Kings have a perfect ending to their pre season defeat Lakers 116-112

By Jeremiah Salmonson

The Sacramento Kings Davion Mitchell throws down against the Los Angeles Kings in the final pre season game at the Golden One Center in Sacramento on Thu Oct 14, 2021 (photo from sbnation.com)

The Sacramento Kings were back in action on Thursday night playing in their last preseason game of 2021. The Kings were undefeated coming into the game having beat the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, and Portland Trailblazers. Coming into town on Thursday was the Los Angeles Lakers. LeBron James was set to play in the final tuneup before the season. Tip off was set for 7 PM PST. However before we dive into the action let’s bring you up to speed on the last game.

Flashback Monday: On Monday the Kings continued their undefeated preseason by beating the Portland Trailblazers by the final of 107-93. The Kings were led in the game by impressive play from Davion Mitchell who scored 20 points.

Thursday night recap: Tip off was set in Sacramento at 7 PM PST against the Lakers.

In the first quarter, the Kings dominated the Lakers. The Kings out up an offensive outbursts of 35 points against an older Lakers defense. The Lakers, managed to put up only 23 points against the Kings as the Kings improved defense took center stage. Harrison Barnes led the Kings with eight first quarter points.

In the second quarter, the Kings didn’t fare as well. The Lakers managed to outscore the Kings 42-36 in the second quarter. The Kings offense remained in high gear, but the defense slipped as the Lakers put up a massive number. The game would go into halftime with the Kings leading 71-66. LeBron James led the Lakers in the first half with 19 points as Harrison Barnes led the Kings by scoring 15. The Kings would hope to contain the Lakers in the second half to remain undefeated in preseason.

In the third quarter, both teams cooled down. The Lakers outscored the Kings by one point scoring 22 points. The Kings only managed 21 points as the offense slowed. The Kings would maintain a lead going into the fourth quarter 92-87. The question was if they could hold the lead against the Lakers.

In the fourth quarter, both teams traded buckets. The Kings were once again outscored but only 25-24 as the Kings would hold on and go undefeated in the preseason. The Kings played a promising final game however the defense faltered late. The Kings will look to tighten that up in practice before the start of the season. The Kings were led in victory by De’Aaron Fox who scored 21 points. The Lakers were led by none other than LeBron James who scored 30 points.

Up Next: The Kings will begin the regular season on Wednesday, October 20th against the Portland Trailblazers in Portland at 7 PM PST.

A’s Win Nail Biter in Houston 8-6

The Houston Astros Jose Siri (below) slides so hard he upends Oakland A’s third baseman Josh Harrison (above) in the first inning at Minute Maid Field in Houston on Fri Oct 1, 2021 (AP News photo)

A’s Win A Nail Biter in Houston 8-6

By Barbara Mason

After a long, grueling and disappointing season the Oakland A’s took on the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park Friday night. The A’s were swept by the Seattle Mariners earlier this week and would like to finished the season on a high note by beating the division leading Astros. In their last series just a week ago, the A’s swept Houston.

The A’s will not have the home crowd support and this game may prove to be a difficult one. This team has surprised us all year and so I would say this series is a toss up.

Houston got up on the board in the first inning and led 1-0. The A’s answered in the third inning when Josh Harrison singled driving Tony Kemp home to tie up the game. Chad Pinder would extend their lead in the fourth inning with a home run to take the lead 2-1.

Matt Olson hit his 39th home run of the season driving Starling Marte home and giving Oakland a 4-1 lead. The Mariners would score once in the inning trying to get back in this game.

Oakland continued to pile it on in the eighth inning. Marte, Pinder and Yan Gomes scored giving the A’s a 7-2 lead. Oakland was not finished. Seth Brown would score on an error and it was at that point that Houston made a pitching change. The A’s had caused some major damage in the eighth inning leading 8-2.

The Houston Astros began to stir up a little trouble chipping away at the A’s lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jake Meyers singled driving in Carlos Correa. It was then that Bob Melvin pulled Yusmeiro Petit and sent in Deolis Guerra. It was not a good outing for Guerra.

The first batter he faced Jason Castro hit a home run with runners on base and just like that the score in this game was 8-6 in favor of the A’s. With two outs Lou Trivino came into the game to try to salvage the inning. The A’s were able to close out the inning and they were three outs away from a win in game one of the series.

In the ninth inning the A’s really needed some insurance runs. When playing a team like the Astros you just can’t have too large of a lead. Those insurance runs were nowhere to be found as the A’s went three up and three down.

The Astros were looking for a walk off. Lou Trivino walked two and with no outs the game was on the line for Oakland. Altuve would strike out, Brantley grounded out, Meyers grounded out and Oakland had won the game 8-6 in a nail biter. Lou Trivino got the save on his 30th birthday.

Game two is schedule for 4:10. Paul Blackburn will take the mound tomorrow and for the Astros Jake Odorizz

A’s take on Astros to end season; Series opens at Minute Maid Field Friday night

Oakland A’s starter Sean Manaea pitching against the Seattle Mariners in this Jul 21, 2021 photo at T Mobile Field in Seattle will start against the Houston Astros on Fri Oct 1, 2021 at Minute Maid Field in Houston (AP News file photo)

A’s Take On the Astros to End the Season

By Barbara Mason

It has been a mixed bag for the Oakland A’s the past week. It’s been sheer madness. Last week they were swept by the Mariners in a four series followed by an A’s sweep of the division leading Houston Astros. Last Monday the A’s again fell to the Mariners in a three game sweep. The loss yesterday was the twelfth loss in a row to the Seattle Mariners. The A’s cannot seem to crack this team and it has been beyond frustrating.

