Welcome to Czar's Blog #1 of 2019 - It's time for Baseball. The A's are next week to close out the exhibition schedule, followed by a ten-game home series against the Royal's, Padres and Rockies.

2019 – A Year of mystery with a New President of Baseball Operations, a CEO in Trouble and a Manager on the Cusp of Retirement
 
The major news of the off-season was the Giants recruiting the Dodgers President of Baseball Operations (Farhan Zaidi) to rebuild the team after an injury-marred and disappointing 2018 campaign.  Farhan came in during the off-season, evaluated the team and didn’t make that many changes. Many of the faithful (me included) believe that is because the personnel were good and 2018 was an injury-based aberration.  Farhan is a metrics and analytics guru trained by Billy Bean at the A’s who built the juggernaut now known as the Dodgers, a team (just to remind folks) that still hasn’t won it all since 1988. 

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Welcome to Czar's Blog #10 of 2018 - Spoiler Time

It’s that time of year when we look at the division races and realize that the Giants will come up short. There are not enough games left for any other result to be realistic. When that is coupled with the injuries (Buster, Cueto, Duggar, Samarjdiza, Panda and, today, Ryder Jones, all out for the season), the trades (Cutch for a minor leaguer) and the lack of ability to hit the ball, we are watching a slow-motion train wreck.

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Atlanta & the Pirates - the NL East and NL Central is in Town

Welcome to the 5th Czar’s blog of 2015 celebrating our World Champion San Francisco Giants!  The rules are below. 

 

 

It was the worst of times, and now it is the best of times

 

It’s now hard to recall the month of April, when the G-Men were in last place in the NL West. On April 17th the Giants were 4 and 17 and had lost 5 straight at home.  Since April 18th the boys have been 23 and 11 and are now one game back in the NL West behind the Dodgers, who have cooled off from their torrid start. 

Put another way, a quarter way into the season, if the playoffs were to start tomorrow the G-Men would be the wild card (and how scary would that be to the rest of baseball?)

Why the turnaround?  Well, for one thing, the team is leading the NL in batting average, and is in the top 5 in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS.  The situational hitting is awesome and they are batting .307 with runners in scoring position. Crawford alone is batting .444 with RISP and the entire starting infield is batting at or around .300. On the pitching side the starters for the last 34 games have an ERA under 4 and Bum’s ERA is 1.80 over his last four starts.

The numbers however don’t really tell the story.

What does is the precision with which the team is playing since mid-April. The G-Men now look like a fine-tuned machine hitting on all cylinders (as versus a minor league team trying to find their way).  The Giants are like a Ferrari playing against muscle cars. Bochy and Wotus (his defensive adjustments are genius)  putting players in and out, adjusting the line-up for the best match-ups, using the bullpen at exactly the right time and keeping the players fresh are playing baseball like they are conducting the SF Symphony Orchestra. What a joy to watch.

Getting Hunter Pence back didn’t hurt one bit either.  He is an essential piece and his hitting and presence are clearly major contributing factors to the May run.

The problem with being a Ferrari in a field of Dodge Chargers though is that it’s awfully easy to get out of tune.  Regardless, the personnel changes cannot be faulted.  McGehee is now at Sacramento and Duffy is starting at third (making the entire infield home-grown Giants players – Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford and Duffy – I don’t think that there is another MLB team that can say that). That’s a testament to the front office, Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans

It is really unfortunate that there wasn’t room for ishikawa (who came off the DL this week) but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world for him to be parked at Sacramento for a call-up when needed. 

More personnel changes are clearly also in the works. Matt Cain will soon come off the DL and someone will have to be moved. Who will it be?  Right now all the starters are playing well, including Vogelsong. Strickland came up and is pitching lights out in the 7th and fits smoothly into the relief core. Maybe Strickland goes down because he has options, or maybe Machi (the least effective of the relievers) goes down.  Peavy is in rehab starts at San Jose and is getting shelled.  He might be done.

 

Can this pace be sustained?

 

Traditionally the Giants have loved May and hated June.  The month to come is really significant. Right  now the Giants are on a pace for a 110 win season. If they can keep it up that would be in the territory of the 1927 Yankees (who finished 110-44).  I don’t think that we are in that league (certainly not from a HR perspective – that team had Gehrig and Ruth) but again the Ferrari versus muscle car metaphor is a good one. In June the long grind begins.

Looking back at the last month of baseball (not to mention the last road trip) the G-Men swept the Angels and the Dodgers at home (the LA sweep was truly sweet – not just a sweep but a three game shutout) and the Brewers on the road.

