Monday, January 31, 2011

To dip or not to dip?

It was reported over the weekend that Washington Nationals standout, Stephen Strasburg, is going to quit using smokeless tobacco. Strasburg cited potential health problems and young kids looking up to him as factors on why he's decided to quit "dipping."

I applaud Strasburg for his decision, but I know how tough it's going to be for him, because I use to dip too. I dipped for nearly 5 years (during college), and quit cold turkey after pulling an all-nighter studying for a final - I had a dip in my mouth for about 6-7 hours straight! Yeah, the gums didn't look too good in the morning. Quitting was tough, I had dreams where I actually dipped and would wake up in the morning thinking why did I dip last night, and then remember it was a just a dream. Those dreams would happen periodically for the next 10-12 years - I'm not joking.

So having said all of this do you think any of the current Giants that dip, would consider kicking the habit too? What, you don't know of any dippers on the team!? Perhaps the most famous dipper on the club is also the youngest looking, Tim Lincecum. Tim doesn't dip when he's on the mound, but he will pack one when he's in the dugout. Other Giants that dip include: Sergio Romo, Dan Runzler, Pablo Sandoval, Aaron Rowand, Barry Zito, Pat Burrell, and Bruce Bochy.

These are grown men, and they can do what they want, but I quit dipping because the thought of getting cancer didn't sit well with me. Plus, it is a disgusting habit, and I still don't know of any girl that finds dipping attractive. Enough said!

What do you think? Should the guys quit dipping?

Timmy packing a dip during game 1 of the NLCS

Timmy packing a dip

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Brian Wilson's schtick getting old?

Look, I love the Giants, always have and always will. But, is Brian Wilson's schtick of trying to be ultra-cool and clever getting a bit old? For example, his appearance last night on the George Lopez Show was an utter complete embarrassment. I actually felt bad for Brian. He really looked stupid and tried really hard to be cool and different.

I enjoy watching Brian close games for the Giants, but he's a ballplayer, not an actor or an animation character. Quite frankly, I think all of this attention is getting to his head, and his handlers are trying to milk this for him as much as possible. Dude! Just concentrate on pitching and quit all of the side antics. I can tell you this much, if he has a blown save early in the season, everyone and I mean everyone is going to say the same thing - quit the B.S. and focus on your job.

What do you think?

Brian Wilson on the George Lopez Show

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can you name this SF Giant?

I'm not gonna offer any clues ... guess who this former SF Giant is?

Guess who?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Opening Day tickets

Do you know someone that has season tickets for the SF Giants? You better butter them up ASAP. Season ticket holders that renewed before Dec. 20, aka Early Birds, will have the opportunity to purchase 2 extra opening day tickets this Thursday via online.

As of yesterday, SRO tickets on Stubhub were already at $118 per ticket - and that was the cheapest ticket available.

So if you don't have a ticket for opening day, and don't want to pay those huge third-party prices, you better pucker up to your friends that have season tickets!

Monday, January 24, 2011

SF Giants players to attend Feb. 2 dinner & sports auction

The Guardsmen's Annual Celebrity Dinner and Sports Auction will take place this year on Feb. 2 at 5:30 pm at the Ritz-Carlton hotel on Stockton Street. While former boxing champion, Sugar Ray Leonard will serve as the honorary chairman, several players from the Giants will also be in attendance. They include Jeremy Affeldt, Pat Burrell, and Cody Ross. In addition, a number of former Giants are also attending such as Rich Aurilia, Jim Barr, Don Carrithers, Ken Henderson, Robb Nen, Dave Roberts, and Rich Robertson.

Additional information regarding the event is available at The Guardsmen's website ...

Honorary Chairman - Sugar Ray Leonard

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 SF Giants Apparel - Sneak Preview

It's become an annual rite of passage ... new team gear for fans to purchase right before the start of the new baseball season. Majestic Apparel, the official uniform supplier for Major League Baseball just released some new pictures on some of the new gear that the Giants will be wearing in spring training and for the upcoming season. The three items they posted consist of a new spring training jersey, new team jacket, and a new team windbreaker. When you see the photos, you should notice that the jacket isn't so new, they actually wore that during the playoffs, but it wasn't sold in shops at that time.

