Saturday, June 30, 2012

Over and Out

Well, I kinda figured the Giants would come back to Earth Friday, but I didn't think Matt Cain's first pitch would be hit outta the park! So much for breaking the consecutive scoreless innings record. The record stands tied at 36 scoreless looked like the tables would be turned on the SF Giants, and they would get shutout, but Pablo Sandoval knocked a solo home run out of the park in the 9th inning, sparing the team countless mentions on the Sports Wraps on local stations from coast to coast. So 5-1 trumps 5-0...

I think it was a natural letdown after four emotional shutouts, and more high stress games going back to last week's "Bay Bridge Series" versus the Oakland As. A Friday night crowd at AT&T Park couldn't make much noise...I said it was too quiet in there...our Facebook Giants Group was quiet...even Twitter was on the downlow. I think the Giants and their fans were just outta gas. Strange, no energy, almost no runs, no Melkmen...let's call it an off night...

There's plenty of ball left to play, the All Star Break is the halfway mark of the regular season, and the Giants were the hottest team in June. Over fifty years of SF Giants baseball has brought the "June Swoon" into baseball's lexicon, thanks to the Giants' tendency to tank in June...not this season!

I'm eying my alarm clock as I type...there's around four hours until the Tour de France begins. LIVE TV starts at 5AM PDT. The Prologue in Liège, Belgium is a short taste of what's to come over the next three weeks in France...and I do mean short! The prologue is a 6.4 km/4 mi Individual Time Trial. One rider, against the clock, the "Race Of Truth" as they say...

I've got my fantasy team together, but this year's Tour is pretty much wide open. Defending Champion, Australian Cadel Evans would be the favorite, and after Evans the field is wide open. Last year's runner-up (and my personal favorite) Andy Schleck isn't racing, he suffered a broken sacral bone of his pelvis in a crash in the Critérium du Dauphiné in early June.

Two of my three sprinters from last year's tour are focusing on the London Olympics. Manxman and übersprinter, Mark Cavendish has dropped 10 pounds (the better to climb mountain passes) with an eye to the hilly Olympic road race course. Reports say he's lost some top speed, but his coaches say he's as fast as ever. Cavendish is one of TeamCorduroyPlanet's sprinters, but he may call it a Tour after the first week, when the roads turn uphill and London 2012 nears. Thor Hushovd isn't racing in France this July, he's been dogged by a viral infection through much of the springtime Classics Season, and will race the Tour of Poland instead as his Olympic tune-up.

With Andy Schleck out, I don't have an emotional favorite to win in Paris. I have AMGEN Tour of California sensation Peter Sagan, though he's not a classement général threat. Brit Bradley Wiggins is on a tear this year, and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, 2012 Giro d'Italia Champion has the Garmin-Sharp superteam behind him (with my other sprinter Tyler Farrar), though the Giro/Tour double is one of the toughest in sports...

I have no idea who will rise to the top in July, but I'm sure it's going to be interesting. There's fewer high mountain stages, no Team Time Trial, no L'Alpe d'Huez, but 100km of Individual Time Trial racing is enough to shake off the also-rans...yep, another TdF crapshoot!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Good News, Bad News

It's been a long day...I was up early to watch the Supreme Court's Healthcare Decision. I kept an ear to the wildfire rail, did a COSTCO run, and watched yet another great SF Giants game with another happy ending, and yes another Team record!

Giants' 22 year old lefthander, Madison Bumgarner pitched his first complete shutout game against the Cincinnati Reds, gave up but one hit, walked two and struck out eight. MadBum even got a hit in the 7th, and scored on a Gregor Blanco triple. The Giants won it 5-0.

The Giants tied a record that goes back to July 26-30, 1948! The Giants have played 36.0 innings without allowing a run to score! Tim Cain, who pitched that Perfect Game 15 days ago didn't even pitch in those 36 innings! He starts tomorrow's game...

Tonight's game was the fourth shutout in a row by the Giants, and they are now in sole possession of 1st Place in the National League West for the 1st time this season. Since Cain's Perfecto, the Giants have gained six games on the Dodgers. The Giants have not pitched four consecutive shutouts in the entire history of the club, until tonight.