Starting tomorrow the A’s will finish their season in a three game series, again, with the Houston Astros. Hoping to duplicate last weeks series it would be a nice way to finish the season.

Now that the playoffs will have to wait until next year some wins over Houston would be a very good thing. Chris Bassitt had said that the team is very disappointed. They had the playoffs in clear view until they stumbled for the better part of September losing 15 games.

It was inconsistent play that was the A’s demise. A lot of trouble in the bullpen and at times the starters. They did have a bit of a drought when it came to hitting here and there. The defense was consistently solid one of the bright spots in the season.

So here we have the Houston Astros one last time. Oakland will not have the booing fans that they did in Oakland. The only place right now that the Astros are not hassled is right here at home in Houston.

At the time of this story the Astros were undecided as far as pitching. Oakland will send Sean Manea to the mound. His record is 10-10 with an ERA of 3.94. Matt Olson figures to be a factor in this weeks games. He has had 38 home runs this season and will no doubt add one or two more.

So it will be a bittersweet ending for the Oakland A’s. They were in contention for postseason action almost the entire season. Now it has come down to; maybe next year. Despite all of it the A’s gave their fans alot to cheer about this season. They had some great games and I believe they have a bright future. Yes there is some work to do but they will get it done; Skipper Melvin will see to that.

Fortinet Championship: A little local flavor on top

Maverick McNealy takes the lead with a eight under par 64 lead and is on top of the leaderboard with a -12 at the Silverado Resort Fortinet Championship in Napa (file photo birdiesforeducation.com)

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP: A little local flavor on top

By Jeremy Harness

This tournament has been known for guys going low throughout the weekend, and for the leaderboard to change rapidly at a moment’s notice.

Friday’s second round did not disappoint, as several players took advantage of the calm conditions at Silverado Resort & Spa, and the birdies continued to roll in without ceasing. And yes, there were a band new set of leaders atop the Fortinet Championship.

Maverick McNealy, a Stanford grad who is seeking his first professional victory and whose best finish is second in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier this year, shot up to the top of the leaderboard with an eight-under round of 64 on Friday.

Starting on the 10th hole, he got off to a very nice start to his round, birdieing his first two holes and then adding three more birdies on his front nine. He hit a major snag on his back nine by bogeying the first three holes there but quickly rallied with four birdies in a row and capped things off with an eagle at the par-5 ninth.

“It’s great, but there’s a lot of great players on this leaderboard and every shot’s going to matter,” McNealy said. “I just keep telling myself every putt you make now is one less you have to make later and you have to keep the pedal down. My goal tomorrow’s to get out there and give myself a birdie look on the first hole. I’m just going to have to keep doing that. Yeah, it’s great to be at the top of the leaderboard now, but it means a heck of a lot more to be at the top at the end of 72 holes.”

If you ask any good player the easiest way to shave strokes off your game, that person will most likely tell you to work on your putting. You want proof? Take a look at McNealy’s second round.

He drove the ball less accurately off the tee – he hit only six fairways Friday, compared to eight on Thursday – and didn’t hit it as far as he did in the first round, and he hit fewer greens in regulation (13 as opposed to 15) as well.

However, he made considerably more putts on Friday than was the case the day before, resulting in four more birdies and four fewer strokes. He is now second in the field in putts-per-green-in-regulation with 1.536.

While many were going low,first-round leader Chez Reavie went the opposite direction, carding a three-over round of 75. He was even-par after nine, but this time, he did not get hot. Instead, he went four-over in holes 11 through 13, including a double at the par-3 11th. He made back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th, but the damage was done.

He did not make nearly as many putts as he did in the first round. In fact, he lost more than a full stroke to the field in putting, in addition to being at a severe disadvantage off the tee and got up and down only 33 percent of the time on Friday, as opposed to 80 percent the day before.

Fortinet Championship: Clear skies, bright start to the PGA Tour season

Chez Reavie on the 18th green looks at his handy work a putt at the Silverado North Course on Sep 16, 2021 at the Fortinet Championship PGA golf tournament first round (AP News photo)

FORTINET CHAMPIONSHIP: Clear skies, bright start to the PGA Tour season

By Jeremy Harness

At this point last year, this tournament was played at a time where the skies were a dark orange color because of the fires that seemed to engulf the entire Northern California region. An eerie sight to see, to be sure.

Furthermore, there were no spectators allowed on the grounds due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, making this a thoroughly-depressing tournament to watch on television.

Fast forward 12 months, and even though there are fires burning around the region – particularly in the Lake Tahoe area – and COVID-19 is still most definitely a real thing – the atmosphere around Silverado Resort & Spa could not have been any different from 2020.

Golfers teed off Thursday morning and afternoon under clear skies, with no smell of fire smoke to speak of. And just as important, spectators were free to follow their favorite players, something they could only hope to be able to do again months earlier.

As for the Fortinet Championship itself, Chez Reavie overcame a tough start to take the lead after Thursday’s first round.

Starting on the 10th hole, he was one-over after the first six holes, but then he got rolling in a major way. He birdied eight of the final 12 holes, including three in a row to close out his round. When it was all said and done, he finished with a seven-under round of 65.

He isn’t the longest hitter out there – he was 117th in the field in driving distance Thursday while hitting 8 of 14 fairways, which ranked 23rd – but he hit 13 greens and was 2nd in putts-per-green-in-regulation, and he was the eighth-best putter overall.

