2011 Previews: N.L. West

We have yet to reach the two-week mark of the season so I suppose a preview is not utterly absurd. It is often useful to watch one of the teams in person that you thought might be good, before going out on a limb for them. Just watched the Rockies spit out consecutive infield errors and some dilatory work in the rightfield corner here in New York in one inning, and I don’t need to see any more.

Arizona: Buster Olney’s ESPN “insider” column noted, accurately, that Manny Ramirez’s next-to-last round of PED use in Los Angeles may have altered the careers of then-Diamondbacks Manager Bob Melvin and General Manager Josh Byrnes. When the juiced-up Manny led the Dodgers past the Snakes in ’08, it led to Byrnes firing Melvin in ’09, and then the team firing Byrnes in ’10. In fact Manny may have caused Arizona to screw up its whole franchise: they’re down to starting Gerardo Parra, Melvin Mora, Russell Branyan, and (at least for a time) Willie Bloomquist. The rotation actually has a little spark, particularly in Daniel Hudson, and it is possible closer J.J. Putz might not injure himself this year. But this team isn’t going anywhere. Thanks, Manny.

Colorado: there is much to revel in here but the fundamentals are not among them. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are joys to behold (and they nearly collided in the 8th inning tonight – that could’ve been $237,750,000 down the tubes – Tulo sometimes forgets he’s not alone out there), Ubaldo Jimenez is a staff ace if not necessarily the victory-machine he seemed to be last spring, and Dexter Fowler may yet be a star. But the rest of this club is pretty pedestrian and none of its cusp talent in the minors is yet ready to contribute.

Los Angeles: The Dodgers seem gradually to be back towards the ’60s all-pitching and defense teams. The Loney/Uribe/Furcal/Blake infield might be the least menacing quartet in the game and if the Dodgers are satisfied with Tony Gwynn, Marcus Thames, Jay Gibbons and, for all I know, Sweet Lou Johnson in left, they are the only ones. Given that contention requires Don Mattingly to succeed in his first shot at managing anywhere and Matt Kemp doesn’t freak out and Jonathan Broxton doesn’t blow up and the McCourt Divorce doesn’t get worse, I’m not optimistic. Three out of four, sure. All of them?

San Diego: In insulting the Dodger infield I forgot the Padres: Brad Hawpe, Jorge Cantu, Orlando Hudson, Jason Bartlett, and Chase Headley. Fortunately the outfield is just as weak and the Pods’ main power threat might be Kyle Blanks, who has been on the disabled list for a year. Sadly, gifted skipper Buddy Black’s shining moment was before the collapse last year. Now, A-Gone is; the rotation has vanished; and all that is left is a bullpen from which they must trade at least Heath Bell just in hopes of restocking the fridge. This could be a truly grim year.

San Francisco: The Giants would have to screw up – and badly – to not repeat in this division. Brian Sabean would have to do the exact opposite of what he did last year and trade away key components and I’m not betting on it. But I must say this: the Giants are rapidly becoming one of the most disliked teams in baseball – and not just because of the silly boastfulness of the ring ceremony and the rest. No World Championship team has ever been feted by fans who have been worse winners than have the 2010 Giants. I mean Red Sox Nation didn’t gloat this much like this after ’04. It’s understandable that a franchise that saw that much frustration and even peril might continue to celebrate for years to come, but there is a reason they coined the phrase “act like you’ve been there before.”

Overview: 1. San Francisco, 2. Los Angeles, 3. Colorado, 4. San Diego, 5. Arizona. I don’t think this is much of a race. he only ones who are.

National League: I like the Marlins for the wild card, drawing (and being quartered by) the Giants. Braves over the Reds in the other, Braves over the Giants in the NLDS. Red Sox over the Braves in the World Series – yes, I’m sticking with that although the Tampa Bay prediction looks weak with the injury to Longoria having deranged their batting order (I like Sam Fuld but I do not think he is your 2011 AL MVP).



  1. K`shandra

    Love you, respect you…but could you have been any more begrudging in that acknowledgment of the Giants’ victory? I ask you, please, tell me who in the organization is gloating. Among the fans, perhaps – but the events of last week have shown once again that there will always be @$$holes who try to use team pride as an excuse for bad behavior. And believe me, they ARE the exception. More than five months later, my husband still turns to me on occasion and said “Holy &^%$, we really won, didn’t we?” and he’s far from the only one.

