filled in the front seats and windshield.
That Datsun is long gone, yet the nostalgia of a baseball game on the radio remains... Sound technology has only enriched the experience of the game coming out of a radio box!. One of the features I enjoy is the fact our flagship sports station that carries the San Francisco Giants games boasts 50,000 watts. That means, whenever I drive to visit family and friends down in Southern California, I enjoy the drive with AT&T (or any visitor's yard, like Safeco Field) park in my passenger seat down to Los Angeles! Technology and witty production gives us the pleasure of hearing crowds, the crisp crack of a louisville slugger when a player connects with a baseball, whether it be a ground out, double or the distinct connection of a squared-up ball smacked out of the yard, "Adios Belota!"... The game brings me the ambiance of listening to a strikeout where the prominent pounce of the ball hitting the catcher's mitt, and the exilerated reaction of the announcer confirming our immediate hope of "Strike three rung up!" within milliseconds time. Every listener builds a relationship with the action and announcers of a baseball game. The most famous calls in history have been made on a platform losing its luster. I will never waiver from my love of radio and the play-by-play... The images and talent from the best of baseball will always conjure up priceless gems of sound giving me site in to the 'perfect' American past time (baseball) originating from an ordinary box wired to create that picturesque image stamped in our memories until we lose consciousness... 

Thank you Daddy, and Grandpa for giving me an amazing resource for beautiful images, sounds, and love for the game of baseball on that radio box! 

With that said... A clip of the historical first 'Perfect' game pitched by Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants: 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

"The Art of San Antonio"

Out on the plains, the wind flows effortlessly through the tall wild grass…  One by one,  majestic gazelles appear to graze upon the luscious and tasty tundra… Gazelles are beautiful tall and fast creatures with amazing reaction and senses. Although they have incredible leaping  ability, agility, and strength, they are no match for a dark sleek cat that preys upon them for a carnal meal, the panther.  Downwind, slowly creeping up on the flowing field with stealth precision and patience, panthers strategically slither through the tall grass without a peep… Within a blink of an eye, before any gazelle can alarm the group and scatter,  the panther jumps up and claws it’s meal sinking its fangs into the gazelle’s jugular. Within a matter of moments the struggle is over and the panther prevails…

The gazelles by all means are quite majestic and absolutely breathtaking to watch prancing at highway speed limits across an open range, like an elite NBA athlete defying Newton’s law of gravity on a nightly basis flying in the air above a netted rim slamming a ball down with authority.  Many gazelles prance and shine every day on the NBA hard courts… They draw numerous fans and followings across the plains that blanket our land.  Within the same playing field lurks their nemesis, the sleek wild cats, like panthers, whom seem unamused or phased by any gazelles’ feat; for he knows all their moves… He knows all their habits… He’s observed all their escapes… The panther will sit back, watch, and wait for the perfect moment to execute denial of living to play another day. The large cats preserve their energy, strategize their attack, and cautiously move in to position to pounce on their prey… At the end of play time, it's no surprise when a panther prevails.

In professional sports as well as business arena, “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu has become the philosophy inherited of the truly dominant and successful teams and corporations. Think of some of the premier programs and persons… I have no doubt not only would they possess a copy of the incredible manuscript, they can quote the lessons. San Antonio Spurs are no exception. The players and coaches without hesitation execute various attributes and teachings divulged in the brief (yet eloquent) manuscript each time their sneakers touch the hardwood for 48 minutes of battle and war on the boards. “You do not have to win every ‘battle’ to win the war”… “Know your enemy, adapt to their way, then take their weaknesses and expose them…”  “It’s not always the greatest and mightiest of armies whom win, yet those with best position, defense, and work together whom will triumph…” “Do not lose focus on the ultimate goal, win the war”

San Antonio Spurs epitomize and lift the philosophy of Sun Tzu’s prose from the pages in to the arena.  Watching the Spurs play every game in the 2012 Western Conference playoffs has been nothing short (never boring) of an amazing orchestration of dominance and cruelty, as displayed by a panther encircling their prey.  There will be no surprise in my eyes if San Antonio once again stands atop a pile of Gazelles who've enjoyed immense time leaping and prancing upon the golden parkay floors...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I Can't is a Copout!

Tell me if this conversation sounds familiar, “I want that life.. I want that job, or I want to look like that… (and then the proverbial…) But I can’t… it will never happen… Not in this life time” Truth is, its not that you "can't", rather you won't or choose not to incorporate the time or dedication in to your schedule... The Life you create is based on decision and choices delegated by you… If you’re sitting on a couch wondering what happened, or staring at a reflection you don’t recognize, either enjoy the subpar situation, or DO something about it!

Think about the elite athletes who’ve achieved pinnacle success. There was a time in an athlete’s development where they had decisions and choices to make. Of course, many may have an entourage of influences pointing them in certain directions. What about that athlete that has been surrounded by poverty and crime? That individual that has nothing with only dirt, determination, and an internal voice whispering to them, “It’s gotta get better, it has to get better”? These athletes, like Patrick Willis had choices… Even with parents going to jail, displaying all the attributes we warn our children about… Even being raised out of a shanty shack-of-a-home and handed to foster parents, Patrick never lost touch with responsibility and an internal fortitude of becoming a giving, nurturing, and productive human being. Tim Robbins has an incredible piece highlighting a diversity of individuals experiencing the same spiraling circumstances, yet some of them overcame hardship, tackled challenging obstacles and prevailed. What was the difference between them? Some examples of such individuals are Michael Ohr, Jason Pierre-Paul, Johnny Unitas, and recent sensation Jeremy Lin. The likes of Johnny Unitas or Babe Didrikson did not possess the concept of “I can’t” in their vocabulary, regardless of circumstances. Each one of the pinnacle performers I’ve mentioned did not allow temporary situations dissuade their ambitions. Some of the iconic figures where statues were built in their honor began with humble humility of getting cut more than once on their way to greatness. Instead of throwing in the towel, quitting, or giving up, each one reflected on what steps they had to make in order to reach their goals, to succeed!

