Secretly, there's a part of me that misses the bad baseball. Almost all of it was awful, of course. If I had to put my finger on why, it probably had to do with all of the bad baseball. But in the middle of every season, there was a reward for the bad baseball: a shiny, high draft pick. In 2006, the Giants got a shiny, high, high draft pick. It was a reward for 162 mostly miserable games.
Don't get me wrong: There's no comparison between those days and the present. There's obviously no regret, no pining for the days that used to be. We used to argue about Fred Lewis. Like, there would be two different people with two actual opinions about Fred Lewis, and they'd go around and around. Others would join in. This is how we would spend our day. I mean …
But one of the favorite things I've done on this site were the draft previews from 2008. The Giants had the fifth-overall pick in a hitter-heavy draft, and that allowed me to profile each of the top options for the Giants. Like a true weenie, I never argued for or against specific players, taking more of a "they all sound good!" approach. But I had fun looking it all up. I can even remember specific instances of where I was when I wrote some of them -- I vividly remember writing the Gordon Beckham one on an airplane to New York, for example.
The reason these were so fun was that they allowed for unfettered dreaming. You could look at the name "Gordon Beckham" and think of a franchise shortstop -- a guy who could pummel fastballs that almost reached the Coke bottle, hold down the shortstop position with aplomb, and make All-Star teams for the next decade.
Dammit, get that reality out of here. It smells like feet and broken dreams. I'm talking about the pre-draft stuff, when everything was possible because there weren't any indications to the contrary. Think stats are ruining the game? Then you'll love the draft. There aren't any stats! At least, no professional stats to judge. You can just sit and level-16 wishcast until you collapse.
Justin Smoak was going to hit 25 home runs every year … from each side of the plate. Pedro Alvarez was basically the new Pujols, but we weren't going to get a chance at him. Is that a high-school catcher? Heck, throw him on the pile. He's probably going to be the next Pudge.
Spoiler: The Giants took a guy who made those dreams look like gray, one-dimensional, passing fancies that popped in and out of our heads like a soap bubble. Because the reality was better. Thinking about a player panning out is exciting. Wondering, "What if this is the guy who leads the team to a … nah, never mind" makes you feel like a giddy, silly fanboy. Watching the guy charge the mound like a hyperactive child after a championship that he was as responsible for as any other player on the team? That's something else. That's not something you get by closing your eyes and thinking what might be.
The draft used to be exciting because we were hoping that the Giants could get a player like Buster Posey. Or Tim Lincecum. Or Matt Cain. Or Madison Bumgarner. With four first-round picks out of the seven drafts from 2002 through 2008, the Giants built a sellout streak. They did what you think you're hoping for before every draft -- I write "think you're hoping for" because you have no idea how awesome it really is.
But I still miss the excitement of a high draft pick. It sounds perverse, and it is. The draft starts next Monday. The Giants pick #20. I want them to take Richie Shaffer. Sounds like a name with some hits in it. If it were Rich Shaffer, I wouldn't be interested in him, but the manchild promise of Richie is always worth a second look. Maybe I'll check out some video before the draft. Probably won't.
If the honeybees died off and agriculture collapsed, and the world was beset with a famine that you never thought you'd see, you'd remember the dented can of artichoke hearts you found under a bridge. You'd remember what the salty packing fluid tasted like as it dribbled down your chin. That doesn't mean it was a good situation. But it was an oasis that helped break up the monotony of losing. So it's worth a little nostalgia, even if things can get much, much better.
Also, the honeybees dying off scares me like a Gordon Beckham trade. Brrrrr. Just got the chills again.