Cudgy Preep is the new pseudonym for Bat Fastard, who discovered during a Google search that there are about 4,000 links for “Bat Fastard,” none of them relevant to him, EEEEEE!, or Almost EEEEEE! Searches on “Cudgy Preep,” however, turn up empty, which makes Cudgy—i.e., Bat—feel a lot better, albeit still generally grumpy.
Look at this team. Do you like it? I mean, if you weren’t a Giants fan, or if they were some other team nobody gives a shit about, like the Devil Rays or Cardinals or somebody (or a team nobody should give a shit about, like the Dodgers), what would you think? Would you see a team with an established superstar, a solid supporting cast, and some up-and-comers? Would you see a team with one Barry Bonds and 24 Mike Benjamins, to steal one of Gregg’s favorite blithery analogies? Would you see a team with a few seriously old farts, several past-their-primers, and no-name youngsters? What? What, I’m asking you?
Know what I see? A fairly boring team with little to no identity, especially now that Bonds isn’t being awesome. Even so, though, it’s not as boring a team as it has been the last few years. I swear. In fact, I see some entertainment value:
- Omar Vizquel’s defense: These days he’s Johnnie LeMaster at the plate; when he becomes Hal Lanier, that glove ain’t gonna carry that bat no more. But until then, it’s fun to watch ground balls hit toward Vizquel Country, if for the footwork alone. Vizquel, kids, is one of those “Practice Makes Perfect” examples that should inspire us all to practice a lot, but doesn’t. The guy’s an acrobat with an amazing sense of timing, where the runners are, who he’s throwing to, etc. That 4-6-5 double play, last year, was genius. And those double plays he turns where he does these balletic little leaps: poetry. Or ballet. Your pick. Also he’s been barehanding ground balls a lot lately and throwing to first, or second, in a fluid motion, like he’s been doing it all his life (which he has). He does make it fun—although sometimes I wonder if he’s not doing it mostly to amuse himself, given that the overall team is so dull.
- You gotta like these kids: I’m talking about Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum, though more the latter these days than the former. Cain looked great on the mound early on: poised, confident, knowing he was gonna get you out. I think he started the season giving up 12 hits in 31 innings, something like that. Since then he’s not the same guy, which makes me wonder if he’d thrown too damn many pitches in April or something. But if he gets back into a groove, watch out: It’s a ball watching other teams’ hitters get out, again and again. I’m one of those guys who utterly aches for a San Francisco Giants no-hitter—a species not seen in 30 years—and I swear to you, Cain seemed to be going for one every time out.
Lincecum… less so, but he’s fun even when he’s not going good. He sort of needs to get over the belief that nobody’s ever gonna hit his fastball, though, and he needs to stop throwing it groin-high, down the middle, because every time you turn around, he’s given up another home run. That’s fairly off-pissing. What isn’t, though, is watching opposing hitters trudge away from the box after striking out yet again, tossing an embittered look toward the mound, then continuing toward the dugout, shaking their heads. We never have pitchers like that.
- Freddy Lewis: Way entertaining. Not necessarily good, though. He might be Deion Sanders Lite. Deion had loads of talent and athletic ability, but he never seemed to channel it properly or something. I really liked watching him with the Giants in 1995, even though, despite his age and years of experience, he seemed so green. I feel the same way about Lewis, only I don’t think he’s nearly as talented, which means he probably won’t stick for long, especially since he’s about 26 and, thus, fairly set in his ways. But if there’s been a faster Giant in the last 30 years, I can’t think of who it could be. It’s a kick in the ass to watch this guy run the bases.
- Bonds: Loathe him, hate him, you can’t ignore him. I love how the tone of the crowd changes when he steps up, even in a nothing situation. I love how sometimes a guy just can’t throw him a strike—I mean “can’t,” not “won’t.” (The “won’t” situations are pretty boring.) I love his swing—even his little bat-waves at the plate are on the same plane as the swing, and when he’s going good, he has that way of bringing the ball right into that plane and murdering it.
Beyond that… what is there to keep our interest? Noah Lowry’s change-up? Not anymore. There was a time when I thought it might have been the best change I’d ever seen, but now it’s ordinary, like all his pitches. Ryan Klesko’s balls-out style? Who the hell wants to see his balls? Especially the balls that he hits into crucial double plays with, or the ones he lets zoom past him to the outfield wall, on those (thankfully) rare occasions when he’s in the outfield. (As I write this, for instance, he’s our right fielder, if you can imagine. I still can’t, and I’ve seen it. Somehow I would’ve excused it more easily from Winn or Ortmeier or even Bonds, but Klesko’s badly timed, ill-advised dive on a sinking liner led to a two-run triple that turned a one-run lead for us into a one-run lead for them. Something not real charming about that. Still not as bad as trying to go to third when there’s already a teammate there, then standing around till he gets tagged out.)
I dunno, these guys are just plain pissing me off. Man on third, nobody out? Other teams score the guy. The Giants don’t. Nor do they hold the guy at third on defense. That guy scores. Gregg bitches about Pedro Feliz not making productive outs, but tonight it’s former All-Star Rich Aurilia hitting a two-hopper to short, with the infield in and Lewis on third—on the first pitch. How adorable is that?
How adorable is it when a guy like Kevin Frandsen, sent in to pinch-bunt, can’t get the job done? Not too. That’s my assessment. Diamondbacks fans love that sort of thing, but fuck ’em. Give ’em a dollar. (One thousand Almost EEEEEE! points for whoever fills in the rest of the punchline.)
Know what else pickles my innards? Watching strikes called on Bonds—strikes that obviously are not strikes. Especially strike threes that obviously are not strikes. What is this, the umpires’ way of showing disdain for alleged performance-enhancing substances?
Sorry if this sounds like a bitch-fest, but that’s what it is, and I’m not sorry. I’m just tired of watching them fail to execute, fail to come through.
But to end this on a happy note: Hey, no Armando!