More World Series musings

Since I’ll be busy this weekend hanging out with my family, chasing my 18-month-old son around and helping out my very pregnant wife I probably won’t be able to check in after Games 4 and 5 so here are some quick hits on the World Series before I hit the road:

* One more reason to stick a fork in the Rangers: They have to win 4 out of the next 5 games against a nasty Giants pitching staff.  Good luck with that.

* Since I’m already burying the Rangers, why not go one step further and look at their offseason needs?  Relief pitching seems like a glaring weakness after Game 2’s late-inning meltdown.  How about Kerry Wood as a setup man for closer Neftali Feliz?  Wood was born in Texas and  seems like a natural fit.

And how about a first baseman?  Mitch Moreland seems like a nice enough guy but he’s a glaring weak spot in the Rangers’ lineup and I’m not sure Chris Davis will ever get it all together in Texas.   Lance Berkman or Derrek Lee could do the trick.

Catcher wouldn’t be a bad place to try and upgrade the lineup either.  Bengie Molina is only signed through this season and guys behind him like Matt Treanor and Taylor Teagarden are nothing special.  A run at Victor Martinez isn’t all that crazy when you take into consideration the fact that the Rangers recently locked up a lucrative cable TV deal and have money to burn.

Last, but not least, the Rangers are going to have to spend big money on starting pitching.  If Cliff Lee strikes it rich with the New York Yankees the Rangers are going to have a gaping hole at the top of their rotation.

* Speaking of the offseason,  I have a gut feeling that Giants general manager Brian Sabean is going to hand out one of his trademark head-scratching big contracts to one of the beloved misfits on this World Series team.  How about an oversized 3-year deal for Cody Ross?

* Feel free to call me a Commie bastard if you like but I’m getting tired of hearing God Bless America during every single playoff game in the 7th inning.  Just skip the song, cut to commercial and get back to playing ball ASAP.   I love the US of A and no one will ever forget 9/11 so can we finally stop singing that song all through October?

* Personality only gets you so far in this game.   I love Rangers manager Ron Washington and I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I’m pulling for the Rangers in October.  But Giants skipper Bruce Bochy is pushing all the right buttons in the playoffs while Wash is fumbling around.

I know his players adore him and over the long haul of the regular season that can work like a charm.   But at this point in the playoffs strategy is a big freakin’ deal and Wash looks like he’s behind the curve.

* From the Let’s Be Perfectly Honest Department:  As a baseball fan I’ve enjoyed the Giants’ playoff run because it’s been a great story.  As a person who has a lot of close friends who are die-hard Giants fans I’m happy that they’re on the verge watching their team win it all because that’s what every fan dreams of.

But as a lifelong A’s fan who bleeds green and gold the idea of the Giants winning a World Series is a little annoying.  I won’t beat that to death because it would just be sour grapes on my part but there’s no point in pretending that I’ll be cheering for San Francisco when they clinch this thing even though I picked them to win in 6 games.

* Fox on-field reporter Ken Rosenthal was rocking a bow tie in Games 1 and 2 and I asked him on Twitter if he’s going to tailor his look for Texas and switch to a bolo tie when the series moves to Arlington.   I didn’t get any response so there’s an air of mystery over what we’re going to see next.   It’s just one more reason to tune in to the game.

* From the Stating the Painfully Obvious Department: Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver are gawdawful.  It seems like every season I get a little more annoyed with TV baseball announcers and at this point I could really do without them.  Just flash some stats on the screen and give me the sounds of the ballpark.  If you’re a die-hard baseball fan that’s probably all you need.

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Dead Celebrity Friday: Henry Gibson

A weekly tribute to a totally random gone but not forgotten  — at least not on Fridays — star.

Today I tip my hat to the dearly departed leader of the Illinois Nazis in “The Blues Brothers” and the creepy Dr. Werner Klopek in “The ‘burbs.”

Rest in peace Mr. Gibson and thanks for the memories — I’ve always loved you.

Quick thoughts on Game 2 of the World Series

Anyone else get the feeling that the Rangers are Texas toast?

