Authors@Google: Andrew Baggarly


Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on 27.05.2011

Transcript:
>>Ryan: Thanks for coming out everybody. It's my great pleasure to introduce Mr. Andrew
Baggarly. He's a beat writer for the San Jose Mercury News. He's been on the beat for about
14 years now. He's covered the Angels and Dodgers before but we can forget about that
part. [laughter] He's been with the Giants since 2004. He writes an awesome blog called
'extrabaggs' and you can follow him on Twitter too. So without further ado, Mr. Baggs.
[applause and cheers] >>Andrew Baggarly: Well thank you Ryan. I
appreciate that introduction. It's great to be here, a real honor to be here amongst so
many bright people. And before I go any further, I want to introduce my partner, Aliya, who's
here today and please join me in congratulating Stanford University's newest Sociology Professor.
[applause] Okay so I'm seeing a lot of Giants' regalia around the room. I know a lot of you
are Giants' fans and I want to know how many of you predicted the World Series, the 2010
championship. At least somebody in this room is gonna claim that they predicted it. Anybody?
Show of hands. Anybody? [audience chatter] Nobody. Well guess what? If you did predict,
I wouldn't have given you credit for it because you would have predicted a team that had Bengie
Molina behind the plate, an outfield of Mark DeRosa, John Bowker, and Aaron Rowand. Todd
Wellemeyer is number five starter. And nobody knew who Andrés Torres was at that point.
That team didn't win the World Series as you know. The team that did win had Pat Burrell
and Cody Ross. Buster Posey came up in mid-season. Madison Bumgarner of course and that team
sort of picked along the parts as they rolled along and won the World Series. And that was
a much different team than began the season. And that's what made this book so much fun
to write was not only did they win a World Series for the first time in 53 years and
that was enough to brand them legends in San Francisco but also the way they did it. Sort
of just accepting everyone as they were and picking up parts as they rolled along and
sort of just anybody who joined the team was part of the family. And they became greater
than the sum of their parts which is what every team hopes to be. And that's certainly
what they were. So, as Ryan mentioned, I've been on the Giants'
beat for – this is my eighth season. The Giants are off today so as am I. And I've
been working for the San Jose Mercury News since 2006. I worked for the Oakland Tribune
before that. And before that, I covered the Angels for a few years and the Dodgers for
a few years before that. And as you know, the newspaper business is
an up and down business right now. The optimists would say it's challenging. The pessimists
would say it's a death spiral. [laughter]
I prefer to go with challenging. But it's – there's no substitute for, for being there
and being around the team every day and that's something that only happens because the folks
at the San Jose Mercury, my editors, have gone to bat to make sure that when they do
make cuts in the budget, when they do lose people, they still prioritize not only having
someone to staff the beat but all the expenses of going on the road and being there for six
weeks of spring training in Scottsdale, Arizona, and then all the road games during the season.
It adds up to quite a bit of an expense. And they make sure they keep the commitment to
having me there on the beat. And that's what allows you to write with any kind of context,
with any kind of perspective is just to be there every day and to form relationships
with the players so that they can trust you and be able to tell you their stories. And
then I'm able to pass them along to, to the readers.
So I owe quite a bit to them for making that commitment and keeping with that commitment.
I will say that I am very fortunate that the Giants did not win the World Series in my
first year covering the beat because I don't think I would have fully been able to appreciate
what it meant to people, what it meant to the history of the Bay Area, baseball in the
Bay Area. All the traditions of the franchise because it would have been my first year on
the beat. But having covered the team for six years before that, having covered them
through the Barry Bonds era and seeing all the changes as they happened and really getting
to know so many fans and the season ticket holders that sit right in front of me in the
press box. And being able to engage them really let me know just what it meant for the Giants
to win the World Series. Obviously, it meant quite a bit.
I will say that I think the way I've gone about covering the beat and covering the team
comes from my personal experience growing up as a Chicago Cubs fan. I see the Cubs hat
in the front row. God Bless You. Maybe one day. [laughter] Maybe one day there will be
a Cubs band of misfits book. But my older brothers were born and raised in Illinois
as was I. We moved to California when I was very young so I don't really remember growing
up there. But it was branded into me to be a Cubs fan. So that's the cross I had to bear
– being a Cubs fan growing up in Los Angeles. But I always wanted to know about what was
going on with the team and really not only the balls and the strikes and the X's and
O's but also just what the players were all about and how they got along and what they
did – the pranks they pulled and all that good stuff. And it really shows a lot about
their personalities and, and all the traditions of the organization and welcoming back old
heroes. And all the context that goes with the games. 'Cause there's a game every day.
There's always something new on the field but there's always something extra stuff that
I loved as a fan and I wanted to really bring to my coverage and so I've been very fortunate.
I've grown to know this team and this franchise, this organization, the Bay Area well enough
to be able to do that, hopefully. And I, I skipped a lot of classes when I was an undergrad
at Northwestern University. I took the El train and went to a lot of Cubs games, sat
in the bleachers. I'm gonna sound old but the bleacher tickets were only 6 bucks back
then. But it was optimism every year and every year
you hoped maybe this is the year they'll do it. Maybe this is the group of guys even though
they're predicted to finish 20 games under 500. Everybody starts fresh every year and
you hope that maybe the magic'll happen. And I gotta imagine the Giants fans felt the same
way even though last year's team wasn't really expected to do much of anything. Maybe contend
for a Division but not have the kind of line up that could win a World Series. They didn't
strike fear in anybody and certainly they were able to do it and they were able to realize
those hopes and so not all optimism is false optimism.
