After renaming Pac Bell Park with the bland, nondescript SBC Park moniker, Executive Vice President, Larry Baer, stated, "SBC played a critical role in the development of our ballpark and helped to keep Major League Baseball in San Francisco. Our fans can continue to expect the same type of exciting contending Giants baseball and quality customer service they have enjoyed ever since we opened the park." Larry, I love what you've done with the team, but I want something a little better than "the same type" of Giants baseball. That "same type" of baseball has made my voice hoarse screaming at Dusty Baker for a decade and had my heart ripped out of my chest and shown to me after fun, little evenings in the 1997 NLDS, 1998 one game playoff, 2000 NLDS, Game 6 of the 2002 World Series (oh, my favorite!) and the final out of Game 4 of the 2003 NLDS. That's a busload of "the same type" of baseball, Larry. "The same type" of baseball made my wife cry when looking at my face after this year's NLDS. I couldn't speak for a half hour. I must have looked like the cover of the Scorpions' "Blackout" album. I want a "better type" of baseball. Good customer service, though. Thumbs up to the garlic fries and Krispy Kremes.
Post Season Accolades
Bonds' 6th MVP award means that the 21st Century has seen nothing but Giants as reigning MVP's. Former Giants 2B Jeff Kent won in 2000. Bonds triggered a contract incentive with the 2003 MVP award and gets to pocket a measly half million, by the way.
Another winner in the Giants family is Brian Sabean, as he became the fourth Giant to be named MLB's executive of the year. The others were Al Rosen in 1987, Spec Richardson in 1978 and Horace Stoneham in 1954. After the roster overhaul following 2002, he earned it. This year is going to make last year look like tiddlywinks. If he wins it next year, that should mean the Giants have finally won a World Series in SF as far as I'm concerned.
After two horrendous sequels, Neo is no longer The One. As far as I'm concerned, the true One is the free agent who can protect Barry's bat. After initial fears that payroll would stifle any significant off-season maneuverings, General Manager, Brian Sabean, is figuring out a way to cast off the driftwood while opening an opportunity to land a big piece of lumber. (And he's already begun by stealing Pierzynski a little over a week ago.) As a matter of fact, he isn't ruling out signing an elite free-agent hitter like either OF's Vladimir Guerrero and Gary Sheffield or SS Miguel Tejada. Before you bust out the welcome wagon for Vladimir, Sabean did say that he would pursue The One "in a more methodical fashion because of the number of free agents." Take your time, Brian. If you need a fluffy seat cushion or a ham sandwich, I'm your guy. I'm just glad to hear the door isn't closed on getting a big bat.
The Reason Jerry Maguire Wrote The Memo… er, Mission Statement
Barry Bonds decided it was high time to make the souvenir and video game-makers deal directly with him if they wish to use his likeness. So, he became the first player to break away from the Major League Baseball Player's Association licensing agreement. In his words, "I felt I've been misrepresented throughout my career as a bad guy, a bad person," he said. My buddy, Ben, works for a wireless gaming company and he's none too pleased to getting used to the idea of a baseball video game without Barry. In short, he wants to kick him in the groin. Repeatedly. With Bonds nearing the 700-homer mark some might say he could benefit greatly by selling merchandise related to the feat. Then again, His 73-HR ball didn't exactly break the bank. This ill-advised decision ranks right up there with MacLean Stevenson deciding to leave "M*A*S*H" and anyone and everyone who green lit "Gigli". Scott Boras, Bonds' agent, is doing a fine job advising his already aloof client to isolate himself even further by making him exchange his "bad guy, bad person" persona for a worst guy, worst person one. Bonehead.
Let It Snow Or Let ‘Im Go?
Among several others, the Giants face the prospect of losing 1B.T. Snow. When forecasting his chances of returning next year and the idea of being a free agent, he said, "It hasn't been hard. I think something good will happen. There's not much you can do. I've never been through it. I'll stay optimistic. You can't take things personally in sports. I want to be with a team that has a chance to win. That's my only thought." I swear if he could hit .280 and stay healthy he'd be my guy for sure. And then there's his post-season bat! Phew! Rumors are circulating that the Giants may be interested in jumping into the Richie Sexson fray if the team isn't comfortable with the idea of Pedro Feliz starting every day. Stay tuned.
You Can Waive Him Bye-Bye!
Much to the delight of Giants fans who listen to the radio broadcasts while driving home from work, the Giants 86'd broadcaster Joe Angel. Now, I hate it when people lose their jobs, but the guy couldn't distinguish a homerun from a routine fly and would get excited about foul balls and leave you hanging on balls in play. A full day of work always stinks, but it just seemed worse when I'd have to yell at my car radio pleading for Joe Angel to spit out his call for a simple groundout.
After getting traded for C A.J. Pierzynski, Joe Nathan commented, "We were all sitting around basically in shock. There were a lot of mixed emotions. Obviously, we're leaving a great organization that's been good to me. I have a lot of friends on the team, but we're also excited that I'm going to a team that's contending." Joe? Who's "we"? He sounds like Jimmy on "Seinfeld." Maybe it's a multiple personality thing. After all, he did show two distinct personalities on the mound this year. One Joe posted a sub-3.00 regular season ERA. The other Joe resembled me in my senior trig class while he pitched in the NLDS. Good luck, Joe, and, um, Joe.
Big Arms On The Mend
It's still to soon to tell if ace starter and Cy Young Award runner-up, Jason Schmidt, will be ready for Opening Day after undergoing right elbow surgery. According to trainer, Stan Conte, "If he's not ready by Opening Day, I suspect it will be shortly thereafter. I do not see this lingering into the season." Schmidt is expected to start throwing within the next few weeks.
As for closer Robb Nen, Sabean said of Nen, "It's a black hole. (Trainer) Stan Conte's on top of that situation. We won't know until he starts pitching games in spring training, and likewise with Schmidt. You have to hope for the best and expect you'll have setbacks. If you can pick two guys who could do it and should do it, my money's on both of them as to how their bodies will respond." Hopefully, Brian's money and my crossed fingers will be enough to heal these two.
The One, Part II
I'm not the only one beating the drum for a big impact free agent in 2004. Even Barry's getting into the act! He wants a big player (or players) to help propel the team to a level that this writer has never seen in his lifetime. "We have been flirting around with this for too long," Bonds said. "We have a beautiful stadium that's sold out on a regular basis. I think the fans deserve it, I think the city deserves it, and I'm tired of looking at a '54 World Series and not one in the 2000s. I want to be in a Giants uniform when they win a World Series." I take back what I said about him and the MLBPA licensing agreement! The loveable Barry even hinted that he'd restructure his contract to help the team land The One. He's already deferring $5 million annually. He's a humanitarian after all. If the Giants get Vladimir, I logically can't see why Barry doesn't deserve the Nobel Prize.
Have a happy Thanksgiving and be thankful that a city other than San Francisco enjoyed the indescribable experience of watching Dusty Baker screw up a postseason series. Gobble, gobble!
Keith Larson writes for SFDugout.com because he's lived and died with the Giants since 1972. He welcomes all words of praise and insult at firstname.lastname@example.org, but mentioning anything having to do with Game 6 is to be done with extreme caution.
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