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Matt Cain

Matt Cain pitched his last game on September 30, 2017, one day before his 33rd birthday, retiring after thirteen seasons with The San Francisco Giants. It’s very rare to see a player wear only one uniform for over ten years and he deserves to be recognized. He accomplished many great things in his career. He has three World Series rings, three All-Star recognitions, and the only perfect game in Giants history. He never got the fame or glory that Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner got, but he was the backbone of the team for many seasons. He was called the Horse for a reason. He was reliable. You knew he was going to go seven innings and that he was going to keep you in the game.

I grew up a Giants fan. I remember the magical 2010 season in which we finally won the World Series as the San Francisco Giants. I went to a lot of games that season but the most memorable one was my first ever postseason game. I saw Matt Cain take on the Phillies in the pivotal Game 3 of the NLCS. He was masterful with only two hits in seven innings, giving us a 3-0 victory. I celebrated in the stands and snapped a photo that became my iPhone background for the next couple of years. I remember watching his perfect game two seasons later. I started watching it at Red Jack Saloon, my favorite dive bar. I made the trek home and got back just in time to see Gregor Blanco’s amazing catch. I knew that I was witnessing history in the making. They got that last out and Matt Cain cemented his legacy. Lots of people win multiple championships. Throwing a perfect game is damn near impossible.

Matt Cain will always be one of my favorite Giants. His poster is on my wall. He will stay on my wall. It’s not the greatest honor but it’s the least I can do.

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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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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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Inside the Clubhouse: Dynasty

SFG Productions presents Inside the Clubhouse: Dynasty, a documentary about the 2014 San Francisco Giants postseason. It’s a 45-minute recap of the team’s victories and greatest plays on their way to their third World Series title in five years. It’s awesome if you’re a Giants fan, not so much if you’re a Pirates fan/Nationals fan/Cardinals fan/Royals fan. It seemed like each Giants player had a moment to shine during the playoffs (although Mad Bum stole the spotlight). This program lets you relive all the torture, tension, and glorious relief as the Giants ultimately take a dramatic Game 7. The documentary raises the question about whether or not the Giants are a dynasty. The answer is yes. Yes, they are. The film is currently available online but I don’t know for how long, so you should watch it now. Like right now. Here’s the link below. You’re welcome. http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/sf/fan_forum/gen/index.jsp

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pablo Sandoval

So Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval is leaving San Francisco for Boston and I feel a little betrayed. Panda was our guy. We drafted him. We brought him up through our farm system. He brought him to the majors. We watched him mature, we watched him battle, we watched him triumph. He became a local hero. He was fun to watch. He helped us win three rings in five years. He summoned the Bambino and crushed three home runs in a World Series game. He became a legend. In San Francisco at least. He brought immense joy to a fun franchise. And then he left us for another team. One with fans that don’t care about him, that don’t respect him. I want to wish him well. But I can’t. I feel like he abandoned us. We would have had his back through any slump or disintegration in performance if he was still wearing San Francisco on the front of his jersey. Now he’s a rival. Good riddance. But thanks for the memories. I wish we could have had more of them.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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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2013 MLB ALCS/NLCS

The baseball season is winding down and right now four teams are trying to get to the World Series. The Detroit Tigers and the Boston Red Sox are competing for the American League Pennant, and the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers are competing for the National League Pennant. The two Pennant winners get to play each other in the World Series to determine the championship team. All four teams are solid, all of them deserve to be there, there are no underdogs… and that’s bad for baseball. In fact, it’s terrible for baseball. The Tigers were just in the World Series last year. They got swept by the San Francisco Giants in four games. The Cardinals won the year before in 2011. The Red Sox won it in miracle fashion in 2004 and then again in 2007. That wasn’t that long ago. And the Dodgers have one of the highest payrolls and most star-studded lineups in baseball, and have turned themselves into the Yankees of the West. You either love them or hate them, but you still have to respect them. And unless you’re a fan of one of those four teams, you probably don’t care who wins. In fact, you probably want all of them to lose. I know I do. Especially the Dodgers. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that the Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs, but I’ve got to bitch about something. All four of those teams are legitimate contenders. And that bores me.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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California Baseball Teams

