Let the games begin

The stadium is opening to the welcoming scent of grilled hotdogs, melting lipstick from this year’s model of baseball groupies and the colorful collection of orange and black fans clustered onto their seats. We are all looking for a glimpse of Madbum, a new Tim Lincecum, the patched up Matt Cain and the rest of our boys.

Let the games begin.

It’s only spring training, and we face that mossback green and yellow of the Oakland A’s. If the clown colors fail to make your toes curl, then perhaps the memories of overflowing sewage, trolling fans and playoff failures will. This time, however, the A’s will come with Barry Zito. Forget all those horrible seasons. He was our guy in 2012.

Let’s give him a hand.

Now sit down and start commenting. We welcome everyone. This isn’t the oddly monitored Splash. VK has no control here.

Play ball!

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Here Comes the Clock–But It May Turn Out More or Less OK, as Replay Did


New rules this year will speed the games. Clocks on the scoreboard and behind the plate will check the time between innings. If a pitcher hasn’t finished his warm up pitches when the alarm goes off, too bad. Also I believe batters will be timed as they walk up and dig in; and pitchers will be timed as they respond. The players may get fined if they dog it. Be interesting to see Pablo Sandoval in Boston doing his batter’s-box dance in double-time.

A clock, in baseball? Well, it applies mainly when time has already been called. If time’s in, what’s wrong with a clock to make sure the delay doesn’t drag on? I suspect it’ll work out fine, more or less the way replay worked out.

Some bad things happened. One of the oddest I know about occurred during an a’s v. Blue Jays game on 7/3. Bases loaded, the Blue Jay batter hit a ball to the firstbaseman, who tried to tag the runner going from first to second. The umpire at second indicated that the tag had missed, so the firstbaseman hurled the ball home, where it arrived before the runner from third did, and the catcher had his foot on the plate. Force out at home, right? No. The Jays’ manager challenged the call on his runner going to second, claiming that he was OUT, therefore the run counted because there was no longer a force play at home. After a 4 1/2 minute replay, the umps agreed with the Jays’ manager — runner on second was out before reaching the bag, and the run counted because the catcher hadn’t tagged the guy who came home. Think the catcher was happy about that turn of events?

But some good things happened, too, including one of the most beautiful DPs in World Series History. Best part about that long replay review was that every viewer in the world got to see Panik and Crawford in slomo over and over making that wonderful play.

Change is only something new. Progress, well progress is ok.

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I spent some insomniac time researching the international signing bonus “pools” and “slots”–the system mlb and the union have devised to regulate the int’l market for young players until they figure out how to build an extraterritorial draft (or until they figure out a better provisional non-draft system–because this one sucks).  Teams get ranked by record, as in the regular draft, so that the recent winners like the a’s and Giants have less money in their “pool” to pay for signings.  (Teams get sliding-scale “slot” money too, which they can “trade.” Someone else can track that down.)

Anyway, the top “pool,” for Houston or some team like that, was slightly over $5M last year.  “Slot” amounts are lower, so you’re looking at less than $10M max, I guess. There’s a penalty, or tax, imposed if a team blows by its pool amount.  So, not being able to sign 19-year old Yoan Moncada to a major league contract under the new system, a team will need to pay him a $40M (est.) “signing bonus.” That team, apparently, then would have to pay as much as a 100% penalty.  Here’s what I think is the strange part–the tax money goes into an ancillary mlb fund used to develop international operations. Nobody expected that fund to grow large, so it’s not clear what mlb will do with the $40M Moncada windfall.

BaseballAmerica and Fangraphs both have a bunch of detailed articles on this stuff.  I haven’t sorted out how the US government’s relaxed approach to Cuban players (announced last week, I believe) further throws the signing-bonus system out of balance.

$80M–for a 19 year old?  Perhaps there’s a silver lining: maybe after signing he’ll get no more than the mlb minimum $1/2M in salary for a few years, keeping the lucky team under the entirely separate luxury tax cap.  But that’s a guess.

I welcome additional scholarship on these issues.  (This effort cured my insomnia.)

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Just too clear; just in time for the 2015 Super Bowl.  Junior Seau, 1969 — 2012, has been inducted into the nfl HOF.  RIP.

Maybe I’m getting old, but I don’t enjoy football as much as I used to.  Seems as if every series of downs there’s a guy limping off, or being carted off, the field.

Pitchers and catchers report soon.  Let those games begin.

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Giants Nation? 2014-15 Winter Hibernation.

Somebody toss a Paloma or a M-80 into Sabean’s cave, make sure he awakens in time to get to Fan Fest, where he’ll likely see a park full of puzzled, but respectful, looking fans.  The return of Cain and Pagan = two major off-season moves?  Hudson’s ankle’ll be ok?  In any event, I find it difficult to whine or complain about the Giants these days.

Maybe this is what it’s like to be a Giants fan in 2015.  Great writer Robert Stone, who died a week ago, told this story on NPR. I heard it rebroadcast the other night while I drove home. During his days with Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, Stone (like everyone else) had to endure huge surprise doses of LSD that Neal Cassady slipped into food and drink. Stone thought Cassady was committing “acts of violence,” because acid is strong stuff. You never know how an individual may react. Stone gave as an example a time when he knowingly dropped acid. He said that he peaked for a very long time. He finally got to sleep after collapsing from sheer exhaustion. When he woke, his lower jaw hurt like hell. Afraid that he’d somehow seriously injured himself while he’d been tripping, he ran to a mirror. He flexed his jaw and so forth, inspected everything inside and out, and finally realized what had happened. He had spent 12 hours smiling.

So that’s sort of where we are, isn’t it? Personally, I spent many weeks smiling about the Giants’ triumph and now, waking from hibernation, I find my jaw hurts. No big deal. It may take me a while to get used to the new lineup being the old lineup, with a guy from Santa Cruz playing 3B. But it’ll be fine. At least I’ll have baseball games on the radio while I drive home from work.

PS–just after I wrote the above, the Giants picked up Nori Aoki to play LF. I like that move, right now anyway.

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Hot Stove & Links for the week of 1-5-2015 to 1-11-2015

January 6, 2015

11:02 a.m.


January 5, 2015

2:51 p.m.
— Per Jeff Wilson (Fort Worth Star-Telegram), INF ADAM ROSALES has signed a 1 yr./$900k deal with the Rangers.
— Per Jon Heyman, NICK HUNDLEY has signed a 2 yr./$6.5m deal with the Rockies.

7:19 a.m.
— Per Jon Heyman, EMILIO BONIFACIO has signed with the ChiSox @ 1 yr./$4m. Per Jim Bowden, the ChiSox have now spent $132m this off season

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Hot stove & l inks for the week of 12-30-2014 to 12-6-2014

December 30, 2014

11:18 a.m.
MADISON BUMGARNER has been named AP Male Athlete of the Year.

9:50 a.m.
— Per multiple sources, ASDRUBAL CABRERA has signed a 1-year deal with the Rays.
😥 From ESPN, Strange But True feats of 2014
😂 From The Onion, Catcher Keeps Signaling ‘I Love You’

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