Sunday, May 30, 2010

Posey Diary: A Recap of Buster Posey's 2010 Debut With the Giants

Sometimes you just get lucky. In 1995, I was able to see Tino Martinez hit the game winning home run for the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome off Dennis Eckersley in the bottom of the ninth. In 2005, I saw Adam Morrison bank in the game winning shot against Oklahoma State in Seattle.

You don't really anticipate great moments. They just happen.

Tonight was one of those moments.

When my Dad got tickets to tonight's game a few days ago, he didn't know Buster Posey was going to make his debut against the Diamondbacks on May 29th. I didn't know either. Heck, nobody except Brian Sabean and his management team knew really.

Nonetheless, Posey was making his debut and my Mom, Dad and I were lucky to see it.

Here is a breakdown of Posey's debut, "diary" style.

Lineup announcements

I like the lineup announcements at AT&T Park for some reason. They always have cool music. Juan Uribe always has a "money" look on his face when he turns to the camera. Bruce Bochy always looks awkward. And this year, they had these special effects where it looked like some kind of "techno" thing (more on this later).

Anyways, the lineup announcements went as usual. With the big guys (e.g. Pablo Sandoval and Uribe) getting the big cheers and the other (e.g. Aaron Rowand and Eli Whiteside) getting slightly better than golf clap support.

When Posey's name was announced in the sixth spot, however, the crowd roared. Last year, I attended Ryan Garko's first game as a Giant (not exactly witnessing greatness there), and he didn't get close to the response Posey received. You knew it was going to be a special day judging by the crowd's response to Posey. Even a guy who had been subdued thirty minutes before the game, seemingly drained from having to chaperon his daughter and their two friends, went ballistic when Posey was announced.

Top of the first inning, first batter

Kelly Johnson hits a bullet down the first base line. Posey makes a dive, but he's too off the line to make a play. You can hear some worry in the crowd after the play, as if everyone is thinking "Oh crap, maybe putting Buster at first wasn't the best idea." Thankfully, nothing comes out of it, as Jonathan Sanchez pitches his characteristic "20- plus pitch, but without any damage" inning.

Bottom of the first, Posey's first at-bat

There are runners on first and second when Posey gets up to the plate. The whole place gives him a huge standing ovation. Seriously, I don't think I have seen any Giant this young have this much anticipation. Sure, Lincecum was hyped, but he looked good down the stretch in 2007, so you knew he was going to bring good things in 2008. Pablo Sandoval was a relative surprise, so we didn't have the anticipation time. Posey blows this out of the water. He's probably the third most exciting player to Giants fans behind Lincecum and Sandoval. And yes, he hasn't taken an at-bat this year until today.

Posey works the count to 1-1, looking calm and collected at the plate. On the next pitch, he stays behind the ball and laces a line drive single up the middle. Sanchez scores from second and the crowd goes ballistic. You couldn't have asked for more from Posey in his first at-bat this year. Patient, makes good contact, easy swing, and drives in a run. Can't say we've seen that a lot from other Giants hitters this year (cough...Bengie Molina...cough).

(Notice I have to say this year after everything; it's funny, because it feels like a Major League debut when it really isn't considering he had a wee bit of playing time last September. I am also the 100th person to make this observation.)

Bottom of the third, Posey's second at-bat

It's "kid announces the lineup" inning, and he does a good job for the first couple of batters. Nails the "UUUURIBBE" and everything. However, Uribe knocks in a home run and it throws the kid in a loop and he isn't able to announce Posey's name, which ruins the moment of his second at-bat. Ironically, the only time they don't announce his name at the plate, Posey flies out to right.

Surprisingly, it is one of the most exciting pop ups all day. Considering the hype after his first hit, along with the Uribe home run on the previous at-bat, the crowd is ready to explode. As soon as the ball in the air, people get up immediately thinking it has a shot of going out. Whiteside hits that ball and people are thinking about heading to the Doggie Diner to stand in line for a nine dollar beer.

Bottom of the fifth, Posey's third at-bat

Posey's best at-bat of the day. With the bases load, he takes two pitches and milks the count to 2-0. He gets a fastball but he shrugs it off to make the count 2-1. On the next pitch he sees a breaking ball and drives it up the middle for a single. The crowd goes ballistic again. Posey is making this look so easy, as if he is playing pepper with the Arizona pitching staff. A.J. Hinch changes pitchers after Posey's single makes it five to zero.

Posey's already earned Player of the Game honors and the game isn't even over. That's how big he has been today. In three at-bats at this point, he has two hits and two RBI. All in his 2010 debut. I guess Triple-A stats mean something, right Sabes?

Top of the Sixth

In the beginning of the sixth, Stephen Drew hits a groundball to Posey. Posey fields it cleanly, but kind of does a "should I toss or run to the bag" thing. The action kind of throws off Romo, who runs to the bag anyways. Posey at the last minutes tosses the ball to the covering Romo. They make the out, but Drew steps on Romo's foot in the process. Romo is pissed and yells as he walks it off. Two interesting things happen:

1.) Posey says nothing to Romo, as if he knows Romo is pissed off at him for waiting so long to make up his mind (Posey says this in the postgame on KNBR) and he doesn't want to invoke anything else and 2.) no training staff sees Romo after the out, though it's obvious he was stepped on. Seriously, I thought training staffs were supposed to look at every little thing?

The more important moment of the inning? The Giants have on the video a "Pump your first" inning. What makes it better is the clips from "Jersey Shore" mixed in with shots of fans pumping their fists to a song "Pump your fist" around the stadium. Ironically, this isn't the first "Jersey Shore" reference at AT&T Park today (Lincecum says Mark Derosa would be the best teammate to be on "Shore"). I find it amazing how this MTV show has penetrated Major League Baseball this year, from The Situation's Vitamin Water commercial with David Wright to the "Pump your fist" inning at AT&T Park.

Oh, I'm not complaining about any of this by the way.

Bottom of the seventh, Posey's fourth at-bat

Runners on second and third and Posey is up again. After taking a first called strike, Posey laces the next pitch between the third baseman and shortstop for a single. Sandoval scores and Posey has his third hit of the day. As Posey takes off his gloves at first base, he is greeted again by first base coach Roberto Kelly who has a look on his face that says "And we kept you HOW LONG in Fresno?" This Kelly face however is topped later in the inning after Denny Bautista's hit. After Bautista's "swing from your shoes and pray to God the ball hits your bat" hit, Kelly greets the reliever at first with a look that says "You have to give Rowand a hard time when you get back in the dugout."

Overall, you couldn't be happier with Posey's debut. Three hits, three RBI and some solid defense at first. Granted, I still want him to catcher, but Posey is athletic enough to play the position for the time being. Then again, I'm not worried about Posey's defense right now. He is hitting, and if he can spark the Giants offense like he did tonight, then well...the Giants will be thankful they called up Posey sooner than they wanted to.

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