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In my worldview, the child I have is the result of a very specific DNA cocktail. If I had one o' them Barry Zito mustaches on the day the baby was supposed to be conceived, I would have been even more unappealing at that moment, nothing would have happened, and I'd have a different kid right now.
In my wife's worldview, this exact child was going to happen, regardless of the trivial things I did that day. Every deviation from the course, every step out of line would result in imperceptible corrections that would steer me onto the inescapable path.
I don't think there's a happy grey area. Either you believe in the chaos of an infinite (or nearly infinite) universe, or you believe in fate. And I'm not going to suggest that one is right. If I can't even predict Tim Lincecum's ERA for next season, how am I going to get snotty about how the universe works?
But for me, it's all about the chaos theory. Do you know why the Giants won the World Series in 2012? Because Scott Rolen didn't take a step to his left before Joaquin Arias swung in the 10th inning of Game 3. Or because Rolen didn't step to his right. Or in. Or pounded his glove and made with the peppy infield chatter before Jonathan Broxton threw the pitch. Because there wasn't a gnat or midge annoying Broxton, causing him to step off. Because Arias was fooled on the pitch, hitting the ball just weak enough, which happened because that was the first time he'd ever seen Broxton, which was the case because the Mets didn't call Arias up until September, 2010, which meant he didn't face Broxton when the Dodgers were in town, and the reason Arias wasn't called up was because Ruben Tejada was already on the roster, which happened because someone in the Mets' organization thought it was a good idea to bring up a 20-year-old shortstop and sit him on the bench, which happened because …
You get the idea. So I don't care about Zack Wheeler.
Oh, I wish he were still in the system. Don't get me wrong. If I could pull the magic Wheeler lever and ship him out for Jean Machi, well, of course. Look at the stuff. LOOK AT THE STUFF.
I'm rooting for him with the Mets, actually. I really am. I wouldn't be overcome with regret if he were successful. It would be another positive chapter in the amazing decade of first-round drafting. This is probably a firewall that my brain puts up because I'm a fragile, fragile man, but the important thing is that I believe it.
If the Giants don't trade for Carlos Beltran, things are different. I don't know how. If they trade Gary Brown instead, things are different. I don't know how. I just know that the cosmic tumblers aligned for the Giants to have their best season in franchise history. From the MVP to the perfect game to the dramatic playoff comebacks to the World Series, everything worked. And if you travel back in time to sleep with your own grandmother, everything gets ruined. Or so science fiction tells me. The same goes with undoing trades. But mostly sleeping with your own grandmother.
Now we're off track.
I explored this idea after 2010 with a post on Barry Zito having the greatest contract in the history of sports. The title was tongue in cheek, but the sentiment wasn't. Ted Lilly would have been a much, much better free-agent investment instead of Zito. But I have no idea if the Giants would have won the World Series with Lilly on the roster. In fact, I'd go as far to suggest it would have been extraordinarily unlikely, even if Lilly was the superior pitcher.
Maybe the Giants keep Wheeler, but trade him in 2012 for Zack Greinke or Adrian Gonzalez. Now he's gone, and the Giants don't make it out of the NLDS because those guys smell.
Maybe the Giants keep Wheeler and sign Carlos Beltran in the offseason, and his selfishness takes the whole team down with him.
I can do this all day. All I know is that the Giants had a transcendent, once-in-a-lifetime season in several respects, and they did it with an exact permutation of specific players on the 25-man and 40-man rosters. Asking for anything more than that, at least from a baseball perspective, doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
So pitch long and prosper, Zack Wheeler. After years and years of wondering about the what-ifs of George Foster, Gaylord Perry, and Joe Nathan, the what-ifs finally worked out in the Giants' favor. Twice. Maybe they could have done it with Wheeler still in the system. But that's a Price Is Right, under-the-mystery-box game that I'll never feel like playing.