Tag Archives: baseball

When the Season Ends

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge fan of the San Francisco Giants. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon as soon as they started winning World Series titles. I was born a Giants fan and I have embarrassing childhood photos to prove it: 

Go Giants!


I like sports but the Giants are my team. They take priority over everyone else. I’d rather watch a Giants game on TV than sit in the first row of a Warrior’s game. Being a fan of a baseball team is a huge commitment, especially if they are contenders for a championship. It means a month of spring training, six months of games, and (hopefully) a month of postseason play. It’s six or seven nights a week of watching or following games. There are highs and lows, a diverse cast of characters, and lots of magical moments that make it better than any reality show. 

So it leaves me with a hollow feeling when the season ends. Especially when the season ends as cruelly and abruptly as the Giants’s historic ninth inning meltdown of Game 4 of the NLDS against the Cubs. I was in AT&T Park. I got to see the life sucked out of the stadium and the Cubs celebrate on our mound. They got to advance. We had to go home. The season ended. It was over. It’s disappointing yet kind of a relief. I can relax now. Off-season for the Giants is also off-season for me. 

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Pretzel Incident 

I went to a San Francisco Giants game last summer with a bunch of friends and the girl I was seeing at the time. We all bought tickets in different sections so we decided to move to the bleachers so we could all sit together. We sat in front of a spot that was empty except for an abandoned half-eaten pretzel and a pile of discarded peanut shells. I was sitting there watching the game, talking and laughing and enjoying being alive, and I turned to my girl to give her a kiss. But I couldn’t because she was eating a pretzel. I thought that was odd because we didn’t go on a food run yet. I asked her where she got the pretzel. She pointed to the spot behind me where the pile of discarded peanut shells was. The abandoned half-eaten pretzel was no longer there. It was in her hand. And her mouth. And I couldn’t even look her in the eye. It was horrible. It still is. And it’s come to be known as the Pretzel Incident. I pray you never experience it for yourself.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young 

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Going to the Game by Myself

 I went to work yesterday and I didn’t feel much like working. I had an opportunity to leave early and so I took it. I clocked in at 10:30 and I clocked out at 10:45. I had the whole day ahead of me and I wasn’t going to let it go to waste. The Giants were playing the Diamondbacks at 1:05 and I was in the mood for some baseball. I started texting friends to see if anybody was down to go. Nobody could go on such short notice so I bought a standing room only ticket for myself and went alone. It was my first time going to the game by myself and I don’t think it will be my last. It was a lot of fun. I could do whatever I wanted. I didn’t have to settle for inferior beer. There was no debating where to go for food. I could make bathroom trips whenever I wanted and didn’t have to wait for anyone stuck in a longer line than me. And I wasn’t bored because I still talked baseball with the other fans around me. I feel like I paid a lot more attention to the game. I still prefer going with other people but now I know that I can go to the game whenever the mood strikes me. And going to the game is always better than watching it on TV. You can call me a loser but you can’t say I’m not a fan. Go Giants! 

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Tim Lincecum 

 I was born and raised as a San Francisco Giants fan in the suburbs of the city by the bay. I was a kid during the Barry Bonds era. I saw him hit home runs and steal bases and intimidate pitchers and lead us all the way to the World Series, only to suffer a devastating loss to the Angels and that damn Rally Monkey. I remember the hurt and pain of having a championship slip through our fingers. I knew that I would never take it for granted if we finally won one.

 Flash forward a few years to 2007, and I was moving into San Francisco after a brief stint in Los Angeles. I was back home where I belonged and the Giants were waiting for me. Things were a little bit different this time around. The Barry Bonds era was ending and an exciting new player was emerging. It wasn’t a slugger this time around. It was a pitcher… A scrawny white kid with a crazy delivery and lights out stuff. Tim Lincecum had arrived. 