Here are some additional details for each item:

Spring Training jersey

Team Specific Lockertag
Washable Security Hologram
Authentic Tackle Twill

Back of jersey
Authentic Name and Number (Not shown)
New Cool Base™ Fabric
Contrast Color Blocking

Team jacket

Performance Therma Base™ technology
Official Team Colorblocking
Authentic left sleeve team logo on adult
Full or left chest textured woven emblem
Full-zip insulated jacket with double collar
Banded waistband and hidden cuffs
Light, sport-weight insulation

Back of jacket includes;
Performance Therma Base™ technology
Center back neck rubber MLB silhouetted batter patch
Banded waistband and hidden cuffs
Light, sport-weight insulation

Team windbreaker

Authentic logo woven application
Team logo embroidery at sleeve
Center back neck rubber MLB silhouetted batter patch
Quarter-zip, v-neck water repellent pullover jacket
Contrast panels at sleeves
Hidden chest vents
Back shoulder stretch panels

Front of spring training jersey

Back of spring training jersey

Front of jacket

Back of jacket

Front of windbreaker

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Are the New York fans (et al) being duped?

It's been said that two World Series trophy exist, one is kept with the club, while the other is used for promotional appearances. Is this true? I'm tending to think it is. Back in December, the club invited season ticket holders to a private event at the ballpark to get their picture taken with the trophy. At that time, they made it clear that no one could a picture of the trophy with their cell phone, camera, or any other device, and NO ONE  could touch the trophy.

Now that the trophy has been on "tour" and is now in New York, it appears the rules have been relaxed. Is it because the "stunt double" is being used?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Tim Lincecum - The 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time, GQ Magazine 2/11


In the February issue of GQ Magazine, they compiled a list of "The 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time," and guess which Giant made the list? Yup, #55, Tim Lincecum! Timmy joins a pretty cool list of athletes that stretches generations and all sports. GQ didn't rank the athletes, but just simply listed them - I guess we can debate who #1 is, but I guess they might have their opinion considering that Joe Namath was on the cover.

Here's their entire list, in order of appearance in the spread ...

Joe Namath - football
Mario Andretti - auto racing
Allen Iverson - basketball
Bjorn Borg - tennis
Arthur Ashe - tennis
Pele - soccer
Walt Frazier - basketball
Evel Knievel - extreme
Jean-Claude Kelly - skiing
Pete Maravich - basketball
Tom Brady - football
Muhammad Ali - boxing
Julius Erving - basketball
Bob Gibson - baseball
Bo Jackson - football/baseball
Arnold Palmer - golf
George Best - soccer
Derek Sanderson - hockey
TIM LINCECUM - baseball
Kenny Stabler - football
Michael Jordan - basketball
Gary Player - golf
Ted Turner - yatchsman
Jim Brown - football
Kelly Slater - surfer

* So apparently there are nine different cover photos being used for this GQ issue. I'm guessing it's based on geography, but not sure why someone in SoCal would get Joe Namath. Anyways, here are the other athletes depicted on the cover:

Muhammad Ali
Bjorn Borg
Tom Brady
Julius Erving
Michael Jordon
Tim Lincecum
Arnold Palmer
Kelly Slater,
Joe Namath (below)

Joe Namath - GQ Magazine, February 2011

Tim Lincecum

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Flashback to 1987

The 1987 marked the first time since 1971 that the Giants made the postseason, and it also showcased some of the new young talent that the Giants drafted. 1987 also had some interesting factoids ...

Record:                     90-72 (1st place NL West)
Attendance:               1,917,168
Avg. Attendance:      23,668
Highest Paid Player:  Jeff Leonard at $975,000. Greg Minton was second at $750,000

Matt Williams' rookie season was in 1987

Jeff Leonard won NLCS MVP honors in 1987.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Vote for Pedro? No, vote for AT&T Park now!

As noted on the website last night, AT&T Park has been named as a finalist as the "Event Site of the Year" for the 2011 Spotlight Awards hosted by the Event Solutions Conference and Tradeshow group.

Finalists were selected from an international field, and individuals are encouraged to vote at the site before Jan. 31, 2011. Winners will be announced  during the Event Solutions Conference and Tradeshow event on Feb. 28, 2011 in Las Vegas.

So what are you waiting for? Go vote for AT&T Park!!