Baseball is America’s pastime and California is America’s best state. I’m not being biased, I’m being factual. There are only thirty clubs in Major League Baseball and five of them are based in California. We have two expansion teams and three of the most storied teams in the MLB. The Oakland Athletics have been an American League team since 1901. They’ve played in Philadelphia, moved to Kansas City, then came to the Bay Area. They have won 9 World Series titles: 5 in Philly and 4 in Oakland. The LA Dodgers and SF Giants are both National League teams with roots in New York City, and they are one of the best rivalries in baseball. The Giants and Dodgers both have roots going back to 1883.  The Dodgers have 6 World Series titles, and the Giants have 7 (and are the reigning World Series Champions for the second time in three years). The Angels were an expansion team in 1961. They currently have one World Series title and right now they have one of the most formidable lineups in baseball.

            The Giants and the Dodgers have been rivals since the NYC days. The Giants and the A’s have a mostly friendly rivalry, but there’s some tension because A’s swept the Giants in the Battle of the Bay in the ’89 World Series. The Angles also beat the Giants in the 2002 World Series and bitter feelings still linger in San Francisco (we were five outs away, then they had to bust out the damn Rally Monkey). The Dodgers and the A’s have a rivalry because they are both competing for the love of LA.

And then there’s the San Diego Padres. They are the little brother of MLB teams in California. They have no World Series Titles and no real rivalry with any other California team because they’ve never really been a contender. They have 2 NL Pennants that they can raise, but you’re not a team until you have a ring. They have a nice stadium. That’s about it.

            The era of the East Coast Bias is long gone. It’s all about the West now. And you have a lot of options for choosing a baseball team in the Golden State. Do you support the NL or the AL? Northern California or Southern California? Do you like winners or losers? No matter what, there’s a team for you. But if I were you, I’d go with the Giants. Can’t go wrong with the best.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants are the best team in baseball. The Yankees might have won more World Series, but the Giants have won more games. I know that sounds unbelievable, but it’s a fact. Look it up. They have more wins than any North American sports team. That includes football, basketball, soccer, and hockey. The most winning team in the USA ever. And we won two out of the last three championships. That makes us a dynasty.

Right now we have some of the best players out there. We have Buster Posey, former Rookie of the Year and reigning National League MVP, and we have him for 9 more years. People don’t give enough respect to Pablo Sandoval. Yeah, he’s a fatty but he also hit three homeruns in a World Series Game, can hit from both sides of the plate, and makes spectacular plays at third base. We have quite possibly the best pitching rotation in the majors. Our worst starting pitcher has 2 Cy Young Awards. Our best pitcher has achieved perfection. We have three of the best announcers in baseball. Jon Miller is in the Hall of Fame. And Kruk and Kuip are two broadcasters that are as beloved as anyone on the field. Dave Flemming is growing on me. Very slowly, but he’s still growing on me.

We have two of the best players of all time. Barry Bonds is controversial because he was roided out in an era when everyone was roided out. Most people choose to ignore that he was a 40-40 player before he started using, and was perhaps the most dominate player of any generation. Some people might say that Babe Ruth is the Greatest Of All Time because he was the best hitter and a brilliant pitcher. Whatever, he never played against black people or Latinos and white people suck at sports. We also had Willie Mays. He is the leading candidate for being the best player ever. He’s certainly the most rounded. He was the ultimate team player with all five tools: he could hit with power, he could hit for average, great defense, a great arm, and a great base runner. Plus he was smart with great instincts. He was born to play baseball.

The Giants are the best team because they are my team. I love them no matter what. I love them when they win, and I love them when they lose. I anguish in each defeat, I revel in each victory. Baseball allows you to connect with the past. You can always compare a player from today with a player from yesterday. It’s why it’s the national pastime. It doesn’t matter who you root for. Your team is your team. But my team just so happens to be the best.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Orange October (documentary)

Orange October is an Internet miniseries about the miraculous and memorable 2012 San Francisco Giants postseason. There are twelve episodes, each one about 5-7 minutes in length. You have to watch this if you’re a Giants fan. You get to relive all the best moments of the postseason and remember how we won all of those elimination games with clutch hitting, great defense, and bizarre Angels in the Outfield-type moments. This documentary chronicles each game and the key plays and contributors as the Giants defeated the Reds, Cardinals, and finally the Detroit Tigers on their way to winning their second World Series title in three years. The 2012 SF Giants were destined to win and no one can deny that they earned it. So check out SFG Productions Presents ITC: 12 Days of Orange October while you wave your rally towel and rock your panda hat. And fuck the Dodgers.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Baseball

Baseball is the best sport ever. Hands down. There is no debate. Baseball is America’s pastime for a reason. It is timeless. It means something. The love and passion that you have for your team is something that you can share with family, with friends, with complete strangers. If you’re in a strange new place and you see someone wearing your team’s hat, you have something to talk about. If you’re in a strange new place and you see someone wearing your rival team’s hat, you have something to talk about.

