That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast: MLB rule changes irk Reds’ Bauer; Former Giant Vogt biggest reason why Bumgarner a D-Back; plus more

Photo credit: letsgotribe.com

On Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast:

#1 The Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred is applying a new rule change that pitchers must face at least three batters before being relieved the very unpopular wiping out of 42 minor league teams, which has not gone over well with the players.

#2 At some point, these changes will not go over well with the players and they will tell Manfred “enough is enough” at the bargaining table when the Collective Bargaining Agreement is up.

#3 Madison Bumgarner’s departure from San Francisco came when Bumgarner realized that he won’t get a deal from San Francisco that would match the Arizona Diamondbacks’ five-year, $85 million offer.

#4 Former Giant catcher Stephen Vogt, who spoke with his current team’s brass at the Diamondbacks, said that if they can get Bumgarner it would be well worth it. Vogt is one of the biggest reasons why Bumgarner came to Arizona.

#5 The Oakland A’s have put out a full page ad in the printed versions of Bay Area local papers. The A’s are pushing the “Rooted in Oakland” brand and trying to secure a fanbase that had worries the team could leave if they don’t get a new stadium at Howard Terminal in Oakland. The A’s are trying assure everyone they are committed. But fans know that the environmental impact report, parking and public transit issues are at play still.

Join Amaury each Tuesday for That’s Amaury’s Commentary at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Thanks for the Memories (A Poem for the Raiders)

photo from sfgate.com: Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams is mobbed by fans after scoring a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019.

By Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND — Sunday, December 15,2019. A date which will live in infamy for Oakland Raiders fans. Raiders lost their last ever game at the Oakland Coliseum 20-16 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Legendary comedian Bob Hope theme song for decades on radio and television shows and many trips to USO war zones from WWII. to Korea, Vietnam to some of the recent middle-eastern wars was titled “Thanks for the Memory”. It is easy to apply the same melody, but with these lyrics that I have composed solely for the occasion. For those of you that might not know the song, I suggest you listen to it first.

Thanks for the memories of hot dogs and tailgates, Cliff Branch, and the Raiderettes, we went from Oakland to LA, but we never forgot you yet. We thank you so much. Thanks for the memories of three great Super Bowls, two in Oakland and one down the road, we thank you so much. Gone are the Black and Silver at Oakland, pregame barbecue, beer, ribs and some dessert, now it is all in the desert so there they go no more film at 10 all. We thank you so much. Thanks for the memories of 1981, New Orleans and the Bowl, Raymond Chester and Jim Plunkett, we truly loved it all. We thank you so much. Gone is 880 and BART, and now they play in Vegas with Darts. Maybe the faithful will fly, an hour-and-a-half to just say “Hi.” We Thank you so much. Thank you for the memories, we finally said goodbye to Mount Davis and alike, we thank you so much.

Composer: Yours Truly.

Adios, Au Revoir, Sayonara, Auf Wiedersehen, Zay Gezunt, Goodbye Raiders.

Good riddance!

Amaury Pi-Gonzalez is the Spanish radio voice of Oakland A’s baseball and does News and Commentary each week at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: AstroGate – Sign-Stealing in Baseball?

Photo credit: foxnews.com

By Amaury Pi-González

Major League Baseball is investigating the Houston Astros for stealing signs during the 2018 and 2019 seasons and dating back to 2017 when the Astros won the World Series. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said last month MLB will be interviewing a lot of people,during the investigation.

Manfred said: “We are talking to people all over the industry,former employees,competitors, whatever.”

This looks like an old episode of the famous TV detective Columbo.

Before they bring baseball attorneys and experts on the matter and it becomes a huge scandal, we should all be aware that stealing signs in baseball has been part of baseball since most people can remember — before most of us where born. In a way, this investigation is laughable because this is absolutely nothing new. In the history of baseball, it is part of the fabric of the game. However, the game has changed so much that I have to admit they are much fewer stolen bases by players today, that stolen signs.

Actually, it brings me to the point of being in favor of stealing signs because that means that you are much more baseball-savvy that your opponent. Especially nowadays with all the replays and technology available and when the camera sees much more than the umpires. With all the technology today that we apply to the game it should be truly refreshing that players and coaches can steal a sign or two to help their team. How much impact can stealing signs have on a game, that is another matter, and for that, brings the baseball attorneys.

