I always love talking Giants baseball, but it was a special treat for me Monday, when I got to do so with Michael Krasny, host of KQED-FM’s “Forum,” and fellow guests San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion, CSN Bay Area columnist (and seeming king of all Bay Area sports media), my former Chronicle colleague Ray Ratto, and, with no disrespect to the others, best of all, the voice of the Giants, Hall of Famer Jon Miller.
You can listen to the audio here.
* Jon Miller telling the story of Travis Ishikawa in tears earlier this year when he was cut by the Pirates and signed to a minor league deal by the Giants, calling his high school coach in Seattle and asking, “Should he move on? Retire? Or persevere in the face of adversity?” He persevered, and Giants Nation is forever grateful.
* Miller also sharing the story of Joe Panik, after struggling to hit Adam Wainwright‘s cutter earlier this year, studying footage of former Giant and Red Sox player Bill Mueller hitting a home run off the great Mariano Rivera‘s cutter — and then Panik hitting one of Wainwright’s cutters out of the ballpark.
* Miller said Ishikawa would likely have been NLCS MVP, but the voting was tabulated in the eighth inning of game 5, before his historic home run, and therefore Madison Bumgarner got the trophy.
* A listener gave this tidbit, which I had not heard: Apparently Brandon Crawford hid Brandon Belt‘s glove behind his back in the ninth inning of a tight game against the Cardinals, showing how loose the Giants were.
* Miller showed his amazing candor when he gave this description of Buster Posey, comparing him to the Yankees’ Derek Jeter: “He’s not a great interview. He’s not likely to say anything other than platitudes and boring comments.”
I’ll note one more thing: Krasny referred to my son Harry wearing a lucky hat, and I told the story. In 2008, an old New York Giants fan, Bob Leinweaver, gave me and Harry a hat from 1954, the last year the Giants had won the Series. Harry wore the hat faithfully, including the first two World Series wins in 2010. He took it off when we got to a friend’s house to watch Game 3, when they gave us NL championship hats. But when the Giants lost Game 3, we all agreed Harry had better wear the cap – and they never lost again!
Harry showed off the hat when we were on the evening news during the 2010 Series.
I almost did not recognize my San Francisco Giants when they started this postseason. And I’m not referring to the complete changeover in the starting eight from 2010 – with only Buster Posey remaining. (Pablo Sandoval rode the pine in that historic postseason.)
What I was wondering, less than one month ago: Where was the Torture? The Giants clinched the West so early, the world seemed upside-down.
But through the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds, and the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants have shown that even though they have so many new cast members, they all know the script: Torture.
Having fallen behind two games to none against the Reds, the Giants managed to come all the way back. They proceeded to drop three of the first four games to the Cards, and once again won three straight to take the pennant.
Memo to Bruce Bochy and the boys: Please just win this next series early!
I had great fun the other day discussing this and other weighty matters on Michael Krasny‘s excellent program Forum on KQED. (Krasny graciously said that “Giants Past and Present” is “one of the best books about the Giants.”) You can listen to the show here:
The show opened with Giants’ President Larry Baer, and you could really hear how much fun he’s having. Larry is a lifelong Giants fan in his dream job, and you can’t help but smile every time you see him. Then Michael led a spirited discussion with me, KNBR’s awesome Marty Lurie, and San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy. I sure learned a lot listening to those guys – especially when Marty told us that, however bad Pete Kozma played shorstop for the Cardinals in the NLCS, he was not as bad as the Washington Senators’ Roger Peckinpaugh in the 1925 World Series, who made eight errors! (Another highlight: Marty let me try on his 2010 World Series ring – and it is a thing of beauty!)
One thought I had that I did not get to share: As we discussed the Giants, and beautiful AT&T Park, I wanted to give props to General Manager Brian Sabean for building a team perfect for its ballpark. Instead of going out and signing home run hitters, who only get frustrated with the park’s wide open spaces, Sabean brought in gap hitters like Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Gregor Blanco. You could put Melky Cabrera in there too (even though we don’t really like to talk about him any more), and it looks like it’ll be a good fit for the Brandons – Belt and Crawford. Need I say Buster Posey?
