I always figured the gift of 2010 would have been not to care so much. To realize that advancing in the playoffs was a treasure, not a right. That not every playoff team had a Cody Ross, that not every Matt Cain/Cole Hamels match-up went your way. The Giants had a parade, and everything after that was gravy.
The dull ache of a game like that, the dawning realization that everything is horrible and broken … it's the kind of thing that makes you rethink your hobbies and passions. What kind of hobby makes you invest 500 hours of your life every year, only to end in crushing disappointment? Because that's how it always ends. Forget that one time with the Renteria guy or whatever. It ends in disappointment every year, for every team except one. And the odds are it isn't your team that's happy. All that time. And you pretend that it's wasted if it doesn't end up exactly the way you want. At least, I do.
You master the vacant stare, which is perfect for analyzing commercials that you hate. It turns out that GEICO has commercials with talking pigs, men made of money, talking lizards, bodybuilders directing traffic, and a fake Robert Stack for no good reason. That company is horrible and so is everything else.
So now it's time for rationalization. Let's go through the stages of Kübler-Ross stages of grief one by one.
Thinking everything is bullshit
This is typically the first stage you go through, and it lasts for a while. Ryan Ludwick is apparently Jose Bautista now, and that's bullshit. Brandon Phillips is Joe Morgan, which is also bullshit. The Giants got two hits, which is … look, remember the 2008 Giants? I like to refer to them as some kind of boogyman. They had two games that entire season with two hits. And, hell, one of the times, they won. So the Giants getting two hits in a playoff game against a dooky-flopping flim-tosser is kind of bullshit.
Punching inanimate objects
That trash can has some kind of lip I'll tell you what
Mumbling to yourself
Really, all I'm mumbling to myself are the lyrics to Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush", and I'm imagining Bronson Arroyo singing them. This is because I hate myself and the choices I've made.
Blaming someone who probably didn't make that much of a difference
So it turns out that Guilermo Mota isn't good. He's responsible for all this, I'm sure.
Start thinking about how the Giants can sweep a three-game series in Cincinnati.
The final stage of the official Kübler-Ross model. Now we get to dream.
I've probably mentioned this before, but I like to use the New York Times Yardstick of Perspective. That is, what would appear on the front page of the New York Times sports section? Astros win 20 straight? Sure. That'd be on there. How about the A's winning 20 straight in 2002? Probably, yeah. What about the A's winning three at home against Texas during the last week of the season, following a second-half surge for the ages? Hmmm, maybe, but I didn't check.
How about the Giants going into Los Angeles in late August and sweeping a series? No, no, that's not something that'd be on the front page of the sports page of the New York Times. That's just one of the things that happens in baseball. It's not likely, but it can happen. Like it did this August.
It's not something that happens every season -- no, it's more of one of those things that elicits a piece of trivia. Did you know the Giants hadn't swept a series in Los Angeles since 2007? Yep. Matt Morris, Noah Lowry, and Kevin Correia all got wins the last time the Giants swept a three-game series in Los Angeles before this August. That's how rare and unlikely it is. But it happened again this year.
And when it happened, it merited a "Wow. Wasn't expecting that. Super neat!" It didn't merit national attention and some kind of historical review. And that's where the Giants are right now. They probably aren't going to advance to the NLCS. But, heck, they could sweep a three-game series on the road. It's still baseball. Whatever.
So we're on stage five of the stages of grief. And that stage is to hold a little bit of hope. The Reds had that hope in 2010, and that was stupid because, heck, Edgar Renteria was on the scene. The Reds realize how silly it was in retrospect. But the Red Sox had that hope in 2003, and they came back in their Division Series. They came back and lost in a completely miserable way to the Yankees in the absolute worst way possible the next round, but that's not the point. That's actually a horrible point. Moving on.
The point is that game sucked and you've made bad decisions in your life, and you should think about those bad decisions. But maybe there's an 11-percent chance the Giants can win three straight games in Cincinnati. Hey, it wouldn't make the front page of the New York Times. Well, this time it would because it's a playoff series, but in general, "Good Team Beats Good Team Three Straight Times" isn't a catchy headline.
That's all we have right now. That fifth stage, where we have to rationalize this away. It's how we deal with the realization that, after 162 games, things probably aren't going to go the way we thought they might. Let's just worry about the ways they could get better, even if they're not especially realistic.