It's literally my job to know about baseball. There are 30 teams to keep track of, and usually 1,000 players take an at-bat or throw a pitch every year, so it can be a little overwhelming, but I'm pretty confident in my baseball knowledge, for the most part.
On April 26th, here was the Marlins' lineup, as posted on Baseball-Reference.com:
Pierre - LF
Polanco - 2B
Stanton - RF
Mahoney - 1B
Solano - 2B
Brantly - C
Coghlan - CF
Sanabia - P
Now, because it's my job, I know seven of the nine first names. And I know of Valaika, too. I just can't place the first name without a little help. Unless he doesn't have a first name. Wait, I think he was a producer/composer, did a lot of movie scores in the '80s. No, he doesn't have a first name. So that's eight of the nine players that I'm at least aware of. I can do better, but I'm only half-ashamed.
Then you get to the cleanup hitter. Mahoney. Mahoney. Can't place him at all. It doesn't help that I'm distracted by Police Academy 2 quotes the whole time, either. Mahoney … Mahoney … "Bunky? Oh, Bunky? How many times I gotta tell you? The litter box! The litter box!" … is he a minor-league free agent or maybe a top prospect? … "Not the new zoo, but the old zoo." … Mahoney … Mahoney. Nope. Don't know him.
He was their cleanup hitter. And then Giancarlo Stanton got hurt. The next two cleanup hitters after Mahoney were Austin Kearns and Greg Dobbs. Placido Polanco has hit cleanup six times for the Marlins this year.
Joe Mahoney. It was Joe Mahoney. And going by his minor-league stats, he's kind of like Brett Pill without the power. He was hitting cleanup. And it was the name "Mahoney" that made me start to wonder if the Marlins have fallen on hard times. Seems like it. Lemme check … yeah, they're on hard times.
This is of interest to a Giants-themed site for a couple of reasons. First, the Marlins are coming into town for a four-game series. That is far, far more Marlins than the FDA usually allows, so keep the Benadryl by the TV, just in case. Second, I've spent a good portion of my adult life loathing the Marlins. Absolutely loathing them. They broke my heart in '97, they broke my heart in '03, and they broke my America in '11. Everything the Marlins touched seemed to hose the Giants.
And now they're horrible. This should fill us with glee, right? It's like a mathematical equation:
Team you hate + (misery)/lulz = general satisfaction
Yet here's what I feel when I look at the Marlins' roster: Pity. Shame. Sadness. Itchy. Giancarlo Stanton-related terror. But no satisfaction. There's a spectrum, and somehow the Marlins moved from "HA HA, SUCK IT, TEAM I DON'T LIKE" to "Aw, jeez, Marlins." The Marlins have become so depressing that they've removed the schadenfreude arrow from my quiver.
This might be their worst crime yet. You can take away my shot at a 100-win team breaking the championship drought, but how dare you take away my desire to hate you without reservation.
This isn't to say that the Marlins are so bad they can't beat the Giants in all four games. Ha ha ha, come on. It would be perfectly Marlin for them to do something like that, possibly while breaking one of our favorite players. But I don't look at the Marlins with the contempt I used to. They stopped being the guy hitting on my wife at a party and became that same guy tangled in a hammock and throwing up on himself.
Your mileage may vary. Maybe you never stopped hating the Marlins (or started, for that matter). But this is the first Marlins series in a while where my first thoughts weren't Dante Powell hitting the mound, J.T. Snow barreling into Pudge, or Scott Cousins. It's just jeeeeeez, Marlins. Over and over again. Jeeeeez.
They're getting settled, though. Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich are the kinds of players they should be messing around with. Pretty soon Christian Yelich will be up to wreak havoc. So I think they've reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and now they're ascending. But they're still in a pretty bad spot for a while.
Hitter to watch
Prediction: Giancarlo Stanton becomes the Fred McGriff of a new generation. He'll get traded to an NL West team for the modern equivalents of Donnie Elliot and Melvin Nieves, and then he'll go bananas. If not this July, next season.
You'd think that it would be hard to be this cynical after all of the good things that happened to the Giants over the last three years. It is! But only if you're worried about people liking you.
Pitcher to watch
A four-game series, eh? Well, I'll just assume that Jose Fernandez pitched last night and is unavailable for this series.
Holy crap, that never works. It's outstanding and depressing that the Giants will miss Jose Fernandez. I love watching him pitch. I like watching the Giants win more.
Instead, feast your eyes on Ricky Nolasco, future Giant. Oh, yes. Search your feelings. You know it to be true. I'm thinking Chris Stratton, unfortunately. Maybe Kyle Crick, too. Or maybe the Giants can get Thomas Neal back in a three-way deal and ship him off to Miami. Welcome, Ricky Nolasco! It's like you were here all along.
Giancarlo Stanton hits a home run. If it lands in the glove, though, it's an out. Ground rules.