Click here to go to the voting site ...

AT&T Park - Finalist for 2011 Event Site of the Year

Where are they now ... Dante Powell (SF Giants: 1997-1998, 2001 )

Sixth installment in this series ...

The biggest fear for me when I hear or read about a great outfield prospect is what happens when they called up to the Bigs. Can they make adjustments, can they overcome failure and still prosper? Case in point, is Dante Powell, a 1st round (22nd overall) pick of the Giants in the 1994 amateur draft. Dante played college ball at CS Fullerton, and immediately was moving up the ranks of the Giants farm system.

After four strong years in the minors he was called up in September of 1997 and a decent showing by batting .308 in 39 at-bats. In 1998, Dante again started the season in AAA Fresno and had another decent season before called up again in September. After the '98 campaign, the Giants were in need of some bullpen help and traded Dante to the Diamondbacks for Alan Embree. Dante's tenure with Arizona and St. Louis (traded again in 1999) would also to prove to be limiting, spending the next two years primarily in AAA. After the 2000 season, Dante was granted free agency, and ended up resigning with the Giants in 2001. In what would be his last season in pro ball, Dante spent most of the '01 campaign in AAA, and was again a September callup but the cluster of outfielders on the roster limited Dante's playing time. Dante was released by the Giants after the season.

Where is he now? After his playing career, Dante pursued a career as a personal trainer for about 6 yrs, and now he is the lead instructor at the On Deck Batting Cages/ Training facility in Signal Hill, California.

Dante Powell (SF Giants: 1997-1998, 2001)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baseball games at AT&T Park on March 11-13

For those of you that are jonesing for some baseball but can't make it down to Scottsdale for spring training games, we have the second best thing your ya'! The Cal Golden Bears are hosting a baseball tourney (AT&T Invitational) at AT&T Park on March 11-13. Joining the Bears in the tourney will include: Long Beach State, Rice, UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and Louisiana-Lafayette. That's a pretty good list of opponents, and each game of the tourney should showcase some future Major League talent.

As of date, the Bears haven't announced pricing for tickets, but I would imagine it would be fairly cheap. Plus it would be interesting how the college players react and play the huge outfield, and another bonus would be hearing the "pinging" of the aluminum bats. Unfortunately, this will be the last time this tourney will be hosted by the Bears. By now, you've heard of the elimination of the baseball program from Cal's roster of men's sports. So don't wait for next year, attend the tourney this year - it will be your only chance!

Players to watch:
Anthony Rendon (3B), Rice
Andrew Gagnon (RHP), Long Beach State
Danny Oh (OF), Cal

March 11:
Rice v. Long Beach State, 11 am
UC Santa Barbara v. San Francisco, 3pm
Cal v. Louisiana-Lafayette, 7 pm

March 12:
Louisiana-Lafayette v. UC Santa Barbara, 11 am
Long Beach State v. San Francisco, 3 pm
Cal v. Rice, 7 pm

March 13
Louisiana-Lafayette v. San Francisco, 9 am
UC Santa Barbara v. Rice, 12:30 pm
Cal v. Long Beach State, 4 pm

Monday, January 17, 2011

SF Giants autograph appearance, May 20-22, 2011

For those of you that collect autographs, the annual uber-sports card show in San Francisco is having most of the Giants available for an autograph signing on May 20-22, 2011 at the Cow Palace. That's also the same weekend that the Giants host the Oakland A's for interleague. In addition to the current Giants, a host of Hall of Famers are also appearing for the show. As of date, prices have not been released.

The company producing this event is called Tristar, and they're legit. I attended a show in Anaheim a few years ago and had Willie McCovey sign a ball for me. That has been the only time I've paid money to receive an autograph.

