I answered a few questions for Athletics Nation here, and one of them had to do with the niche that Giants fans had carved for themselves. The Cubs fans are the "lovable losers", the Dodgers fans have the whole thing where they arrive with two outs in the top of the fifth and leave before the bottom of the fifth starts, and the Red Sox fans are now the "lovable losers that you want to punch in the face now that they've won something." What are the Giants, then? I gave some lame answer about wine and cheese, but I have a better answer now.
Giants fans are a bunch of pessimistic whiners.
Oh, I'm fully aware that I'm at least a corporal in the pessimistic whiner army. I whine and, uh, pessimize with the best of them. When a hitting prospect comes up, I assume he's going to flame out. When a pitching prospect comes up, I assume he's going to walk five hitters for every nine innings he pitches. I assume that every free agent will stink, and that every trade will come back to hurt the Giants. And I don't assume that the Giants will lose in a painfully unforgettable way when they reach the playoffs -- I know it.
We're still whining about a trade from seven years ago, even though the best part of the trade hasn't done anything other than tease the Twins. Well, it might be a little disingenuous to suggest that Lirano was the "best part" of the trade. There was also that guy. You know, the one with the hat? The uh, what do you call him, uh, oh, the closer who needs to pitch at his current level for a couple more years to have a shot at the Hall of Fame, who was a likable and homegrown player, and who probably would have won a World Series with the Giants in 2004 if he were the closer.
See. That just came naturally. I thought I was clicking the spell-check button, but it turns out I just unconsciously typed a bunch of pessimistic whining. It's our thing.
But every once in a while, it's worth it to appreciate the good fortune in our bleak, sad, mopey, orange-and-black lives. The Giants are winning. Heck, they'd make the playoffs if the season were to end today. And for that to be true, a whole lot of good luck had to come our way.
Think about how many things had to go right.
- The Royals wanted a pitcher who wouldn't ask for billions of dollars. Lincecum could have been that pitcher.
- The Rockies wanted a pitcher who would reach the majors quickly. They could have thought Lincecum was that pitcher.
- The Rays did juuuuust fine, thanks for asking. But if the Royals or Rockies wanted Evan Longoria, it's entirely possible that Lincecum would be in Tampa right now.
- The Pirates weren't scared by a short right-hander with electric stuff. They just preferred Brad Lincoln, as did quite a few folks.
- The Mariners wanted a pitcher, and the whole hometown angle didn't mean squat to them. They had Brandon Morrow rated higher. You know that there was a least one guy in the player development department who wanted Lincecum. That one guy wasn't persuasive enough. We should send him a "Thank you for being an ineffective weenie" arrangement from FTD.
- The Tigers wanted the best-rated player in the draft, and they were willing to spend for him. If the Royals had the same philosophy, everything would have been just a wee bit different. Who knows who the Tigers would have selected if Miller were off the board?
- The Dodgers aren't exactly kicking themselves for drafting Clayton Kershaw, who is an outstanding young pitcher. But they could have picked a different pitcher, and the Giants would have had to face that pitcher 723 times every year. I'm not naming names. It's too horrible to contemplate.
- The Reds wanted a burlap sack full of tools. Drew Stubbs's college nickname was "burlap sack full of tools." It was a perfect match. Stubbs might still be a good player, but this guy could have been in the Reds' front office.
- The Orioles took a liking to a young, powerful high school hitter, Billy Rowell, about whom Baseball America wrote, "(He) models his game and his approach after that of Giants outfielder Barry Bonds, and like Bonds his best tool is his power." Hey, that sounds enticing. Can't blame the Orioles for getting excited about that. But they could have said, you know, maybe we could use a pitcher who isn't going to take a while to develop. It would have been a perfectly reasonable approach.
The Giants picked tenth. Tenth! So many freaky things could have happened. Rowell might have really, really wanted to go to college, and he might have said as much right before the draft. Lincoln could have gotten hurt before the draft instead of just after. All of the credit in the world goes to Dick Tidrow for wanting Lincecum and to Brian Sabean for agreeing with Tidrow. But Lincecum had to actually be there at the tenth pick for that to mean anything.
Don't get me wrong. Pessimism and whining are still encoded in our DNA in a morbidly charming fashion. After a game like last night, though, it doesn't hurt to think, damn, we can get lucky too.
Also, Tim Lincecum is good.