You wait all winter. As soon as the World Series ends, you tally up the days. You find an online countdown. There are 130 days to Opening Day. There are 129 days to Opening Day. You bug friends on Facebook. Some of them hide your posts in their newsfeed. The game gets closer and closer. Opening Day, Opening Day, Opening Day.
Then it arrives, and all of the baseball comes tumbling out of a VW Bug.
Baseball! Just not how you imagined it. And, somehow, the Giants won on Opening Day for the first time since 2010. They're on pace for the best season in franchise history, you know.
There was sketchy pitching, mittfuckery, and seeing-eye hits to go along with the forceful, violent hits. Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt combined for 37 different defensive blunders, and Yusmeiro Petit threw enough mid-80s fastballs to make for a full Barry Zito start. Yet the Giants won. They won. They came back against all odds and won. I dare you to find a crazy comeback in Arizona early in a season that didn't turn out well.
Here's what baseball is April: It's a reintroduction to the feeling of constant panic and over thinking. How many pitches did Bumgarner throw? If he threw 20 in the first, can he still go seven? There are runners on first and second with no outs -- what are the odds the Giants get out of this? Now the are bases are loaded with no outs. What are the different permutations that can still lead to a scoreless inning?
It's also more than that. It's the feeling of watching a fly ball off the bat and knowing it isn't going to make it. It's cursing a grounder between first and second, bemoaning the other team's luck, while hoping for the same luck for your team. It's yelling at the umpire about the strike zone until you want a call.
Man, these games that mean something sure mean more than the games that mean nothing.
The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 9-8 on Opening Day. Considering the alternatives, this is absolutely outstanding.
The 2010 Giants gave up eight runs in 15 different games. They won two of them.
The 2012 Giants gave up eight runs in 20 different games. They won three of them.
The 2014 Giants are playing 1.000 baseball when giving up eight runs, though. Look at this dinger!
That's a swell dinger. Not going to lie, that might be the most staring and jitterbugging that Posey's ever done after a dinger. Which isn't much, but it still speaks to the situation and just how the ball was deconstructed. Welcome to the National League, Addison Reed, here's Buster Posey. He's like the A.J. Pierzynski of empirically better people you don't want to geld. Be careful with him.
I picked Bryce Harper for my NL MVP, and he got kicked in the face today. I ignored Buster Posey, and he won a game. The lesson is: Don't listen to me, and Buster Posey is better than everyone else.
The problem with this year's team shouldn't be the runs they don't score. The problem should be the runs they allow. After watching a game like that, I can get used to it. It's a baseball mid-life crisis. Switch it up. Try new things. See if something grabs your fancy. Here's a team that uses offense to overcome their deficient pitching. See how it works. Heck, I'll try anything once.
I wrote ... 200-300 posts in the offseason. For at least half of those, I went to the Giants page on Baseball-Reference.com and looked something up. For some of those posts, I spent hours on the page. It's an occupational hazard.
Still, when Jean Machi's stat line came up on the screen, I did a spit take. A 2.38 ERA? Fifty-one strikeouts to 12 walks? If the Giants signed a reliever on the open market with those stats, I'd light a Roman candle off in my car.
Yet I was wondering if Machi was going to make the team, and I wasn't advocating for him. As in, if J.C. Gutierrez were in a cage fight with Machi this spring, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said, "Dunno, whatever."
That would be 31st-best-ERA-in-Giants-history Jean Machi (min. 50 games). He really wasn't much worse than Sergio Romo in 2010, and Romo was a delight.
The problem was me, apparently. Machi was quite good last year. And he's one of the biggest reasons the Giants won on Opening Day. He struck out A.J. Pollack on a strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out double play that made us all smoke a cigarette after, then he whiffed Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo on filth-change after filth-change in the next inning.
If he had melted down, he would have been a face in the crowd, just another stinky Giants pitcher. As is, he's a danged hero. With a forkball-change-split that melts bats, apparently.
Let's see it happen again before we melt down the Marichal statue to make a Machi statue -- there's only an "r" and an "l" left over if you do that, by the way -- but in a crazy game that featured a lot of people not doing their jobs well, here's to the guy who did it exceptionally the whole time.
There will be more time to talk about Brandon Belt's combination of dunderheadinity and dinger potential, just as there will be more time to talk about Pablo Sandoval wrapping his fingers in electrical tape before the game for luck. For now, focus on the Giants winning on Opening Day. The last time they did that, they won the World Series. Past is prologue, suckers. Past is prologue.
(Past is probably not prologue, but it's fun when it works out in your favor.)
(Buster Posey done murdered that baseball.)