At Oracle, video tributes to Boch — and a loss to the Pirates

By Art Spander

SAN FRANCISCO — Andre Iguodala got the biggest ovation. Or rather, the video of him congratulating Bruce Bochy did. The preceding one, Joe Pavelski, the longtime member of the Sharks, offering his video appreciation, also drew a sizable cheer.

As we’ve known since February, since before spring training of a season now nearing its end, “Boch” — as he’s called on the billboard on the left field fence at Oracle Park, his nickname preceded by “Thank you” — the Giants manager will retire.

For another couple weeks it still will be Bochy’s team, in a matter of speaking. He’s doing what he always did, deciding on the lineup, bringing in relievers, if with some players who in effect are auditioning.

Wednesday night the Pirates beat the Giants, 6-3, in one of those auditions.

Brandon Belt was a starter. So was Brandon Crawford. Names from the past. 

Kevin Pillar and Stephen Vogt, also in the lineup, are proven major leaguers, and in the few months since he came in trade Mike Yastrzemski very much seems to have become one.

As for the others, Mauricio Dubon, Jaylin Davis, Corban Joseph — three weeks ago he was on the A’s playing against the Giants — and starting pitcher Logan Webb, does anyone have a clue?

“Webb had good stuff,” said Bochy. And gave up seven hits and four runs in 4.2 innings.

San Francisco dropped to a 70-76 record. Attendance was announced as 26,627. That’s tickets sold. Maybe 18,000 were in the park. Maybe.

Difficult days and nights for a franchise that won three World Series in five years, that had announced sellouts for seven years plus.

Worse, the Dodgers just won their seventh straight pennant (but so far no World Series). It’s the 1980s all over again, Bad teams — well, teams that aren’t very good — and bad crowds.

Which leads to the eternal question, to wit: Now what?

Change, that’s what. Change that’s evident in the front office, change that’s evident with the reduction of ticket prices and change evident with roster.

All supposedly leading to change in results.

To bring the Giants back to where they were as recently as 2014. To bring fans back to Oracle. Those rows of empty seats look terrible.

Farhan Zaidi was hired a year ago from the Dodgers (he helped win some of those pennants) to be the Giants' president of baseball operations, the guy who’s supposed to bring the team back to life and back up in the standings — they’re roughly 20 back of those Dodgers, which perhaps doesn’t seen awful only when compared to 40 back in 2017.

Zaidi told us there was no quick fix. Is there a slow one? 

A few weeks ago the Giants seemed to be making progress: a 500 record, 65-65, on August 29. Then, a plummet.

Possibly the present doesn’t matter. Possibly only the future matters. Accomplishments or lack of same will be noted in coming seasons.

The Dodgers may overwhelm you, home run after home run, but the Giants will have to pester you.

No matter who runs the team, it's the ballpark, Oracle, that dictates the style. The Astros or A’s will hit more home runs in a week than the Giants in a month.

Of course, an occasional homer would be advisory. Those 2-1 games are nerve-wracking and not always with the Giants in front.

In February, even before pitchers and catchers reported, Zaidi told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times he intended not only to change the Giants' roster but also the culture.

And even before pitchers and catchers reported, various forecasts saw the Giants winning anywhere from 74 to 78 games, totals that unless San Francisco plays like it did in July seem relatively accurate.

Zaidi, through his metrics (he graduated from both MIT and Cal), helped the Dodgers find a couple of less touted players, Chris Taylor and the guy who ruins the Giants, Max Muncey.

“Nobody was writing about those guys when we traded for them,” Zaidi told McCullough. “And really a lot of the organizational success with those guys was not necessarily their acquisition but giving them the opportunity.”

There will be plenty of opportunities with the Giants, that’s for certain.


Nadal: ‘One of the most emotional nights of my career’

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

NEW YORK — The match that seemed destined to last forever showed what we already knew, that Rafael Nadal is one of the all-time tennis greats and what we now know, that Daniil Medvedev has the skills and resilience to be the same.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


Serena, so close and yet so far away

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

NEW YORK — It’s not accurate to say Serena Williams failed again, unable for a fourth straight time to win that ultimate tournament, the one that ties her for the Grand Slam record.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


Serena’s coach: ‘I feel more confident now; she’s ready’

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

NEW YORK — History. Such a small word with large connotations. A word that Serena Williams cannot escape — until she becomes historic. Until she wins that 24th Grand Slam.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven 


Serena puts herself in position — and in the U.S. Open final again

By Art Spander
For Maven Sports

NEW YORK — She did it impressively and quickly, with surprising grace as well as unsurprising power. Serena Williams moved around the court like she owned it (why not, it’s in her homeland?) and Thursday night moved into the finals of the U.S. Open championship. Again.

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2019, The Maven

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