Here is a personal anecdote. In the mid 1980’s, I was broadcasting an A’s game from a tent-installed directly behind the backstop and home plate at field level at the Oakland Coliseum. The station was KNTA 1430 AM San José. We were going to be removed from that location because opposing teams believe that was a good location for the home team to steal signs. Some of the players that used to stand next to us,during the games like A’s pitcher José Rijo posed a potential for the “crime”.

There is no rule in baseball today that prohibit sign stealing.

Yes, there is “No Crying in Baseball”, but there is sign stealing.

That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Minority participation in 2020 MLB season?

Photo credit: theringer.com

By Amaury Pi-González

According to the LA Times, a recently published article about the last MLB season in 2019 said: “For the first time since 1946, the season before Robinson debuted and altered the course of American history, an African American did not appear in a game for the Dodgers for an entire campaign.”

An irony for the franchise that headed by a courageous Branch Rickey, who signed Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier..

The fact today is that just like with the regular population of the United States, where Latinos are now the largest minority and not African-American, the same has happened in the most historic sport in this country, baseball. The Census will be taken in 2020, and before that Census, Hispanics/Latinos are 18 percent of the population with around 60 million people, while African-Americans are 12 percent of the population with approximately 42 million people.

Baseball is also headed in the same direction as the total populations of the country. In baseball, Hispanics/Latinos make up about 30% of all players, while African-Americans are just around 8%. The MLB has been trying with the RBI program and many others to attract young African-Americans to the game of baseball, but as of today with little success. The other two major professional leagues, the NBA and the NFL are miles ahead of the MLB when it comes to African-American players. I do not want to speculate what is the reason, but there are many. Some point to baseball as a slow game, while other sports generate more instant gratification. Baseball requires patience, and in a time like this with social media, anybody–at any given time–can access anything in five seconds.

Facebook and You Tube have carried live MLB games. The fluid world of social media looks like the #1 vehicle to deliver baseball to the masses, especially of the younger generation. There is no secret that baseball audiences are typically older that most other sports according to data released by media-polling organizations. It is said that the average age of a baseball viewer is 57 (this has been increasing year by year), and if you wonder about some kind of a youth movement, only 7% of the baseball audience is under age 18.

These baseball demographic statistics will likely not change much. In Latin America, where some baseball countries play ball 12 months of the year, and most MLB clubs scout those countries. In some of those baseball countries, baseball is still king and there is no competition by basketball, and of course, American football as neither sport is not really played by kids. Soccer still the most popular sport in Latin America. However, in Cuba, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Panamá, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela, soccer is not as popular as baseball. In México and Colombia, baseball is popular, but soccer is still número uno, but those two countries continue to develop a lot of baseball talent, and have a presence in the Major Leagues.

This could be getting much more interesting as MLB is proposing to eliminate many minor league teams. MLB says the reorganization is in order to make the minor leagues more efficient (i.e.conditions where they play, dated facilities, etc.). Common sense tells us less teams is not going to help the development of younger players aspiring to make it to the show. Unlike the NBA and NFL, who get most of their talent from drafts, the minor leagues are the gateway to Major League Baseball.

Major and Minor League Baseball’s current Professional Baseball Agreement is set to expire after the 2020 season. One thing for sure is that more Latino talent will continue to arrive and the trend will continue.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Are Atlanta and Minneapolis the Best Cities for Bumgarner?

Photo credit: talkingchop.com

By Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

Madison Bumgarner has won three World Series and is arguably one (if not the best) postseason pitcher in history. The Giants made a $17.8 million qualifying offer to the free agent, which guaranteed a draft pick compensation for the Giants, a team seriously in need of younger players. It is very doubtful the Giants will win the World Series in 2020. There are two young teams looking for that extra puzzle piece to make it over the hump. Two teams that won their divisions but fell way-short of going deep into the postseason. Two teams that could use a guy like him.

