EXTRA BAGGS: Giants, A's find common ground in turf war, etc.

October 24, 2012, 6:08 am
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ST. LOUIS The Giants and As are locked in a turf warover the South Bay. But if one of the clubs needs to borrow 3,000 pounds ofbagged dirt, thats a perfectly reasonable request.

Giants head groundskeeper Greg Elliott found himself with ascarcity of Turface, the highly absorbent, calcined clay that major leagueteams spread over the infield. He went through his entire supply after Mondaynights freakish rainstorm turned the field at AT&T Park into theOkefenokee during the Giants surreal, ninth-inning clinching celebration.

He and his crew dumped out four pallets of the stuff morethan 8,000 pounds.

We had enough on hand, I thought, said Elliott, as theGiants worked out on the gleaming field Tuesday afternoon. I had to call a fewof my sources this morning. I snuck over across the bay and borrowed some fromour friends over there. I dont know if I should be telling you that, though.

The As let the Giants borrow 60 more bags, weighing in at3,000 pounds. After working all day on the field, Elliott and his crew had itlooking as perfectly manicured as ever in time for the Detroit Tigers 4 p.m.workout Tuesday.

When a drainage system stopped working, they used specialrakes to disperse water, aerated the field with nail boards, and then there wasjust one more thing to do.

I watered it a little today, Elliott said.

Of course he did.

Elliott has seen his share of crazy weather hit ballparksover the years. A graduate of the sports and commercial turfgrass program atMichigan State, he worked as head groundskeeper for the Lake County Captains --the Cleveland Indians affiliate in the Low-A South Atlantic League.

He has seen a few tarp monsters, too. And althoughwe dont see many of those fierce Midwestern storms here in San Francisco, Elliottalways offers new members of his crew the same advice.

When youre dragging the tarp, dont tie it around yourwrist, Elliott said. Thats the worst thing you can do, because youll bealong for the ride. You just want to grab it so if you get in trouble, you canlet go.

Elliott said Monday nights sudden and strong rainfall wasntclose to the worst hes seen. But he felt a little bit bad that hed onlywarned plate umpire Gary Darling that there was a chance for a few showers.

By the time the rain arrived, there was little anyone coulddo, except maybe find a female giraffe to pair with Brandon Belt.

It was kind of scary, Elliott said. Weve talked with theumpires in the past about not waiting till the last minute (to suspend play).Then youve got the teams coming off the field and were the ones expected togo out there in the thunder and the lightning. There just needs to be a lot ofcommunication.

There will be many World Series comparisons made between Jim Leyland andBruce Bochy, who rank first and third respectively on the career victory list amongactive managers.

Heres one thing the two skippers have in common: They areamong the four men who managed Barry Bonds. (Dusty Baker and Felipe Alou are theothers, of course.)

Leyland and Bonds had some memorable, camera-caught blowupsover their years together with the Pirates. Leyland was asked how he managessuperstars, given his experience with Bonds and some of the big names likeMiguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder on his current roster.

Well, to be honest with you, Ive found over my career thatwhether a guy is making 60,000 or 6 million or 16 million, if he was a goodguy, he was a good guy, Leyland said. If he was a jerk, he was a jerk. Ivegot good guys. My superstars are good guys, and so are my other guys who arenot superstars. Theyre good guys.

Ive believed that all my life. The economics have nothingto do with it. The superstar status has nothing to do with it. If a guy is agood guy, hes a good guy. If hes a jerk, hes a jerk. Fortunately, I donthave any jerks.

Speaking of Barry Bonds, where has he been during thisplayoff run?

The National Anthem singer is someone named Philip Phillips.I joked on Twitter that Humbert Humbert and Sirhan Sirhan werent available.

Clever readers chimed in with better, more applicablereferences: Mister Mister and Duran Duran, among them.

Other readers informed me that Phillips hails from Leesburg,Ga. making him the second most famous native son from that little town.

