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matt cain gets no support

It's been a disappointing season for the San Francisco Giants, but perhaps most disappointing for pitcher Matt Cain. On Tuesday night, Cain again pitched well, giving up only two runs in seven innings of work, but the Giants still lost, 6-4, as the bullpen gave up four runs in the ninth inning. Cain has an ERA of 3.65, tenth in the National League, and yet his record is 7-16. It's all due to a lack of run support from his offense. However, as shown below, Matt Cain is no stranger to a lack of support.

The New Bike

Matt Cain: Hey mom, where's my bike?

Mom: I'm so sorry, honey, it got repossessed.

Matt: But I mowed lawns all summer to buy that bike! Dad said if I earned half the money for it, he's pay the other half.

Mom: Your father never sent a check this month, honey. And without child support...

Matt: But they had to take my bike?

Mom: Your father also owed Barry Zito a lot of money.

Making Out

Matt's high school girlfriend: Yes, Matt, yes. Kiss me!

Matt: Hey, why does your bra feel so stiff? What gives?

Matt's high school girlfriend: Do you mean the underwire?

Matt: Yeah! Is that like a medical brace or something?

Matt's high school girlfriend: No, it's just a support garment.

Matt: A su-what garment?

Matt's high school girlfriend: A support bra. You know, it supports my breasts?

Matt: Look, if you've got scoliosis, just tell me.

The Accident

Doctor: Mrs. Cain, Matt was in a bad crash yesterday. He stopped breathing briefly after the accident, and, well, we're not sure if he'll ever regain consciousness again.

Mrs. Cain: Oh God! He's so young!

Doctor: I'm very sorry, ma'am.

Mrs. Cain: Are you saying, you're considering taking him off life support?

Doctor: Life support! I knew we forgot something!

The New House

Architect: I don't know what happened, Matt. The ceiling just collapsed.

Matt: What was holding it up?

Architect: I dunno, some kind of beam, I forget the specific kind.

Matt: (picks up piece of rotten lumber) Is this the wood you were using? This is old and brittle, and it looks like it could fall apart at any moment. And why does this 2x4 have "Rich Aurilia" written on the side? This one says "Ryan Klesko".

Architect: To be fair, those were all part of very successful buildings in the mid-to-late 90s.

The Internet Connection

Matt: Hello, Tech Support? My internet connection is down.

Tech Support: Well, what do you expect? Your whole infrastructure is old and slow.

Matt: I don't have any control over that. Can you just fix this problem?

Tech Support: Tell you what. I'll send Brian Wilson down to deal with it.

Matt: Is that a good idea?

Brian Wilson: Sorry, Matt, I accidentally set the router on fire.


mathematically eliminated

Wednesday night, the Giants were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. This wasn't a shock to anyone. Informally, the Giants were eliminated from playoff contention on December 6th, 2006, after they signed Dave Roberts, Rich Aurilia, and Pedro Feliz over the course of two days.

The phrase "mathematically eliminated" is very commonly used, but not all that useful, because, what other kind of elimination would anyone be talking about?

"The Giants just got eliminated from the playoffs."
"What happened? Did the team plane crash? Did they receive a post-season ban for recruiting violations?"
"No, neither of those. They've simply lost too many games to be able to overtake the current division leader."
"Oh, mathematically eliminated. Whew."

For you calculus whizzes out there, to understand the complex mathematical elimination process requires...subtraction. Me, I'm going to refer to the Giants' loss as mercifully eliminating them from the playoffs.

(Post simulcast over at Humm Bloggy.)

the diary of matt morris

(Matt Morris was recently traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates. At Zembla, we've obtained a copy of Morris's diary from the past week. Check it out.)


July 25th: Decided to commit to the two-year membership for 24 Hour Fitness. There's just so many of them in the Bay Area, and the savings are unbeatable when you sign on for that long. Well worth it, in my mind. Hey, I'm going to to be here at least until the end of 2009, so why not?

