Posted tagged ‘Giants’

Not all heroes wear capes….but capes were given out at a game once

April 21, 2019

After he was traded to the San Francisco Giants, an old photo of Kevin Pillar popped into my mind:

It’s from July 2013; taken after watching my first-ever Buffalo Bisons game. There was a clean-shaven Pillar chatting with some of the spectators. I didn’t know much about him at the time. I remember noting how his name was similar to Kevin Millar. A few weeks later, he got called up and made his MLB debut with the Blue Jays.

At first, I wasn’t over the moon with Pillar. At best, he was a fourth outfielder. He also didn’t have a sparkling beginning in the big leagues. There was that unfortunate tete-a-tete he publicly had with John Gibbons that got him demoted to AAA in 2014. There was also that infamous injury he sustained during Spring Training in 2015 from sneezing.

But then he made that catch and everything changed.

That catch. Holy shit; that CATCH! What a career-defining moment!

The timing was perfect. The athleticism was incredible! A mere mortal would’ve accepted fate and watched the ball go over the wall. But Kevin Pillar wanted that baseball and summoned powers that went beyond normalcy. It made Josh Donaldson drop to his knees and the crowd explode. I hope Todd Redmond – who was on the mound at the time – bought him a very expensive dinner.

That catch wasn’t just something for a highlight reel. It completely changed the trajectory of Pillar’s career.

Remember, Michael Saunders was suppose to be the starting leftfielder in 2015; Dalton Pompey was suppose to start in centre. But then Saunders stepped on a sprinkler-head and Pompey unfortunately performed poorly. A door opened for Pillar, who took advantage of an opportunity and never looked back.

From there, he became an outfield specialist and a fan favourite. Countless times, we jumped out of our seats and applauded his defensive gems. Countless times, our jaws hit the floor. The man was a human vaccume for baseballs.

His offensive production was average, but he had his moments: Two homers off of Max Scherzer in 2015; the walk-off on Mother’s Day in 2017.

Pillar’s performance at the plate is also what seemed to divide the fanbase.

Like many teams, there are players who polarize fans. R.A. Dickey and Ryan Goins are recent examples. Pillar falls into this camp as well.

It’s another example of the two main differences amongst fans: Those who care only about results and those who recognize the importance of results, but also see things beyond a boxscore and standings. I wrote about this when I summed up RAD’s tenure with the Jays; passionate vs. compassionate.

It’s unnecessary to exhaust both sides; so a simple address instead.

To those who are pleased he’s not with the Jays anymore: Not all contributions come at the plate. Yes, he wasn’t a top-level hitter, but don’t tell me his defence wasn’t a strong contribution; especially in 2015 and 2016. A large chunk of fans love him and we are a sports community that cares about character as much as we care about results.

To those who are furious he’s not with the team anymore: You can’t deny evolution. It was blatantly obvious at the end of 2017 that the window of opportunity had closed. The Jays had to scorch the earth in order to create something that’s (hopefully) more sustainable and successful. I’m grateful for Pillar and Tulo and Martin and Donaldson and Joey Bats and everyone else who were part of 2015-16. But the team would be just as bad as they are now if those players were still on the roster; maybe even worse.

One other thing: When the trade was formally announced, I wondered how many would focus on his spectacular catches and how many would focus on the horrific incident that occurred in Atlanta in 2017; the homophobic slur Pillar shouted at pitcher Jason Motte.

Perhaps I wasn’t looking in the right places, but it seems as though it wasn’t addressed in any articles or tweets. Surprising since we live in a society that does not gloss over celebrity mistakes/errors and goes by the motto of “strike one and you’re out.”

That moment was ugly, disappointing and embarrassing. As much as we have all adored Pillar, we cannot ignore or purposely forget what happened. It is part of his narrative.

Having said that, it’s also important to note that he did take ownership of his error in judgement, apologized, served a suspension and has worked with organizations that promote acceptance. It is my hope that he will continue this work with San Francisco’s LGBT community.

