Detroit columnist bashes AT&T Park, Giants fans

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Detroit columnist bashes AT&T Park, Giants fans

Rael Enteen
CSNBayArea.com staff writer

SAN FRANCISCO – Welcome to San Francisco, where we like our clam chowder with a side of baseball. At least that’s what one out-of-town writer believes.

Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel wrote a Pulitzer-quality piece on the eve of Game 1 of the World Series that blasts Giants fans and their cathedral of baseball, AT&T Park, with some cheap shots that would make Scott Cousins and Matt Holliday proud.

After starting off with some basic compliments about the Giants’ “talented team” and “amazing, beautiful stadium,” Seidel’s piece takes a turn towards the intolerable:

“The Giants have a Build-A-Bear Workshop in the stands behind leftfield at AT&T Park. Seriously. How the heck can you lose to a team where the fans can go to a game and stuff a teddy bear and then buy a cute little outfit? Can you imagine that in Detroit? Get real. We’d run them out of town, just because it sounds so wimpy.”

Really? That’s your best bullet to lead with? Teddy bears? If the “bleacher bums” were walking around with custom Lou Seal cheerleader dolls, that would be one thing. But instead, Seidel is targeting a very small and helpless demographic: Toddlers. How dare parents with a little more disposable income treat their young children to a stuffed toy that may later serve a nostalgic purpose, reminding them of their day at the ballpark?

Seidel would’ve been better off criticizing the Giants for growing an avocado tree behind the centerfield wall, though he may just be learning about the wonderful fruit from those endless Subway and Taco Bell commercials. Michigan isn’t known for its green gold like California is.

After Seidel so wittily attacked fans of teddy bears, he moves on to a much more important subject. You see, Seidel isn’t a fan of the Coke bottle slides, calling them a “McDonald’s play station on steroids.”

Doesn’t Comerica Park in Detroit have it’s own playground attraction? His explanation:

“Yeah, the Tigers have a carousel. But carousels are cool.”

Point taken. A thousand apologies, Mr. Seidel. Maybe Larry Baer will work on a proposal to turn the Coke bottle into a roller coaster that might up the ‘cool’ factor at AT&T Park.

The next part of Mr. Seidel’s holier-than-thou opus focuses on food.

“AT&T Park isn’t a baseball stadium. It’s an exotic food court that happens to have a baseball field.”

Maybe “Tyler Florence’s Grab of the Game” segment on the scoreboard deserves some constructive criticism. And the prices around the ballpark could certainly be adjusted to better serve the 99%. But why in the world would you criticize the high quality of a ballpark’s cuisine?

Seidel’s expert observational skills lead him to describe Giants fans as “eating garlic fries, crab sandwiches on grilled sourdough bread, clam chowder, fried calamari, sweet potato fries with cinnamon and chipotle sprinkle, and clove garlic chicken sandwiches.”

Then there’s this: “Few San Francisco fans would ever lower themselves to eating a beer and a brat.”

It’s so lazy to rely on a “Detroit is blue collar and San Francisco is white collar” angle. As a journalist, Seidel should spend more time trying to study a story idea before jumping to conclusions based on what must be a small sample size. Maybe Seidel was invited to a corporate suite and assumed that the fans in view reserved all enjoy the same luxuries.

Siedel saves his best work for last. After going through the dimensions of the AT&T Park outfield, he writes “it looks like a little kid designed the outfield wall by scribbling in the sand.”

The brick wall that separates the field of play from McCovey Cove is one of the most unique aspects of AT&T Park. It may create a challenge for outfielders, but it also gives the Giants a true home-field advantage. Hunter Pence hasn’t quite mastered the bounces off the bricks like Nate Schierholtz did before him, but there’s a learning curve with that area of the field. Of course, Seidel didn’t take the time to look at defensive metrics and make a worthwhile point. Instead, we get observations like “the outfield wall is strange and quirky.”

The grand conclusion of Seidel’s piece:

“It is against the laws of nature – it is against the laws of baseball – to go a baseball game and eat clam chowder and drink Irish coffee while holding a little teddy bear.”

Since Seidel declared himself judge, jury and executioner of both the laws of nature and baseball, maybe he’ll allow me to assume the same role when it comes to the laws of journalism. If you’re one of the lucky few who gets paid to attend some of the most spectacular sporting events in the world, the least you can do is reward your readers with some thoughtful and well-articulated prose.

Maybe next time, Mr. Seidel. 

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

Williamson stuns Davis in ninth, but earlier mistakes haunt Giants

CHICAGO — Had a half-dozen other things gone differently Wednesday night, the Giants might have spent the hour after the game shrugging off a blowout loss or celebrating one of the best at-bats of the year. 

Three innings after the game was nearly lost for good, Mac Williamson saw 12 pitches from Wade Davis, who entered with a perfect ERA in 19 appearances, fouling eight of them off before slamming a two-run homer to right. The play came with some comedic value, as Williamson nearly passed Eduardo Nuñez on the bases. It also came with some historic value, as it snapped a streak of 19 consecutive solo shots that was two shy of the MLB record. 

