In the age of instant information and access, it’s curious that all we seem to want to do is reassert that something we already knew is true. I blame Dennis Green, whose “They are who we thought they were” rant is probably the most well-known and oft-quoted coach’s rant, besides maybe “I’m a man! I’m 40!”
What’s the most common quote out there in the land of sports cliches? “It is what it is.” And it’s in this spirit that we look at the San Francisco Giants, who have proven to be several things: a team with an above-average starting rotation that at times borders on brilliant; a team whose lineup contains several capable hitters and gritty veterans but no consistent anchor to build around; a team good enough to beat crappy-to-slightly-above-average teams at home and mediocre teams on the road when lucky.
What they aren’t: a team that can ever be considered a safe bet to hit good pitching; a team whose bullpen will be anywhere near as good as it was last season; a team that can’t by any objective measure be considered any better than three teams in their own division. So for those season ticket holders content to sell last weekend’s seats at a premium to Red Sox fans in an attempt to save up money for playoff seats — feel free to make those cruise reservations in October. Unless things change, Giants fans should have a lot of free time.
Are we at fault for the rise of “Dynamic Pricing”?
— I’ve gone admittedly overboard in my complaints about pricing at AT&T Park. I get it, dynamic pricing means more tickets sold to games against small market teams (or games when Todd Wellemeyer is starting), and less competition for the games against the popular teams (because lower-to-middle-class fans are priced out of the market). But the guys at seatgeek.com compiled an interesting list of the MLB teams whose games sold for the highest average prices when sold on the “secondary market” (Stub Hub, ticket brokers, etc.). Of course, the Red Sox came out on top with an average price of $86.65 per ticket sold. No wonder the Giants were selling Standing Room Only tickets for $37.50. Watching your fans re-sell tickets at a 100%+ markup has to be frustrating when you’re struggling to stay afloat like Larry Baer and Bill Neukom are (sarcasm implied, as usual).
— The Giants, not surprisingly, were about in the middle price-wise ($52.43/ticket). The A’s were a little behind that ($48.24). But the Arizona Diamondbacks as the leader in the NL West (barely ahead of the Giants and Dodgers at $52.99)? Didn’t know that many people were Kelly Johnson fans.
— Aubrey Huff lost 15 pounds before this season. So did Aaron Rowand (or thereabouts). Pablo Sandoval may or may not be with child. In other words, weight gain/loss has absolutely no correlation to how well you hit baseballs, unless the weight you’re talking about is all muscle mass.
— Remember when I said all Tim Lincecum needs to do is become Greg Maddux when it comes to command? Yeah, well, I forgot about the fact that Lincecum’s fastball doesn’t move anymore, while Maddux didn’t throw more than 12 straight fastballs in his entire career with Atlanta.
— And you know Lincecum’s recent slide is worrying people when fans start to explore just how creepy his relationship with is dad seems to be — at least from the outside.
— According to MLB Trade Rumors, “a group of GMs polled by Olney named Brian Sabean as the most difficult GM to trade with.” (I’d link to Olney’s original article, but I’m pretty sure it’s on that stupid pay-to-read program ESPN has for any of their worthwhile non-Simmons content that only people with money to burn subscribe to.)
— Guess that means the Giants aren’t in the running to land Cliff Lee.
— Just kidding on that last one, since Madison Bumgarner won’t be going back to Fresno. His spot in the rotation is SECURE, mostly because he’s Bochy’s first left-handed hitting option off the bench. Plus, the Giants never change their minds on young prospects, when to keep them on the big club and when to bench them or sit them down for prolonged periods of time. You know, just like they said about Buster Posey until he had a bad week at the plate and Bruce Bochy sat him down for two games as punishment. (Update: Bochy grounded Buster tonight, too. At least he didn’t stick Rowand in there in a misguided attempt to help him get revenge on Vicente Padilla.)
— Apparently Jose Guillen is available and the Royals really, really want to get rid of him. Can’t wait until Brian Sabean drives a hard bargain and nabs Guillen for Nate Schierholtz and Dan Runzler. (Just kidding — not really.)
— Spent the better part of a not-that-nice Saturday (in the City, anyway) watching the US look like a bunch of privileged private school kids against a much tougher, spirited, energetic Ghana squad. Oh well, at least we were spared the site of getting drilled by 4+ goals against Germany, Argentina or Brazil. Getting upset about the US losing in the round of 16 of the World Cup is like getting upset when your 9-week-old puppy poops on the rug, or because the Giants lost 2 of 3 to the Red Sox.
— Nice run by the Americans, but would it kill the team to have any sort of personality whatsoever? Those dudes made the San Antonio Spurs look like the 1993 Phillies. With Bill Clinton in the stands, there hasn’t been a game where a celeb in the crowd outshined the players since Lady Gaga went to that Mets game.
— After watching the US lose and then the Giants lose a few hours later in my living room, there was no way I was going to watch the Sunday Giants game. OK, that was also because my fiance made a full day’s worth of plans for us, but I have to say I’m glad she did. Lox and bagels with her dad in the morning and a BBQ with my sisters and their chef boyfriends in the afternoon was way better than watching the Giants strike out in front of a bunch of Red Sox fans in pink hats.
— Oh well, at least the Red Sox fans wouldn’t dare wear what this Dodgers fan did. I’d make a joke but I’d rather not read any hate mail this week.
— Have to say I never thought I’d say this, but Larry Riley effectively said, “You don’t matter anymore,” to Don Nelson when he declined to make an offer to Anthony Tolliver and Chris Hunter. Hunter’s game is dookie even for a D-League grad, and so is Tolliver’s (if you like winning games, anyway), but Nellie played the guy 32 mpg next season and probably relished the opportunity to bury Anthony Randolph, Brandan Wright and Ekpe Udoh behind him.
— Of course you know Nellie’s sitting in Maui, plotting a starting lineup of Curry-Monta-Bell-Williams-Radmanovic as we speak. Seriously, if Nellie somehow makes it through this off-season and coaches this team next season, they will not win more than 19 games and Monta will punch at least two teammates in the face (Curry and a teammate to be named later).
— I’m sorry, but with all this talk about “partnerships” (meaning: money and power on par with ownership) and “global icons,” I like LeBron James less every single day. Can’t he just go play for Manchester United and leave the basketball to Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant? You know, guys without high-profile life-caddies/personal servants assistants; guy who only talk about working out and winning? LeBron’s been pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes for years now.
— Even Peyton Manning and A-Rod have won titles, so I guess LeBron will probably win at least two before it’s all said and done. But Magic Johnson mixed with Michael Jordan? At this point I’d go with Dominique Wilkins mixed with Karl Malone (albeit with better handles).