I need a snappy name for these kinds of columns. Things like "Quick Hits" and "News and Notes" are already taken. I'd offer up more McCovey Bucks, but my reserves are running low....
- The Giants are one game ahead of where they were last year after 45 games. They've allowed fewer runs, scored more runs, and have had a tougher schedule. The comforting part of their modest success so far is the lack of fluke performances. The Giants aren't riding a .355/.377/.600 line from Lance Niekro, or counting on Mike Matheny to continue a 30-homer pace. The players are performing to expectations, for better or for worse, with the exceptions of some serious disappointments like Ray Durham, Matt Morris, and Armando Benitez.
That's a good thing, though. I'll always prefer modest early success with disappointments over resounding early success with flukey-good surprises. Moises Alou has been off the field, Bonds is helping the team almost exclusively by getting on base instead of hitting for power, and the Giants are still winning. It's amazing how one week of 6-1 baseball can shoo away the storm clouds in our brains.
- Orel Hershisher's record is safe. Armando Benitez has given up his first earned run. Up seven, the Giants sent their closer out to get some work. In case you missed it, Natto did one of those courtroom sketches of Benitez on Saturday, and I just hosted it on the site. I think we're going to need to refer back to this one often:
I think my favorite part of the picture is just how happy he seems to have baseballs zipping past him.
Part of me would have been bent out of shape if Benitez picked a blowout to have - and this is just a guess - his first 1-2-3 inning in a Giants uniform. But part of me was annoyed that his struggles rousted Jeremy Accardo up in the ninth inning of a blowout to warm up for the third time. Felipe didn't hesitate to get Accardo back up, though, at the first sign of trouble. That seemed like the first sign of a short leash for Benitez. The boo-birds started to get a little surly, too.
- We complain about players like Jose Vizcaino, but take a look at what the Mariners are getting for close to a combined $20M:
Adrián Béltre: 164 AB, 2 HR, .207/.278/.274
Richie Sexson: 168 AB, 6 HR, .202/.278/.363, 51 SO
Could you imagine the wailing and gnashing the teeth if that were taking place over here? That's mathematically expressed as 2*(Edgardo Alfonzo3), for the number crunchers in the group. The hyperbole would be so thick you'd be able to spread it on an english muffin. Half the site would be too depressed to log on, and the other half would start downloading .pdfs on how to make Molotov cocktails.
That doesn't mean we're more passionate than Mariner fans; just whinier.
- The headline on the Yahoo! MLB page: Power outage: Bonds, Pujols fizzle in showdown
That's it? That's the lead story in all of baseball? Bonds is 1-3 with an RBI, Pujols is 1-4 with a double, and it becomes some sort of Al Capone's vault-like letdown? I really don't know how to react to this one. I understand that professional sports are currently, have been in the past, and always will be a star-driven enterprise. Bonds has a unique mixture of awe and loathing going for him, and Pujols is a once-in-a-generation hitting talent. But there other reasons to follow baseball, and the one-note coverage is starting to become a parody of itself.
After Kobe Bryant scored 81 points, the next three or four Laker game stories had headlines like, "Bryant scores 37; Lakers lose/win". After it became clear he wasn't going to go bananas every single game, that sort of coverage waned. The baseball coverage is kind of like that, but it's going to continue for the NEXT TWO HUNDRED YEARS. Or so it seems. It's almost enough to make me want Bonds to retire. Almost. More to the point, it's definitely enough to make me stop reading everything but the box score.