Guys who have been there before. It seems like a neat crew to be a part of. You can talk about being there. You can talk about having been there before. You can infer what it will be like to be there in the future based on what it was like to be there before. Guys who have been there before. They make up championship teams. Do you think it was a coincidence that players like Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria, both former World Series champs, had huge hits in the postseason last year?
Well, that's just cynical. They were guys who had been there before. That's indisputable.
Here's a place that Miguel Tejada hasn't been before: he's never been to You're Washed Up, So Lay Down a Bunt Land. As the Bay Area Sports Guy notes, Tejada wasn't a fan of the decision to have him bunt in the bottom of the 11th yesterday.
I don't know why Photoshop keeps speeding up my .gifs in places, but I kept this one because Lou Seal running in the background gives it a nice Jacob's Ladder feel.
Look at the disgust on his face! To be fair, it was an impressively stupid decision. Instead of sending a pitcher up to bunt, Ron Wotus (I'm assuming) wasted Tejada in an extra-inning game. Not saying that an acting manager should be especially concerned about wasting that torrid Tejada bat, but he'd been asked to sacrifice five times over the past decade before yesterday's game. He probably doesn't spend a lot of time in the batting cage laying down sac bunts. Pitchers do. Weird decision.
But Tejada has stunk all season. If the third-base coach tells you to bunt and you don't like it? Well, you shouldn't have hit like a pitcher this season. Tejada got the bunt down, and then ran like a gout-stricken Rick Reuschel down to first. A jog like that would have gotten Hanley Ramirez benched for a week. From planning to execution, it was the pitcheriest at-bat Tejada has ever had. If there had been an error, he would have worn a warm-up jacket on first.
Here's where you realize that the value of "having been there before" is specious, at best. Aaron Rowand has never been this bad before. He lost his job last year, and he's struggled before, but he's never been this bad. This is a new experience for him. Tejada has never been this bad before, and he's never lost his job to someone who might even be worse. He's being asked to bunt in extra innings when for his whole career, he was the guy fans wanted up there to hit. He's never been here before.
Aubrey Huff has been here before. He sort of alternates between great and awful. That experience might have allowed him to say "Welp, just one of them years, I s'pose."
I think we're watching the death of the "Guys who've been here before" cult. It should have died last year when the Giants won the World Series with a pitching staff filled with kids who most certainly had not been there before. They threw to a rookie catcher. They won. If the Giants don't make the playoffs, let us never hear about the calming presence of calming veterans again. There are jerk veterans, there are jerk rookies. There are veterans who hustle, there are rookies who hustle. There are veterans you want on your team, there are rookies you want on your team, and there are veterans and rookies you don't want. Service-time profiling is silly.
Brandon Belt keeps striking out on called third strikes. Some of the pitches are probably balls. Some are breaking balls that fool him. It's frustrating. But he's had only 139 at-bats in the majors. For some perspective, that's as many as Jeff Keppinger has had as a Giant. It's not a big number. Belt will learn. He'll figure out how major-league pitchers want to get him out.
But it surrrrrrre would have been cool if he'd had the opportunity earlier in the season. Instead, the Giants used guys who had been there before. There are merits to that plan, I suppose. But it didn't work out this year. It's not a failure-proof plan. Here's hoping that we aren't having this same conversation next year. Veterans can stink and sulk with the best of them. Let's hope everyone has learned something.
Also of note: no one has learned anything. I'm going back to bed.