The whole time, all I could think was, man, if only Gordon Beckham were here.
About three weeks ago, the Giants and A's had the same record. I remember thinking last month of how awesome, how terrifying it would be for a 25th-anniversary World Series celebration. Oh, there would be squawking from both sides, win or lose. It would be sublime. There would be fires. I was almost resigned to the idea, just like I was in 2010, when I just knew the Yankees were going to beat the Giants in the World Series. Here we are, three weeks later. Don't act cocky, other teams. It can happen that quickly.
(It will never happen that quickly for another team in our lifetime. Breathe in the history.)
The A's had a montage leading up to this series. Cut to: Billy Beane landing a helicopter on Jed Hoyer's front lawn to finalize the deal. Cut to: Bob Melvin holding court with his new starting pitchers. Cut to: Hirsute hitters taking mighty cuts in a batting cage. Cut to: Fielders diving all over the place. They looked like a formidable, scary team.
The Giants didn't have a montage, but they did sit in partially chewed Junior Mints when they watched the A's montage in the theater.
About three weeks ago, the Giants and A's had the same record.
The Giants have been shutout in four of their last eight games. They were shut out four times in 2004.
Ryan Vogelsong pitched well, mixing his offspeed stuff well and showing a nastier change than we're used to. He was also exceedingly lucky through the first few innings, stranding each and every runner in scoring position, of which there were a lot. Tonight's Vogelsong was a member of the grinder family. He used open bases. He wasted pitches. Grind grind grind.
Here's the weirdest problem about the now-awful Giants: They're not awful enough. It would be one thing if every fifth start, there were a pitcher getting pummeled for six, seven runs. Replace that guy, we would yell, and things will look up. There would be a clear way to upgrade the team.
Instead, the Giants are a muddled mess, but they're also confusing. Vogelsong is okay-not-great lately, which is perfect for a team with great-not-good talent around him. But everyone around him is confusing, too. Which starter would they have sat in favor of Jason Hammel, for example? I get that Cain's struggled, but the last decade has to mean a little more than the first three months of 2014. Vogelsong and Lincecum are pitching well enough to help a team win, provided they can score three or four runs like a normal team.
So there's no upgrade to the rotation, not when the Giants don't have the prospects to get an obvious upgrade like David Price. Fine. How do you upgrade the lineup, then? Morse isn't sitting, even if he's slumping, and Hunter Pence is great. Angel Pagan is supposed to come back after the All-Star Break. Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval are good, if flawed, players. Brandon Crawford's outstanding, as is Buster Posey.
Second base. Everything hinges on second base, then. That's the only obvious roster spot to fill through a trade. Which leads us to the joke from the opening paragraph. A new second baseman isn't going to save this team, not unless they can guarantee they're getting healthy Chase Utley in his prime. Even then, this isn't a team that's one hitter away.
It's a team with the potential to play better, almost to the man. They just need to do it. This is the same team that looked like one of the more underrated offenses in the National League earlier this year, and they're getting closer to full health. There's no quick fix, though.
Hey, Giants: Stop sucking. Play like you played when you weren't sucking. Because there isn't a cavalry coming. The answer is for everyone to stop sucking at the same time. So do that.
Oh, right, forgot about the bullpen as a possible upgrade. Bullpens are jerks. This one, especially. A new set of relievers isn't going to fix the Giants' problems either, though.
Nothing's going to help. Everything's ruined. The Giants are playing .667 ball over the last three games, and they're just a game out of first, but leave me alone. Let me wallow.
What a weird season.