 I watched as this kid (only a few months older than me) dominate. His fastball, his delivery, his casual attitude. He was a strikeout machine, he won games, he made hitters look foolish, and he smoked weed. He was cool as fuck. He won the Cy Young Award in his first full season. He won it again the very next year. He was The Freak, he was The Franchise, he was the future, and he proved it in 2010, when he lead us to the World Series. This time we won it. We did the impossible. And he was the biggest part of it. And I didn’t take it for granted. I celebrated. I cheered. I yelled. I even skipped work and went to the victory parade.

 Over the next few seasons, his velocity dropped, his command waned, and he was no longer immortal. He made mistakes and his ERA skyrocketed. But he still got the job done, any way that he could. He came out of the bullpen to help secure more World Series victories is 2012 and 2014. He didn’t always have his stuff, but he still managed to pitch a couple of no-hitters in 2013 and 2014. He never stopped fighting, he never stopped smiling, and we loved him for it.

 Injuries shortened his 2015 season and the Giants didn’t resign him. It turns out that baseball is a business after all. He started 2016 without a team to pitch for. He had a showcase in May that was enough to generate interest from a couple of MLB teams, and he ended up signing with the Angels and that damn Rally Monkey. He has yet to make his debut with them, and it’s going to be weird seeing him in a different uniform. He won’t be wearing the orange and black anymore, but he will always be a Giant. And unlike panda hats, his jersey will always be a welcome sight at AT&T. 

 Thank you, Tim. Thanks for representing the Giants in four All-Star games, for winning three World Series Championships, for the two Cy Young Awards, and your two no-hitters. You helped turn our team into a dynasty. It’s players like you that make me proud to be a Giants fan. Good luck with your new team, but I hope that you go into the Hall with SF on your cap.

 Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Adventure Day Backpack

I have an adventure day backpack. It’s the backpack that I always take to the beach or park. I’ll also bring it when I go hiking or camping or on a random day trip. I keep a few essentials in the bag at all times. There’s a lighter and a bottle opener so I’m always ready to party. There’s a bottle of hand sanitizer because it’s a nice gesture to clean your hands after you piss in public. I have a tube of Carmex lip balm to protect my lips. I have big lips, I need to protect them. There’s a multi-tool that my sister gave me with a knife, screwdriver, saw, can opener. There’s a stash of Band-Aids because shit happens. That’s just the pockets.

Open it up, and there are two baseball gloves and a ball, so I can have a catch wherever and whenever. There’s a Nerf football and a Frisbee if I want to play catch with something else. There’s a cribbage board so I can play cribbage if I want to play cribbage. There’s a deck of cards because you can’t play cribbage without a deck of cards. There’s also an UNO deck so I can play UNO and you can’t play UNO with regular cards. Crazy Eights just isn’t the same. There’s a beach towel so I can sit down at the beach. It also works just as well at the park. There used to be Bluetooth speakers too, but they broke. My birthday is coming up. I could use some speakers. Just saying.

I’m quite fond of my adventure day backpack. We’ve had a lot of good times together. I hope we have a lot more. Everyone should have a designated adventure day backpack. Everyone should go on adventures. Live life. That’s what I say, that’s what I do. Having an adventure day backpack makes it easier.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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My Black Eye

I had the day off yesterday and celebrated by going to the park with some friends. We played cards, listened to music, ate some chips and dip, and threw a baseball around. We played catch, getting farther and farther away from each other, and that eventually morphed into an impromptu game of Three Flies Up. I was jostling for position to catch a fly ball, slightly bumping into my friend, I raised my glove, missed the ball entirely, and had it land directly onto my eye with a sickening thud. THONK!! There was a blinding flash and my eye started swelling up immediately. My friends ran over in an instant, laughing and voicing concern simultaneously as good friends should do. One handed me an ice pack, another cracked open a beer for me, and another asked if I could see out of my eye, if I had a headache, or if my eye socket was broken.

It’s not a good feeling to catch a baseball with an eye. It sucks pretty hard. It’s like getting punched in the eye. I consider myself lucky though. As shitty as my reflexes are, I still managed to close my eye instead of having the baseball land directly on my eyeball. I didn’t get hit by the stitches and that would have caused even more damage. I didn’t break my eye socket, or my nose, or lose any of my teeth. If you’re going to catch a baseball with your face, that’s the way to do it.

