Giants

Giants' Gabe Kapler, Sam Coonrod having ongoing conversation about BLM

Giants' Gabe Kapler, Sam Coonrod having ongoing conversation about BLM

Sam Coonrod didn't pitch in Thursday night's season opener, but one day later, the Giants reliever found himself as the most talked-about player in MLB.

Coonrod was the lone player on either side who did not take a knee during a moment of unity before the national anthem at Dodger Stadium, one that has been replayed in stadiums across the country on the opening day for 26 other teams.

After the game, on a Zoom call with reporters, Coonrod said he believes his faith does not allow him to kneel before anyone but God. It was his comments at the end of the call, though, that really turned into a firestorm overnight.

"I'm a Christian, like I said, and I just can't get on board with a couple of things that I have read about Black Lives Matter," Coonrod said when asked about the movement. "How they lean toward Marxism and they've said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can't get on board with that."

One day later, Giants manager Gabe Kapler, who has taken a knee during all three games this week, said he had spoken to the 27-year-old reliever.

[RACE IN AMERICA: Listen to the latest episode]
 

"I support him expressing himself and sharing his beliefs," Kapler said. "I support all of our players sharing their thoughts, and it means we're able to have a conversation about really important topics when we're constantly communicating. Sam said that he's going to be talking to people about these issues now, more, because of last night's events, and I'm happy to share my position with him.

"Black Lives Matter is, to me, not a political issue but a simple statement of something I believe to be true. It's a movement. I want to work toward ending racial inequality. I want us to promote social justice, and it's really important that we amplify voices of marginalized groups and create pipelines to increase diversity in this industry in particular."

Kapler has been outspoken in his beliefs in recent weeks. He addressed reporters Friday with a Black Lives Matter T-shirt on, and said he has spoken to players around the league in recent days as the moment was planned. It appeared to morph overnight. The players who opened their season Thursday took a knee while holding the long piece of black fabric, but on Friday, most teams stood. There were some exceptions, including former Giant Sergio Romo.

Coonrod said Thursday night that he did not learn about the plans until it was too late for him to talk to anyone. He chose to stand. Kapler said the plans did evolve over the course of the week.

[RELATED: Why Sam Coonrod's reason fell short]

However he got there, when the moment came, Coonrod was the only one of 60 players at Dodger Stadium who did not kneel. He unexpectedly found himself as a national story, and Kapler said he would continue to communicate with Coonrod as this plays out.

"Sam and I are going to continue to talk every day so that he understands my position, and I want to understand his better," Kapler said. "These are ongoing conversations."

Giants' historic meltdown filled with inexplicable late-game decisions

Giants' historic meltdown filled with inexplicable late-game decisions

The years 1929 and 2020 will always be connected in American history. The former was the year the stock market crashed, leading to the Great Depression. The latter is, well, we're living it, and it's also an all-consuming nightmare. 

In the Giants' history books, those two years now also are connected. And there's some depression involved with this comparison, too. 

The Giants lost to the A's 8-7 Friday night after leading 7-2 in the ninth inning Friday night. If that seems like a nearly impossible result, that's because it is. The Giants had not blown a five-run lead in the ninth inning or later since 1929, amassing 2,133 consecutive wins in that situation, according to Stats Perform.

For all the history there, this unbelievable loss actually unfolded quite cleanly. When the game was over, suffering a historic loss made sense, mostly because just about everything the Giants had done in that fateful inning raised further questions. 

It started with the choice of a pitcher. Gabe Kapler turned to Trevor Gott, his closer, with a five-run lead, which is certainly defensible. But while Gott has not officially been named the closer, that is his role and those guys often have a strange time when asked to finish off a blowout. 

Kapler said the staff chose Gott because they figured they might need to get Gott up anyway if they went with Jarlin Garcia or Trevor Rogers, and that's no day off.

"The thought process is how can we use one pitcher there," Kapler said. 

That leads to an obvious question. How can you trust your secondary relievers in any situation again if you're not confident they can record three outs before giving up five runs

We'll leave that one alone for now. As it was, Gott was the choice and he clearly didn't have it. Gott's velocity was normal, but his command was off. Kapler stuck with him, and he said he didn't think Gott was thrown off by the situation. 

"I totally get why that's where you might go, 'Maybe he's not used to that situation.' He's been pitching in higher-leverage situations, and those are things that are true. But what I saw out there was a very focused and aggressive and intense competitor who just didn't have command and got beat as a result."

Gott gave up a homer and then issued a walk with one out. The Giants still were in decent shape, but then Wilmer Flores made an inexplicable decision on a grounder to first base.

Flores took two steps toward the bag and then, with just one more needed for the 26th out of the night, spun and threw to second. Brandon Crawford slipped his foot off second a split-second too soon, apparently thinking Flores had touched first, and both runners were safe. 

Instead of having a four-run lead with two outs and a runner on second, Gott had two runners on and just one out. 

"I should have just stepped on first base with that lead that we had," Flores said after the game. 

Crawford had come in as a defensive replacement, but Kapler said he wanted to give Brandon Belt a night off because he has some lower-half soreness and the staff trusted Flores to get through that final inning. 

"It's [Flores'] best position and we wanted to do everything possible to get Brandon Belt a day and get him ready for tomorrow," Kapler said. 

The problem was Belt did end up playing. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in the 10th with the tying run on second, swinging through three fastballs from Liam Hendricks. That's fast-forwarding, though. 

After Flores' mistake, Gott hit a batter to load the bases and then hung a curveball that Stephen Piscotty blasted to left for a grand slam that completed the historic comeback. 

[RELATED: Giants given relatively good news with Slater's MRI results]

The Giants went to extra innings for the third time this year, and Garcia entered and got a grounder, flyout and grounder. That was enough, though, to move the placed runner from second to home for the go-ahead run. Three Giants struck out in a similar situation in the bottom of the inning, and that was the end. 

So there you have it, that's how you suffer a loss that hasn't been seen since 1929. It was a trainwreck, but a gradual one, and it seemed to leave the Giants stunned. Kapler said he would process the loss as the night went on. 

"We'll talk about it and figure out ways to get better for tomorrow," he said. "And things we could have done differently."

Dave Kaval trolls Giants fans after A's comeback 8-7 extra-inning win

Dave Kaval trolls Giants fans after A's comeback 8-7 extra-inning win

A's president Dave Kaval loves to troll the Giants and their fans.

LOVES IT.

So when the Giants blew a five-run ninth-inning lead Friday night and lost 8-7 in extra innings to the A's at Oracle Park, Kaval took the opportunity to get in a shot at fans in San Francisco.

Sorry Dave, but Giants fans aren't jumping on the bandwagon of a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1989, and hasn't gotten out of the Wild Card Game the last two years.

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Also, a majority of Market Street in San Francisco now is car-free thanks to the Better Market Street project, which was implemented at the end of January. So Kaval would be unsuccessful if he tried to drive the A's bandwagon down the major thoroughfare.

At the end of June, Kaval poked fun at the Giants by tweeting that the A's would have a fan section of cardboard cut-outs at the Oakland Coliseum, and that it would be in prime seagull territory.

In the past, Kaval has led an "armada" of A's fans on kayaks into McCovey Cove, and he even set up a program where Giants fans could exchange their SF hats for A's hats.

[RELATED: Giants' inexplicable decisions led to historic meltdown]

Kaval is riding high right now. The A's (14-6) have the best record in the American League, while the Giants (8-13) hold the second-worst record in the National League.

We'll see who gets the last laugh when the playoffs roll around for the A's.