July 26th: I want to tell you guys about a charitable effort I'm starting once we get back from the SoCal road trip on the 6th. It's called "Matt Morris's Winning Pitch". Here's how it works: For every home game for the rest of the year, I'm going to leave fifty tickets for disadvantaged kids. As long as I'm not scheduled to pitch, I'll give those kids a tour of the clubhouse and stadium before the game. It's the least I can do for this city.

July 27th: Finally closed escrow on the new house. They broke ground on the new pool and the indoor batting cages next week, so it's a relief to know this place is ours to stay. The Morris family is going to be in the Bay Area for a long, long time.

July 28th: Got this great t-shirt, and I can't to wear it everywhere. It's a #7 Steelers jersey, but on the back it says, "Toothlessberger". Isn't that hilarious? I liked it so much, I bought two, for insurance purposes. I'd be afraid to wear it in Pittsburgh, but luckily we've already done our road trip to that filthy backwater. If there's anything worse than the rivers in Pittsburgh, it's the hockey team, but only if you forget about the crappy Pirates and their limp-dicked owner, which are still better than the sloppy, toothless skanks that perch on barstools like vultures at every bar in the city. Just thinking about the women of Pittsburgh makes me shudder and reflexively grab for the hand sanitizer. Yup, Pittsburgh is a hellhole. Good thing I play in San Francisco!

July 29th: I didn't have the best start today, but I did my best, and that's really all you can do. I feel bad for letting the team down, who are seriously the best bunch of guys I've ever played with. I'm really looking forward to spending time with the guys on this road trip, really getting to know some of the young guys like Lincecum and Sanchez. This time I'm not going to make the same mistake I always do when I go to LA: bringing too much stuff! It's Southern California in the summertime, after all. I really just need a pair of shorts, my swimsuit, and a toothbrush and I'm set. San Diego is going to be the best!

July 30th: The non-refundable tickets for Hawaii are locked up! I finally resigned myself to the fact that we're not making the playoffs this year, so I figured, Hey Matt, why not take the family to Hawaii in October? If you buy this far in advance, you can get a pretty sweet deal, as long as you're willing to go non-refundable. It's such a sweet deal that I decided to buy for the whole staff. They're such a great bunch of guys, and hey, it's only money, right? I just love this team so much, it feels good to give something back to a team that has stuck with me whenever I've struggled.

I've got it set up so that we finish out the season in LA on Sunday, then I clean out my locker Monday morning. Monday afternoon, we board our flight to the islands. Just what I need to relax and unwind, before I start thinking about how we can get the Giants back into contention next season. This city deserves it.

July 31st: Signed a deal with Sports Illustrated to provide a first-person account of what it's like to be there when Barry breaks the record. It's great money, but honestly, I'd do it for free. I've been looking forward to that moment all year. Even during the losing streaks, I could focus on the great accomplishment Barry was nearing, and it would always pick me up.

August 1: Fuck.

tony larussa and the all-star game

There is no All-Star Game as magical as baseball's Midsummer Classic, especially when the manager is Tony LaRussa. LaRussa did not disappoint, as there were many classic Tony elements to the game:

1. Double-switching

When you're managing the All-Star Game in a National League park, there is an added challenge to dealing with the bloated, 32-man roster, due to the absence oft he designated hitter. However, the main benefit to a double-switch is that it allows a team to avoid or delay a weak-hitting pitcher's plate appearance. In an All-Star game, pitchers only bat if there's an unusually long first-inning rally. In addition, LaRussa only used each pitcher for single inning.

What was the real benefit to the excessive double-switching? For one, it showed America that Tony LaRussa is a strategic genius. It also screwed over anyone foolish enough to try and keep score of the All-Star Game. I used to be quite passionate about scoring baseball games when I was little, even as young as age five. Though I was to young to stay up past the sixth inning, I insisted that my father complete the scorecard. The 1986 Game was a classic for me and headache for my dad, as he had to both shoehorn in extra names into the tiny space available, as well as figure out how to score an eighth inning featuring a passed ball, a balk, and a strikeout victim reaching first on a wild pitch.

