A former home team on the brink of a championship

The days of baseball are quickly drawing to a close. An hour ago, I flipped my calendar to November, and forty minutes before that, Brian Wilson completed what Madison Bumgarner to bring the San Francisco Giants one win away from their first World Series since 1954 when they were New York’s third team.

As New York City baseball history goes, the Giants seem to be the forgotten team. The Brooklyn Dodgers are the lovable losers of yesteryear whose departure left a Walter O’Malley- or Robert Moses-sized hole in the heart of the Borough of Kings. The Mets are the scrappy upstarts. The Yankees reign supreme.

But the Giants — 75-year veterans of Manhattan — are an afterthought. No one waxes nostalgic at the catches made by Willie Mays in the Polo Grounds, the five World Series titles they took home, their quirky ballpark on the bluff across the river from Yankee Stadium. Three thousand miles and 43 seasons removed from their last year in New York, the Giants could win the World Series today for the first time since New York.

When the Giants left town, the final game was treated like a celebratory funeral. Milton Bracker of The Times wrote about how fans stormed the field, taking anything they could from the Polo Grounds. “The mass pursuit,” he said, “was touched off by affection, excitement, nostalgia, curiosity and annoyance at the fact the team next year will represent San Francisco.”

The Giants came to New York by way of Troy in 1883 when the upstate team folded. The National League moved the franchise to New York and called it the Gothams for a few years. By the end of the 1880s, the team had inherited the Giants moniker and were a powerhouse of the early 1900s. By the time the team left for the windier pastures of San Francisco, fans were calling for the head of the owner and for the adulation of Willie Mays. “Stay, team, stay,” said the banner in the outfield, but it was too little, too late.

Of course, attendance — and a new ballpark — were the driving factors behind the Giants’ departure. They drew just a million fans a year over the last few seasons of their stay in the Polo Grounds. New York would not grant them a new stadium, and with Minneapolis and San Francisco vying for a club, the team’s days in the Big Apple were numbered. In fact, the Giants announced their departure from New York a week before the Dodgers did, and while O’Malley and Moses engaged in a ballpark fight until the bitter end, Horace Stoneham just picked up his team and left.

Today, Giants fans still live in New York. In 2008, Greg Prince of Faith and Fear in Flushing outed himself as one on the Banter, and more recently, Corey Kilgannon tracked down some old-time Giants fans who couldn’t watch the game due to the FOX/Cablevision dispute. “A lot of us never stopped rooting for the Giants after they moved, and the loyalty has been passed down to younger generations,” 81-year-old Bill Kent, a former Polo Grounds worker and current head of the New York Baseball Giants Nostalgia Society said. “So the Giants have a big fan base in New York, but you never hear about us.”

Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps Wednesday, the Giants will grab that elusive sixth World Series title. They’ve been waiting for 56 years and two coasts to win it, and most New Yorkers won’t blink. Perhaps we should though as a team that once called our fair city home will bring a trophy to its West Coast environs years after packing up the cats and shipping west.

Open Thread: World Series Game Four

Oh Frenchy. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

So now we have ourselves a series. The Rangers grabbed Game Three thanks to Colby Lewis and that royal pain in the ass Mitch Moreland*, and Neftali Feliz even managed to find his way to the mound. Tonight’s pitching matchup features Tommy Hunter vs. Madison Bumgarner, which is an easy win for the Giants on paper. Insert cliche about not playing the games on paper here. Hopefully it’s an exciting game, and I’m still rooting for a Game Seven, so a Texas win wouldn’t be the worst thing in my world.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the game and whatever else you want to talk about. The late football game has the Steelers at the Saints, which should be worth watching between innings. You guys know what to do, have at the thread and enjoy the games.

* Seriously, where the eff did this guy come from? Dude was riding buses in the minors in late July, and now he’s putting together ten pitch at-bats in the Fall Classic. Texas almost turned him into a pitcher for cryin’ out loud.