The homer was not, however, the talking point after the game. A few minutes after Williamson went deep, Joe Panik was tossing his bat into the grass in frustration over a called third strike that ended the game and clinched a 5-4 win for the Cubs. Ten minutes after that, Bruce Bochy watched the highlight and tossed his phone onto his desk. 

“It’s a shame to end on that call, it really is,” Bochy said. “We had him on fumes and that’s not a strike. But they got the call and that’s it.”

The Giants were left with their third loss in four games, a run that has halted their momentum. They again are 11 games back in the National League West, with so many nights like this one: A comeback seemed real, but the mistakes were too much to overcome. 

Williamson, in talking about his homer, pivoted and pointed to a blunder of his own. In a tied game in the fifth, Miguel Montero hit a single to right with Addison Russell on first. The speedy shortstop watched Williamson as the ball rolled into the outfield, and when Williamson didn’t charge as hard as he otherwise might, Russell took off for third. The throw was perfect, but late. Russell scored on a fly ball. 

“The home run is really cool but it would have been a lot cooler if I hadn’t have made the mistake earlier in the game and given them the extra run,” Williamson said, explaining that he has tried to focus on being smooth to the ball and not rushing on fast outfields. In the past, rushing has led to bobbles and extra bases. 

Another costly sequence came in the eighth. After the Giants left the bases loaded in the top of the inning, Steven Okert gave up a triple to Jason Heyward, who scored on a sacrifice fly. Okert, so good when he was first called up, has been less effective of late. 

“We’ve got to get our lefties going,” Bochy said. “We gave them a run there and that put it at three and that’s just enough to cover it for them.”

Truth be told, the Giants were probably lucky to even have worries at that point. The wind blew a three-run Heyward homer inches foul in the sixth, and while the Giants grumbled about the final call of the game, an earlier call on Heyward for running inside the base path took a Cubs run off the board and killed a rally. It was correct by the letter of the law, but one you rarely see. The Giants escaped, but they wouldn’t come all the way back, despite Williamson’s late push. 

The young outfielder has been looking to make an impact since coming back up on the last homestand. He knew how tough Davis has been. 

“He’s been the best in the game this year and the numbers speak for themselves,” Williamson said. “He has phenomenal stuff. You get in the box and figure you’ve got nothing to lose, battle as tough as you can.”

Williamson fouled off good strikes and tantalizing balls. When he lofted a 2-2 pitch toward right, he took off out of the box. The ball carried just over the wall, and Williamson didn’t look up until he rounded third. That’s when Phil Nevin started yelling at him to slow down. Nuñez, who had a tight hamstring, turned and told Williamson to slow down.

“I kinda blacked out for a second there,” Williamson said. 

“I was like, ‘Bro, it’s a homer — just jog,’” Nunez said.

The moment temporarily sent a rush through the dugout. Minutes later, the Giants were left livid over a game that probably shouldn’t have been so close, but nonetheless was right there for them to steal. 

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

Instant Analysis: Giants' rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Cubs

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — The Giants will need a win on getaway day to clinch their first winning road trip.

Wednesday's comeback attempt fell just short, as the Giants scored two in the ninth but lost to the Cubs 5-4. Since taking the first two games in St. Louis, they have dropped three of four, falling 11 games back of the Rockies in the division.

Here are five things to know from the coldest Giants game of the year … 

— Mac Williamson fouled off eight pitches before going the opposite way against Wade Davis, who entered with a 0.00 ERA in 19 appearances. The two-run homer ended a run of 19 consecutive solo shots by the Giants, two short of their own MLB record. It was the first homer off Davis in two years. 

— The sixth inning was one of the stranger escapes we’ve seen from a pitcher this season. With two on and one out, Jason Heyward blasted a Matt Moore pitch right down the line and it looked like it would give the Cubs a 6-2 lead. The wind blew the ball a couple of feet foul. Heyward then topped one down the line and Moore’s throw bounced away from first, allowing a run to score. But the umpires called — correctly — Heyward out for running inside the line. It’s a call you rarely see. Moore then struck out Addison Russell to keep what could have easily been a 6-2 or 4-2 game at 3-2. 

— Before the first game of this series, a Giant asked in the dugout, “I wonder what some of the Cubs’ numbers would look like at our place?” Anthony Rizzo is a .159 hitter with no homers in 18 career games at AT&T Park, but he had no issues on a night when conditions were worse than they are most nights in San Francisco. Rizzo homered off Moore in his first two at-bats. 

— Rizzo will occasionally put a bunt down to beat the shift — he had an accidental bunt in his third at-bat — which the Giants have long wanted Brandon Belt to do. Belt pushed one away from the shift in the sixth, and even though it was too close to pitcher Kyle Hendricks, the throw was off and Belt reached second. One of those a week would open up a few more holes. 

— This lineup has made a habit of making mediocre and downright bad pitchers look good, and the actual good ones are taking advantage, too. A night after Jon Lester recorded his first complete game of the year, Hendricks threw seven innings for the first time.