<span class="vcard">Craig Calcaterra</span>

Tim Lincecum

There was a Tim Lincecum sighting last night! But then he went away again.

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Tim Lincecum hadn’t pitched in nearly a month. He was, without question, the forgotten man on the San Francisco Giants. But then, last night, he got his chance. Mop-up duty. And he did OK in that role. An inning and two-thirds. Struck out a couple of guys. Didn’t allow any base runners.

It ended on a down note, though, with the two-time Cy Young Award winner having to leave with back stiffness after a couple of wonky pitches, including one that came close to plunking Sal Perez. After the game he and Bruce Bochy said he’d probably be OK. It’s possible that Lincecum, if he is OK, could be the righty that Bochy calls on in situations where he might’ve called on Hunter Strickland before his meltdown last night.

Whatever the case, I’ll always be fascinated by the guy once known as The Freak. A rare, elite pitcher who suddenly lost it despite not, apparently, suffering any major injury. A guy who just became ordinary overnight.

No, Ned Yost didn’t “out-manage” Bruce Bochy. His players played better

World Series Giants Royals Baseball
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I’m seeing some pretty serious overanalysis this morning about last night’s game. Two guys — ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Fox’s Jon Morosi — have “Ned Yost out-managed Bruce Bochy” columns up. Both of them seem like an oversell. Stark called it a “chess match,” and argues that Ned Yost proved all the naysayers wrong with his deft moves. Morosi only briefly goes there — his column is more of a look-ahead to Game 3 — but asserts the same thing.

Is it rude of me to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we’ve gone way overboard in attributing wins and losses to managers this postseason?

Certainly bad moves should be called out. Yost made a few early in the playoffs and the Tigers and Cardinals, for example, can point to managerial decisions as a big reason they’re sitting at home now. And as I mentioned earlier this morning, Bochy putting in Hunter Strickland in the game with runners on base was probably the wrong move.

But it’s not as if last night was a master class in managing by Yost or a comedy of errors by Bochy. Hell, even Yost was dismissive of anyone suggesting he was a genius. From Stark’s own column:

Except afterward, with his Royals’ Series-evening 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in the books, Yost had a confession to make, before anyone could induct him into either Mensa or the World Grandmasters Hall of Fame:

“After the sixth inning,” Yost said, happily, “my thinking is done.”

And it is: Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland make thinking something of a redundant concept. Heck, if we can say anything about Yost’s decisions last night, perhaps we can say that he should’ve possibly gone with lesser relievers after he got a five-run lead rather than use his big guns. I don’t mean that as anything approaching a major criticism — there is an off-day today and Yost did what he felt he needed to do to win the game — but the fact remains that Yost didn’t exhibit genius last night. He just managed and didn’t mismanage. The fact also remains that, if we try hard enough, we can find fault in even the no-brainer moves.

It seems to me that, rather than focus on the managers like everyone seems so intent on doing, maybe we can just say that the Giants’ pitchers didn’t make good pitches when they needed to and the Royals handled everything that came their way in that sixth inning. I suppose it’s harder to get 800-1,000 words out of “the Royals hit the ball well and the Giants didn’t pitch too good” than it is to go on about managerial genius or the lack thereof, but the fact is that most games are decided by the players playing, not the chess moves the managers make. Last night was one of those games.

It’s understandable when people overanalyze during the World Series. There is only one game a night and a couple of off-days in the middle. The usual rhythm of the Major League season in which any game is relatively disposable and we get a new slate of 10-15 of them the next evening is out the window. The October schedule lends itself to football-style analysis, in which every single move is scrutinized to the nth degree because, jeez, what else are we gonna talk about? But let’s not forget that this is baseball and that sometimes — probably most of the time — the players decide what happens.

At least Hunter Strickland entertained us last night

Hunter Strickland
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Giants reliever Hunter Strickland had a memorable night, even if it was one he’d probably like to forget.

Things were already unraveling in the sixth inning due to Bruce Bochy probably sticking with Jake Peavy too long and Jean Machi not putting out the fire immediately, allowing the Royals to score the go-ahead run. Javier Lopez did his job in retiring lefty Alex Gordon, but then Strickland entered in a tough spot: two men on and one man out with the Giants down a run.

And he clearly didn’t have it. A wild pitch (nerves?) and a two-run double later (more nerves?0 he was facing Omar Infante, who is not a serious home run threat. Of course he left him a big fat pitch over the plate and it went out of the yard. Now, Strickland has allowed a good number of home runs this postseason. That’s a big reason why, maybe, it’s not a good idea to call on him with runners on base. Either way, if the young and inexperienced Strickland has experience with anything, it’s with watching opposing hitters take their home run trots. Strickland, however, acted like he’d never seen such a thing before and started jawing at Sal Perez, who was waiting at home to congratulate Infante. The highlight, embedded with the players talking about the little dustup:

Strickland blamed “miscommunication.” Whatever makes you feel better dude. You were the only one communicating, and what you were telling the world was that you lost your cool after letting the game get totally out of hand.

He’s young, and as Bruce Bochy noted in that clip, he’s intense. And with stuff like his, he’ll eventually be the kind of guy who is routinely called on to get his team out of jams. But for the moment, however, he has played and ranted his way out of the World Series. Or at least he should have.

PANTY RAID! Homeland Security agents confiscate unlicensed Kansas City Royals underwear

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This used to be a great country. You used to be able to print up panties with the Kansas City Royals logo on the butt and the worst that could happen would be a cease and desist letter from Major League Baseball. Now? Print up panties with the Kansas City Royals logo on the butt and you get raided by Homeland Security:

The panties, with “Take the Crown” and “KC” across the bottom, were set to be sold in Honig’s Birdies Panties shop Tuesday. But Homeland Security agents visited the Crossroads store and confiscated the few dozen pairs of underwear, printed in Kansas City by Lindquist Press.

“They came in and there were two guys” Honig said. “I asked one of them what size he needed and he showed me a badge and took me outside. They told me they were from Homeland Security and we were violating copyright laws.”

It may be fun to laugh at the panty raid, but take a step back and realize how messed up it is that government agents are out there enforcing private copyrights like it was a criminal matter. For most of our history, copyrights were enforced through the civil justice system, not by a unit of government agents dedicated to fighting “intellectual property crime.” A unit, it appears, that was created at the behest of entertainment companies, not because there was any sort of public outcry or criminal scourge imperiling the general peace and welfare. And, of course, a unit that is run out of the same offices where fights against terrorists and stuff are waged.

I feel safe now, citizen. Don’t you?

In any event, Birdies Panties — the purveyor of the pirated panties — probably shouldn’t have made those things given that they didn’t have the right to do so. But you gotta feel bad that The Man came in and took all of their merch like that. So, in the interests of sticking it to The Man, please go buy a pair of underpants or three from them.

A video game simulation of the World Series nailed Game 1

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Granted, this is basically an ad for a video game. But it certainly got Game 1 right. The Giants scored four early in the simulation, not three, but Madison Bumgarner cruised all the same:

Let’s see if it gets Game 2 right tonight. If so, people in Kansas City can back away from the ledge.