Current Giants to appear:
  • Madison Bumgarner*
  • Javier Lopez*
  • Sergio Romo*
  • Aaron Rowand*
  • Travis Ishikawa
  • Jeremy Affeldt*
  • Eli Whiteside*
  • Mike Fontenot*
  • Dan Runzler
  • Santiago Casilla*
  • Cody Ross
  • Andres Torres
  • Freddy Sanchez
  • Nate Schierholtz
*Denotes 1st Public Appearance Since World Series

Hall of Famers to appear
  • Willie Mays
  • Orlando Cepeda
  • Whitey Herzog
  • Willie McCovey
  • Gaylord Perry
  • Rickey Henderson
  • Gary Carter
Willie McCovey and Willie Mays autographs that I've obtained.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 MLB amateur draft, SF Giants has the 29th pick

The drafting order for the 2011 MLB amateur draft was just released this past week, and the defending World Champs will have the 29th pick. One website that conducted a mock draft predicts that the Giants will select Jack Armstrong (RHP, 6'6, 225 lbs) from Vanderbilt University. The Pirates have the #1 pick, and it appears they may go after Anthony Rendon (3B, 5'11, 180 lbs) from Rice University.

So what do you think, should the Giants go after the best available athlete or go after pitching or a position player?

Here's the entire first round drafting order:
1. Pittsburgh Pirates
2. Seattle Mariners
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Kansas City Royals
6. Washington Nationals
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Cleveland Indians
9. Chicago Cubs
10. San Diego Padres
11. Houston Astros
12. Milwaukee Brewers
13. New York Mets
14. Florida Marlins
15. Milwaukee Brewers
16. Los Angeles Dodgers
17. Los Angeles Angels
18. Oakland Athletics
19. Boston Red Sox
20. Colorado Rockies
21. Toronto Blue Jays
22. St. Louis Cardinals
23. Washington Nationals
24. Tampa Bay Rays
25. San Diego Padres
26. Boston Red Sox
27. Cincinnati Reds
28. Atlanta Braves
29. San Francisco Giants
30. Minnesota Twins
31. New York Yankees
32. Tampa Bay Rays
33. Philadelphia Phillies

Gary Brown, SF Giants #1 pick from 2010 MLB draft

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tim Lincecum featured on PSA

PSA? Public Service Announcement.

For those of you not in the Bay Area, a PSA has been on display in several different BART cars, and it so happens to feature Tim Lincecum. It's part of the HIV/AIDS cure campaign, and by now you should know that the Giants have been active supporters for that cause.

Tim Lincecum

Friday, January 14, 2011

Former Giant J.T. Snow asks for public's help

Former SF Giants, and now special assistant, J.T. Snow is now rallying for another cause that has hit close to home. J.T.'s younger sister, Stephanie, whose third daughter, Raquel, was diagnosed with Wolfram Syndrome, a rare disease which typically starts as Type I diabetes, but eventually manifests into vision, hearing, and brain loss. Children that have the disease will most likely not see their 30th birthday.

So with the help from the Washington University School of Medicine outside of St. Louis, Missouri, J.T. and his sister are trying to help raise awareness and funds to find a cure for this disease. From what J.T. said, "they are really close to finding something, but they need help (funding)."

If you are interested in learning more about Wolfram Syndrome, and helping J.T. and his sister fight this disease, please visit their website at

J.T. Snow

Ranking the 2011 SF Giants stadium give aways (SGA)

Okay, by now the true die-hards have already reviewed the promotional schedule the Giants released on Wednesday, Jan. 12, and I'm sure most of them have even penciled in their calendar which games they must attend.

So, if you haven't seen the list or are wondering what are going to be the hot stadium give-aways (SGA), I've taken the liberty to rank them for you. So here we go ...

The Must-Haves, i.e. the crazy long lines

  • World Series Replica Trophy, First 20,000 fans (Sunday, April 24 v. Braves)
  • Willie Mays Statue Replica, First 20,000 fans (Friday, May 6 v. Rockies)
  • Cody Ross Bobblehead, First 25,000 fans (Saturday, June 4 v. Rockies)
  • Aubrey Huff Bobblehead, First 25,000 fans (Saturday, June 25 v. Indians)
  • Buster Posey Bobblehead, First 20,000 fans (Sunday, July 10 v. Brewers)
  • Tim Lincecum Bobblehead, First 25,000 fans (Saturday, Aug. 27 v. Astros)

Cool, I want one, i.e. long lines
  • World Series Ring Keychain, First 20,000 fans (Saturday, April 9 v. Cardinals)
  • Buster Posey Pin, First 20,000 fans (Sunday, April 10 v. Cardinals)
  • World Champions Banner, First 20,000 fans (Saturday, April 23 v. Braves)
  • Orange Wearable Blanket, First 20,000 fans (Friday, May 20 v. A's)
  • Skateboard Deck, First 7,500 fans  (14 & under) (Sunday, June 12 v. Reds)
  • Madison Bumgarner T-Shirt, First 20,000 fans (Sunday, June 26 v. Indians)
  • Fedora Hat, First 20,000 fans (Sunday, July 24 v. Brewers)