I can still see out of my eye. It just feels better to let it be swollen shut. I called out of work today, and warned my managers of the dangers of playing catch in the park on your days off. I plan on icing my eye and trying various internet remedies to reduce the swelling. There’s one technique that involves putting cold tea bags on the eye, so I plan on tea bagging myself later. That should be fun. This is my first black eye. I managed to go thirty years without one. Let’s see if I can break that record this time around. I can only hope.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Photo on 11-20-15 at 12.58 PM

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2015 MLB Postseason

Sorry that I haven’t been posting on a regular basis, but it’s the 2015 MLB postseason and I’ve been a little distracted. It’s harder to blog when you’re going directly to the bar after work to catch the game. It’s a little strange watching the games without the San Francisco Giants taking part, but it’s an odd year so that’s to be expected.. When the Giants are playing I’m either focused on offense or defense. It’s kind of nice watching teams that I’m not invested in because I can see the whole game

This has been a pretty exciting postseason. There have been a lot of memorable moments so far. Kyle Schwarber’s mammoth homerun that landed on top of the Cub’s scoreboard, Jose Bautista’s bat flip to end all bat flips, Daniel Murphy’s heads up baserunning and homerun tirade all stand out. All of the Division Series went to a pivotal Game 5 except for the Cubs vs. Cardinals.

Now the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays are battling it out for the American League pennant and the Chicago Cubs are trailing the New York Mets for the National League pennant. The winning teams will go on to face each other in the World Series. It doesn’t matter who wins. No matter what it will be good for baseball. All the competing teams haven’t won the World Series in decades. If your team isn’t in it, you should be rooting for the Cubs. Not for the fact that they haven’t won in over a century, just so that Back to the Future Part II is right. We don’t have hoverboards or flying DeLoreans, but I’ll take a Chicago championship.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Jose Bautista's bat flip

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Passing Cash Down to the Vendor

I went to the San Francisco Giants game the other week with my friend. We scored some pretty decent seats about twenty rows behind home plate. It was a hot day and we were stuck in the sun. There was no escape from the heat unless we left our seats, and we are gamers so there was no way that was happening. We were going to sit there and be miserable. And we were. We were both dripping with sweat by the second inning. Luckily a vendor came by with some ice-cold lemonade. We hailed him, ordered a couple of lemonades, he passed them down the row, and we passed cash over to him, and then he passed back our change. It dawned on me how weird passing cash down to the vendor really is. You are trusting random strangers with your money. That’s one of the only places where you do that. Try pulling that shit at McDonald’s and see what happens. The craziest part is that nobody ever takes advantage of it. Just once I would love it if somebody tried to pocket a five-dollar bill during an exchange. But I’ve never seen it happen. You would have to be pretty bold or pretty stupid to try something like that. You’d have no escape and multiple witnesses. I’d like to try it sometime. Not because I need the money, I just want to watch how people would react. Maybe I’ll try it the next time a Dodgers fan tries to buy a bag of peanuts, because fuck the Dodgers.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Kevin Spacey’s Baseball Skills

I finally caved in and started watching House of Cards on Netflix. It’s a great show with great actors, writers, and directors. Kevin Spacey has won Oscars for his movie roles, yet his portrayal of the scheming Francis “Frank” Underwood is perhaps his finest accomplishment. Frank is a complex character. You want Frank to succeed even though he sometimes plays dirty. It takes a tremendous amount of acting skill to make a manipulative character likeable. He makes Frank Underwood seem like a real political figure. But every once in a while you get reminded that he’s just acting, like the season 2 episode “Chapter 19.” That’s the episode where Frank is set to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Camden Yards. There’s a quick scene where he is practicing in his backyard and it becomes quite obvious that Kevin Spacey has never played Little League. He throws like a girl. His form is terrible, almost as if he’s throwing with the wrong arm. It’s embarrassing to watch. It’s distracting. Kevin Spacey’s abysmal baseball skills cause you to lose respect for Frank Underwood and that should never happen.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Is It Baseball Season Yet?