“It was kind of a slow start but I told myself to stay patient, you have plenty of chances to make birdies, and I was able to do that coming in,” Reavie said. “But I was 1 over through six holes, I think. I was like, okay, stay patient, don’t become impatient. Yeah, fortunately I was able to make some birdies.”

The only real downer of this tournament is that since the Ryder Cup is next weekend, there aren’t nearly as many big names out there as a lot of fans would like. In fact, the only Ryder Cup participant who is playing this week is Jon Rahm, this year’s runner-up for the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year.

The Spaniard, who won the 2021 U.S Open, did not exactly get off to the kind of start he would have liked, particularly after also finishing second in this year’s Tour Championship, eventually losing out to Patrick Cantlay.

He was one-under for his first nine but endured a pair of tough bogeys on his second nine against one birdie, and he finished with an even-par round of 72. To be fair, Rahm had been battling a stomach ailment this week leading up to this event and has not felt anywhere close to 100 percent until Thursday.

“Not my best ball-striking day, a little tight today probably from having to be in bed for so long yesterday,” Rahm said. “So a little tight, just didn’t feel as fluid as it usually does. Even with how I felt, I played a little bit better than I thought I was going to, to be honest. Started great, started to hit some good shots, too bad I couldn’t capitalize on some of the good chances early on.

“Towards the end a lot of times my mind just wasn’t in it, I was having a hard time focusing given the fact that I haven’t had a solid meal since Tuesday morning. It is what it is. I just started, I’m feeling good now, so get a good meal right now and rest up the rest of the day. We have three more days to go. You can’t win it today, you can certainly lose it and it wasn’t my best day.”

He was a Giant? Rob Wilfong by Tony the Tiger Hayes

A rare photo of former San Francisco Giant Rob Wilfong in a Giants uniform circa 1987 he only played two games for the Giants at the end of his career (photo provided by Tony the Tiger Hayes)

Rob Wilfong – 2B – 1987 – # 9

He Was A Giant?

By Tony the Tiger Hayes

Imagine its your debut game with a new team and phenomenally you clobber a shocking home run in your first at-bat.

But after circling the bases and accepting high fives and slaps on the butt from your gobsmacked new teammates, you bypass the dugout bench and clubhouse shower and keep on jogging to your car. You drive straight home – never to return.

Wilfong’s brief stay with San Francisco didn’t exactly play out like that – but it wasn’t far off.

A former slick-fielding 2B for the Minnesota Twins and California Angels, Wilfong appeared in just two games for the 1987 Giants and then mysteriously vanished without a trace.

Why Was He a Giant?

Wilfong, 33, failed to make California’s 1987 opening day roster despite a gritty – nearly series saving – performance vs. Boston in the previous fall’s American League Playoffs.

But Wilfong found himself in a numbers pickle the following spring when league-wide team rosters were reduced to 24 players from 25. Wilfong didn’t do himself any favors by batting a measly .095 (3-for-21) in spring exhibitions for the the Angels.

So despite being just a handful of games short of qualifying for 10 full seasons of MLB service time – and a completely vested MLB pension- the five-year Halo was bluntly cut on the final day of spring training.

Wilfong was sitting at home in his native Southern California when the Giants infield situation smoldered into a full -blown Kentucky tire fire in late April.

Within a matter of days the G-Men lost three-fourths of their starting infield.

A dangerous pitch from the Cardinals Danny Cox came in high and tight and broke 3B Chris Brown’s jaw. Shortstop Jose Uribe also pulled up lame with a pulled hamstring.

Then, one morning 2B Robby Thompson woke up and discovered he couldn’t bend over to tie his shoes.

An old back injury alternately described as a “lingering stress fracture” and “congenital back defect” flared up sending the Giants sophomore sensation to the training table for an undetermined period.

With season ending-surgery a possibility for the popular Robby, the Giants were left scrambling for a contingency plan.

Utility-men Chris Speier, Randy Kutcher, Mike Woodard and Mark Wasinger all gave it a go at 2B. But each were better suited for utility roles.

San Francisco was so anxious about securing a battle-tested 2B they took the unusual step of flying Wilfong to a road trip stop in St. Louis for a pregame audition.

Wilfong looked so shipshape that Giants President Al Rosen had a contract waiting for the steady veteran the moment he stepped off the field.

“Al Rosen asked, ‘You wanna play?’ “ said Wilfong. “I said, ‘You kidding’? “

It was a perfect fit… for about three games. Then suddenly it wasn’t.

Before & After

A Pasadena native, Wilfong broke into pro ball in 1971 as a 17 -year-old 13th round draft pick by Minnesota out of Northview High School in Covina after batting .367 as a senior.

After slogging through six seasons of minor league ball, Wilfong made his big league debut with the Twins in 1977.

A deft fielder and skilled bunter, the fundamentally sound Wilfong quickly became a favorite of Minnesota manager Gene Mauch. Wilfong would go on to play the lions share of his MLB career under the command of the Lil’ General with both the Twins and Angels

In 1979, Wilfong enjoyed a career season for the Twins, batting .313 in 140 games and leading the American League with 25 sacrifices. In 1980, Wilfong led all AL second basemen in fielding percentage.

In mid-1982, the Mauch-helmed Angels shipped young slugging prospect Tom Brunansky to Minnesota to bring Wilfong and RHP reliever Doug Corbett back to Anaheim.

The defensive-minded Wilfong would share 2B over the next several seasons with the veteran slugger Bobby Grich.