  2. John Mavroudis

    Keith… REALLY enjoy the writing, but I’ll echo the previous comment: The Giants fans are engaged in completely harmless joy. We damn well deserve it, too. I’ve been watching games over 40 years and have had to sit through freezing cold nights at Candlestick Park, the “joy” of watching that great double play combo of Sularz to Pettini to Murray, the World Series horror shows of 1989 and 2002, an Earthquake, three ALMOST moves (to Toronto, Tampa Bay and God knows where else), being the pet-whipping boy for the steroid era (while other fans conveniently forgot their own culprits…Manny, anyone?)… So, you bet your ass we’re celebrating! This was a glorious team made up of individuals that represented San Francisco PERFECTLY. The catharsis lives! LONG LIVE THE CATHARSIS!

    …and looking forward to your Current TV gig! Cheers!

  3. Kiko Jones

    As a Yankee fan who rooted for the Giants in the 2010 WS—can’t hate on any NY-affiliated team, even if they’ve been long gone—I echo the previous statements. As for your overall AL and NL predictions, let me take the opportunity to predict an enormous bowl of crow in your future, sir. Bon appetit!

  4. Liberal Baseball Fan

    You couldn’t have been more off with your giants statement Keith. I refuse to say anything more about it because the previous comments pretty much said it all.

  5. FC Dave

    I think you missed one aspect of the Rockies–Jorge De La Rosa and Jhyoulis (pronounced Yo lis) Chacin. Both are young and sometimes face control issues, but they are young Ubaldos. If they break out this year, that would give the Rocks a formidable 1-2-3. Also, Jonathan Herrera could very well be a star in the making.

  6. drumzit

    The Giants are a class act and I think you missed the mark Keith on their celebrations, they are not over the top in anyway. I have been a fan for 54 years (as long as I can remember) and I finally get to say we are the champions and nobody, even a person I admire dearly (you KO) can tarnish it.

  7. Ted

    On what sample to you base your condemnation of Giants fans? As a die hard FKO, I’m shocked at the uncharacteristic sweeping generalization. We wait 52 years and you begrudge us a little giddiness?

    Glad to see you acknowledged the pre-game speeches by Affeldt and Caroll, anyway.

  8. draftedin68

    Keith, I probably agree with 90% of the things you say, but you couldn’t be more wrong about the Giants.

    It may be that you’ve spent so much time analyzing the game that you’ve forgotten the sheer joy of playing the game.

    Case in point was yesterday. Seeing Juan Uribe’s tear-covered face when the Giants brought him out pre-game to hand him his Ring shows how much of a big friggin’ deal it is to these players.

    And to us fans.

    I began watching Bay Area baseball when they put San Francisco Seals games on TV (’55 or ’56), so I’ve seen lots of ups and downs and near misses. Watching every second of the celebrations over The Championship was pure joy, so your whining about it sounds like nothing more than the sour grapes from a fan of some other team and frankly, it is beneath you.

  9. Alexis Cordova

    I can see the Cardinals disliking the Giants – they did have to stand on the first base line while listening to Train on Opening Day, after all. But seriously, who else dislikes the Giants for celebrating their first World Championship in San Francisco? Sure, “act like you’ve been there before,” but the fact is, they haven’t been there before. And that’s why this is so special for the Giants organization and their fans. It would be a huge disservice to the people who waited their entire lives for this day to just say “Hey we won it all for the first time ever. Cool huh? OK we’re done.”

    Is it the gold-lettered jerseys? Is it Brian Wilson everywhere on TV? We’re not even 11 games into the season and they’re already the most disliked team in baseball?

  10. Sam

    Really lame comment about the Giants, Keith. And while it’s “useful” to make predictions after you’ve looked at the teams for two weeks, the whole idea of predictions is to make them BEFORE the season starts. So I had Dodgers-Giants-Diamondbacks-Rockies-Padres. And I shouldn’t have trusted my gut about the D-Backs. The Padres look better than I expected. Still, I made my predictions in March.

    • Carl Maniscalco

      Yeah, fourth place for the Padres sounds about right. Apparently, they aren’t as bad as I feared they’d be.

  11. Roberta K

    As someone who’s been waiting her whole life to see a Giants World Series victory (through earthquake, fire and just plain choking), this is, as Joe Biden might say, an f***ing big deal. For 50+ years, we’ve been the laughing stock of MLB, even more so than the Cubs — they at least are the “lovable losers”, the Giants are, or were, just losers. For those of us who spent days freezing at Candlestick Park, sitting in minuscule crowds (the great Hank Greenwald once announced the attendance at a Braves-Giants game as 1734 by saying, “Seventeen thirty-four; that’s not an attendance figure, that’s my shirt size.”), and who expected the team to leave us the way they left New York (I was at the “final game” in 1992 when the Giants were packing up to head for Tampa Bay, and I got out of my sickbed to be there), let us have our day to bask in the AT&T Park sun.