Atlanta Braves
The Braves won the East in the National League with a 97-65 record, four games over the World Champion Washington Nationals, but lost the Divisional Series vs. St. Louis Cardinals in five games. They have a great young ball club with a terrific starting rotation of, Mike Soroka, whose just 22 years old and finished 13-4, 2.68 ERA. He is currently their best hurler. Max Fried, who finished 17-6, 4.02 ERA. Mike Foltynewicz and a very good bullpen. Not to mention one of the best lineups around in Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr.and Ozzie Albies. Bumgarner would be like gold for this young team, which he would bring experience. The location is excellent for Bumgarner, who lives nearby in his home state of North Carolina. Plus he would stay in the National League. I would say Atlanta is the best place for him.

Minnesota Twins
The Twins won the American League Central Division with 101-61 record but were swept by the Yankees 3-0 in the Divisional Series. Like Atlanta, they are another young team in need of an experienced starter like the Giants lefty, but unlike the Braves, they are not as deep in pitching. Therefore, the Twins could go hard after Bumgarner. But there is one disadvantage as Bumgarner has only pitched in the National League with the Giants. He is one of the best hitting pitchers in the game and was even used as a pinch-hitter by Bruce Bochy. He loves to hit. The youngest and most talented starter with the Twins is the 25-year-old José Berrios, who finished 14-8, 3.68 ERA this season. The Twins are probably in the conversation for the Giants pitcher.

There are other potential teams looking for pitching,the Los Angeles Angels are one of those. He would definitely fit very well in Joe Maddon’s new team. The Angels are going to go heavy on free agents, especially Gerrit Cole, who was born in Newport Beach, about 45 minutes from Angel Stadium. He seems a perfect fit for the Halos. The San Diego Padres is another young up-and-coming team who plays in the same division as the Giants. They should be looking at him, too, and do not forget the American League Champion Houston Astros. Their rotation — especially if Cole leaves — will be a solid one with this acquisition.

Either Atlanta or Minnesota could offer Bumgarner, who is 30 years old, a two-year deal worth in the $40 million range. I do not see a problem with that. More than two years is a risk because he is still a good pitcher but not as dominant as he once was. Let’s face it, nobody knows which Bumgarner they would get. Although there is a chance of scenery for him, leaving a team that is not close to returning to the Fall Classic, like Atlanta or Minnesota, who are much closer, is something that he likely is considering at this stage in his career. He is the type of competitor that with a winning team, he would perform much better and he would be motivated to take his team to the postseason, which is something he cannot do with today’s Giants.

Bumgarner is in a good situation. If he decided to stay put with the Giants, that would have been a surprise to many. Although 60 wins is tied in total wins at home when Matt Cain was with the Giants. Pitching at Oracle Park, which is not a hitting paradise, is an advantage if he decides to stay in San Francisco and fans will love it, and if he retired with the Orange and Black, that would be even better, but fans do not have much of a say on his future. In my opinion, the only San Francisco Giant that will never leave the team (of the original players that were part of the even year World Series era) is Buster Posey. He was the Rookie of the Year in the NL with the Giants in 2010 and he will retire as a Giant.

Where will Bumgarner be pitching next season? At the end of the day, it is about the money. What else is new?

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: The A’s Stadium Saga (Episode 29)

Photo credit: eastbaytimes.com

By Amaury Pi-González

OAKLAND–A’s fans have been on this rollercoaster ride of the new ballpark for long enough that it is now almost running as long as one of Telemundo novelas. This last episode was a good one. This week, over 80 Oakland and surrounding area business leaders announced the formation of “Town Business” — an initiative by company executives in support of keeping the A’s in Oakland for the long-term. They hand-delivered copies of the letter addressed to the Mayor of Oakland, Libby Schaaf, urging the City to drop its lawsuit against Alameda County.

There should be no doubt that the Schaaf should be happy with this support. Schaaf’s legacy could the first mayor of a big city in the country to lose three professional sports franchises. The NBA’s Warriors are already gone and playing in San Francisco and the NFL’s Raiders have one leg already in Las Vegas and are currently playing in their last season at the Oakland Coliseum. There are millions and millions of dollars behind these executives running companies here in the East Bay — large, small and new businesses. The famous author, Stephen King, known as “the master of horror stories” once said: “Money talks and bullshit walks”. By the way, King is a huge Boston Red Sox fan.

