Silly, Silly Mat Latos

Matt Latos, pitcher for the San Diego Padres, recently signed three baseballs with the words, “I hate SF!” These are powerful words coming from a dude that only has one full year in the Bigs under his belt.

As a devout Giants fan living in San Diego, I feel some pull to take responsibility for the divisive words of my fellow sun bronzed So Cal local (enjoy that mildly fabricated visual snapshot). I believe there are two ways to approach this bold, but immature statement:

1. Get Offended and Angry: Latos pitched pretty well against the Giants last year. Not dominant, but solid. With that said, Latos is far from a proven veteran. There are some guys who run their mouth and it is somewhat expected in the wonderful world of overpaid/immature athlete discourse. But those guys’ comments become an afterthought once they hit 40+ homers or win 20+ games the following year. Mat Latos is certainly not one of those guys (yet). In fact, he sandwiched his solid year by going 1-2 with a 6.20ERA in March/April and 1-5 with a 5.66 ERA in Sept/Oct. So, how could a guy with only one year of big league experience, who pitched terribly when it counted, say something like this? It is offensive, immature and will certainly create a heated rivalry in 2011.

2. Laugh Whilst Waving the WS Trophy: Maybe Latos was just trying to be funny? Even if he was, no Giants fan will give him that much credit, so we must continue to assume that he was trying to take an unwarranted jab. With that said, a Giants fan should be thrilled about his comments. Not only did he make himself look bad, he offered another opportunity to show off our World Series Trophy. What better way to offer a sterling rebuttal than to simply step to the trophy closet and begin to polish your hardware? I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard a fan’s recent response to Latos’ actions: “Lincecum should sign a ball that says ‘Who the (*&% is MattLatos’?”

Bottom line: Writing “I hate SF” isn’t intimidating…in fact, it might be showing some insecurity on the part of a team that collapsed in historical proportions down the stretch. Now, Latos can quiet his “haters” by pitching lights out next year (specifically against the Giants), but if he doesn’t he will realize the ceaseless brutality of a fan base that not only was offended, but has the pride of a championship banner to point to.

So was it something to get offended by, or to laugh at? Is there a third approach?



Scrap Heap Signings

Let’s reflect. Growing up, I was able to pick any cereal once a year on my birthday. This was a big deal in my 8-year-old world for three reasons:

  1. I never got to eat “sugar” cereal. Lots of bran and strong intestinal tracts in my family.
  2. Cereal was my favorite food.
  3. The potential for not only some good cereal, but a sweet toy that was hidden in the box/bag.

Looking up and down the aisle like a giddy schoolboy, I would pick the cereal with the best potential for tasty cereal and a worthy toy. I would often go for the knock off cereal like “Lieutenant Crunch” due to its larger size and toy potential.

We are in the time of the baseball year where teams are scrambling to patch the remaining holes in their roster with second-rate talent. As exciting as it is to see Craig Counsel sign for his 17th one year contract with the Milwaukee Brewers, it is a time when teams are hoping to find decent enough players to simply survive.

But underneath all the mundane signings, there is a tasty morsel of deliciousness that every MLB GM seeks to uncover. No, none of the GM’s will ever admit that any of these players will be “season changers” for their respective squad, but that doesn’t mean they still don’t hold out hope that their signing will be the one that everyone talks about. They will dig deep into that bag (because most generic cereals come in bags) of “Lieutenant Crunch” and try to unearth that toy that will revolutionize their season.

For every Craig Counsel, Fred Lewis, Terry Mulholland (yes, I just went late 80’s) and Garrett Atkins, there is a hidden jewel that is going to perform WAY over expectation and make every GM look like they have the foresight of an Old Testament prophet.

Enter the greatness that is Pat Burrell. He was sent to the scrap heap by Tampa Bay in the middle of 2010 and thought to be done. All the GM’s holding out to uncover the “toy” of greatness were scurrying around trying to find the piece that would send their team towards a second half playoff run. Initially signed to a minor league deal by the SF Giants, he became the power-bat-spark that played a huge role in getting the team to World Series.

I can still remember the scene of his clutch late inning HR against the Dodgers that stuck like an arrow in their heart. I was sitting on the patio of my buddy’s sunny Santa Cruz home drinking an adult beverage when David B. Flemming’s voice echoed through the Redwoods announcing the HR that we would never forget.

So, let’s sit back, nibble on some “Lieutenant Crunch” and watch all the GM’s scramble in the hopes that our team finds the hidden morsel of deliciousness that makes us say, “Brian Sabean is @%$W&* genius.”