For his career Wilfong batted just a shade below .250, but in high leverage situations he ramped up production. With runners on base, Wilfong batted .269. With runners in scoring position Rob’s average rose to .279 and in bases loaded situations the wiry infielder’s success rate leapt all the way up to .295.

Wilfong was a member of two division winning Angels clubs in 1982 and 1986.

Due to Boston’s thrilling comeback in the ‘86 playoffs – Wilfong’s resolute performance in Game 5 of that series is now largely forgotten.

The Angels were just one strike away from their first ever World Series berth when RHP Donnie Moore infamously coughed up Dave Henderson’s go ahead two-run 9th inning homer to put the Red Sox up 6-5 in a sunny Southern California meltdown.

While most people today only remember Henderson – who coincidentally also had a cameo appearance on the ‘87 Giants – and his dramatic dinger, the outcome of Game 5 and the series was far from decided at that point.

To open the home half of the 9th, C Bob Boone singled off Boston’s RHP Bob Stanley. Ruppert Jones pinch-ran and was advanced to second on a sacrifice. That brought up Wilfong as Boston turned to LHP reliever Joe Sambito.

Though the left-handed swinging Wilfong was a far superior career batter vs. right-handers (.258 compared to .176) Mauch ignored the splits knowing Wilfong’s history with runners on base.

Wilfong did not disappoint, ripping the veteran southpaw’s initial pitch into right field. The swift Jones beat the throw home to tie the game 6-6.

Boston would however take the lead for good in the 11th, on a Henderson sacrifice fly, winning 7-6.

Wilfong recorded two hits in Game 6, but got little help as Boston glided to a 10-4 win. Boston also easily won Game 7 to send the glum Angels back to Disneyland.

He Never Had A Bobblehead Day. But…

Wilfong’s first game with the Giants was also the career American Leaguer’s first ever at notoriously blustery Candlestick Park.

Even for Candlestick standards the weather at the mid-spring night game vs. the Cubs (5/7/87) was especially windy and raw.

Swirling gusts blew grit in the faces of ticket buyers and before the game was over, five players would have to chase down wind blown caps.

John McSherry’s navy blue umpire hat flew so far off his head in the 5th inning that it appeared to have wings. After retrieving it from the left field corner, instead of putting it back on, the veteran arbiter emphatically stuffed it in a coat pocket.

After grounding out in his first at-bat, Wilfong came up again in the third with starting RHP Mike LaCoss on second and no outs.

Wilfong stepped up to face Cubs starter RHP Ed Lynch who moments earlier had his own cap whisked away to the center field fence.

Wilfong struck what he initially believed to be a sharp base hit off Lynch. But the drive got lift and kept soaring. The whack didn’t stop until it kissed off the right field seats for a two-run homer.

“I hit the ball good, but I got it up in the wind and that’s what did it,” said Wilfong. “I was just trying to hit the ball on the ground to the right side.

“This is the first time I’ve played here and the stories about the wind are all true,” Wilfong continued. “When I went around the bases I was just trying to stay on my feet.”

The next day, newspapers throughout the country ran an animated wire service photo of Cubs players in the visitors dugout covering their faces with blue satin jackets and white towels in a desperate attempt to keep dirt and other airborne stadium debris out of their eyes.

“Aw, the wind wasn’t all that bad,” deadpanned the Giants rookie Matt Williams, who contributed two hits and three RBI in the 11-1 blow out San Francisco win. “You just couldn’t see.”

After five years of playing home games in Anaheim’s benign Angel Stadium, it was clear Wilfong wasn’t quite ready for Candlestick’s unique San Francisco treats.

“Some guys were saying this was a nice day,” a doubtful Wilfong sighed. “If that’s true I don’t want to see a bad one.”

It was easy to imagine that after a game with highlights would have played well to Weather Channel viewers, Wilfong was having seconds thoughts about his move north.

One wouldn’t have to imagine for long.

Giant Footprint

The next night, Wilfong was again the Giants leadoff hitter vs. Pittsburgh. He failed to bat safety, but walked, stole a base and scored on Jeffery Leonard’s two-run bomb in a Giants 4-2 win.

Wilfong sat the next day as 37-year-old Speier played 2B and led the Orange & Black to a 9-4 victory with a jaw-dropping grand slam. With the victory, San Francisco moved into sole possession of first place in the NL West.

With a right-hander throwing for Pittsburgh on Sunday, Wilfong would have been the logical choice to play 2B. But not only was Wilfong conspicuously absent from the Giants lineup, he wasn’t in uniform at all.

Wilfong blew out the clubhouse door prior to first pitch after informing team management he was seriously considering retiring from baseball.

“The desire’s not there,” said Giants manager Roger Craig, stating the player wanted to discuss the matter with his wife before coming to a final decision.

“I know what my wife would say to me. ‘Get you butt back (to the team),” Craig joked. “I admire the guy for admitting it rather than being dishonest.”

Rosen added: “Wilfong just said he didn’t know if he still had the fire in his belly. We told him to go home and think about it and we’d leave the options open to him.”

Two days later and still short of qualifying for a full pension, Wilfong was granted his unconditional release.

“Rob Wilfong has advised us he no longer wishes to play baseball,” said a tempered Rosen. “He has convinced us he is serious about this desire.”

Soon Thompson and Uribe would make a triumphant returns. The snake-bit Brown would heal, but then got traded in a package of players that netted slugging 3B/OF Kevin Mitchell and two others.

In the final days of the ‘87 regular season, the Giants would auspiciously capture their first division title in 17 years.

