Giants

How Mauricio Dubon found out dream of playing for Giants had come true

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How Mauricio Dubon found out dream of playing for Giants had come true

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mauricio Dubon attended his first Giants game as a teenager in 2010, sitting in the center field bleachers as Tim Lincecum pitched the Giants closer to a division title. Four years later, he was one of 43,000 who watched Travis Ishikawa send the Giants to the World Series with a walk-off home run in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.

Dubon grew up watching Brandon Crawford videos and idolizing Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. He has been waiting years for the opportunity to call Oracle Park his home. 

But when the call to be a San Francisco Giant finally came Tuesday around noon, Dubon took one look at his phone and decided not to answer.

Dubon, like just about everyone else, has been inundated with scam phone calls in recent years. He looked down and saw River Cats manager Dave Brundage's Oregon area code and figured it was another telemarketer. Brundage was persistent, though, and Dubon soon found out he was headed for Oracle Park. 

"It's a dream come true," he said. 

Dubon spent part of his afternoon Tuesday getting introduced to players he long has watched. Pablo Sandoval interrupted an interview to give the rookie infielder a big hug. He met Crawford and spent some time chatting with Posey.

"It was crazy," Dubon said, his eyes growing wider. "I saw him growing up. I watched him play catcher and now I'm sharing a clubhouse with him. It's special."

The road here was harder than most. Dubon left his family behind in Honduras as a 15-year-old, moving to Sacramento to live with a host family and chase his dreams of playing baseball. Dubon played at Capital Christian High and was drafted in the 26th round of the 2013 draft. 

He spent four seasons in the Red Sox system before getting traded to the Brewers. After two-plus seasons there, Dubon briefly made his debut earlier this season, playing in two games and becoming the second player born in Honduras to reach the big leagues. 

The Giants acquired Dubon as the centerpiece of a deal that sent Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black to Milwaukee. As July 31 approached, Dubon and his host family back in Sacramento regularly chatted about trade rumors. The news finally came that he had been traded to the Giants. He called his host mom with a message.

"Get my room ready, cause I'm going home," Dubon said. 

Dubon needed just 25 games back in Sacramento to earn a trip to the big leagues. The Giants love his athleticism, energy and they're eager to get a long look at Dubon over the next five weeks. They have no long-term solution at second base and it's been years since Brandon Crawford had consistent help at shortstop. When Bruce Bochy was asked about his new second baseman, he quickly answered that Dubon plays shortstop, too. You can bet that will be a big part of the September conversation. 

[RELATED: Giants prospect Bart reveals biggest Double-A adjustments he's made]

Dubon's dream is coming true, and he's being placed in a perfect situation. He was all smiles Tuesday as he talked of the opportunity, bouncing from one foot to the other. There was just one part of the day that seemed to be any sort of a downer. 

Dubon and his host mom had been waiting for their breakfast when Brundage called and told him to get to Oracle Park. A breakfast burrito had Dubon's name on it, but some things are more important than even a burrito. 

"We had to cancel the order," he said.

Bay Bridge Series between Giants, A's recently has been neck-and-neck

Bay Bridge Series between Giants, A's recently has been neck-and-neck

No matter how you feel about interleague play, it's hard to find much fault with the yearly home-and-home series between the Giants and A's. 

Fans from both sides pack the ballparks, particularly in Oakland. For years, when Oracle Park sold out every night, that was the best chance that Giants fans in the East Bay had of seeing their team up close, and it remains a much closer trip. There's a lot more media for those games, and I can say from personal experience that I've always loved having the opportunity to watch someone like Matt Chapman in person for three days. 

The games are generally good, too. Two of last year's four games were decided by a run, and a third game saw the Giants score five runs in the eighth to claw back, only to watch the A's pull away with two more in the top of the ninth. A year earlier, three of the six meetings were one-run games, including a pair of walk-offs. 

The Bay Bridge Series now includes an art show and a trophy, and it even gave us one of the best GIFs in franchise history:

The 2020 season was halted a couple of weeks before the Giants and A's were to return home for their yearly exhibition series that gets both sides ready for the season, and it's hard to tell what the plan will be when the sport returns. The original proposal from MLB called for the Giants to play just the NL West and AL West this season, so they expected to see a lot of the A's. If MLB decides to play just 50 games or so, that would drastically change the schedule, and perhaps the Giants would just play games within their division.

We don't know when the Bay Bridge Series will resume, but on NBC Sports Bay Area, a version will air tonight. We've been simulating the whole season and tonight's matchup is the Giants and the A's, with Kruk and Kuip on the call at 5 p.m. 

[RELATED: How 2019 Giants would've looked in shortened MLB season]

Hopefully it's a close game, and history tells us it will be. If you extend the sample beyond the two seasons mentioned above, you find a remarkably close back-and-forth. Since the A's swept the 1989 World Series, the two Bay Area franchises have squared off 124 times in the regular season, with Oakland holding a 64-60 edge. The A's have outscored the Giants by 14 total runs over the last 30 years. 

You might think the last decade would be different given the three titles and all the success the Giants have had, but it's been even closer in recent years. They've played 50 times since the start of 2010 and won 25 games each. The Giants have outscored the A's 225-224 in their interleague matchups over the past decade. It's a matchup that's as close as it gets, and hopefully it's one we're watching again soon. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Justin Viele explains what Giants hitting coaches are focused on

Justin Viele explains what Giants hitting coaches are focused on

Justin Viele was a shortstop at Santa Clara University as the Giants were taking over the even years, and he took advantage of his school's location. Viele and friends would hop on Caltrain a few times every year and head straight to Oracle Park, the home of his future employer. 

The ballpark will look different when Viele finally walks through as the co-hitting coach. The fences are coming in, a boost not just to the hitters but to the men -- Viele, Donnie Ecker and Dustin Lind -- tasked with getting the most out of them. That's not their focus, though. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Viele said the focus remains on what hitters can control. The ballpark is still going to heavily favor pitchers, and the new staff will continue to preach having a proper swing and controlling the strike zone. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"If the ball doesn't carry but we hit it really hard, in the expected numbers that really looks good," he said. "It doesn't look good in the batting average, but the expected numbers look good because you're hitting the ball hard. That's really what we can control. Swing at the right pitches and hit the ball hard."

The hope is that a solid approach leads to more success over time, and even if the Giants get Oracle'd, they still hope to hammer teams offensively on the road. They were much improved last season, but over this three-year dip, they rank 23rd in runs scored away from home, 27th in road homers, and 28th in road wRC+. The new staff is trying to teach a better approach, and Viele summed it up neatly. 

"We like to break it up into three different bullet points," he said. "It's (first), how well are you moving. That's so many things. Some people say it's dancing with the pitcher, it's the timing, how you pick up your leg, how you move forward, all these different things. Do you have a big swipe act? Do you have a big jump forward? Are you controlled? All these different things, but ultimately it's how well are you moving. Can we make you move better?"

The second focus is on the bat and what it's doing as it comes through the zone. 

[RELATED: Justin Viele recalls Yaz calling his shot]

"How adjustable is your path, are you able to get on plane with multiple pitches," Viele said. 

Finally, what are you swinging at?

"How prepared are you to face that certain pitcher, how is he going to attack you and how are you going to beat him. How is he going to win," Viele said. "It's understanding those three things: How well you're moving, the bat path, and then the game-planning portion of it."