So whether it's pathos or ethos – I never remember which is which – but I kind of
got it what it was like to be a Giants fan growing up as a Cubs fan. In – when you
look at the history of the Giants organization, it was a history of sluggers, of offense,
of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, and Orlando Cepeda, and you had a great pitcher come along
every once in awhile like a Juan Marichal. But a Barry Bonds was the greatest offensive
force really that the game has ever seen and the Giants were not able to win a World Series
with any of them. So whatever group of players would accomplish this would go down as legends.
And for it to be a team like this as opposed to a slugging or a hulking team or a team
that was fueled by steroid controversy or whatever made it even more pure. And I think
it made it even a better group to embrace. So one thing that I'd like to talk about a
little bit is just team chemistry. And it's something that really applies to any work
situation or any family situation. It's, it's – how do you get productivity out of people?
How do you get the most out of people? And does winning breed chemistry or does chemistry
breed winning? And I've heard that argument so many times or people talk about it so many
times. Which is which or what needs to happen first?
And I think, if anything, what this year's team taught me is that when you start to hear
people say things like, 'I want to win for the guy next to me more than I want to win
for myself', it's something that you can't really, you can't really force. It has to
happen organically. There were so many years when Barry Bonds was with the Giants and they
would do little pranks or singing competitions to try to engender some team chemistry.
And they would work and people would laugh and smile and at the end of the day, they
pretty much went back to who they are which was 24 guys and one guy in the corner of the
room. So [laughter]
But I mean that's pretty much the way it went. You know it's not to say that the Giants couldn't
have won a World Series with Barry Bonds. They got within six outs of winning a World
Series with Barry Bonds in 2002. Bad memories. [laughter]
But I think it took something special. It almost took these guys. They knew that no
one expected them to win and if they had a tough loss, which they had a lot of tough
losses. They had a 15 inning game at Coors Field – went extra innings that they lost.
They had a game against Cincinnati where they came back from 10 runs down, biggest comeback
in Giants' history and they ended up losing that game 11 to 10. And they came back and
they would win the next day. So it was something special in that group. They had some kind
of chemistry where they almost didn't care what anybody thought about them. They were
just gonna go out and try to win for each other every day and wipe the slate clean.
And when you gotta win 11 games over three post-season series, you're gonna have tough
losses mixed in there. And that's when the Playoffs started. I thought maybe this team
might have something here. They might be able to do it. And I think that one thing that
was neat about me with the book to do was in my newspaper reporting. There's always
a new newspaper the next day no matter how good or how bad your story was, there's always
blank pages to fill and they come at you every single day. Never get a day off from having
a newspaper. It comes out every day. So even if there is a huge earthquake, they'll
probably find a way to print a newspaper. So no matter – there are some stories that
are really stories that I am proud of or more proud than others. And they're here one day
and gone the next. And it was one nice way for me to be able to take my reporting not
only from 2010 but from previous years as well, whether it be Tim Lincecum and when
he first came to the league. And all the things in his back-story going back to when he was
a kid and his dad teaching him his unique mechanics. And seeing him through his Cy Young
seasons and how he had to – he wasn't ready to be the kind of pitcher that he needed to
be to win a World Series. In fact, if you recall, he had a terrible
August where he was 0 and five and really was struggling. He was, he was having a crisis
of confidence and it took him being sort of yelled at by the General Manager to realize
that just winning two Cy Young awards isn't enough. He needs to be there to win for his
teammates. And if he only gets one run of support, then he's gotta win one to nothing.
And he walked out of that meeting and he said, 'I get it now. It's about more than myself.'
And then you saw what he did in September and beyond. He turned into that guy who could
match up against a Roy Halliday or a Cliff Lee where he didn't look anywhere capable
of being that pitcher just a month earlier. And you go into his sort of personal growth
and, and he did a lot of growing last year. And now he looks better than ever after an
off season spent working out. He just threw a shut out the other day and was throwing
96 miles an hour in the 9th inning. And we would not have seen that a year ago. So the
stories are even continuing. But you go on to Lincecum and there were other
stories from the past where maybe he wasn't that kind of, that player, that kind of teammate.
One neat story that kind of disappeared the day after I wrote it that I was able to put
in the book was from his rookie year. And he had overslept. He's a little bit of a slacker.
[laughter] He overslept for a flight and, and he didn't
make the bus that left the ballpark. And to miss a team flight is very rare. It never
happens. Even though these guys are ballplayers, you think they slack off some times but you
never miss a team flight, especially if you're a rookie which Lincecum was in 2007. So he
had to buy his own plane fare to Cincinnati and he got in about three or four hours after
the team. The team didn't play that day. They were starting the series the next day. So
no real harm done. But the next day, Barry Bonds, who was still a Giant at that time,
called a meeting. And he had everybody in the clubhouse in the room and he yelled at
Timmy, chewed him out and took the itinerary and stuck it up against his chest and said,
'This thing isn't leaving your sight the rest of the trip.' And so Lincecum, as you can
imagine, probably needed some new pants right around then.
[laughter] But then the trip went on to St. Louis after
Cincinnati and they made Timmy carry all the players' luggage up to the room.
