The Warm Fuzzy Feeling of Doom

I now know how the Cincinnati Bengals felt in Super Bowl XXIII with 3 minutes to play.

I now know how the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz felt the second they took the court and saw the guy with #23 on his Bulls uniform.

Doomed. 

At the same time, I painfully rejoiced over what it feels like to be a Giants fan and that’s living with the guarantee of a late inning collapse.

Matt Cain did his part to prevent the inevitable with a 7-inning, 2-hit shutout performance, but the bullpen did a lovely job of not finding the strike zone and generally looking miserable.  (To think that Armando Benitez had no part in this chokejob is almost unimaginable!)

Giants fans can thank Vinnie Chulk, Jonathan Sanchez and Kevin Correia for gagging this one.  Thank you, guys.  You’re peaches.

It would be easy to deflect my anger by ripping apart the Colorado Rockies.  I could call them a joke franchise or say that their park is for mouthbreather fans (or the 4000 or so mouthbreathing fans who decide to show up) and I won’t even get into the Christmas trees in the bullpen.  I’m above that.  There is no need to divert my anger by pointing out that the Rockies have lame purple jerseys. 

The Giants get and deserve the full brunt of my wrath (but if you read what I write enough, you already knew that).  The second I saw Matt Cain sitting on the bench in the 7th inning getting pats on the back with a three run lead was enough to make me groan and squirm.  The anger already began to brew and here’s why:

  1. 3 runs is never enough in Coors Field because the park blows.
  2. 3 runs is never enough in Coors Field when you are a member of the San Francisco Giants bullpen.
  3. 789529870262498 runs is never enough in Coors Field when Armando Benitez is the San Francisco Giants’ closer.

Admittedly, the bullpen alone didn’t entirely blow the game.  They did have Pedro Feliz yet again making a case for my pregnant wife to take his place in the line-up.  (Brian Sabean?  Can you read this?  HOW ABOUT THIS?  IS THIS BETTER?  IT IS?  GOOD.  READ THIS:  PEDRO FELIZ STINKS.)  Even Feliz, though, didn’t manage to allow a homerun to Steve Finley and walk two batters.  Man, the walks.

When the game was ultimately blown, I was incensed for sure, but the relative calmness that enveloped me was the feeling of doom.  Doom is now a comfort as a Giants fan because it’s a known feeling that has made a metamorphosis into a safe feeling.  Doom is my knitted blanket that keeps me warm while watching the Giants throw another season down the toilet.

Now bring on the Cardinals!

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****: Brief Observances of the Giants’ Face Plant

-That was certainly worth the wait, wasn’t it? 

-Pedro Feliz’s every movement, breath, fart or whatever brings A-Rod an inch closer to San Francisco in 2008. 

-Zito wasn’t awful, but walking Jose Cruz, Jr.!?  Anyone but that guy!

-Giants fans, stop booing when Barry Bonds gets walked.  To those listeners calling KNBR and saying what a beautiful day it was regardless of the game’s outcome, stifle it.  You sound like the people East Coast fans say we are.  Knock it off.

-Randy Winn = Bust.

-I am more of #5 hitter than Rich Aurilia.

-The pregame show MC’d by a tuxedo’d Jon Miller was the best production Giants management has staged in my nearly 35 years of existence.  Sadly, they know how to produce a good song-and-dance act rather than a championship team.  Maybe Magowan should just run "Avenue Q" at A.T.&T. Park nightly and forget baseball.

-Renel Brooks-Moon isn’t Bob Sheppard.  It’s great that San Francisco is a progressive city but the voice of a baseball game shouldn’t be shrill.  The PA announcer experiment is over.

-Jeffrey Leonard is the only guy who can take the field at an old timers event with his hat on backwards and pull it off.

-I am still surprised to see Mike Cameron’s head in one piece.

-Will Clark has gotten to know Krispy Kremes very well during retirement.

-I’m thrilled that Bonds stole a base.  I’m even more thrilled to see him not attempt a slide at the plate.

-Mayor Gavin Newsom stayed from the first pitch to the last, perhaps thinking that chicks dig the long ball and civics.

-Try watching Barry Zito pitch while sitting next to an A’s fan.  If you haven’t set yourself on fire within 2/3rds of an inning, consider buying a lottery ticket.  An A’s fan is the dumped-girlfriend-trying-to-put-on-a-brave-face (and failing) in the Bay Area.