  12. walt kovacs


    you are a yankee fan….you dont know pain

    give us giant fans a break…we deserved a few days to celebrate

    and we dont mug other team’s players in our parking lot…how about sending a check to the stow fund? you have a big heart

    and how can anyone dislike a team with the beard, lord romo, buster, huffmeister, pat (the machine/bat), timmy, cain and the farm boy

    be nice ko

    love ya

  13. Jack P

    Some examples of this boorish behavior and the following hater would be nice, Keith. While i’ll freely admit we have been boastful to the point of being jerks when it comes to our treatment of Dodger fans, I haven’t seen any evidence of facts to bolster your blanket statement. To wit, I was in NY and was congratulated by many Yankee and Met fans, telling me how much they liked my team. Contrary to your assertions, the Giants are actually one of the most liked teams in baseball among those not cursed to live in southern California

    • Roberta K

      Well, there have been incidents of violence on both sides — check out Keith’s “Worst Persons” from today where he mentions them after excoriating a writer for using “blame the victim” on Bryan Stow. (Heard today that Stow may be brought out of his medically induced coma, which is a good sign though he’s not out of the woods.) There have also been cases of Orange on Orange violence as well, including an incident where a fan was punched, hit his head on the ground and died. Overall, though, my personal experiences as a Giants fan, both at Candlestick and AT&T, have been positive.

      • walt kovacs

        there were fights at the stick…but that was long ago

        there were the battery chucks…also long ago

        a giants fan has never killed a dodger fan

        there is no reason to make a moral equivalence

      • walt kovacs

        just watched the fok news clip…ko was wrong about the 03 incident…the dodgers fan shot and killed the giants fan

        ko needs to get his research team back

  14. snarkk

    Keith – miss your show. But, as a 45-year long suffering SF Giants fan, I gotta call you out. The above posters have said it. We can’t act like we’ve been there before, because we haven’t. Don’t begrudge some celebrations after we’ve waited over 50 years and through countless dogmeat seasons for a WS winner. When we win the next time, we’ll tone it down for ya a little. Remember, after 27 WS titles, it’s easy to be a Yankee fan…

  15. parkside79

    Love ya Keith, but quit reminding me that you’re a Yankee fan. No Giants fan gives a warm bucket of piss what the East Coast media thinks of us!

  16. Kenny Powers

    Glad you said it Keith. The bandwagon is filled to capacity out here in the Bay Area and their hubris is boundless. Nice clean halloween colored hats and t’s everywhere. “We did it”! It took the SF Midgets six decades to accomplish what their cross bay rivals did multiple times within their first few years of moving here. They’ve got one. Congrats! Next! Perhaps in 2071 they’ll match that illustrious team from South Florida.

    • Roberta K

      Haven’t really run into any bandwagon fans out here — sure, some of them were born or came of age during the Bonds era, but that’s not their fault. For those of us who suffered through Johnny “Disaster” Lemaster, Atlee “Gas Can” Hammaker, who was never the same after getting lit up in the All-Star Game, and watching Dave Dravecky come back from cancer treatment only to have his shoulder broken during the post-game celebration after his win, this is the culmination of years of agony.

  17. Steve N

    Doesn’t seem like you were in a very good mood when you wrote this? lol Also, the fact you waited so long to preview this division says to me you really don’t care much. Your observations are kinda all over the place. Rockies have taken 4 of five on the road and their only loses have been by one run in extra innings. You judge the Rox from watching one game! Ha! Keep watching, I think they’ll surprise you. They have tremendous chemistry too. Of course I know you picked them last year to make the playoffs so maybe you’re a little miffed they wronged you. 😉 (enjoy this blog very much, btw)

  18. Ken

    “…but there is a reason they coined the phrase “act like you’ve been there before.” … the SF Giants had NEVER been there before. So the slogan doesn’t apply.

  19. Ken

    “Buster Olney’s ESPN “insider” column noted, accurately, that Manny Ramirez’s next-to-last round of PED use in Los Angeles may have altered the careers of then-Diamondbacks Manager Bob Melvin and General Manager Josh Byrnes. ”

    I’m sure hall of fame admitted spitball thrower, Gaylord Perry, has no problem with Manny.

  20. Lizskin

    Amazed at your vitriol toward the Giants and their fans, Keith. You’ve been so utterly dismissive of the West Coast in general and the Giants in particular for so long, it seems to have bent your nose entirely out of shape that they won the Series at long last. And you have nothing good to say about them this year except that they’ll win the division by default? Best starting rotation in baseball, best closer, outstanding farm system providing great young talent. And at long last, bats. I expect your nose to be in corkscrews by next Fall.

