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Tom: It is indeed time to talk to the Giant’s CEO, Larry Baer.

Larry, How you doing?

Larry: Hey, Tom, how you doing? We got the full crew today?

Tom: Yes, full crew.

Larry: Awesome. Well, it’s pennant race time.

Tom: Yes, it is.

Larry: It’s also — also can I still say it’s baseball season?

Tom: You most certainly can. Just did. When you have the team with the best record in the league, absolutely you can. [laughs]

Larry: Can we hearken back. There was a day… Any of the three of you remember this day? Are you old enough? There was a day baseball season ended. And then green light for football season. Football season ended. A green light for basketball season — I’m not sure about that actually. But but there was those days a while ago.

Tom: You know what though? I got to be honest. I love September, October because you get baseball, you get the pennant races, you get football, you get college football. And then October you get the playoffs and football. I’ve always tried to ask people what’s your favorite sports month? Is it this time of year? Or is it the — I want to say it’s like maybe April, May, somewhere around there — where you get baseball season started. So you get baseball. Then you get the Derby, you get the Masters in there somewhere. And then you get hockey playoffs and basketball playoffs. So there’s like something going on every single night of the week. You’re able to grind. But as a sports fan, those are my favorite two times of the year, because you just get so much. There’s always something on. There’s a Giants game on. I mean, not tonight, but generally, you had a Giants game to look forward to. Then on the weekend, you got the NFL and the Giants game.

I love it. The more the merrier for me.

Larry: Totally with you. And what’s really fun is… Obviously when you have the World Series and the League Championship series is fun. But what’s really fun, I find, is when you have these Saturdays and Sundays where you have, you know, in the LDS, let’s say game four if necessary. You know? And the game four gets played. And then you go game five on Sunday if necessary. And game five gets played and it’s opposite two good football games, and you’re switching back and forth.

And you got the college games on Saturday, and you have these baseball games mixed in. And people are jumping around. I think it is actually a lot of fun.

Tom: It’s awesome. I mean, I love it. I said yesterday, with what you guys and the Dodgers are doing, isn’t this the reason the wild card was made? So you wouldn’t leave a really good baseball team? And at least give them a chance to join the Big Party. The one game, we can debate that. Three I think is more fair, but the schedule is just not going to allow it. But you know, if you get in with like, 87, okay, you got in because of a wild card.

But I can say, you should have won more games to deserve a chance to get in the playoffs. But to me, this is the reason it was made. If you have two teams with like 95 wins plus, this year, probably 100 wins plus, it’d be a damn shame to say to one of them — sorry, not this year.

Larry: You bet. And Exhibit A to that reasoning, for rationale for sure, was 1993. I remember that vividly, because it was our first year as an ownership group. And here comes… We go down to the wire, and while it’s dramatic and it’s do or die, because we were sitting on 103 wins on the last day of the season, lost and we went home — that’s not really fair. I mean, it turned out it boomeranged on us, but you know, they changed the rule.

Now, you can argue whether the disparity is too much between what a wild card faces and what a division champion faces. But I think this year, could be an argument that the disparity is not too much. I mean, the Giants and Dodgers can go hard for the next 22 games.

There’s such a big difference, and that difference is more pronounced now than when they initiated the wild card, if you remember. The rule was different. This one game knockout game is something. The big difference between that, and having four days off and qualifying for a five game series, and opening the first two of them at home.

Tom: It’s absolutely huge.

You bring up ’93, that was, as you mentioned, the first year of the ownership group, the new group that took over. And I’m just kind of wondering — what were you like in ’93 compared to now? I mean, now you’re an old vet. Now you’ve got three rings on your finger. Now you’ve been in three parades, going down Market Street. Are you different in this? Are you not living and dying with it at the same degree that you guys were maybe in ’93? I don’t know if you can even remember back how you felt about it.

Larry: First thing, Peter and I looked at each other, and we won our 103rd game which was Saturday in LA, which was the 161st game of the season. We won 103rd, we looked at each other and said — oh this is easy.

Tom: Yeah, do this every year.

Larry: It was our first year. This is easy. You know, all these dummies, you know, it’s easy to win 103 games.

No… It’s really interesting. Because if you think back on it. And we got our just desserts are comeuppance, because as great as 1993 was, when you think back of the ups and downs in any business, I guess, but especially in special sports, then the next year was probably the most sour year of all, because it was the strike, and we lost the World Series.

