Monday, April 06, 2009

It's April '09 - Play Ball by Paul F. Etcheverry

The major league baseball season commences today, and as one of that species known as the San Francisco Giants Fan – a punishment-loving cult after the Marquis de Sade’s own twisted heart – I have no choice but to devote a blog entry to MLB. So once a year, I do boring Giants talk, only of interest to that select but ever-masochistic breed.

I found myself with a lifetime membership in said breed by witnessing the likes of Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Gaylord “The Dry Look” Perry, Willie McCovey, Bobby Bonds (Barry’s dad and the Alfonso Soriano of his day), Joe Morgan, Jeffrey "Hackman" Leonard, “Will The Thrill” Clark, Kevin “Boogie Bear” Mitchell, Dave Dravecky, Rod “Shooter” Beck, "Rapid Robb" Nen, Matt Williams and even the loathed but highly skilled, unbelievably focused, fierce and fiercely competitive Barry Bonds (and more) do amazing things in a misbegotten, cold and windy baseball park named Candlestick decades ago.

First and foremost, it doesn’t matter to me that the Giants sucked donkey baby makers for the last four seasons. Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a crap! In matters of romance and baseball, hope, even totally unsupported by evidence, springs eternal. Only in the former does it not spring quite as often as the decades march on (although, come to think of it, the equivalent of Viagra and Cialis for devotees of unrelentingly wretched major league baseball teams could definitely make big bucks for big pharma). And the Giants, ladies and gentlemen, have the 2008 Cy Young Award winner, hard-throwing mighty mite Tim "Lights Out" Lincecum. It'll be worth going out to the ol' ballpark just to see Timmy throw heat.

To address the faint but undaunted hopes of Giants’ fandom, here’s what I’d like to see in the 2009 season:

  • Pablo Sandoval plays a decent third base and lives up to his nickname of "The Round Mound Of Pound".

  • Left fielder Fred Lewis improves his defense and hits .290+ with some pop (90+ RBIs).

  • Travis Ishikawa plays superb defense at first, proves can he hit big league pitching and slams a few dingers out o’ the joint in the process.

  • The clutch-hitting, slick-fielding Edgar Renteria who personally annihilated the Giants in the 1997 and 2003 playoffs, not his over-the-hill identical twin who played so badly in 2008 that the Detroit Tigers made no effort to re-sign him, is the one we get in a Giants uniform. If the Giants end up with the latter, trade him at mid-season, move Manny Burris to shortstop and give Kevin Frandsen a shot at second base.

  • Manager Bruce Bochy rests Aaron Rowand at times, whether he likes it or not. And Aaron, don't worry about hitting homers (you and most MLB hitters won't get many in the cavernous dimensions of A T & T Park), just play a solid center field and hit for average the way you did for the Phils and White Sox.

  • New relief pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry do something the horrid "arson squad" bullpens of 2006-2008, with the exception of Brian "Don't Call Me Beach Boy" Wilson rarely did: actually hold a lead.

  • Among the very few worthy holdovers from the ‘08 pitching staff's horrific relief crew, Sergio Romo and Merkin Valdez, return from injuries, protect leads - and kick ass doing it.

  • Should the crosstown Oakland A's wuss out and trade Matt Holliday at mid-season (instead of signing him to a long-term contract), deal him to the Giants!

  • Find Manny Mota and arrange for him to have dinner with Rich Aurilia. Since Richie's going to get plenty of chances to pinch hit with the game on the line, have the veteran Giant talk pinch-hitting strategy with the best, as long as Manny isn't working for the Dodgers.

  • Someone teaches Barry Zito the Don Sutton variation on the "cut fastball". No straight-as-a-string fastball means 15+ wins for Barry in 2009.

  • Note to Matt Cain and Barry Zito: pitch inside! Yes, that means throw at guys. A.K.A. channel the confrontational "just try and hit this, sucka" spirit of Sal "The Barber" Maglie or the fearless Bob Gibson.
  • Note to position players: score some runs for Matt n' Barry this year, PUH-LEEEZ!

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