[laughter] And gave him one little brass cart for about
a traveling party of 45 or 50 and he was delivering bags until three in the morning. And he's
never missed a team flight since. [laughter]
So that, that was just a story that was fun to write. It told you a lot about him, a lot
about where he had to come from to where he had to get to. And it was a story I was able
to include in the book. So there's a lot more reporting in there than just 2010. There's
a lot of stuff that precedes it. And probably the furthest back that I can go in my career
as a reporter that had, had stuff that's applicable to this book was when I covered the Angels
in 2000 to 2001. And Bengie Molina was a rookie catcher the year I was a rookie beat writer.
And, and Bengie is a big-hearted guy. He's got a pretty amazing story to tell. He basically
wasn't drafted. He went back to Puerto Rico and he decided that he was going to quit baseball.
No one gave him a chance. So he played in a couple of semi-pro games. And then he took
his spikes and he knotted the laces together and he threw them up into the power lines.
And that was his symbolic act that, 'I'm done with baseball. I'm throwing my, I'm throwing
my cleats to the trade-winds here.' And then he was going to ask his dad if he had a lead
on a job at the Westinghouse factory that his dad worked at for 12 hours a day.
And it so happened that that very week, a scout from the Angels had come to see Bengie's
brother. If you know the Molina family, there are three catchers, all brothers. And they
all have World Series rings. So Bengie's the oldest, José was the next, and the scout
– his name was Ray Poitevint – he came to see José. And, and he happened to go across
the street and saw Bengie hit a ball to right field in that last semi-pro game. And he thought,
'I like that swing'. And then he saw Bengie run. And he thought, 'I don't like that, [laughter]
I don't like that trot.' [laughter] You know Bengie is probably the slowest person
who's ever played major league baseball. So he thought, 'You know what? If he could catch,
maybe he could be a serviceable player.' So he's working on Jose one day and he said,
'Hey, your brother. Is your brother here? ' And Jose runs back to get Bengie and he
says, 'Quick. Grab everything. Grab, grab your glove. Grab your shoes. '
'My shoes? They're up in the power lines. [laughter] What do I do?'
So he borrowed somebody else's shoes, I guess, and he made a couple throws. He never caught
– if you believe it, [laughter] Bengie was a shortstop and an outfielder in junior college.
Yeah, probably wasn't too pretty either. [laughter] But he signed for 500 dollars. And 500 is
what it took to get his big league career started. And he said, 'I would have signed
for, for nothing.' So he went to the Angels system and he was told, 'You can't, you can't
start games. You're basically here to catch in the bullpen.' So he didn't have a lot of
time to develop as a catcher. So he went to winter ball where the same thing happened.
They basically used him to catch bullpens. But he knew if he was going to be a pro baseball
player, he had to learn how to catch. And the only team he could play for was on the
other side of the island. And he was driving in a -- well you can read about it in the
book but basically he had a car that was not road safe that he was driving in to get to
the ball field every day. Tires screeched every time he made a right turn. The tires
were too big for the car. Yeah, it's a miracle that he was able to get back and forth without,
without crashing that car. But he was able to catch every day and he got better and better.
And he eventually became a big league catcher. And those are stories he told me 10 years
ago when I was covering the Angels and they were able to have some new life in the book.
And for me, it was very easy to start the book where I did in Chapter One because you
know what happened with the Giants last year. Bengie was traded in the very end of June
to clear the catching spot for Buster Posey and Bengie found out about it when they were
on a flight that was descending into Denver to start a road trip against the Rockies.
And the reason he found out about it is, the Texas Rangers were currently in bankruptcy
and Major League Baseball needed to clear the finances on the deal. So some of the details
leaked out before the trade became official. And players were walking up to him and saying,
'Hey. Good luck. Sorry to hear it.' And so Bengie was really caught off guard by this
and he stood on the team bus that day and basically said, 'You guys are a special group
of players and you're gonna do something awesome this year. And you've got my phone number.
Call me any time.' And not only was he right, but he would end
up catching for the Texas Rangers playing against them in the World Series. So that
to me was probably the most improbable, pretty neat moment of the entire year. When you look
at all the way, all the ways believe in fate or whatever. And so I thought, 'I gotta start
there.' And from there, it was very easy to roll on
to Chapter Two and write about Buster Posey and what happened with the Giants' farm system
and how he was sort of wearing a halo for everybody in rebuilding this farm system.
And he was able to do things that no rookie catcher really is supposed to do, keeping
his poise throughout all of the post season. So from there, it was just, it was fun to
roll through the whole year but also do back-flashes into some of these guys' background whether
it be Juan Uribe or, or Madison Bumgarner or Pat Burrell or Aubrey Huff. I never thought
that one of my biggest journalistic scoops would be writing about the Rally Thong first.
[laughter] But so be it.
[laughter] I'll tell you a quick story about that actually.
The company that makes the Rally Thong. If you didn't know, Aubrey Huff with thirty games
left to go in the season started wearing this red man's thong underwear. Apparently he and
his wife were going through Macy's one day. She said, 'Why don't you get that for me and
wear it one night?' And he said, 'Okay. I don't know why you want that but sure.' So
he decided to show up at the ballpark as they are still trailing the San Diego Padres and
he said, 'Thirty games left and this thing's got twenty wins in it.' And wouldn't you know,
they won and clinched the division on the last game of the regular season and they went
exactly 20 and 10. So the Rally Thong did its job.
