Johnny Black

Welcome back to Major League Baseball everyone. It’s good to get out of hibernation and see the Giants take the field again in games that really matter. Yours truly, Johnny Black has had a long and cold winter filled with baseball withdrawals and anxiety about the 49ers QB situation.

First, let’s get to the history. The Giants made lots of it this past weekend in their opening series for this young 2023 season. In the three-game series which they lost, two games to one, the Giants struck out a franchise record 41 times. That’s a record for any three-game series to start the season. The Yankees, to their credit, looked good on the mound throughout the series. Second, the Giants’ Logan Webb combined to set a record for strikeouts in an Opening Day game with Gerrit Cole when the two hurlers totaled 23 k’s between them. That’s just an absurd amount of great pitching/terrible hitting. If MLB really wants to improve the qualify of play they could start with teaching batters how to hit with two strikes at the plate, something that every Little Leaguer and such knows: PROTECT THE PLATE!

Lastly, this was the first time in franchise history the Giants were blanked in two of the three opening games to start a season. Ruh-roh! Things do not bode well for this line up with such futility. But, let’s not all start popping the happy pills and chugging the Vodka martinis out of desperation just yet, ladies and gentlemen. Let’s remember that this is only three out of 162 games. Come July we may never recall this series if the Giants are five games in first place atop the NL West standings, or, 15 games out, in the cellar.

Because Baseball. One of Johnny Black’s Giant rules of the American Pastime: Never get too high or too low after an opening series.

Sunday’s Game

Regarding yesterday’s 6-0 loss to the Yankees the most alarming aspect of the day for yours truly is this: The Giants batters struck out 12 more times! See above!! Remember, for those of interested in numbers, a team only gets 27 outs in a nine-inning game. As Earl Weaver used to say: “Outs are precious”. When you are striking out to the tune of 40-45% (41 Ks in 98 at bats equals 42.8%!) of the time you drastically decrease the chances of scoring and hence, winning a game. The Giants need to fix this pronto!

Honestly, there were no highlights about yesterday’s game. Ross Stripling made his Giants debut and it did not go well. He would allow four runs, three homers in five innings of work.

The home run allowed to Aaron Judge was fine. It happens. The two-run bomb Stripling gave up to Giancarlo Stanton was hit so far, around 489 feet (by official measurements but likely more thank 500 feet by Johnny Black’s calculations), that it definitely damaged Yankee stadium, as much as it harmed Stripling’s psyche. Careers have been ruined over less impressive home runs. Stanton’s blast was beyond epic. It was a long ball so prodigious and mighty that even Giants fans had to be impressed. The Stanton shot was more than a home run. It was a statement so profound, so loud and so beautiful in its pronouncement that it illustrates the chasm in overall talent between the New Yorkers in the Bronx and the San Franciscans.

Remember when the Giants were rumored to be making a trade with the Marlins for Stanton? I do!

As for Stripling…Just, no. That will not do it. Maybe it was the first start jitters. The damage could have been much worse as he escaped numerous james in the first and second innings. Brito, for the Yankees, was making his Major League debut and the Giants had no answer for his change of speeds, recording only three hits, all singles, in the game. It was ugly.

Saturday’s Game

Saturday was more fun. The Giants won an exciting ball game, 7-5. It was a game decided on the final play, a very difficult double play started by Brandon Crawford with the Yankees threatening with one out and the bases load. Crawford fielded a tricky hop on a hard smash, threw accurately to Estrada at second, who then turned quickly but fired an awkward throw to first that LaMonte Wade Jr. barely hung onto as he did the splits and kept his tippy toe on the bag. In fact Wade had a great day at first making two other fine plays and looking very calm and athletic in the process.

Brandon Crawford hit a homer. So did Joc Pederson, Yaz had two doubles and Jakob Junis got the well-deserved win, holding the fort and allowing only one run in two plus innings of work in relief of Alex Cobb who was inconsistent but not terrible in his 3 2/3 innings of work. Camilo Doval got the shaky save and was called for two clock violations for taking too much time between pitches. It will be an issue and a learning experience for him. The Giants recorded twelve hits with those seven runs but still STRUCK OUT TWELVE TIMES!

The Gary Sanchez Acquisition

If there ever was an acquisition that was so Farhan Zaidi, it was the announcement of acquiring Gary Sanchez, a once promising slugger/catcher for the Yankees who was so inept as a backstop that Yankee pitchers refused to pitch to him. Sanchez, a wonderfully Dave Kingman-like power hitter can hit his bombs when he is not hitting .187 and striking out more often than Austin Powers at a London singles bar in the Swinging Sixties. Sanchez is a player I used to enjoy watching so much because he was just so human: He could not be an effective Major League catcher to save his life but he was capable of wonderful things as a hitter now and then. That the Giants never planned ahead this year to deal with their catching situation after installing Joey Bart in their doghouse screams of incompetence. The Sanchez acquisition is one of those desperation moves that provides neither insurance or any confidence to the Major League roster. It’s just dumb.

Don’t get me started on the Mat Beaty acquisition. Dr. Lefty and GG already nailed that topic.

“But, yeah, I find it inexplicable that the Giants just don’t have a plan at catcher. Which is pretty incredible considering Zaidi has used two #1 draft picks on catchers and cycled through a long list of guys like Tromp and Wynns and Papierski and on and on. And mind you, he could’ve gone after Contreras, Murphy, Realmuto.

I can only conclude that Zaidi really, really, really believes defense doesn’t matter. To the point where he’s willing to play a guy like Sabol, who is so raw he’s barely able to catch pitches let alone frame them and who evidently doesn’t know which base he’s supposed to throw to on a double steal.”

Oje N.

I could not have said it better myself.

Dr. Farhan’s American League – style of building a roster is not working. Someone please show him the tape of Buster Posey calling perfect pitches, blocking errant throws, and being a team leader in the most important position on the baseball diamond. Someone please explain to him that defense is crucial in the National League, especially at Willie Mays Field, especially with a pitching staff that does not strike out hitters at a Nolan Ryanesque pace. Then there’s the issue of the outfield….oyve…

Today’s Game

The Giants open a three-game series against the White Sox with game time schedules for 2:10 Chicago time today. The starting hurlers are Desclafani for the Giants against Kopech for the Pale Hose. This will be Anthony’s first start since ankle surgery last season. This is a big year for him .

The Black Monday Wrap

You could say this three-game series kind of went the way most would have predicted. The Yankees are deeper, more powerful and frankly, pitch better than the Giants, a team being run on the cheap and prioritizing scrap heap Royals and Yankee-castoffs over their own internal talent. It’s early to draw conclusions on this season, of course but so far the evidence is not good for the Giants and their hopes of contending for the postseason. The same type of trades, player pickups. The same stupid platoons (One day Wade is at first, one day he is in the outfield. Sabol catches with very very limited experience, etc.) the same type of pitching pickups of players on the VERY downside of their careers after you let studs like Rodon and Gausman walk… mean this team is not likely to be exciting, let alone good. I could be wrong. JB reserves that right. But right now, I do not feel very confident.