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"That's How Houdini Died, You Know"

We have three choices. The first, is to block this all from our heads. Bury this all deep into our subconscious, and go about our business. We smile back at the sun, whistle a tune, and just live, man. Twenty years later, a psychiatrist can wrench this out through hypnosis, and determine it to be the root cause of the night tremors and impotence

We can give up in March, and quietly weep at the mere mention of competitive sports. We'll just have to forget what has been the singular focus of our extracirricular lives, and try to stow the excitement about the upcoming baseball season which had been frothing over. Without Bonds for an extended period of time, the Giants really don't stand a very good chance of doing much of anything this season.

Or we can ignore the facts. Skew and abuse statistics; make them say what we want them to say. Latch on to any glimmer of hope, and still enjoy the time of the season where irrational optimism is encouraged, if not demanded. If every Giant in the lineup has something close to their second-best season, they will win the division in a walk. Asking them to have or duplicate their career years is far, far too goofy. But asking for the second-best season, well that's perfectly reasonable. Gentlemanly, even.

"But Grant," you ask, "isn't the starting lineup much too old to even hope for a season as good as last, much less recreate the magic they had at the peak of the physical lives?"

Oh, I'm sorry. The Painful Reality class is next door. You've stumbled into Grasping at Straws. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. The second-best season theory is the kind of bunk which was made for crazed partisans like ourselves. We're just looking for the upper end of the performance scale, not the top.

2B - Ray Durham, .282/.364/.484
SS - Omar Vizquel, .275/.341/.418
LF - Moises Alou, .339/.397/.592
1B - J.T. Snow, .281/.387/.510
3B - Edgardo Alfonzo, .308/.391/.459
CF - Marquis Grissom, .308/.349/.489
RF - Michael Tucker, .283/.347/.445
C - Mike Matheny, .261/.317/.362

Wow! Now I feel better. Those were just the second-best seasons of their career. They could do that again. Forget the fractured logic behind it. Watch the pocketwatch swing back and forth, and try and enjoy the start of the season. In September, when the Giants are 10 games out, and making you miserable every single day, that's when you give up. Or maybe in August, when they're 15 games out. July: probably no picnic, either.

It is going to be weird not to have the warm and surly security blanket around, who for years made our lineup one of the best in baseball by walking on the field. There is the theory going around that Bonds was being overly dramatic after a tough day, and exaggerated the extent of his injury. I don't buy it, but that's the scrap of hope in the dog dish, and we have to nose away the ants to enjoy even that. If he returns in May, the season is still open. June, less so. July, forget about it. Unless the skies split open, that is, and every hitter has their second-best offensive season.

You read it here first. Just don't embarrass me by telling anyone.