(Ed. Note: With Riley on tour for the next few weeks, we tapped his partner at Productive Outs Ian Miller to fill-in and offer his take on the other simmering regional battle in California: the fight for the Bay between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s. Ian is a Giants fan living in Oakland so you know he’ll give us the goods. Follow Ian on twitter and Productive Outs, too.)
HELLO CANADA. I BID YOU A BELATED HAPPY CANADA DAY.
I’d actually never heard of Canada Day before this week, but I suspect it’s a lot like our (the U.S. of A’s) Independence Day. So I hope you enjoyed your day-drinking, fireworks exhibitions, and poor decision-making.
I’m thrilled to be pinch-hitting for Riley while he’s out doing rock n’ roll things. Given my strategic location in Oakland, California, just three miles from the O.co Coliseum or whatever they’re calling that place these days, I’ll be delivering hard-hitting reportage on the Battle of the Bay, with unique insights on the inner workings of the Athletics and the Giants.
Nah, just kidding. Mostly I’ll be making cheap, tangentially baseball-related jokes and trying to make you laugh.
Let’s get started.
The Week That Was
Oakland Athletics: 4-1 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of July 2: 73.1%)
That’s Josh Donaldson and his 147 OPS+ on the waterflying contraption. Like a bumblebee, Donaldson is only flying because he doesn’t realize that he can’t. If you were to tell him that ZiPS thinks he should be hitting .258 instead of .312, he’d fall right out of the air and probably drown. So don’t tell him that. You don’t want that blood on your hands.
San Francisco Giants – 1-6 (Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds as of 7/2: 17.9%)
Miami Marlins? Psssssh, we got this.
/Loses three of four to the Marlins, the NL’s worst team
//Gets swept by the Dodgers
///Narrowly avoids being swept by the Rockies
Ehh, there’s not that much cat shit in this dirt. (This kid also tore his labrum and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Stupid Giants can’t even dig their own grave without screwing it up.)
The Leader in the Clubhouse
Not a tough call here: it’s Oakland in a boat race. Midway through the season, the scrappy A’s are 48-35 and just half a game behind the red-hot Rangers in the surprising AL West. Oakland got a mini-sweep about Cincinnati and took two of three from the Cardinals. The Oakland A’s scoff at the NL Central.
Bob Melvin, reigning American League Manager of the Year, is pushing all the right buttons, mixing and matching and platooning and generally putting his players in a position to succeed. In fact, the A’s haven’t lost more than two games in a row since May 10.
Meanwhile the Giants lost six straight — their longest skid of the year — before stealing the series finale at Coors Field. Obviously, injuries are the issue here: Angel Pagan is on the DL with a hamstring injury, and Marco Scutaro is recovering from mallet finger and missed a start on Sunday with back tightness. An already thin rotation was dealt a blow when the surprisingly effective Chad Gaudin hit the DL with an elbow contusion, joining Ryan Vogelsong and Santiago Casilla. And Buster Posey, who’s provided the entire Giants offense over the last week, got two starts at first base in Colorado due to leg soreness. It’s not looking good going into the dog days, Giant fan.
Line Score Of The Week
- OAK: A.J. Griffin, 6/26: 9IP, 2 hits, 2BB, 7K. Game score: 88
Griffin’s first career shutout came at the expense of one of the more potent offenses in the National League. No big deal. He’s just 25 and under team control through 2018. Pop quiz: In what season does Billy Beane flip him for prospects?
Runner-up: Bartolo Colon, 6/28: 8 IP, 6 hits, 1ER, 1BB, 1K. Game score: 70. Bartolo Colon is 40 years old and has the density of a black hole. He threw 101 pitches in this start, 70 for strikes, and took a perfect game into the fifth inning. HE’S 40 YEARS OLD. When I was 40 I could barely throw the ball to home plate on the fly. Blah blah steroids, sure, BUT STILL. Goddamned impressive.
