Spring Training Bloggy Blogg: Day 4

Revenge in the Desert

The Bloggy Blog is back, though a day late, due to some technical difficulties…and by technical difficulties I mean running around the Scottsdale Ramada until five in the morning with my crazy cousin as we tried, clad in our stealthy-black Giants jerseys, to sneak into the already-prepared breakfast buffet for a late night snack.

The Good

Kirk Rueter is a man of precision and vengeance. With a little sinky, cutty, changey, and sinky again, he coaxed Athletics hitters into their true forms: a bunch of Quadruple-A transients who can’t touch an 84-mph fastball.

Why don’t you put that in your “1989” chant and scream it, all you burnished A’s fans.

My crazy cousin and I, due to the lavishings of learned Giants aficionado Jim Tomasello, sat directly behind home plate and, for a few innings, next to an advanced scout for the Marlins named Joe Moeller.

Moeller pitched against San Francisco as a member of the hated Dodgers during those heightened times of rivalry and success in the Sixties. He was awesome. I’m not sure if I can reveal what he told me, lest his brethren of scouts be forced to kill me, but he is a 62-year-old bear of a man who enjoys the game of baseball even more than those pin-clad fans who waited out the wind at the ‘Stick.

One thing I will reveal: under his exquisitely detailed print-out on Rueter, he had written: “Pitching well today.” It’s funny because it’s true. Woody the Ears was perfect through four, giving up only a walk by the time he left, and no hits. Spring Training or not, it was a performance to take to the bank.

Moises Alou is having a spring of absurdity, hitting a buck sixty two, but he had a beautiful double with two-on in the first inning of Monday’s game. He crushed an inside fastball off the left-center wall. Anxious Giants fans, I’d worry more about his batting stance, which may or may not disobey the laws of gravity and knees, than his hitting.

Omar Vizquel will be better than every single person expects. During a three-day span, we just watched him knock five hits in a row, from both sides of the plate. And at shortstop, he looked calmer than Rod Beck in a biker bar (more on bikers later).

This guy is so slick. His right-handed swing, which he pulled out against a lanky and evil starter for the Rockies Wednesday, is like an extension of his smooth fielding. As long as he peppers the ball to left when he hits from the other side of the dish, it’s gonna be a year to alleviate all those tag-teamed memories of Neifi Perez, Jose Vizcaino, and Cody “Infandum!” Ransom.

Pedro Feliz hit a ball so hard Monday, it nearly toppled the foul poll. I think the baseball gods should grant him some bone spurs in an ankle or two, as per Adrian Beltre, so that he’s compelled to resist outside sliders via shock therapy.

On second thought, maybe it’s not the best time to wish for injury, especially as we come to…

The Not So Good

Ray Ray Durham has always been the kind of guy who let’s you down and makes you think it’s your fault.

“No, no Ray. I am the one who should have slid ungainly into third and killed my ankle…I can’t stay mad at you.”

Well the codependency ends today. The philotimia-addled Media reported that Durham strained his groin on a check swing against the Rockies.

To happily quote Big Poppa, they are a bunch of vulture-headed liars. Ray Ray was trying to avoid an inside pitch against the Rockies lanky lefty, and he did a Mike Piazza impression, stuttering upright with elbows in, so that his groin mysteriously tweaked.

Sigh. If you get hurt avoiding an inside pitch, how on earth are you gonna stay healthy when Jeff Kent barrels into second with a ligament-snapping roll block? Although Ray Ray will be back in a few days, this is fearful news.

Matt Herges will soon be out of baseball. Right now, this guy would struggle with the more mediocre hitters of the California Penal League. Ignore all the offseason reports and look into this guy’s eyes. He’s gotten the Fear. The slumped shoulders of his set-up are not merely a relaxation device. They are indicative of his mental state. Which is stickier than any amount of pine tar.

His confidence is shot, His physique remains subdued. And his pitches are not biting. He is not long for the world of professional sports.

Wayne Franklin was so embarrassing Monday, I didn’t need a lip reader to interpret the remembering frustration of Felipe Alou. He gave up four runs in the ninth before being pulled. But the moment of truth came on a bases-loaded, two-out, three-two pitch before any runs had been scored. The crowd of eleven thousand was cheering. The team hoping for a shutout to avenge the 17-3 Sunday loss. It was an acceptable simulation of pressure, and all Franklin needed to do was make a pitch.

Instead, he pretended that Steve Finely was up, tainting our poor Giant hearts with the loathsome memory of blue.

I don’t care what Franklin’s “inherited runners left on base” stat was last year. This guy is gonna join Matt Herges in ignominy; if he were a sauce, his flavor would be very, very weak.

The Scene

We left the game Monday giddy with the retributive conquest of the A’s. We wandered into a bar at the corner of Indian School Road named Pattie’s. They had a ping-pong table. We asked if we could substitute the word “ping” for “beer.” The bartender said yes, and we commenced to throw a white plastic ball at cups filled with Bud Light.

That is, until three angry bikers showed up. They had come clad in bandanas, leather, and a few metal spikes, for the purpose of--believe it or not--a game of regular ping pong. And they were none too happy that we had splashed beer on their table.

They watched angrily from barstools, asking when we’d be finished. One of them actually said, “Hurry up. I gotta be getting back to prison.”

So we forestalled our drinking game and, naturally, challenged them to ping-pong doubles.

And suddenly everything changed. One of them complimented my Jagermeister visor. Another was wowed by my cousin’s spinning serve. And we spent the next two hours enjoying table tennis with bikers who, at first, would have happily placed us in their trunks, had they not rolled in on Harleys.

My cousin and I won seven games in a row against them, and in return they bought us a bevy of beers, praised our fine forehands, and eventually sped off laughing like schoolgirls on their roaring hogs. I will never mock a bandana again.

The next day we journeyed to the impressive outpost of Peoria. The freeway trip was surreal. Hot air balloons dotted the horizon. Angry Escalades swerved in and out of the traffic. A van full of high-school baseball players noticed me rocking out to “Horse with No Name” in the passenger seat and proceeded to mock my head-bobbing, swaying their vehicle so that a wheels nearly lifted from the concrete.

Padres fans are like the guy on the pro surfing circuit who always comes in third. They really should show some emotion, but they seemed to have enjoyed the process to such an extent, all losing elicits is content.

I do not trust any of them. Especially the few that wear those terrible jerseys of old-school brown and yellow. Weird.

The Giants dominated again, and afterward, we returned to the sweet beer-pong table of Pattie’s, where, against two Cubs fans, my cousin and I became Nuke Lalooshes of precision as we asserted our presence with authority.

Scottsdale is an oasis of baseball and Giants fans. Which is a beautiful marriage. We’re off to see J-Ro Williams pitch right now. The sun has just come out. The orange and black is flowing like wine. If there’s anything better than an Omar Vizquel slap-hit to left, I don’t want to know it.

It’s a bloggy blog world…Just cool…laid back…It’s a bloggy blog world

Tim Denevi is a raving Giants fan who can't decide if he would rather have Mike Aldrete or Marvin Biz-nard pinch-hitting with the game on the line. E-mail him with your opinion on any issue at denevi@hawaii.edu

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