After all the early talk about the sky falling and the odd-numbered hooey, after all the injuries and the 299 games lost on the disabled list, after the goofy schedule and the 0-6 road trip to hell and back, here are the second-place Giants with a 46-43 record at the All-Star break, exactly one game worse than last season, when they were the Champs of all of baseball.
Now what’s so bad about that?
“Overall, it’s pretty good, to be honest,” manager Bruce Bochy told Balls when asked where his team was positioned for the stretch drive. “If you look at the start, we almost buried ourselves. We bounced back and got back playing the brand of ball we need to play.
“We’re not where we want to be, obviously, but you just want to hang in there. We’re a nice win streak from being where we want to be. If you look at what we’ve been through between injuries and schedule — not to make excuses — it has been an OK first half here.”
OK? That’s Bochy-speak for pretty darn good under the circumstances.
Here’s the best part: The Champs are as healthy as they’ve been in weeks. If they can stay that way in the next three months while the front office makes at least one right move, then they may have the rest of the National League right where they want it again.
JUST DON’T DO IT: Bochy tried to ruin a great rivalry on Sunday, when he added Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, of all people, to the National League All-Star roster.
“[Kershaw] has had a good half,” Bochy said. “I mean, you start there. But you also look at who Clayton is and his success and the star factor.”
Bochy said the decision was made after the Washington Nationals announced that Max Scherzer would pitch Sunday and therefore wouldn’t be available for an All-Star Game appearance two days later.
Even though Kershaw had a so-so first half by his standards, Bochy received some criticism for his reluctance to include the reigning Cy Young Award winner on the squad. Then again, the All-Star managers can’t win no matter who they pick and choose. Because if the roster size was doubled to 68 players, the 69th guy would have a reasonable complaint.
SAY IT AIN’T CUETO: Bochy had one more All-Star replacement to name, and the Cincinnati Reds’ Johnny Cueto would have been a popular choice with host team. But the frustrated pitcher didn’t help his chances on Sunday, when he had a temper tantrum after an early exit.
At the start of the day, Cueto had a lower earned run average (2.73-2.85), a higher WAR (3.0-2.3) and the same record as Kershaw but with an inferior team.
Cueto has been snubbed before. In a blatant misuse of power, manager Tony LaRussa stuck it to Cueto because the pitcher had been in the middle of a brawl with his Cardinals team earlier in the 2012 season.
Cueto had a far more creative reason for the slight.
“I see that I have great numbers,” he told reporters at the time. “I thought the way I pitched this year, I’d have a chance to go to the All-Star Game. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if the manager of the All-Star Game is (peeved) at me because I went out with one of his girlfriends.”
PLAYED THERE, LEFT THAT: The Raiders’ options for the 2016 season have been narrowed down to the Los Angeles Coliseum, LO.co Coliseum and a dirt field to be determined later.
After the NFL had the gall to request proposals from suitable southern California sites to serve as temporary homes for the Raiders, Chargers and/or Rams in the 2016 season, the Rose Bowl said thanks but no thanks, the Los Angeles Times reported. Apparently, Pasadena would rather host its annual music festival than silly NFL games, as a local environmental study stipulates.
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Dodger Stadium and StubHub Stadium are the other possibilities. But baseball-only stadiums are crummy places for football and StubHub Stadium has a less-than-30,000 capacity, although the NFL claims a scarcity of tickets to be a benefit. You know, like the folks in SoCal have nothing better to do than watch a 5-11 team roll around in the grass eight times a year.
That leaves the L.A. Coliseum as the only real option if any of the three teams decides to take the plunge. Problem is, the Coliseum is not allowed to serve more than one NFL team at a time, which means there can be only one winner here.
Now there’s a real chance the Raiders will spend the 2016 season in Oakland, though it’s being whispered they could move their training facility to the L.A. area and commute to “home games’’ in Oakland while waiting for their new stadium to be built. Not one shovel of dirt has been turned in Carson or Inglewood yet, so Pride and Poise may be in limbo for quite some time.
HURTS SO BAD: LeBron James is so distraught about his team’s loss to the Warriors in the NBA Finals, it almost makes you want to give the poor guy an ice cream cone with sprinkles on top.
“I think, for me, you can never get out of it,” James told Bleacher Report radio. “No matter how much you try to just kind of say ‘OK, you did everything that you could, you gave everything that you had’ and you’re able to move on — I just don’t feel like you ever move on. … You feel like you’re right there, you have a great opportunity to do something special. Obviously I’ve got to shake it a little bit because I’ve got these three kids running around the house that don’t allow me to not be happy, but at the same time, I can never get away from losing in the Finals. I have. … you know, I guess there’s nightmares about them, about situations throughout the games. It’s always replaying in my head. It’s definitely difficult, but I’m getting better every day.”
What Balls can’t get over is how a Cleveland Cavaliers team that started Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert in the backcourt and was coached by David Blatt won two games in the first place.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Ayesha Curry gave birth to Ryan Carson Curry on Friday and reported 2-year-old Riley was “enamored” with her baby sister. Meanwhile, father Stephen already has begun to work on her baby hook because you can never start too early.Bruce BochyGiantsJohnny CuetoMax Scherzer