EXTRA BAGGS: Posey collects seed money, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Posey collects seed money, etc.


ST. LOUIS Buster Poseys free video game is available foryour iPhone, and heres a quick review:

"Buster Bash" is mildly addicting. The first level, set in Bustersboyhood backyard in Leesburg, Ga., is easy. After that, you need to useaccumulated sunflower seeds to equip yourself with better bats, gloves, etc.to compete at higher levels.

Or you need to be better at video games than I am,apparently

(Seeds can be compiled through playing the game, or bysigning up for a credit card, or by watching commercials, or, if its moreconvenient for you, the game developer is also kind enough to accept cold, hardcash. America! What a country.)

Aubrey Huff and Brandon Crawford were playing the game nonstop inthe clubhouse Tuesday, taking virtual batting practice before the real-worldkind. Judging from the displeased faces they made at their iPads, Im pretty sure they didbetter taking actual swings.

Posey took his share of grief from teammates and claimed that no, he hadno cheat codes to give anyone.

Against real major league pitching, of course, theres no such thing asa secret up-down-up-down-left-right-left-right sequence.

It only seems likePosey has access to the codes.

His three-run home run in the first inning powered theGiants to a much-needed 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night.It was his fifth home run in six games. It also was his 18th of theseason, matching his career high.

He leads the major leagues with 30 RBIs since the All-Starbreak, and hes hitting .432 over an 11-game hitting streak. Those are video game numbers, all right.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen probably would win the NL MVPaward if the ballots had to be cast right now. But Poseys name is bubbling up,much as it did in discussion leading up to the Rookie of the Year award in 2010.

Poseys least favorite topic is himself. Heremained consistent when asked his thoughts about the MVP chatter.

Well, thats humbling to have your name even mentioned insomething like that, he said. Its pretty cool, I guess.

Thats Buster for you. I wonder if wed get a longer comment for 1,000 sunflower seeds.

And I jest, of course.

Posey and Barry Zito had started as a battery just twicethis season entering Tuesday, and the Giants had lost both times. But they madea nice team against a tough Cardinals lineup loaded with right-handed problemsto solve.

Zito always seems to deliver an excellent start when you leastexpect it. He had a 11.35 ERA in three career outings at Busch Stadium and saidhe knew he had a couple rough ones here in St. Louis."

"But it doesnt reallystand out in my mind," he continued. "You just come back to the fundamentals: Being aggressive,throwing strikes. When you do that, you put pressure on them. Theyll swing atpitches out of the zone. Theyll just react differently.

It was the 15th time in 384 career starts that Zito went at least 6 23 innings and didn't walk a batter. That was impressive, since the same Cardinals lineup spoiled dozens of good pitches from Matt Cain a night earlier.

Of course, it helps when Posey gives you a 3-0 lead with one swingbefore you take the mound.

Well, Ive had him for awhile, Bochy said of Zito. Youcan see when hes on. He used all his pitches at any time. He gave up a couplehome runs to a good hitter (Allen Craig) and kept his poise.

Yes, Bochy and Zito have been together awhile. Theirfirst season as Giants came at the same time, in 2007. Who could forget that media guide cover ofthe two of them, hands awkwardly grabbing their belts, standing back to back?(The most awkward thing about that cover: Barry Bonds, who would break the all-time home runrecord that season, was nowhere to be found on it.)

Its at turns easy and difficult to remember that Zito hasbeen a Giant for six seasons now. Hes surpassed expectations while going 9-8with a 4.19 ERA. So he was asked if he is having his most fun in a Giantsuniform.

I always try to have fun playing the game, Zito said. Sometimesits more fun than others. But I love the chemistry in this clubhouse. I wantto stay healthy, get out there every five and help this team win.

Ill let you know at the end of the season how happy I am.

I believe the words playoff roster will dictate Zitosmood at the end of the season, should the Giants make it.

Its been mentioned in this space before and it bearsmentioning again: Hunter Pence is going to be extremely important for theGiants. Hell need to protect Posey in the lineup and ensure that hes notpitched around.

If its already happening, Posey hasnt taken note of it.

Are they? I dont know. They havent really yet, he said. Idont feel like it.

Even if they do, Posey said he would try not to let it alterhis game plan.

I try to keep the same approach -- just look for a ball youcan hit hard, he said.

If you missed this from my Twitter post earlier today,right-hander Heath Hembree came out of two live BP sessions without anyproblems and the Giants activated him on Tuesday. But they assigned him toSingle-A San Jose, not Triple-A Fresno.

Hembree tossed a scoreless inning at Stockton, striking outone.

Hell remain in San Jose just long enough to get hisbearings before the Giants move him back up the chain, club vice president BobbyEvans told me. Theres no such thing as a rehab assignment in the minorleagues.