- SF: Jeremy Affeldt, 6/29: .2IP, 1 hit, 1R, 1BB, 0K.
Bochy called on Affeldt to hold a 1-1 tie in the 9th inning. Affeldt retired the first two batters he faced, but ended up walking the left-handed-hitting Helton. Pinch-runner, stolen base, base hit, Rockies walk off on the Giants.
Out of context, this doesn’t look all that terrible. But here, have some context: The Giants, losers of five straight, had just gotten a gem of a pitching performance from Matt Cain. Cain went eight innings, allowing just three hits and one run at Coors Field (Game Score: 76). Total gut-punch.
Runner-up: Buster Posey, June 25-July 1: 10-18 with 2 walks, triple-slash of .500/.560/1.182. Safe to say that the National League Player of the Week enjoys hitting at altitude. If only some of his teammates shared his affinity.
AL & NL West Standings Update
SFG: 39-43. The Giants, who were first in the NL West as recently as May 26, have fallen to fourth place. They’re only three games out of first, thanks in large part to a struggling first-place (for now) Diamondbacks team, but leap-frogging three teams will be tough.
OAK: 47-35. The first-place Rangers have been hot of late, but they just can’t shake the A’s, who are hot on their heels and just a half-game out. Meanwhile the Angels have won six straight and are starting to show signs of life. This race is gonna be fun to watch!
Headline Of The Week
“San Francisco Giants Enhance Reputation As Digital Leader With Creation Of Social Media Café,” by Darren Heitner in Forbes.com.
You’ve gotta be kidding me.
If San Francisco Giants Social Media Director Bryan Srabian had a second home, it would certainly be the team’s new Social Media Café at AT&T Park, which was launched less than two weeks ago. Set behind the centerfield wall and perched back in Peet’s Coffee, the café is Major League Baseball’s first social media command center.
- The Giants have a “Social Media Director.”
- His name is “Bryan Srabian”?? That’s a joke, right? Someone is obviously taking the piss out of Brian Sabean, a guy who still uses a friggin’ Razr phone. Change a couple of letters, and Brian Sabean, a guy who has no idea what “social media” even means, becomes Bryan Srabian. I’m sure that doesn’t cause any confusion in the front office.
- That entire second sentence. I don’t even.
“Bryan Srabian” goes on to say:
“In my world, I walk around and I notice these things. I walked around Starbucks in New York City, and I noticed this giant video wall in Times Square. It had all of these people’s tweets from around the world that were drinking Starbucks. I just think there is something interesting about that.”
No, Bryan. There is literally nothing at all interesting about that. But thanks for sharing.
Inside Peet’s Coffee, San Francisco fans can view their own social media content from Twitter and Instagram on six, 55-inch screens, all while enjoying some coffee, recharging a smartphone, accessing a Wi-Fi connection, and of course, taking in some baseball. The café also includes a giant sized tweet-deck where Giants’ employees can curate fans’ tweets and display them within the café for others to see.
If your goal was to reinforce every existing stereotype about Giants fans, congratulations! You’ve succeeded in a big way. Now pass me that chardonnay — I’ve got a selfie to curate!
“With ticket sales being down across all major sports, the café is another way to draw fans to the stadium,” said Kevin DeShazo, Founder of Fieldhouse Media, a social media education and consulting company. “It is a unique experience that you’re not going to get at home.”
So, wait, which part of this can’t I get at home: ignoring the game while I check Twitter? Hell, I’m doing that right now, from my couch, and there are no dot-com jokers sloshing their drinks on me. I’m also not wearing pants, and I can tell you from experience that this is frowned upon at AT&T.
The team did not simply implement a stable Wi-Fi system throughout the stadium, which is a daunting task on its own. Instead, it decided to craft a true command center that is simply economically inefficient for any individual fan to build in his or her home.