But yeah, he would walk around pretty much with the Rally Thong on and nothing else,
which, if you're in the clubhouse, you just have to try to avert your eyes basically.
[laughter] Yeah, he's, he's, yeah. He's proud of his
body. So hey good for him. [laughter]
But anyway so that was the story behind the Rally Thong. And the company that makes the
thong found out about what Huff was doing and generating a little publicity. So unsolicited,
they sent like three giant dress size boxes filled with thong underwear. And the day that
they arrived, I think it was during the Division Series. It might have been during the NLCS.
Huff was distributing them to everybody. He was like Santa Claus. He even threw one at
Bruce Bochy. And Bochy said, 'I don't think that's a good idea.'
[laughter] So anyway, I'm talking to him about this and
we had our, our Mean Joe Greene moment, the old Coke commercial where he throws the jersey
to the kid. He threw me a thong and he says, 'There you go. There's one for you too.' So
I have one in a drawer that will never, ever, ever be worn.
[laughter] But it was just such a group of characters
and that's kind of what it took. It took them being a little rambunctious and not really
caring what the outside perceptions were. There are a lot of moments in the book that
were, I think, a little more poignant. There are some funny moments. And one of the moments
that I think was one of the most moving last year was Willie McCovey. And if anybody knows
Willie McCovey's story, I think that he sums up what it means to be a Giant or a San Francisco
Giant story more than anybody, even better than Willie Mays. 'Cause Willie Mays was almost
so great he was almost a little bit unapproachable. And McCovey always had to play second fiddle
to Mays. He was from Mobile, Alabama. And Hank Aaron was from Mobile, Alabama, so he's
not the most famous person from where he's from. But he was the guy who got the respect
of pitchers more than anybody else. Until Barry Bonds came along, he held records for
intentional walks and no one ever wanted to pitch him or face him because he was such
a fearsome hitter. And in 1962, just a handful of years after
the Giants moved from New York in 1958, they were meeting the Yankees in the World Series.
And they had a team full of Hall of Famers. And they were in Game Seven and Willie Mays
had doubled to put the winning runs on base in a one to nothing game. And here came McCovey.
And Bill Terry threw the pitch and McCovey hit it hard. He hit a line drive that was
right at the second baseman, Bobby Richardson. And that was it. If it was three feet higher,
then the Giants would have won the World Series. As it turned out, the Yankees won the World
Series. I mean, one at bat was win or loss right there. And it was one of the greatest
endings in World Series' history but it's not the one you really hear about because
it would have been a great ending if he had gotten the hit. To have the guy catch the
ball almost was – that's not the Bill Mazeroski or Joe Carter. People remember walk off hits.
They don't remember walk off catches so much. But they were so close. The Giants were so
close with McCovey. And then in later years he had a lot of health problems. He still
battles with a lot of knee and back problems and last July, I kind of noticed he wasn't
at the ball park, McCovey. He'd always shown up and was always in his suite and I hadn't
seen him for several weeks and I asked around. I asked Mike Murphy, the long time trainer,
and it turned out that he had a back surgery that was so extensive, it lasted eight hours
and I think that they fused about six or eight vertebrae. I mean it was very extensive. And
he made his goal, McCovey, to get through his rehab and to come back to the ballpark
for that final home series where they were going to give out the Willie Mack Award. And
that's the award they give, the most inspirational Giant as voted by the players. Bengie Molina
won it twice during his time. And that was his goal during his rehab every day – was
to get back and present that award. And so here's a guy who had inspired the players
for years and now the players were inspiring him. And he made it back and he did make it
on the field. And for anybody who watched him walk out there on his crutches and knew
what he had to do to be there, it was a very moving moment. And he gave the award to André
Torres who was a very fitting recipient given all he had overcome in his minor league career.
And to see the Giants get the rings this year, to see McCovey get his ring finally was, was
pretty cool. That was pretty neat. So I stopped being a journalist there for a moment and
just really appreciated what I was seeing. But that's why I wanted to title that chapter
where they're closing in on the Division 'The Home Stretch' because Willie McCovey's – his
nickname was 'Stretch' because he was so tall and stretched at first base to catch throws.
And so it was 'The Home Stretch' – two words. 'Home'. 'Stretch'. And so that's why I decided
to title that chapter the way I did and --. So there was a lot more than what happened
on the field. There was what happened around the team as well. And I think that anybody
who was at the parade and raise your hand if you were at the parade. Anybody? I know
some of you were. There was a million people out there. A lot of you. It's something that
no one will ever forget who was there. And that's one thing that was really neat and
told me I gotta write a book to try to put all this in some sort of form that's a little
more permanent than my newspaper work. And, and I knew that it would be something that
would, would be appreciated and would resonate with people. And I've had people tell me,
'I'm gonna read this book every spring training for the rest of my time as a Giants fan and
remind myself everything that happened that year.'
