The first half of the baseball season has come to a close and who would have thought that my San Francisco Giants would be 10 games above .500 with a 49-39 record that's good enough to lead the wild card race! Although they trail the "team-that-must-not-be-named" by seven games, I would not count them out of the division race. Call me an optimist, but there's something about this team that you can't give up on. If there's one word I would use to describe them it would be "gritty." Like everyone else, at the start of this season I had little expectations of this team, but they have proven me wrong. They grind out most of their wins, which most of the time aren't pretty, but a win is a win. They may not be the most talented bunch of players but they play with heart and leave everything out on the field.
The Outfield: * Bowker: I don't know much about him. His previous major league stints were in the dark years when it was too hard to watch. But his Triple-A numbers have been phenomenal and I hope it translates to the same here. Its too soon for me to have much of an opinion about him. * Lewis: The experiment needs to be over. Its painful to watch. The coaches need to make him study footage of Bonds. * Rowand: I am not a big Rowand fan and his first few years on the team didn't change my opinion, but since he moved into the lead-off spot, the offense has improved. * Schierholtz: He's surprised me. He's streaky but when he gets hot, he's hot and is a great back-up for RF. Actually, he should be in RF permanently with Winn in LF. * Torres: I liked him since Spring Training. He plays with so much heart. Maybe its because of all his years in the minor leagues, but as a fan, I sure appreciate it. * Winn: He's a quiet guy who I sometimes forget is even on the team. No one plays right field better than he does and his OF versatility is invaluable.
The Infield: * Aurilia: Should he still be on this team? Many fans say no but I'm sure management values his leadership and years of service. I'm still bitter that he's denied me an autograph everytime I've asked over the past 10 yrs. * Frandsen: I get that people like him because he's a hometown guy, and seems to be a good guy too, but I don't see him becoming an impact player. I hope he proves me wrong. * Ishikawa: At first this experiment was painful to watch too but at least he can play defense. I find myself not saying, "JT would've got that" as much this year. His offense has come around nicely; hopefully he can keep his groove going in the second half of the season. * Renteria: I'm not a big fan of his mostly because of his contract. I'd like to see more production out of him, but he was hurt and his predecessor was one of the most popular players in SF. Hopefully his previous successes will become a valuable asset in the second half of the season. * Sandoval: What's not to like about Kung Fu Panda? He plays C, 1B, 3B effortlessly and can probably play more positions if asked. He's on an offensive hot streak and its a travesty, TRAVESTY he's not on the All-Phillies roster...oh I mean NL All-Star roster.
* Uribe: I like him. He has personality and is a solid player with quality at-bats. I think he's a great upgrade from Burriss.
The Catchers: * Molina: There's a reason he won the Willie Mac Award two years in a row. He's the main guy; the catcher and clean-up hitter and does it all with admirable humbleness. * Whiteside: I had no idea who this guy was until he got called up, but where would we be without him? He caught the no-hitter for goodness sake!
The Pitchers: * Lincecum: Do I even need to say anything about him? Love him, I never miss his starts.
* Cain: He was great in previous seasons, but is even better this season. He seems to be more cerebral in his pitching this year. * Johnson: It still is weird to see him in a Giants uniform but its much easier to like him when he's with us and not against us :) The ride to 300 was fun and exciting. I loved his return to Seattle and the reception the Mariner fans gave him and found it amusing how he dissed the D'backs celebration attempt after they chose not to re-sign him. * Zito: I want so much to cheer for him but he makes it so hard for me to do so. The contract is and always will be the elephant in the room. * Sadowski: I was out of town during his two starts so I never saw him pitch. He has a great story though and both games were dominating. It will be interesting to see how the rotation plays out in the second half. * The Bullpen: Who knew how awesome they'd be! I can't say enough about them. Miller, Medders, Affeldt and Romo are solid. Wilson gives me high blood pressure but somehow gets the job done. Oh and his show is over-the-top; sometimes annoying but overall entertaining.
I save Sanchez for last.
It had been over 30 years since a San Francisco Giant pitcher threw a no-hitter. I thought I would witness Jason Schmidt throw one but the closest I ever came was Livo taking one into the 7th. To say that I thought Sanchez would throw one is a clear-cut lie. He's been perplexing all season. Everyone can see his talent, as a left-hander no less. But his mental game was so weak. One missed call or error would spend him spiraling. It reminded me of Shawn Estes.
So to see him demoted to the bullpen, and then come back and throw a no-hitter was unbelievable. So many little things happened to set up the situation -- Johnson getting hurt, Aurilia going on bereavement...I cried when the final out was called.
It was a great way to head into the All-Star break. I'm so happy for him and for Righetti. Who knows if he'll be with his team in the second half, but this definitely cements him in the G's record books. And you know what they say, "Once a Giant, always a Giant."
I think the players and coaches have done their part. They've performed beyond any one's expectations and positioned themselves to be a contender. With the trade deadline looming, its up to Sabean to make the right moves to fill the holes (obviously a big bat) to carry this team through the second half and into the playoffs. The question is, can he do it? One last note:
What's also made this season so fun is my new Giants "friends" I've made on Twitter. There's a group of them that remind me of me and my cousin during the glory years (2000-2003). They get to the park at the crack of dawn to go to "work" getting autographs and pictures. They devote their heart and soul to the team. I can tell you stories upon stories of what my cousin and I used to do during our glory years. Heck, my cousin got Bells Palsy during the 2002 World Series for goodness sakes! LOL
The point is, its great to see the enthusiasm back in fans and I look forward to logging on to Twitter every game night to read and sometimes converse with them about the team. I don't even need to go to ESPN or anything other Web site to check the box score. I just log-on to Twitter and get the scoop from my tweeps :) I can feel the psychosis building up again in myself. Brace yourself, things just might get crazy if the Giants can keep things going in the second half! Go Giants!