Eh, I'll take one, but I won't wait in line for it, i.e. no lines necessary
  • Opening Day Calendars, First 40,000 fans (Friday, April 8 v. Cardinals)
  • Magnet Schedule, First 20,000 fans (Monday, April 11 v. Dodgers)
  • Orange Friday Rally Rags, First 20,000 fans (Friday, April 22 v. Braves)
  • World Champions Canvas Print, First 20,000 fans (Saturday, May 7 v. Rockies)
  • World Champions Tote Bag, First 20,000 fans (Sunday, May 8 v. Rockies)
  • Striped Socks, First 20,000 fans (Saturday, July 9 v. Mets)
  • Virgin America voucher, All fans (Saturday, Aug. 6 v. Phillies)
  • Brian Wilson Road Jersey, First 7,500 kids (Sunday, Aug. 7 v. Phillies)
  • Matt Cain lunch bag, First 7,500 kids (Sunday, Sept. 4 v. Diamondbacks)
  • Trading Cards, First 20,000 fans (Saturday, Sept. 10 v. Dodgers)

Thanks, but no thanks! i.e. don't want one
  • Silly Bandz, First 10,000 fans (Sunday, June 5 v. Rockies)
  • Belt Buckle, First 20,000 fans (Saturday, July 23 v. Brewers)
Overall, the lineup is pretty good, but I had a few thoughts concerning the schedule. First, a fan noted that the Photo Day promo was gone, I wasn't a big fan of that day but apparently some folks are pissed off that it's missing. Second, the giveaways are still allocated to the first 20,000-25,000 fans - this I don't get. Why can't the Giants and the respective sponsors have 40,000 items available, and help avoid the long lines and chaos; and the crying kids, and upset mothers that miss out on a give away? Other teams do it, not sure what the problem is here. Third, Lincecum is having another bobblehead. Don't get me wrong, I love Timmy, but I thought maybe one of the other guys like Torres, Bumgarner, Freddy Sanchez would be deserving of one as well.

The bobblehead give away that started it all ... Willie Mays bobblehead from the 1999 giveaway schedule.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where are they now ... Chili Davis (SF Giants: 1981-1987)

Fifth installment in this series ...

Charles Theodore Davis was drafted by the Giants in the 1977 amateur draft in the 11th round out of Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. Nicknamed Chili, he quickly made his way up the minors and became a September callup in the 1981 at the age of 21.

In 1982, Davis made the team and immediately proved his worth in appearing in 154 games and compiling 641 at-bats. In that season, Chili belted 19 home runs, 76 RBI, and batted .261 while garnering 4th place in the National League Rookie of the Year ballot. Chili would end up playing another five years in San Francisco, and accumulated 101 HR, 418 RBI, while batting .267. His best statistical season as a Giant was in 1984, when he hit 21 HR, 81 RBI, and batted .315. It would also mark, Chili's first All-Star game selection and appearance.

After the '87 season, Chili entered free agency and signed with the California Angels where he would spend the next four seasons. Immediately following the 1990 season, Chili would spend the next nine seasons with stops in Minnesota, back to the California Angels, Royals, and Yankees. In those post-Giants years, Chili was a part of three World Championship clubs: Minnesota - 1991, New York Yankees - 1998, 1999.

Chili's career would eventually end with a World Championship title with the Yankees in 1999, and in his 19-year career, he amassed 350 HR, 1,372 RBI, and a career batting average of .274, and was three-time All-Star.

After his playing career ended, it appears Chili took some time off before rejoining organized baseball as an instructor. His first foray into coaching was with the Australian Summer League, where he served as a coach in 2003-2004. In 2010, he was a part-time instructor for the Dodgers for their instructional league.

Where is he now? Just last week, the Boston Red Sox announced that Chili was their new hitting coach for their AAA Pawtucket team. Chili replaces Gerald Perry, who was hired as the hitting coach with the Oakland A's.