And I've had a lot of other people tell me that they were riding Caltrain and reading
it on the way to work and they had to stop because they were crying and people were looking
at them funny. [laughter]
To hear that was, was just really, really gratifying and really neat. And so it's, in
some ways what I do is to inform and to entertain. And we live in such an awesome information
age and there are so many more ways that you can connect with people and get information
out there and you guys are such a big part of that. I know I use Google every day as
a reporter to help, help me research and, and even if it's something I don't know the
definition of a word or I know there's a phrase or I want to make a historical reference or
something. It's just so easy to call it up and, and you save my back too. Because I used
to carry around a whole big wheelie bag full of reference materials. And I can leave everything
at home now. I have everything on my laptop. So it's, it's what you do every day is inspire
people by making it so easy to access information and, and, and learn about the players and,
and the team. And so, so that was just a lot of fun to be able to do this project and I
really hope you enjoy reading it. And thanks for allowing me to be here today. And I'll
be happy to take any questions you may have. [applause]
>>Ryan: There's a standing mic right here if anyone wants to ask any questions.
[pause] >>Male Audience Member #1: Hi. I really enjoy
your, your work. I read it every day. If I miss it, I have to go back through the archives
and read it. Otherwise I feel like I am out of touch. But what, what was your most maybe
intimidating moment from last year from your own personal perspective because you have
to be -- in August, it was a tough time and the team was going through some, some tough
moments. And it'd be interesting to hear some of the stories from your, from your personal
perspective about what you felt like, 'Oh my God. This is not going well.' And 'Holy
crap, I can't believe I have to drag my, my butt in here to, to ask a question or report
on something like this '. >> Andrew Baggarly: You know when you're a
reporter and you're dealing with day to day deadlines, that's the most intimidating thing.
You don’t really worry if the team is doing well or not doing well because you're writing
a story regardless. And people ask me, 'Were you rooting for the team to win?' And basically
I was rooting for no extra innings, no rain delays [laughter], no late lead changes because
that makes me use my delete key a whole lot more than I like to on deadline. And we're
pretty lucky to have Brian Wilson who's a pretty good closer. He didn't blow too many
saves. When I covered Armando Benitez, [laughter] I hit the delete key a lot more so -- But
that was the baseball gods getting me back for covering Eric Gagne with the Dodgers the
year he didn't blow a save the whole year. So you know in terms of my motivations or
what was intimidating, it was pretty much – I mean it boils down to practicalities
for me on a daily basis 'cause you gotta get your copy in. You gotta get it in by a certain
time. For night games, I basically have to send the second the game ends or within two
minutes basically. And there are a lot of times I have to – we don't send in progress
stories so I gotta be ready to send it, go downstairs, get some quotes, get some new
information, rewrite as much as I can, and then send it again within another 20 minutes.
So this last road trip actually was very difficult because the Giants won or lost in the ninth
inning about four times. And all these walk off wins at home are very exciting but they're,
they're pretty stressful on the old beat reporters. So obviously the Giants aren't scoring runs
in bunches so much. So when they're winning, they're winning close. And that means that's
probably the most intimidating thing having to rewrite really fast.
>>Male Audience Member #2: I've got a hypothetical for you.
>>Andrew Baggarly: Okay. >>Male Audience Member #2: Dusty Baker managing
instead of Bruce Bochy. Would they still win the World Series?
>>Andrew Baggarly: Wow. It's a great question. I, I don't know. It's hard to say. One thing
that I think was, was neat about last season is – those of us who are around Bruce Bochy
every day realize that there's a lot more going on upstairs than comes across in a sound
bite. He, he kind of looks like a big old galoot when you see him on TV [audience chatter]
but there was a time last year, I don't know if you remember. We were in Dodger Stadium
and Don Mattingly was the interim manager. Joe Torre and the bench coach, Bob Schaefer,
I believe is his name, had gotten ejected and so Mattingly's the hitting coach. And
he's managing the team. He goes up to make a pitching change and he doubles back to the
mound to answer a question. And that constituted two mound visits which means the pitcher has
gotta come out of the game. And Bruce Bochy was out of that dugout in a half of second,
arthritic knees and all. And he said, 'Hey, this is the rule.' And he quoted the rule
and he was right. And the Dodgers lost that game. They brought in another pitcher who
wasn't ready and, and I think it was Andrés Torres who got the hit and they won. And they
obviously had to win every single game to win the Division last year. And that's I think
when people started realizing in the Bay Area that Bruce Bochy's got a little bit more going
on upstairs than if you listen to his admittedly very, very dull pre-game interviews sometimes.
[laughter] So but and then in the Playoffs, obviously,
he could do no wrong. He managed very differently. I think he manages a certain way in the regular
season because he knows it's a marathon. And sure Édgar Rentería might be terrible. And
Aaron Rowand might be terrible. But he knew that it takes all 25 guys to put in a piece
at some point to win a game. And sure enough, who would have ever thought Édgar Rentería
would be the World Series MVP when he looked doner than done earlier in the year. And Aaron
Rowand had a couple of big plays for them too. You just don't give up on guys so you
manage very deliberately and very patiently and with a lot more patience than a lot of
fans have. But when he got in the Playoffs, he was very, very – he was managing a lot
more with a lot more urgency. And that meant making moves and if a guy was struggling,
then you took him out and they used three-quarters of their playoff rotation in Game Six in Philadelphia
which wasn't even an elimination game. Which took some real stones to do. And obviously
they won in Philadelphia. He drew a line in the sand and really managed with a lot of
guts. And so I don't think any other manager wins the World Series. It's hard to say because
it is hypothetical but I think the Giants had the right guy there, Bruce Bochy.
