SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 23: The San Francisco Giants mascot Lou Seal was surprised when told he'd be playing second base, but he managed a 2-4 with 3 dance-offs. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
You know how in the last two minutes of a blowout basketball game where the kid with asthma and the prescription glasses gets subbed in because the coach knows it’s over? And then that kid almost makes a basket? That was today.
You know how some TV shows have their big climactic episode right before the season finale, and the season finale is just the aftermath where they’re cleaning up the mess or resolving some lingering interpersonal conflict? That was today.
You know how some TV shows have episodes that feature "lower deck" characters who are affected by or comment on the actions of our weekly heroes? That was… not really so much today.
You know how there are those co-workers who are really important for no other reason than that they fill a lot of positions at your job and even though they’re not really good or charismatic or altogether interesting, their absences would be noticeable and your company might suffer a bit? That was closer to today.
You know how when your team clinches a playoff spot with more than a week to play over their decidedly sad sack, overhyped nemesis and then decides to air out their stinky laundry the next day? Well, that was definitely today.
Today’s game was a substitute teachers’ convention. All the flaws of these backup players were on display. We got to see such classics as:
"Oh yeah, Ryan Theriot is a terrible fielder."
"Emmanuel Burriss has less power than an Amish streetlight."
"Brad Penny is bad."
"Clay Hensley is bad."
"Ryan Theriot, what are you doing?"
And that’s okay. It was all for a good cause. There was even a small chance of tying or winning the game at the end. Buster Posey batting with the bases loaded is never not fun. It’s tough to be disappointed about a loss following a playoff-clinching game. Sure, there’s the somewhat remote possibility that the Giants could claim a top seed for home field advantage in the playoffs, but with the Giants success on the road and the notion that good pitching plays well in any park, it’s almost – almost – not worth the trouble, particularly after a night of (deserved) hard partying.
What a great season this has been. Barry Zito has somehow survived until the end and is going to make the playoff roster. Brandon Belt survived Brett Pill. Buster Posey is on the verge of achieving Manifest Destiny. We survived Ryan Theriot.
And Aubrey Huff deserves credit for battling a major psychological issue and coming back from an injury to provide not awful plate appearances. I mean, he has looked like a viable pinch hitter in the Jason Giambi/Mark Kotsay mold (sans the power, of course). That’s extremely valuable in the playoffs. Of course, hitting long singles isn’t the best skill for a pinch hitter, but with runners on base late in the game it might do the trick.
So this can be another appreciation thread. And, hey, let’s appreciate the not awful start provided by Yusmeiro Petit. He didn’t look great, he didn’t look bad, he looked serviceable. Also, I can't say his name without giggling like a school girl. He kept the Giants in the game and was the whispering voice the hungover team needed to get going. Petit reminded me of Miguel Del Toro, but only because he too started a game after the Giants clinched in 2000. Petit might start another game this season! I mean, think about that. A team that couldn’t rub two runs together to create offense as recent as a year ago is now an average offense with above average pitching and a clinched playoff spot and the chance to rest its starters with a little over a week to go. That is cool. That team is our team. Cool cool cool. If I sound disturbingly rah-rah it’s because this team has forced me to be this way. The Giants winning has won me over.