Giants

Giants' Farhan Zaidi goes for fourth fantasy football title with Dodgers

Giants' Farhan Zaidi goes for fourth fantasy football title with Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — When word started to trickle out Tuesday night that Farhan Zaidi had agreed to become president of baseball operations for the Giants, friends from around the league reached out with texts of congratulations. But not all of the messages Zaidi received were kind.

“I got five ridiculous trade offers last night,” Zaidi said a day later, shaking his head.

He wasn't referring to rival executives attempting to scoop up Madison Bumgarner in a moment of weakness. This was more about the likes of Alvin Kamara, the star of Zaidi’s infamous fantasy football team. 

Zaidi has played three previous seasons in the Dodgers' clubhouse league and won three titles. When he joined the rival Giants, a few in the league immediately sent trade offers that left a lot to be desired. Some were surely meant to be deliberately bad, showing displeasure with Zaidi's move to the Giants. All were promptly turned down. 

Zaidi comes to San Francisco in search of his first World Series title, but in the cutthroat world of fantasy sports, he already has built a Hall of Fame resume. This spring, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times detailed Zaidi’s fantasy football career, one that has been dominant in previous stops in Oakland and Los Angeles.

"The telling of the story of this dynasty is long overdue," Zaidi told McCullough.

According to McCullough, Dodgers players had to change some of the rules of their league to try to slow Zaidi. The next season, Zaidi apparently found a loophole, exploiting the rule change on his way to another title. A few players complained to McCullough that Zaidi’s younger brother might be running the team, an allegation that was denied.

The biggest decision of Zaidi’s baseball career will have a direct impact on his fantasy football career, but for now, he has no plans to let up on his former players. It’s only Week 10 of the football season, after all. Zaidi has a championship push to make long before Giants pitchers and catchers report. 

“I’m planning to keep operating it, although one day I may log in and find that someone has changed the password on me or something,” Zaidi said of his fantasy team. “Tony Watson, who is here, was in the Dodgers fantasy league last year, and it sounds like he’s been spreading some troubling rumors about my involvement and how I should be kept out of the (Giants) league.”

[RATTO: Farhan Zaidi has been given a massive task: Make the Giants cool again]

The Giants believe Zaidi’s persistence with roster-building can turn them back into a consistent winner. He already has shown his savvy. A few hours after taking the job, Zaidi sent a text to Brandon Crawford inquiring about the high-stakes fantasy football league that Giants stars have played in for years. 

Crawford knows of Zaidi's fantasy football reputation. He informed his new boss that getting into the league is "a tough ticket," and that most players now have to team up with a co-owner because so many want in on the league.

"It never hurts to be especially nice to the commish," added Crawford, who happens to be the league's commissioner.

Zaidi might have a hard time talking his way into the Giants league if he does the impossible and wins a fourth consecutive fantasy football title. One source familiar with his dynasty insisted that the run is over, but Zaidi said any talk of his demise is overstated. His team -- led by Kamara, his first-round pick -- is 6-3 this season. 

“Maybe it’s just a function of the expectations at this point,” he said when told of talk that he's having a down year. “This year, I’ve kind of tried to lay in the weeds a little more. There’s a chapter to be still written for my 2018 fantasy team.”

Long before Opening Day, Zaidi might add a strange chapter to a storied rivalry. Imagine an executive leaving the Dodgers to go run the Giants, then winning a fourth consecutive Dodgers fantasy football title a couple of months later.

“That,” Zaidi said, smiling, “would be some last salt in the wound.”

Twitter Roundup: Your random baseball thoughts and questions, answered

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USATSI

Twitter Roundup: Your random baseball thoughts and questions, answered

MESA, Ariz. -- The unwritten rules of baseball sometimes tend to be the rules most pay attention to, or abide by.

As for the real "rules" of the game -- or why things happen the way they do -- doesn't it make you wonder why? Why do people in the crowd boo when the pitcher attempts a pick-off from the mound? Why is it superstitious to step on a foul line when walking on and off the field? And many more ...

I asked the wonderful people on Twitter some of the random thoughts they had on the sport, and I did my best to answer them. Or -- at least, my opinion on why certain things occur.

Here were some of my favorites. 

"Why do bullpens empty for brawls? What exactly can be accomplished that’s good by the time they get there?" -- @SPORTMAN32

I can see where Sportman is coming from, but I also believe in having the backs of your teammates. Whether you're able to be involved in the confrontation or not, knowing you have that person's back is essential to me.