There was no mention of Wilfong again until it came time for the players to divide postseason bonus shares.

“We were joking about how much Rob Wilfong would get,” said Giants C Bob Brenly. “He was only here for three days… But he had one game-winning hit for us.”

He Was A Giant? Steve “Lefty” Carlton by Tony the Tiger Hayes

San Francisco Giants left hander Steve Carlton pitched for the Giants in the 1986 season (photo from Tony the Tiger Hayes)

Steve Carlton – LHP – 1986 – # 32

He was a Giant?

By Tony the Tiger Hayes

While assembling his ironclad Hall of Fame credentials with the Philadelphia Phillies, the mysterious Steve Carlton was an elite ace, winning multiple Cy Young Awards, but winning few friends along the way with a stiff upper lip and aloof disposition, which made the most austere Buckingham Palace guards resemble effusive, glad-handing used-car salesmen in comparison.

But upon joining San Francisco as a free agent mid-way through the 1986 season, the antisocial all-star flipped the script. While baseball’s Greta Garbo didn’t exactly go from “Silent Steve” to “Loquacious Lefty,” Carlton did warm to the point where he spoke at a press conference for the first time in nearly a decade.

The notorious lone wolf took only questions about his future pitching plans. Carlton would not entertain inquiries regarding the past or his personal life.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve done this,” a surprisingly sheepish Carlton said as he approached a gaggle of microphones at Candlestick Park. “Pardon me, if I make any mistakes.”

At the urging of Giants president Al Rosen, Carlton agreed to the gabfest.

“You can’t make a move like this and not talk to the media,” said the superstar who had racked up 318 career wins at that point. “I can’t say if this will continue in the future.”

It didn’t.

Two days later, Carlton would pitch in his first game for the Orange & Black, beginning a brief – but not all together uneventful – tour with the Giants.

Why Was He A Giant?

By 1986, the 41-year-old Carlton was clearly near the end of a legendary run. In fact the Phillies – Carlton’s ball club since 1972 – believed Lefty’s pitching days were over after he missed most of 1985 to injury and then began 1986 a frightfully cruddy 4-9, 6.18. Phillies management urged Carlton to retire. But when the headstrong mound master scoffed at that suggestion, Philadelphia simply released the six-time, 20-game winner in spite of the fact he sat just 18 career strikeouts shy of 4,000.

(Carlton’s pursuit of that landmark strikeout figure would be the focus of his Northern California sojourn.)

After Carlton’s Philadelphia decampment, the Yankees, Reds, Angels and Braves all expressed interest in signing the legendary hurler – but Carlton had his sights set on San Francisco. He joined the Giants just as the traditional blanket of 4th of July fog was rolling into San Francisco Bay.

The combination of a young team on the rise – the upstart Giants were leading the NL West at the time – and pitching in The ‘Stick’s unique summer setting uncommonly appealed to Carlton.

“I like the climate here and love to pitch in cold weather,” Carlton stated.

The Giants admitted they weren’t exactly sure what they were getting in a pitcher who had not seen much mound success since 1984.

“Maybe a Steve Carlton on our ball club, which has so many young players on it, will be a stabilizing force,” said Giants President Al Rosen, secretively hoping Carlton had also arrived with a personality transplant. “He loves the Bay Area. He’s a wine connoisseur who intends to get into the wine business someday. And with the Napa Valley right up the road, what better place to get started.”

By the time Carlton left San Francisco a month later, it was Rosen who most likely uncorked a wine bottle, relived to have shed Carlton’s diva act.

At first though there was love in the air.

One of Carlton’s new Giants teammates was RHP Mike Krukow who pitched alongside Carlton in Philadelphia in 1982.

Krukow, not surprisingly, was fired up about the addition of Carlton.

“The way (Carlton) works on the field, his habits, he’s a champion and I think he’s going to bring that demeanor into the clubhouse. Even if he didn’t throw a pitch he could help us through osmosis,” the ever ebullient Krukow crowed.

Carlton however wasn’t ready to give up his alpha dog status, saying bluntly, “I didn’t come here to coach.”

The perennial All-Star claimed he was physically equipped to pitch until his 50th birthday.

“I would’ve walked away from the game if I thought I’d maximized all my efforts in Philadelphia. I can still pitch and win,” Carlton proclaimed.

Carlton didn’t have to wait long to show what he still had left in his arsenal. Unfortunately it looked similar to what he had in his final days in Philly.

Carlton was tabbed to face the visiting Cardinals on a sunny Sunday afternoon (7/6/86), as 40,473 packed into Candlestick Park to honor Willie McCovey on the retired Giants slugger’s upcoming induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately, the popular Mac was the only one to bring his Cooperstown certifications. Carlton struck out only two Redbirds and lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up eight hits and three earned runs – leaving with a 3-0 deficit. The Giants however rebounded with a torrid six -run 8th inning and beat St. Louis 8-3.

“I could tell he was rusty,” said Giants skipper Craig, noting Carlton had not pitched in a game in two weeks. “There’s no question he needs two or three more starts before he’s 100 percent.”

Going forward, Craig expressed interest in teaching Carlton his pet pitch – the split-finger fastball.

After the game, Carlton again spoke, albeit briefly. “They did a helluva job,” he said of his new Giants teammates. “It was a great comeback.”

With that, Lefty scooted out a back door. Carlton would not have much to say the rest of his time in the City by the Bay.

Before & After

As far back as his teen years, Carlton presented himself as a different type of cat. While he flashed outrageous athletic talent – he could hurl a football 75 yards – in his free time, a youthful Carlton practiced meditation.

