Repeating an incredible success sure isn’t easy. One day you’re parading down Market Street, selling truckloads of merchandise and appearing on short-lived TBS talk shows. The next day you’re trying to decide whether Miguel Tejada or Orlando Cabrera is the answer at shortstop. For the San Francisco Giants, this was the Difficult Second Album of baseball seasons; if they were My Bloody Valentine and 2010 was Loveless, 2011 was Kevin Shields going nuts while the recording studio malfunctioned. (In this strained analogy, the 32-track mixing board in the control room is Buster Posey.)
Grant Brisbee, on the other hand, had no trouble repeating his success. In 2011, McCovey Chronicles was more popular than ever, with scores of McCoven lining up every day to comment about what was for lunch, or Game of Thrones, or both. No longer working for the Llama Boss, Grant was now free to write posts about baseball whenever
Rob Neyer told him to the mood struck, help promote Jeff Keppinger to CSN viewers and, somewhat less importantly, get quoted in a small-town newspaper article. Oh, sure, even he had his Aubrey-Huff-in-odd-numbered-years moments, which for Grant were April 7 ("Belt stays, though. He's kept at first, he's allowed to hit through his slumps, and he stays in the majors. If I had to guess, I'd say the Giants agree on all counts."), May 4 ("No Zack Wheeler for a rental.") and August 23 (when, during McCovey Night at the Ballpark, jponry got her nose bloodied by a foul ball meant for her putative boss.)
And yet, in this injury-plagued, weird, often frustrating Giants season, Grant was there for us every step of the way. Let’s take the final weekday of the regular season to celebrate what Grant does best, which is to use words, pictures and (increasingly) animated gifs to make us laugh, to make us think, and to make us wonder why we spent hundreds of hours watching this historically bad offense.
[Warning: This is a lawwwwwwng fanpost.]
When you constantly rub last year in the face of people who would like to forget it, you are not being a good person. But you’re having so much fun! Keep on keeping on. You could be magnanimous every so often, and do something like link to a video of the last time the Dodgers won the World Series, but that’s only if you really feel bad.
Whoops! That wasn’t a link to a Dodgers World Series video! That was a video of Buster Posey in a parade down Market Street as confetti danced around his boyish, fresh-from-Olympus visage. How could I make that mistake? Oh, man, I hope a Dodger fan didn’t click that link. I was trying to be magnanimous.
That’s a new character I’m working on: Stathead Who Doesn’t Understand the Concept of Sample Sizes. I’m collecting these characters for my one-man show -- "Did I Leave the McCoven On?" -- which opens at the Curran in November.
4/4: On rival fanbases.
Pitcher to watch
I go to the bathroom when the Giants are hitting against the Padres. Send some e-mails, do some laundry. Cook a little dinner. You watch those pitchers. I’m done with it. What we need is some old-timey guy to read the game to us from a ticker. We can pay him extra not to describe what Aaron Harang looks like.
The win raised the team ERA, which isn't a problem, but the opening ceremonies raised the organizational AOR far past acceptable levels.
And it’s useless to argue against Rowand right now, what with his penchant for walk-offs and well-timed hits in the young season…Just don’t get sucked up into the Velez vacuum. Don’t forget, Eugenio Velez was good for 15 games once. At no point did he stop being Eugenio Velez. His driver’s license had the same picture, his mail was sent to the same place, and he was still likely to lose his car keys in a toaster. The same goes for Rowand. There’s a chance -- a good chance -- that the rest of the league will receive a "Mission: Impossible"-style dossier, open the envelope, find a piece of paper that reads "SLIDER" in 72-point font, and things will return to normal.
The idea behind Miguel Tejada -- if the idea works -- is that he'll hit like a two-win shortstop, and field like a negative-one-win shortstop, which will work out to a win over a season. Hey, free win!*
* Note: free win may cost $6M. Please see your local Tejada dealership for details.
Hitter to watch:
Wait, you watch the bottom-halves of the innings played in Colorado? What are you, a masochistic freak? Hope you remember your safe word.