I wonder if Buster Posey is an American Idol fan.

There are nine Venezuelan players on both rosters, which isa record for a World Series. Its a point of pride among Pablo Sandoval, MarcoScutaro, Omar Infante and others.

There will be a 10th Venezuelan player here forthe World Series, too. Former Giants shortstop, perennial Gold Glove winner andrecent retiree Omar Vizquel told the San Jose Mercury News that he is hopping aflight to San Francisco to be a spectator for a major league game for the firsttime. He wasnt sure how hed get tickets, and didnt want to bother theplayers.

But when the Giants found out Vizquel was coming, they pledged to takecare of him. And if hes announced during the game, expect the ovation of hislife. They still adore him here, even though he never played for a winningGiants team.

Tigers Game 2 starter Doug Fister is from Merced and grew upa huge fan of the Will Clark-era Giants, so just stepping on the mound atAT&T Park will be a thrill in itself, World Series aside.

Fister told me he threw three simulated innings during aworkout day against prospects from instructional league. Some of his teammatesstood in against him, too.Pitchers also went through fielding drills.

The Tigers definitely were more proactive about stayingsharp during their five-day layoff. They learned from 2006, when they had asix-day wait to face the St. Louis Cardinals and got steamrolled in five games.Youll recall the Tigers pitchers fielded like their shoelaces were tiedtogether the entire time.

So you'd better believe the spring training PFPs were a requirement this timearound.

Fielder said he didnt mind the rest, seeing it as anadvantage after a long season and two playoff rounds. Eight months ofbaseball? I dont think five days will make a difference.

Fielder and Cabrera have a special handshake that fans inDetroit are trying to master, but its got a lot of moving parts andcomplicated sequences.

It doesnt have a name, Fielder said. But its definitelyawkward when I see a grown man trying to do it on the street. Its borderlineweird.

Heres how you know Leyland gets along with his stars: They worryabout his chain-smoking.

I have gotten him some of those electronic cigarettes,Fielder said. Oh, he crushes them.

What did Giants third base coach Tim Flannery think aboutsending Buster Posey to score from first base on a broken-bat hit in Game 7?Could he have ever envisioned that in spring training, when everyone wastreating Poseys ankle like a wineglass?

It makes me think theres something angelic about the wholething, Flannery said, smiling.

The Cardinals Lance Berkman spent most of the year on thedisabled list, which makes sense. Its hard to play the game when your foot islodged in your mouth.

Berkman didnt mind holding court all throughout theplayoffs and offering his opinions on various subjects, even in the momentsafter the Cardinals were eliminated. He questioned whether Hunter Pencestriple-hit was an illegal act, even though baseballs official rules make itclear that a broken bat can make contact with a ball more than once in fairterritory provided it wasnt done intentionally.
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The Giants were more amused at Berkmans comments thananything.

Its pretty easy to speculate when youre not in the game,Ryan Theriot said.

The Giants Friday Night Lights pregame dugout huddleshave gotten dangerous at times.

Its constantly evolving, Theriot said. Theres differentthings thrown around every time. Someone is firing gum or seeds. I got hit inthe head with a coffee creamer the other day. Hey, better than to get smoked byone of those Gatorade bottles.

Turns out when Hunter Pence gave the first of these fierysermons prior to Game 3 in Cincinnati, there was a moment of silence.

You weren't really sure how everyone would react, left-hander Javier Lopez said.

Marco Scutaro picked it up from there, and got the rest ofthe room in a lather.

I imagined a good, John Hughes-style slow clap from Scutaro.But Lopez said thats not how it went down.

No, I dont remember a slow clap, Lopez said, smiling.

Pence said Scutaro has done a fair amount of motivational speaking, too, and insisted that Im getting way, way too much credit forsomething everybody said. Everybody had to buy in.

Pence described his speeches as clichs that I try to twista little bit.

Hey, sounds like sportswriting!

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