There is no hotter team in baseball right now than the Giants and in every series from now on the target will be on their backs.  That is how it should be for the world champions.

I watch every game in awe. Bochy is the master at keeping an even keel and almost all of his moves are working right now.  When the biggest open question is how many of your starters are going to make the All-Star team (Crawford, Posey and Bumgarner for sure) you are having a pretty good time. 

The bottom line is that it’s time for the manager and the coaches to keep the team on an even keel and playing at this level.  We are one game behind the Dodgers and headed upward.  The Dodgers are still living off their torrid start in April. We could pull into first place over the next seven games at home.  That would be sweet.

 

The Upcoming Series against the Braves and the Pirates

 

The Braves are playing .500 ball and are holding strong in 3rd place in the NL East.  They just beat the Dodgers at home (but lost the series) and are coming into AT&T with something to prove. So far Atlanta has been steady, sweeping the weak teams (the Marlins and the Brewers), playing well against the teams out of their division and losing to the Nationals and the Mets.  This four game series will be a test for the Giants playing at home. The G-Men are the stronger team on paper but the Braves are solid and have always played well against the Giants.

After the Braves are the Pirates, who are in third place in the NL Central (2 games over .500), which is a dog fight all of its own.  The Pirates are holding their own (barely) against the Cardinals and beating up on Miami and the Mets (who are leading the NL East).  The Pirates are a good team and will be a test for the Giants pitching staff,

These are two good teams and the next week of baseball at China basin will be a lot of fun.

It’s time for baseball!

 

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

 

The Czar

Giants v. Phillies; Giants v. Braves

Greetings to all of our friends who love the two-time World Champion SF Giants! The G-Men are now 16 and 12 and having a weird year so far

Let’s start this blog off on a philosophical note.  There are a 162 games in a season and you can’t win every one.  If the G-Men finish with 92 wins they are an almost certain lock to win the NL West (they are now in 2nd place behind the torrid Rockies) or to get into the playoffs. 92 wins translates to a .567 season long wins versus losses ratio.  The Gigantes are currently winning at a .571 clip.  They are where they need to be so undue worry isn’t justified.

April has been weird. For example, the G-Men have already been involved in 5 series where there were sweeps.  The Giants won three of them (Rockies, Padres and Diamondbacks) and lost two (Brewers and Padres).  In addition, it seems like a majority of the games that they have won have been come from behind victories after the starters got pounded. Lots of late inning heroics (like Belt’s three run homer in the 8th inning against the Snakes on Wednesday night in AZ).

So, let’s see what May will bring us, besides flowers and margaritas.

The Positives

Come from behind victories are a sign of character in a ball club; that means they never give up and they have confidence in themselves.  The G-Men have character to spare.  The fact Zito is still leading the team in batting average shows that.

In terms of players, Brandon Crawford (who has started every game but has cooled off at the plate) is making people forget all previous Giants shortstops (except maybe Omar and Richie). He is awesome, seldom makes errors and has shown enormous extra base power (tied with Pence with 5 homers, wow!).  Nick Noonan is a total gamer.  Who would have known?  He is batting something like .310 and will soon be pushing Scutaro for a starting job. He has already pushed Arias out of his usual late inning role.

Belt went into a slump but came out of it in a big way with game winning homers and hits.  It seems that the flu that caused him to lose 20 pounds in April and lose his stroke may have run its course.

Buster is picking up the pace after a totally flat April (he’s up to .267) and the Panda (4) and Pence (5) are blasting homers and generally looking like we expected them to look (fearsome at the plate with power to spare; the 470 foot Pence home run in Arizona was pretty awesome).

The Negatives

The starting pitchers are getting hammered.  They all (except Bumgarner, who is now the stopper) keep giving up big innings.  If someone had told me in March that Cain would have a 6.8 ERA and no wins in April I would have said they were crazy. Vogelsong is not far behind Cain, and Timmy is also over 4.  Zito (who is pitching tonight against Kershaw) has had a couple of meltdowns but is generally pitching well with 3 wins so far.

One of the really strange things is that the hitters the starters are not getting out seem to be the opposing teams 8th and 9th place batters. Opposing team pitchers are feasting on Giants pitching (first career home runs and the like).  That is a sign of a loss of concentration.

The bullpen (especially Romo, who has 11 saves already) is steady with Kontos and Gaudin being the best long guys.  The question now is what will happen when Affeldt gets off the DL (hopefully soon). Machi has been a revelation (he was brought up when Affeldt went down) and it will be hard to send him down again.  The problem is that he is a right hander.  The G-Men also seem to have a plethora of good young pitchers in the minors so if someone isn’t cutting it (do you hear footsteps Javier Lopez?) there are alternatives in Fresno.