And maybe, if Hunter Pence hits more line drives like his famed “triple double” from game 7 of the NLCS – the ball that hit the bat three times – instead of swinging for the fences, the Giants will have the ingredients necessary to foil those big bopping Tigers.
After all, Marty Lurie viewed Pence’s lucky-breaking line drive as karmic payback for Willie McCovey’s smash that ended the 1962 World Series. No one could have hit that ball any harder, but it went straight to the Yankees’ Bobby Richardson. Pence’s ball curved away from Kozma, and the Giants were in business.
It’s good to be good. But sometimes it’s better to be lucky.
Even if it’s a little Torturous.
I can’t wait for the post-season to start!
I am on my way right now to KQED, for a return trip to Forum with Michael Krasny. You can listen here, or on 88.5 FM in the Bay Area.
And here’s a recent radio interview I had with Mychael Urban on his pregame show on KNBR while the Giants were still fighting for a playoff start: Dan Fost interview with Mychael Urban 9_18_2010
Just like the Giants themselves – who are tearing things up on the field so far this year, sweeping Houston, pitching great, hitting great, and going 3-0 into the opening homestand – “Giants Past and Present” is getting a great reception in the season’s opening week.
* I was on KQED’s “Forum” with Michael Krasny today, along with Giants President Larry Baer and San Francisco State University Prof. Eric Solomon, and we spent a delightful hour talking baseball. One of my favorite moments: When Baer told how the Giants would sell Tim Lincecum wigs this year, Solomon blurted, “Have you no shame?” I also enjoyed lobbing one of my pet issues in Baer’s lap: I want to see a Barry Bonds statue at AT&T Park. And Baer offered up an amusing story as well, after Solomon defended the Giants’ 1951 sign stealing as part of a long tradition of cheating in baseball; he said Giants’ Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry — a
notorious spitball thrower — was not only welcomed at Spring Training this year, but he was embraced by Commissioner Bud Selig, sending a subliminal message to the minor leaguers that it’s OK to doctor the ball. You can listen to the hour at KQED’s site, or if you prefer, right here:
* I was on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s Chronicle Live last night, with host Greg Papa effusively praising the book as “comprehensive.” You can see it below, or on the Comcast site. I was glad I brought my camera: I was able to get photos with Papa and with my green room compadres, the 49ers’ offensive lineman Alex Boone, and a couple of Raiderettes, Cole and Anna. I’ll skip the cheerleader jokes, but will say that the Giants could use someone Boone’s size to bat fifth.
On the one hand you have long-time fans of the team, both in the East and West Coast incarnations. You also have younger fans, who grew up on the San Francisco version. In addition, there are the history buffs, the photography buffs, the pop culture buffs, you name it. In that regard, Giants has the proverbial something for everyone in one slim package. Fost, a freelance journalist in the Bay Area, shares his love for the team with anyone who wants to listen, or, more appropriately, read.
* The California Media Workers Guild — the union of which I was a proud member when I worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, and which I now belong to the freelancers’ unit — posted a nice write-up about me and the book in its section “We Love Our Work.” Rebecca Rosen Lum’s piece, “Capturing the history of baseball Giants,” gives a good description of some of the work that went into my book:
Fost had long nurtured an idea to write a book chronicling the 125-year history of the Giants – heartbreaks, gaffes and glories. When San Francisco magazine published his story commemorating the ball club’s 50th anniversary in the City, it caught the attention of MVP Books, a publishing company with a series of ball club profiles to its credit. They needed it turned around in two months.
No problem: “I had half the work done already,” Fost said. “I had notebooks full of stuff. My whole dining room became a baseball library.”
The project presented an opportunity “to play in the toy department” for Fost, the former sports editor of his college newspaper. In his life as a metro, features and business reporter, he has covered just about everything but sports. He developed a niche as a technology and business writer at the Marin Independent Journal and later the San Francisco Chronicle.
* I’m also getting some nice reviews on Amazon.com, and the book is consistently in or near the top 10 in the categories of baseball history, baseball writing and New York history.
There’s more to come – but I’m grateful to everyone for all the ink and airtime.