-Lance Niekro is like the last season of "Family Ties" with all the retrospective episodes:  He grabs a bat.  He strikes out.  Press repeat.

-Armando Benitez gets to sleep tonight knowing that, for one day, the other relievers ****** more than he does.

-From Yankee Fan Ken:  "Zito relies too much on his curve.  If it’s not working he is average.  It’s not working today."  Is there anything more infuriating than a Yankee fan who’s right?

-There’s only 161 more to go and they’d better turn it around, like, now.

Take It to the Bank: 2007 MLB Season Predictions

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Keith makes his picks for the coming year in baseball and helps himself get closer to a free dinner in Vegas.

April 1 — I couldn’t care less what this post does for my journalistic integrity because there’s far more at stake with these predictions for the 2007 Major League Baseball season.

If my picks come closer to fruition than my buddy Ken’s, then it’s a free no-holds-barred, 5-star dinner in Las Vegas sometime in January 2008  Even better, it’s relentless smack-talk at Ken’s expense in front of our other friends and making the whole experience like a new inmate’s first night in Shawshank.

If I lose, then I might as well come to dinner wearing nothing but powdered lye and carrying a bible provided by the warden because it will be hard time served in the southern Nevada desert.

Prediction?  Pain.

The American League Eastern Division Champions:  The New York Yankees.  Alex Rodriguez earns the right to be called A-Rod this year.
The American League Central Division Champions:  The Minnesota Twins.  Pesky and good.
The American League Western Division Champions:  The Anaheim Angels.  However, no one would be happier than me to watch these guys suffer season-long incontinence.  I’ll never forget 2002, nor should any San Francisco Giants fan.
The American League Wild Card:  The Boston Red Sox.  They’re still hung-over from 2004 but they’ll do damage.
The National League Eastern Division Champions:  The New York Mets.  Meet them and greet them (but watch them fall just short in October).
The National League Central Division Champions:  The St. Louis Cardinals.  Tony, put the Korbel down, wake up and realize that you have enough money from your contract AND last year’s World Series share to hire a driver.  Idiot!
The National League Western Division Champions:  The Los Angeles Dodgers.  Heave.  Gag.  Barf.  Vomit.  Any one else sick of Jeff Kent’s smug mug?
The National League Wild Card:  The San Francisco Giants.  They’re just dysfunctional enough to stave off Philly!  Sadly, you won’t call the Giants 2007 World Series Champions.

Now, it gets good.  (# of Games it takes to win the series is positioned to the right of predicted winner.)

A.L.C.S.:  New York Yankees (5) vs. Boston Red Sox.  A-Rod makes Jeter jealous for a fleeting second.
N.L.C.S.:  New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (6).  Ugh, pull my throat out and stab my eyes already!!!!
2007 World Series:  Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Yankees (6).  Unfortunately these teams can’t emulate the endings of "Reservoir Dogs" or "The Departed" and off each other.  Sadly, one team has to win and the Evil Empire it is.

And now the awards that people care about (especially when their teams have been pummeled and they need to hang their hat on something):

American League Cy Young Award Winner:  Johan Santana.  He’s good.
National League Cy Young Award Winner:  Barry Zito.  Honest to God.
American League Batting Champion:  Derek Jeter.  Does anything more need to be said about him?
National League Batting Champion:  Miguel Cabrera.  He wants money.
American League Home Run King:  Alex Rodriguez.  I swear this guy shows he’s for real this year.
National League Home Run King:  Barry Bonds.  Just kidding.  Alfonso Soriano. 
American League Rookie-of-the-Year:  Daisuke Matsuzaka, RHP Boston Red Sox.  Hickory dickory dock, the Dice Man cometh.
National League Rookie-of-the-Year:  Chris Young, CF Arizona Diamondbacks.  Why not?

Ken, I take my prime rib medium rare.  Bring it.

So Easy, Even a San Francisco Giants Fan Can Do It.

Geico Cavemen aren’t the only ones getting it stuck to them.  Here’s how to get past the oppression and enjoy the season to come.

So this is what I get from the boss regarding my last column:  “The other thing is we just wanted to ask that we keep the off-color jokes to a minimum.  We didn’t change anything this time, but this season we really are pushing for a larger audience (and [we] will see Foxsports.com picking up more of our stuff; so yea [sic], prostitute jokes [as seen in “Your San Francisco Giants:  Excitement or Excrement?”] may not help.)”