2. Refusing to use his powerful pinch-hitters

The ninth inning ended with the bases loaded and Aaron Rowand at the plate. Aaron Rowand?!? Albert Pujols, still one of the most feared hitters in baseball even during a down year, could only watch from the bench. I assumed Pujols had an unreported injury, but no, Tony was making sure the team was prepared for extra innings that never came. It's not an unprecedented situation for Tony.

In the 2000 playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals had a loaded team, including a hobbled Mark McGwire. McGwire couldn't run the bases, but he could pinch-hit. To maximize his value, LaRussa had to find a high-leverage pinch-hitting situation where McGwire could not be walked intentionally. LaRussa failed. In two games, McGwire never got off the bench. In another, McGwire got up to pinch-hit after a double, at which point he was walked intentionally. McGwire finished the series 0-for-2 with a walk, and St. Louis lost in five games.

3. Wearing his cap like a dork.

Just like always.

(Baseball posts will now be simulcast over at Humm Bloggy.)

the jerseys of fan fest

I work close to the ballpark in San Francisco, and even closer to the Fan Fest, which means I am at Ground Zero of the All-Star festivities. The neighborhood is swarmed by people wearing baseball stuff. Giants gear predominates, but jerseys range from Milwaukee ("The good land") to Tampa Bay ("Not actually the name of a city"). I have seen five Florida Marlins jerseys this week (four Cabreras, one Willis), which is more Marlins jerseys than I have seen in my entire life, even though I attended Game One of the Marlins-Giants Division Series in 2003.

My sister also works in the area, and is slightly perturbed by so much baseball enthusiasm. She put it thusly:

"Kid in full baseball uniform = Cute
Full grown adult fan in baseball uniform = Not so cute"

I've seen a few people wearing baseball pants along with the jersey, which changes the look from "fan" to "potential impostor". For the casual baseball fan, white polyester pants are not a forgiving item of clothing. When I see a person like this, it's hard not to wonder, "Is he wearing a cup, too?"

The official All Star batting practice jersey is also quite popular, which is somewhat understandable this year, due to the swanky, SF-specific design:

It's odd to see the jerseys from previous All-Star games represented. The man wearing the 2001 National League batting practice jersey is saying, "I'm willing to spend over $100 on a jersey to prove I attended a baseball game." (Jerseys are also available at It's a jersey that is appropriate two, possibly three days a year, depending on how you feel about the All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game.

Of course, it's possible that the guy really is just a huge fan of the National League. He doesn't have affection for any particular team that matches the passionate hatred he has for the designated hitter. He
sometimes can't bring himself to pay that much attention to the World Series, because it's always such a letdown after the NLCS. There's a framed photo of Chub Feeney above his desk at work. The Home Run Derby is dead to him, now that they've abandoned the league-vs-league format. More than once, he's composed a sonnet about the double-switch. He still hasn't accepted the Brewers because of their previous association with the upstart "Junior Circuit".

When the All-Star Break ends, they'll go back to their usual routine. Making roster moves in their NL-only fantasy league, writing angry letters denouncing Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame candidacy, and watching exactly half of Baseball Tonight every evening. The jerseys go back in the closet for another year, and the league fans sigh, hoping against hope that the 2008 jersey, from Yankee Stadium, just might feature pinstripes.

(Baseball posts will now be simulcast over at Humm Bloggy.)

San Francisco took their fifth game of the season from St. Louis when the Cardinals committed four errors in a 7-6 loss. Aaron Miles committed three errors in one inning, an inning where the Giants not coincidentally scored four runs.

The Giants have now guaranteed a split on the always-dangerous Cincinnati-St. Louis road trip. Based on no empirical evidence whatsoever, I have always considered this road trip to be cursed for the Giants. These two cities always seem fraught with bad luck: Blown saves, walkoff home runs, moths swirling all over the outfield, all kinds of stuff. But today, the Giants were the beneficiaries of good fortune. what could have made their luck change?