4/19: About Dinger.
It’s been a while since the Giants could watch a player who could take over a game by being much faster than everyone else, and Ford might be the fastest Giant I’ve ever watched. The high of vrrrroooom doesn’t wear off for a while.
Then one day you wake up naked, in a bathtub, freebasing Eugenio Velez. Just because they never made an after-school movie about it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful with that vrrroooom. It’s for recreational use only.
Grant Brisbee announced today that he was considering putting his collection of Sir Mix-a-Lot cassettes on eBay.
"Well, while I enjoy listening to ‘Seminar’ every now and again, I wanted to see if there was someone who would give me a fair price for this copy of ‘Return of the Bumpasaurus’ with a coffee stain on it."
There’s about a 98% chance that we’ll look back on the Mike Fontenot Era with a puzzled bemusement. In about a decade, someone will say, "Hey, remember when Mike Fontenot was hitting third for us?" And you’ll furrow your brow and nod. "Yeah, yeah, I do remember that. That was weird." This will happen every year until Fontenot weighs 210 pounds and is coaching third base for the Giants. He’ll be 57, and he’ll look like a Russian nesting doll.
Disclaimer: obviously any of these pitchers could shut the Giants down at any time. But Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, and Joe Saunders are like the three finalists of Boring Starting Pitcher Idol. You’d overhear co-workers talk about last night’s episode of Boring Starting Pitcher Idol, and they’d say things like "Oh, man, I loved it when Armando covered that Brandon Backe game -- so awesome!", or, "I didn’t even think I liked Glendon Rusch, but the way Joe Saunders interpreted him, it almost made me cry!"
By the fourth inning, I lost consciousness. It could have been a little nap, but I think I achieved some sort of समाधि. It was a void, nothingness and limitless.
I awoke to the Marlins scoring in the sixth, and Kruk and Kuip's voices faded. They were replaced with a sound that was a combination of adults talking in a "Peanuts" cartoon and a low industrial hum.
I've been thinking about this one for a while. All night I tried to put my feelings and emotions into words, and I think I've done it. Sorry about how long this post is -- if you don't want to spend the time on it, I understand. It's kind of a downer, but it had to be written. Here's my final word on Sabean's comments on Scott Cousins:
Hey, Sabean: shut up. You're embarrassing me.
I want to be happy about the win, but all I can think of is Freddy not moving his arm as he walked off the field. That's the whole infield, folks. That's the opening day lineup: catcher, first, second, third, and ...
Well, Tejada will survive a nuclear blast. Your job is to make sure he tells you where he's hidden the canned food, and beat him there.
The future is grim: there's a chance that most of the teams facing the Giants for the rest of the season are teams that use starting pitchers. This isn't going to end.
Adam Shabala - You want to talk about what?
Jeff Fassero - This game reminds me of pudding.
Adam Shabala - Yeah, you have the wrong guy. I never played baseball.
Jeff Fassero - Wednesday is pudding day.
Adam Shabala - Certainly not at the major-league level.
Jeff Fassero - Pudding hurts my teeth.
Adam Shabala - No, wrong guy. Let's see, I was in the Peace Corps in 2003 ... I spent most of 2004 working on the rubber plantation ... but in 2005 I was ... uh ... wait, maybe I did start that game.
Jeff Fassero - Don't you get it? I'M OLD.
Adam Shabala - Well, I'll be.
Jeff Fassero - JACK MCKEON JOKE
Felipe Alou - I REMEMBER JACK MCKEON'S FIRST GAME IN THE BIG LEAGUES, THE LITTLE SCAMP
Jeff Fassero - LOL
Felipe Alou - I WAS TOLD THERE WAS PUDDING?
This was like watching a pitcher throw a no-hitter the same day he hits for the cycle, only completely opposite.
- Arguing about Whiteside v. Stewart is like arguing Tejada v. Crawford, which is to say it's like arguing about how you should hang a toilet paper roll. The choice is obvious, but it's really weird if you think it's going to make a difference.
