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Giants Down Tigers: Take 3-0 Lead in Series

Hunter Pence Scores in Game 3 (SF Chronicle- Lance Iverson)

This was not the way anyone thought that this series would go. Detroit’s hitters would feast on Giants pitching that had not been as dominant as it has in years past and the weak hitting Giants would knuckled under beneath the Tigers’ starting pitching.

Barry Zito (AP Photo: David J Phillip) 

The Freak in Relief: Tim Lincecum (Getty Images: Doug Pensinger)

Sergio Romo (USA Today Photo: Kelley L Cox)

Madison Bumgarner (Sacramento Bee Photo)

The Journeyman: Ryan Vogelsong 15 Teams in 14 Years (SF Chronicle- Lance Iverson)

No one expected that the Giants would score 8 runs in game, plastering Justin Verlander or that Barry Zito would dominate. Nor did anyone think that Madison Bumgarner who had struggled in the playoffs would do the same. Then there was Tim Lincecum coming out of the bullpen to dominate the mid to late innings when needed, finally Ryan Vogelsong pitched his way out of trouble on a number of occasions to get the win in Game 3. No one expected that the Tigers could not beat a Giants team that only scored 2 runs each in Game 2 and Game 3, but they were shut out in those games. The Giants have held the Tigers to just 7 hits in the last 18 innings and just one extra base hit, that in the first inning of Game 2. Sergio Romo has come into his own in the closer role getting saves in each of the last two games.

The Panda, Pablo Sandoval Goes Deep in Game One (AP Photo: David J Phillip)

The Giants pitching has been superb but then there is the Panda. Pablo Sandoval who is hitting .636 with three home runs in the World Series and has 23 hits in the post season including 6 home runs and 5 doubles and 13 RBI. Other Giants have come up when they needed to in clutch situations but the Panda has been outstanding at the plate and at 3rd base.

Gregor Blanco (AP Photo)

Buster Posey Tags out Prince Fielder on a key play in the 2nd inning of Game 2 (AP Photo David J Phillip)

Then there are the fundamentals. Defense, small ball and base running. The Giants have done both well, only one error in the first three games that almost was an out. Gregor Blanco in Left Field has had an amazing defensive series robbing Detroit hitters of what looked to be sure hits at key junctures.

So the Giants now stand one victory away from their second World Series title since 2010.  No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the World Series. Yes anything can happen in baseball and the Tigers are an excellent team, but right now they seem totally out of sync at the plate and could not support excellent outings by Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez.

Sunday Matt Cain will face Max Scherzer in Game 4. Cain won Game 5 in the NLDS against the Reds and Game 7 against the Cardinals in the NLCS. The possibility of a sweep looms large, something that if it does happen that no one saw coming.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Baseball in February: The Freedom Classic and an MVP Beats a Drug Charge

I was able to go to a baseball game today. It is hard to believe that there are ball games going on outside of Spring Training but NCAA College Baseball has been underway for over a week. Today drove up to Kinston to take in a game between the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy. The occasion was the Second Annual Freedom Classic.

It was a cold day with temps in the low 50s and winds blowing 15-25 miles an hour but I was able to get together with my friends in Kinston to watch a game for the first time since the Kinston Indians final season ended with a loss to Frederick in the Carolina League Championship series on September 15th.  Though the weather was cold it was good to be back with my friends watching a game at a wonderful baseball venue.  I hate the fact that the Indians owner sold them without a replacement team and did not offer the city a chance to find an owner that would keep the team in Kinston. But at least there was baseball in Kinston this weekend.

Of course spring training is underway and all of the teams are working out.  Lots of moves were made in the post season following one of the most dramatic seasons in baseball history. Big names moved, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to the Angels, Prince Fielder to the Tigers, Ozzie Guillen taking over the Marlins and a host of other situations.

But despite all the positives there was a cloud during the post season involving the National League MVP, Milwaukee Brewers Left Fielder Ryan Braun reportedly failed a drug test for Performance Enhancement Drugs (PEDs).  Braun appealed the results of the test and Friday it was announced that Braun won his appeal based on issues with the chain of custody of the sample. Evidently the collector of the sample who was required to immediately send the sample to the testing lab via FedEx held onto the sample.

Braun was out proclaiming his innocence today. He was articulate and appeared humble but at the same time there are still questions in many people’s minds about the test and if he was clean or not.  Having been in the military for over 30 years I have been repeatedly drug tested and as a Company Commander had to oversee a unit drug testing program.  When I heard about the process used and the actions of the collector I was appalled. Chain of custody does matter in any type of drug test that can impact someone’s career no matter what line of work they are in.  Failure to safeguard samples undermines the integrity of any drug testing program and there are cases every year where positive results are thrown out because of a chain of custody violation.