Well perhaps it was the baseball gods, frowning on the hypocrisy of St. Louis fans. I can remember a time when the St. Louis fans were pretty excited when a long-standing home run record was being challenged, even though the man chasing the mark was the target of steroid rumors. In fact, the Mark McGwire Highway still runs through St. Louis. Maybe this disgust comes from their manager, Tony LaRussa, who managed Jose Canseco when he was injecting McGwire in the Oakland clubhouse. Or maybe St. Louis fans don't mind performance-enhancing drugs, as long as it is Caucasian players taking them.

Regardless of the reason, Miles played like the ghost of Abner Doubleday had scattered pebbles across the St. Louis infield, and the Giants reaped the benefits. Would they be able to complete the sweep with Barry Zito on the mound Sunday? (No.)

humm bloggy: giants 4, cardinals 3

It was a difficult ninth inning, but the Giants beat the Cardinals, 4-3. To me, the story of the day was not so much the players who participated in the victory, but the haunting echo of Giants now lost to the sands of time/the Florida Marlins.

Bruce Bochy pulled nominal closer Brad Hennessey early in the ninth inning in favor of lefty Jack Taschner. Then, he replaced Taschner with Randy Messenger to get the final out. Messenger got it done, and everyone went home unhappy in St. Louis.


Messenger was acquired for the Giants old closer, the hated Armando Benitez. Both pitchers are hard to watch. For Benitez, it was his incompetence on the mound, but also his bloated frame, his repellant, fleshy body. Benitez's corpulence sent a message to fans: "My salary is $7.6 million, but not a penny of that goes to exercise equipment."

Messenger is hard to watch mainly because he has a gross beard, a thin line of facial hair that traces the line of his jaw. He could easily shave it off and look normal, whereas Benitez would face a long road of dieting, jogging, and probably a series of painful liposuction procedures before looking decent.

However, Benitez is fat due to laziness, poor diet, gluttony, what have you. Messenger's awful beard speaks to a fundamental weakness in his character, some broken thing inside him that says, "I took a great deal of care to make my face look like this. I believe that for an adult man, someone who appears on television, who is a role model for children, this is an acceptable way to look." Benitez can diet; that part of Randy Messenger's psyche won't just go away.

In other exiled-and-hated Giants news, former middle infielder Neifi Perez
tested positive for a controlled substance and was suspended. It is profoundly sad that Neifi, who Aaron Gleeman persuasively argued as the worst hitter in baseball history, only achieved those "heights" with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.

It is mind-boggling to imagine what a drug-free Neifi Perez's would do offensively, since the only way he could hurt his team more on offensive would involve kneecapping his teammates in the on-deck circle, running the bases backwards, and relaying the third base coach's signals directly to the opposing manager. He already slides head-first into first base all the time, so that's covered.

The Tigers are "punished" by being deprived of Neifi's services for the next 25 games, which might be enough to set them apart from the other AL Central contenders. We miss you, Neifi.

(Baseball posts will now be simulcast over at Humm Bloggy.)

The Reds beat the Giants 6-3 in the final game of their three-game series on Thursday. SFGate's sports staff is having some fun with the disappointing season:

1. The lead photo features Pedro Feliz being thrown out at second base, with the caption, "Not So Happy Peter". I didn't know that Molly-style nicknaming had spread so far. However, I'm not sure that "Unhappy Peter" would have been such a bad caption. It seems that the photo editors are following the Handley-inspired Squelch office Mp3-naming conventions, which led to such folders as "(not so)hip-hop", for rap music that was kind of dorky.

Also: "Peter" means "penis". Ha.

2. Henry Schulman chooses interesting language to discuss Cincinnati's general inability to win series:

Never before has the word "rubber" been uttered so much on the radio in the Queen City, as in, "The Reds can't win the rubber game of a series to save their lives."

This may or may not be true, depending on whether Venus Flytrap ever did safe sex PSAs on WKRP.

3. The Betting Fool rips on the All-Star Game in another SFGate column, and uses the nickname "Drugged Earwig" for baseball commissioner Bud Selig. I agree with the Fool's main thesis which is: The All-Star Game sorta sucks. This Giants season was built on the foundation of events that sell lots of tickets, but have very little to do with competitive baseball. The Barry Bonds home run chase and the All-Star Game are both very effective means to sell season tickets, and they're both going to be over at roughly the same time. Attention bargain-hunting Giants fans: there's going to be a lot of scalped tickets available in August.