When stereotypical meathead jocks of his era were sneaking peeks at “Playboy” – Carlton was cracking open the philosophical works of Freidreich Nietzsche and Paramahansa Yogananda.

Carlton’s interests in mind-bending theory would underline his remarkable career. During his heyday with Philadelphia, Carlton studied Taoism and Buddhism and engrossed himself in the martial arts. He famously strengthened his pitching arm by rotating it in a barrel of uncooked rice.

With the Phillies, Carlton helped create a behavior modification chamber deep within the bowels of Veterans Stadium. The cubby hole was filled with tactile, audio and visual stimuli and served as the cerebral competitor’s inner sanctum away from the towel-snapping, rumpus room atmosphere of a big league clubhouse.

Before making his name in the “City of Brotherly Love,”Carlton spent the first seven seasons of his big league career with the Cardinals. He was on the verge of stardom with St. Louis, posting his first 20-game winning season in 1971, but a salary dispute led to a shocking trade to the lowly Phillies.

The circumspect Carlton found a surprising home in the disparate, hard-scrabble Philly. In 1972, the last place Phillies won just 59 games – but Carlton, startlingly, was credited with nearly half their triumphs (46%) with an extravagant 27 victories.

It was in ‘72 that Carlton perfected his trademark filthy slider – a dominating bat baffler that Lefty would use as his ace card the rest of his career.

Within a couple of seasons, the Carlton and slugger Mike Schmidt-led Phillies would dramatically see an upturn in their fortunes – winning multiple National League Eastern Division titles and the franchise’s first ever World Series championship in 1980.

The introverted Carlton began a semi-boycott of the sporting press in 1973 after a Philly based sports columnist questioned his dedication to training.

By 1978, Carlton had had it with the notepad toting crowd for good and cut off all communication with reporters. It would remain that way until he joined the Giants. The velocity virtuoso did not even speak publicly after winning his landmark 300th career game in 1983.

Carlton’s oddball personality quirks are often the thing that comes up first when discussing his baseball career, but the semi-annual All-Star’s pitching preeminence should never take a back seat to his status as one of baseball’s all-time brooders.

Carlton was the first pitcher to win four Cy Young Awards – including his first in ‘72 when he achieved baseball’s rare Triple Crown of pitching: leading the NL in wins, strikeouts and ERA.

‘sAt various times between 1982-84, Carlton was baseball’s all-time strikeout leader – routinely trading the top spot with RHP contemporary Nolan Ryan.

Currently, Carlton has the second most strikeouts by a LHP (fourth overall with 4,136) he is the last NL pitcher to win 25 games or more and the last pitcher to hurl 300 or more innings in a season. His 329 lifetime wins rank 11th. He was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1994 with nearly 96 percent of the vote.

After his brief stint with San Francisco – just six games – Carlton hooked on with the White Sox to finish out the ‘86 season. He was a member of the Twins’ World Series championship club in 1987, but did not pitch in the post season. He wrapped up his big league career with Minnesota in April of 1988 at age 43. He allowed eight earned runs in his final start.

Carlton has not had much involvement in baseball since his retirement, but he has made news occasionally… ironically for opening his mouth.

In a rare interview, Carlton expressed belief in numerous loony conspiracy theories, including that the world is controlled by Russian and U.S. governments which “fill the air with low frequency sound waves” and that the AIDS virus was created in a secret Maryland laboratory.

He Never Had a Giants Bobblehead Day. But…

Overall, Carlton went an uninspiring 1-3, 5.10 in six starts with San Francisco. In his first three Giants outings, Carlton allowed a dozen runs over 14 innings.

But on a Saturday night start at Pittsburgh (7/26/86), Carlton briefly sparkled like the pitcher who previously had been named to 10 All-Star teams.

Carlton pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, in a 9-0 Giants shellacking of the Pirates. He struck out five Buccos, leaving him just eight career K’s shy of 4,000.

Carlton pitched out of a bases loaded situation in the fifth inning, as well as when two base runners were in scoring position in the fourth.

Pirates OF R.J. Reynolds gave Carlton his full endorsement. He witnessed a rejuvenated Lefty that night. In a previous game that season, Reynolds had whacked a two-run RBI double off Carlton in a 13-5 Pirates win over the Phillies.

“When he struck me out tonight, he threw me a nasty slider. The problem he had with his slider earlier this season was it broke too early and the batter could pick it up. I tip my cap to Carlton. He still has something left,” Reynolds told the Sacramento Bee’s Bob Padecky.

By this point, Carlton had reinstated his speaking restrictions and was sequestered in the training room when reporters entered the clubhouse after the game.

But Giants catcher Bob Melvin was more than glad to pipe up for Carlton.

“He seemed to be happy,” Melvin said. “He had control of every pitch.”

Melvin indicated Carlton’s side work with pitching whisperer Craig was seeing positive results.

“Carlton had a great curveball and got a few outs with his split-finger. He needed an off-speed pitch,” the young receiver said.

It was beginning to look as if the Giants’ search for pitching gold was about to pan out, when Carlton pitched well in his next outing, striking out five and allowing just a single run over 5.1 frames, receiving a no-decision in a 3-2 home win vs. Atlanta (7/31/86).

But in his next start – in which Carlton finally recorded his 4,000 career strikeout – he was blasted for seven runs in one of sloppiest games in Giants history. The end was near.