On the defensive side of things there have been some brain fart type of errors (especially in the outfield) that have cost games.  Blanco and Pagan (both batting well above .280) both allowed the same guy to advance to 2nd in two different games and in both he scored what turned out to be the winning run. Hopefully the coaches are working on this.

The Series to come

The Dodgers are 2 and half games back of the G-Men but hitting better as a team (Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzales and Matt Kemp are total studs).  The Dodgers problems have been injuries, pitchers and head cases (mostly pitchers but I put Hanley Ramirez in the head case category).  Tonight Kershaw goes against Zito.  This weekend will be a good test of the G-Men sucking up April and starting to play more consistent ball.

The Phillies are in 3rd place in the NL East and basically playing .500 ball right now. Their big hitters are Michael Young and Chase Utley.  They have Kevin Frandson (remember him?) at third base. They also have some struggling starters (Halliday with an ERA of almost 7?) so the series should be very interesting. The Giants have a real chance here to make up some ground in the standings if they can hit the Phillies starters hard.

The challenge is going to be the Braves.  The tomahawk team is seriously hot right now. They are 17 and 11 and leading the NL East.  They are the team to beat.  Their big boppers are Justin Upton (traded from the Snakes because he was a head case) and Brian Johnson, the best catcher in the game not named Buster Posey. Their pitching has been great (most of their starters are hovering in the 3 ERA range) and the pitchers can hit (Tim Hudson has the best BA on the team – he and Zito were once teammates – maybe it was in the water in Oakland). If the Giants can take this four game series (or even split) they will have established themselves as the team to beat.

Ciao, and GO GIANTS!

The Czar

Giants v. Braves

The Positives:  As of this morning, the Giants are in second place in the NL West, one half game behind the Dodgers.  Given what happened with Melky this week, that’s the positives.  OK, for more, Buster Posey is practically single-handedly carrying the team, Brandon Belt and Crawford are playing very good ball and hitting well (both averages are climbing, and Crawford has an 8 game hitting streak), Hunter Pence is starting to show what he can do (which is attack the ball; his swing is vicious), and the PANDA IS BACK! The Questions: What was Melky thinking?  That he wouldn’t get caught? That his agents would protect him? That the Barry Bonds lesson has been forgotten? A 50 game suspension basically means that he’s never coming back to the Giants (I agree with JT Snow) and we need to move on. The question is how?  Soriano hates SF (and he’s an asshole besides carrying a $45 million contract – he did clear waivers I understand) and anyway there is no one out there capable of hitting .351 and carrying a team from the three-hole. Is Gary Brown ready?  Probably not. Sabean might or might not make some moves.  Frankly, he may not need to.  The line-up is good (not as good as with Melky) but good so if the pitchers come through the playoffs could still happen.  I heard Marty Lurie on NPR yesterday predicting that the G-Men would win the division.  Right on Marty!

The Negatives:  The pitching staff looks tired.  Two bad starts in a row for Vogelsong and Zito and we need to see what Lincecum does this week against the Dodgers. Cain and Bumgarner are still looking strong. The relievers have also been giving it up and we don’t have a closer; this closer by committee idea is a dog that won’t hunt. I won’t even talk about the line-up.  They just need to suck it up.

The Division: It’s between the G-Men and the Dodgers. The Gigantes go into Chavez Ravine tonight a half game down to the Dodgers and can expect taunts of “cheaters” by the blue crowd (as we say at the Lair, “blue cheats”).  The response should be one word (“Manny”!!) at the top of our lungs at Kemp. It’s going to be vicious from here on until the end of September.  Almost all of the games are against the NL West, and the majority are at home.  This is it, the stretch run.  Remember the 1951 Giants came from 13 game back to beat the Dodgers, we can do it also.