Also, nobody wants that. I’ve got access to either a TV and a phone or a phone and a laptop at all times. I don’t need a 55-inch screen to post dick jokes on twitter.
“The goal is to perhaps get a naming rights sponsor for the entire area, but there’s also a lot of unique interactive and digital things that we could also throw in there.” Srabian said. “To be quite honest, there is as much interest from sponsors that aren’t necessarily digital — you think of Samsung or Yahoo. There are progressive companies that want a digital presence and want to be involved.”
Now I’m absolutely convinced that “Bryan Srabian” is actually Brian Sabean. Only he could purport that Yahoo is “not necessarily digital.” I give up.
And just imagine how it’s going to be when the A’s actually move to San Jose, heart of the Silicon Valley. It’s gonna be this level of Internet-economy bullshit times 10. Get ready to leverage the hell out of your vertical integration.
Quotes Of The Week
If score holds … in 17 road starts this season, Mike Kickham, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum will be 1-13 with an 8.11 ERA. Any questions?
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) July 2, 2013
Forget Garza or Nolasco; Jonathan Freaking Sanchez (currently languishing in triple-A in the Dodgers system) would be an upgrade at this point. The Giants ERA+ of 85 is the worst in baseball. Yes, even worse than the Astros mark of 89.
REALLY woke up like, "Did I just start in Centerfield last night?". I never seen my 1st start ever coming now.#wontbreakme (2b,ss,cf,next?)
— Jemile Weeks (@RealJemileWeeks) June 30, 2013
Sure, why not? Grant Green is clearly the second baseman of the future, so why not roll the dice on Weeks in the outfield? It would certainly make better use of his speed. A’s assistant GM David Forst says Weeks will continue to take reps at short and second. If nothing else, Weeks’ versatility will make him a more attractive trade chip.
DERP Of The Week: Josh Donaldson
I always just assumed there was an infinite amount of foul ground at the Coliseum, but apparently it does have an edge. Guarding the edge is a giant green dragon that looks like a tarp. After that it’s just guys with beards, all the way down.
Fake Facts about the Bay Area Baseball Managers
I can’t compete with Riley’s uncanny ability to find great photos of managers, so I won’t even try. Instead, I’m introducing a new feature: Fake Facts about the Bay Area Baseball Managers.
It’s no secret that Bruce Bochy has a giant head; his 8 ⅛-size hats have to be custom made. This is because he is part ogre. His father married into a ogre clan when he was stationed in Landes de Boussac, France. The Giants hold an Ogre Heritage Night each year in Bochy’s honor. Khloe Kardashian was the featured speaker at this year’s event.
Bob Melvin is considered one of the more cerebral managers in the game; what you may not know is that he’s an actual rocket scientist! As an undergrad, Melvin studied at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley, where he helped develop satellite instruments for space exploration.
Who Controls The Future
When Buster Posey sustained a season-ending injury in March of 2011, the Giants lost any hope of defending their World Series title. While the 2013 Giants haven’t suffered a single catastrophic injury, all the injuries in aggregate may end up having the same effect. Scutaro and Posey are hurting, and Pablo Sandoval always seems like he’s one cheeseburger away from another DL stint.
And it doesn’t get any easier for the G-men: they’re looking at four against the Reds and three against the surging Dodgers. (Yasiel Puig hit for the cycle while you were reading the precious sentence.) And the Giants can’t count on the Diamondbacks to continue their swoon; Arizona opened a four-game set against the LOLMets on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Athletics have the Cubs in for three and then hit the road to face the fearsome Royals. The way the A’s are playing right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go 5-1 over the next six. Of course, going into the All-Star break, Oakland has three-game series against the Pirates (owners of the — wait, can that be right? the… best record in baseball? Is this Crazytown??) and the first-place Red Sox. For the A’s to have a hope of catching Texas, they’re going to need to make hay against the Cubses and Royalses whenever they can.
Thanks for reading this first instalment, and go local sports squadron!