Cincinnati Reds Ken Griffey Jr

Baseball is an easy game to comprehend, but it takes a lifetime to master. People who have never seen baseball in person know that three strikes and you’re out at the old ball game. There is beauty in its simplicity. You can be a casual viewer and just be aware of the situation and what’s at stake. And you can also be a diehard fanatic and follow every single pitch, every play. How can such a simple game get so complex?

Baseball is all scenarios and statistics. It’s all about who is pitching and who is at the plate and who is on base and how many outs there are. Every single detail is accounted for and every single player is rated. This gives baseball a continuous feel. You know that Ty Cobb could play today. You know that Ichiro Suzuki could play back then. When you cheer for a team you can celebrate the accomplishments of the current roster and you also honor the past. I am a Giants fan, born in 1985. I never saw Willie Mays play, but I am proud that he was on my team. I can claim him as my own. You can’t do that with basketball, or football, or soccer. A baseball team has a legacy, a history, and if you are a fan of a team you celebrate the past, the future, the present.

Football has lost its way. You used to cheer for a team. Now everyone plays Fantasy Football and you cheer for individual players. You hope the Saints will lose but that Brees has a good game. That’s not what competition is. It’s about having pride for the team that represents you. It’s about each player having their moment to shine, but it’s the team that gets the win, not the individual.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908. And they still have some of the most loyal fans in professional sports. You love your team, win or lose. And if they lose and you still root for them, each victory means more. That MLB: The Show commercial where the Cubs win the Series tugs at the heartstrings of every fan that knows what it’s like to lose. With the start of each new season, you hope that this is the year.

Like I said, I’m a Giants fan. I was brought up being a Giants fan. I heard stories of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal from my grandma. I grew up watching Barry Bonds (steroids or not, he was still the best player of that era). I experienced the joy of making it to the World Series and felt the despair of losing in spectacular fashion in 2002. And somehow we made it back and won in 2010. I went to the parade to celebrate. I felt that I helped contribute to the win just by watching and believing and hoping. My aunt thanked me for going to the parade and representing our family. It meant something to them that I was even there participating. I thought about all the Giants games that my grandma watched and how she never got to experience the thrill of a championship in her city. The game is more than a game; it’s a link between generations. A win for the Giants is a win for all the Giants fans across the ages.

Baseball has no time limit. It can go on forever, and sometimes it seems like it does. And it’s never over until you make the final out. Take the 2011 World Series for example. The Texas Rangers were a strike away from winning it all. And the Cardinals came back to tie it. And then the Rangers were a strike away from winning it all again. I remember commenting to my friend, “How many times are the Rangers going to have to win this game?”… And then the Cardinals came back again and won the game. And won again the next night. And they won the series even though logic and common sense said they should have lost.

The defense has the ball. That is different from most other sports. It adds drama, it adds tension. It’s a game of skill. The best players only hit the ball slightly more than three out of ten times. If you fail 70% of the time you are still considered good.

Baseball is a marathon not a sprint. The regular season lasts 162 games over 6 months. More games mean less tension. Each game is still important, but it’s not a matter of life or death. So you’ll see less fighting on the field and in the stands. You’ll still see rivalries and trash talking and the occasional fights, but you don’t see riots and brawls like with soccer. This helps to make it more of a family game. You go with your parents and grandparents when you’re young, and you go with your kids and grandkids when you’re old. And you talk about who’s on first, and what’s on second, and you laugh and joke and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Baseball is a great game. It is casual and complex and fun and frustrating. Sometimes it is all you have to talk about, all you have to live for. It’s more than a game. It’s a way of life. At least for 6 months out of the year.

Critically Rated at 17/17

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