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  2. Wine in a 250 ML can – the Mystery of the TTB packaging Regulations and Solving the Problem by Amending the Regulations
  3. The Passing of John Manfreda of the TTB: a Tragedy for his family and a Tragedy for the Industry he so Faithfully Served for so Long.
  4. Pride in a Job Well-done, or Blood Money? The Cost of Learning the Truth from the TTB about the Benefits to Investigators from Making Cases Against Industry Members
  5. How ADA Website Compliance Works – The Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself, Your Website and Your Social Media from Liability
  6. Supplier and Distributor Promotional “Banks,” Third Party Promotion Companies and Inconsistent TTB Enforcement, Oh My!
  7. “A Wrong Without a Remedy – Not in My America” – The TTB Death Penalty for Not Reporting Deaths
  8. Is a 1935 Alcohol Beverage Federal Trade Practice Law Stifling Innovation?
  9. Decoding the BCC’s Guidance on Commercial Cannabis Activity.
  10. Prop 65 - Escaping a "Notice of Violation"
  11. TTB Consignment Sales Investigations - What is Behind the Curtain of the TTB Press Releases?
  12. Heads Up! The ABC Is Stepping Up Enforcement Against Licensees Located Near Universities
  13. Coming Soon: New Mandatory Training Requirements for over One Million “Alcohol Servers” In California – September 1, 2021 will be here quickly
  14. 2019 Legislative Changes for California Alcohol Producers – a Blessing or a Curse?
  15. A Picture (On Instagram) Is Worth A Thousand Words
  16. Playing by the Rules: California Cannabis Final Regulations Takeaways
  17. Hinman & Carmichael LLP Names Erin Kelleher Partner and Welcomes Gillian Garrett and Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho to the Firm
  18. Congress Makes History and Changes the CBD Game for Good
  19. Pernicious Practices (stuff we see that will get folks in trouble!) Today’s Rant – Bill & Hold
  20. CBD: An Exciting New Fall Schedule… or Not?
  21. MISSISSIPPI RISING - A VICTORY FOR LEGAL RETAILER TO CONSUMER SALES, AND PASSAGE OF TITLE UNDER THE UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE
  22. California ABC's Cannabis Advisory - Not Just for Stoners
  23. NEW CALIFORNIA WARNINGS FOR ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES AND CANNABIS PRODUCTS TAKE EFFECT AUGUST 30, 2018, NOW INCLUDING ADDENDUM REGARDING 2014 CONSENT AGREEMENT PARTIES AND PARTICIPANTS
  24. National Conference of State Liquor Administrators – The Alcohol Industry gathers in Hawaii to figure out how to enforce the US “Highly Archaic Regulatory Scheme.”
  25. Founder John Hinman Honored with the Raphael House Community Impact Award
  26. ROUTE TO MARKET AND MARKETING RESTRICTIONS - NAVIGATING REGULATORY SYSTEM CONSTRAINTS
  27. Alcohol and Cannabis Ventures: Top 5 Legal Considerations
  28. ATF and TTB: Is Another Divorce on the Horizon? What’s Going on with the Agency?
  29. STRIKE 3 - YOU REALLY ARE OUT! THE ABC'S STRICT APPLICATION OF PENALTIES FOR SALES TO MINORS
  30. TTB Temporarily Fixes Problem with Fulfillment Warehouse Tax Credits - an “Alternate Procedure” for Paying Taxes & Reporting
  31. CUSTOMERS WHO HAVE HAD ONE TOO MANY - THE FREE TRANSPORTATION DILEMMA
  32. The Renaissance of Federal Unfair Trade Practices - Current Issues and Strategies
  33. ‘Twas the week before New Year’s and the ABC is out in Force – Alerts for the Last Week of 2017, including the Limits on Free Rides
  34. Big Bottles, Caviar and a CA Wine Strong Silent Auction for the Holidays!
  35. The FDA and the Wine and Spirits Industry – Surprise inspections anyone?
  36. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: UPDATED REGULATORY AGENCY DISASTER RELIEF RESOURCES AT A GLANCE
  37. NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES: REGULATORY AGENCY DISASTER RELIEF RESOURCES AT A GLANCE
  38. Soon to come to your Local Supermarket– Instant Redeemable Coupons of the digital age!
  39. The License Piggyback Dilemma – If it Sounds Too Good to be True, it Probably is
  40. A timely message from our Florida colleagues on the tied house laws, the three-tier system and the need for reform
  41. ABC Declaratory Rulings – A Modest Proposal Whose Time has Come
  42. More on FDA Inspections - Breweries, Distilleries and Questions
  43. WHY THE FDA IS INSPECTING WINERIES
  44. Senate Bill 378—The Proposed Demise of Due Process for Alcohol Licensees
  45. ABC Enforcement - Trends and Predictions
  46. The Corruption Chronicles – Volume One: A New Hope
