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The Giants are in a tough spot, but was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
I'm no good at motivational speeches. If I were a college football coach, I'd play Rudy on a loop in the locker room as I locked my office door behind me, hoping they'd get the point.
But it's Game 3. It's a do-or-die situation. There should be some sort of motivational speech to fire you up. The players can take care of themselves, but we all need something to get us going. And you know what motivates me? Speeches! Not really, but it's worth a shot.
Picture this being uttered by someone older, balder, and fatter than me. Someone chomping on a cigar and wearing a derby hat. It adds to the effect.
I know what you're thinking. Things look bad. Yer back's against the wall. You're tired, exhausted. You spent six months putting up with "gamer babe" comments and ball dudes falling down. You've paid $8 for a beer and $20 for parking, only to watch the Giants get shut down by Chris Young. The hitter or pitcher. It doesn't matter. You've watched good baseball and bad baseball. It's a long season, and if the Giants lose one more game, you'll have bittersweet release.
And if the Giants somehow win today, you'll be rewarded with a Barry Zito start. And after that? Probably Mat Latos. Things don't look good. You kind of want to curl up into a ball and rock back and forth.
I get that. But snap out of it.
You're telling me that you're losing faith and feeling hopeless … the day of a Ryan Vogelsong start? Do you realize how ridiculous that is? How weak that makes you seem? Have you already forgotten the circles of baseball hell that Vogelsong traversed to be here today?
He was traded to the Pirates as a young prospect, which is like asking the guy passed out in front of the saloon to take your new car into the shop for you. Of course there's going to be an accident. There will be body parts everywhere. And after being the worst Pirates pitcher for the last 100 years -- think about that -- he got hurt. Seriously hurt. He could have given up. He could have taken the CPA test and bought a nice house somewhere.
But he didn't.
After the Pirates didn't want him -- think about that -- he went to a mystical land of mountains and blinking lights to pitch. It might seem fantastical to you or me, but in this land, the people don't even cook their fish. It must have been disorienting and scary. He had to pitch for teammates he couldn't talk with, play for coaches he couldn't understand. He did this for three years, hoping that he'd pitch so well, someone in the States would notice him and invite him back. He wasn't anything more than mediocre. He could have given up, and no one would have thought lesser of him.
But he didn't.
He went to Salt Lake City to play for the the Angels' minor-league team. He was so bad, he was released. He signed on with the Phillies' affiliate. He walked 40 batters in 58 innings. He was released again. He should have given up. Forget the "could have"s. He should have.
But he didn't. He came to the Giants.
After all that up there, after failing and hurting and failing forever more, he got up each time and figured out a way around it. Now he's going to start the first playoff game of his 14-year professional career.
You're worried that the Giants can't win three games in a row. The Giants, who won 94 games, who won three games or more in a row 14 times. Those are the long odds that have you down.
How can you even look Ryan Vogelsong in the eye?
We might not win today, folks. This season might be over. But it isn't yet. It was more likely for an otter to evolve thumbs, learn to fly a plane, and beat Charles Lindbergh to transatlantic flight than it was for Ryan Vogelsong to be here today.
And you're worried about a three-game winning streak being impossible.
It's the playoffs. The Giants are in the playoffs. Ryan Vogelsong is pitching. Now go out there and get 'em. And by "go out there", I mean, sit on your couch, or whatever it is you do during the games. But sit there and have some hope, dammit, hope. You owe it to Vogelsong, and you owe to yourself. Thank you.
And I'll, uh, see what I can work up for Zito tomorrow.