Another Q&A? Is it 2011 again?
WFY: The San Francisco Giants are in the first place in the NL West and it’s an even numbered year, so everyone must be planning where to stand on Market Street in late October….wait, WTOP (rather than talk about the team in the city they broadcast from) mentioned they came out of the All-Star break 1-8. What in the name of Jeffrey Leonard is going on in China Basin?
DFS:I have no idea. Up until the All-Star Break, this season has been a lot of fun. It is simply amazing to me how well the team has been doing. They are platooning minor leaguers at three positions–2B, 3B and RF–and their bullpen is unreliable. And yet they are in first place and, at least for a time, had the league’s best record.
WFY: What’s the mood of the fanbase overall? Are they just brushing off the bad start to the second half?
DFS:I think that we’re seeing reversion to the mean. The minor leaguer back-ups are making base running mistakes, reliable defenders are making untimely, random errors, and the team has gone into a hitting slump–particularly Belt. But I think there is a general optimism that people can’t believe that this team has played so well and they can only get better when Hunter Pence and Joe Panik return and, to a lesser extent, Matt Duffy.
WFY: How are these Giants looking compared to the three championship teams of the decade?
DFS:Each of the World Series team were carried by a dominant pitcher. In 2010 it was Lincecum. In 2012 it was Cain. In 2014 it was Bumgarner. This team has both Bumgarner and Cueto pitching very well and at an All-Star level. That gives me confidence. What I worry about is the bullpen. The ’10, ’12 and ’14 teams got tremendous performances out of their bullpen. Affeldt for instance was amazing in multiple series. Romo was fantastic in the ’12 run. The Giants have a few guys (i.e., Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez) that were on all of those team. 6+ years is a tall order for a reliever. There’s no question Casilla is breaking down. The Giants owned the peculiar statistic of having the league’s best record at the same time as leading the league in blown saves.
WFY: Daniel Murphy has carried the Nats with his bat this year, is anybody doing the same for the Giants? How does the rotation stack up compared to years past?
DFS:My answer above could be duped here. But the rotation is not that different from those championship teams. The Giants had the luxury of have a five-man rotation where the fifth man is at least at mildly above replacement level. That’s not true of a lot of teams. Bumgarner and Cueto are aces who I expect to win their starts. Samardjiza is a total wild-card. He’s had good starts and bad starts where he gets shelled. Getting better performances from him down the stretch will be key. Jake Peavy is like Tim Hudson in 2014. Everyone loves him and he’s a good guy. But he is going to tire at the end of the season and his starts tend to end in the 5th inning. Matt Cain is the most veteran member of the team. He’s the only Giant that overlapped with Barry Bonds. He has a heart of a champion and I love to watch him pitch. But sadly the bad outings keep stacking up along with the trips to the injured reserve.
WFY: Is there any other nickname people use for the Giants? I’m find it gets It gets pretty dry writing that every time. Perhaps we ought to use the Bochymen now and then.
DFS:The broadcasters will occasionally call them the G-Men. I worked with a fan who called them the Gyros (and no one else does). Nicknaming tends to be reserved for individual players to the point of being forced.
WFY: Speaking of Bochy, how long does the great big head have left?
DFS:I think he stays as long as he wants and I’m fine with that.
WFY: How is the local beer situation in AT&T Park? In DC, there has been a bit of a retreat with AmBev taking over pouring rights. Also, congratulations, it’s been AT&T Park longer than any other name and since you’ve arrived in town, I think. It’s also the longest streak for a San Francisco ballpark name since 1995. What do fans call it though?
DFS:The beer situation for craft beer people is bleak, but for the average Joe it’s good. The concession stations have all the macro brews. It isn’t like some ball parks where it is Bud and Bud Light only or Coors only. There are a few places where you can get pale ales, IPAs and the like. But I don’t want to drink that stuff at a ball game, so I don’t really pay attention.
Everyone calls it AT&T. A handful of people will occasionally say Pac Bell, but I think that like me intentionally called the Wizards the Bullets because I can.
WFY: Off the diamond, how are fans taking the Warriors losing a 3-1 to Cleveland in the NBA finals? Or is their ambivalence because they are “Golden State?” Aren’t they moving across the bay to a pier some time?
DFS:I read about the “Golden State” thing a few years ago and it was interesting. The owner of the Warriors in the 1970s was trying to extort a stadium out of San Francisco or Oakland. He threatened to leave the Bay Area. Part of that threat was that he scheduled half the upcoming season to be played in San Diego and changed the name to “Golden State”. I think the team ended up playing part of that year’s home games in San Diego. Then a stadium deal got work out and the team became a permanent fixture in Oakland, but they kept the name.
Losing to Cleveland was absolutely devastating to fans. There was a lot of jaded talk about how the league had it in for the Warriors by suspending Draymond Green. I got wrapped up in it a bit, but I’d never do the fanbase the disservice of referring to myself as a real fan. I have a ton of respect for Warrior fans. They have supported that team for years through lean times of bad players and worse management. They would sell out that arena when the team had no hope. And what is their reward? The recently successful team is going to move into a new building in San Francisco that will be super expensive and is not BART-friendly. I think it is awful. It parallels nicely with the end of RFK. Replacing a stadium filled with diverse fans that actually look like people that live in the community near the team who are deeply passionate with a bigger and charmless building occupied by rich people that come to the game late because someone else paid for the ticket.
WFY: Who takes the series and are these two teams headed to the playoffs?
DFS:The Nationals win this series. I’m optimistic that the Giants win the NL West this year. The sooner Pence and Panik get back the closer it will be.