Amaury Pi-Gonzalez

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                              There is no doubt, the American League is superior

Like everything in history, things are cyclical. In baseball during the past decade the American League has proven to be a superior league. In every type of competition the metric favors the junior circuit. As a matter of fact the American League has been dominant during the past 10 to 15 years.

But, for the sake or argument, let’s just go back to 1997. The year when the Interleague games began. The very first game was played at The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas as the San Francisco Giants visited the Texas Rangers. I as there and at that time I had no idea how things will develop as far as the rivalry between leagues. Many opposed it, because baseball was the only of the major sports that had a separation in which one league would never play the other. Only during Spring Training and World Series, prior to 1997 both leagues faced each other.

Since 1997 only four (4) times the National League won more games than the American League during interleague competition. This year (2008) the American League won 147 games while the National League won 102. The grand total since 1997: American League 1,536 wins over the National League 1,419.

The mastery of the junior circuit is even more evident during All Star Games. The American League has won all nine (9) All Star Games since 1997, the National League has won none (0). With the 2002 Midsummer Classic ending in a famous tie. It we go back to 1997 and see what has happened in World Series competition, there is no  difference. The American League teams have won 7 World Series to 4 for the National  League.

The most successful teams since Interlegue began are the New York Yankees 123-86 a .589 winning percentage with the Oakland Athletics in second place, 123-89 a .580 winning percentage. The San Francisco Giants are a mediocre 89-89 .500 in interleague play.

The original rivalries in interleague have been the teams that play in the same areas or nearby. New York Yankees vs. New York Mets, Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels, Florida Marlins vs. Tampa Bay Rays. Those are the real geographical rivalries. The rest are a stretch. Of course the Seattle Mariners vs. San Diego Padres is a forced rivalry. These teams play as far as the can on the west coast, but what else can you do? It would seem that the Padres and the Angels would be the best for the San Diego team, due to that between Orange County and Anaheim is just a couple of hours on the road, without traffic.

On the positive side, events like the New York Yankees visiting Pittsburgh this month of June 2008 for the first time since their World Series in 1960 made news, but aside from that sort of event, interleague is becoming very mundane.

                                     Giant's Owner "Retirement"


San Francisco Giants owner Peter Magowan announced he will retire effective October 1, 2008. This is a move many never expected. I have always regarded Magowan as a real baseball man, a classy baseball owner, a businessman that once ran Safeway but his heart has always been in the world of baseball. Since his younger days in New York as a New York Giants fan, Peter Magowan has lived and died with the game of baseball, sharing the passion for the game, unlike many other owners that are just in “for the business”.


When I first met Peter Magowan he had just bought the Giants in the early 1992 for $100 million dollars. The biggest problem with the team he inherited from owner Bob Lurie was the place where the Giants played their 81 home games since they arrived from New York. That place is Candlestick Park. In an 11-hour effort Magowan and a group of local investors bought the Giants in December 1992 and therefore prevented the franchise eventual move to Tampa, Florida.

Magowan wanted the Giants and he wanted to keep them in San Francisco. He basically saved the Giants from moving to Florida. He not only bought the Giants but also made them a contender. For many years of dying attendance at Candlestick Park, years when the average attendance per game at Candlestick was around 10,000 per game, Magowan was well aware the Giants fans needed not only a new facility (one talked about many many times but never brought to fruition) but also they needed a player of superstar quality.

By the way and from personal experience, I covered many games at Candlestick Park with 11,000 fans in attendance, and those real fans made more noise and were much more involved with the action than the usual 40,000 yuppies at ATT.

After his retirement this next October 1, 2008, he would have been the Giants president and managing general partner for 16 seasons. One of baseball most progressive owners was instrumental of the bringing Barry Lamar Bonds to San Francisco, very soon after buying the team in December of 1992.

Under Peter Magowan ownership the San Francisco Giants built one of the most beautiful and popular new parks in baseball. ATT Park in San Francisco, since its inauguration in the year 2000. Since the 2000 season the Giants have averaged over 3 million fans each year and around 40,000 per game.

