BY BOB BEHLER
This was a really good weekend. Get together with high school friends, enjoy an ice cold beer and a hot dog, and watch the Giants and Rockies from the third row in San Francisco.
Working in Boise, it is much harder to get to major-league games than when I lived on the East Coast. There I could get to around 20 games a season at multiple parks. The Giants came from behind in both games, scoring nine runs both days with key hits and big plays in the field to secure the wins.
When you watch more than one game in the series, you get a better feel for the team’s roster, as you will see different arms out of the bullpen, a different starting lineup, and different moves off the bench in each game. Being there live also gives you the chance to look at what you want to see.
This is the first year of the limited mound visits. In the two games, none of the starters got through the sixth, so the bullpen was used heavily. The game seemed to move along better, as the conferences were limited to something really important and not every other batter. In a tight game with runners on base, the pitching changes heightened the drama, especially in the seventh inning when the Rockies went to a lefty in a 5-5 tie to face Giants lefty Brandon Belt, who had 10 home runs this year, all against righties. Belt deposited the ball in the bleachers in right-center and basically won the game for the Giants.
Another aspect of the game that is becoming a lot more common is the use of the shift. It both benefited the defense and challenged it at the same time. Being there live, you can see how teams move their players around, as you can see the whole field at all times.
On many occasions, especially with no one on base, players would be in the perfect position to take away a hit. However, when runners were on, the defense had trouble getting players to the bags to cover and figuring out where to throw the ball. Generally, I am a traditionalist, but the more I watch all the shifts, I think I would be in favor of a rule where a team has to have two infielders on either side of second. I think it would allow more hits and stop the onslaught of just going for the home run as a way to beat the shift.
I have been to hundreds of games in my lifetime. One of the things I really like about baseball is that you can go and see something you haven’t before. On Saturday, the Rockies were warming up a reliever down the right field line. The bullpen coach had brought a bag of balls down the line and set it next to the mound. The Giants’ Gregor Blanco hit a fair ball down the right field line that entered into the bullpen. Rockies rightfielder Carlos Gonzalez came over to make the play, but the ball hit the bag and died right there. Gonzalez had to come around the bag to get the ball, allowing Blanco to make third. We wondered if it had been the Giants bullpen, and their coach had left the bag in the bullpen, would the umpires have made Blanco go back to second. Basically, not letting the Giants bag help a Giants runner.
Lastly, sitting that close, you really get an appreciation for hitters and how little time they have to react to 95 mph fastballs. This was a great weekend. Friends, food, great seats and two Giants wins. Priceless!
Bob Behler, the Voice of the Broncos, co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk with Bob & Chris weekdays from 1-3 p.m. on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket. He can be found @BSUBob (Twitter).