Giant Expectations; More Pitch Count Insanity; Dabo Dances
The prevailing wisdom heading into the 2022 Major League Baseball season was that there was no way the San Francisco Giants could repeat their historic 2021 campaign.
107 wins? Yeah, right.
Win the National League West over the loaded Dodgers and Padres? C'mon, man. Let's be real.
After all, this year's version of the Willie Mays Plaza boys are without retired future Hall of Famer Buster Posey and All-star pitcher Kevin Gausman, along with, for the first month of the season, injured Evan Longoria and "Late night Lamonte" Wade.
And, according to most of baseball’s resident geniuses, if you think Giants' manager Gabe Kapler can work his magic once again with a bunch of no names, castoffs, pinch hitters and relievers, you probably believe in the Easter bunny.
As for the competition, the Giants' main opponents have gotten stronger. The 106-win Dodgers added Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel. The Padres added Sean Manaea and manager Bob Melvin.
Given all that, most prognosticators pegged the Giants for third place and 80 or 90 wins this year. Ironically, that's similar to what they predicted a year ago.
Well, Kapler and company apparently don't read their own press clippings or listen to the naysayers. If the first nine games of the season are any indication, they seem determined to prove the experts wrong once again.
And they just might do it.
The Giants' secret sauce includes one of the best starting pitching rotations in all of baseball, a loaded bullpen, and clutch hitting from a bunch of guys you never heard of.
Thairo Estrada (above w/ Wilmer Flores)? Austin Slater? Steven Duggar? Luke Williams? Seriously?
The Giants have allowed only 20 runs in nine games, and you always have a chance to win if the other guys are only scoring one or two runs. Logan Webb and Carlos Rodon are among the best pitchers n the league, and the combo of Camilo Doval, Tyler Rogers, Dominic Leone and Jake McKee coming out of the pen provide a stifling variety of looks and speeds.
Estrada has been a revelation, and Joey Bart appears ready to take over for Posey. Once Darin Ruf finds his stroke, and Longoria and Wade return, the lineup will only get stronger.
It's very early, but I've always been a big fan of the Easter Bunny.
Kershaw Denied: Speaking of the Dodgers, they’ve always been proponents of the current pitch count madness. Their philosophy is that there is no way a pitcher should go through a lineup a third time. No way a pitcher should throw more than 100 pitchers.
We wrote last week about the insanity of the Padres’ pulling Yu Darvish and Sean Manaea when both were throwing no-hitters. Well, the Dodgers went one better a few days later, pulling the great Clayton Kershaw after he’d pitched seven perfect innings. And thrown only 80 pitches.
No-hitters are one thing—there have been over 200 of them—but there have been only 23 perfect games thrown in the history of baseball. To deny one of the game’s all-time great pitchers a chance to complete one isn’t just absurd, it’s cruel and sacrilegious.
Here’s how Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, reacted (capitals are his):
“Clayton Kershaw Perfect game 80 pitches, take him OUT !!!!! WHAT THE! what’s the game coming to?1 of the era’s best, and you take him out with a perfect game in the 7th, 7-0 Dodgers winning. Take him OUT! THIS IS BASEBALL PLEASE PEOPLE THAT HAVE NEVER PLAYED GET OUT OF ITS WAY”
Hypocrisy Reigns: The Clemson Athletic Department last week announced a new multi-faceted program to help athletes capitalize on NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) income opportunities. The “Reign” program will be housed in a 12,000 square foot facility that will include a photo studio, video studios and media training rooms.
Clemson’s staff will partner with an in-house creative agency called “College Avenue Creative,” as well as other partners and platforms including Altius Sports Partners, Opendorse, CLC, Fanatics, One Team and the Spire Institute to develop personalized jerseys, cryptographic tokens, podcasts, video games, endorsements and appearances for Clemson athletes.
Yet the most hypocritical coach in college football, Dabo Swinney, insists he’s against commercialism in his sport.
“I am against anything that devalues education,” Swinney said. "People will come after me because I’ve always said that I’m against the professionalism of college athletics, and I am. That’s a slippery slope if you professionalize college athletics.”
It sure is. And Clemson has slipped pretty far down that slope.