I know, I know they’re only down 2-0 to the Giants in the World Series after tonight’s nightmarish 9-0 loss but San Francisco looks like an unstoppable force right now.

When dinosaurs like Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand are hammering you for big RBIs you know you’re in serious trouble.

Before the series started I picked the Giants to win it all in 6 games but I’m not sure the series is even going to get that far at this pace.

I don’t know exactly what “It” is but the Giants clearly have a lot more “It” than anyone can handle.

So how can the Rangers get back into this series?

1.  Enjoy some home cooking, plain and simple.  Has any team needed an off day and change of scenery in the World Series more than the Rangers?

They could probably use a week off in Cabo right about now after getting thrashed in front of America the past 2 games but 1 travel day will have to do for now.

Get back to Arlington, get Vlad back at DH and hit some balls into the jet stream that always seems to be blowing to the outfield in that park and try to score some runs early and often.

2.  Bring Cliff Lee back for Game 4 on short rest.

If you manage to win Game 3 Lee gives you a shot to tie the series.  If you lose Game 3 there’s no one else you’d rather have on the hill to try and stave off elimination.

You know Lee is dying to get back on the mound and prove his Game 1 loss was just a fluke.

The only worry with riding Lee so hard is that you might blow out his arm or burn him out for next season.  But if you’re the Rangers why should you care?  The Yankees are probably going to sign Lee as a free agent so you might as well ride him hard while you can.

3.  Get some hits with runners in scoring position.  The one thing the Rangers have been able to do all year is score runs but they’ve hit a wall against the Giants’ outstanding pitching staff.

A couple of big rallies in Game 3 could loosen this team up and get them back on a roll.

4.  Someone needs to tell Rangers manager Ron Washington that Neftali Feliz is available in the bullpen, he’s really freakin’ good and using him before the 9th inning isn’t like snorting a line of cocaine, you can do it all you want and no one’s going to get mad at you.

5.  Beat up on left-handed starting pitchers Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner.

Scratch that last thought.

Initially, I thought Texas’ right-handed heavy lineup would welcome a chance to tee off on San Francisco’s southpaws this weekend but a quick look at the regular season stats reveal that Texas had a slash line of .280/.343/.429/.772 vs RHP but hit just .266/.326/.391/.718 vs LHP.

So much for that idea, I still think the Rangers aren’t going to make a return trip to San Francisco.

On to some random thoughts about Game 2 and the series …

* Wash made the right call by starting David Murphy in the outfield instead of iron-gloved Vlad Guerrero … not that it ultimately made any difference in Thursday night’s massacre.

* When I saw Wash had light-hitting Matt Treanor at catcher instead of not-quite-as-light-hitting Bengie Molina I couldn’t help but scratch my head.  But I guess that’s just what life is like when you pay close attention to Wash’s moves.

I understand that Treanor is starting pitcher C.J. Wilson’s caddy but Molina was coming off a productive night at the plate in Game 1 and you have to figure he gives you a little edge calling the game because he knows the Giants so well.

Let’s face it, the Treanor’s only claim to fame is being Misty Mays’ husband.

* I continue to be amused that $126 million man Barry Zito isn’t even on the Giants’ postseason roster and $60 million man Aaron Rowand  is simply a bench player.   How many teams, other than maybe the Yankees and Red Sox, could afford to carry $186 million in dead weight and make it to the World Series?

Who knows how good the Giants could be if general manager Brian Sabean spent money on free agents as well as he drafts amateurs and trolls the waiver wire?

* Is there a single move Giants manager Bruce Bochy has made in the postseason that hasn’t worked?  I’m starting to get the feeling that he could turn in a lineup card with the head groundskeeper at AT&T Park penciled in as his cleanup hitter and get a couple of RBIs out of him on the way to a 2-0 win.  Amazing.

Time to enjoy the off day and see what unfolds in Texas.

Quick thoughts on Game 1 of the World Series

Well that was totally unexpected.

So much for the low-scoring pitching showdown between Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum in Game 1 of the World Series between the Rangers and Giants.

