The Magic of Hesto Presto

Chris Heston

Within two days of Opening Day, the San Francisco Giants witnessed injury after injury. The comeback bid of Matt Cain fell short with a strained flexor tendon causing him to join Hunter Pence and Travis Ishikawa on the DL while Jake Peavy continues to battle back issues with a locked sacroiliac joint[1]. The icing on the cake came on Tuesday’s game in Arizona when Brandon Belt suffered a minor strain in his right groin during a routine play. Before Wednesday’s game, the vexing ‘odd year curse’ was attributed throughout the baseball sphere for the Giants string of bad luck.

 
 

Cain downCain Down, Heston Up?

 
 
The Giants had the option to start Yusmeiro Petit, but elected to call up the 26-year-old right-hander Chris Heston, who would be doused with cheap domestic beer by his teammates after a much needed performance Wednesday night. Something that Giants skipper, Bruce Bochy said was a “shot in the arm.”

Heston shook off his rookie jitters in the first inning after he unintentionally plunked Arizona Diamondbacks A.J. Pollock on the back. Then a wild pickoff throw to Buster Posey, at first base, allowed Pollock to scurry to third base. Pollock then scored off a groundout by Chris Owings.

What followed was the magic of ‘Hesto Presto’, who hurled a sinking fastball, curve and nasty changeup to hold the Dbacks to three hits and a pair of unearned runs in six innings. Heston was given the nickname ‘Hesto Presto’ by Double-A Richmond announcer Jon Laaser for his ability to escape innings[2]. He lived up to his catchy nickname in the fourth, after getting the third out when bases were loaded.


Heston’s First Career Win

There is rumor that Heston will start the home opener next Monday when the Giants face the 3-0 Colorado Rockies. The question remains, how long until we see magician hats and wands at AT&T park.

Hesto Presto!

Let the magic rumpus begin!

@BeantownGiant
 

Footnotes:

[1] http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Giants-pitching-probables-6187535.php

[2] http://blogs.mercurynews.com/giants/2015/04/07/mapping-rotation-giants-place-matt-cain-disabled-list-recall-chris-heston-sacramento/

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chris Heston, Injuries, MLB, NL West, San Francisco Giants | Leave a comment

Cheap Seat Chronicles’ 2015 MLB Staff Predictions

fortuneteller2015

It seems like ages ago that we were debating whether or not Alex Gordon could have scored in game seven of the World Series (he couldn’t), but in reality it was just a few short months ago that baseball went into hibernation for the winter.

Since then, however, a lot has changed; the Giants and Royals are unlikely to meet in a rematch this October, Pablo Sandoval – that big guy who caught the final out of that classic game seven – is now in Boston, Nori Aoki left the Royals and will be leading off for the Giants this year, and James Shields – the Royals ace last season – is now plying his trade in San Diego.

That’s just a tiny sampling of the many changes we saw this offseason.

The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Miami Marlins all underwent major turnover to compete this season. Both Chicago clubs, the White Sox and Cubs, spent big bucks in hopes of bringing another World Series trophy back to the Windy City. The Boston Red Sox reloaded on offense and reshuffled the rotation in hopes of pulling yet another worst-to-first championship run this season.

There was plenty more, but at this point, all anyone cares about is that tonight there will be real, live, honest-to-goodness baseball on national television and it’ll be a game that actually means something.

It’s Opening Day and that means we – like all sports blogs – are contractually obligated to make some predictions for the upcoming season.

Without any further ado, here are our 2015 Cheap Seat Chronicles’ staff predictions:

  headshot-graves headshot-skunkel headshot-junkel
  Jeremiah Graves Steven Kunkel Justin Kunkel
American League East redsox01 orioles2 redsox01
American League Central indians2 royals02 indians2
American League West oakland001 angels2 Ms2
American League Wild Card Ms2 oakland001 orioles2
American League Wild Card ChiSox1 indians2 angels2
National League East nationals001 nationals001 nationals001
National League Central cards4 pirates02 cards4
National League West dodgers2 dodgers2 dodgers2
National League Wild Card pirates02 mets2 brewers2
National League Wild Card marlins3 marlins3 padres2
American League Champion ChiSox1 oakland001 indians2
National League Champion dodgers2 nationals001 nationals001
World Series Champion dodgers2 oakland001 nationals001

Quick Prediction Analysis:

In the American League, the biggest stand out here – in my mind – is the lack of agreement across the board. The American League seems wide-open this year with no clear-cut favorite. All three of us have a different team representing the AL in the World Series and the Cleveland Indians are the only club selected by all three of us to make the postseason fray in the AL.