Giant Footprint

Though it certainly was not all his fault – in the month Carlton spent with the Giants – the young club regressed significantly. On the day Carlton came aboard, the Orange & Black were eight games over .500 and led the NL West by 1.5 games over Houston. After Carlton’s final game with the Giants – an embarrassing 11-6 home loss to the Reds (8/5/86) – the Giants had just three more victories than defeats and trailed the Astros by 5 games.

Like a car with a bad clutch at the top of Hyde street, the Giants were rolling backwards.

The Giants would move on from Carlton after that loss, but not before Carlton became just the second pitcher in history to record 4,000 strikeouts. That momentous event came in the third inning and it was punctuated with a standing ovation from the 17,303 paid attendance at Candlestick Park. But getting to that juncture and what followed that chilly night was not pretty.

Carlton allowed three Reds runs in the first inning, the pitcher aided Cincinnati’s efforts, by balking in one of the runs.

If this particular three-hour and 18 minutes nightmare had a soundtrack, it would have been the “The Benny Hill Show” theme song.

Combined the clubs allowed:

  • Five wild pitches. * Two run scoring balks. * Thirteen walks. * And one team batted out of order.

The one saving grace – besides a mammoth Will Clark upper deck homer – was Carlton making history in the third inning, when he nullified the Reds Eric Davis on a swinging third strike on a 1-2 pitch for career 4,000 career K’s.

The Giants rudimentary, but oddly satisfying, score board lit up with the words: “Congratulations STEVE CARLTON 4,000 Major League Strikeouts! “

Carlton stepped from the mound and gave the standing audience a gentlemanly tip of his cap.

Then on his very next offering, Carlton heaved a wild pitch to the backstop allowing a run. A two-run RBI triple by Dave Parker knocked Carlton from the game in the fourth inning.

After the game, Carlton -his ERA ballooned to 5.89 – was nowhere to be found. A day later, the Giants made his non-occupancy permanent.

The move was initially announced as a “retirement” on Carlton’s part to help the Giants clear roster space for Krukow’s return from the disabled list.

“I called (Carlton) this morning to discuss the problems we are having with the roster,” Rosen said. “Out of that conversation we made the decision that he would retire. I did not ask him to retire.”

Carlton secretly played along.

“Upon reflection, I realize I’ve reached a career milestone never accomplished before by a pitcher spending his whole career in one league,” Carlton said, referencing his 4,000 strikeout. “With Mike Krukow ready to come off the disabled list, I’ve decided it is in the best interest of everyone involved to announce my retirement at this time.”

But it was all a ruse. At the time Carlton was making his “retirement” speech, his agent was already firming up a deal with the White Sox.

Carlton just couldn’t let go of the ball.

He was on the mound for Chicago a week later, surrendering six runs in three innings in a 7-3 loss at Detroit.

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: Giants open three game series against Pirates tonight at Oracle Park

San Francisco Giant starter Johnny Cueto seen here throwing against the Oakland A’s at Oracle Park on Fri Jun 25, 2021 will start against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight to open a three game series (AP file photo)

On the Giants podcast with Michael:

#1 The San Francisco Giants second baseman Wilmer Flores has really come into his own hitting a gamer on Wednesday night at Dodgers Stadium for the game winner and hitting .250, 61 hits, 11 homers and 33 RBls.

#2 The Giants had lost the night before to the Dodgers and dropped from two to one game ahead of the Dodgers but the win on Wednesday got them right back with a two game lead.

#3 Going back to Flores once again he was facing the Dodgers relief ace Kenley Jansen who had 21 saves and an ERA of 1.45. Was it a matter of Jansen throwing a bad pitch or Flores just reaching out grabbing and taking Jansen deep.

#4 Michael what is the concern for outfielder Mike Tauchman whose hitting .156 with 33 strikeouts in his last 41 games and has an overall batting average of .176. He sat out Wednesday night’s game.

#5 Starting pitchers for Friday night baseball at Oracle Park in San Francisco as the Pittsburgh Pirates come in for a three game series. For the Pirates Chad Kuhl (3-5 ERA 4.31) he’ll face the Giants Johnny Cueto (6-5 ERA 4.01) how do you see this pitching match up.

Michael Duca does the Giants podcasts each Friday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Dealbreaker on Howard Terminal ballpark: A’s looked for two infrastructure projects Oakland Council gave them only one

Oakland A’s owner John Fisher and team president David Kaval behind the Oakland A’s dugout in undated photo have turned down the Oakland City Council’s offer after they voted yes on Tue Jul 20, 2021 (file photo from Athletics Nation)

By Jeremiah Salmonson

The Oakland City Council held a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the A’s Howard Terminal Development Proposal. The meeting took place at 9 AM local time over zoom.

Tensions were high heading into the meeting on Tuesday. The climate over the development project has been hot since Major Lague Baseball and the Oakland A’s essentially delivered an ultimatum to the city. The ultimatum was essentially, “approve our Howard Terminal ballpark plans or we are leaving town.”

MLB has stated they do not beleive the current site to be viable for the future of the MLB product. This obviously leaves the A’s with little choice but to pursue a more updated model of a downtown ballpark with other amenities.

On Tuesday after the community input section of the meeting, Councilmember Fife asked A’s President Dave Kaval a very direct question to the tune of, “If the current city proposal isn’t in consideration from the A’s what are we doing here?”

The response from Kaval drew mixed responses after the meeting. The A’s appeared very set that the council either vote on the A’s proposal or the A’s were not interested in hearing what they had to say. The council did not do so. Instead, after hours of community input and conversation with the council they decided to vote on the term sheet the city had released on the prior Friday.