There's something magical happening with this team, and it's been pure joy for us fans. Tonight while MadBum and crew were setting more records, the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, sending the Giants one game ahead of their SoCal rivals. The go-ahead RBI in the Mets/Dodgers game was hit by Andres Torres, the Giants' 2010 center fielder.

In the background all day were the twitter updates on the Waldo Canyon Fire. Colorado Springs had a good day in the main. Winds were civil overnight, and popup thunderstorms were not in the offing. Some evacuated neighborhoods were OK'd for the return of their residents. Unfortunately, the Devil's Due included 347 homes destroyed and one confirmed death. Nine souls are still listed as missing.

During the Giants game,  @R5_Fire_News (National Forest Service Region 5) took to twitter and let it be known that:

"23 U.S.Forest Service Hotshot crews from California are  battling wildfires in 4 western states including Colorado. Twenty wildland firefighters per crew."

"1,346 California based US Forest Service firefighters and support personnel on western wildfires including: CO, UT, NV, MT, NM, AK, WY, and AZ"

"54 California based U.S.Forest Service Type 3 wildland fire engines +5 assigned to wildfires in CO, NV, UT, and MT"

Box scores for fires? I mused before @rgj (the Reno Gazette-Journal) sent a chill down the back of my neck:

"Third of Sierra Front fire force tapped for other western fires"

Independence Day comes on a Wednesday, so the celebration will last all week long, instead of a long weekend. Some cooling has been forecast for the Tahoe Sierra, but the 4th is still five days away, and conditions change fast in the mountains this time of year. We're already into a bad fire season so be extra careful like Smokey Bear says...our ability to do heavy initial attack on wildfires is already compromised by some 33%

Another chill blew down the ol' posterior from this report of how truly depleted the Forest Service Air Tanker Fleet has become.

This is all so much Perfect Storm Arithmetic. Sub-par winter precipitation across the West, and shortages of initial attack resources could spell disaster. BajaBabe reminds me that western forests have been severely stressed by the Pine Beetle, turning evergreens into fuel. Expect the worst this Fire Season, and give a call to your congress people to get the ball rolling on bolstering the Fire Air Force

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now It's Fire Weather

I'm still wide awake...I just finished Wednesday's blog, "Whew!" I thought about addressing the Colorado Springs wildfire at the end, but I didn't want to be a "Debby Downer"

The truth is I watched streaming coverage for a couple of hours Tuesday afternoon as The Waldo Canyon Fire continued to burn outside of Colorado Springs. I became aware of the fire Monday when a blogger I read regularly tweeted that she was evacuating.

The Waldo Canyon Fire started Saturday west of Colorado Springs. Tuesday is the fifth day in a row of Record High Temperatures in Colorado Springs. The mercury hit 100°F while I watched Tuesday afternoon. Wind weren't unreasonably high, and they were Southernly, keeping the fire contained to a North/South ridge well west of town. About 3000 souls had been evacuated along with my blogger and her family. No deaths or injuries to residents or firefighters were reported, but some structures, including homes were reported lost.

Wildfire has wormed it's way onto my thought railroad over the past couple of weeks because the Reno NWS has been issuing many Red Fire Warnings for the Tahoe Basin, and last week the temps here in the Inland Valley hit triple digits.

Monday, Truckee's local newspaper tweeted news of a fire within Truckee's Town Limits. Monday was the five year anniversary of the Angora Fire that destroyed 242 homes and 67 commercial structures and burned 3,100 acres in South Lake Tahoe.

I found myself drawn like a moth to flame by the ongoing scenes from the Waldo Canyon Fire. Local TV station KKTV was doing yeoman's work covering the fire, evacuations, traffic, weather and Forest Service press conferences.

Just before the Giants-Dodgers game began (8:15PM MDT) the weather threw a hanging curveball to the firefighters. Record afternoon heat kicked of a string of thunderstorms that steered the prevailing winds from southernly to westerly, and in mere minutes the fire leapt off the containment ridge and down Queens Canyon headed at a fast clip right into the western outskirts of Colorado Springs.

Nighttime came early as the plume of smoke blew across town, and another 7000 evacuations were made mandatory.

