Cover photo from the new Mays/Shea book, out by next week.
That title is what is known in social media as “click bait.” There is no breaking Giants news. It is, however, the week of Willie Mays’s birthday.
MLB still moving towards trying to start the 2020 season
The latest rumors still have some permutation of teams playing in their own parks (not neutral parks in Arizona, Florida, or Texas) but with three reconfigured divisions of ten teams each to limit the amount of traveling the teams would need to do. In this scenario, the Giants would be in a West division that would include the other four NL West teams and the five AL West teams. Teams might also do their second “spring” training in their home cities rather than returning to Arizona or Florida so that players wouldn’t have to find housing twice.
Though there is reportedly “optimism” and good will on all sides–after all, it benefits everyone involved with baseball if some games are played–there continues to be sparring between the players’ union and ownership about compensation. There also reportedly was some haggling between the umpires’ union and the league, but that now seems to be resolved–with part of the resolution involving getting rid of replay reviews for the 2020 season.
It is a little daunting to think of the Giants having to deal not only with the Dodgers in their division but also the Astros and the A’s. But I wouldn’t mind watching Mike Trout a bit more. That said, I don’t really care what the reconfigured divisions look like as long as there’s Giants baseball. It sounds like the best-case scenario would be the “spring camps” opening in June and games that count starting around the 4th of July.
Various beat writers are recording regular podcasts, and some of them are worth a listen.
Baggs & Brisbee: The two Giants writers from The Athletic have been doing a couple of podcasts a week, and they’re free (you don’t have to subscribe to the site) and pretty fun to listen to. Baggs had a Giants fan survey going on his page, and in the latest podcast, they talk about how they themselves would answer (some of) the questions. For example, one of the questions was about how much confidence fans have in current management, meaning Farhan Zaidi, Gabe Kapler, and crew. Both of them punted on the Kapler question, basically saying “too soon to tell”–he hasn’t yet managed a regular season Giants game–but Baggs was impressed with the positive climate he and the coaches created in Scottsdale before everything shut down. Brisbee felt that there’s evidence Kapler learned some things during his two-year tenure in Philly. As for Zaidi, Brisbee was more bullish than Baggs was. Baggs gave him a 5-6 on a scale of 10, saying that while Zaidi hadn’t made many bad moves, the “good” ones he’s made so far haven’t moved the needle very much. He also noted that Zaidi’s being caught off guard by the negative reactions to non-tendering Kevin Pillar and the hiring of Kapler suggested that he’s still a bit out of touch with the fan culture here.
Giants Insider podcast: This is run by Alex Pavlovic, sometimes with Kelli Johnson as a sidekick. I really liked the latest one, which featured author Joan Ryan, talking about her new book on team chemistry, and Mike Krukow, to whom the new book was dedicated. He also had reliever Tyler Rogers on earlier this week.
Giants Splash podcast: San Francisco Chronicle beat writers Henry Schulman and John Shea take turns hosting this. There weren’t any new ones this past week, but recent guests have included Tim Flannery, Gabe Kapler, Brian Sabean, Kirk Reuter, and Dusty Baker.
Orange Friday simulated games: Every Friday night, NBCS-Bay Area shows a one-hour simulated version (produced by MLB The Show) of the game that was supposed to be on the schedule for that date. The games are called by Krukow and Kuiper, and that’s absolutely what makes the experience. This past Friday night, the Giants were in Cleveland. Jeff Samardzija pitched a gem–one solo homer allowed to Domingo Santana was his only blemish–and the Giants, led by a three-run homer hit by Buster Posey, stomped on the Indians without mercy. We’ve watched the last three Friday nights in a row, and you’ll be stunned to hear that the Giants have won all three of the games. (Wonder how the game went on the Cleveland station?) Anyway, it’s more fun that you might think, and you can at least speculate about what the roster might really look like right now (Pablo Sandoval just got called up!) and how the players might be doing. (Posey’s having a really good year and Belt is still playing like an All-Star. Yaz is having a sophomore slump, and Longo and Craw…yeeeeesh.) Next week: White Sox at Giants. For those of you out of market, it looks like these do get posted on Youtube.
As mentioned above, Joan Ryan has a new book out on team chemistry, and one of the early chapters was on Aubrey Huff’s leadership role on the 2010 Giants. Ryan is an award-winning journalist with several previous books, including one about #ForeverGiant Bengie Molina. She currently works for the Giants as a media consultant; among other things, she helps the players produce their blog posts (like the Brandon & Brandon blogs). After listening to her talk about it on Alex Pavlovic’s podcast, I definitely want to get and read the book.
Also, Willie Mays’s new book with John Shea is supposed to come out this week, in conjunction with Willie’s 89th birthday(!) on May 6. We have that on order and are looking forward to it. (Checking Amazon, it looks like the book will actually come out on May 12.)
MrLefty and I went to Willie’s 80th birthday celebration in 2011 (got a cool replica of the statue in front of the ballpark). It was a great game. Here’s hoping that we and Willie will all be celebrating his 90th together in our Cathedral next year on May 6.
It occurred to me that a fun theme for posts (or guest posts) might be a synopsis or review of a favorite Giants-themed book. On my shelf, besides (of course) Mavo’s book Falling in Love with Baseball, I have Andrew Baggarly’s two books, Chris Haft’s two books, and a couple of older gems–a 1963 memoir by Russ Hodges called My Giants and a 1999 book called This Copyrighted Broadcast by Hank Greenwald.
C’mon, what else do you have to do? Read a book and tell us about it!
I lied at the beginning. There is breaking Giants news, and it’s in the Tweet below. Yiiiiiikes. Lefty out.
Brandon Belt mustache alert:
This is not a drill, I repeat, this is not a drill pic.twitter.com/0GkzDM0a3w
— Juan Perez's Pet Praying Mantis (@threeleftturns) May 3, 2020