- When the roll is hanging with the starter squares going under, not over, it's easier to tear with one hand.
Matt Cain is an acquired taste. He's an independent or foreign film that the other simpletons don't know about yet. They can keep their "Transformers 3". Matt Cain is like a French movie about robots that change into cars and then fall in love with a middle-aged widow who works at the robot coffee shop. Clearly superior, and we're better people for choosing that over "Transformers 3."
Oh, good. Another series against the Padres. Here's what that makes me think of:
Rangers: Eh, we'll give you this 26-year-old first baseman with defensive problems and power in AAA.
Pirates: Yeah, we have one of those. We'll do that and a LOOGY in double-A.
Braves: Okay, fine. We have this prospect that we were kind of saving for a special occasion. But, he's okay, I guess. Look, you can have him.
Phillies: We have something a little better than that. The Braves call that a prospect? I mean, our guy isn't a top-100 guy, but he's good.
Rangers: Wait, wait, wait. Did we say a 26-year-old first baseman? He's but a part of our overall package. We have a prospect too. He's good! One of our five best.
Braves: Our prospect is our fourth best.
Rangers: We'll include our third best.
Braves: Alright, I didn't want to do this, but ...
Phillies: We're out of here. Peace.
Pirates: Hello? I think I hit the mute button with my cheek. Hello?
Braves: Two prospects. Both in the top ten of our organization. There. We'll arrange the finer det...
Giants: Zack Wheeler.
the conference call is silent
Braves: Damn. We're out.
Pitcher to watch
Roy Oswalt has already made two starts against a minor-league lineup. After his third one on Sunday, he'll probably rejoin the Phillies' rotation.
Let's resort to analogies:
Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Oswalt, Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Sanchez
Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Casino, The King of Comedy, Raging Bull, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Mean Streets, Shutter Island
Sgt. Peppers, Abbey Road, Help!, Rubber Soul, Revolver, White Album, Please Please Me, a mix tape with "Free as a Bird" and "Yellow Submarine" on a loop.
Okay, so it was Victorino who got plunked. That's awesome. He has a rectum face, and society is right to treat him differently. Then he came out three steps and was like, "What's up?" And then he stopped because 96.2% of all major-league players can tear Victorino apart at the joints and feast on his marrow. But Victorino marrow will make a fella impotent and infertile, so everyone was content to mill about and push each other around for a bit. Then Whiteside started pogoing. "C'MONC'MONC'MONC'MON," quoth the Whiteside. And things got a little furry from that point on.
I remember the last time the Giants hit four home runs. High Pockets Kelly had two, Amos Amas had one, and Quacks Mainlodge hit one in the ninth. Christy Mathewson got the win with a complete-game, 189-pitch effort. There was a short delay in the game when they had to invent lights before dusk.
I'm reading a book about the history of the periodic table, and there are a lot of anecdotes about the elements that didn't fit into the early attempts at categorization. There were elements that were different enough to screw everything up. Jonathan Sanchez is one of those elements with this. Just ignore him, and those classifications work fine…Horrific control is like that strip of lanthanoids at the bottom -- screws up all of the classification efforts. It's where Brian Wilson is heading. Also, Rowand and Zito contracts are the actinoids. If I'm screwing up the chemistry, it's because I'm an English major.
The inescapable feeling of doom might have started with the lineup, but it didn't really sink in until Mark DeRosa was hitting against Jonny Venters. That's what the Giants had. The Braves laid down a full house, and the Giants showed a couple of Scrabble tiles and a dog-eared Steve Hosey card. They weren't even playing the same game. Then the Giants ate one of the tiles.
Padres: Say, have you thought about not swinging at everything?
Guzman: Don't want to lose my per diem, Skip.
Padres: That's actually not our policy. That was your last minor league team.
Guzman: Okay, Skip. Whatever you say.
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.
Pro: Dude looks like a baby giraffe.