>>Male Audience Member #3: You mentioned team chemistry and how important it was for this
team in particular to win. And that compared with Barry Bonds era, having someone like
that in the clubhouse. Being someone who's in the clubhouse, how do you see that changing
or, or staying the same from last year to this year? Obviously losing a Rentería who
was really inspiring I heard towards the end of the stretch run. And how is Tejada doing?
And what's the climate around that? I know there's talk about Reyes being available for
trades and I don't know what you know of José Reyes as a person or what that clubhouse is
like. But what would that do to the intangibles and the chemistry on a team like this?
>>Andrew Baggarly: Well, it's an interesting question because Bochy has never a managed
a team that's won the World Series and most of these guys haven't played on teams that
have won the World Series. And even the few that have, like Pat Burrell, he ended up with
Tampa the year after he won with Philadelphia. Rowand ended up with Philadelphia the year
after he won it with the White Sox. So a lot of these guys are in new circumstance and
it's, it's good from the standpoint that they don't panic. If things aren't going right,
they realize, 'Hey. We've done it before. We know what it takes within this room to
win.' But you also have to guard against complacency which so far, you look at the way Tim Lincecum
has pitched and he hasn't pitched complacent at all. You look at Aubrey Huff – maybe
putting on a few pounds and you wonder, 'Has he allowed himself to get a little complacent?'
And he obviously is off to a bad start. So there's some guys because their personality
might affect in different ways and that's probably Bochy's biggest challenge is to guard
against that complacency and stop them from thinking, 'Well, it worked out for us last
year. So we'll just skip the work and it'll work out for us again.' Because obviously
that isn't the way it works. In terms of trading for José Reyes, it's
not realistic because if you trade for someone at this point in the year, you have to massively
overpay for them. I think the Mets know that a number of teams are gonna want a José Reyes.
They're probably going to give up a number of minor league players. Right now, if the
Giants want to get a José Reyes, it's gonna cost them Zach Wheeler and Brandon Belt which
is their top pitcher and hitting prospect. And that's – no way that's gonna happen.
And if you look at Brian Sabean's resume as a General Manager, he'll give up prospects.
He will give up players who were regarded in this minor league system but he'll give
them up for players that he can plug in for a few years. And when they trade for AJ Pierzynski,
they thought AJ'd be one of those guys. He wasn't eligible for free agency for several
years. He was arbitration eligible. Well obviously, he was a gigantic failure in his one year
as a Giant and they got rid of him. But José Reyes would be a Giant basically
until the end of the year and he knows he would make a hundred million dollars on the
open market. There's no way you're gonna sign him to a contract before he would hit free
agency. And so for the Giants to get him, if they do, it's gonna be right at the trade
deadline which is July 31st, and it's going to have to mean that they don't have a whole
lot of competition for him because I don't see them giving up a lot of their premium
prospects. And Bill Neukom is the new owner. And he's made building from within the farm
system such a huge priority. So I don't see that happening. They're gonna have to probably
muddle through and maybe get a lesser shortstop if there's – there's no question that they
have a problem at shortstop and that Tejada is best suited at third base.
>>Male Audience Member #5: Hi. >>Andrew Baggarly: Hi.
>>Male Audience Member #5: I was just kinda curious – do you have a sense for, for how
much the front office is using some of these advance stats – like Sabermetrics, the UZR,
Devor, to kind of analyze and manage their players?
>>Andrew Baggarly: Yeah. I think they are. They're doing it probably a lot, probably
a lot less than other organizations. But they do. It is part of the calculus. I think that
Brian Sabean trusts his scouts more than anybody. And when he's making a decision at the end
of the day, he'll take it into account but I don't think he allows himself to be swayed
if he has a strong opinion already. There are a couple of people in the front office
who, who do a lot of analytics. In fact they do a lot of their own analytics and they won't
even talk about their methods. So Jeremy Shelley is one. Yeshayah Goldfarb is another.
So they, they do delve into that and it's a part of, of player evaluation. And Bill
Neukom being someone who was from, on the ground floor of Microsoft and understands
the value of information, is somebody who is going to continue to champion that and
make sure that is a part of player evaluation and baseball operations. But knowing Brian
Sabean the way I do, I think that he's open minded to it. But if he has a strong opinion,
he's going to go with the scouts most times and his scouts obviously served him very well
last year both in the players that they got and the reports that they had on how best
to attack some of the hitters that they faced in the post-season.
But I've tried to ask them and they're very secretive about, about their methods. They
don't want to say exactly what they really place a high priority on. But they did tell
me that there are some formulas that they've created that are even non-proprietary. Things
that are just in-house that they, that they do use.
>>Male Audience Member #6: Hi. I love your blog. I wanted to ask you how as a reporter
you deal with guys who have sort of fallen out of favor with the club. Guys like Fred
Lewis and Travis Ishikawa, and Kevin Franzen. Could you just tell us a little bit about
your experience with guys like that? >>Andrew Baggarly: Yeah. I mean it's -- these
guys are professionals. I would have a very hard time covering college sports to be honest.
