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Saturday, February 26, 2011

An introduction

Hey, fans. Just getting started here. Don't know what took so long, but after a lifetime of subtle devotion to the San Francisco Giants (I am not a screamer, I don't go to bars to watch games, and I don't go into debt just to get into an overpriced baseball game), I thought it would be fun to post and share thoughts in a season that's filled with such anticipation.

I do regret I didn't do it last year, because it would have been great to keep an account of the heart-pulling and gut-wrenching undulations of the Giants' amazing run.

As a former sportswriter who covered the Humm Baby Giants in their 1980s "glory" years for a couple small newspapers, I often get the itch to put on paper my observations of a game. This will give me that opportunity, without editorial demands (length worries, game-account narrative, etc). I will be able to riff on what I think are intriguing parts of the game that perhaps aren't covered in the dailies, offer the insight of a guy who grew up playing baseball and is passionately devoted to the art and science of it.

First thoughts as we head into the Cactus League schedule:

-- Pablo Sandoval's turnabout appears to be serious. If the devotion to his health he displayed over the winter translates into production that can approach his 2009 numbers, it will have been as if the Giants made a major transaction for free.

If he returns to form, imagine the force he can bring to the middle of the lineup and how much strain it will take off guys like Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell.

-- My favorite sleeper of the year: Mark DeRosa. If his health is as it appears, his wrist fully recovered, he can be a tremendous asset, one of those super subs so essential to championship baseball teams.

-- Miguel Tejada worries me. He showed serious signs of decline last year (power numbers, RBI, average, range), and he's only getting older (without the friendly "boosters" of his earlier years). I sure hope Giants management doesn't stick too long with him if his decline carries into the new season, and I sure hope they have a second option.

-- Tim Lincecum proved his mettle after his disastrous August last year, showing he is one of the true stars in the league. That doesn't mean I'm totally confident he will return to the dominant pitcher he was in his two Cy Young years. I still have qualms over his arm strength. It seemed to return a bit toward the end of the year after he got serious with his sideline work (long toss, running), but the jury is out for me.

-- I like that Madison Bumgarner is the No. 5 starter because it sets him up in a stress-free situation. Not that he knows what butterflies are or anything. He's ice on the mound. His presence matches a veterans. But by definition a No. 5 pitcher has the fewest expectations, and if he can lasso his potential, he can provide a major boost.

Ok, that's it for now. All season, I'll be making observations on games, broadcaster comments, post-game show hosts and their listeners, and whatever else that pops up that concerns the San Francisco Giants, Major League baseball, et al.

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