Praise the sweet Lord, spring training has rolled around once more. As George Carlin once said, “Baseball is different from any other sport... In most sports the ball or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he's out; sometimes unintentionally, he's out.”
Carlin went on to point out many significant differences between baseball and football. “Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game. Football is a twentieth [and twenty-first]-century technological struggle. Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park. The baseball park! Football is played on a GRIDIRON, in a STADIUM, sometimes called SOLDIER FIELD or WAR MEMORIAL STADIUM. Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting, and unnecessary roughness. Baseball has the sacrifice. Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we have to go to sudden death. Baseball has no time limit: We don't know when it's gonna end! Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life. Football begins in the fall, when everything is dying.”
Carlin's routine cites more comparisons, but I'm sure you get the point. It's tempting to make political analogies. Perhaps we shouldn't go beyond the obvious: Baseball is Jeffersonian and Hamilton would have made money by selling his unwanted season tickets on StubHub.
It's apt to make historical references because what professional sport reveres its history more than baseball. So in that spirit, let's get you warmed up for spring and the coming season with a few questions about our national game and our beloved Giants. No Wins Above Replacement (WAR) queries herein.
It may be hard to believe, but San Francisco Giants pitchers once led the National League in Earned Run Average (ERA) for three consecutive years. Can you name the years and the three different Giants pitchers (In two of those seasons Giants pitchers finished first and second in ERA, flip-flopping the order in successive years).
While Hall of Famer Juan Marichal did garner the ERA title once in the pitching rich 1960s, who was the only San Francisco Giant to win the Cy Young Award before Tim Lincecum did it twice in 2008-2009?
Which current Giants pitcher has won two ERA titles? Hint: Only one of these ERA championships was earned while Bruce Bochy managed him.
Which S.F. Giants pitcher had an ERA of 1.99, yet finished second in the ERA race to a future Hall of Famer?
Can you name the three different San Francisco Giants pitchers who won ERA crowns in the 1980s and 1990s? None of them won a hundred games or more in their careers.
So you're whining, why all the ERA questions? Because pitching and defense, baby, that's what wins pennants! Unless you count someone who played in only nine games at the end of a season, name the position at which a Giants player has never won a Gold Glove Award? (Bonus point for the nine-gamer)
You think that's hard, try this without using your search engine (don't think the NSA doesn't know which ones of you are using computers to cheat on this quiz): Who are the only two San Francisco Giants catchers to walk away with a Gold Glove. For those prone to quibbling, yes, there are two.
A Giants player has won the Gold Glove at second base only one time. Shouldn't be that hard to name this fan favorite of the 1980s and 90s.
Other than Willie Mays name two Giants outfielders who snagged multiple Gold Gloves. If you don't get that one, you're kicked out of the family.
Okay, that was an easy one. Not much more difficult to identify the two Giants third basemen who have brought home “hot corner” gold, though they were decades apart.
In what season did four of the nine National League Gold Gloves go to San Francisco Giants? Bonus points for naming all four winners.
Who was the only Giants shortstop to win Gold Gloves before Brandon Crawford received the honor in 2015?
Since just about everybody secretly has a soft spot for the lovable losers who comprise the Chicago Cubs (could the 108 year old Billy Goat Curse be over?), our tie-breaker query asks you to name the only two Chicago Cubs outfielders who have claimed Gold Glove awards. Hint: One is in the Hall of Fame, the other, no way Jose!
Super tie breaker: What San Francisco Giants player named Jose distinguished himself enough to take home a Gold Glove?
Super-duper (No, not former wide receiver Mark Duper) tie-breaker. Put yourself in the baseball quiz hall of fame if you can name all the San Francisco Giants players who have received Gold Glove awards or even the fourteen Cubbies who have done the same.
Grand prize winners will receive the recognition they are due. I'll get around to posting the correct answers when I darn well feel like it.
And yeah, those who are more faithful to baseball than football are far less likely to do you, or the world, harm. George Carlin put it best: “In football, the object is for the quarterback, otherwise known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line... In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe!”
Be safe at home.