  21. Tacklebox

    May your kayak strike a ice berg and go down in McCovey Cove. Just don’t show your face in SF for a while.

    • K`shandra

      Now, now. He should absolutely come out to a game (odds are he’ll have to visit the Current TV offices in SF at SOME point this year). And he can have a side of garlic fries while he’s eating crow.

  22. Mike Beusch

    Keith, I used to watch your show religiously — I certainly agree with your politics — but you are way, way out of line on the SF Giants. Giants fans haven’t celebrated a World Series title in 56 years — 52 since the team moved to San Francisco. What are we supposed to do? Sit on our hands because some fans of other teams (e.g. you) are so jealous, petty, snide, and small that they can’t allow the fans of other teams express any joy at their team finally grabbing the elusive brass ring? Your hate-filled diatribe smacks of a spoiled brat Yankees fans who just can’t stand it when another team wins the prize that they think is rightfully theirs. In 2009, I heard way too many spoiled Yankees fans whine that they had to wait NINE … LONG … YEARS … for another World Championship. Apparently you were one of those. Your team has won 27 World Championships and we’ve all had to watch parade after parade in NYC for them. If you are such a petty person that you can’t allow for some exuberance on Giants’ fanbase’s part, then that’s just too damn bad! For this piece of clueless, small-minded idiocy — worthy of comparisons to the most stupid rantings of Governor Sarah Palin — you richly deserve the title of WORST PERSON … IN THE WORLD!

  23. Mike Beusch

    Hey Kenny. I do know one thing about the year 2071: your beloved A’s will have long since departed the Oakland Mausoleum for Vancouver or Las Vegas. I hope you have frequent flyer miles.

    • Kenny Powers

      And phone booth park will be under water and we’ll both be dead.

      At least my “beloved” A’s delivered to the Bay Area the first championships of any kind. I’ll gladly take the beloved’s history over your crew. The fact is they’ve won as many series as your bunch has played in.

      Also they’re not going to move. They’ll be contracted. Cheers.

  24. Jeffrey

    The ring ceremony being led by the leather cops on Harleys did embarrassed me for my beloved Giants. Guess I’m more sensitive to what their whole getup represented and how their sole purpose lately is protecting the elite and stepping on the necks of most of the Bay Area culture. Reminded me that we are praising a bunch of millionaires for what was actually a very very marginal title at every level of the season and playoffs, and not the fans’ energy, positive and negative, that quantitatively helped that club squeeze on out. Thank you KO for confirming I wasn’t the only one.

  25. Mike Beusch

    The “first” championship — wow. Ask Niner fans if they’re bothered that the Raiders delivered the first Super Bowl championship to the Bay Area. It’s very telling that all you have to brag about is your franchise’s past and that even you see a bleak future for the A’s. Cheers, indeed.

  26. Jeff

    Giants celebrate big time. It’s in our history.

    I personally think the Giants should have gone with these uniforms from there first World Series win in 1905:

  27. Matt Bockelmann

    Your ability to pick and justify picks after watching just one game of only the third series of the season is impressive. Whether it is the lack of knowledge of the NL West or purely East coast bias, your predictions are very mainstream and unsurprising. Yes, it IS easy to make this assertion and judgement of your predictions without having to put my face with it, but this is one of the luxuries of being an actual fan of the National League West. Perhaps you should take a page from Dan Patrick and try to have a more objective view point, or at least one that resembles that without prejudice.

  28. lvhistorymike

    Keith, I think we all need to distinguish between some fans and the Giants organization, which have showed great class, and some fans who are just plain silly. Their response was best captured by Jon Weisman, the wonderful Dodger Thoughts blogger, who said that whenever the Dodgers did well, he didn’t sit there and say, yeah, that will teach them in San Francisco. Some Giants fans, though, had to talk about LA. Now, I’m a Dodger fan who was glad the Giants finally won, not least because I married a long-suffering Giants fan. But I echo Weisman: if you need to criticize another team to justify your own success, you’re the one with the problem.