The Giants are up 1-0 in the series after winning Game 1, 11-7.

Gotta love how baseball never fails to surprise you right when you think you know what’s coming.

* Note to Rangers manager Ron Washington:  Teach Ian Kinsler how to run the bases like a pro and bench Vlad Guerrero.  Kinsler’s wide turn at first that led to an easy out and Vlad’s sad excuse for defense in right field were just brutal to watch.  Giving away outs kills you in October when there’s no margin for error.

* I can’t put my finger on it but for some reason I don’t have a lot of faith in Texas’ Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson.  San Francisco will throw a lot of right handed bats at him and since they pounded Lee they should be able to handle Wilson.  You know he’s going to walk some guys and the Giants have had a knack for making the most of their opportunities in the postseason.

* What got into the Giants hitters?  I saw that Barry Bonds was at the ballpark, did he slip everyone some steroids?  Crazy but damn entertaining.

* What were the Rangers thinking when they added relief pitcher Mark Lowe to the postseason roster?  He’s been on the disabled list since they acquired him in the Cliff Lee trade.  He should be on a rehab assignment, not pitching in the World Series after such a long layoff.

* Speaking of pitchers with a little too much time off to deal with, does anyone else think that having 8 days off had a little something to do with Lee’s subpar performance?  I can’t wait to see how he looks in his next start.  The Giants better enjoy tagging him for 6 earned runs in less than 5 innings while they can.

* I’ll give the Rangers credit for continuing to grind it out and put runs on the board after Lee got knocked out of the game and it looked like the Giants were on their way to winning a laugher.  Getting closer Brian Wilson into the game could pay off big in Game 2 if it gets down to a battle of the bullpens.

* What a fun, emotional rollercoaster ride in Game 1.  One minute you have to wonder how the Rangers are going to handle getting shelled and then a few innings later they’re mounting a longshot threat to get back into the game in the 9th inning.

At that point you had to wonder what the Giants were thinking.  They scored more runs than their mediocre lineup usually puts up in 2 weeks and they still had to hold on for dear life.

Hopefully that’s an indication that this series is going to go down to the wire every night.

Want to attend the World Series? Prepare to empty your bank account

If you’re a lifelong, die-hard San Francisco Giants fan with a modest amount of disposable income and you want to be in the stands for the World Series against the Texas Rangers I have one thing to say:  Good luck with that.

Want tickets?  Too bad.  They’re already  sold out and going for thousands of dollars online.

Don’t believe me?  Take a look for yourself.

When standing room only tickets are going for more than $400 a piece it’s time to make plans to get comfortable in front of the TV on gameday even if that means putting up with annoying Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

Now I understand that the ticket prices that are getting headlines are from the resale market and if you managed to go online fast enough all you had to pay was face value.

But even at face value buying tickets to the World Series is a major blow to the pocketbook for most people.

The fact that Giants tickets sold out in just 15 minutes shows that most fan’s odds of getting tickets to a game are smaller than Eddie Gaedel‘s strike zone.

Not exactly the most family friendly thing I’ve ever heard of.

I’ll admit that the postseason ticket price gouge is nothing new.

When I was single and had money to burn the high prices were annoying but they never prevented me from going to a postseason game.

It was a no-brainer back then that I was going to buy playoff tickets every time the Oakland A’s made the postseason behind the dominant pitching of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.

But now that I’m a father I have a different take on things.  Money is tight in our household and every family outing has to fit into our tiny budget.

My yearly spring training trips and A’s season tickets vanished right around the time that mortgage payments and diapers came into my life.

I’m finally starting to figure out why I never attended a World Series game with my parents when I was a kid in the late-’80s.   It was probably just too expensive for them to pull off.

It’s disappointing to think that if my kids become die-hard A’s fans and the team makes it to the World Series someday that there’s almost no way I’ll be able to afford to take them to a game because  ticket prices are out of control.

Of course, if you want to kick me while the A’s are down  you can argue that I’ll probably never have to worry about that for several reasons:

1.  You could make a case that recent history suggests that the A’s may never get to another World Series.   I beg to differ, but if you want to give me a bad time that’s a good place to start since the team has been an also-ran for several seasons.

