Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Big Bucs

The Giants head for the White House to receive congratulations for their World Series win, but they also head east on a road trip with a five game losing streak.  The Pirates, who more than survived their difficult West Coast trip, came up big and won three straight over the Giants.  They looked like the potential world champs some predicted they could be, before the season started.  They featured two brilliant starts by Cole and Liriano around a good enough to win start by Burnett, with Cutch continuing his blistering hitting and some other erstwhile quiet Pirates bats (Jody Mercer, big time) coming alive.

The Giants reverted to their old recipe for losing--though Hudson and Vogelsong had strong starts, Chris Heston didn't, an apparently overstretched bullpen under-performed and the timely hits were scarce, plus untimely errors and mental mistakes.  The Pirates bullpen was not perfect but strong enough not to allow late inning comebacks.

The Pirates certainly look better than their record, with starting pitching and power conspicuous strengths.  It's going to be an interesting season.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Quandary Series

After woeful starts, they are two of the hottest teams in baseball, and they happen to be the two teams I follow, one from my childhood "hometown" and the other my current home area.  So what could go wrong?

Well, this week they play each other.

In the past this wasn't that much of a problem, I could be happy whichever won.  And when something was at stake, as in last season's Wild Card game, my allegiance was the Pirates.  They lost, the Giants won, and I happily rooted for the Giants all the way to the World Championship.

But now that I am more regularly listening to the Giants radio broadcasts, I wonder how I can stay neutral--that is, rooting for both.  I guess I'll see.

So it's a three game series.  The Giants have the advantage of home field, but the Pirates rotation has come around to their best pitchers: Cole, Burnett and Liriano, against Vogelsong, Heston and Hudson.  But those three Giants starters arguably pitched better in their last outings than MadBum (who on Sunday had a perfect game going for five and fell apart in the seventh) and Lincecum.  The Giants won the three games the second line pitched, and lost the other two.

The Giants have the better record.  Neither of them has absolute momentum coming in--the Giants lost their last two to the Braves (Sunday's game was so typical of why I hate the Braves--they won that kind of game too often against the 90s Pirates), and the Pirates got shellacked by the Padres on Sunday.

But I'm sure I'll enjoy at least hearing the at-bats etc. for the Pirates, since I haven't seen or heard any of their games this year.  Maybe that's the key--concentrate on the individuals.

Unfortunately for my desired equity, it's a three game series, so somebody is going to win it.  And lose it.

Friday was a great night to be at the ball park.  Saturday night was miserable.  It was cold both nights, but a lot colder when you get beat 7-0.  When I was listening to the first few innings, Dave started explaining what the meteorologist told him about why it's so cold this May. And he did so without saying the words El Nino.)  But the inning was about over, so he had to just explain the rest to himself, which you could hear in the background.  These guys are funny, and are allowed to be funny in a fairly sophisticated way because of the Bay Area audience.

And so a note on Bay Area baseball.  On Sunday Jon Miller talked a bit about this weekend when the Giants and A's were both home, on opposite sides of the Bay, and both drew big crowds.  Comparatively speaking, San Francisco-Oakland isn't all that big.  But baseball must be.  Chicago has the Cubs and the White Sox, but I don't think either does all that well these days. For a city supporting two big league baseball teams in this style,  I wonder if you have to go back to when New York City was itself bigger than every state (except of course New York, but including California) and they supported three home teams: the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees.