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About TortureCast

The podcast by and for fans of the San Francisco Giants, hosted weekly by our team of Willie Dills, Chad King, Ben Lee and Eric Nathanson.

Episode #130: Free Fallin’

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Matt Cain, we are going to miss you. Photo by Brad Mangin

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

What a horrendous day. Just coming off the news from Puerto Rico, then comes the Vegas shooting and now Tom Petty. Let’s talk about baseball, shall we?

Chad, Eric and Willie reflect on the end of the 2017 season for the Giants, including what went wrong, how they may address it, Pablo’s season-ending walk-off and how that affects the draft, and of course, Matt Cain’s last start. Chad talks about covering Cain’s last start and Eric shares a poignant moment he had with his father when they watched Matt Cain and Barry Bonds beat the Cubs in Chicago.

We also dwell upon the impending playoffs and offer up our predictions. Chad and Willie both predict Houston and Washington making it to the World Series with Houston winning it all, while Eric thinks the Dodgers will hoist the Tiffany trophy after defeating the Astros. (GOD I hope Eric is wrong)

That means it’ll be the Twins vs the Rockies in the World Series, of course.

We’ll be back in a week or two to reflect on the playoffs, then again after the World Series before we head into the hot stove season.

 

 

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The Horse Rides off into the Sunset

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Matt Cain throws the last pitch of his career in the fifth inning at AT&T Park on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)

Under sun-drenched AT&T Park, Matt Cain made his final Major League start, all of them while wearing a Giants’ uniform. Undoubtedly, nerves were running full tension in his 6 foot-three frame, but he retired the first six Padres in order before giving up a lead-off single in the third.

After a four-pitch lead-off walk in the fifth, Bruce Bochy walked to the mound under a chorus of boos, but Cain had only given up two hits and one walk at that point, and although he was at the pitch count that Bochy had stated he’d exit on, he let Cain have the chance to finish the inning. He promptly retired the next three Padres in order and exited to a tremendous chorus of cheers from the fans. After receiving hugs and congratulations from Bochy and a few others, Cain came out onto the warning track and doffed his cap to the fans, reaching in every direction as he was bathed in a chorus of cheers and tears. After what seemed like an eternity, the ever-humble Cain went into the dugout to receive hugs from all of his teammates. Probably the most-memorable and tear-inducing moment was the bear hug that he received from Madison Bumgarner. Cain then took one last curtain call in front of the dugout before Hunter Pence lead off the bottom of the sixth.

And just like that, he was done.

Matt Cain served an incredibly faithful 13 years to the San Francisco Giants before announcing his retirement earlier this week. Bochy and management knew that he deserved this one last start, more than deserved. Although his last three years were plagued with injuries and a lack of performance, he didn’t disappoint in his last start, allowing no runs and only two hits and one walk in five innings.

The term getting “Cained” was coined early in his career. In our last post, we noted how he is at the bottom of pitchers with over 100 wins in terms of run support. He routinely lost games 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 despite his dominant pitching, which is why his losing career record is not indicative of the pitcher that he was. Although he’s not a Hall of Famer, he epitomized what it is to be a Giant. Sure enough, after his departure, Reyes Moronta allowed a two-out homerun to Wil Meyers to tie the score at one, and denying Cain of a win.

The Giants reclaimed the lead with a single by Pence, but the Padres opened up the bottom of the ninth with a squibber to Crawford, who threw it past Pablo at first base for a two-base error. A bloop put runners on the corners with one out, but Sam Dyson struck out Renfroe, and got Austin Hedges to an 0-2 count before grooving a pitch that Hedges split the outfielders with, putting the Padres up 3-2, their first lead of the entire game. With two outs. And down to their last strike. The Giants couldn’t muster a baserunner in the home half of the inning and limped out of the park with another crushing defeat, and Dyson’s second consecutive blown save (although an error and bloop really weren’t his fault).

Bochy reflected on Cain’s career in the post-gamer, and even jokingly offered that Cain could manage tomorrow because he’s “not done very well this year.” Instead of being interviewed in the clubhouse, the Giants put Cain out on the podium in the press room. Bochy revealed that the team had a private moment and a toast to Cain just after the game and prior to their pressers.

Cain was candid and honest in reflecting upon his career, even commenting on how he smiled when he realized that Ted Barrett, the home plate umpire from his perfect game, was behind the dish today. He was surprised that he made it a full five innings considering that he hadn’t pitched in a month, but after his four-pitch walk to lead off the fifth, he talked with Bochy realizing that he didn’t want to go out on a four-pitch walk. He summoned what was left, and with two outs and two strikes, he dropped a curve on the opposing pitcher, mostly because he was “out of gas.” That weak grounder to Crawford officially ended his career before doffing his cap.