2.  You could also say that my kids won’t have any reason to grow up as A’s fans because Oakland doesn’t keep its star players around long enough for anyone to get emotionally invested in the franchise.

That argument might actually hold a lot of water.

I grew up cheering for Rickey Henderson and the powerful clubs managed by Tony LaRussa and if there’s one thing you can say about the owners of those A’s teams it’s that they kept their top players.

Back then the A’s drew close to 3 million fans a year but now the ballpark is a ghost town most of the time.   It’s hard not to see a clear connection between ownership spending money to keep a talented roster together and ticket sales.

3.   Here’s another point you could make in calming my fears that I won’t be able to get a hold of affordable A’s World Series tickets for my family:  No one goes to A’s games anymore.

If Oakland ever makes it back to the World Series there’s a chance that I could walk up to the ticket window on the day of a game and get in.

According to a friend of mine that’s exactly what it was like in the 1970s when Oakland won 3 world titles in a row.

4.  Here’s one more thing someone could throw in my face when I stress out over the thought of missing out on A’s World Series tickets in the future:  The team may not even be in the Bay Area by the time the A’s make it back to the World Series.

That’s a painful thought but it’s not hard to see how the A’s could end up on the move.

My gut feeling is that a new ballpark will never be built in Oakland and I’ll believe in a San Jose stadium for the A’s when I see it.

The bottom line is that the steep price of World Series tickets puts them out of reach of most middle class fans with families which is really disappointing.  Scalpers will always have a leg up on a family guy sitting at his home computer frantically trying to log in to a team’s Web site fast enough to buy a couple of tickets.

Major League Baseball obviously has no shame in bumping up ticket prices through every round of the playoffs.

And as long as there are people crazy enough to pay what the league and scalpers demand there’s no reason for prices to ever come down to a level where an average family can stretch their budget a little bit to go to a World Series game without mortgaging their future.

Every baseball fan dreams about seeing their team play in the World Series but at these prices it’s clearly no family affair.

Article first published as Want to Attend the 2010 World Series? Prepare to Empty Your Bank Account on Blogcritics.

The World Series through the eyes of an A’s fan

For the most part I’ve been able to throughly enjoy the Major League Baseball playoffs through the eyes of a baseball fan but now that the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers is right around the corner I’m going to get back to my green and gold roots and look at the series through the eyes of a die-hard A’s fan.

* If I have to watch the Giants win a World Series I can handle this team bringing home a trophy a lot more than I ever would have stomached watching the 2002 San Francisco team win it all.  Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent were amazing players but they were sour personalities who clearly couldn’t stand each other and it took away from that team’s vibe.  This season’s Giants roster is full of great young pitchers and castoff position players who all seem to genuinely like each other and the fans are feeding off of that.  It’s refreshing to see and the passionate crowds at AT&T Park have lovingly embraced this team in a way the 2002 team probably never knew.

* If I have to watch an American League other than the A’s win it all I’d be delighted to see former Oakland third base coach Ron Washington get a ring.  The painful part is knowing Wash was the right man for the A’s managerial job back when general manager Billy Beane gave Ken Macha the boot.  Beane got the weak yes man he wanted in Bob Geren and Wash got a chance to be himself in Texas and the Rangers clearly adore the man.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

* One of the worst parts about the Giants making the World Series is having to look at closer Brian Wilson for 1 more week.  I respect him for the fierce competitor and successful closer he’s become after losing his dad to cancer when he was a kid but I just can’t stand the sight of the guy.  Lame mohawk, goofy post-save celebration and that absurd Just For Men beard.  The next time the cameras zoom in gaze into his eyes when he pitches and you’ll see that he looks like he’s absolutely nuts.  Typical crazy closer.

* I saw on Twitter that local radio broadcaster Martie Lurie briefly made a case for adding former A’s star Barry Zito to the Giants’ roster for the World Series and all I can say is that’s a horrible idea.   Just a dreadful thought.  This Giants team is rolling and they’ve done all of it without Zito.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Let’s just pretend that the Giants made it this far thanks to Zito’s clutch work as a cheerleader and leave him in that role.

