Will the Giants retiring Bonds' number boost his Hall of Fame chances?


Will the Giants retiring Bonds' number boost his Hall of Fame chances?

It’s difficult to know if the San Francisco Giants think they should retire Barry Bonds’ number because they think he won’t be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, because they think it might minimally boost his chances, or just because they recognize the debt they owe him, but the decision to depart with tradition for his sake makes perfect historical sense.

In short, he defines a clear and distinct era in Giants history, as John McGraw did 100-plus years ago, as Mel Ott did, as Bill Terry did, as Willie Mays and Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal did, and as Buster Posey and and Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval and Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean do now.

And as there is not yet a plan in place to retrofit the left field stands to retire a replica of Bochy’s skull, that means that Bonds’ turn happens now, for whatever reason.

In doing so, the Giants break their own protocol of retiring only the numbers (or initials) of Hall of Famers. Indeed, of the 187 retired numbers in baseball, only 39 are of non-Hall denizens, or barely 20 percent.

But Bonds’ number represents, both good and ill, more than 10 percent of all Giants history, and if you believe that the idea of commemorating history means commemorating all of it, then Bonds’ jersey must be retired. Not because he was a fan favorite necessarily (you can have a dandy CalTrain fistfight over that one at your leisure), but because he was the indisputably central figure of the ‘90s and ‘Oughts, spanning both the end of Candlestick Park and Name That Telecommunications Company Stadium.

True, there are fan favorites in a lot of cities that got their jerseys retired for sentimental reasons – Minnie Minoso in Chicago, Ted Kluszewski in Cincinnati, Willie Horton in Detroit, Frank White in Kansas City, Junior Gilliam in Los Angeles, Kent Hrbek in Minnesota – as well men who died while still in service to their teams either contractually on in memory – Jim Umbricht in Houston, Dick Howser in Kansas City, Jose Fernandez in Miami, Johnny Oates in Texas.

But Bonds is in a smaller group of non-Hall of Famers, with Billy Martin and Gil Hodges and Pete Rose, whose jerseys were retired simply because the history of the team does not stand without them. And for an honorific like this, that reason is as good as any.

And maybe it helps him bridge that final one fifth of the Baseball Writers Association of America. I mean, it probably won’t sway a lot of minds – the Giants put on a full-court media press for an entire year to get Orlando Cepeda approved by the Veterans Committee when his writers eligibility ran out – but the Giants clearly made whatever peace needed to be made with the thornier sides of the Bonds ethos some time ago, and his number is the last step to take before commissioning a stadium statue of him.

And the rest of the potential motives don’t matter at that point. Because when you want to say you appreciate and are indebted to an employee, nothing short of a plaque in upstate New York says it like bronze.


Brian Sabean not sure why 'star in the making' Brandon Belt is so polarizing


Brian Sabean not sure why 'star in the making' Brandon Belt is so polarizing

So far this season, Brandon Belt is hitting .304 with six home runs and 12 RBI.

He boasts a .402 on-base percentage.

"We need him. The guy is a star player in the making," Giants executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean said on KNBR 680 on Wednesday. "We hope with the strength of a deeper lineup -- which I think in time will prove to be true -- that he's got a lot that can really help this ball club and contribute in a big way."

So why then is Belt so polarizing?

"I'm not sure," Sabean answered. "There are folks that do swing and miss (Belt has struck out 22 times in 20 games). He's kind of a study in contrast. And while I say that, he's probably got one of the best eyes in the big leagues and can work a count, work an at-bat and take a walk with anybody.

"But what I'm seeing this year is that he's getting to more pitches, where in the past he would not put it in play. He's doing that in a big way. There are just some guys for whatever reason don't square up as many balls as you think they would be capable of.

"He's been a work in progress. He's still a young guy and I think that once he finds his power, he'll be a guy that will be very dangerous in anybody's lineup."

Belt was an All-Star in 2016.

The 30-year old is making $16 million this season, and will earn $16 million each year through 2021.

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ten minutes into his start Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija got a mound visit from manager Bruce Bochy and a member of the training staff. 

His fastball was sitting 89-91 at the time, and given that Samardzija is just two starts removed from a DL stint for a strained pectoral, the concern was understandable. 

"He's fine. We just wanted to check on him at that point," Bochy said. "He said he was fine and as you saw his stuff picked up, which you see sometimes from starting pitchers."

Samardzija did get back to the 93-94 range by the third, which is still a couple ticks from normal for him, but at least isn't concerning. He didn't make it to the fourth, though. A Matt Adams homer put the last three of six runs on his line.

"Just one of those days," Samardzija said. "I've been feeling really good. It just took a little longer today (to get loose). There's really no explanation for it sometimes.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a different script for me right now (coming off the injury). We're going to learn from it and keep getting better and get on to the next one." 

A few Giants need to move on quickly after this one. Josh Osich, coming off a sparkling spring, continued to backslide at the worst possible time. The Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Will Smith next week. Osich was charged with four earned runs. Cory Gearrin walked two of three he faced and cashed in two of Osich's runners. He, too, has fallen down the depth chart a bit.

"They're not on track. O really had some good moments today, lots of swings and misses, but also had trouble getting the ball where he wanted at times," Bochy said. "Cory is battling too much right now instead of going out there and attacking the strike zone. This game is all about confidence and if they get shaken a bit they don't throw the ball with as much conviction."