Bagg's Instant Replay: Giants 4, Rockies 2

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Bagg's Instant Replay: Giants 4, Rockies 2

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DENVER A season ago, 22-year-old Madison Bumgarner didnt get his first victory until May 19. Jamie Moyer, 49, was trying to become the oldest pitcher in history to win a major league game.

Bumgarner is the young. But not the restless.

The left-hander no-hit the Colorado Rockies into the sixth inning, the Giants pieced together enough against Moyer and Brian Wilson infused more torture -- plus a visit to the mound from trainer Dave Groeschner -- into his first save chance as the Giants claimed a 4-2 victory on a windy Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.

Bumgarner (1-1) ensured he wouldnt start the year on a personal winless streak while helping the Giants complete their road trip with a 2-4 record -- a mark they gladly accepted after getting swept in a season-opening series at Arizona.

The Giants scored at least four runs in all six games on this road trip. Thats something they did in just 39.5 percent of their games last season.

One difference, though: They were an MLB-best 55-9 last year when they scored four runs. On this trip, they only won twice -- both times when they received a quality start (Barry Zito, Bumgarner).

Starting pitching report: Less than 15 hours after the Rockies blasted out 22 hits, Bumgarner calmly held them without a safety until the sixth inning.

Thats when Tyler Colvin, who entered the previous inning on a double switch, hit a sinking line drive to left field. Melky Cabrera gave a game effort, but his diving attempt came up short and Colvin ended up with a triple.

Bumgarner allowed two more singles that inning and the Rockies brought the dangerous Troy Tulowitzki to the plate as the tying run. But Bumgarner got him to ground out to third base to end the threat.

In a bit of a surprise, Giants manager Bruce Bochy let Bumgarner go out for the eighth inning with 102 pitches. Bumgarner gave up a single and retired Colvin on a pop-up, but not before worked him for a 13-pitch at-bat. With 117 pitches, Bumgarners day was done.

Bumgarner held the Rockies to one run on four hits and two walks in 7 13 innings. He struck out two. All in all, it was a huge improvement from his four-inning, four-run, two-homer fireworks show at Arizona.

Bullpen report: Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez made their pitches to escape the eighth. After Romo walked Dexter Fowler, Lopez retired Carlos Gonzalez on a broken-bat grounder to strand two runners. Hes stranded five runners in his three outings.

Wilson was vintage Wilson while recording his first save since . He allowed a run on three hits and a bases-loaded walk, but got lucky when Todd Heltons line drive found Emmanuel Burrisss glove at second base.

Wison converted his first save since Sept. 21, but just barely. The 95 mph fastball he unleashed a night earlier only topped 90 mph a couple of times and Groeschner went to the mound after catcher Buster Posey signaled for him after a 1-0 pitch to Colvin. Wilson threw one more warmup pitch and continued, but looked out of sorts as he walked Colvin to force in a run.

He got Marco Scutaro to fly out to right field with the bases loaded to end it.

At the plate: Cabrera reached base three times and collected two RBI hits, capping a highly successful first road trip as a Giant. He hit safely in all six games, batting .385 with a home run and three doubles among his 10 hits.

Brandon Crawford continued to prove that he can hit left-handers; he had a double and single against Moyer and scored a run.

The Giants got their first run off Moyer in the third inning, when Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Brett Pill hit consecutive singles. Pills hit was a pop-up that stuck like a lob wedge in right-center field. Sandoval made a good one-out read, scoring easily from second base.

Struggling leadoff man Angel Pagan had his average drop to .095 before digging out a pitch for an RBI single in the sixth.

In the field: Second baseman Ryan Theriot didnt distinguish himself with the glove this spring, but he made a nice diving stop to his right and flipped to force Carlos Gonzalez in the fourth inning.

Bochy still made a defensive switch and took out Theriot for Emmanuel Burriss in the eighth inning. That turned out to be a brilliant move, as Burriss made a lunging catch of Todd Heltons line drive with the bases loaded in the ninth.

Fowler, the Rockies center fielder, demonstrated why Little League coaches always preach to use two hands. He nonchalantly dropped Theriots fly ball to start the sixth inning a two-base error that led to an unearned run.

Attendance: It was AARP day at Coors Field. The Rockies announced 25,860 paid. Many complained the music was too loud between innings.

