An injury. A spectacular, season-altering injury. That's the only way the game could have been worse. Because it had everything else. It was almost scripted. Seriously, pretend you're part of a focus group, and you're helping a team of screenwriters concoct the most annoying Giants game ever. What do you start with?
Has to be Zito. Lincecum's season is more depressing, so when he gets knocked around, you feel more of the sting. But if we're talking bad -- objectively bad, distasteful baseball that makes you want to follow indoor lacrosse -- it has to be Zito. At least with Lincecum, there's a small part of you that still hopes the old Lincecum is trapped in there, like John Cusack at the end of Being John Malkovich. But Zito is Zito is Zito. You know these games are coming. And it has to be a Zito start with deflating first-inning runs. No one does deflating quite as well as Zito.
The opponent has to be the Dodgers. That's not up for discussion.
The offense would need to be feckless. It would need to be a soporific, wholly numbing affair, with groundout after groundout. Baseballs pounded into the dirt like it was the point of the game, some hybrid of cricket and croquet -- crouket -- with a splash of calvinball. Hit the ball into the ground, win a prize.
Brandon Belt would have to strike out looking. It would need to be on a ball, too, so you couldn't even be mad at him. Mildly disgusted is fine, of course. Then Bruce Bochy would have to double-switch him out early in the middle part of the game for Aubrey Huff, whom I respect and admire, and who will always be a part of Giants lore forever and ever, but who can't play baseball anymore.
More grounders. All of the grounders. That dirt just insulted your mother! Are you going to just let it get away with that? Pound the ball into that dirt, brother. Teach it a lesson. Grounder, grounder, grounder. Leadoff doubles would be hit. Leadoff doubles would be stranded. Grounders to the right at the wrong time. Grounders hit to the left at the worst time. Grounders.
The Dodgers' new player would do new, exciting things. He would look like a rejuvenated star, a guy who should have taken three top prospects to acquire. The Giants' new player would look like a Giant. Grounders? The currency here is grounders. That's what lets you buy stuff in the Giants' employee store. Grounders are what other people call scrip in some parts. Hit some grounders and exchange them for foodstuffs. There you go. Welcome, friend.
There'd be a whimper of a rally in the late innings -- nothing that would help the team win, mind you, but maybe they wouldn't get shut out! The easy conquest of lowered expectations. There'd even be a hit with a runner in scoring position. That runner would not score.
Brandon Crawford would make an error that would lead to a run. You know, just to remind you of those yips from earlier in the season.
George Kontos would have a bad game in a low-leverage situation that would somehow make people forget the 16 good outings he had since joining the Giants.
In the seventh inning, a beach ball would onto the field and stop play.
Oh, hey, more Dodger runs in the eighth against Brad Penny. I'm sure he'll turn it around. Keep pitching him. Those last several hundred innings were probably just a fluke. Maybe if you let his strikeout rate dip any lower, maybe he'll invite you to hang out in "The Shed."
Grounders. Hanley Ramirez doing a stupid gimmicky thing every time he reached base. "I am a fancy debutante at a fancy ball, and I am looking at you through my bejeweled peacock mask! Aren't we having a delightful time?" More grounders.
Nope. It needed an injury to be worse. There was a little twist, though, in that Buster Posey avoided an injury today. He set up far from home on a play at the plate -- far enough to avoid another collision, but not close enough to tag out a runner at home. And that led to annoying comments on Twitter about how Buster should just move to first if that's how he's going to play catcher, as if this scenario happens more than once every three months. Well played. That's how you push the boundaries of annoying without spilling over into depression. Just ... well played.
Well played, indeed. Everything about it was well played. Except for, you know, the baseball game.