A new ballpark would usher a new era of prosperity for the franchise. Since the A’s been playing in Oakland in 1968, other major league teams have built multiple stadiums (i.e. the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves) and many others who have at least one. Only a handful of teams remain that have played at the same place such as the Red Sox (Fenway Park), Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field), Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodger Stadium). For some of us who have made the Bay Area our long-term home, we witnessed what happened with the San Francisco Giants, who lost election after election in order to build a new park until they finally found private investors to build what is today Oracle Park, which debuted in 2000.

The A’s plan is to begin construction of this privately financed new facility at Howard Terminal, just north of Jack London Square by 2021 and hope for a first pitch in 2023. It would be a beautiful 35,000 seat park. It would be a fan and environmentally friendly park that addresses the rising sea level. Today, the sea levels is not a main concern. But, up north in Portland, they are talking about building a new major league park for what they hope will be their first MLB franchise…and I think Las Vegas is taking odds in all of this.

Can’t wait for the next episode!

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: NHL…Toews’ Schedule?

Photo credit: secondcityhockey.com

By Amaury Pi-González

Jonathan Toews is the Canadian-born captain of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL). The 31-year-old veteran, whose in his 13th season with the Blackhawks, might be into something. He suggested an NHL schedule with fewer late-night flights and 3:00 AM bedtime. According to Toews, flying a long distance for a lone game day should be replaced with three-game series like in the MLB. Although not totally the same, since in baseball you have a 162-game schedule (81 home, 81 away) and sometimes you play a four-game series.

In the NHL, there are 31 teams (24 in the US and seven in Canada). Aside from teams playing home and away, like the Sharks would go to Los Angeles to play the Kings one night, and the next night, the Kings are in San José to play the Sharks, there’s no such thing as what Toews is suggesting. The total NHL season schedule consists of 82 games for each team (41 home, 41 road).

I asked veteran broadcaster Dan Rusanowsky, the Voice of the Sharks, about Toews’ schedule. Rusanowsky said that it would benefit the Eastern teams more than us, which would defeat the purpose of equalizing the impact of travel. It would also be hard to do it equitably without expanding the schedule beyond 82 games, which I don’t think anyone wants to do. But in the end, Rusanowsky added that the complicated idea is something to examine.

From personal experience, the Toews’ schedule makes a lot of sense. I traveled with the Warriors on their charter and the NBA schedule similar to the NHL as they traveled for one game in each city. At the same time, I have traveled with baseball team charter and the schedule is one that I’ve always called “the-you-can-unpack-your-suitcase-schedule” trip. There’s no doubt it’s easier for players and media to travel to a certain city to play three games than leave, maybe have a day off, and start another three games in another city, than just flying to Toronto on Monday to play on Tuesday, leave after the game and fly to New York to play the following night.

The Sharks will try to end their five-game losing streak this Tuesday when they host Toews and the Blackhawks at SAP Center at 7:00 PM.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Beltrán Returns to the Mets as a Manager

Photo credit: mlb.nbcsports.com

By Amaury Pi-González

On November 1, 2019, the New York Mets named the 42-year-old Carlos Beltrán their new manager. He is currently the fourth Puerto Rico born manager in the MLB, joining Alex Cora (Boston), Charlie Montoyo (Toronto) and Dave Martínez (Washington). The past two seasons, Cora and Martínez won the World Series. Beltrán is the first Latino manager in Mets history. Prior to getting the job, he said he only wanted to be interviewed by the Mets.

The outfielder played seven seasons with the Mets (2005-2011) and is sixth all-time list on the team with 140 home runs, 559 runs batted in, 374 extra base hits, .369 on base percentage and .500 slugging. In a total of 20 seasons, he was selected to 9 All-Star Games, 3 Gold Gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, and was the 1999 Rookie of the Year with the Kansas City Royals.

Beltrán’s last season was in 2017 with the Astros, where he won his first World Series ring. He owns formidable numbers for a possible election to the Hall of Fame and will be eligible in 2023.

During his 20 years as a player, Beltrán played with Kansas City, Houston, NYM, San Francisco, St. Louis, NYY, Texas, and Houston (second stint).