The departure of Magowan, right after the departure of Barry Bonds signals, for sure, the end of an era. The euphoria of a great new facility (including myself, I never thought the Giants would build a new park in San Francisco) the all-time homerun king, Barry Bonds, would play for the Giants from 1993 to 2007 and end his career with 762 home runs.

Giants fans lived for many years with the procrastination of a new ballpark. Even at one time the Giants were moving to San José, remember? The political climate in San Francisco, a city of 750,000 people that under many mayors and supervisors wanted to fix the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua but not fix the potholes in the Mission District, were like a joke to the people that wanted to see a new ballpark in San Francisco.

But with the entire positive during Peter Magowan’s reign in San Francisco also came some negative. In 2002 the Giants reached the World Series for the third time, after losing in 1962 to the New York Yankees and in 1989 to the Oakland Athletics during the Loma Prieta Earthquake, the Giants won the National League, but lost the World Series in seven games to the Angels. Then came the negative stuff. The Steroids Era and its poster boy Barry Bonds currently charged with 14 counts of lying and one count of obstruction of justice. Magowan, 66 years old, said his retirement was not based on the baseball steroids scandal, but history might have it differently, if anything for the reason that Barry Bonds played and made history with the Giants in San Francisco during the years Magowan owned the team. Nobody can escape the fact that we are living in The Steroids Era.

Most baseball people will miss Magowan. I will definitely miss him. He was always ready to answer questions, available to the media, happy to see friends at the ballpark, Giants fans that will always have to thank him for keeping the Giants in San Francisco. A baseball owner that always enjoyed the game. This is not the case all the time, for example; the owner of the Seattle Mariners, have never seen his team play a game in the United States. If not for Peter Magowan the Giants would be today the Tampa Bay Giants.                        
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Memories of 40 years in Oakland: Broadcasting behind the plate

Going back, back to 1986. The year of rookie José Canseco, the second season in Oakland for a young pitcher by the name of José Rijo. The year where the highest salary on the team was that of pitcher Joaquin Andjuar, over $1.3 million and the year when we broadcasted in Spanish on KNTA 1430 AM radio from behind the plate. When I recently heard on an A’S broadcast Ken Korach talking about some places in the minor leagues were he called the games from boxes around the field, I had no choice but to share with everybody this true story of our on the field broadcast location. A location unique for a major league team.


Yes. We broadcasted the games at the Oakland Coliseum from under a canopy installed directly behind home plate, where today they have those expensive seats. The canopy covers us from the hard sun during afternoon games and had the letters and frequency of the radio station. Today KNTA 1430 AM broadcasts in Chinese. This was an idea by then General Manager of KNTA radio Mr. Gene Hogan (know retired) it was a great free promotion for the station. All games televised at Oakland locally or around the country would show us and the canopy with the ID letters of the station, especially for every pitch, from the camera in centerfield. What a promotion for the station. Those were the days were no advertising was sold and place behind the plate.


The weird thing about this location, unique in all of baseball that season, is that many players (Spanish speaking) would sit down with us during the middle of the game, like José Rijo, who sat with us charting pitches of that day’s pitcher. It was not easy to call a game from there. The “advantage” is actually a disadvantage especially those line drives over first or third base. It is not easy to follow the ball in those instances because of the contours of the field and it sorts of fade away.


Yours truly, Evelio Areas Mendoza and Julio González would broadcast all the home games from that advantage. I enjoyed it, but it was not as easy to broadcast as a game from the regular location in the press box/broadcast level. The best view to broadcast a game, for radio or television is not on the field level, but those were the days of the “real”Oakland Coliseum. No Mount Davis, you could see the hills and the BART trains going north and south. Yes, the Coliseum has never been an ideal place for baseball, but at least then it looked much more like a baseball park and not like today with that monstrosity of cement for all to see behind left, center and part of right field.


Ironically, it was not the Oakland A’S management that complained of our location, or the fans, or the players (all teams) but some scouts who thought we were stealing signs for the Athletics. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sometimes we could get a high pop up falling behind us, to the right or to our left or like many times, hitting the canopy on the very top. The engineer didn’t like the location, but I can recall a game that we did that was rained out, so the equipment was always dry in good shape.


This is one of a series on the 40th anniversary of the Oakland Athletics.