Our long national nightmare has just begun. Grant is gone. And not just for a weekend, either. He'll be gone for more than a week, and has left you in my slimy, evil clutches. My name is Josh, and I will be your pale immitation. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth commence.
I've already discussed in great detail my complicated, some might say "creepy", feelings about replacing Grant the last time I subbed, so in an effort to not repeat myself (as I much as I do enjoy that activity), I'll just point the way to that post here for those unfamiliar with it (a.k.a. n00bs).
Grant obviously has a very good reason for his extended absence -- he's getting married today (sorry, ladies -- all three of you), and then jetting off on a tropical honeymoon. Of course, we all feel positively giddy for Mr. and Mrs. McCovey Chronicles, and wish them our most hearty congratulations, but all the mushy, sentimental goodwill in the world isn't going to make putting up with me any less agonizing. So I'll just go ahead and apologize for my lack of Grantness in advance. Sorry. Really, I am. If it makes you fell any better, I've disappointed far better than you (just ask any of my former employers or girlfriends). And, if that doesn't make this ordeal any easier for you, I'll leave you with a helpful tip: the secret to enjoying my posts is the same as the key to enjoying Giants baseball or a Michael Bay film -- take two valium and dramatically lower your expectations.
While I may not have Grant's gift for satire, homespun wisdom, or personal hygiene, I do have a lot of fun activities planned for this week. We'll have thought-provoking posts, comment starters, polls, a contest -- all sorts of good stuff. It'll be one big party. Like when your parents went off to Europe every summer when you were a teenager and left you alone in the house, where you threw a big rager and raided their immense liquor cabinet. That is, if your parents were rich, neglective alcoholics like mine. The point is, there's a lot to look forward to, but before all that, there is a job at hand. A very important job. And by "very important", I of course mean "completely trivial".
I don't know how many of you remember, but the last time I guest posted on this site -- last September -- my Saturday Gameday Thread received just 24 comments. The Sunday Thread got eight. Eight. As in one more than seven. Because I'm a world class narcisist, this weak turnout hurt me very deeply. I realize at that time the Giants were Bondsless, the team was 13 games under .500, playing ugly baseball, and fans were still trying to get that pukey Alex Sanchez aftertaste out of their mouths. But 32 comments in two games is still 32 comments in two games. Nowadays, that's about what you'd expect for the first inning of a Tuesday night game against the Expos. And the Expos don't even exist anymore!
So you can imagine how excited I was when I agreed to sit in for Grant a few weeks back and the Giants immediately went on a tear, winning five straight and taking over 1st place. I imagined being able to write about the team everyday in the dog days of August as they tried to fend off their competitors and hold on for the division title. I thought about dissecting inevitable deadline manuvering Sabean would have conducted by then. It was an exciting time. Then Washington and Pittsburgh happened. So here it is, time to sub for Grant again, and what situation do I find? Bonds is a shadow of his former self, the team is 7 games under .500, in last place, and playing ugly baseball. On the bright side, for all I know, Alex Sanchez may lay dying in shallow ditch somewhere. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.
But this season is not over yet. Sure, the team is sinking like a stone, they're listless, they may even be mailing it in. But it's not over. Unlikely as it may seem from an ice cold team in last place, a hot streak right now -- with these upcoming games coming against the first and second place teams in the division -- could vault the Giants right back into the NL West race. Don't laugh, I talked to a mathematician, and he told me it's possible. But whether or not the team can actually win the division is mostly beside the point. I'd like them to actually look like they'd like to win. I mean, this is the Dodgers we're playing. If we can't win it, then we've at least got to keep them from winning it. That's the way this rivalry thing works.
Now, my mama didn't raise no quitters, so I'll be rooting hard for a win today. And I expect to see some damn team spirit out here, dammit! So come on, McCoven, let's hear some damn chatter out there! Let's all pull together and try to will the damn team to a damn win!
And if all that didn't sway you, then do it for Grant, because that's how he would have wanted it.
COMMENT STARTER: On this date in 1951, the Giants began the day 12.5 games back of the hated Dodgers, but swept a doubleheader from the Phillies to begin a 16 game winning streak. A miraculous 37-7 regular season-ending run enabled the Giants to catch the Dodgers and force a 3-game playoff series. In the final inning of the final game some guy hit some home run and a bunch of people got all excited and some guy screamed the same sentence over and over again. They called it "The Miracle at Coogan's Bluff".
The Giants aren't nearly 12.5 games out this year, but then they aren't in second place, either. So here's the question: In order to win the NL West this year, what record do the Giants need to put on to end the season? We'll call it "The Pretty Surprising, But Not Completely Shocking Happenstance at China Basin". Catchy, ain't it? [NOTE: Please keep in mind: a) including today, the team has 47 more games to play, and b) it is against team rules to win more than three in a row unless that streak is immediately followed by a losing streak of greater length.]