So the group was two years in, and the first year was this magical year although we didn’t go into the playoffs and didn’t go beyond into the World Series. So magical, but bitterly disappointing at the end of the season. But then ’94 was… And we were having a good year if you remember ’94 — Felipe Alou in Montreal was having a great year, and Matt Williams was sort of the star of the league that year. And it just all came to an abrupt ending. So we got in those first two years, we really got just an indication of the volatility of what we’re in, what we’re doing.

What’s really cool. I think, Larry, when you asked about it is that we started in ’93 with 18 partners, really community minded partners that help save the team, and that’s grown some since, but more than half of them are still involved, either them personally or the next generation, their sons or daughters.

Tom: Wow.

Larry Baer joining us here on the Tolbert, Kruger and Brooks show. Larry, I think this past week of Giants Baseball has been the perfect sort of explainer for who you guys are. I think back to last Friday where you had to have those innings from Anthony DeSclafani and you got them, and you had to have that type of effort in the 11th inning where Buster’s busting it down the line — from your captain, your veteran. [ad break]

Rod: You do the unexpected, which is what you guys have done all year long, where you hang six on Walker Buehler, and you make that stand. But over the course of the weekend, your bullpen doesn’t get eaten up. So you go to Colorado in good shape. You get a very good performance out of Gausman, and then you end up sweeping the Rockies. First time that had been done by anybody all season long, and you do it in dramatic fashion. Where it’s Lamont Wade Jr through, and Evan Longoria coming through, and Buster getting on with that walk, and Estrada getting that knock after Buster’s walk with two strikes.

To me, anybody wanted to know what you guys were all about, if you watch those six games, you got the full sort of essence of Giants baseball this year.

Larry: Really well said, Rod. This is obviously a group that can really dig deep and find it when they need to find it.

I think about that Friday night Dodger game, there was a lot to that game. There’ve been so many cases through the year, whether it’s the three games in Milwaukee where we found a way, or the two pinch hit home runs in Oakland where we found a way, but that Friday night game, just felt like it just took a bullpen game. It took a lot of… [chatter]

It was just crazy, incredible.

I was actually talking to Farhan the other day about the fact — you just cannot overstate how the Colorado series… Monday, we were talking, and when the schedules come out, you look around, you look at the schedules, and we were trying to bite off an extra hour or two for game time on Monday, when we were talking to the Rockies back and forth. And I think they ended up giving us another hour, so the game started at two. They wanted to play a day game on Labor Day, which is totally understandable.

So we got two o’clock start versus a one o’clock start. And that was a win, right? Because we were looking at the schedule and there was a good chance of Giants/Dodgers being Sunday night baseball ESPN, and a good chance of us landing at 1:30 in the morning.

And turnaround, amazingly, did not seem to — we dug deep, to that point. We were able to dig deep and get those, played three really good games, very much alive, and not sort of with a hangover on Monday or Tuesday from the travel and from the late arrival.

So all of that has just been so characteristic of this club and the group and the way to go about it. Gabe and the coaches really sort of validate that with the way they go about their jobs.

Tom: Enjoy that small victory of the time change, because you ain’t getting Jack next year. [laughter] No one’s going to do you guys any favors.

Larry: Well, the one thing about that. The way that works, though is there is reciprocity. The Rockies, we have a great relationship with them and most organizations, but I mean, if you ask for a game time adjustment because of travel, and you get a red light, you get a No, well guess what, there’s going to be some game down the line, maybe not this year, but a future year that that team is going to ask you for an allowance. And you say — eh, I’ll get back to you.

Tom: Payback. [laughter]

Alright, be completely honest with me here. At what point during the season did you believe? Did you think — not only can we be good, we can win this thing? And we don’t know how the rest of season is going to end, but it’s not overstating things that you’re one of a handful of teams that has a chance to win a World Series, and a legitimate chance to win a World Series.

Was there a point during the season where you went from like — yeah, we thought we were going to be good this year.

And even Brandon Crawford, we had him on set, and he said, if you would have told me we’re going to be this, I wouldn’t have thought that. That’s not something that I was thinking about.

Was there a point, a series this year, a stretch of games where you thought — wow, we’re not only in this thing for the division, we could be in the mix for the whole thing.

Larry: I’ll give you a little bit of a cop out answer, but it’s really how I feel about it. And I think many people feel this way. It wasn’t necessarily a game or games or a date, but when we saw over the first, whatever, month, six weeks, 50 games, call it first 50 games of the season, that the veterans were really in a great position to step up. So that Buster and Craw and Evan Longoria, before he got hurt. Evan Longoria was leading the league in all sorts of — exit velocity. Brandon Belt — when the everyday veterans were out there leading the way, it takes a lot of pressure off the younger players.

