Why Giants baseball is like a John Cougar Mellencamp song.

This is the kind of post that might make an Orioles fan punch me in the throat. It could make a Pirates fan set my car on fire, and it’s likely to make a Royals fan throw a brick through my living-room window. Don’t care. Here goes:

I’m not sure if I’m having fun with this pennant race.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the Giants are still in it. Heck, glad isn’t the right word. That’s a gross understatement. After living through the Jose Castillo Era, wondering how many replacement-level players it took to change a light bulb*, this has been a fantastic, thrilling baseball season that has already surpassed the expectations a lot of us had before the season started. It’s magic inside this thing we’re in. Or something.

Fans are buzzing, striking up conversations with complete strangers at the sight of a Giants hat. Co-workers who wouldn’t know Gaylord Perry from Dan Gladden are suddenly interested enough in baseball to ask a bunch of baseball-related questions. And it seems like everyone can agree on one thing: man, this pennant race is fun. It’s fun to be in a pennant race. It’s fun to think about the playoff permutations. It’s fun because every game means something.

Well, I object. This isn’t fun. This is weapons-grade stress. It was bad enough when the Padres were traipsing through the schedule, seemingly oblivious to the idea that they weren’t supposed to be good, but now the Rockies are up to their usual shenanigans, winning 24 out of 23 games whenever it suits them. The Rockies are even winning on the road, and even though I think there’s a simple explanation for that, it still freaks me out.

When I think about baseball right now, I’m not thinking about a pitcher throwing a perfectly placed changeup in a 3-2 count, or the smell of freshly cut grass on a sunny day, or whatever. I’m thinking about Seth Smith putting sugar in the gas tank of my soul. I’m thinking about Rich Johns coming out of the Padres bullpen and throwing nine straight sliders for strikes in his first professional appearance. I’m thinking about Candy Maldonado, Jose Cruz, Jr., and Neifi Perez. I’m looking at the Giants roster, wondering just who has the greatest capacity for being a franchise goat (GCORP).

I’m worried that Tim Lincecum will regress. I’m worried that Pablo Sandoval will regress even further. I’m worried that Aubrey Huff really is Aubrey Huff, and that he’s not in the final act of some zany ‘80s brains-switching-bodies movie with Todd Helton. I’m worried that the bullpen is going to be worked too hard. I’m worried that the starters are going to be worked too hard. I’m worried that Buster Posey is going to be worked too hard. I’m worried that giving Posey a day off will somehow cost the Giants a playoff spot. I’m worried that Jose Guillen will get his watch band caught on his hat when trying to field the last out of a game in Coors Field. I’m worried that my wife wants my beard to be as full and creepily dark as Brian Wilson’s, which will raise even more questions about my masculinity. I’m worried that Andres Torres will come back, only to have his table of contents rupture. I’m worried that the Pacific isn’t as blue as it’s been in my dreams…

I’m worried.

Yet at some point in the next week, some goofball is going to tell me how much fun this is. This isn’t fun. This is…torture. Yes, torture. Giants baseball: torture. It fits when they’re winning, it fits when they’re losing, and it’s summing up the entire pennant race. Duane Kuiper, you wise, wise man.

At the end of the season – win or lose – I’m going to say, "Thank you, sir. May I have another?" This is because I’m stupid, and I need to pick better hobbies. I think I’ll just sleep for a couple of months. Let me know how it all works out.

 

*Just one, but they’ll do it for $12M cheaper than Aaron Rowand. Wait, no, nine -- one to screw in the light bulb, and eight to not score runs for Matt Cain. Wait, no, two -- one to screw in the light bulb, and one to shut down the Giants offense in a spot start for a team out of contention. Wait, no...
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