And there's nothing wrong with covering college sports on the beat. Obviously, I love to know
about my alma mater and -- but it's very difficult to cover college sports I think because you
have to write critically about, about players and when they're making millions of dollars,
it's a little bit easier to write critically about them because they realize it's part
of the bargain. They get to live the lifestyle and they get the benefits for their family
and if it means that when they go 0 for 4 and strike out with the bases loaded and I
ask them about it, it's not fun to be quizzed on failing in front of 40,000 people but that's
part of the bargain that you sign when you are a major league player. So it's a little
bit easier because you get cooperation from the players. The ones that are professionals,
the ones that understand my job – as long as you're fair and you don’t take a lot
of unnecessary cheap shots and you're accurate, then, then you really have nothing to worry
about. But there are, there are days when we get yelled at and sometimes realize that
has to happen because if it doesn't happen, I'm probably not doing my job the right way.
When it comes to players who have fallen out of favor with the organization, you just try
to put things in context. And if it's a player who is on the outs and you kind of realize
it, well, then you're writing who's going to get playing time and who's not. And in
the case of Fred Lewis or a Kevin Franzen, obviously they weren't in the organization's
plans and you just try to put that in context. You give people the right expectations for
who's gonna be out there on a given day. And not only do fans want that, but people with
fantasy teams too. [audience chuckles] They want to know who to draft so that all goes
into it. But whenever you're dealing with a player who's struggling oftentimes it'll
be someone who's a nice guy. Aaron Rowand is a very, very nice guy. And he's had his
struggles as a Giant and you have to write about that. And this is part of the job and
that's when you just hope that you're as professional as you can be and the players as professional
as they can be too. So…
>>Female Audience Member #1: Is Timmy really 5'11 and what's that funky stretch that Brian
Wilson does before every pitch? >>Andrew Baggarly: Let's see. Timmy's 5'11
in spikes. [laughter]
I would, I would say he is a true 5'11". He is about my height, pretty much. If anything,
he might just be a tiny bit taller than me. So he's not, he's not a little midget. Now
Mike Fontenot is very small. [laughter] He's about 5'6", I think and I only covered one
major league player smaller than him and that was Chad Fonville with the Dodgers back about
12 years ago. He might have been 5'3". He was really small. But – and what was the
second part of your question? >>Female Audience Member #1: About the stretch
that Brian Wilson does. >>Andrew Baggarly: Right. Right. You know
I think he's, he has a tight back sometimes so he's probably just stretching his back
muscles a little bit. And obviously he has been a little out of sorts his last couple
of appearances. And he's refusing to tell them that he's hurt. So they're just kind
of, they're wondering right now if maybe his oblique or his back is a little tight in addition
to his ankle that he turned the other day. He's becoming Mr. Mysterio more and more every
day. [audience laughter] It's hard to get a straight answer out of Brian Wilson. I asked
him in spring training if he was happy with where his pitches was going, were going, and
he looked at me and he said, 'Well. Forward. So yes.' [audience laughter] Thank you, Brian.
Thank you very much. Appreciate that. [laughter]
>>Male Audience Member #7 : To go back to the Brian Wilson question, what's that new
pitch that he has? I know he doesn't have a name for it but what would someone who knows
baseball call it? >>Andrew Baggarly: Well, he refuses to label
his pitches. Even the pitch that he, he threw to strike out Ryan Howard to win the NLCS.
Was it a slider or was it a cutter? And he referred to it as both. And I kind of – I
don't think he wants anybody to know what he's doing but the pitch that he's throwing
that's really sort of diving in on the hands of a lefty – that's sort of a two seam fastball.
I think – and it's just got a lot of run to it. And that's pretty much what it is.
And you realize that Dave Righetti, the Giants pitching coach, probably is doing a lot more
behind the scenes than people realize. 'Cause there are a lot of people who are throwing
that pitch not only in the Major Leagues but in the minor league organization too. And
it's, it's one of the reasons the Giants give up so few home runs. Not only because they
have a big home run, a big home ball park but because a lot of guys are keeping the
ball down and that's a big pitch for a lot of guys on the staff.
>>Male Audience Member #8: Can you demonstrate the difference between a cutter and a slider
and a four seam fastball and a two seam fastball and a slerve and all those other things?
>>Andrew Baggarly: You gotta ball? >>Male Audience Member #7: [laughs]
>>Andrew Baggarly: It would be a little hard without a ball. But basically a four seam
fastball is a straight fastball. It's what you throw with maximum velocity. It's one
of the first pitch you learn to throw and you try to learn to control it and work both
sides of the plate. And you throw it across the horseshoe so basically your finger's in
contact with four seams which is why it's called a 'four seamer'. A two seamer, you
throw it with your fingers on the seams. Like almost like a fork ball – you throw them
outside the seams. They're right on the seams for a two seamer. And because of the way the
pressure, the finger pressure, it'll sink. As it gets drag, it'll sink in the strike
zone. So basically a two-seam fastball is a sinker. And then a slider -- you have your
two fingers together. You have them on one seam and you're basically pushing it off and
extending and that allows it to sort of sweep. And then a curve ball you're throwing like
that and that gets more twelve to six, they say, break.
>>Male Audience Member #7: What about a cutter? >>Andrew Baggarly: And a cutter is basically
a, a – I think it's just a four seam fast ball but you have different pressure with
the lower fingers or your thumb. I think, basically, it just has to do with finger pressure
more than anything else. And a cutter will kind of have a little snap back. So it won't
move completely straight like a four seamer will. But there are times you want to throw
it completely straight. I mean if Tim Lincecum has two strikes on a guy and he really wants
to blow him away and he wants to throw a four seamer up here, that's a hard pitch to hit.