The smoke crossing the valley like a squall line on the sea. The Sun obscured enough to see sunspots with the naked eye.
I snapped a photo from my laptop's screen as the smoke plume descended on Colorado Springs.

I couldn't bear to leave the Giants shutout of the was yet another exciting contest. When the game ended I looked back in on the fire coverage. Evacuations had ballooned to 32,000 souls, and the video showed homes burning in the darkness.

My heart ached watching the young TV newspeople trying to report the unthinkable while trying to soft pedal the horror, and offering encouragement to their viewers who are after all, their neighbors.

Pray for Colorado Springs, and for Christ's sake be careful with fire!

Wednesday Postgame Update:
Prayers for Colorado Springs appear to have been answered. No T-Storms bloomed today, thus no outflow winds to wreak havoc on the firefighters, and reports of light rain and rainbows are giving hope to residents Wednesday evening.Though Red Flag coditions still persist, the winds are SW again, which keeps the fire from entering Colorado Springs wholesale.

Back at AT&T Park, Tim Lincecum finished the breakout from his deep, two month long slump, and lead the SF Giants to a three shutout sweep of the arch-rival LA Dodgers!

Thanks to @TheMelkmen who retweeted the link to "Whew!" I fielded more than 120 page views and counting. Thanks @Melkmen followers!

The Giants have a day off Thursday...It'll give me an opportunity to put together my Tour de France Fantasy Racing Team!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Whatta weekend!

I'm still wide awake after another exciting San Francisco Giants game...the Giants shut out the hated LA Dodgers for the second game in a row! AT&T Park was magic again...the Giants' fans are just another attraction to enjoy...

What is it with costumes and The City? I'm sure the 100 year old "Bay To Breakers" footrace wasn't always about costumes and costumed centipedes traipsing drunkenly over the storied San Francisco hills to Ocean Beach at the western end of Golden Gate Park!

This season a new force arrived at AT&T Park, "The Melkmen". They're fans of new Giants' left fielder, Melky Cabrera, who's taken Giants fans' hearts by storm. Melky got 51 hits in May! The Melkmen made their first appearance at the yard in the third week of May...with plenty of signs and attitude.

Dressed as Old-Timey Milkmen, with white long sleeve shirts and matching pleated white trousers, the Melkmen sport those 1930s style milkman hats and orange bowties. They wear Cabrera's uniform number, 53 on their breast pockets.

Over the past 5-6 weeks, the Melkmen have become "a thing" at the Park and on the TV coverage of the games. @TheMelkmen joined Twitter early on, and Giants' fans on twitter were quick to welcome them to the fold. They've been guests on the pre-game telecasts from home games and some imposters even showed up in Seattle for a Mariners-Giants game.

Tonight...a new costume made it's debut at the Park...enter The MelkMaids, two comely lasses dressed in sky blue dresses and white aprons, and orange bows on their occasion escapes The City's love of costumes.

The MelkMaids and The Melkmen on the Pre-Game Show
The Melkmen number six, alas there are only two MelkMaids...a few short of a Dairy I'd say...

Tomorrow's game is the third in the Dodgers' series. It's an afternoon game 12:45 PM PDT On the strength of the first two wins of this series, the Giants can tie the Dodgers for the lead in the National League West if they take the game for the series sweep! Go Giants!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Damn, I just realized that today's European Grand Prix is Tape Delayed on FoxTV Network instead of LIVE on SpeedTV...just damn!

This doesn't make me happy...This delay means I can't play along on Twitter in real fact it means I must sequester myself from all news sources until I can watch the taped broadcast six hours after the race is run...Not Good.

I will now assume total Radio Silence...'till Wednesday, good day...

Spoiler-Free Sunday Update:
Missing the "inside baseball" texturizing I usually enjoy via Twitter, took absolutely nothing away from an exciting European Grand Prix! Wow what a race!

You can see for yourselves tonight at 11PM PDT (Pre-Race) 11:30PM PDT (European GP) on SPEED or Tuesday morning at 9AM/9:30AM

Still on tap: NASCAR at Sonoma's Sears Point and SF Giants at Oakland As