Up next: The Giants will host their 13th home opener at AT&T Park, welcoming the Pittsburgh Pirates. Fridays game (1:35 PDT first pitch) pits Matt Cain against right-hander James McDonald.

Hall of Fame voters' biggest issue: Do they work for the job or the sport?

Hall of Fame voters' biggest issue: Do they work for the job or the sport?

With Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, and maybe even Trevor Hoffman about to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, we have re-entered the hellish debates about who should vote, and why they should vote, and whether needles are good or bad and whether both are trumped by cashing the checks those needles made possible and why being transparent about their votes is good and why being transparent about their votes is actually bad.
 
In other words, the Hall of Fame isn’t actually about players any more. It’s about the voters.
 
The Danes call this “rampant narcissism.”
 
We have danced around this central fact for years now, hiding behind debates about performance enhancing drugs and the profiting thereof, voting limits and their degree of strangling artificiality, and the new writers vs. the old veterans, and who should be vilified, justifiably or otherwise, by whom.
 
Yay hatred by proxy!
 
But the process arguments ultimately aren’t the central point here. The argument is really about something more basic.
 
Are voter/journalists supposed to help enhance the mythology of the sport, or dispassionately tell its story? Who are they working for when they vote?

To that end, every vote tells a story well beyond the names checked off or the blank ballots submitted. One man, Ryan Thibodaux (@NotMrTibbs, to you), has been invaluable in delving into the voting minutiae from the growing number of voters who release their opinions early. But, and he’ll admit this if you strike him often enough, that’s still a process discussion, and the core of the debate is found elsewhere.
 
Baseball writers are like football writers and basketball writers and hockey writers and curling writers and blah-blah-blah-de-blah-blah, in that they are prone to love the sports they cover beyond their journalistic mandate. That’s probably true of most journalists in most fields, but baseball has the Hall of Fame outlet to allow this internal debate to play itself out before our faces.
 
So the question becomes whether their votes are the representation of dispassionate analysis, or a defense of the mythos of the sport and the concept of the Hall itself. Boiled down to its essence, who are the voters defending here, the sanctity of the myth, or the ugliness of the reality?
 
The answer, as it usually is, is, “Depends on who you talk to.”
 
Hall of Fame debates usually lump all voters into one amorphous blob, a level of lazy and stupid thinking that should in a more perfect world be punishable by death. Okay, we kid. Life on a Louisiana prison farm, with parole after 25 years.
 
In fact, voters cover a fairly wide swath of opinion, and for whatever perceived shortcomings they might have, there are enough of them (about 450) to be a fairly accurate measure of the diaspora of baseball opinion across social, cultural, sporting and chronological lines.
 
But the argument about whether an individual voter feels more responsible to the job he or she is paid to do or to the game he or she covers as part of that job remains largely unconsidered, or at the very least masked by other considerations.
 
This manifests itself all the way down to the hot-pocket word “cheating.” Baseball is about cheating, and about honor. It’s about racism, and trying to overcome it. It’s about greed, and selflessness. It’s a sport, and it’s a business. It’s America, in all its glorious and hideous manifestations. To employ “cheating” as a word is in itself dishonest, and given that everyone got rich off the PED era and kept all the money they made makes PED use a de facto workplace condition approved by management and labor.
 
That may be unsavory, and it certainly is illegal without a proper doctor’s prescription, but because by their inaction the owners decided not to punish it (and in fact chose to reward it with contracts and extensions for users even after testing was instituted), it isn’t “cheating.”
 
And even if that argument doesn’t heat your rec room, it isn’t the role of the writer to punish it. It is the role of the writer to reveal it by journalism means, but that’s where the journalist’s role ends. The people who ran baseball took the journalism, acknowledged it, and did nothing until it ramped up detection and did little other than blame the union for a failing that both sides share equally.
 
So in the end, Raines’ votes or Barry Bonds’ votes or Curt Schilling’s votes or Edgar Martinez’ votes are fun to debate, but they aren’t the issue. It’s whether the voters think when they sit down and confront their ballot every year who exactly they’re working for – the job, or the sport.
 
And yes, I vote. Voted for the maximum 10. You’ll find out tomorrow the contents of my ballot. Then you can make that a process story, too.

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

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AP

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

"Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,"Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. "Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves."

"It is a game and celebration," he said, and noted that "there's a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here." Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball's color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as "all talk" and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as "my fellow 44."Obama is the nation's 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs: "Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.