Cain said that he “fulfilled everything he could think of from a career.” He wants to be with the Giants in some capacity next year, but he needs to take some time with his family and decompress before looking at his options.

Bochy ended his presser talking about Cain’s nickname saying, “his nickname is the ‘Horse’ for a good reason because we were riding him hard.”

After Cain’s presser, it was a pleasure to actually shake his hand thank him in person, a rare occurrence between press and athletes, but he had just thanked the press (sarcastically or not) for the relationship over the years. So, as the “Horse” rides off into the sunset, I think we all would just like to say thanks, Cainer, you’re a true Giant.

Chad

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Reflections of a True Giant

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Matt Cain holding the World Series trophy after their 2010 victory.

A man was called up with the Giants two years before the first iPhone, when the Space Shuttle was still flying, when Bush II still had three years to go in his Presidency, six weeks before my first kid was born, and when this song was #1 on the Billboard charts:

So, we’ve come a long way, and yet not so much in many ways.

The longest-tenured Giant announced his retirement yesterday, a mild surprise to many, although it’s obvious he wouldn’t be with the Giants next year. Rather, the Giants will not opt for the 21 million dollar extension, favoring the paltry 7 million dollar buyout. Cain knew his days as a Giant were over long before this season started, and apparently he looked inward on his life and realized that he wanted to spend more time with his family, but also respected this organization so much that he couldn’t imagine donning another jersey.

Matt Cain will spend all 13 years with the Giants. No other team will grace his chest. He officially will have the longest tenure with the team without being with any other team since the Giants moved west. He also ranks 3rd all time in San Francisco history for WAR, 5th for strikeouts per 9, and 3rd in strikeouts (only 14 behind Lincecum). Of course, he also has the franchise’s only perfect game from that magical night in 2012 (thanks, Blanco, btw!), and three World Series Championships to go with some gritty performances that enabled the Giants to secure at least two of those trophies.

He started the 2012 All Star Game and made three All Star Games in total. Although he’ll finish with an ERA around 3.69, much of that has been inflated in recent years. He posted a career-best ERA of 2.79 in 2012, 2.88 in 2011, and 2.89 in 2009. He was fifth in Rookie-of-the-Year voting in 2006 and sixth in the Cy Young vote in 2012.

But, despite all of the incredible statistics that Cain has assembled throughout the years, there is one that haunts Giants fans.

Wins.

Getting “Cained” was a phrase that was coined sometime in the 2007 season, and continued thereon. For some magically insane and sadistic reason, the baseball gods seemed to thwart any offensive production during Cain’s starts. Cain often lost games 2-1, 3-2, 1-0. Games he pitched very well in, but was not backed up by offense. It was a far cry from American League pitchers and many National League hurlers that gave up 4, 5, 6 runs, but still got the win. Despite his 3.69 career ERA, Matt Cain will finish with no more than 105 wins, and no less than 118 losses.

Put that into perspective with other pitchers around that ERA for that duration:

Bronson Arroyo has played admittingly longer (16 years) than Matt Cain, but his career ERA is 4.28, a full 0.59 higher, yet he has a winning record at 148-137. Bortolo Colon (20 years) has a career ERA of 4.05, but is well above .500 at 239-176.

To cut out some of the chaff, I looked at pitchers that had more than 1,500 innings pitched and less than 2,500 innings. Matt Cain is under 2100. The results are somewhat expected. Out of the 463 pitchers that qualify in that range (includes starters and relievers), only THREE pitchers have a better career ERA and worse winning percentage than Matt Cain.

Out of 463!

Oh, and when did those three play?

Bob Groom: Played 1909-1918. 2336.1 IP 119-150 (.442) 3.10 ERA

Bob Rush: Played 1948-1960. 2410.2 IP 127-152 (.455) 3.65 ERA

Denny Lemaster: Played 1962-1972. 1787.2 IP 90-105 (.462) 3.58 ERA

Matt Cain: Played 2005-2017. 2080.2+ IP 104-118? (.468?) 3.69? ERA

Let’s take it from a different angle. Only 547 pitchers have won 100 games or more. Out of that group, Matt Cain has the second-worst winning percentage (.468) ahead of Bob Friend (.461) who played from 1951-1966. By the way, out of those 547, Clayton Kershaw is number one (.692). I know, I know. It’s tough to swallow.

Point being, despite this adversity, Matt Cain never complained. Never got too frustrated from being “Cained.” Always made time for the media.

Our fledgling site got our credentials in 2011 and we started covering games. During media day in 2014, after interviewing Matt Cain, he asked what I did in my full time job, because apparently, he realized that I wasn’t a professional journalist.