Con: The nickname makes you realize how many people are at home right now with an animal costume in their closet, just waiting for a reason to wear it in public. When these sorts read that the Giants drafted a player named Stephen Ceekow in the 49th round, they open their closet, pet the snout of their full-sized manatee costume, and whisper, "Soon, my friend. Soon."
After getting drunk off a month's worth of runs last night, I woke up on the roof this morning with one hand in a jar of peanut butter, and the other hand holding a Walkman loaded up with a mix from '92. Wasn't sure how I got there. Pushed play, and there was some sweet, sweet Trixter coming through the headphones. Then I threw up
Look, I don't know if Brandon Belt thinks that Mussolini had some really neat ideas, and I don't know if Pill is a cool guy to play Madden with if he's not helping at the soup kitchen.
This is like looking at Steven Tyler and realizing that he looks like Joan Rivers going around the Tilt-A-Whirl at 40 mph with open cans of paint. Nothing's as it should be. Nothing's as it was. This isn't your memory of how things were; this is some creepy, low-rent, past-it's-prime abstraction that they're trying to foist on you. It's horrible. And, wait, this isn't "Sweet Emotion" -- did they turn this into a medley with that shitty song from Armageddon? What is Steven Tyler doing with that handkerchief? And, oh god, is that your mom in the front row? What's Steven Tyler doing to your mom? Oh, god, no. No, no, no.
So that game was like a 78-year-old Steven Tyler making out with your mom as "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" is blaring over loudspeakers. You tried to avert your eyes, but you couldn't turn away. You had to watch every last detail. Now your brain is broken, and you're curled in a fetal position, wishing you didn't know what you know now. You want to go back. You want to go back. You want to go back to the way things used to be.
Mat Latos is clearly a jackass, and I love that he's on a rival team. There wouldn't be a Karate Kid if Daniel had to spar against a bunch of kids from his AYSO team. There has to be a Cobra Kai. And if you think I've used this analogy once too often, well, now I have photographic support.
Neukom: It's a prototype, so it will be bulkier than the finished product, yes. When we actually move it out of AT&T Park, it will need to be smaller, so we can sneak it into Coors Field. The goal is to thicken the Denver air, eliminating the offensive advantages of the Colorado Rockies. Turn this baby on, and in just a couple of hours, it will be almost impossible to hit a home run wherever you're playing.
Baer: How do you turn it on?
Neukom: This switch right here.
Baer: The glowing red switch that's clearly in the on position right now?
Neukom: Yes. That one.
Baer: Bill, has that machine been on for the entire season?
Baer: Dammit, Bill.
So [Belt’s] home run was more than welcome. It was like the occasional scene in Intolerable Cruelty that made you remember that the Coen Brothers would be just fine when they rediscovered their stroke. I'm assuming one of those scenes exists because I haven't seen that movie since it came out. There was probably one or two things that made you think, say, maybe they'll win a Best Picture Oscar one day. And when Belt is hitting .330/.440/.540 with a Gold Glove in two years, that will be his No Country for Old Men.
I think that would make Pablo Sandoval going for his triple like John Goodman running down the hall of a burning hotel in Barton Fink.
With no one on, the Giants are a little worse than the rest of the league. Not much, but a little. Pretty close to average. But when runners get in scoring position, everyone's all "OH GOD WHAT IS THIS STICK OF WOOD MAYBE IT'S EDIBLE OH GOD THERE ARE SPLINTERS IN MY TONGUE."
Book is closed. It isn't 2010 anymore. It's perfectly okay to dig out those World Series DVDs and get loaded on nostalgia. Maybe we should have viewing parties in the offseason -- open GameThreads for each game of the World Series. We can sync up our DVDs. That'd be fun, and only 3% pathetic. Maybe 40% pathetic. Aw, heck, who cares?
And after that we can sync up 2011 games to Matchbox 20 albums just because this season needs to be more annoying. Also it totally syncs up. When Rob Thomas sings "I want to push you around" while listening to Yourself or Someone Like You on repeat 20 times before getting to the 11th inning of the Posey game, Scott Cousins is leaving third base. No, seriously, try it.