  47. New Alcohol Delivery Oversight on the Horizon
  48. Michigan: Canary in the DtC Coal Mine?
  49. California ABC and Federal Credit Laws – Active Enforcement and Lots of Questions!
  50. Big Bottles For The Holidays - The Highest Calling Of The Winemaker's Art
  51. FINAL COMMENTS TO TTB NOTICE 160 DUE ON WEDNESDAY DECEMBER 7TH – WE ARE ASKING THE TTB TO EXTEND THE COMMENT PERIOD AGAIN TO ALLOW FOR INDUSTRY NEGOTIATION AND ALIGNMENT OF INTERESTS
  52. SONOMA COUNTY WINERY USE PERMITS, EVENT RESTICTIONS AND DTC
  53. New TTB Labeling Requirement Regulations: Out-of-State Bottling Is Not Created Equal and Consumers Right to Know Where the Grapes in their Wine Come from is Compromised
  54. Isn't A Written Agreement With A Distributor Worthless In A Franchise State?
  55. Crowd Funding for Alcohol Producers and Retailers – Down the Rabbit Hole with the Tied House laws
  56. Everything you ever wanted to know about the BPA Warning Statement but were afraid to ask
  57. AB 2082 - A Hunting License for Police and a Lethal Weapon for Politicians that Deprives Licensees of Currently Available Due Process Rights
  58. “Better Late Than Never”-- Judge in Illinois Dismisses 201 Sales Tax Cases against Retailers
  59. The Day the Music Almost Died: The Story of the BottleRock ABC Accusations, the ABC Appeals Board and a Victory for a Common Sense Interpretation of the Tied House Laws
  60. The Arsenic in Wine Class Action Dismissal – what it means
  61. Counterfeit or Artisanal Mexican Spirits? Pick your Poison, or your lime wedge
  62. Warning - CA ABC enforcement teams are on the prowl this weekend!
  63. RELIEF AT LAST! ILLINOIS MOVES TO FIX THE SALES TAX LAWSUITS AGAINST OUT-OF-STATE SELLERS BUT PROPOSES TO PENALIZE WINERIES AND RETAILERS THAT SHIP WITHOUT PERMITS
  64. The TTB Speaks on Category Management or, be Careful What you Ask for Because you might Get it!
  65. Hinman & Carmichael LLP Announces the Addition of Jeremy Siegel to its team of top beverage law lawyers
  66. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part IV
  67. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part III
  68. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part II
  69. 2016 LEGISLATIVE UPDATES: Part I
  70. Hinman & Carmichael LLP is Hiring!
  71. John Hinman Presents NBI Webinar on Basics of Alcohol Beverage Law
  72. ABC DISMISSES SAVE MART GRAPE ESCAPE ACCUSATION BUT REFUSES TO ADOPT JUDGE’S DECISION FINDING NO STRICT LIABILITY FOR ABC VIOLATIONS
  73. Speakeasies are still with us, and proliferating!
  74. The War for the Soul of Sonoma County – the Winery Working Group Battle
  75. Santa Claus isn’t the only one coming to town this Christmas!
  76. Arizona's Direct to Consumer Shipping Rules - An Exercise in Complexity
  77. AB 780 - Social Media and the ABC: The California Legislative “Fix” that Fails
  78. Illinois Finally Offers Certainty and Relief for Victims of Sales Tax Lawsuits, but Prompt Action is Required in Pending Cases
  79. A Modest Proposal – Adopt the federal rule on Tied-House liability in California
  80. The Grapes Escaped - Why the First Amendment Matters
  81. Appellate Court Ruling Strikes Blow Against State’s Arbitrary Beer Label Ban
  82. Illinois Attorney General's Office Announces Intention to Dismiss False Claims Act Against Liquor Retailers
  83. Commercial Speech And Alcoholic Beverages - Part III
  84. Commercial Speech And Alcoholic Beverages - Part II
  85. Craft Beverages: Social Media Marketing the Effective and Compliant Way
  86. Commercial Speech And Alcoholic Beverages - Part I
  87. A LAYPERSON LOOKS AT ARSENIC IN WINE
  88. The Biggest Retailer in the World vs. the TABC
  89. Rebecca Stamey-White presents Emerging Issues in Wine Law
  90. Top Beverage Alcohol Law Firm Adds and Elevates Partners
  91. Illinois Qui Tam Lawsuits—Private Enforcement Of a State Claim: A Bonanza For A Plaintiff’s Lawyer And A Rip-Off Of Retailers
  92. BOOZE RULES OF SOCIAL MEDIA: The Retailer Right to Pay Exception
  93. LIONS AND TIGERS AND TWEETS, OH MY!
  94. AB 2004: Brewer's Incremental Parity with Wine Makers
  95. Expanding, Proud Of It, and Wanting to Tell the World
  96. DC Weighs in Strongly on Third Party Marketer Delivery Services
  97. “Visual Links” between Beer, Wine and Spirits Labels and Retailers Ruled Unlawful in California — the tied house laws run amok
  98. Hard Cider Legislative Update
  99. New Marketing Model for New York – Lot 18 and the NYSLA
  100. Sweeping Changes in Proposed NYSLA Bill Include Expansion for Craft