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Posts Tagged ‘S.F Giants’

Image of Willie McCovey

“Stretch”

Two days ago, on Halloween, the world lost one of the true gentlemen of sports history:  Willie Lee McCovey.  Nicknamed “Mac”, “Big Mac”, and (my personal favorite) “Stretch”, McCovey was a first baseman who defined the position for me as a child.  He played for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball for 19 of his 22 seasons in the majors.
My earliest memory of ANY sports event was attending a baseball game as a youth at Candlestick Park and seeing McCovey, Willie Mays, and Juan Marichal in person.  My mom and I sat high in the upper deck, underneath the shell which used to line the stadium.  I don’t recall if the Giants won the game or much else about the game except – Marichal’s high-kick pitching delivery style, Mays hit a home run and “Stretch” made a terrific catch at first base.  It wasn’t a high catch (as shown in the image above).  It was low, near the ground and McCovey had to practically do the splits to make the catch.
It seems “funny” to think of this, but imagine you are Willie Mays – arguably the greatest baseball player of all time and in the top five career home run hitters in history and you bat third in the order because the guy (Willie McCovey) batting fourth, behind you, has more power…
None of the above speaks to the true greatness of the man, himself.  It is better to think of Willie McCovey this way:  his last active year was 1980.  That same year, the Giants retired his jersey number (44) and began awarding “The Willie Mac Award” which is given to the team’s most inspirational player that year, as voted on by the team’s players, coaches, training staff, and (just recently included) fans.  Finally, in 1986, in his first year of eligibility, Willie McCovey was voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
R.I.P “Stretch”.  And thanks for the childhood memories…
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2016 Why Do Republicans Always Seem To Be Angry?
2015 All Things Being Equal
2014 Fearful Light
2013 Unexpectedly Knowledgeable
2012 Seems Obvious
2011 See The Specialist

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The glory of baseball (and most other sport) is that when a game is well played and close the drama of the competition can turn the game into a thing of beauty.  This is what happened in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday.  Even though the team I support (the S.F. Giants) lost that game by 5 to 4 on the strength of four home runs by the St. Louis Cardinals, the game was thrilling, close and could have gone either way.  The Cardinals, who have been among the cellar dwellers for teams with home runs during the regular season, have suddenly found their power stroke.
Monday was a day off for travel and play resumed today for three games (and three days) here in San Francisco.
Today, the Giants returned the favor by winning Game 3 by the score of 5 to 4.  This was another “beautiful” game because although the Giants jumped out to a first inning lead of 4 to 0, they let the Cards hang around and hang around until they finally tied the game and sent it into extra innings.  In the 10th inning, the Giants did what they have been doing this whole postseason – they found a way to win.  The got a walk, a funky hit and then a bunt which allowed a walk-off runner to score when the pitcher threw a wild toss to 1st base to try to get the force out.  The ball sailed inside the man covering first base and down the baseline into the warm up area.  The runner was safe at first and the Giants won.  What should have been an “easy” out (meant to simply advanced the runners) ended up an error to win the game.
Well, as unconvincing as the win may have been, we’ll take it.  The Giants are now up 2 – 1 in the series with four games left and the next two are here at home.  We need to play .500 ball to advance.  The Cards need to play .750 to advance.  Pretty long odds for the “Birds On A Stick”.  Historically, when a team wins game 1 on the road and is 2 – 1 in the Series, they win game four  59% of the time and the seven game series 68% of the time.  Not as dominating a percentage as I would have hoped for, but still much better than being in the reverse.  So, on to Game 4!!
I AM ORANGE INSIDE !!
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On This Day In:
2013 Deliver Us Something Larger
2012 Bore, n.
2011 Attaining High Office

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Well, yesterday – and last night – we had one of the most intense baseball games I’ve ever sat through in my life.  The game started in the afternoon and ended over six hours later.  It was the longest running (6 Hours and 23 Minutes) baseball game in playoff history and tied for the most innings played (18) in playoff history.
The Nationals scored early taking a 1 to 0 lead and holding it through eight and two-thirds innings.  The Giants tied the game in the 9th inning and then played the equivalent of an entire second game (a “normal” game is only nine innings) to get the winning run off of a solo home run (from Brandon Belt) in the top of the 18th inning.  The Giants then held on for the final three outs to leave Washington D.C with a 2 game to 0 lead in a best of five series.
As I mentioned in my prior post – Orange October (I) – the team that wins the first game in a five game series wins the series 70% (historically) of the time
Sixty-eight (68) teams in major league history have lost the first two games of a five-game series.  Only eight have come back to win the next three games.  And, of those eight, just two did so after losing the first two games at home.  The issue(s) the Giants face are: 1) they are playing the winningest team in the National League this year (96 wins); 2) this same team has already come in to AT&T and defeated the Giants in three out of four games back in June; and 3) the Giants know a team can come back to win the last three in a best of five series because they were the last team to do it – just two years ago!
In any case, 3 out of 69 are pretty long odds and I like the Giants chances to finish the Nat’s in Game 3.  Then it’s wait until the end of the 2nd series – between the St. Louis Cardinals and the L.A. Dodgers.  Hopefully, the Cards take L.A the full five games before beating them and then we get to face the Cards with a rested team.  Still, it’s all in the hands of the baseball gods at this point…
I AM ORANGE INSIDE !!
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On This Day In:
2013 Fulfilled Acceptance
2012 Error Is Tolerated Here (So Far)
2011 In Defense Of Pain