My colleague Ben, replied, “he’s a marine biologist and dives at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.” Cain looked up at me and suggested that I train him to SCUBA dive. Aside from the obvious contractual prohibitions in such an activity, I did set up a tour of the Monterey Bay Aquarium for him through Giants’ PR. A few weeks later, I gave Matt Cain and his family a three hour tour of the aquarium, and even suited up and did a feeding show in the kelp forest tank. After the feeding show is when he recorded our pre-show bumper, and I gifted many of my underwater photographs to his daughter and wife.

 

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Matt Cain is second from left, I’m next to him on the right

 

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Matt Cain and his family look on as a Monterey Bay Aquarium diving safety officer helps me get my full face diving mask off after my kelp forest feeding show.

After that, I covered him at games and the AT&T Pro-Am tournament, where he always refers to me as “aquarium guy!”

I’ll be covering the game on Saturday when he makes his last and final Major League Start, and his last in a Giants uniform. In a park that witnessed the beginning of his career, and some of his major contributions to this franchise’s three world championships.

So, although I have a personal connection to Matt Cain, I will always think of him from a fan’s perspective first.

A gentle Giant. A proud Giant. A Giant forever.

Chad King

Here are our interviews with Matt Cain over the years:

2015:

 

2014:

 

 

 

 

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Episode #129: It’s Almost Over

MLB: World Series-San Francisco Giants at Kansas City Royals

Vogey had some amazing starts with the Giants, and deserves his place in SF lore.

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

Chad and Eric wind down the season with a deep political discussion that some may not want to hear, but what the hell…they’re close to 100 losses.

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Episode #128: Baseball is great, but pray for Texas

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Can we never speak of, or see these creamcicle orange unis ever again? (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

Although we didn’t dwell on the hurricane in Texas, we wanted to mention that thousands, if not more, people, are being severely affected by this storm. Please, donate money, pray, do whatever you can to help those in harm’s way.

As far as baseball, Chad and Eric reconnect with Ben to discuss recent developments in Giants-land from their earliest and official elimination from the West, being swept by Arizona, Kontos to the Pirates, Cain getting bombed…wait a minute, jeez, sounds like we didn’t have fun!

But actually, any time you get three guys talking baseball, no matter how depressing it may seem, it’s actually quite enjoyable, because you know what, there’s real life like in Texas. We do also dwell on more positive topics like the player’s weekend uniforms and the Giants mega-interest in Stanton (like that’s going to happen).

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Episode #127: We Called This Episode 128

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Remember this? Yeah, it’s about the only real memorable contribution made by Connor Gillaspie, who was DFA’s by the Giants yesterday. But, oh what a moment it was. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

So, we lost track of the number. 127, 128…it’s about the same difference as in Matt Moore’s expected and real ERA.

Speaking of Moore, we talk about the huge disappointment he’s been, among other Giants. They are flirting with a 100 loss season, but are throwing in the towel with the youth movement, DFA’ing Connor Gillaspie, sending down Hwang, and calling up Suarez, Jones, Parker and others. If Beede and Arroyo weren’t hurt, we just might have the RiverCats playing out the rest of the Giants’ season!

And yes, we talk about the reunion with the Panda, and trading away a solid player in Eduardo Nunez to the Red Sox for some pocket lint that may not amount to anything.

At least we can look forward to 2034?

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Episode #126: Giants Honor America with a Six-Win Salute

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Sam Dyson is congratulated by Buster Posey after closing out a win against the Pirates in THOSE AWFUL 4TH OF JULY UNIS. Photo: Keith Srakocic, Associated Press

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

Happy birthday, America!

To celebrate, the Giants have won six in a row, and have mystified some Giants’ fans who seem to think “there’s a chance” of making the playoffs.

No. That’s not going to happen.

But, that’s no reason to not celebrate this winning streak, the bullpen, and the timely hitting! I mean, even a guy who goes 1 for 10 with a homerun celebrates that dinger, right?

Eric and Chad talk about what’s gone right for the Giants, why they should trade Cueto, Posey’s selection to the All Star team, the homerun derby, and who’s hot and who’s not.

Stay safe out there! Don’t blow off any fingers and don’t drink and drive.

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Just Accept It: The Giants Can’t Make the Playoffs…but you Already Knew That

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The Giants would have to be almost as good as the 116 win Seattle Mariners to even sniff the playoffs.

I’m seeing some pretty silly posts on Giants fan sites that with a great second half, they could sneak into a wildcard spot.

Sorry, I’ll give you a few seconds to finish laughing and then take a shot while you weep softly.

Yes, most of us understand that’s not going to happen.

