Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hispanic line-up helps Giants win

Walcoff: Giants at top of game with Hispanic-rich lineup
By: Rich Walcoff, The Examiner, July 30, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants will be welcoming Carlos Santana to AT&T Park on Aug. 25 for Latino Heritage Night, but lately almost every night is a fiesta for the Gigantes.

Excluding roster expansion that comes every September, the Giants have a franchise-record 11 Hispanic players on board with the addition of second baseman Freddy Sanchez from the Pittsburgh Pirates, who was traded for minor leaguer Tim Alderson after Wednesday’s game.

In Monday’s game against the Bucs, San Francisco’s lineup featured what is believed to be an all-time high seven Latinos, including the entire starting infield: Venezuelans Pablo Sandoval at third base and Jesus Guzman at first; shortstop Edgar Renteria, Colombia; second baseman Juan Uribe, Dominican Republic; catcher Bengie Molina, Puerto Rico; plus outfielders Eugenio Velez, Dominican Republic, and Andres Torres, Puerto Rico. With southpaw Jonathan Sanchez pitching tonight’s game against the Phillies, it’s conceivable that Bruce Bochy could field an all-Latino team, except for one outfield position.

Just wondering, as the Giants’ improbable playoff chase continues to be fueled by so many south-of-the-border natives, would Alvin Dark still think it’s a good idea to ban Spanish from being spoken in the clubhouse as he did as Giants manager in 1964? Dark blamed Hispanics and blacks for his team’s decline, saying they weren’t as mentally alert as white players.

But before you label the Swamp Fox a full-fledged bigot, Dark is credited with integrating the Giants clubhouse. Original San Francisco Giant Felipe Alou told me at the ballpark Wednesday that Dark moved the lockers, altenating white, black and Hispanic players. By the way, Felipe said Dark never did get the Latin players to stop speaking their native language.

- How seriously can we take Brett Favre’s latest retirement statement: “I didn’t feel like physically I could play at a level that was acceptable”?

A few months of tractor riding on his Mississippi farm and the NFL iron man and drama king will be devouring the Minnesota Vikings playbook, eager for one last hurrah.

Best guess for another Favre comeback is sometime in October. Minnesota hosts Green Bay on Oct. 5, Brett turns 40 on Oct. 10 and the Vikings play the Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 1. Can’t you just hear Favre’s therapist asking, “How long have you had this Messiah complex?”

- No truth to the rumor that Maria “Queen of Scream” Sharapova was relegated to playing an afternoon match at the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford Wednesday because tournament officials were afraid of violating the nighttime noise restrictions at nearby Mineta International Airport in San Jose.

There may not be much drama watching the Williams sisters march through the draw on their way to a likely championship showdown on Sunday, but Venus sure did add some intrigue to the proceedings saying she and Serena have a “secret goal I can’t talk about.”

Since they’ve accomplished virtually everything imaginable on the tennis court, what’s next? Their own reality TV show?

KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news and is also the co-host of “Raiders Gameday” and “Recap” talk shows on KSFO (560 AM). He can be reached at

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