Chili Davis (SF Giants: 1981-1987)

Chili pictured with teammates Will Clark and Chris Brown

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ESPN announces Sunday Night Baseball schedule for 1st half of the season

ESPN has announced their Sunday Night Baseball schedule for the first half of the season, and the Giants will take part in two telecasts: April 3 in LA, July 10 at home versus the Mets. Therefore, the start time for the July 10 game moves from 1:05 pm to 5:05 pm.

I have no idea when ESPN will announce the remainder of the schedule, but will assume it will happen a few months into the season.

The ESPN Sunday night schedule:

April 3: Giants at Dodgers (ESPN2)

April 10: Yankees at Red Sox

April 17: Rangers at Yankees

April 24: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals

May 1: Mets at Phillies

May 8: Atlanta Braves at Phillies

May 15: Red Sox at Yankees

May 22: Chicago Cubs at Red Sox

May 29: Reds at Braves

July 10: Mets at Giants

July 17: Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

ESPN Sunday Night Baseball

Can the 2011 season set the single-season attendance record at AT&T Park?

If the blogs and tweets are any indicator, the 2011 home season for the Giants is going to be a blockbuster at the gate. Fans are already clamoring for duckets and are chopping at the bit to be at the park for some of the key matchups of the season against the Dodgers, Phillies, Padres, and Braves. So the question remains, will the Giants set a new single-season record for attendance in 2011?

If you examine the attendance records for the first 11 years of the ballpark it may be tough for the 2011 team to eclipse the inaugural 2000 season when the club had over 3,318,800 fans come through the turnstiles. Basically, the club needs a sellout for each home game, and that includes games versus doormats like the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros, et al.

So what do you think, can a World Series title entice over 3.3 million fans to attend games at AT&T Park in 2011?

Ranked attendance records
  1. 2000: 3,318,800 (avg: 40,973)
  2. 2001: 3,311,958 (avg: 40,888)
  3. 2003: 3,264,898 (avg: 40,307) DIVISIONAL SERIES APPEARANCE
  4. 2004: 3,256,854 (avg: 39,718)
  5. 2002: 3,253,203 (avg: 40,163) WORLD SERIES APPEARANCE
  6. 2007: 3,223,215 (avg: 39,793)
  7. 2005: 3,181,023 (avg: 39,272)
  8. 2006: 3,130,023 (avg: 38,646)
  9. 2010: 3,037,443 (avg: 37,499) WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON
  10. 2008: 2,863,837 (avg: 35,356)
  11. 2009: 2,862,100 (avg: 35,335)

AT&T Park
Home of the World Champions
San Francisco Giants

Pac Bell Park - Opening Day 2000

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Giants spring training tickets on sale this Thursday

Just a reminder, Giants spring training tickets will go on sale this Thursday, January 13 at 10:00 a.m. PST (11am MST). From what we hear, the pre-sale for season ticket holders went nuts ... if you're looking to attend the March 18 game vs. Dodgers, be prepared for slim pickin's - those tickets went fast.

Giants spring training in Scottsdale

Monday, January 10, 2011

Photo essay - SF Giants logos

For one reason or another, the Giants have always had clean, cool-looking logos throughout the years. Listed below is a logo pictorial of the primary logos used by the Giants. Which one is your favorite?






Sunday, January 09, 2011

Bruce Bochy Field at Brevard Community College

Bruce Bochy, the manager of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants and an alumnus of Brevard Community College, will be honored by the BCC athletic department on Jan. 14 with a ceremony to name BCC's baseball field Bruce Bochy Field.

In 1975, BCC won the Florida State Championship and Bochy was its All-America catcher.

The college is planning an entire day of activities for this event including a VIP reception, photograph and autograph opportunities, lunch, and a silent auction.

Bruce Bochy
World Champions - San Francisco Giants

Brevard Community College Titans

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The future is now ... Thomas Neal

When was the last time the SF Giants produced a homegrown outfielder that was a flat out slugger? Hmmmm, maybe Jack Clark? It's been a long time. Well, let me introduce you to Thomas Neal. Thomas was drafted by the Giants in the 2005 amateur draft in the 36th round (1,092 overall) from Riverside Community College. The Giants originally offered Thomas $7K to sign out of high school in 2005, but he opted to attend Riverside Community College and boosted his stock in the process (.637 sluggling, .502 OBP). The Giants ended up signing him as a draft-and-follow for $220K.