I’ve been ignoring my dream of writing and sports analysis for years… I’ve allowed fear suffocate my confidence, placing my mind in a black and white world. Eeyor and Negative Nellie have dogpiled on my optimism feeding me crazy ideas that I had to choose one path, and begrudgingly give up others. The passion I have in eloquently depicting near perfection in motion have been trapped in my cerebellum collecting cobwebs far too long! I’m selling myself short; I am underachieving… Luckily, the great success stories of Willis and Unitas are just a few mouse-clicks away, feeding me reminders of tenacity and determination. I choose “I can”… I will sweep off those dust bunnies dulling my ambition and refuse to give in to limitations. So what if I’m decades older than the average intern? I am not finished… I am not giving up!

If you have doubts or hesitations, and allowing them to change your path… Here’s a couple inspiring reminders:

Friday, April 6, 2012

Opening Day Good Friday! Errr.... or is it?

Happy Good Friday!

Or... is it? One side, Freddie Couples tied for lead at The Mater's!!! I learned to golf where he learned, at Jackson Municipal Golf Course, off of Beacon Hill just South of Downtown Seattle. Who doesn't LOVE Freddie!

On the other hand... I did NOT plan seeing my boy Timmie (Lincecum) get rocked twice! Scooby Doo has the perfect line in moments like these, "Ruhhh Rohhh..." We are right where we left off in 2011.... Ian Kennedy and Arizona D'backs have SF Giants number! Doh! Nice to see new bats in line up even game up in 6th 3-3! Yet... Timmie right back in trouble in the stretch bottom of 6th... Jesus! And what genius hatched the idea of Aubrey Huff play outfield? Really? Here we go! (in comes cute long-haired chihuahua dragging a bottle of wine in its mouth with two glasses.... Whimpering... )          

Yup! Torture is SF Giants motto period!

I know... I know... This is only game 1 of 162 game Season... I just thought it would begin a little bit better with a little less drama... I must be going insane! These are the SF Giants, right?! Why do I deceive myself year-in-year-out expecting something different than torture?

Snap out of it!!!

If you haven't seen George Carlin's perfect description between baseball and football... It's WORTH another chuckle and 5 minutes of your time! Hmmm.... I think Carlin knew 20 years ago that "Bounty Gate" definitely a high probability... Doh!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tara! Tara!! Tara!!!

Tara.... Tara.... Tara....

Far far away inset on a Golden Coast in the land of California lies a quaint town of Palo Alto with a mighty University where Nobel Laureates and genius roam. Nestled in the brain trust of Silicon Valley lies Stanford. Thousands of miles removed from Sports Mecca East of the Mississippi, Stanford has been quietly building a legacy on academics as well as athletics.

Unlike power houses of Baylor, Notre Dame, Tennessee and UConn, an athlete invited to play at Stanford MUST meet the academic standards for admission to the University. Not only do you need to perform genius on the turf, academic excellence is expected in the classroom.

Since 1985, Tara Vanderveer has created a dynasty of excellence on the hardwood floors at Maples Pavilion. She is on the heels of reaching Pat Summit numbers at this point of her career. Coach V is 4th on the list of winningest coaches in NCAA Division I at 891 wins , only behind Pat Summit, Mike Krzyzewski, and Bob Knight.

It's quite the accomplishment to reach the success and consistency displayed year after year at Stanford Women's Basketball. She is going for her 4th title and being the only NCAA Div I coach to reach Final Four an impressive 9th time in 11 years. That's right! Not, Summit, Not Geno, it's Tara!

Pac-12 may not receive National accolades as such programs closer to the East Coast, Stanford has a swarming forest including top player in NCAA Women's Division I, Chiney Ogwumike.

Hats off to Coach Tara Vanderveer and Stanford University bringing notoriety out WEST!

Enjoy highlights of Stanford's bid to 2014 NCAA Basketball Division I Women's Championship

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In My Humble Opinion...

Yeah... yeah... yeah... Yes... Everyone has sounded off about the phenomenon of "Tim Tebow"; and now this will include me!

Okay.. Okay... Okay... Now Tebow is an incredible athlete! An incredible football player and has that ingredient that many other athletes... actually, practically anyone whom  participates in  life: Substance, and perseverance to reach the top.... There is no quit in "Tebow Time"!

He was successful at Florida and reached the pinnacle in bringing a National Championship to The Swamp, as well as personal achievement in being awarded "The" Heisman Trophy (or was it two? Gosh, I'm going off the cuff here...). I am certain Mr. Tebow carries the same passion and goals to acquire pinnacle success as an athlete in NFL. In my humble opinion, I know he can reach the Summit and acquire that coveted piece of hardware required entry to the most selective club in NFL, a Super Championship ring. I just don't believe it will be as a quarterback.

I wish someone would influence, mentor, and guide Tebow in the best direction for him to experience ultimate success in a NFL uniform: convert him to TE!

Okay... this windbag full of ridiculous knowledge best used in blogs and bars is signing off in this subject! Peace out! And may God Bless us All!