And it's, it's a pitch designed to get a swing and a miss because you are not going to get
it called for a strike. [audience member coughs] So that all goes into what do you throw and
Buster Posey is a rookie catcher. And to make all those decisions last year in big games
and he knew the scouting reports inside and out. The guy was honor roll, Presidential
Honor Roll his whole time at Florida State. He knew he was about to be drafted and get
a 6 million dollar bonus and he kept taking his, writing his papers and taking his finance
degree anyway. And he was once asked by a reporter from USA Today, he said, 'Other than
school and baseball, what do you do?' And he said, 'Well what else is there?' [audience
laughter] So for him, he doesn't have the school anymore so he's just, he's a student
of the game and that's really, knowing those scouting reports and knowing the pitchers'
strengths and what to call was such a big part of what they were able to do last year.
>>Male Audience Member #8: I have one question. Do you have any insight to whether or not
the Giants are ever going to drop the whole territorial rights, stranglehold on San Jose?
>>Andrew Baggarly: Well, let's see. Bill Neukom was the chief legal – he headed up the Legal
Department at Microsoft for a long time. About 20 years. He took on the Federal Government
and anti-trust legislation. I don't think he's afraid of anybody and he's gonna continue
to defend the territorial rights as far as he can go. The reason it's so important to
the Giants is because, if you look at their stadium signage, if you look at their season
ticket base, if you look at all of their minority owners, there's –Silicon Valley is incredibly
well represented and they realize the financial and corporate strength here in Silicon Valley.
It almost doesn't matter what your market size is anymore. It matters what you can draw
from what your corporate base is like. And that's why you've got a team like the Arizona
Diamondbacks in Phoenix being a huge metro area. But the average income in Phoenix is
the lowest of any major league city and that's why their ticket prices are so low and they
still can't get anybody to come to the ballpark. So I think the Giants realize that the South
Bay is a big part of their revenue stream, a big part of their, their base of season
ticket holders and sponsors. And they don't wanna let go of that. They don't want the
A's to move there. And if the A's – basically it's a siege mentality. They're trying to
starve them out. And if the A's don't wanna build in, in Oakland, I would love to see
them build a park in Jacklin Square. It would be great. I lived in Oakland for a few years
and I happen to like Oakland and I'd like to see the A's stay there. But if that can't
happen, the Giants are going to do everything they can to try to keep the A's out of San
Jose. And this blue ribbon committee, I have the very fun job of trying to talk to Bud
Selig every All Star Game when he does his luncheon with the baseball writers and ask
him about the A's and the San Jose question. And I get to see him do his soft shoe tap
dance, every single time. [laughter] And, and he basically says, 'Well the committee's
still meeting. So.' [laughter] The committee has been meeting for a long, long time. So
basically though if Bud says that it's something that they are going to let the A's pursue,
it takes a three-quarters vote of the owners to overturn the territorial rights. Plus it
means so much money for the owners. So I really do believe that if he says, 'This is the position
that I'm advocating', the owners will follow suit. So basically they just need to convince
Bud Selig that that it would be bad for both teams in the Bay Area to have the A's in the
South Bay. And the jury's still out. >>Male Audience Member #8: Thank you.
>>Ryan: We'll take one more and then you're gonna do some book signing, right?
>>Andrew Baggarly: Yeah. [pause]
>>Male Audience Member #9: My question is, what would you say thus far is the sort of
differences if any in the clubhouse camaraderie slash expectations. This season, 45 wins and
there have been 11 walk off wins. How does the mentality compared to last year when there
were no expectations? This year we're defending the World Series?
>>Andrew Baggarly: Yeah. Yeah. It's a good question and right now, they're 14 and 3 in
one run games and 11 and 0 at home. And on pace to break the Major League record for
walk off wins. Again, not so great for the journalists on deadline but [laughter] I mean
just tremendously exciting games. And I think, if anything, we were talking about that complacency
earlier and how do you ward it off and the fact that they get a sellout crowd there on
a midweek, Tuesday game in May against the Diamondbacks, who's not a premium opponent,
when it's a school night. And they're selling the place out. And the people are going nuts.
I, I kind of think it's going to carry these guys along and it's going to be a big factor.
I don't see a whole lot of differences from last year. It's such a similar team. They're
obviously winning in a similar style even with fewer runs than they scored last year.
So I think they realize that to a degree it's a little unsustainable to go 14 and 3 in one
run games and the bullpen can't pitch as well as it's pitched all year. The starters are
gonna have days where their arms are dragging. And they're gonna have to score more runs
and I think that they realize this. Whether it means that they just, they'll bring up
Brendan Belt at some point to help the offense or they'll make another trade or adjustment.
You have to constantly be looking for ways to get better. And that's certainly what they
did last year in overhauling the roster during the year. So they do realize that they've
gotta go out there and produce and if they don't, then somebody else is probably going
to get their at-bats. So they're still finding their identity as an offensive team but certainly
they're pitching as well as they ever have. And I think we just all saw that pitching
wins championships. So you have to like their position right now because they're in first
place by what -- three and a half, four games and you know that there's a lot they're not
doing right. So who knows? Maybe we'll have a sequel. [audience chuckles]
So thank you everyone for coming out. I really appreciate it.
[applause]