Okay, I know what you're thinking ... 1,092 overall pick? Yeah, usually someone drafted in the 36th round doesn't become a top prospect for any club, but Thomas is not your regular 1,092 pick. He's quickly moved up the ranks of the minors, and if he continues to show improvement in 2011, there should be no reason why he couldn't compete for a roster spot with the big club in 2012.

In just five years, Thomas has amassed 54 home runs, 264 RBI, and .296 batting average. Last year in AA Richmond, he belted 12 home runs, 69 RBI, and .291 average while appearing in 136 games with 525 at-bats. It was some what of a dip from his 2009 season from high class A San Jose, but that's to be expected as the competition in AA jumps up exponentially.

The big question is will Thomas continue making improvements in 2011. Most likely, he'll start the season in AAA Fresno, and in addition to playing the outfield expect for him to get some time at first base as well. As we all know, the Giants have a logjam in the outfield, so maybe that's why he was playing first base in the 2009 Arizona Fall League.

Either way, remember the name Thomas Neal, you might hear Renel belting out his name at AT&T Park sooner versus later.

2009 Hi A Player of the Year
2009 Hi A All-Star OF
2009 California League All-Star OF
2009 Baseball America 2nd team Minor League All-Star OF

Thomas Neal - Arizona Fall League 2009

Thomas Neal - San Jose Giants 2009

Friday, January 07, 2011

Former Giant, Travis Blackley signs with Kia Tigers

Last month it was announced that former SF Giant, Travis Blackley (LHP), signed with the Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization.

Travis was traded to the Giants, from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Jason Ellison on April 1, 2007. However, Travis' tenure was quick and dirty ... he appeared (started) in only two games in 2007, and posted a 7.27 ERA in 8.2 inning, and gave up 10 hits and 7 runs. After his abysmal starts, he was promptly sent down to AAA Fresno where he remained for the '07 season. At season's end, Travis was released from the Giants and would spend the next three years playing in the minors for four different Major League teams (Phillies, D'Backs, A's, and Mets), and one year in the Mexican League playing for Chihuahua.

Travis is now the second former Giant to sign with a Korean team this offseason. Ryan Garko signed with the Samsung Lions in late 2010.

Travis Blackley (SF Giants: 2007)

Travis made only two career starts for the Giants

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Where are they now ... Tom O'Malley (SF Giants: 1982-84)

Fourth installment in this series ...

The first autograph I ever received was from Tom O'Malley. It must have been in the 1983 season, but I still remember Tom signing my Giants program cover when I was near the dugout. For that reason, I'll always remember Tom even though his tenure with the Giants was for only three years.

Tom was drafted by the Giants in the 16th round of the 1979 amateur draft straight out of Montoursville High School in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, and spent the subsequent three years in the minors before being called up to the Bigs in 1982. Unfortunately, Tom's time with the Giants was uneventful for a corner infielder - he hit 7 home runs, 72 RBI, and batted .260 in those three years. In August of 1984, Tom was traded to the Chicago White Sox and lasted there for the remainder of the season. For the next five years, Tom would end up spending time with Baltimore, Texas, Montreal, and New York (Mets) before his Major League career ended.

What transpired afterwards was something you would see from a Hollywood movie script, in fact, Tom's story kinda reminds me of the movie, Mr. Baseball, featuring Tom Selleck as a former Major Leaguer making it big in Japan.

While in Japan, Tom's career flourished, in fact he flat out dominated. In his first year with the Hanshin Tigers, the 31-year old batted .307, hit 21 home runs, and 81 RBI. In the subsequent two years, Tom batted .325 and .329. In 1994, Tom batted .314 with 15 home runs and was promptly let go at season's end. In the next season, Tom signed with the Yakult Swallows and was determined to play so well that would make the Tigers regret letting him go. In that year, Tom won the Central League MVP while batting .302, 31 home runs, and 98 RBI. He also hit .529 in the Japan Series and won the series MVP. In 1996, Tom still produced by hitting .315, 18 home runs, and 97 RBI, but politics within the organization made Tom the scapegoat and he was released at season's end.

