Giants Insider notebook: Inspirational skipper


Giants Insider notebook: Inspirational skipper

Feb. 19, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One of the annual rites of spring training is the manager's speech to his team before the first full-squad workout.Some skippers keep it short, some go long, some go mostly off-the-cuff, some have agonized over every aspect of the address for quite some time before delivering it.The messages may vary, but every one of big-league ball's 30 managers, in giving this first speech, essentially gets to cut the ribbon on his team's grand opening.Only one of them gets to deliver his speech to the reigning World Series champions, though, and this year's honor was that of Bruce Bochy, who greeted the first full gathering of the 2011 Giants on Friday -- with the 2010 Giants very much on his mind."It was special," Bochy said. "When I stood up and started talking to them, I looked around and thought about last year and how proud of these guys and what all it took for them to accomplish what we did. It was a pretty neat feeling to stand up there and look at the world champions."Bochy's message?"We're coming off a great year," Bochy said. "I hope these guys have had time to savor what they've done, because it really is unbelievable. But it's time to get to work. We won't let go of those memories; you never let go of them. But at the same time, you have to concentrate on what's ahead of you, and we have some work to do."I think these guys have earned the attention they're getting, but with that said, success is never final. You have to earn it over and over again. We know that. It's a new year, it's a new season, it's a new race."So it's time for us to get back to work."WHERE'S WILSON?

Closer Brian Wilson didn't participate in the workout, extending to four days his absence from on-field festivities, but Bochy continued to characterize Wilson's sore back as a minor issue that calls for and receives more caution than concern.
NEWS: After testing back, Giants shut down Wilson again
Wilson on Friday was extremely confident that he'd be taking part in Saturday's workout, but Bochy has let it be known that the Giants know Wilson too well to let him gung-ho his way back onto the field. Also on the medical front, backup catcher Eli Whiteside has been told to cool his jets for another couple of days to allow the swelling to subside in his tweaked right elbow. An MRI exam and X-rays showed nothing more than a build-up of fluid.PANDA AT THE PLATE

The workout was hastily rearranged as a concession to the forecast of heavy rain expected to hammer Scottsdale no later than early afternoon, so the live batting practice -- Giants hitters vs. Giants pitchers -- opened the show instead of closing it, and Pablo Sandoval played a starring role.Facing minor-league righty Felix Romero, Sandoval blasted a home run into the picnic area high above the right-field wall on his very first swing. He also homered to left-center, prompting more praise from Bochy, who has been extolling the virtues of Sandoval's dedication to improved fitness since first seeing the slimmed-down Panda in person."First swing, it looked like he wanted to make a statement," Bochy said. "He can change our offense if he's back to where he was a couple years ago."ME FIRST, ME FIRST!

Another highlight from batting practice was the matchup of the day, pitting Tim Lincecum against a group that included Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa.Burrell volunteered to play the leadoff man, and he lined Lincecum's very first offering into right field for what would have been a clean single in any game. It had to feel pretty good to Burrell, who'd surely like to quickly prove that whatever ailed him during the World Series last year has been cured, but Huff couldn't resist trying to take some wind out of his close friend's sails, saying after the workout that Burrell wanted to bat first because he figured the first pitch from the Freak would be his slowest of the day.Whatever the case, Burrell's line drive was the last hard contact that Lincecum would allow while methodically buzzing through his workout with game-ready nastiness.The rain did eventually come, by the way, and it was pretty nasty, too, bringing high-speed winds with it. Getting the tarp on the infield could have devolved into a massive blue kite flying through Old Town had the crew not worked so doggedly.

Anonymous poll: Is Sharks defenseman Burns still Norris frontrunner?

Anonymous poll: Is Sharks defenseman Burns still Norris frontrunner?

Throughout much of his dominant 2016-17 season, the words “Norris Trophy lock” have often preceded Brent Burns’ name. 

The 32-year-old has led all NHL blueliners in scoring for the past three months, building upon a strong second half last season in which he helped lead the Sharks to their first ever Stanley Cup Final, and solidifying himself as one of the best defensemen in the game.

In 76 games, Burns has 28 goals – 11 more than any other defenseman – and 45 assists for 73 points and a plus-17 rating. At one point on Feb. 19, he had 14 more points than Erik Karlsson, who was second among NHL defensemen.

But Burns went cold earlier this month. During one stretch, he went nine out of 10 games without finding the scoresheet, and finally snapped a 16-game goal drought with an overtime winner on Tuesday against the Rangers.

Meanwhile, Karlsson has been heating up. A two-time Norris Trophy winner in 2012 and 2015, the Senators defenseman has 13 points in his last 14 games. As of Wednesday morning, Karlsson was just five points behind Burns in scoring, with 15 goals and 53 assists for 68 points and a plus-seven rating.

There’s talk Karlsson could take home a third Norris, snatching it out of Burns’ grasp.

But, probably not.

In an anonymous poll among 21 PHWA members, most of whom get a vote for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, Burns’ designation as the frontrunner seems fairly safe with just six games to go in the regular season.

Of the writers polled, including a broad swath from across North America, 14 told CSN they would likely vote for Burns as the league’s best defensemen if the season ended Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. Three were leaning towards Burns, while only four said they would give it to Karlsson.

One writer polled had Burns first, Tampa Bay’s Viktor Hedman second, and Karlsson third.

Of course, 21 votes is just a small sample size of the PHWA membership. Last season, 183 writers took part in voting for the Norris, according to the final tally. Burns finished third in voting, well behind winner Drew Doughty, while Karlsson was second.

Still, as long as Burns stays in front of Karlsson in the scoring race, it appears he remains in line to become the first Sharks defenseman ever to earn a Norris Trophy.

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."