Beltrán’s career numbers consist of a .279 average; 2,586 games; 9,768 at-bats; 2,725 hits; 565 doubles; 78 triples; 435 home runs; 1,587 runs batted in; and 312 stolen bases.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary: Bochy Says “One More Shot” as Manager

Photo credit: cbssports.com

By Amaury Pi-González

It should not be a surprise to anybody that Bruce Bochy might want to manage again. The future Hall of Fame manager who began his career as the San Diego Padres manager (1995-06) and continued as San Francisco Giants Manager (2007-19) seems to be leaning that way.

“I’d love to have one more shot,” Bochy said Thursday in an interview with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo on SiriusXM.

Bochy can call his own shots when it comes to where he wants to manage. His reputation is impeccable — players love to play for him, they respect his knowledge and leadership. However, he might want to end his managerial career with a winning record. After those 25 years divided between the Padres and the Giants his record is 2,003 games won and 2,029 games lost for a .497 winning percentage.

Today, Bochy is #11 among the top managers with over 2,000 wins. However, of those 11, only two ended their careers with an under .500 winning percentage — Connie Mack and Bucky Harris. If Bochy doesn’t manage again, he will be the third among the top 11 managers win under .500 winning record.

The San Francisco Giants gave Bochy a great sendoff, where many of his players — past and present — spoke, where Bochy’s family was present, where he spoke in front of a sellout Oracle Park, and at that time, one would think that was it “no más” or “no more” for Bochy, but those people could be wrong.

Bochy wants to take a year off and then look at the possibilities available to him. Who is going to tell him otherwise? Last week, the Padres named Jayce Tingler, who was a Texas Rangers’ major league field coordinator, as their new field manager. The ex-Padres and ex-Giants manager lives in the San Diego area, and there were rumors that if he came back from “retirement,” it would be with his first team, the Padres. The only one that knows if Bochy is coming back to manage, is him, his wife, and his family; and I am sure he will make a good decision.

So, for those that have said “No,he is not coming back,” you better wait until the whole Bochy story is complete and his book is out.

Playoff Team? Warriors’ Home Opener vs. Clippers at Chase Center Thursday Night

Photo credit: goldenstateofmind.com

By Amaury Pi-González

In the NBA Western Conference, where the focus is here in the Bay Area, even the most optimistic would be pressed to pick the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title this season. Many are asking “Is this Warriors team a playoff team?” And I said maybe, but in the fringe, maybe a #7 seat at the end and another trip to the playoffs. They are not better than the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. LeBron’s groin injury doomed the Lakers last season and he must be healthy for the length of this season, or the “other LA team,” the Clippers, could be the ones to beat. Incidentally, the Lakers open the season on October 22 at the Clippers, that other team that could also win the whole enchilada this 2019-20.

I believe the Warriors’ Stephen Curry has a chip on his shoulder, and now without Kevin Durant, he wants to be “the hombre” for this version of the Warriors at their brand new Chase Center in San Francisco. The great Michael Jordan recently said: “Stephen is not a Hall of Famer, yet.” All this — in my opinion — is motivating Curry, But, one thing is certain — for the first time in six years we are not looking at the Warriors and the Cavaliers will be towards the end.

There is no clear favorite to win the NBA title this season. I do not dismiss the Warriors,they still have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, while head coach Steve Kerr says Clay Thompson is unlikely to play this season as he is recovering from the knee injury he suffered during the NBA finals. So a lot of things have to go right for the Warriors to win this year, but they are a longer shot this season.

The franchise originally began in Philadelphia in 1946 and relocated to San Francisco in 1962 where they were named the San Francisco Warriors. In 1971, they moved to the Oakland Arena, where they changed their name to the Golden State Warriors. They played there until the end of the 2018-2019 NBA season.

The Warriors’ opener this 2019-2020 season will be at the Chase Arena Thursday, October 24 against the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 PM.

Chase Arena
Capacity 18,064
Multi-purpose arena
$1 billion investment
Parking:  950 spaces

Amaury Pi-González was the Spanish play by play radio announcer for the Golden State Warriors for most of the 1990’s. Amaury was also the play by play announcer for the LA Clippers on FOX Sports Deportes television in Los Angeles for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 NBA seasons.