The Giants are not playing good baseball right now. Not even close.
The offense is atrocious - worse than atrocious. They swing at everything. They can't get on base. When they do get on base, they can't advance to scoring position. And when they do advance to scoring position, they can't get runs in.
The clock has struck midnight on Andres Torres. Aubrey Huff is back to 2009 form (though he is finally, FINALLY, starting to hit again). Miguel Tejada is Miguel Tejada. Eli Whiteside can't really do much except hop. Aaron Rowand hates San Francisco. Buster Posey is broken. Freddy Sanchez is broken. Carlos Beltran is temporarily broken, for who really knows how long, and wasn't doing that well when he wasn't. Brandon Belt is imprisoned.
But you knew all that already. Here is the reason we really should be losing hope:
To win the World Series, the Giants will almost certainly have to beat three teams that are better than they, and that's if they even make the playoffs.
Look at the opposition we have here in the NL. The Diamondbacks have a great offense, a legitimate MVP candidate, and enough pitching. The Phillies are historically good, and probably the only pitching staff better than ours in the league (and have an offense that doesn't feature Orlando Cabrera batting 5th occasionally). The Brewers have an insane offense, a legitimate MVP candidate, and solid pitching (and are super-committed because this might be their last real chance with Prince Fielder moving on). The Braves have great pitching and a solid lineup, with a rookie 1B who is allowed to play. At the moment, all of these teams are better than us, and an argument could be made that the Cardinals are as well. And that's even before we get into possible World Series opponents.
Last year, the Giants did pull off a few upsets along the way, but all in all, I think they beat teams that were worse than they were. The Padres were worse. The Braves, broken as they were, were worse. The Phillies were better - that was a legitimate upset. Despite what ESPN analysts would have you believe, the Rangers were worse in my opinion. So the Giants' run to the WS was unlikely, yes, but not nearly as unlikely as it would be this year.
It would be easy to slip into that pit of pessimism, declare the season lost, and move on. This fanpost was originally going to be about why I've given up hope, and entitled "The Giants will not win the World Series this year."
But then I thought about it and decided two things - that you all already knew about that and that it wasn't really true anyway.
For proof, think about, oh, last year.
It is easy to remember only July and after August 26th (the day after that crappy 12-11 Reds game when the Giants came back to tie it and then lost on a Pablo Sandoval error. Remember when Pablo Sandoval was bad?). Those were the times when Tim Lincecum was the best pitcher in the universe, Buster Posey was superman, Matt Cain was better than you (oh wait, he still is), Jonathan Sanchez could throw a ball in the strike zone, and most importantly, the Giants' offense could scratch enough runs on the board to win the ballgame.
And then, of course, the playoffs happened and TGWTWS.
However, just like this August, last August was terrible. The offense maintained scratching powers, but last August, it was the pitching which was the problem. The team as a total had a 4.55 era and a 4.14 FIP. The starters were awful - an era of 5.13 (good for 27th in the league) and an FIP of 4.43 (24th). Tim Lincecum looked like Barry Zito looks now, Jonathan Sanchez looked like Jonathan Sanchez looks right now, and Matt Cain, for perhaps the first time in his career, was only as good as you.
We all saw how that turned out. The staff put up an otherworldly 1.91 era in September, setting records aplenty along the way. Tim Lincecum, he of the 5 loss month, pitched the best postseason game in the Giants' long history. Matt Cain returned to being much, much, better than you, allowing 0 earned runs over the postseason. Madison Bumgarner, who was not quite Madison Bumgarner, stepped up and became Madison Bumgarner. Jonathan Sanchez, for maybe the last time in his career, remembered how to throw a fastball in the strike zone. And TGWTWS.
I'm not predicting that the offense this season will go on a once-in-a-decade tear like the pitching did last year. The Giants' pitching last year was good, and had a fluky August. The Giants' hitting this year is not good. But it's not necessarily this bad. Panda's back, and he's good, so that helps. There is still time for Carlos Beltran to return and save us all. There is still time for Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres to regain their 2010 magic. There is still time for Nate to become Great again. There is still time for Cody Ross to go on one of his patented hot steaks. Orlando Cabrera and Eli Whiteside - well if Edgar Renteria won World Series MVP, anything is possible.
Am I saying it will happen? No. I'm saying it could happen. And that's where we need to ask ourselves again, is it possible for the Giants to win the World Series again? Before you answer, think about last August. Remember what you thought then. If you're like me, you thought it was impossible. You did. Don't lie.
Let's just hope it turns out as well for us this time.
Oh, and for the record, my educated, not-panicking-about-the-recent-suckernova guess? Brewers over Giants in the NLDS in 4 games, Red Sox over Phillies in the World Series in 7 games, ESPN and the East Coast rejoice for months. All predictions guaranteed to be wrong or your money back.