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SF Giants Beat the Washington Nationals In Game 1

SF Giants Beat the Washington Nationals In Game 1

On Wednesday, the Giants went into Pittsburgh and defeated the Pirates 8 to 0 in a game (the National League Wildcard Game) which wasn’t that close.  Today, they went into D.C. to play the best National League team (this year): the Washington Nationals.  We are in a best of five (“short”) series and having won (3 to 2), are now in the driver’s seat for the series.  Historically, the first game winner of a short series has gone on to win the series 70% of the time.  We only have to play .500 ball in the next four games to take the series.  The Nat’s have to play at least .750 to advance.
The odds have suddenly gotten a lot better!!
I AM ORANGE INSIDE !!
Update:  And it gets sweeter, still!!!
The Los Angeles Dodgers just lost the first game of their series (at home) to the St. Louis Cardinals by 10 to 9!!!
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On This Day In:
2013 Ignore The Man Behind The Curtain
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2012 What Are Your True Measurements
2011 What It Is All About
2010 The Magnificent Seven
Giants Fever!!

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Sometimes, but not often, you can hear the sound of perfection.  Sometimes perfection is felt.  More rarely (I believe), it’s both heard and felt.
I don’t play golf, but I do enjoy going to the driving range to bang out a bucket.  Every now and then – for me it’s about once every 100-150 balls – you can get a “perfect” drive.  The swing is easy.  The ball is struck cleanly and true.  You hear a certain “ping” sound that comes to your ears almost as much as it travels up the club and through your arms.  And the ball jumps away from you straight and far.  It doesn’t happen often (for me anyway), but it explains completely why some folks LOVE golf.
For other folks, it’s the sound of the ball/net when a basketball goes through at just the right angle to miss the rim but not get hung up in the net.  It’s a “swish” sound.  It’s not the “bump” sound of off the backboard or the “bong” sound when the ball goes in but catches a bit of the rim.  Sometimes, even, when the ball falls through, just so, there’s almost no sound at all.  But for me, it’s that “swish” sound that makes the “perfect” shot sound.
In running (or jogging), when you’re on a gravel track and you’re “floating” along in your run, there’s a certain “crush / squishy” sound your feet make.  It’s kind of like a cross between walking on icy snow (“crunch”) or autumn leaves (“crush”) on your driveway.  You can hear (in the background) your breathing and the sounds of anyone you’re running with, but it’s that “cooush, cooush, cooush” sound from your feet – coming up to your ears through your body as much as through actual sound – that makes running feel perfect.
By now you’re probably wondering what is the point of this post?  Well, today I went out and bought a couple of pairs of running shoes to reward myself for …  well, for nothing in particular.  If you know me, you know I buy books, books and more books – and occasionally – running shoes.  Anyway, today I picked up a pair of Reebok SmoothFlex Ride 3.0 running shoes.
My New Keds

My New ‘Boks

They are mostly greyish/black with a little bit of orange thread for trim.  Well, being a S.F. Giants fan, all things Orange and Black call out to me.  Soooo….
Lacing them up, I went out for a spin around the local schoolyard to break them in.  In honesty, I was not expecting much.  I’ve never owned a pair of Reeboks before and of late, the last five years or so, I’ve been kind of a “minimalist” shoe user.  I tend to buy cheap or garish.  The “cheap” shoes I use for jogging and working out in.  The garish shoes I wear as fashion statements.  What?  You don’t think old men make fashion statements? (LOL)  (By “minimalist” I mean “water” shoes, after a few goes with “FiveFingers”.)
Shock of my life!!  Within five steps I heard that “cooush, cooush, cooush” sound coming from my feet.  As I’ve not heard that sound in nearly forty years, my body kind of lurched with shock as I looked down at my feet.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am no longer a “runner”.  Heck, I’m not even a “jogger”.  I consider myself to be a “slogger” – that’s a very slow jogger.  But, never-the-less, there was that sound.  I began grinning from ear to ear and just settled into that joyous feeling of remembering what it was like to be young (again).  I have NO idea how this sound is being created because I was jogging on asphalt, not a gravel track, but this shoe has “perfect sound” marketing for me.
I will try to do a fuller review after I’ve had them out for a few more jogs and then a final review after I’ve worn them out.  By the way, I picked them up at my local Big5 Sporting Goods store.  Still the best value for money, general purpose, sporting goods store in our area.  You can follow my attempt to get back into “slogging” by checking out my “Sweat Equity” page for the first quarter of 2014.  (And wish me luck…!)
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On This Day In:
2013 Still Waiting For Answers
2012 Informal Leadership
2011 A Little More Progress
2010 Bec’s Gone Again…

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