I think I figured out something that’s almost worse than losing to the Dodgers: beating the Dodgers, but being unable to enjoy it. A sticky, slumpy pall hangs over the room as we mill about, trying to enjoy ourselves. Say, that was a super outing from Madison Bumgarner, alright. Yes, sure was, you reply. You take a sip of punch. Then someone in the corner starts screaming about Brandon Belt. The façade comes crumbling down. Everyone’s sad again.
Brandon Belt is going on the DL with a broken left thumb. He’ll miss a month, two months, three months, we don’t know yet. That’s the most important thing that happened on Friday night, and it’s the hair in the middle of our peanut butter Ritz. It’s hard to enjoy a win over the Dodgers after that.
But I’ll try! Because the Giants beat the Dodgers. Those words are mighty fine sniffing salts.
Part of being a Giants fan is being mopey and dour and cynical about certain things. Maybe that’s part of being a baseball fan in general, but I don’t know how the other 29/30ths lives. All I know is being a Giants fan, and that designation comes with baggage. It makes you say things like, “Ugh, of course Paul Goldschmdit is coming up now” or “Great, now David Eckstein is going to bloop us to death” or “Oh, no, Mark Portugal.” You know the names. You say them before you sleep, like Arya. You’re thinking right now of five I didn’t mention.
It hit me tonight: Madison Bumgarner is that guy for them. NBC kept flashing the graphic about him having the lowest career ERA at Dodger Stadium, and he kept mowing down horrible people with his slutter. When the Dodgers seemed like they had momentum — first with the Puig homer, then after escaping the bases loaded/no out jam — Bumgarner didn’t care. He was that guy to the Dodgers. He was Gary Sheffield standing on the shoulders of Jeff Bagwell, trying to sneak in an R-rated movie with Kevin Brown. He was the last guy the Dodgers wanted to see, and he lived up to the billing.
If he’s the anti-Dodger, at least for now, that means that he’s empirically good. I know about reciprocals and fractions and Newton’s third law, by gum, and if a feller makes the Dodgers feel like that, that means he’s a good person doing good things in a just universe.
There isn’t even an original way to describe his outing. He used his slider/cutter hybrid, commanded his pitches well, threw hard, and kept the other guys off balance with a breaking ball. It’s formulaic. He isn’t a mystery to the other team, either. That’s why he’s so fun to watch; there just isn’t enough time to figure out if the slutter is on the edge or on the thumbs. He’s cheating.
Eight innings, five runners, eight strikeouts. Madison Bumgarner really bugs the Dodgers and their fans. That means he’s doing good in this crazy, mixed-up world.
Conner was the man on the scene, and he got video of Bumgarner's post-game interview. He's pretty calm for having just slain orcs with his bare hands. Bumgarner, not Conner.
No, no, silly. You laugh at Yasiel Puig. That’s what you do. If you take offense at every ridiculous thing he does, you’re going to have a long couple of decades. Laugh at him. He’s a spectacle. He’s Robert Plant on a rooftop, robe flapping in the breeze, declaring himself a golden god and believing it. You don’t spit and yell at him about that’s not how we do things around here. You recognize he’s an electric jackass thrown in a full bathtub, and you make a note to come back when he’s slow, old, and hitting .210 and give him the full Muntz.
I don’t know, maybe that’s not how the competitive juices flow in Madison Bumgarner. Maybe laughing wouldn’t do him any good, whereas following the guy down the third-base line and chewing at him makes him feel more confident/focused/whatever. The only competition I’m used to is getting demolished by twitchy 14-year-olds in Call of Duty, so I’m probably not the best judge.
But once, just once, I want to see someone just laugh at Puig when he starts silliying the game up. Before the home run, Puig had something in his eye. He didn’t call time, he just stepped away from the plate calmly, and a second later, Bumgarner flopped in a breaking ball for a strike. Why didn’t he call time? Because he’s ridiculous. He’s the CEO of a company that exists only in his head, and he thinks we all work for him. He’ll tell us how baseball works. Don’t worry. He’ll tell us.
He’s the best. If a jackass like him didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him. I hope he’s with the Dodgers for another 10 years. The game is so much more fun with Puig in it. But we’re not exactly laughing with him. Not always. Join the fun, Madison.
Paul Maholm looked like hot slurry on a 100-degree day in the first inning, and the Giants didn't score. That's okay, I thought. There's plenty of time left. Then Maholm started looking like slow-motion Clayton Kershaw, and the Giants were totally befuddled. You had an idea of how that story was going to end.
Except there was a Brandon. Not that one from last night. And not the broken one. It's so very nice to have a shortstop who can field as well as Crawford, even if he struggles to hit his weight. As in, remember Orlando Cabrera? The bargain was supposed to be that even if he couldn't hit, he would field. Okay, fine. He was supposed to do one thing very well, and when he was kind of creaky in the field, that's when we started getting irate. You had one job! One!
I was okay with Crawford being that guy. He was going to be the perennial all-glove, no-bat guy, and the Giants were going to have to work around it because the all-glove part is helpful.
He's more, though. He's already at his 2012 home run total -- the second April in a row that he's done that. He's walking more and hitting more balls in the air. He's an average hitter, give or take. I would have given up five first-round picks in exchange for Crawford being an average hitter.
Good thing the baseball gods don't think like that before this stuff happens.
Pablo swung at a pitch by his eyes in the fifth inning. It might have been at the hairline. He fouled it iff.
He's coming back, y'all. I can feel it.