Normally Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants would have led to a post that same evening in this here space, but I went to the Guardsmen event at AT&T Park to watch the game on the big screen, and there was an open bar. So it’s probably better for all involved that I came home and drank water and Emergen-C instead of picking up the laptop and rambling about how much Jonathan Broxton weighs.
The Giants are 0-1. Besides the 161 games left to play, there are a few things that make the loss somewhat tolerable: not many teams would be able to manage much if any offense against Clayton Kershaw in a 5 pm start in Los Angeles; Tim Lincecum was his normal self; Brandon Belt put together the best group of plate appearances of anyone on the team; the Dodgers’ closer got booed at his home stadium, and that was before he gave up a solo home run to Pat Burrell. But there are five reasons to be concerned about the Giants as they prepare to stop their 1-game slide this evening.
1. Miguel Tejada
The evidence is starting to mount. Immediately after the Giants signed Tejada to a 1-year, $6.5 million deal, people wondered how the Giants expected Tejada to play the toughest position in the infield after two teams decided he was no longer up to that challenge. Then people who cover the Giants wondered if Tejada still has it.
I knew things were bad while listening to Gary Radnich interview Mike Krukow yesterday, and Krukow excitedly predicted Pablo Sandoval would hit .330 with 30 HR and 100 RBI this season. Radnich then asked about Tejada. Krukow hesitated, kind of stammered a little, and then allowed that Tejada would play 115-120 games and hit about 15 HR … and it didn’t seem like Krukow even believed what he was saying.
Last night, Tejada made a few putouts and looked serviceable defensively — until a terrible throwing error on what should have been a double play led to Matt Kemp taking third, later scoring on Buster Posey’s pickoff attempt which sailed past everyone and scooted down the line. Besides a slightly embarrassing “jazz hands” gesture on a fly ball to center that was merely caught in front the warning track off Lincecum, Juan Uribe looked like the early winner of the Giants’ shortstop decision-making process last winter (although it appeared that Uribe wanted to be a Dodger all along, which inherently makes him the loser … so there!).
2. Barry Zito’s car accident
Yesterday, I got hundreds of page views on a post I wrote two years ago about Barry Zito getting shut down by Alyssa Milano on Twitter (back when I thought Twitter was a fad that would soon pass … one of my more forgettable stances). People are worried about Zito’s car accident, where his car apparently got broadsided on the driver’s side by a cabbie running a red light while trying to make a left turn. Imagine that, a taxi driver pulling a completely ridiculous, unsafe maneuver in an intersection. As a San Francisco pedestrian, I am shocked.
Supposedly Zito’s on track to make his scheduled start on Sunday, but he came to the park wearing a neck brace yesterday. Unless Zito’s incredibly flexible and more resistant than most to the trauma caused by even the most minor of fender-benders, it would be pretty shocking if he was able to shrug off a wreck like this so quickly. It’s probably going to be an all-hands-on-deck bullpen outing on Sunday, a little scary considering that…
3. The bullpen suddenly looks fallible
Brian Wilson’s got a sore side/back/whatever, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez fluctuated from mediocre to horrible all spring, and Santiago Casilla hardly looked like a stabilizing force out there last night against the Dodgers. The Giants are off on Monday, so it’s conceivable that everyone can pick up a couple innings on Sunday and no harm will be done. Not sure if that’s exactly what the bullpen needs in the first week of the season, however.
4. Okay, we get it, Pablo used to be fat…
I don’t think Giants fans have ever collectively gotten so tired of one thing so quickly, but this has gotten ridiculous. Every time Sandoval makes a play, someone has to say how he never would have made that play last year. Sure, he looks like a different person. And most of us are aware you get fat by eating too much and not exercising enough. But the nauseating duo of Orel Hershiser (nice highlights, buddy) and Bobby Valentine (can some baseball team I don’t care about, like the Mariners or Mets, hire him so he’ll leave us alone?) were making jokes and comments last night about Sandoval that were downright disrespectful. Luckily, I was drinking Budweiser out of aluminum bottles (too hot last night to drink more than two lukewarm Anchor Steams), so I don’t remember many specifics from Hershiser’s and Valentine’s yuckfest, but I DO remember wondering on Twitter why it’s okay to make fun of a former fat person who lost weight, but not an addict who got sober. Josh Hamilton’s a hero and Sandoval’s a clown, apparently.
5. What the hell is the matter with Dodgers fans?
An apology is due to all Raiders fans who consider themselves members of the “Black Hole.” It might get vulgar in there, and it’s not exactly a place you’d want to sport a Chiefs or Broncos jersey, but it isn’t like people ever get killed.
Dodger Stadium, on the other hand, has become a place where Giants fans are routinely intimidated, beaten and stabbed, especially on home openers against the Giants. Last night, three Giants fans were attacked by two Dodgers fans (who were unprovoked, according to police), beating one person so savagely that they’re currently in critical condition.
(Hey MLB, maybe you should take a few years off from scheduling Giants @ Dodgers on Opening Day, at least until it’s no longer en vogue to bring knives to sporting events in Los Angeles.)
Dodgers fan on Dodgers fan violence we can live with (Kidding! Sort of…), but Dodgers fan on Giants fan violence is to the point where you have to wonder what happened to the ballpark that used to be known for Dodger Dogs and Vin Scully. Giants fans aren’t exactly wallflowers, what with all the “Beat LA” chants and a plane commissioned to tow a banner above Dodger Stadium saying “DODGERS STILL SUCK — FROM SF CHAMPS FANS” yesterday, but words are words. Knives, fists, guns, whatever — when did weapons become a part of baseball? You know, besides Juan Marichal vs. John Roseboro.
(Guardsmen sidenote: the seagulls are definitely NOT on their collective game yet. In the middle innings they tried to take over the park by brute force, before growing bored and frustrated by the lack of edible trash and leaving entirely by the eighth inning … like Dodgers fans! The seagulls were about as rusty as the Giants’ defense last night.)
One of the fans wearing blue was a woman whose physical features were similar to Tommy Lasorda’s. She was screaming for Kershaw strikeouts in the early innings, looking around to see who noticed her and/or was getting ready to throw something at her. I refrained from chucking anything in her direction, but I was incredulous. Why would Dodgers fans come to a charity event at AT&T Park? If I lived in L.A., and I heard some local charitable organization was broadcasting a Dodgers/Giants game at Dodgers Stadium, I’d stay home and watch the game on TV. Even an open bar on a beautiful evening wouldn’t entice me to sit amongst a bunch of Dodgers fans, especially since my bulletproof vest is still on layaway.