Yankees top amateur signing bonuses

I figured I might as well point this out: I put together a post with the five largest signing bonuses the Yankees have ever given to amateur prospects over at MLBTR. Andrew Brackman‘s $3.55M bonus tops the list and Gary Sanchez is right behind him at $3M, but my personal fave is Wily Mo Pena coming in at number three. Hard to believe the Yankees gave him a big league contract as a 17-year-old way back in 1999. That’s pretty bananas.

Anyway, I figured I’d might as well mention it at RAB. You can see the rest of that series here, but I’ve still got about half the league left to do.

Christian lighting it up in winter ball

There were no Arizona Fall League games today, but here’s what happened yesterday…

AzFL Phoenix Desert Dogs (12-6 loss to Mesa)
Jose Pirela, 2B: 2 for 4, 3 R – seven for his last 18 (.389) after an 0-for-20 stretch
Ryan Pope: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 18 of 32 pitches were strikes (56.3%) … that’s his first walk of the AzFL season

Time for the other winter leagues…

Dominican Winter League
Wilkins Arias: 4 G, 3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP) – for games in a week, such is the life of a LOOGY
Jon Ortiz: 2 G, 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Zack Segovia: 2 G, 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP)

Mexican Pacific League
Justin Christian: 16 G, 27 for 67, 12 R, 4 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, 9 SB, 0 CS (.403/.452/.597) – he always kills it in winter ball
Walt Ibarra: 16 G, 17 for 59, 14 R, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 13 K, 1 SB, 1 CS (.288/.338/.339)
Francisco Gil: 4 G, 6 ER, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 WP (10.50 ERA, 2.17 WHIP)
Eric Wordekemper: 7 G, 7.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 WP (7.36 ERA, 1.50 WHIP)

Puerto Rican League
Rene Rivera: 5 G, 4 for 17, 4 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 5 K (.235/.350/.588) – still hitting homers

Venezuelan Winter League
Jose Gil: 12 G, 13 for 38, 4 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K (.342/.366/.553)
Edwar Gonzalez: 6 G, 1 for 8, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 4 K (.125/.222/.250)
Luis Nunez: 7 G, 2 for 10, 1 R (.200/.200/.200)
Marcos Vechionacci: 14 G, 16 for 49, 4 R, 4 2B, 3 RBI, 5 BB, 12 K, 3 SB, 1 CS (.327/.389/.408)
Josh Schmidt: 4 G, 3 GS, 17.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 9 BB, 17 K (2.08 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)

Still no sign of Juan Marcano, Emerson Landoni, Eduardo Sosa, and Jesus Montero, all of whom are playing in the VWL. Montero might still be taking it easy after his late season leg surgery. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Jon Albaladejo is also playing in the PRL, but hasn’t appeared in a game yet.

Rift between Girardi and Eiland shot down

You may have seen this report yesterday, indicating that former pitching coach Dave Eiland felt his opinions were “de-emphasized” after his return from a month-long personal leave of absence this past June. Well, Mark Feinsand spoke to Eiland himself, who said the report was “absolutely ridiculous and simply not true.” Glad he cleared that up. He also declined to speak about the circumstances of his dismissal, which should come as no surprise.

Even if the the relationship between Girardi and Eiland did deteriorate after the leave of absence, it’s still pretty much a non-story. When established big leaguers like A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez pitch as poorly as they did down the stretch, they’re to blame. Not the coaching staff.

Football Open Thread

The Jets are playing the Packers (1pm ET) while the Giants have their bye week. Talk about all of the gridiron action here.

Who I would trade Phil Hughes for: AL Edition

Based on a recent Twitter conversation, yesterday I took a look at the National League for players that I would trade Phil Hughes for. Today I’m back with the American League.

Baltimore Orioles
I might be in the minority on this one but I’d trade Hughes for Brian Matusz. He’s lefty, younger than Hughes and just put up a very good season as a rookie. A year younger than Hughes, he outperformed Hughes in both bWAR and fWAR. I’m on the fence on Matt Wieters but will say no for now. He hasn’t been Johnny Bench reincarnated as many had predicted, but he’s been decent his first two years in the league and should still develop into a solid player. He’s not a sure thing though, so I’d stick with Hughes. Would the Orioles trade Matusz for Hughes? No. Would they trade Wieters for Hughes? I don’t think so, they have some solid young pitchers and Wieters probably fills a bigger need.