"How much does a batter's warm up on deck impact their performance?" -- @dearkatiedodd

This is a great question, and something I've been wondering for years as well. I get the idea of having a routine -- a type of superstition if you will. I also try and put myself in the shoes of the pitcher and think about how frustrating that must be.

"Why fans boo pick-off attempts?" -- @THMead3

I don't know. I seriously have no idea, but it's annoying. (The booing).

"Why bullpens aren't subterranean lairs from which relievers rise, Phantom of the Opera-like, on a stage life to the mound." -- @zachrymer

Zach Rymer writes about baseball for a living so I'm not sure why he asked me! I'm always down for a Phantom of the Opera conversation, however.

"What they talk about during a mound visit." -- @SteeGar

I just spoke for a former Major League pitcher about this. Simply put, he said "the hitter."

He also admitted they've spoken about girls in the crowd as well. 

Can't hate on the honesty.

"If Ken Griffey Jr. never left Seattle, would he have 800+ home runs?" -- @MisaelGonzalez

Yes.

"It would be fun to learn what opposing team players say to each other once on base. It would be a great coffee table book." --@SFGIantsJeezus

I am trying to find the right network to pitch a reality television show that is all about what Joey Votto talks to runners on first about.

"Why are managers/coaches in uniforms?" -- @NegativeEddie83

This is something I've always wondered, too. Other coaches wear suits or khakis -- or sweatshirts that have the sleeves cut off. So weird.

"How does Brandon Crawford's hair look so perfect all the time?" -- @ScottSnow1

So, I actually asked Brandon's wife, Jalynne, for the answer ...

You're welcome. 

"Why is the shortstop numbered six in the box score instead of five?" -- @Stour51510

I believe it originated because the shortstop position was an outfield position at one point? And I think the number just kind of got stuck as the number to signify the shortstop position.

"Can Mike Trout make the Hall of Fame without any playoff success?" -- @jjkzjo

Well, he better. 

Giants' Brandon Crawford turns to golf to raise money for ALS research

Giants' Brandon Crawford turns to golf to raise money for ALS research

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Shortly before 2 p.m. on Friday, the sky finally cleared. Brandon Crawford stepped onto the grass and went into a familiar routine, positioning his feet, looking out at his target, and adjusting his grip. 

He did all of this as he prepared to swing right-handed.

Crawford, a lefty batter on the baseball field, plays golf right-handed. He got a chance to show his swing off Friday for a good cause, and he hopes this is just the beginning. The shortstop's family put on the Crawford Invitational Charity Golf Tournament for ALS CURE, an event that put two rival organizations on the same team. 

The proceeds from the event went to ALS CURE, a non-profit established by Mike Piscotty, the father of A's outfielder Stephen Piscotty. Their foundation works to invest capital and help research for the development of a cure for ALS. Gretchen Piscotty passed away from ALS last May. 

This was actually the third annual tournament for the Crawfords. It started with Brandon playing golf with his dad, Mike, and sister Amy. 

"Last year we kind of came up with the idea that we could make it bigger, so we had a few guys out there, a lot of my dad's friends and people who would want to come down to spring training," Brandon said. "And then some guys from the team. Then we thought about making it a yearly thing and to do it for charity."

It was easy to pick the right foundation. Mike Crawford and Mike Piscotty have been friends for years. Their daughters played softball together. 

Mike Crawford did the heavy lifting in recent months, putting together a tournament with an awards dinner and live auction fundraiser. The Giants and A's both came on as sponsors, along with about a half-dozen companies. 

The field was full of many of Crawford’s current teammates, including a foursome of pitchers — Tony Watson, Will Smith, Derek Holland and Sam Dyson — who came out on top in the team format. Former Giants Travis Ishikawa, Rich Aurilia and George Kontos played, along with Larry Baer, members of the A's organization, and friends who flew out from the Bay Area. 

[RELATED: Breaking down Giants' camp competitions as games begin]

Crawford hopes to make the tournament a spring fixture and add more friends from other teams. Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado are among those he has talked to about participating in the tournament, a Crawford family tradition that became an important day for the Piscotty family. 

"When I found out that they were going to donate the money to my dad's foundation, I was at a bit of a loss for words," Stephen Piscotty said. "It means a tremendous amount."