Essence of former Giants manager Dusty Baker embodied in illustration

Essence of former Giants manager Dusty Baker embodied in illustration

"I knew I was dealing with a legend."

Artist Michael Begen's task at hand wasn't an easy one. He was to depict the essence that was three-time Manager of the Year Dusty Baker and illustrate it on an NBC Sports Bay Area Authentic Fan cheer card.

During Begen's research process, he discovered many things about Baker. And as well-known as Dusty was for his abilities on the field as a player, Begen knew this artwork had to spotlight Baker as a skipper.

"I knew he was a player, but it seemed that he excelled as a coach, so I wanted to a find a piece that incorporated him as a coach," Begen told NBC Sports Bay Area. "And also since my style is very much caricature, I wanted to do the character justice by making good illustrations but also being in respectful taste to Dusty Baker and making sure the drawing wasn't too exaggerated. So I had to take that into count because I definitely wanted to be respectful.

"I looked at a bunch of images and I did a bunch of sketches to find the best expression and that led to the final design for the cheer card." 

Begen is no stranger to following the Orange and Black. 

"I've always liked the Giants, they're my favorite National League team," he said. "As I got older, I started to develop an interest in them."

With the Kevin Pillar cheer card we previously featured, artist Amanda Mantchev concentrated on the background for the centerfielder to represent the city of San Francisco. This piece was different. Begen wanted to focus on bringing out Baker for who he is.

"I wanted to focus on simplicity -- I didn't want to focus too much on colors. When I do my caricatures and illustrations, I tend to leave just a color background, because I want the character to be the focus. And everything else is nice, but I need to find that focus.

"I tend to view the subject matter," he added. "I submitted numerous designs of what it could be like color gradients in the background and designs." 

NBC Sports Bay Area agreed; a simple, a color background was the way to go. 

Baker, who played for the Giants in 1984 then the A's his last two seasons in the majors, made his presence known on the field. Along with his ties to Bay Area sports, Baker is also recognized as one of four African American managers to manage in a World Series game. He spent a decade in the managerial seat with the Giants, winning the National League Pennant in 2002.

"I thought having his name in bold right behind him and then have his signature was a good way, because it's a background nonetheless, but it's still about the man."

But there was one very important element Begen had to include in the piece.

"I like that he has a toothpick," he said. "In almost every photo that I found, that's what makes him stand out above all the others, that's his character, that's his personality. And he wears sunglasses, so I had fun with that."

[RELATED: Baker on being Giants manager, 2002 World Series loss]

Like the cheer card? We do too. You can make a possible cameo on television with the one-of-a-kind Baker cheer cards if you want to drop by the NBC Sports Bay Area set for Giants Pregame and Postgame Live at Willie Mays Plaza on "Say Hey Tuesdays."

This and the rest of the cheer cards will be revealed throughout the season. And you'll be able to see them in their entirety during the "Battle of the Bay Art Show," an A's and Giants-themed art exhibit during the Bay Bridge Series from Aug. 13-14. 

Ex-Giant Kevin Frandsen describes time Bruce Bochy bashed TV with bat

Ex-Giant Kevin Frandsen describes time Bruce Bochy bashed TV with bat

Not all of us remember what it was like to watch Bruce Bochy hitting as an MLB player. His days wielding a baseball bat ended in 1987.

Or did they ... ?

The former Giants manager once lost his cool and took it out on a clubhouse TV, as former Giants infielder Kevin Frandsen explained.

“My locker was right there, right when you walked into the clubhouse, straight on,” Frandsen said in an interview with KNBR. “Bochy walks in … he’s not graceful when he walks, he just kind of lumbers in there and he was pissed. And we knew he was pissed. We were playing bad."

Frandsen spent five total seasons across his nine-year career with the Giants, including 2007-2009 with Bochy at the helm. Frandsen admitted he had "screwed up" a couple of games before, but this tirade didn't appear to be related to that, making him wonder why Bochy was as mad as he was.