One key difference between the two are the number of IFD’s (Infrastructure Financing Districts). The A’s want two in order to pay for the project while the city of Oakland only wants one. The city did appear to make the concesison of adding a BID (Business Improvement District).

However, the A’s did not appear to want to play ball at all with the city on this issue. One concession the city did seem to make is that the A’s would not have to pay for off-site infrastructure. It appears the city is willing to reimburse the A’s through taxes of these costs or at a minimum subsidise them.

The Council voted in a 6-1-1 decision to approve the preliminary term sheet the city put together. All members voted in favor excpet Councilmember Carroll Fife abstained and Councilmember Noel Gallo voted against the project. However, it will prove mute if the A’s refuse to return to the negotiating table on the approved term sheet and not the one the A’s put fourth.

The meeting did not end on an overly optimistic tone as it appears the A’s will not return to the negotiating table. Only the next few days if the A’s are headed out of town or if they are willing to try and get a deal done with the city that involves some compromise.

Shotime ends in sixth inning; LA’s Bullpen collapses Ohtani’s effort, A’s win 4-1

Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani seen pitching in the fifth inning against the Oakland A’s at the Oakland Coliseum on Mon Jul 19, 2021 (AP News photo)

LA Angels 1 – 8 – 0

Oakland 4 – 7- 1

By Lewis Rubman

Monday, July 19, 2021

OAKLAND–Let’s pause for a moment to think about what the slumping A’s (54-42) were up against tonight. Facing them on the mound was a man who fit Cervantes’ description of Lope de Vega, perhaps the greatest poet and playwright of Spain’s golden age, “one of nature’s monsters.”

Shoei Ohtani, fresh from opening the All Star Game for the American League, brought a record of 4-1, 3.49 with him. The relentlessly improving Los Angeles Angels (46-47) were outhitting the Athletics by 27 points, .259 to .232, and their starting lineup also featured a man who fit Cervantes’ description of Lope de Vega, Shoei Ohtani, the MLB leader in home runs, with 34 in 314 at bats.

Facing this juggernaut, the home team relied on Cole Irvin (6-8,3.65), who in spite of losing his last start and, with it, a three game winning streak, was 3-1, 2.95 in his last seven starts.

On the offensive side of the ledger, Oakland recently has been hitting below its modest average for the season. They were batting a lowly. .208 in their last dozen and a half games, good for only 64 runs, and have shown an alarming penchant for leaving runners on base, especially if they’re in scoring position

Tonight, the starting pitchers battled to a stand off, but Oakland used long balls by Ramón Laureano and Matt Olson against the Halos´ bullpen to take home a hard fought victory, 4-1.

The Angels fell victim to The Curse of the Lead Off Double in the first frame. Two innings later, David Fletcher, who had hit the fatidic two bagger, singled to center and tried to score from first on Ohtani’s single to center. Laureano and Andrus made two perfect throws that allowed Murphy to tag the fleet footed Fletcher out at home, a call that was confirmed after the obligatory, but thankfully brief, review.

It was the A’s chance to threaten in the bottom of the third. With one down, Kemp drew a walk. Canha dropped a fly that fell in front of the diving Adam Eaton in right for a double that sent Canha to third. Ohtani got Andrus to strike out swinging an 0-2 slider, bringing Olson to the plate. He grounded out to second baseman Fletcher, playing in short right field. Two more RISP stranded.

Kemp’s was the Athletics’ last hit until Olson singled to right with two out in the sixth, Oakland’s third safety in what was still a scoreless tie. Lowrie lined out to Ohtani to end the inning.

Ohtani didn’t pitch after the sixth. He moved to right field having surrendered three hits and a walk and chalking up eight strike outs. He threw 96 pitches, 59 for strikes.

Steve Cishek replaced Ohtani on mound and promptly walked Moreland and Chapman before throwing Laureano a 78 mph slider that he A’s centerfielder deposited in the left field seats for his 14th home run of the year. It put the Athletics ahead 3-0 and ended Cishek’s tenure on the mound, where Tony Watson took his place and put out the fire, but not before Kemp hit a bunt single and stole second.

When Adam Eaton opened the eighth with a single, Irvin gave way to Lou Trivino. The A’s starter had held the Angels to seven hits and a walk. Of his 84 pitches, 59 were strikes, and he struck out three of the crew from Anaheim. Lou Trivino retired the next three batters, the last of whom was Ohtani.

The bottom of the eighth began with Alex Claudio on the hill for for the Angels and Matt Olson the plate for the Athletics. Four pitches later, Olson was back at the plate, crossing it with his 24th home run of 2021, a 392 foot blast to right. Claudio stayed on to strike out Seth Brown, pinch hitting for Moreland, before handing the ball over to Junior Guerra, who got the final two outs.

Trivino stayed on to try for the six out save. He almost didn’t make it. After walking Phil Gosselin with one down, he surrendered a double to rookie Brandon Marsh, who went 3 for 4 in this, his second big league game. Trivino got Kurt Suzuki out on a fly to center, but Andrus flubbed Taylor Ward’s grounder that would ended the game. It took a great catch by Chapman of a foul by Taylor Ward next to the rolled up tarp behind the A’s bullpen to end the contest.

Irvin got the well deserved win, to bring his record to 7-8, 3.42. Trivino sweated his way to his 15th save. Cishek got the loss.

The A’s home stand will wind up tomorrow, Tuesday, at 12:37 with James Kaprielian (4-3, 2,90) penciled in to start against José Suárez (4-2-2.29)