Surprisingly absent from all three of us are the defending AL Central champion Detroit Tigers who come into 2015 having won four division titles in a row. Also missing was the very popular sleeper pick in many circles, the Toronto Blue Jays.

In the National League, we all appear to be basically on the same page with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers getting a clean sweep in the NL East and West, respectively. After that it’s a little more all over the place.

The surprise here is the lack of the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants on anyone’s radar, even as a wild card contender. It also appears that none of us are buying into the Chicago Cubs offseason activity as a sign that the club is ready to return to the postseason.

If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, we also took our turn at trying to project some individual awards for the upcoming season, take a peek.

American League Comeback Player Prince Fielder Matt Moore Prince Fielder
National League Comeback Player Jay Bruce Matt Harvey Joey Votto
American League Rookie of the Year Carlos Rodon Rusney Castillo Ruseny Castillo
National League Rookie of the Year Joc Pederson Kris Bryant Jorge Soler
American League Cy Young Felix Hernandez Carlos Carrasco David Price
National League Cy Young Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw
American League Most Valuable Player Mike Trout Mike Trout Mike Trout
National League Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen Carlos Gomez Bryce Harper

Quick Prediction Analysis:

So, there you have it. Mike Trout will continue to be the greatest hitter on the planet and Clayton Kershaw will continue to be the greatest pitcher on the planet.

Beyond that, however, it’s safe to say that the only other unanimous prediction is that we’ll spend all season arguing about pretty much everything else.

——————————–

Love these predictions? Hate these predictions?

Give us your feedback and share your predictions in the comments!

Posted in AL Central, AL East, AL West, American League, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Bryce Harper, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago White Sox, Clayton Kershaw, Cleveland Indians, Cy Young, Kansas City Royals, Kris Bryant, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Madison Bumgarner, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, MVP, National League, New York Mets, NL Central, NL East, NL West, Norichika Aoki, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, Predictions, Prince Fielder, Rookie of the Year, Rusney Castillo, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, World Series | Leave a comment

‘Kitchen Sink Stuff’: Peavy mixing up his pitching repertoire

Jake Peavy

Talkin' Giants Ball.

It is no secret. When a pitcher losses velocity and relies on a fastball and pitching catalogue of his former days, he is asking for a ticket home. More often than not, these starting pitchers are put into the bullpen. Then there are those rare moments when the reinvention process catches on. In Jake Peavy’s case, he has Hall of Fame quality catcher Gerald Dempsey ‘Buster’ Posey III or as we all like to call him, ‘Posey’ or ‘Buster’, behind the plate.

Gerald Dempsey ‘Buster’ Posey III

When Posey was up to bat against Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson on Sunday’s game, he found himself intrigued. What Posey discovered was Wilson’s nasty four-seam changeup, which looked like a four-seem fastball off the hand[1]. It is a well-known fact amongst San Francisco Giants fans that Posey is an artful catcher and a heck of a hitter too (#MVPosey 2012). Peavy confirmed this when interviewed a day ago with Giants beat writer Chris Haft: “If you have one of the best hitters in the league as your catcher, and he acts like he’s batting when you’re facing the opponent…. He’s a special talent.”

Peavy is no rook though. A three-time All Star with two rings to brag[2], Peavy has been around the block and has seen pitchers reinvent themselves. Like those pitchers who lose velocity, Peavy took to experimenting. Oftentimes, these undertakings can range from a new pitch rotation and even sometimes, a new pitch to boot. Mechanics can be reworked. A new superstition adopted. The efforts are exhaustive and many times done with a pitching coach or a trainer.

But this native of Mobile, Alabama is not your average Joe. Posey came up to his right-hander the day after facing Wilson and described what he had witnessed and simply asked, “Can you throw one of those?” to which Peavy replied “I don’t know.”

“Can you try?”1

Was all Posey had to ask to trigger Peavy’s impulse of trying the new four-seam changeup on Monday’s Royals-Giants exhibition game; does the match-up sound familiar Giants fans? The result? Striking out Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain to end the fifth, stranding a potential run at second base.[3]


Peavy Whiffs Cain SwingingVideo: Peavy Whiffs Cain Swinging

Peavy later told his catcher. “The changeup, I think we found something there.”1

 

Until next time,

@BeantownGiant

 

Footnotes

[1] http://blogs.mercurynews.com/giants/2015/03/23/giants-notes-genesis-jake-peavys-newest-pitch-grand-encore-crawford-etc/

[2] http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/peavyja01.shtml

[3]Giants-Royals Recap: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2015_03_23_kcamlb_sfnmlb_1&mode=box

 

Posted in Baseball, Buster Posey, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Jake Peavy, MLB, National League, NL West, San Francisco Giants | Leave a comment

Jersey Chasers

under-armour-nba-contract

Last week, Adidas announced it would not seek a renewal of their contract to produce NBA-licensed product.