Boston Red Sox
Jon Lester is a no brainer. I’d lean towards no on Clay Buchholz, but the argument certainly could be made. Dustin Pedroia would likely be a yes if the Yankees didn’t already have the best second baseman in the AL. You could also make an argument for Kevin Youkilis, but he’s on the wrong side of 30, isn’t very durable, and wouldn’t fit a need for the Yankees. Would the Sox trade Lester for Hughes? No.

Chicago White Sox
John Danks is just a year older than Hughes but has 3 seasons better than Hughes’ 2010. This is a close one, but since Danks is lefthanded, I would make the trade. It’s pretty close and I’d consider that the tiebreaker, especially in Yankee Stadium. Would the White Sox trade Danks for Hughes? Doubtful.

Cleveland Indians
Shin-Soo Choo, like his Ohio counterpart Jay Bruce would be too good to pass up, despite a lack of glaring need. Since getting a chance in 2008, Choo has been a beast, putting up a 144 OPS+ with wOBA’s of .402, .389, and .388 the past three years. You could sway me on Carlos Santana, but coming off a pretty nasty leg injury and duplicating what Montero might bring (if you think he’s sticking at catcher), I don’t think I’d make this trade if I’m the Yankees. Would the Indians trade Choo for Hughes? I think they probably would as Choo will soon get expensive in arbitration.

Detroit Tigers
Despite a lack of a need and a big contract, Miguel Cabrera would be a no-brainer. Justin Verlander would also be no-brainer. Would Detroit trade either of these two for Hughes? No.

Kansas City Royals
Zack Greinke is a no brainer. I would not trade Hughes for Joakim Soria though. Some people would, I wouldn’t. As a starter expect Hughes to provide more value going forward for less money. Would the Royals trade Greinke for Hughes. No. Would they trade Soria for Hughes? They should if that offer came across their table, but being the Royals they likely wouldn’t.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I’m pretty torn on both Dan Haren and Jered Weaver (primary for financial reasons) but I think I’d pull the trigger on Weaver but not on Haren. Weaver is younger and cheaper than Haren and is coming off an outstanding 2010 season. Would the Angels trade Weaver for Hughes? No. Would they trade Haren for Hughes? Yes.

Minnesota Twins
Joe Mauer and Francisco Liriano are easy ones. You could argue Justin Morneau but I think I’d keep Hughes. Would the Twins trade Mauer or Liriano for Hughes? No.

Oakland A’s
Brett Anderson? Yes. Trevor Cahill? No. Would the A’s trade Anderson for Hughes? No.

Seattle Mariners
King Felix. Enough said. Would the Mariners do it? Of course not.

Tampa Bay Rays
David Price is easy as is Evan Longoria (would love to have that contract). That’s probably it from the Rays. The Rays would not trade either of them for Hughes.

Texas Rangers
If Cliff Lee had a contract I would trade Hughes for him. Since he’s a soon to be free agent I wouldn’t, and hypothetically if you could have gotten Lee for Hughes in July, I don’t make the trade. Josh Hamilton is a yes. You could argue Neftali Feliz if you thought you could put him back in the rotation and then be better than Hughes, but I’m not willing to go out on that limb. The Rangers wouldn’t trade Hamilton for Hughes.

Toronto Blue Jays
I’m not the biggest Ricky Romero fan but as a lefty I’d consider this trade but in the end I’d stick with Hughes. Brandon Morrow has (ridiculous) upside and came on strong last year but is still volatile. Hughes to me is more of a sure thing going forward, but Morrow could be better if everything goes well. I’d stick with Hughes.

With my 25 guys in the NL and 15 in the AL I have 40 players in the majors now I would trade Hughes for. How about you?