And then look at what the younger players have done. Then look at LaMonte Wade and Darin Ruf. It’s unbelievable what they’ve done. But I think without that, sort of, quartet, four or five everyday veteran players who have done that, I think that was kind of the marker. It’s not an exact date, but maybe 50 games in, it was clear that it was something, and it was clear that Craw just an epic year. And it was clear that Brandon Belt was doing his thing in an amazing way. And Longoria was playing well. So all of that, it took the pressure off everybody else.

And then of course, the second piece is the pitching has been just elite. And lots of credit to lots of folks, but these are pitchers that had it in them, obviously, and whether it was injuries or finding the right mechanic little changes, or whatever, have gotten into just tremendous. And think about Gausman, and Wood. And Johnny Cueto had some great outings.

So you think about all of that, that was huge. And of course the biggest perhaps of all with Logan Webb in his development.

Tom: You guys obviously had the blueprint for how to do it in October with Buster and Bochy and Sabean, and it’s an organizational thing. So there are other guys. The late Pat Dobson, Steve Balboni, I mean, there were a lot of people, the advance people make a huge difference.

But how do you take all the good attributes of the old regimes approach in October and the plan in October and transfer it to this new group of executives and scouts and coaches and maybe even some players? How do you take advantage of all that experience? Or is there really no way to do that, and these guys just kind of have to cut their own teeth and figure out their own way?

Larry: I think having been there before is important. So you take the guys you just mentioned, they’ve all been there before, with rings or competing in the World Series. And then you take the group that wasn’t around in 2014 — ’10, ’12 and ’14 — and you think about them. So, Farhan’s been to the World Series with the Dodgers. Scott Harris with the Cubs when they won it. Gabe has won rings and has been in World Series as a player.

They know what it’s about. So I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat in terms of the folks who haven’t, who will be new, October will be new for them, between the players and the sort of mojo and culture that’s going to be created by the people running it. I think Ronnie Wotus, obviously, three rings. I think that’s all going to have enough people between the players and the people that are running baseball ops, to know what to do and how to do it.

Tom: Larry, it is always a pleasure. And man, I think every time we’ve tried — if I would have told you at the beginning of the year, every time we talk to you, or 90% of the time we talked to you, you’ll be in first place, would you have drug tested me?

Larry: Oh my God, yeah, maybe. I know, like, what was it? 

I don’t know if it was on your air or something — first to 50, first to 60, first to 70, first to 80 — I was just very grateful. Because you know, on this show, it wasn’t that long ago that we were… What was it, a year and a half ago? We were making up games in our minds. Remember April of 2020?

Tom: Well, we? You. You playing the season out in your mind. Yep, I remember those games. I like that you decided to be inclusive there. But that was completely unnecessary. It was you. [laughter]

Larry: Remember Cueto’s shutout back in April 2020?

Tom: Absolutely, I do. [laughs] I was like — does Larry also have a 6ft rabbit that occupies his office? And I know that reference is extremely dated. But if you know your Jimmy Stewart movies, you’re laughing.

Larry: There you go. Exactly.

Tom: Well, it wasn’t that long ago that your referenced the first to 50, the first to 60, first to 70, first to 80 — meant losses. Not wins.

Larry: [laughs]

Tom: This year has been completely, completely different. We said it yesterday, Larry. We think that this might be the most surprising season in in Bay Area sports history. Burnsy brought up the Cal Bears, which I didn’t think of, and they are pretty incredible with what they did down there, after almost shut the program down. The ’81 Niners as well.

But this team, I don’t want to say out of nowhere, but doing what they’ve done this year to the extent to which they’ve done it is surprising. They don’t surprise themselves anymore. They don’t even surprise anybody around here anymore. Because we’re so used to this team just finding a way to win ball games in all sorts of different matters. And how many guys pitch in, whether it’s relief corps, or somebody off the bench, or somebody that’s platooning. It’s just, it really has been kind of an amazing story.

Larry: It’s inspiring. I get chills thinking about how it’s come together. Let’s just look forward, and hopefully some of the best is yet to come.

Tom: Absolutely. Hey, Larry, have a great weekend. Best luck against the Cubbies, and we’ll talk to you a couple of weeks.

Larry: Sounds good.

Tom: Thanks Larry, appreciate it. That’s your Larry Baer show.

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