For now, this means nothing. The current contract runs through the 2016-17 season, meaning jerseys and on-court tee shirts will continue being made by Adidas. Starting with the 2017-18 season, things could start to look a whole lot different (or, really the same for a bit. Change happens incrementally, even with new vendors). Before then, however, there could be a battle.

Nike and Under Armour are both ahead of Adidas in market share in the United States, and early speculation is on those two vying for the NBA contract. Nike already has the on-field contract for the NFL (excluding headwear) and the undershirt contract (a real thing) with MLB. Nike is winning the player shoe endorsement competition far and away over Under Armour, with stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant wearing their shoes. Under Armour has a small amount of players that wear their shoes, with Stephen Curry being notable, but the rest are generally afterthoughts.

Not that Under Armour hasn’t tried to work its way into the shoe market. Besides signing Stephen Curry, Under Armour made a big play to sign Kevin Durant when his Nike contract was set to expire. Nike outbid Under Armour and ended up retaining Durant.

Nike and Under Armour both make quality products. Nike, however, has the advantage of time and the balance sheet of a corporate titan. Under Armour is the underdog of the two, as much as a company with a market capitalization of almost $17 billion can be. Nike and their over $83 market cap can outbid Under Armour at each end to retain their dominance.

Nike’s largest advantages over Under Armour are in the footwear market and the international market. The NBA is growing in popularity worldwide and could potentially overtake the NFL in time, due to the simplicity of basketball as a game and the long-term health concerns of former NFL players.

If Under Armour is going to be stymied by Nike in the footwear market, it makes sense for Under Armour to go all-out and even overpay for the rights to make NBA uniforms. Getting their name and image out to a worldwide audience would do wonders to establish themselves not only as a player in the United States, but worldwide.

On the other hand, what would American professional sports look like with Nike creating jerseys for two of the big four (Majestic Athletic makes MLB uniforms and Reebok, now owned by Adidas makes NHL uniforms)?

A decision on the new on-court provider could be announced as soon as next month. Either way, things are going to get very interesting.

Posted in Cheap Seat Chronicles, NBA | Leave a comment

Beyond the Diamond

Image-11

Baseballism - The Official off the field Brand of Baseball

Baseball has a rich history of aiding and serving our communities. Living in Boston, I see it firsthand with The Jimmy Fund[1] which started out as a grassroots movement with lemonade stands, runs, walks, and softball games. Now, The Jimmy Fund plays a substantial part of the city’s culture. Recently, twenty Chicago Cubs and their skipper, Joe Maddon hosted “Respect Bald” where they had their hair shaved off to raise awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research. Major League Baseball Charities also supports organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (the official charity of MLB) and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Many are familiar with their partnerships with Stand Up To Cancer, Autism Speaks and the ALS foundations.[2] Whether through research or donations, these outreach programs make a huge impact in our communities.

When Travis Chock, Jonathan Jwayad, Kalin Boodman and Jonathan Loomis established the Baseballism brand in 2006, their goal was to create ‘premium, timeless, casual apparel’ that reflected the class, culture and history of baseball. Their success has allowed them to give back to the community by way of philanthropic projects ranging from free lessons for youth, equipment donations and college scholarships.

First Baseballism Camp

First Baseballism Camp

They didn’t start out in the retail business though. Baseballism began as a youth baseball camp in Eugene, Oregon, where the four friends (and former teammates from the University of Oregon) coached kids on the fundamentals and mechanics of baseball. Determined to expand the camp, they designed a variety of t-shirts with baseball-centric themes to spruce up their marketing campaign. The shirts were a huge hit and demand from not only the kids and parents, but the community fans, started to multiply quickly. It was then that the official Baseballism brand was born. As Jonathan ardently pointed out, “Baseballism was originally launched with a philosophy in mind based on the admirable values of the game.”

effortattitude

Baseballism’s philosophy stems from the lessons each of the founders learned from the game. Ducks alumni and two-time All American infielder, Travis put it best when he compared baseball to life. “In baseball you learn how to treat others with respect. You learn empathy, teamwork, and how to deal with adversity within yourself. You gain mental toughness while building stronger character” for future challenges. Making an error on the field or striking out is difficult to deal with. No one likes dealing with failure or the feeling of letting down a teammate. The same can be said for the realities of the day-to-day. To experience failure is one thing, but to learn and grow from these challenges is what life is all about.