I learned about the importance of chain of custody as a Company Commander back in 1986. I had a soldier test positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. We were sticklers about maintaining a solid chain of custody and based on the test results and the un-impeachability of the chain of custody I offered non-judicial punishment under Article 15 and reduced the soldier in rank. Since the soldier was otherwise a good soldier and back then a commander did not have to separate a soldier under pay grade E4 for a first drug related offense I elected to keep the soldier in the Army. The soldier appealed the sentence as is his right and to my surprise I was called to my higher headquarters and had my ass chewed by the group commander and Sergeant Major for not maintaining the chain of custody. I knew that was not the case but the Platoon Sergeant who had accompanied the soldier to the headquarters for the appeal inadvertently left the chain of custody documentation on his desk. When the group commander reviewed the paperwork he thought that the chain of custody had not been maintained. Within 5 minutes I produced the original documents which changed the nature of the conversation, the sentence was upheld and the ass chewing stopped. But I learned that the chain of custody for a drug test or paperwork regarding a failed drug test needs to be airtight to maintain the integrity of the system.

In the case of Ryan Braun I have my doubts, I but the incompetence of the collector who did not adhere to established rules of shipping a sample brought the chain of custody into question. If Braun was indeed innocent as he maintains then he will always have a cloud that follows him. If he lied and the test was really positive then justice was not done because chain of custody was called into question.

The little things do matter.

Since I got home I have had the MLB Channel on all night, that is so much more relaxing than almost anything else on television. Only about a week until the first Spring Training games begin. It may be cold but spring is in the air.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve Loves the MLB Winter Meetings now More than Ever, Ron Santo Elected to Hall of Fame and Happy “Repeal Day!”

The Big Prizes at the Winter Meetings: Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder (Photo Jeff Curry/US Presswire)

“You win pennants in the off season when you build your teams with trades and free agents.” Earl Weaver

Yes my friends it is the time of year that the great Earl Weaver said was the most important to building championship teams.  The off season, particularly the winter meetings which are taking place this week in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  It is only Monday but things are heating up with discussions surrounding some of the league’s biggest stars and just who might sign them to big time contracts.

Every team has needs and during the winter meetings the goal is to find ways of meeting those needs from sources outside your system with the goal of producing a winning team.  At least that is what one hopes but things don’t always work out as planned.

Now the Miami Marlins are spending money like a drunken sailor and eying the biggest “fish” in the Sea of Free Agency.  So far they have spent 26 million on closer Heath Bell and 102 million for 6 years on Jose Reyes and are heavily engaged in courting Albert Pujols. Other teams are working hard to sign other major Free Agents and make deals and for me this is so much more exciting because I have finally gotten on Twitter and I am getting to hear the trade rumors, speculation and deals as they happen. This is cool.  Of course it is so much information that I cannot process it all at once and it will give me grist for later posts about how I see things stacking up for the various teams.  Big stories other than Pujols and Fielder include C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehle and even speculation about the possible return of Manny Ramirez.

As for my hopes…I hope that the Giants get some solid hitting this week, I would love to see Fielder or Pujols in San Francisco or for that matter Baltimore but that probably will not happen. I hope that the Giants get hitting and that the Orioles get some pitching and maybe another big bat.  Of course bad deal for the Dodgers is always welcome and a meltdown of the rest of the AL East greatly appreciated.  Hey I can dream can’t I?

The Ron Santo that I remember

One great thing to happen today was the vote to induct the late Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame. Santo received 15 of 16 votes from the Golden Age Committee composed of 16-member Golden Era Committee comprised of Hank Aaron, Pat Gillick, Al Kaline, Ralph Kiner, Tommy Lasorda, Juan Marichal,Brooks Robinson, Billy Williams, Paul Beeston, Bill DeWitt, Roland Hemond, Gene Michael, Al Rosen, Dick Kaegel, Jack O’Connell, and Dave Van Dyck voted Ron Santo into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Santo played as a Third Baseman for 14 years for the Chicago Cubs and one year for the White Sox and was an outstanding player.  Santo was a 9 time All Star who hit 342 Home Runs and 2254 hits, a .277 Batting Average and had 1331 RBI and was excellent defensively winning 5 Gold Glove awards.  But the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Santo also had 1108 walks a .362 OBP, .464 SLG and .826 OPS.  Santo played the majority of his career battling Type I Diabetes and concealed it until 1971 fearing that he would be forced to retire. He began a broadcasting career with the Cubs in 1990. He had his legs amputated in 2001 and 2002 and died December 10th 2010 of complications from bladder cancer and diabetes. Some may contest his election but I always thought that he should be in the Hall of Fame.

But on a more serious Constitutional issue I wish all of my readers a Happy Repeal Day. Yes this is the anniversary of when Congress righted a gross wrong by passing the 21st Amendment to the Constitution which repealed the 18th Amendment and restored balance to the universe.

