Drew Fairservice: May 2010 Archives

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Note to all burgeoning baseball prospects: Unless you're a pitcher, don't sign with the San Francisco Giants. The bewildering front office continues its history of head-scratching decisions with their ongoing refusal to call Buster Posey up from the minor leagues.

No matter how badly Posey works over the studly arms of the Pacific Coast League, Bruce Bochy and zen master Brian Sabean steadfastly refuse to give Buster the call. Why, you may ask? Because the minor leagues suck, of course.

"Triple-A baseball isn't very good," Sabean said. "I'm going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues."

GET YOUR FRESNO GRIZZLIES TICKETS NOW!! While killing the credibility of his minor league product is all well and good, Sabean and Bochy are completely willing to both bury Posey further down the depth chart by elevating replacement level backup catcher Eli Whiteside to power mashing middle of the order threat. Whiteside hit fifth during the Giants last game in New York, something of a surprise given his meager power numbers, both at the major and minor league levels. But guess what? Those numbers don't matter either!

We all know Whiteside is swinging a hot bat lately. So do you discount the minor league track record?

"Yeah, you do," Bochy said. "Some guys figure it out later and improve and make adjustments. Whitey started making adjustments in Fresno last year and he really started swinging the bat with authority and driving the ball.... He looks very comfortable at the plate, he uses the whole field and he's got nice balance up there."

You got that? Nobody can pitch in the minor leagues, so achievement there means squat! Except when you go from hitting terribly to hitting poorly, than it is cause for excitement! And reason for promotion. Got it?

Image courtesy of Cynthia Kobel

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What you see above is a copy of the standings (via ESPN) from Friday afternoon. All 5 teams in the American League East entered play on Friday afternoon coming off wins, 4 of the teams riding win streaks of 4 or more. The Red Sox and Yankees played head-to-head, meaning one of their streaks ended Friday. The Jays and Rays, however, both won on Friday night meaning three of the teams in The Best Division In Baseball then rode 5 game winning streaks.

Predictably, the division is stacked. The Rays own oodles of buzz as the best team in baseball, with their lofty run differential, tidy defense, and ability to lay down for skinny gangsters from Stockton, CA. The Yankee juggernaut rolls on while the Red Sox operate on a plane of existence all their own. Much of the discussion over the weekend surrounded the BoSox woes and how on Earth would they catch the two juggernauts above them? Good question, but one thing: they trail three teams in their division.

Nobody in their right mind expects the Toronto Blue Jays to continue winning games at a .580 clip. That the Jays are doing so in the first place is something of a worsening miracle. Canada's team pulled this very trick last year, beating down the weak sisters of the American League for the first few months, patiently waiting for the Yankees and Rays to come to down and destroy their hopes and dreams.

Take hope, Beantowners. The Red Sox might scuffle now, but a quick run through the middle of the country and they'll be fine, trust me. They'll run roughshod over the A.L. Central horror show and find themselves riding a tidy winning streak. A nice West Coast trip, smacking around teams who will all finish within three games of .500 and each other by the end of the season.

The unfortunate side of this dominant division: it is also baseball's least competitive. Home to baseball's worst record (your 2010 OriLOLes!) the two frontrunners are already rendering this race over. The Red Sox —still shoe-ins to win at least 85 games— have less than a 5% chance of winning the Wild Card, according to Coolstandings.com. Rhetorical question time: is this competitive imbalance good for baseball? The universe at large? Should we break up these juggernauts in the name of all that is just or let these savages battle among themselves until the end of time and revenue sharing?

reds.empty.jpgQuickly, dirtily, unscientifically, I'm going to make a statement: attendance is down in baseball. In some cities, like Cleveland, Baltimore, and Toronto, this is absolutely true. Anecdotally it seems true in at least a dozen other stadiums around the league. Beat writers flock to Twitter to proclaim "tonight's crowd is lowest in Stadium X's history" on a near-nightly basis. Poor attendance at major league baseball games is certainly a bad thing — especially if you own a professional baseball team or professional parking lot staffed by professional parking lot pointing-at-guys — but how about we all agree to stop using sparsely attended baseball games as indictments of residents and fans from entire regions of the country.

The next time YOUR CITY in the great state of YOUR STATE is deemed a "bad sports town" or "bush league" or "crippled by sweeping unemployment" let's try to resist the urge to use nearly-empty baseball stadia as proof the city is unfit for baseball or human occupation.

Consider the three cities listed above, among the stragglers in average attendance in 2010. No fancy pants ball parks, recent successes, nor Red Sox Nation invasions can fill the buildings early in the season. "But why?" the columns wail. How could the good people of Metropolis turn their back on the local nine? Why have real baseball fans eschewed a night at the old ball yard?

Most families aren't going to baseball games or NBA games or any such expensive outing. They're priced and corporate-cultured out in a tough economic time. Additionally, families now have a laundry list of classes, recitals, ultimate frisbee tournaments in far-flung suburbs and about a million others things to do on a Tuesday night in April beside watch Jake fucking Westbrook pitch to Lyle Overbay.

Expect to see more bros getting tazed than iced at the ballpark in the coming months; as clubs look to provide the whitewashed, sterile environment most likely to appeal to Mr. & Mrs. Helicopterparent's most paranoid instincts. Little Ethan and Abigail can't be withing vomitshot of drunken louts1 cursing loudly and carrying on.

1 - Keep them the hell away from Pittsburgh in August.

sadgirl.JPGHeroes come in an all shapes and sizes. Sometimes heroes organize their community to assist flood victims, sometimes they make the world better for their children and children everywhere. Sometimes they mount protests against unjust laws which contravene the spirit and ethos of a nation.

Other times: they take aim at publicly traded entertainment conglomerates for their misguided programming selections.

That's enough East Coast Bias for SF Chronicle Giants beat guy Henry Schulman, fuckyouverymuch ESPN. He isn't watching again until Tim Lincecum and his Giants get some screen time.

That's not true or fair. He, like most people, is just sick of the Mets. While, yes, the New York Mets skirt the "perverse joke" line on an all-to regular basis; they've somehow made their way on to the national broadcast schedule three weeks in a row. I know! The nerve!

Schulman acknowledges the pricey TV deal ESPN pays helps fund all clubs, even those teams needing to the World Series and World Cup in the same year to have a shot at usurping the Yankees/Red Sox TV hegemony. Then why the boycott? You'll teach them, fan-they-aren't-targeting-anyway.

Call me cynical, but announcing this tidy boycott on the website of San Francisco's leading newspaper wouldn't be a blatant attempt at baiting the downtrodden left coasters looking to bash the cruel daddies from the east? The 700-odd comments I refuse to read surely feature balanced back-and-forth points discussing the finer points of mass marketing and the value of early prime time ad spots. Almost for sure.