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Together We're Giant - 2011 Giants season preview

By the time this blog post goes live I will already be getting ready to watch my first live Giants game of the season! Thank you coupon codes for $20 dollars seats (against the hated Dodgers no less!). It has been high school since I have watched a Giants game live this early in the season (oh good times). Of course this year is doubly special because the Giants is coming off their World (fcuking) Championship and are on a mission to defend it (there is already torture). 

I quite like the slogan of this year’s ad campaign - together we are Giant. It was much better than last year’s “there is magic inside”. However fitting it end up being as it may, I still think the magic inside slogan is quite cheesy and non to hilarious (as sports advertising should be - all the ESPN Sportscenter ads are very funny). In a way I always admired the Oakland A’s ad campaigns as they are always funny and usually puts their players in impossible situations (Tim Hudson’s pitch is so fast that it altered the space time continuum). I just was not feeling the slow motion style commercials of last year.

This year’s Giants ad campaign so far strikes the perfect cord. It honors fans like us that stuck with them and cheered them on to the championship. Of course those commercials are funny as well (imagine looking into your rear mirror and see Brian Wilson riding in the back, or Buster Posey bum rushing you (keep you pants on ladies) after you’ve closed a sale). I mean hey, a championship ball club deserves a championship level ad campaign.

But enough about the ad campaign. Baseball has been back for a little over a week now, and man has productivity gone down (curse you games for taking 3 hours). But then as any Giants fan would do, you multitask. Have the game on while doing something else and just listen to the broadcast and peak in from time to time (positioning is key). One of the reason baseball is my favorite sporting event is that there is a game literally everyday. Meaning there is also something happy to look forward to - unless the Giants lose then even if the girl you ask to marry said yes, it would still be a bad day. 

The past three days was the Giants first homestand which means all the ceremony of banner raising and rings giving was held. It was like the extension of the parade watching those ceremonies. When the championship banner was hoisted up like a pirate flag, I had chills down my spine. When the players, and especially Kruk and Kuip receive their rings, it was well deserved. When Posey got his Rookie of the Year trophy, he choked up when he thanked his lovely wife (so I don’t know ladies, how much more does a guy have to do to prove that is so far from available on the dating circuit?). It was wonderful seeing the celebration happen, and the fact that the games afterwards were dramatic was the icing on the cake (because not winning during a celebration is so Bonds era type stuff). 

Was sort of disappointed that they did not invite Bengie to the ceremony - seeing as he is just sitting on his ass playing with his kids in his home in Arizona. While giving rings to the Giants hall of famers is a nice gesture (listen, the site of Willie Mac finally get a ring is historic), I sort of hope that after 6 decades of not winning, the Giants would honor more players outside of the hall that played for the organization by giving them rings also (like Boston did back in 2004 when they won the championship for the first time in 86 years). I hope that perhaps they are doing so in private. 

Anyways though now that all the good hoopla is done with and we can finally wave the good vibes of 2010 goodbye, it is time to focus on 2011. Clearly the pitching staff is still tops in the league, though Zito’s two outings so far have been troubling to say the least. In a baseball sense, lefties can survive only having a 86mph fastball (looking at you, the great Jamie Moyer). But what they absolutely must have is location and command - something Zito has been lacking since after the all star break of last year. I understand he is fifth starter and all the pressure is off but did he not work on his game at all? I remember saying back last October that if Zito was any kind of a man, he would try to come back infinite times as hard to prove that he is good contributor to the team. Jury is still out on that one.

Am I the only one that like Zito’s new stache? It reminds of the Office episode when Jim, Dwight, and Michael covertly went to another branch to steal their copier (they wore stache similar to Zito’s as a disguise). 

But yeah other than Zito for now, the rotation and the bullpen is solid. The lineup is looking strong too. DeRosa the super utility man is back healthy. We have Cody Ross for a full season. Panda lost 40 lbs and is looking REALLY good on the plate. Rowand looks to be the best late inning pinch hit replacement guy on the planet (his 12 million dollar salary notwithstanding). Freddy is now hopefully fully healthy, and if so can have a monster year of gettings hits and being on base. Tejada (despite the roids connection) have always been a professional hitter, and he is without a ring so after seeing his teammates get theirs it should fire him up for the whole season. It might still look like a bunch of misfits, but man you can not pay for chemistry for its weight in gold (how is just buying a bunch of guys with talent working out for you eh BOSTON? - hurts me to say this because the AL team I root for is the Redsoxs).

No I did not forget he super rookie Brandon Belt. Sure he is struggling a little right now after the big homerun, but I hope management will see to give him all the time he needs, because from the the brief time I’ve had a chance to look at him, he is going to be a good player. The fact that he has a tremendous eye and can work the count is something that is unique in the Giants Lineup (over the past decade other than the guy name Bonds we have been notorious for being a swing happy team. For that reason alone is worth keeping Belt in the big leagues. Above average fielding and endorsement from Will Clark himself is just extra benefits. I really hope he works out because ever since JT Snow retired, the Giants have been searching for that cornerstone first baseman from the organization. Shoutout to those that came before Belt - the likes of Niekro, Ortmeier, Bowker, and Ishikawa.

And the team is still managed by the smart guy named Bruce Bochy (I am big fan because his head makes mine looks tiny in comparison - and I have a large head). So what more can I say, on paper we have a solid, division winning capable team that is worth watching every single day. This is probably the first year I am not screaming at the team to get a bat, though perhaps this year would be get us a fifth starter that can throw above 90 (is Zito the Todd Wellemeyer of 2011?). 

But there is one shortcoming of the team that I can find - the outfield defense (and Torres just strained his tendon!). I am semi ok with Burrell in left (power hitting that can’t field playing the left field has been a Giants tradition for years, right Barry?), but Huff can’t possibly play the right field well, especially during the home games at AT&T. The problem with the NL is that there is no DH so you can’t just stick guys like Huff or Burrell in that spot. The center fielder will have to cover a lot more room than normally required due to the limited range of the sides. Torres can do it, but do we really want him to have to? 

I guess the problem solves itself once Cody Ross comes back from injury, which brings the bigger conundrum: who are we kicking off the lineup? One would naturally assume Burrell, but as we saw his power is very valuable. My guess would be that between Huff, Burrell, and Ross that it would just be a rotation of sorts with a fine juggling act between starts and off days. And I have confidence in Bochy to do that. Huff should improve to at least average as he acclimates more and more going back to playing the outfield again. I mean a manger should never complain about having too many solid contributors on the team.

It is going to be a good season watching Giant’s baseball - America’s pastime, and the best distraction from “real” life.