However, if some of you truly think it’s possible, I can’t say it’s mathematically impossible. Clearly it’s not. But, let’s just look at numbers and history, shall we?

The Giants are officially half-way through the season and stand with a 30-51 record. First, they’d have to go a mirrored 51-30 just to finish .500. Ok, we can agree that’s outside the realm of plausibility. Let’s look at what it would hypothetically take to grab a wild card spot, however.

The worst wild card record stands at 87 wins by the Giants and Mets in 2014. Technically, this is only .002 pct pts better than the 1995 Rockies that snuck into the playoffs with a 77-67 record in a strike-shortened season. In the expanded wild card era (since 2012), 10 wildcard teams have averaged 91.1 wins. Of course, the one side-exception is the 2006 NL Central champion St. Louis Cardinals who won the World Series after an unprecedented low win total of just 83. That’s just 4 games above .500 for the season. That is an outlier, and for certain, the NL West winner will not have 83 wins, with LA, Arizona and Colorado heading well into the 90 win total.

For sake of argument, let’s take 87 wins as the bare minimum. Then, the Giants would have to go 57-24 the rest of the way. That’s a .703 winning percentage! No MLB team in the modern era has played a half at this level, except the 2001 Seattle Mariners who went 60-21 (.741) in the first half of 2001. Of course, they lost in the ALDS that year, so.

Look, the Giants were incredible in the first half last year, going an MLB-best 57-33 (.633) before the All Star break before a second half collapse that saw them barely make the playoffs (BTW, they were 50-31 at the exact half-way point, almost the mirror image of their record now. That second half collapse is basically continuous with this year’s first half. They’re not a good team right now, nor for the last full seasoned number of games.

Compare this to the Dodgers’ current record, which will sit no worse than 52-29, and that’s only if they lose tonight. They could finish the first half with three more wins than the MLB-best Giants last year. Arizona will also at least match the Giants’ first half record from last year, and could get that 51st win in their 81st game tonight.

Almost certainly, the Giants would need to win more than 87 games to get the wild card, perhaps 89 or 90, which would require the second-best half in MLB modern history, behind the 2001 Mariners first half.

So, back off of the orange Kool-Aid for those of you thinking the Giants “have a chance” to make the playoffs. It’s not happening, but let’s just hope they can avoid the 100 loss embarrassment, which they are on track to exceed.

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Episode #125: 1985 is Calling

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The Giants haven’t been this bad since 1985. At least I remember going to games then. I was 11, but I cared more about my Atari then as well, so…

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

How do you record a podcast for a team that is 20 games under .500 and 20 games back before it’s officially summer? You cry, you laugh, you commiserate. But, one thing is for certain, there is no stress in this season now, so put that in your pipe and smoke it!

Chad, Ben, and Eric join in a proverbial IDGAF podcast to try and dissect what has gone wrong for the Giants this year. After tonight’s 9-0 loss to the Braves, the Giants have a .361 winning percentage, and are on pace for 103 losses. To put this in perspective, since 1883, the Giants have only lost 100 games ONCE. As far as winning percentage, the current club is 3rd worst in history, trailing only the 1943 (.359) and 1902 (.353) Giants. Yeah…since 1883, y’all!!

Clearly, the Giants will be sellers at the trade deadline, but they can’t trade everyone you think they can trade. Belt is in a 3-25 slump, Matt Moore is 0-4 with a 9.24 ERA on the road. Matt Cain is waaaay too expensive and is 0-4 with a 7.46 ERA on the road. The Shark has a no-trade clause. Bum, Posey, and Crawford are untouchable. This leaves the likes of Cueto, Nunez, Panik, Melancon and maybe a couple of others as trade bait.

They need to restock in order to compete in the coming years.

We just didn’t think this year would be historically bad.

Maybe the Giants made a deal with the devil for 3 world championships?

Still. Worth. It.

 

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Episode #124: Well, we thought it was turning around…

San Francisco Giants v St Louis Cardinals

The Shark has been solid lately, striking out 59 while only walking 1. But, there’s the rest of the team…

You can download the episode here, or stream it below!

When we recorded our last podcast two weeks ago, the Giants were 8-2 over their last 10 games, and had pulled within 6 games of .500, but it’s all gone south since. Despite tonight’s win in Milwaukee, the Giants have plummeted to the dredges of MLB with Philly and San Diego. They also lost 2 of 3 to Philly, which was the first series win for Philly in 5 WEEKS.

Eric and Chad discuss their recent woes and now there are rumblings of being a “seller” for the first time since 2007-2008. Posey even reflected on this new era for Giants baseball. Still, we look for highlights and silver linings, and we aren’t quite ready for them to sell just yet.

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