Now I have to worry about propriety and decency when it comes to FOX, the network who brought you “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?”, “When Animals Attack”, “The Simple Life” and the Iraq war.

It occurred to me as I got admonished that I am a lowly Giants fan:  Primitive, simple and expected to accomplish only base achievements.  I’ll grunt, huck a bone in the air when pleased with a win by the Giants in May and then drag my knuckles in shame as my team finishes (again) without a World Series championship.  I and my kind are the Geico Cavemen of the baseball world.

By gleaning the hostile quotes from the cavemen, we can get an idea of the Paleolithic existence of a San Francisco Giants fan:

Caveman1“Okay, first of all, I’m not 100% in love with your tone right now.”
And why should I be?  I have to worry about editors ragging on me for decency standards and then I’m coping with the defensive tenor of Brian Sabean.  So says Sabean regarding his tired blueprint of building around Barry Bonds and relying on veterans yet again:  “It’s the way it turned out.  If there’s rancor, so be it, but it’s going to get decided on the field.”

“So be it”!?  I’d be 100% in love with Sabean’s tone if he simply took the podium and said, “We signed Bonds to sell tickets.  The managing partners want to continue to rake in cash hand over fist and Bonds makes the casual fan/Google-dorks buy club level seats.”

Caveman2 “Tina’s here we’re getting back together.”
“Hey, give us a minute!”
Rich Aurilia and Russ Ortiz are back in the fold, but let’s not start skipping and blowing kisses to each other just yet.  These guys aren’t the same players who Giants fans adored a half-decade ago.  Just put them on the field and see what they can do, but don’t expect cartwheels from the fan base until they put up solid production and contributions.  We’ve got other **** to worry about, like not ever winning a World Series for one.

Caveman3_2 "My mother’s calling.  I’ll put it on speaker."
Like our caveman who handles his cell phone in his therapist’s office, Giants fans are capable of multi-tasking and handling complex concepts, such as invigorated baseball smack.  We are not all left-leaning, tree-saving non-competitors who would rather watch a game well played than care about the outcome.  You can throw us right into the cesspool of other fans who think they’re God’s gift to baseball, like the Yankee louts or the Philly ****** or the Cubby losers.  Not only can we talk the talk, we can make sense.  Giants fans boo Armando Benitez because he deserves it.  Yankee fans boo A-Rod because they’re idiots.  We don’t have the #1 market in the country, nor do we have ESPN in our backyard, but Giants fans can dish it out responsibly when the chips are down without the whine factor.

Caveman4 "I’ll have the roast duck with the mango salsa."
"I don’t have much of an appetite, thank you."
I admit it.  I am excited about this year’s team but as my friends remind me on a daily basis, we all know how this is going to end.  The Cactus League makes me throw all rationale out the door and the team I see now is one that makes me kind of tilt my head, nod and say, "Yeah, they might have enough to get to the playoffs!"  I want to slovenly devour the sumptuous dish known as 2007 Giants baseball, yet history demonstrates that I should turn away from this steaming pile that the Giants front office always re-heats and throws in front of me.  I’m such a ****** and the poster child for placated fans.  I take back what I said about NY, Philly and Cubby fans.  Sort of.

"Seriously, 4 feet by 5 feet… Well apparently not because I’m looking right at it."
Caveman5Yes, I know they got Barry Zito to be the face of the franchise and I liked the signing of the speedy Dave Roberts, but this team in desperate need of an overhaul still isn’t overhauled.  The big sign still reads, “New Faces, Same Product” and there isn’t a lot you can do to convince me otherwise.  Don’t tell me the sign’s been taken down.  The AARP-eligible line-up, the absence of a closer since Robb Nen and the over-reliance on Bonds is staring at me plain as day.  The formula hasn’t worked since J.T. Snow got blocked, flogged and tagged by Ivan Rodriguez in the ’03 NLDS.  Granted, Sabean landed Barry Zito, but it is still Bonds’ team and the business plan for the construction and maintenance of the roster is stale.

Stop the subjugation of the Giants fan, whether that’s in print, a round-table baseball discussion or even if you’re the very person responsible for fielding the team we love.  We look funny, but there’s nothing funny about our plight.

