It was a Hall of Fame weekend where three managers — Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox were inducted. That raised speculation locally whether Giants manager Bruce Bochy would someday deserve the honor. Bochy’s two championships and total wins make him a legitimate part of the conversation in the future. But Bochy certainly did nothing in this weekend’s embarrassing home sweep to the Dodgers to win any votes.
Bochy began the key three-game series in retreat, playing down its importance. In that, he might have been the first manager in the 125 years that the Giants and Dodgers have been playing not to view the three-game weekend meeting between the historic rivals to have any more meaning than a three-game weekday series against the Rockies. Said Bochy prior to the weekend home debacle: “I don’t know what’s not a big game,” thereby lessening the significance of the matchup in the heat of a pennant race. If the manager isn’t fired up about the series, where should we expect the players to get their motivation?
Just another game, Bruce? Listen to the words of an expert on the rivalry.
“There’s so much pride involved. We try as hard against all other clubs, but somehow, some way, we feel all of the bad breaks, or sloppy games or mistakes will be forgiven by the fans if we beat the Dodgers.” That’s what Willie Mays said about the rivalry in 1971.
The Giants front office certainly viewed the series as something special. Dynamic Pricing, AKA price gouging, was in full view this series. The cheapest seat was $65 going into the series, for seats in the far upper left field stands, a terrible place to watch a baseball game. “Hey Dad, can we go to the Giants-Dodgers game?” “Sure son, just let me sell the car and the house, and we should have enough left over for a garlic fry.” Shame on you Giants, who love talking about the greatest fans in baseball. Now to be fair, Giants season ticket holders might have gotten the last laugh because the high market price set by the Giants meant that their reasonably priced tickets would bring in a nice profit on StubHub. There were a lot more Dodger fans in the park than in past series, so way to go Giants. Your greed helped to bring a lot more blue to Willie Mays Plaza. Heresy!
Other thoughts about this crucial series:
* Dodgers manager Don Mattingly took a hit when he arranged his rotation to have Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu to pitch against the Giants. Mattingly understood, far more than Bochy, that this was a statement series. Also, in a very practical sense, each game was worth a full game in the standings. So it is big in how it immediately affects the standings. A baseball cliché is that momentum is only as good as the starting pitching you face tomorrow, but ask yourself now: Who has the momentum after this series?
* Right now, the Giants must declare that Buster Posey is their first baseman. The battering sub catcher Hector Sanchez is taking, and the somewhat recent history of seeing top-notch catcher Mike Matheny forced to retire because of a concussion should be enough to force the change. The Giants are a weak offensive team. Posey is their best hitter. So, how smart is it to put him in jeopardy for a shortened career. I don’t know why it seems catchers are getting whacked in the mask now, but Posey has already taken a number of head shots in his early career. Posey’s switch from catcher wouldn’t hurt defensively, assuming the Giants could find a veteran to take over. Posey is not an exceptional defensive catcher. He is barely in the same zip code as sliding runners in plays at the plate, who easily avoid his desperate swipe tag as happened when Hanley Ramirez scored on a Crawford triple Sunday night. And Posey got totally conned by Dodger speedster Dee Gordon, who in effect stole a run when Posey chose to throw out Adrian Gonzales after he struck out on a pitch in the dirt. A pump throw to first and Gordon was dead.
* The Giants have lost five of their last 18 games at home. Why? Sure, the loss of Angel Pagan and Brandon Belt to injuries is a factor, but the obvious reason the Giants don’t hit at home is that their lineup is intimidated at spacious AT&T. The Giants do not build an offense for this park. They won two titles with weak hitting and some of the best pitching I’ve ever seen. So if the pitching can’t match those extraordinary staffs, the team will be challenged.
* Poor Dan Uggla. That ground ball that went right under his glove on national TV Sunday reminded me of a similar fate that happened to former Giants infielder Hal Lanier. A sports reporter wrote that ‘the ball went through Lanier’s legs like this (.)” Uggla hit .179 in 2013, and .162 this year. He is not trending to fill the Giants needs at second base.
* I am not a Jake Peavy fan. He was arrested on Jan. 4, 2007 at the Mobile, Alabama, airport on a disorderly conduct charge. He double-parked while dropping off bags outside the terminal. A security officer told him he could not double park, and to move on. Peavy objected, and said write him a ticket and he’d pay it. His refusal to move his car got him a trip to jail. The charge was dropped after he apologized to the airport police and the court. Did Peavey ever hear of 9/11, and the tightened airport security rules that followed, or did he think that didn’t apply if you could throw a 90-plus mph fastball. He struck me as one of those wealthy athletes who was so removed from the real world of those fans who worship him. Of course, I must note that everybody double-parks in San Francisco, so maybe fans will accept him as one of them, especially if he picks up a few wins.
* Despite the mismatch this weekend, the NL West isn’t over. The Dodgers appeared all-world against the Giants, but it’s difficult to get a clear reading on them. The Giants still have a strong pitching staff, and a healthy Pagan and Belt should help. Both teams have tough schedules through the next month, so there won’t be an easy path to success. And, of course, what happens at the trading deadline could affect the race. Giants fans can only hope that if they are in a battle with the Dodgers when the clubs play again six times in September that even the low-key Bochy will get a bit more excited.