What do Bruce Bochy, Xavier Nady, Brandon Belt, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Mike Krukow, and Mark Grant have in common?
Nady, Bochy, Belt
My wife and I drove from San Diego to Emeryville last weekend to make an appearance at the final stop on the BP2012 book tour. The event was a blast because, really, what beats hanging out with friends, talking about baseball? Watching a game, I suppose. Or playing. If we'd had people sign waivers, maybe we could have gotten a wiffle ball game going. But probably not.
I had prepared trivia questions in case we ran out of things to discuss. We didn't, but since I've already written the questions, here are their answers. They all have a Bay Area theme:
Did Bruce Bochy step over the line in having an opponent's scout removed from a team practice?
There was not a whole lot of bad blood between the Giants and Angels coming out of the 2002 World Series, and a decade later, the wounds inflicted on this then-12-year-old fan have mostly healed. The sight of a rally monkey still makes me cringe, but there is no longer any internal debate as to which Los Angeles-area franchise I find less tolerable.
With pitching the name of the series, one manager used a plethora of starters to try to get a win.
Upsets don't leave everyone upset. When you get baseball as beautiful as Saturday night's tension-drenched contest between the Giants and the Phillies, you get an uncomplicated reminder that the game's great glory is that it can produce drama that has nothing to do with who's doing what, and everything to do with what's being done.
Despite last night's heroics, Bruce Bochy's misuse of Fred Lewis may be a key reason the Giants will miss the postseason.
Fred Lewis was the lead in the AP game story about the Giants' 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks last night. Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth, Lewis hit a ground ball to second base that well could have been an inning-ending double play. He beat out the relay throw to first, however, which allowed the go-ahead run to score. The Giants' bullpen held onto the lead over the last six outs, moving the team to four games behind the wild-card leading Rockies with 12 games to play.
The health and effectiveness of San Francisco's two famous Barrys will determine whether the aging squad can capture an NL West title in manager Bruce Bochy's first season.
Yet, Bochy decided to leave the Padres at the end of last season with one year left on his contract. He made the move after management declined to extend his deal, even though he'd led them to consecutive playoff appearances. The Padres instead gave Bochy their blessing when he sought the Giants' job after Felipe Alou's contract expired at the end of last season.
"I had a year left in San Diego and it wasn't like I was just looking to leave and going to go after just any job," Bochy said. "The San Francisco job was attractive to me. It's a great city, a great ballpark, and a franchise that is committed to winning year in and year out. I just thought it was the right situation for me at the right time in my life."
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
The San Diego Padres were the consensus sleeper pick of 2002, considered by many to be a team on the fast track, maybe even on pace to pattern the recent success of the Oakland A's. General Manager Kevin Towers and manager Bruce Bochy talked about the importance of plate discipline, of finding pitchers who throw strikes, and of improving the defense.