And, no, I didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the rock.

Your 2007 San Francisco Giants: Excitement or Excrement?

Five easy and mega-paper thin keys to the Giants taking it to the house! 

LOS GATOS, CA (Not Scottsdale, AZ, where Keith should be) – The off-season: now that’s more like it!  There’s nothing like the signing of $126 million left-handed starting pitcher who’s currently doinking Hilary Duff to rile me out of my journalistic slumber.

I’m back and blindly if not hopelessly optimistic.  I feel like one of those drunk guys who hoop and holler at passing cars on "Taxicab Confessions."

What’s not to love about a team that has Barry Zito, a Matt Cain with 2 years of MLB experience (and a new contract extension) and a seething, sociopathic and un-indicted clean-up hitter?! 

I love the effort of General Manager Brian Sabean to revitalize the image of the franchise and I’ve bought into the team’s PR machine hook, line and sinker.  As a 34-year-old male who’s watched this team since I’ve breathed out of my nose, I’ve reserved the right.  But, as any Giants fan with a memory, I have plenty of reservations.  No one who has watched Giants baseball can go into the 2007 season without a tinge of nervous nausea and an anticipation of heartbreak. 

Regardless and to wit, here are the keys of a successful Giants season (which doesn’t include my good luck ritual of standing behind my coffee table or couch during the late innings):

One: Armando Benitez is gone.  Traded, released, whatever, but don’t talk to me about "Who else would be your closer?" **** because the guy is a complete pile.  Scott Garrelts, present day, is better than this clown show.  I (meaning me) will close out the ninth with more strikes and less booing than Benitez.  Granted, my delivery and velocity don’t exactly match John Smoltz’s in ’95 but they’re more convincing than Tom Cruise’s when he’s playing catch with his son in "War of the Worlds," i.e., shot-put meets Scientology girliness.

Other than using me, the Giants should take a page out of the Red Sox’s playbook by turning young phenom, Tim Lincecum, into a 2007 version of Jonathan Papelbon.  Close him this year, start him next.  Done.  Let Benitez go infect another franchise with his balky legs and even worse work ethic.  If all else fails, consider bringing in Isabella Soprano of HBO’s "Cathouse" to close out the 9th inning.  Her outfit alone would be good for at least two outs.

Two:  Everyone whose name surrounds Barry Bonds on the line-up card kills.  I didn’t say, "Produces."  I said, "Kills." 

Three:  The middle relief carries a solid load.  Zito can breeze through 7 innings without breaking a sweat but he can also get bombed for 10 runs in 2+ innings.  If disaster strikes, new manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti will grab the bullpen phone with more urgency than a 12-year-old girl does to vote for "American Idol."  (By the way, LaKisha wins going away.  I mean, come on!!!  She’s incredible.)  This question-mark riddled group of relievers must bring resiliency and focus to the mound.  You would think those attributes would be givens but it’s amazing how many relief pitchers take the ball with no plan in mind (SEE:  Armando Benitez).

Four:  Pedro Feliz doesn’t swing at a pitch that looks like my three year-old’s first unwitting attempt at throwing a slider. The pitchers that Feliz is facing are paid millions to throw strikes.  Swing at the strikes.  When a conventioneer goes to Vegas, does he immediately give in to the hooker with visible stretch marks, smoker-stained teeth and fat rolls?  The seasoned ones don’t, or so I hear.  That outside slider that he bites on every time is the Major League equivalent to the D-List Vegas escort.  Since breaking into the Bigs in 2000, isn’t it time for Feliz to look like a Major League hitter, and -for goddsakes!- stop trying to pull every single pitch into a 6-4-3 double play?!  And what’s with my second mentioning of the world’s oldest profession?  My wife’s going to be thrilled with this post.

Five:  Hit the weights, run the track and eat your vitamins.  This team is still old and can break down at any given second.  It’s clear that they need to remain healthy and, if they do, the cream will rise to the top of the division.  Stay healthy by any means necessary and when George Mitchell’s not looking.  (I should write code for the NSA!)

Are my five keys too much to ask?  Probably.  When you read them from your couch, though, they’re so easy to imagine!  You can envision it and absorb it all into your version of reality. 

March and the first game of Spring Training will do that to you.  I guess that’s why they play real games in April through October.