We are in the midst of an epidemic right now. We are smack dab in the middle of baseball’s offseason. Spring training is only a few weeks away and we are all eagerly awaiting. There isn’t much going on right now. Football is practically over. You can either root for the Patriots or the Seahawks. That’s boring. Basketball just reached its halfway point. Kobe is injured and Michael Jordan retired a long time ago. Hockey is… well, I don’t pay attention to the NHL so I’ll just assume it’s still there not being relevant. That leaves baseball, or the lack there of. Right now there are countless Americans meeting at bars and water coolers across the country asking each other “Is it baseball season yet?” It will be soon. And I can’t wait.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Knuckleball! (documentary)

Knuckleball! is a 2012 documentary about the notoriously tricky baseball pitch. The film focuses on Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, the last two knuckleballers, during the 2011 baseball season. The two pitchers talk about how the knuckleball started as a gimmick, but how learning to throw it brought them out of obscurity and gave them longevity. They point out that it’s hard to hit because the movement is so unpredictable. But they are also quick to point out that the unpredictable movement is hard to control. Passed balls, beaned batters, and monster homeruns are just some of the unfortunate side effects.

The documentary was directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg and runs about 93 minutes long. That’s about 33 minutes longer than it needs to be. The film doesn’t need to drag on for that long. Just show the pitch, show what it means to the pitchers, and show how the knuckleball affects catchers, hitters, and managers. That’s all they needed to do. We don’t need that much backstory on R.A. Dickey’s journey to the Majors. That has very little to do with the baseball’s movement. The film is called Knuckleball!, not Dickey!

The film is available on Netflix and that’s where I watched it. You should watch it too if you like baseball and/or documentaries. It’s not as good as the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries, but it will give you some insight to an underrated pitch. It’s not always reliable, yet you can build a career out of it with some determination.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Jordan Rides the Bus (documentary)

Jordan Rides the Bus is another entry in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. It’s an interesting documentary that explores what happened when NBA legend Michael Jordan retired from basketball at the height of his popularity to give professional baseball a shot. Director Ron Shelton examines the reasons why Michael left one game for another and shows the struggles and triumphs of Michael’s stint in the Minor Leagues. Basically he stinks in the beginning, puts a lot of effort into getting better, he improves a little bit, and then he went back to playing in the NBA. Sorry for the spoilers but you should already know that.

Michael Jordan has been considered the best basketball player of all time and his attempt at playing baseball has often been considered a punchline. This documentary makes you realize that it wasn’t a joke. The guy really wanted to be a baseball player. He sucked but that’s beside the point. The point is that he tried. He doesn’t regret anything in the end. His time in the bush league took him from the top of the pedestal to the bottom, he learned some humility, and he became a better person and teammate when he triumphantly returned to the NBA.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Dynasty

The San Francisco Giants won the 2014 World Series. They also won the 2012 World Series. And before that they won the 2010 World Series. That’s three World Series in five years in case you’re not paying attention. That’s a dynasty. Only a lot of people disagree with that. Those people are mostly on the East Coast and they are extremely biased. They would have no problem calling it a dynasty if the New York Yankees did it. The Giants did it with the same core group of guys in an era when rosters change dramatically from season to season. Bruce Bochy, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Tim Lincecum, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, and Sergio Romo (and Matt Cain sort of) all have three rings with this team. A bunch of others now have two. A handful of them got their first ones. In 2016 they will get another if the trend keeps up.

The Giants are often overlooked and underrated. The Dodgers and Yankees get all the attention and publicity because of their marquee players and enormous payroll. But it takes a team to win the World Series and the Giants play as a team in every sense of the word. They pick each other up, they support each other, and they play for each other. It seems like there’s a different hero every game. They play for the name of the front of the jersey, not the name on the back and every single player on that roster will tell you that. They believe that there’s something special happening in San Francisco. And three World Series in five years proves that there is. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a dynasty.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Day The Series Stopped (documentary)

October 17th was the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake and the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series again, so it only seems fitting to talk about ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary The Day The Series Stopped. Director Ryan Fleck takes you back to the unforgettable 1989 earthquake that rocked the Bay Area just prior to the World Series Game 3 between the A’s and the Giants. It’s not the best documentary about the Loma Prieta earthquake, but it’s definitely the most sports-focused one.

