More than a few people got excited watching Darren Ford run around the bases last week, forcing bad throws and distracting pitchers. Despite the malaise, once in a while some special talents are still on display. Nate Schierholtz and his strong and accurate arm in RF. Buster Posey's head for baseball, great batting eye and sweet swing. Hopefully in the next few days Andres Torres will be back, displaying his fantastic range and golden (come on, MLB) glove in CF. Maybe if they all display these talents at the same time, your mind will wander along with mine... what if the Giants had a single player with all six of these tools?
The good news? They already have him. He'll be with the team on Friday. The bad news?He'll be turning 80 years old.
Of course I found it slightly ridiculous, and sad, to hear Ford's baserunning compared to Mays'. First, because Ford seems to be guessing about pitchers rather than reading them, looking at the catcher while running, and, well, getting picked off and caught stealing. Saddened, because everyone was so exhilarated by seeing decent baserunning and VROOOM from a guy in a Giants hat.
Still, I was glad to hear multiple commentators mention Willie Mays' name, even if in making a poor comparison. And I was glad to finally be able to explain Willie Mays to my wife and nephew. See those two runs from that baserunning? Now imagine that guy hitting four home runs tomorrow. Or three triples the next day. Or running 400+ feet to catch a fly ball and throw out a runner at home plate the day after that. Or score from first on a bunt the day after that. And keep playing baseball that way for enough years that he can hit a home run in every inning of a baseball game, from the first inning through the 16th inning, and long enough that I could see him drive in the winning run in extra innings in a World Series game at the age of 42. Sometimes while wondering if anyone in St. Francis Wood would sell him a house, or getting a call in the dugout from the mayor asking for help stopping riots.
Happy birthday Dr.* Mays, and thank you. You're the player the Giants need, and they're lucky to still have you. On Friday, on behalf of the nation, two cities turn their thankful eyes to you.
* as conferred by Yale, Dartmouth, and San Francisco State.