Three of Baseballism's Founders

Three of Baseballism’s Founders

Baseballism started their first charitable program in 2013. “Sacrifice” allowed customers to donate a portion of the profits from their purchases to their local teams and leagues. Ideas like these are often created at their annual retreats where they talk about the direction, innovation, and philosophy of their brand as well as creative ways they can give back to the community.

One of their goals is to bring baseball and softball back to rural areas and underserved cities with the program “Level the Playing Field” which offers free private lessons for young aspiring athletes. Baseballism also held a “Win the Battle” campaign where they launched Breast Cancer awareness merchandise to support funding for research. The gear from this, and the “Fight Off Childhood Cancer” project still can be purchased. A percentage of proceeds from these t-shirts and caps go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the American Childhood Cancer Organization.

KylieWin2014_1024x1024TravisFightitOff_1024x1024

Baseballism’s latest initiative has been to provide scholarships to college bound students who have been positively influenced by the game.[3] In 2014, three scholarships were awarded based on a letter of recommendation from a coach or teacher, a Baseballism quote, and a short essay describing what they learned from baseball (or softball) and the impact it had on their life. One of the scholarship winners was Jacob Spady, who lost his brother to cancer. The boys bonded over baseball as young kids, and when Jacob’s brother passed away, their family formed The 4C Foundation in his honor to raise money for cancer research and awareness.[4]

Spady Family

The Spady Family

Baseballism continues to donate and offer clinics and scholarships. “We want to introduce something new every year” Jonathan said. “It feels good to give back to a community in different ways.”[5] The future of Baseballism is still being written, but it’s meant to resonate with fans of all ages who love baseball’s authenticity and culture, from kids in mini-tees with #coachdad in Baseballism caps, to women sporting the Kit Keller tank.

women baseballism

Trevor expanded on their future hopes for the brand: “We want people [who root for different teams] to see others sporting Baseballism and unite.”

When not working on the fashionable designs for Baseballism.com, you can catch the four friends on the field teaching baseball mechanics to kids at their camp in Eugene, Oregon.

I hope you join me in sporting this amazing brand and the causes they support at Baseballism.com

Until next time,

@BeantownGiant

Footnotes:

[1] http://www.jimmyfund.org

[2] http://web.mlbcommunity.org/programs/mlb_charities.jsp?content=info

[3] More details about Baseballism Scholarship 2015 can be found here: http://baseballism.com/pages/baseballism-scholarships

[4] More about the 4c Foundation can be found on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/4CFoundation/timeline?ref=page_internal

[5] quote from Jonathan Jwayad

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, MLB | 2 Comments

Wrestling Isn’t Wrestling

dbry001

I’ve been a pro wrestling fan my entire life and, unlike a lot of people, I’ve always been more than willing to admit as much.

As such, it probably won’t come as much of a shock to you that I’ve received more than my fair share of snark over the years from non-fans.

I’ve heard the following phrases probably eleven bajillionty times:

“You know it’s not real, right?”
“How can you watch that garbage, it’s all scripted.”
“That’s all so fake!”
“Dude, they’re not even really hitting each other!”
“They’d be dead if that was real.”

..and so on and so on.

The thing that non-fans rarely get is that it’s not about it being real. It’s about it feeling real.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. It is plenty real in the sense that you can’t fake falling off a ladder through a table. You can plan it in advance. You can do everything to mitigate risk, but you can’t fake it.

…but that’s not why – and this is an old wrestling fan trope if ever there was one – it’s still real to me, dammit.

It’s real to me because it is long-form storytelling with compelling characters and plot twists that you’d see in any other entertainment format and never question. It’s fiction that exists in a cartoon world of legalized violence where bullies get the comeuppance, underdogs triumph, and everyone goes home happy.

The problem is, before you get more than ten seconds into trying to explain why you actually like wrestling – and not, like, ironically, but legitimately – the detractors’ eyes have glazed over and they’ve stopped listening and labeled me a total rube who is entertained by low-brow, fake violence.

Luckily, filmmaker Max Landis has done something that – if any non-fan will actually watch all 25 minutes – will do more to legitimize wrestling as “entertainment” than any single fan has been able to do in the last fifty years of defending their love of pro wrestling.