You see back in July of 1919 following the Great War a large group of “values voters” got together and decided that it was the consumption of alcoholic beverages that was leading the nation to ruin. The fact that we had been on the winning side, or God’s side in what was not the “Mediocre War” but the “Great War” and were moving into economic dominance was of little matter.  Pharisees like to make their own rules as they go along.  So the Congress passed the 18th Amendment which banned the production, consumption or transportation of said alcoholic beverage in the country.  One of the promoters of this was a man named Welch who coincidently marketed Grape juice.  If you go to a church that uses grape juice for communion this is where it bean as churches used wine before that time because it was accepted as Biblical.

Of course when organized and for that mater disorganized crime took over what had been the previously legal activity of producing alcoholic drink the prohibitionists decided that tougher law enforcement was the answer. Of course that didn’t work and the problems that had been previously associated with the consumption of alcohol in its legal form got worse everyone knew that a great fraud had been perpetrated on the American people.  When that failed as it was bound to do groups of people, decided to disobey the law, including my grandfather Ernie and great uncle Johnny who ran “stills” in Wayne County West Virginia while others who lobbied to repeal the dreadful act.  Finally on December 5th 1933 with great irony the vastly prohibitionist and Mormon legislature of the great state of Utah ratified the 21st Amendment to end the fraud that religious hucksters masquerading as promoters of family values perpetrated in 1919. Let’s hope that that we don’t have top go down this road again. After all we in the Navy are still suffering from the decision of prohibitionist Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ended the use of alcohol in moderation on Navy ships in 1914 making us one of the few non-Islamic in the world navies to be “dry.”

So I wish everyone a Happy Repeal Day and God bless America!

Peace,

Padre Steve+

 

The Big Prizes at the Winter Meetings: Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder Jeff Curry/US Presswire

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The BCS (Bogus Championship Series) Sham, Tebow the Heretic wins Again, and Moolah over Miami…

It is amazing to see how the Bowl Championship series works. I think we should rename it the Bogus Championship Series.  I am old fashioned it just seems to me that we have an SEC West rematch as the national title game. Sorry, LSU won that Alabama should not be considered for the National Championship. Yes they are a solid team, one of the best in the country but it would have been far more “national championshippy” to have two teams out of the same division playing for the “national championship” if that is what it pretends to be. Even in sports that have “wild card” berths such as Major League Baseball and the NFL never can a wild card team play for the World Series or Super Bowl against a team from its own division. Same goes for the NHL and the NBA. The fact is that we should have LSU playing Oklahoma State for the Title or another team that actually won its Conference Championship.

The fact is that in most sports in fact all but the BCS there are times that an excellent team doesn’t get to play for the championship simply because someone in their conference, division or league had a better record.  If an entity wants to call its title a “national” title it should include two teams that represent different conferences.  What a sham, the real national title game will not be played just to replay the SEC West championship. When you look at the other BCS games it is clear that the BCS process has failed again. Since we are never going to get a playoff system in Division One NCAA College Football or a tournament like in NCAA Basketball we would be just as well off to go back to the old bowl system and let everyone argue about what team is number one.  We end up doing that now anyway most of the time so let’s end the BCS farce.  Actually you could probably have a real playoff system but there is far too much money in the current system for anyone, the NCAA, the Universities and the Bowl Game sponsors themselves to want to change it no matter how bad of system it is.

From real failures we go to the man that so many want to fail, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow.  Now I am not a Tebow fan or promoter by far and certainly am not a Broncos fan unless they are playing the Cowboys or Steelers. However, despite the fact that he is not the kind of quarterback that has dominated the sport for decades.  Since the day he was drafted he has been treated with distain by most of the sports media and former players that serve as commentators.

Now I agree that Tebow doesn’t fit the template that the NFL uses now but he leads and inspires his team to win.  The way that he does it isn’t pretty and he will never be John Elway or Steve Young.  He is to use religious parlance a “heretic.” But who says that he needs to be? What if he is the kid that defies the rules wins games and inspires his team. Isn’t that what it is really about or is it about maintaining an illusion that there is only one way to lead teams and win games?  Tebow for all of his technical limitations finds ways to win and inspires his teammates.  He rapidly becoming a successful NFL heretic. I like heretics and despite it all I hope that he continues to win just to make “experts” look foolish shut his critics up.

Finally the Miami Marlins have spent more money on one player than they did for their entire payroll.  This is actually nothing new Jeff Loria buys a team, wins a world series and discards the team the next year.  However money talks and Loria has a lot to throw around. He signed closer Heath Bell for 27 million and Jose Reyes for a cool 102 million on a six year deal that includes no “no trade” clause.  It looks like they are also serious about spending big money on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and possibly Tiger starting pitcher Mark Buerhle. If they keep spending money like this and the Security Exchange Commission keeps investigating this could end up more like an episode of Miami Vice rather than last years CSI Miami season which ended with the Marlins dead on the slab.   Regardless the National League East will be radically different in 2012 with Ozzie Guillen at the helm and what looks like unlimited money to spend.  I can only say I wish the same would happen for the Orioles despite the fact that our uniforms are going to be way cooler than the Marlins new duds even if we lose over 90 games again.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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