The documentary begins by exploring the rivalry between the two teams and cities and setting up the atmosphere of the Bay Area at the time. You meet the important players and coaches and characters from each team. You meet a few fans and what their teams mean to them. Fleck does a great job of setting you up for the moment that changed everything. At 5:04 p.m. the ground started to shake as 6.9 magnitude quake roared to life. You experience the quake through the eyes of the players, coaches, broadcasters, and fans in the stadium that day.

At first they are shaken, then relieved, then they want the game to start. But soon they start to hear reports of all the widespread damage and chaos and the scope of the tragedy starts to set in. Baseball takes a backseat to Mother Nature any day of the week. The documentary explores the eyewitness accounts of fans, players, and coaches and even delves into the science of earthquakes. It shows the healing power of sports through escapism. It’s emotional, educational, and entertaining. It’s not the best 30 for 30 documentary but it’s one of my favorites. Although, I’m a little bit biased because I experienced the quake myself and my parents were at that game. It’s worth watching.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Slanted Cup Holders

I went to a baseball game the other day. I saw the Yankees take on the A’s at Oakland Coliseum. I’m not a fan of either team, but I am a fan of baseball and it was my last chance to see Derek Jeter play so I had to go. And I had to buy a beer of course. It’s not a ballgame without a beer. So I bought a ten-dollar pint of Bud Light, made my way to my seat, sat down, and put my beer in the cup holder on the back of the seat in front of me. The cup holder was installed at an angle. It was tilted enough to cause a couple of ounces of liquid gold to slosh down the side of the cup onto the ground. I couldn’t help but scowl. Beer is always precious, but ballpark beer is even more of a commodity. Each drop you spill hurts. You see dollar signs flash in front of your eyes. It’s bad enough to bump into someone and spill a little, but it really sucks when you make it safely back to your seat and the cup holder is the thing responsible for losing your beer. A cup holder is supposed to prevent your drink from spilling. A slanted cup holder defeats the whole point of drink protection. It’s like wearing sunglasses without any lenses. It’s a product that fails at the one thing it’s designed to do. But I’d rather lose my eyesight than lose any beer. Slanted cup holders must be stopped.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Caddy-Cups

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A Fan Making a Great Play

Yet another thing that I love about baseball is the fan interaction. You need to pay attention when you’re at the ballpark. You have to dodge the occasional broken bat. You get foul balls and home runs flying into the seats and stands. And you can make it on SportsCenter if you make a nice catch. A fan making a great play is always entertaining to watch. There are so many memorable fan catches. There’s the guy who drops his daughter to catch a foul ball. There’s the guy that snags a ball in his beer cup and celebrates by chugging it. There’s the happy dad who gets a foul, gives it to his kid, and watches in disbelief as the kid throws the souvenir back to the field. There’s the plucky old guy who gets a home run ball for the first time and offers it to a youngster nearby instead of keeping it. You’re not likely to catch a game ball, but it’s always a possibility. Be prepared and be ready to release your inner athlete at a moment’s notice.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks

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Throwback Jerseys

Throwback jerseys are sports uniforms that are made to look like a team’s old jerseys. Almost every major American sports leagues have turn-back-the-clock nights where the teams wear throwback jerseys. The National Football League and the National Basketball Association have cool throwback jerseys, but I prefer Major League Baseball’s throwbacks. The MLB made throwback jerseys popular. The MLB has a much deeper, richer, and extensive history than the NFL and NBA. They have more memorable teams and stars from different eras. They also have an insanely long season so they have a lot more games where the players rock retro uniforms. Sometimes they even wear defunct Minor League team jerseys or even classic Negro League ones. They honor their past and they don’t run from it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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