The short film “Wrestling Isn’t Real” chronicles the career of one wrestler, Triple H, and explains over the span of 25 minutes why loving pro wrestling isn’t about thinking that what you’re watching is “real,” it’s about loving that it’s not real and still allowing yourself to get lost in it the way we do with all forms of entertainment.

If you’ve got 25 minutes, sit back and enjoy the ride.

(Note: mildly NSFW because of language and because you may be embarrassed about your co-workers knowing you’re into pro wrestling)


I laughed. I cried. I geeked out over all the cameos. I fell in love with Chloe Dykstra.

..but that’s just me, please let me know what did y’all think?

Especially you non-fans.

Posted in Cheap Seat Chronicles, Professional Wrestling, Ranting | 1 Comment

Top Ten Gifts for the Baseball Fan

baseballbowtie

In addition to my role as “occasional columnist” here at”Cheap Seat Chronicles,” I work in a retail store that sells sports merchandise; clothing, hats, knick-knacks and other, non-knick-knacky miscellaneous items.

With the regular season starting soon, new batches of baseball-related merchandise are on the way to stores. Here are ten of my favorites:

1) Retro baseballs Team baseballs with a throwback look. I’ve seen the catalog and this is not all of them (there’s an especially sweet San Diego Padres one), but this is a good sample of what’s available at the moment. I bought the Minnesota Twins one the first day it came in my store. I will probably own at least five of these, if not all.

Cost: $14.95

2) Uniframes These are produced by Photo File, which makes cool (you guessed it) photo-related items. You can get something as small as a 8×10 photo of Tsuyoshi Nishioka or as large and magnificent as a canvas print of your favorite player. The Uniframes are a classy version of a name and number (or just a number in some cases) to put on your wall.

Cost: $59.99

neohat3) White Front Neo Cap Flew off the shelves. Has the mesh in the back like the other “Neo” caps and a clean white front to show off your favorite team and a team-color bill to accentuate it.

Cost: $27.99

4) MiLB Shirts/Sweatshirts Minor League Baseball teams have some of the wackier names and logos in all of professional sports. Celebrate this by getting a tee or sweatshirt of some team you’ve never heard of and whose major-league affiliation will probably change in a few years anyway! (personally, I’m probably going to get a Clinton LumberKings shirt… and I hate wearing t-shirts)

Cost: varies

5) “Slouching Toward Fargo” Darryl Strawberry (yes, that Darryl Strawberry), Jack Morris (yes, that Jack Morris) and Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray) are just pieces of the story of the 1996 Saint Paul Saints and the writer who achieved a sense of inner peace spending a year at the ballpark. Involves the writer a little too much, but for $2.99 on the kindle, it’s definitely worth a read.

Cost: $14.17 paperback, $2.99 Kindle.

6) Video Board Proposal If I ever get around to finding a woman to propose marriage to, I’ll probably do it at the ballpark. If she doesn’t accept, I’ll still be able to enjoy the rest of the game. Cost varies by park (some don’t even allow it at all), but it’s the only way to really know if your partner is a keeper.

Cost: varies ($209 at Target Field)

7) An entire baseball stadium This is for those of you who aren’t reading this on a desk you purchased from IKEA. You could have an entire baseball stadium to yourself and your buddies. I’m not going to speak for Loves Park, Illinois’s zoning laws, but you could probably hook up a Nintendo 64 to the video board and play some killer Goldeneye (video board compatibility not guaranteed). Great for high school reunions, birthday parties and destroying disco records.

Cost: $1,500,000 (starting bid)

coolbase8) Replica Twins Home Jersey Majestic Athletic changed the replica uniforms this year to a lighter, more breathable fabric. The cost of a blank team jersey did go up to $89.95 from $79.95, but the lightness of the material will be more comfortable on a humid day at the ballpark. Get the new Minnesota Twins home jersey or any jersey and only sweat the extra $10 that’s no longer in your bank account. Also, props to the one reviewer on this piece.

Cost: $89.95

9) MLB Mini Helmet Standings Board For those of you who want to know what team leads each division, but not by how many games. While this product lacks a “Games Back” and “Wild Card Standings” column, you do get every single team’s helmet represented. Think of it as more of a decoration than a standings board.

Cost: $19.99

10) Seats from the Metrodome Hey, I’d never want to sit in those again, but it’d be cool to have them in your “man cave” or “sports lounge”. Plus, you can lie to your grandkids and say you were in those seats when Jack Morris (no, not this Jack Morris) thew the 10-inning Game 7 shutout.

Cost: $132 (current bid)

Cheap Seaters, what do you think? What gifts are great and what did I miss?

Posted in Cheap Seat Chronicles | Leave a comment