By law, any time the Giants are within three games of .500, Giants fans are required to roll around in their own pity. Even if the team is leading the division at three games over .500, there will be enough problems to worry about. When the Giants are several games under .500 -- an unfamiliar place to be in the past decade -- there is a special kind of wailing and gnashing of the teeth dance to be done, but it soon gives way to bemused indifference. We try and one-up each other with "My Giants are soooo bad!.....How bad are they?.....Well, they're sooooo bad....."-jokes, and embrace the futility as some sort of sick merit badge.
However, baseball is more than the struggle of your personal team to succeed. Baseball is fun, dangit; just ask any essay-penning third-grader if you were having trouble figuring out why you were still forcing yourself to watch this game, even when the Giants aren't exactly fun on their own. There's fun in them thar hills, and excitement, and unexpected moments of triumph, and feats of amazing athletic ability, and.... It has so much more to offer than what we can get caught up with. What we can get caught up with is watching baseball as some vehicle for personal validation, so long as the team we arbitrarily chose to follow performs well.
This is why, with the Giants mostly out of the playoff hunt and playing the Tigers, the most exciting half-inning of the season can run up and pull down your knickers. Jason Schmidt pitched with command and movement beautifully through eight innings, which is a great story in itself. This variety of team Tiger has some legitimate hitters. Even as Schmidt sputtered out of gas in the ninth, the pitches being hit for singles weren't bad pitches, though. Maybe the velocity had dropped enough to get the bat out in front, but they were certainly not hanging breaking balls. Schmidt pitched a near-magical game for eight innings, considering his struggles.
So, in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-0 game, Tyler Walker came in with the bases loaded and no one out. We've seen this before. He gives up a single, maybe, before the homerun. Maybe we're talking three doubles in a row to end the game. Walker looks like he means well, and no one can question his heart, but he isn't yet to be trusted with men on base. Tying run at the plate with no outs? Forget about it.
Most of us reading this site will remember that inning for a long time, even longer if Walker does end up having a successful career. Not one hitter came close to putting the fastball in play. Only one slider hung, and was well placed off the outside anyway. The other sliders came in at 88-90 mph, and just swooped away from any possible contact. Mike Krukow, as he is wont to do, proclaimed the outing as the start of something beautiful. Maybe, maybe not, but for one game Tyler Walker came from the same lab Robb Nen and Brad Lidge were grown, and that's exactly what we needed.
What a fun game to watch. I actually used TiVo to rewatch parts of the game, and not just to fast forward the commercials of Michael Tucker trying to spell psoriasis.