"I’m like ‘Man, I’m good, what’s he all pissed about’ -- he’s walking towards me," Frandsen added. "This is not good. He just goes right by me, into my locker and there’s my bat that’s sitting right there, and he looks at it and gives me like a grunt, the old grunt that he does."

“He walks over to the TV and he gives it one whack. It doesn’t go. It pisses him off even more, and he obliterates the next screen. He walked back over (to Frandsen’s locker), said maybe one little thing, puts the bat back in the locker and walks right to his office."

So what was the reason that Bochy was so upset? Golden Tee, the golf arcade game.

Frandsen, now an announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, admitted that the players were playing the arcade game in the back until 7:00, for a 7:15 game. All TVs were supposed to be off starting around 6:30 - 6:45.

The Giants didn't have a ton of rules, but this rule was one that clearly couldn't be broken, Frandsen added. 

[RELATED: Why Pillar could be non-tendered this offseason]

After the fiasco, they heard Bochy loud and clear.

“Everyone’s sitting there like, ‘Oh yeah, we got the message! Hey, TVs off 6:45 here we go fellas!’ I mean it was frightening. That’s Boch. There you go.”

Do Giants' Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto have two of worst MLB contracts?

Do Giants' Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto have two of worst MLB contracts?

The Giants ended the 2019 MLB season with the 13th-worst record in the league at 77-85, but the fifth-highest payroll at $178.5 million. A large chunk of that went to a pitcher who only appeared in four games this season. 

Johnny Cueto has pitched in just 13 games the past two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and also has earned $21 million in each of those seasons. Cueto, 33, will be paid another $21 million by the Giants in 2020, too. 

He isn't the only aging Giant that will earn a large chunk of change next season. Michael Ginnitti of the contract expert website Spotrac lists two Giants in his 10 toughest MLB contracts for 2020. Joining Cueto on the list is catcher Buster Posey. 

For the fifth straight season, Posey, who mainly batted in the middle of the Giants lineup this season, saw his power numbers dip to a staggering career low. The former NL MVP only hit seven home runs this year -- actually up from five in 2018 -- but drove in just 38 runs and had a .368 slugging percentage. 

Posey's 149 total bases also was a career low, and his 89 OPS+ -- OPS adjusted to a player's ballpark -- was 16 points below league average. This was the first time Posey finished a season with an OPS+ below 100, which is league average, and a bWAR (0.9) below 1.0. 

The 11-year veteran who turns 33 in March still is an elite catcher, though. His 14 defensive runs saved ranked third among NL catchers, and he threw out 24 baserunners -- tied for third in the league. The Giants hope a healthy offseason can rejuvenate Posey at the plate, but that's hard to predict. 

Oh, and we haven't even gotten to his contract yet. Posey is due $21.4 million next season, the highest figure on the Giants. With top prospect Joey Bart on the way and Posey possibly at the point of no return as a presence in your lineup, that's a whole lot of money. 

For everything he has done for the Giants throughout his career, Posey has earned what's in his bank account. But producing enough to be worth that $21.4 million figure surely will be a tall task.

Right behind Posey for the most expensive contract on the Giants next season is Cueto. He could be in a different position, though. 

Cueto finally is healthy after years of arm issues, and looked like an ace at the end of the season at times, despite his 5.06 ERA. All nine of the earned runs he allowed this season came in his final two starts against division winners in the Braves and Dodgers. 

Having Cueto on a major league mound this season was a surprise in its own right. He attacked Tommy John rehab and lost over 20 pounds. 

“It’s a long process and what I wanted to do was see how I felt,” Cueto said after his final start of the year. “I wasn’t too worried about the results. I felt great so I’ll take this into the winter as a positive.”

[RELATED: Cueto excited to take positive vibes into MLB offseason]

Cueto is confident and excited for next season to start. If he stays healthy, the Giants still have one of the top arms in baseball in their rotation. 

Simply put, it all comes down to health for Posey and Cueto. The pitcher seems better set up than the hitter, but the Giants are banking on big seasons from both of them. Literally.