When the Giants visit Skydome, it will only be a few weeks since the trade. However, it feels longer since the transaction occurred. Maybe it’s because we heard so many rumours that we already experienced his departure before it even happened. Nevertheless, I look forward to the video tribute and standing ovation.

I truly feel Kevin Pillar loved our city and many in this city loved him. Regardless of his personal statistics, he made a lasting impression. He’s gone, but will not be forgotten.

ER

PS: Check out my latest short story: The Heavenly Resurrection of the Montreal Expos

Final Thoughts & Awards

November 4, 2014

It seems the San Francisco Giants enjoy even-numbered years. They’ve  captured MLB’s top prize in 2010, 2012 and now, 2014.

There are simply two words that describe the 2014 World Series: Madison Bumgarner.

What the World Series MVP accomplished was incredible! But you already knew that.

Think about this: The life of a big league starter is extremely controlled and organized. Their throwing schedules are planned out, as are how many days of rest they get between starts. It truly defines routine.

A full-time starter pitching on two days rest would be strongly discouraged. But this was game seven of the World Series and the Giants were holding on to a slim lead. Therefore, I applaud Bumgarner and Bruce Bochy for taking “the rules” and tossing them into the dumpster. It paid off beautifully.

Meanwhile, the Royals have nothing to be ashamed about.

They went on an amazing run, captivating fans and creating some exciting drama. They took the eventual champs to seven games and only loss the final match by one run.

Yes, it stings. But they battled and should hold their heads high.

How about some awards?

American League

Best Manager: Ned Yost, Kansas City
Best Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Seattle
Best Hitter: Mike Trout, LAA

National League

Best Manager: Matt Williams, WSH
Best Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Best Hitter: Giancarlo Stanton, Miami

Blue Jays

Best Pitcher: Marcus Stroman
Best Reliever: Brett Cecil
Best Hitter: Jose Bautista

ER

My “artistic rendition” of Madison Bumgarner pitching in game seven of the World Series.

World Series Prediction

October 19, 2014

If you told me back in March that Kansas City and San Francisco would battle for MLB’s top prize, I would’ve given you a funny look; maybe even take a few steps back.

The Giants? Sure, it’s possible. They’ve won two World Series titles since 2010.

The Royals? More unlikely than likely. True, they showed some glimpses in 2013, but there were many stronger candidates to represent the American League this season.

And yet, here we are. Sports, man. Sports.

Just a couple of notes on the ALCS/NLCS:

1) The Royals swept Baltimore and I’m still in shock. I picked KC to win the series, but definitely didn’t expect them to do it in four games!

2) Although I picked St. Louis to win the NL Pennant, I’m glad San Francisco captured the prize in five games. Both the Giants and Royals have almost had the same amount of layoff days, which should (or could) even things out.

With all this out of the way, here’s what I’m predicting/guessing/hoping to see:

Kansas City over San Francisco in six games.

ER

ALCS/NLCS Predictions

October 8, 2014

First, some final thoughts about the LDS:

1) I would like to thank the Angels, Nationals and Dodgers for making me look like a COMPLETE MORON.

2) Giants/Nats could’ve gone either way.

3) Nobody expected KC to beat up LAA.

4) Shame on me for thinking the Dodgers could actually beat St. Louis. The Cards usually find a way to get the job done.

It’s time to focus on the League Championship Series. Here’s what I’m predicting/guessing/hoping to see:

ALCS – Kansas City over Baltimore in seven games

NLCS – St. Louis over San Francisco in six games

ER

LDS Predictions

October 1, 2014

American League

Angels over Royals in four games
Orioles over Tigers in five games

National League

Dodgers over Cardinals in five games
Nationals over Giants in five games

ER

Wild Card Predictions

September 30, 2014

Predicting is just a fancy way of taking a guess.

With that in mind…

It shall be a glorious day of triumph for the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

ER

MLB Playoff Predictions – World Series

October 24, 2012

Well, I was right about the Tigers and wrong about the Cardinals.

For the record, Detroit wasn’t a perfect prediction. Didn’t see that sweep coming.

Anyway…

2012 World Series: San Francisco over Detroit in six games

Remember, predicting is just a fancy way of taking a guess.

– The Hek