In 1997, Tom returned to the States, and was in spring training camp with the Texas Rangers, but he didn't make the club and didn't want to play in the minors and his professional playing career essentially ended.

So where is he now? After his playing career ended, Tom managed the Newark Bears of the Independent League from 1998-2001. After that, he returned to the Land of the Rising Sun, and became a batting instructor and scout for his former employer, the Hanshin Tigers up until 2009.

Tom O'Malley (SF Giants: 1982-84)

Tom O'Malley (Hanshin Tigers: 1991-94; Yakult Swallows: 1995-96)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Former Giants start wine label

What is it with former ballplayers and wine? I don't know either. But I do know that two former Giants have ventured into the wine industry and created their own wine label. Dave Roberts and Rich Aurilia have teamed with several other folks to create Red Stitch wine based out of Napa, Calif. Compared to other labels/vineyards Red Stitch is just an infant. Obviously, they're looking to start slow and building the distribution network as they go along.

I haven't had the chance to taste their vino, but by all accounts, their current release has received great reviews with high marks. In addition to Dave and Richie, Mike Krukow is on their advisory board too. For those that don't know, Mike was actually in the restaurant business after his playing career ended and has developed quite a palate and liking for wines throughout the years.

As of date only one wine is currently available,  2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, at $75 per bottle. From what I gather you can only purchase it online at the moment, and only two restaurants in the City have added Red Stitch to their wine list, Boulevard and Gary Danko.

Red Stitch wine

Rich Aurilia (SF Giants: 1995-2003, 2007-2009)

Dave Roberts (SF Giants: 2007-2008)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Giant that can throw the pigskin

I guess the 49ers are looking for a new quarterback, little do they know there's one over at 24 Willie Mays Plaza that played college football. He's a super utility guy now for the Giants, but maybe we can add QB duties to his list.

Guess who he is?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Equipment Room v3.0 ... vintage SF Giants New Era cap & customer service

Third installment of this series ...

A baseball cap and me go hand-in-hand, I'm always wearing one, even my baby pictures have me in a cap too. No joke, wish it was. Anyways, by now, I must have over 100 caps from a fitted ballcap to an adjustable golf cap/visor - I have boxes of them in my closet. The vast majority caps, as you can imagine, are Giants caps - probably 45 plus.

Back in 2009, I purchased a vintage SF Giants cap (late 70s, early 80s) made by New Era from a seller on eBay. The cap was brand new, and featured the old-style leather sweatband, nowadays they use a cotton blend sweatband. The cap was great lookin', the classic interlocking "SF" and orange bill. However, there was one problem. The bill of the cap was cracked, whatever material they used in the bill of the cap had dried out and was literally cracking and breaking apart whenever you tried to shape it. Basically, the hat was unwearable because of the bill.

I spent months going to shoe repair shops, alteration shops and the like to see if they could fix it. All of them said no. So, the cap ended up sitting in my closet for almost a year before I had an epiphany. Why not call New Era directly to see if they can fix it. After searching for their number, I finally reached someone in customer service and explained my dilemma, the lady at New Era said to ship the cap to her and they would inspect the cap and see what they could do - if anything. During our conversation, I repeatedly noted that I would pay for all labor/parts/shipping costs associated with the cap. At that point, I just wanted to wear this great looking cap.

The very next day I shipped the cap to New Era Cap Co., in Buffalo, New York, and included a letter explaining the condition of the cap. I also reiterated that I would pay for any costs associated in repairing it too. About two weeks later, I received a US Postal package from New Era ... I immediately thought the worst, they couldn't fix and just shipped the cap to me. When I opened the box, I was totally shocked, the cap was repaired and New Era didn't charge me a penny for the repair. The cap that was once battered and bruised was now a total gem.

I ended up wearing the cap for most of the 2010 season when I attended games at AT&T Park, and the comments I've received about the cap have been endless. I can't say enough great things about New Era ... they took care of me when they didn't have to, and didn't charge me anything for their trouble. That folks is customer service! I always adored New Era products in the past, but I'm an uber-fan now.

Who says the U.S. can't produce quality products? Just take a look at New Era Cap Co.!

Giants cap with new bill insert

Workmanship from New Era was excellent, could never tell it was repaired

Vintage New Era cap tag on leather sweatband