  29. Victor Willis

    I first want to say “thanks for all you do.” I signed and social media-ed (not a word, i know) to represent whatever you wanted to do. Loved you at your posts at ESPN and MSNBC. That said, I think you were too harsh, even though I re-read and get what you’re saying. Giants are kind of the blue-state team, and you care how we act. So far, a new gen. of Dodgers fans wants to act like East Coast jerks, not us. Imagine what a Cubs victory would look like? It’s mostly pure joy here, though as a converted lifelong Cards fan (and a liberal, last August’s Tea Party Display made me shift allegiances to my city of the last 5 yrs., as opposed to the best fan base West of NY (St. Louis, home of corkball). They are the TeaBirds to me now. And the Giants stand for blue-state America. You’re right to lament the Giants’ arrogance. I resented it in 2002, and it hurt them in 1987 and 1989 and 2002– they were premature celebrators. They weren’t premature this time. We still can’t believe we won, but are poised, like the ’04 Red Sox, to do it once more in the next 5. The offense will get better and the pitching can’t; kind of the opposite of the Phillies. I have 5 offensive Giants on my fantasy team.

  30. Toddros

    Keith, I love your work and agree with most of what you say, but you are way off base about the Giants. Most hated team in baseball? C’mon…You are a Yankees fan, so I think what is on display here is what the head shrinkers call “projection.” The Yankees are, and will likely always be, the most hated team in baseball. And yes, they may also at the same time be the most loved team as well – I don’t think the two are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    The night the Giants won it all, were there burning police cars and buses in downtown San Francisco? Nope. Just happy people. How many championship cities can say that? Compare that to what happens when the Lakers or Phillies win championships and the riot police get called in post haste.

    The SFPD estimates that half a million people attended the victory parade after the series win. Care to guess how many arrests were made? Zero — That’s right, zero.

    Giants fans are simply quite happy, still a bit giddy, and as was mentioned in earlier comments, we still occasionally have to pinch ourselves to make sure it isn’t just a dream. You always remember the first time, right? Well, regardless of what happens from here on in, last years run was very special to Bay Area fans, so please forgive us for holding onto that feeling through the first home series of this season — The 162-game marathon of 2011 and the business of trying to win the race to the 2011 pennant will soon eclipse the euphoria from last year, and things will return pretty much back to normal.

  31. Lynn Walker

    “Act like you’ve been there before”, Keith? We hadn’t and that’s the whole point! As someone who has spent the last 5 1/2 months celebrating and re-living a once in a lifetime (so far!) experience, I take great exception to your remarks. Especially since I have friends who are Red Sox fans and let me assure you, they haven’t stopped gloating yet over 2004.

    Did someone in S.F. say something nasty to you at some point?

  32. Jacquie Benetua

    Your post leaves this liberal/California girl/Giants fan, with great disappointment and a broken heart. I’m not a big advocate for team/fan bashing outside from some good-natured Dodger rivalry–But it takes no courage to be a Yankees fan.

  33. Sam Rolens

    Watching an unprecedentedly human team struggle against odds through the post season got many of my friends who normally never watch sports into baseball. Whatever you want to say about the team, I don’t think you have evidence for citing them as the subject of anyone’s hatred outside of Texas and Los Angeles.

    It wouldn’t have hurt so much, but we all love to think of you as a beacon of open minded perspective. It only goes to show that even the most level thinkers become bitter complainers when put into the realm of sports commentary.

    I feel the way you do, that only my team’s victory is this important.

  34. celtie

    Opinions are like… well, we all know what they’re like, but to begrudge Giants fans our due giddiness is just not fair! Every team has its jerks, Giants included, but dammit, Keith, we waited what, 52 years for this win? Sure, San Francisco is known for its, lets call it, eccentricities, so let us wallow in them for a year, OK? OK!

  35. Ken Martin

    Dear Keith,

    How’s this for a conspiracy? Bud takes over the Dodgers and forces them to return to Brooklyn. Those powder blue unis were horrid!

    I’m no fan of the Dodger ownership since the O’Malleys’ bailed, but Allan Selig was the worst owner ever in Milwaukee! Now he’s taking over clubs?

    Please remind us all…why is Bud the commissioner?

  36. Ronn

    Keith: What’s not to like about the Phillies rotation this season? On paper, they look like the best since the ’71 Orioles.

  37. Akiko

    Goodness, Keith! Do you not realize that these “worse winners” are the very people who have supported you with Countdown and all your amazing endeavors? Why must have you so much contempt for your base? I echo everyone else’s sentiments above. Go Giants! And I hope everything goes well for you at Current TV.

  38. MadMatt

    Jealous much? This is what the joy of a championship feels like when a city truly bonds with it’s team, when a victory is a triumph of character and will as opposed to the fruition of a financial transaction. You’re not familiar with that feeling since you’ve been a shareholder in Steinbrenner Inc. for too long. Hope you get to experience that someday- it’s awesome.

  39. Pingback: Of baseball and a couple other things I have loved, and not. « No, THIS is how you do it…

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