Hembree had been shut down for a month because of a flexorstrain in his right elbow.

Xavier Nady, who homered Monday, was 0 for 1 with three walks, an RBI and a run scored for Triple-A Fresno Tuesday night.

Left-hander Jose Mijares arrived during the game and wasissued No.50. With my binoculars, I could spot him in the Giants bullpen.

Actually, I could see him plenty well without the specs. Hefills out a uniform.

The Cardinals have a pitcher named Barret Browning, which Ilove. How much? Let me count the ways.

Hed better keep throwing strikes. I heard the Cardinalshave a young arm named Al Tennyson charging through the minor leagues.

Time for me to spend three hours obsessively trying to hitthe ball over the goshdarn barn in Buster Bash. One reader informs me that in later rounds, you get a shot to hit announcer Dave Flemming's car.

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

What they're saying: 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame class

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez Wednesday. Here's what they and their peers are saying.


Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

Still on outside, Bonds, Clemens have become invaluable to Hall

The Baseball Hall of Fame becomes yesterday’s news Friday, as it always does. Three months of buildup, one day to announce the names, one day to castigate the voters for their willfully negligent slights, and then nine months of hibernation.

So much for the concept of “joining the immortals.”

But at least Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez never have to go through this annual pageant of nonsense again.

Barry Bonds does, though, and so does Roger Clemens, and to a lesser extent, so does Curt Schilling. They are the new litmus strips for the Hall, and they will more than replace Raines (voter ignorance division) and Bagwell (presumption of guilt with evidence division) for self-involved debate.

And in that adjusted role from doomed outsiders to serious candidates, Bonds and Clemens – and to a lesser extent again, Schilling – have become invaluable to the Hall, and their eventual election and induction will reduce the Hall’s ability to inflame passions outside the seamhead community.

On a day when Bagwell and Raines finally cleared the 75 percent threshold and Bonds and Clemens moved from 45 percent to 53.8 and 54.1 percent, respectively, the Hall of Fame Debating And Chowder Society saw the end times for its power as a multi-month debate-churner.

The blatherers are dead, long live the blatherers.

An entire mini-industry of Hall watchers has been spawned, in part by the now-feted Ryan Thibodaux and his exit polling but also by the debates about what the Hall should be and who should get to decide it. It has made days like Wednesday event viewing when it hadn’t been for years. For that, the Hall owes Bonds and Clemens a debt that the powers inside Major League Baseball wishes it didn’t have to pay. But the day they are inducted is the day that PEDs die as a debating point. The answer will have been provided, and there will be no more need for discussion.

Worse yet, the BBWAA’S new voter transparency rules may unfortunately impact our pal Thibodaux, whose seminal work in this understudied area of social science undermined ballot secrecy. In short, if everyone has to fess up, the desperate need to know early returns may dry up.

Oh, there will always be the day of post mortem-ization, as those who didn’t clear the threshold are subject to a few rounds of the popular parlor game, “Who Got Snubbed, And The Tedious And Half-Informed Reasons Why.”

For instance, the big debating point from today’s results will not be about Raines and Guerrero getting in, but what happened to the Bonds and Clemens votes. People have already postulated that a lot of the jump in their respective votes can be directly linked to Bud Selig’s election from the Veterans Committee. Voters who had previously ridden the Hall-as-temple argument suddenly lost their raison d’etre and realized that the PED problem was an industry matter rather than a greedy players’ matter.

In short, they saw Selig getting in as tacit approval that the PED issue was no longer a moral one in baseball but a cynical one, a way to blame labor for management’s culpability. That is an irony whose existence Selig will almost surely deny, but it’s there anyway, and it represents one more non-glacial change in a system that has been nearly immovable for most of its existence.

The next change, of course, may be removing the vote from the BBWAA and turning it over to a more malleable panel of “experts” who may not skew as young and values-neutral as the BBWAA of the future seems to be heading. That course may be hastened if/when Bonds and Clemens are elected, because halls of fame in their more traditional role have been more about rewarding friends and punishing enemies, and a large and shifting electorate makes that harder to accomplish.

The argument against such a course, though, is that the current system of three months of fevered public debate about the same old stuff works for the Hall’s sense of its importance. I mean, MLB Network and its fetish for shrill argument only has so much reach.

By Friday, though, all of this will revert to its typically inert state. Bonds, Clemens (ATALE Schilling), PEDs, morality, practicality, secrecy, old voter/young voter – all of it will fade back into insignificance.

And in a year or two or maybe three, Bonds and Clemens will wipe it all out by being included in the one club that we once knew would never tolerate their presence, and the Hall Of Fame’s Golden Age Of Shrieking Argument will end.

In a weird and largely unpleasant way, it will be missed.