*  Former A’s reliever Santiago Casilla is a key member of a World Series team.  I can’t believe I typed that without the world ending in a ball of flame around me.  Casilla always had a live arm while he was in Oakland but he was never able to display any consistency in finding the strike zone.  Every time he takes the mound for the Giants I expect him to melt down but so far he’s managed to keep it together.  We’ll see if that can last through the World Series.

* Is it painful to see former A’s prospect Nelson Cruz crushing the ball for Texas?  I covered all this in a previous blog (https://junkball.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/i-wish-the-as-could-develop-some-hitters-for-oakland/) but it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s hard to watch Cruz help carry the Rangers to the World Series.

* One more painful thing to see as an A’s fan: Colby Lewis developing into a valuable starter for the Rangers.  Lewis made a mediocre pass through the A’s organization before heading to Japan for a couple of years where he got his career together before returning to the states as a free agent.  Oakland showed a little interest in Lewis before he signed with Texas last offseason but instead of getting Lewis the A’s ended up signing Justin Duchscherer and Ben Sheets who predictably got hurt.  Oakland finished the season with a .500 record while Lewis proved to be a solid bargain for the AL West champs.

* It’s times like these that bandwagon fans drive me up the wall.  Early in the season when the Giants were just puttering along in the National League I could go out and see a little bit of orange and black on people.  Now when I run errands it seems like every other person is wearing Giants gear.  You know in your gut that a ton of them just signed on as fans over the past couple of months and probably know more about the menu at Panda Express than they do about Pablo “Panda” Sandoval’s stats.  I know it’s innocent, well intentioned, perfectly natural and you see it every time a team gets hot in the playoffs but it never gets any less annoying.

* Another thought that goes through my head is how the heck did Giants general manager Brian Sabean get to the World Series?

On an intellectual level it’s easy to see how the Giants got to this point.

They were mediocre/terrible during a 7-year playoff drought which got them some premium draft picks and they’ve done a superb job on draft day.  Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Brian Wilson and Buster Posey are all homegrown talents.

The rest of the roster has been filled in with veterans via trades and free agent signings.

When you do that and everything breaks right you pile up wins and make a run in October which makes perfect sense.

But on an emotional level it’s hard not to look at what Sabes has accomplished this season and shake your head in disbelief.

San Francisco’s payroll is pushing $100 million but the lineup is full of castoffs.  Most of that money is tied up in stiffs like Barry Zito, Aaron Rowand and Edgar Renteria.

Their contracts looked like a bad idea several years ago and they look even worse now.

Sometimes it seems like Sabean is winning in spite of himself.

With so much money committed to players who are arguably sunk costs Sabes has been forced to roll the dice on bargain bin players like Andres Torres, Pat Burrell, Juan Uribe and Cody Ross.

Amazingly, he’s hit it big with almost every move despite the odds.

The man is on the verge of dumpster diving his way to a world title.  How incomprehensible is that?

Is that just smarts or is it all dumb luck?

It’s probably a little bit of both and all you can do is tip your hat to the man now that he’s built a World Series team twice in his career.

Now it’s time to sit back , relax and see how the World Series plays out.

Article first published as The 2010 World Series Through the Eyes of an A’s Fan on Blogcritics.

Get Coach Singletary some new glasses

After another dreadful 49ers loss, this time to the formerly winless Carolina Panthers, head coach Mike Singletary did his usual hot air-filled thing during his post-game news conference and answered a lot of basic questions with his “I have to go look at the game film” B.S.

What the heck is the Hall of Fame linebacker looking at when he’s coaching the 49ers on Sunday?

I don’t think you should have to carefully look at film to answer some simple questions about why the team is such an incompetent mess.

The coach should try paying a little more attention to what’s happening in front of him on the field and look in the mirror every once and a while.

If he does those two simple things he should have all the answers he needs the next time a reporter asks him what’s wrong with the 49ers.