Bonds has said he won't compete in the Home Run Derby, needing to reserve his old man strength for pursuing Aaron and nothing else. It's reminiscent of Westley in The Princess Bride, lying down to conserve his strength for his confrontation with Prince Humperdinck. In this analogy, Victor Conte is Miracle Max, Greg Anderson is Princess Buttercup, and the six-fingered man is, of course, Antonio Alfonseca. To the pain, Hammerin' Hank!

Will the Giants get back in the playoff chase? It'll take a miracle.

humm bloggy: giants 9, reds 5

The Giants defeated the Reds 9-5 in an Independence Day battle in Cincinnati. If the game were part of the American Revolution, who would the stars of this game be?

George Washington: Matt Cain. Cain has been a master strategist on the mound this season, constrained only by a lack of material support. For months, the Giants hitters have been essentially wintering at Valley Forge, unable to launch anything offensive. Matt Cain also once cut down a cherry tree with his fastball.

Benedict Arnold: Rich Aurilia. Aurilia spent 2005 and 2006 in a Reds uniform, but switched sides for more money. He betrayed the Reds in the fourth inning by legging out an infield hit ahead of Fred Lewis's grand slam, though, like Benedict Arnold, Aurilia's legs are ruined. Rich also used his turncoat knowledge of the Reds pitching staff to hit an impressive sixth-inning home run off Ricky Stone.

General Horatio Gates: Fred Lewis. Just as the Battle of Saratoga was the turning point of the Revolutionary War, the fourth inning was the turning point of yesterday's ballgame. Lewis, like Gates, deserves credit for his stirring performance, but the contributions of Aurilia, like those of Arnold, were underrated.

Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox: Ray Durham. Durham's quick bat provided a surprise attack against the Reds bullpen, like the guerilla techniques of the Swamp Fox.. Also, if you've ever heard Ray Durham's voice, it sounds like he grew up in a swamp.

Hessians: Cincinnati Red bullpen. Ineffective, underpaid mercenaries.

Second Continental Congress: Omar Vizquel. Vizquel made some costly errors, but no one cares because of the ultimate victory.

new feature: humm bloggy

We've been neglecting the baseball season around these parts recently, so today we introduce a new feature of daily reactions to the Giants action. A lot of big news is happening around the Giants these days: Barry Bonds chasing the all-time home run record, the All-Star Game at ATT&T Park next week, Bruce Bochy's pursuit of the modern-day, single-season managerial ejections record, and Tim Lincecum's struggle to lose his virginity before the end of summer.

"Humm Bloggy" is the name of the new feature, a name so awkward we couldn't help but choose it. "Humm Baby" was former manager Roger Craig's rallying cry during his tenure as Giants manager. "Humm baby" had many meanings. It could mean a scrub who nonetheless gave maximum effort. It could mean any player who played his heart out. It could mean, "Congratulations", "We'll get 'em next time," "Hot girl in the stands," and "Suicide squeeze again, muthafucka!"

The Giants didn't play yesterday, so I'll provide a reaction to Sunday's 13-0 defeat of the Diamondbacks:

My grandfather always enjoyed Giants victories, but he got increasingly nervous whenever the margin of victory exceeded three or four runs. On a day like Sunday, each run the team scored would make him only more agitated. "Save some for tomorrow," he'd have muttered through clenched teeth as Bengie Molina circled the bases, upset at the team's foolhardy expenditure of precious extra-base hits. "We'll need those runs tomorrow."

I can't say he was wrong. The team did seem to suffer a letdown after enormous, ass-kicking victories like the one we saw Sunday. But was this a result of not saving runs for tomorrow during a blowout, or was it because we watched the Giants, and they generally kind of sucked? I'm not going to try to answer that question, but don't be surprised if the Giants offense fails to provide fireworks on the Fourth of July. Grandpa could have told you the same.


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