It’s hard to believe, but after writing close to 400,000 words about bad Giants teams over the past few years, I was starting to get a little burned out on Giants baseball. This marginal prospect almost excites me…this veteran might be tradable…this reliever has a good arm, but he can’t seem to get outs…this starting pitcher needs to find his consistency…. It’s been the same stupid script for years, and it always ends in this tangy concoction of forced indifference, depression, and rage. Then the offseason comes, a few stupid moves get made, and the cycle starts over. At least Bill Murray was able to learn how to play the piano when he was stuck in his time loop.
Last night, Comcast Sports Net Bay Area Net Sportsnet replayed the broadcast of the division clincher from 2000. While it might seem like this kind of nostalgia would be a twist of the knife, it was actually comforting. I was at the game, and I remember Luis Gonzalez’s body language when the Giants took the lead in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. The crowd was absolutely geeked, waiting for the last out and a division title. The Pac Bell crowd was always underrated due to the overblown "crab cakes ‘n’ chardonnay" stereotype. The 5,000 fans from Candlestick were still there, but they were just reinforced with 35,000 additional fans. Even if 15% of those additional fans were cell-phone yabbering weenies, the crowd was still a boisterous, knowledgeable bunch.
The game was a reminder that the focus doesn’t always need to be championship, championship, championship. Which is convenient, as the Giants generally don’t win those. But a good team that doesn’t win it all still keeps you entertained for 162 games before breaking your heart in the last five or seven. I miss that. We were spoiled. It was a good run.
Everything could go wrong with this current bunch, sure. Pablo Sandoval could fade just as quickly as he emerged. Travis Ishikawa’s great minor league season could be an echo of the great-yet-overdue minor league triumphs of Todd Linden and Calvin Murray. Emmanuel Burriss might not sustain a decent on-base percentage. Barry Zito might not join The New Traveling Wilburys, and he might not have to leave the team to go on a 43-city tour.
But I can kind of visualize how the team can start giving us wire-to-wire excitement again. The organizational veteranophilia that was killing a lot of us really did go away after the trade deadline. Jose Castillo was dumped, Omar Vizquel was benched, and a care package of prospects came up and actually played. Buster Posey is signed and doing well, and the organization has two of the best pitching prospects in baseball again. The Giants aren’t going to have the best record in the majors any time soon, but I can see how this bunch could give us a poor man’s 1986 in the next couple of years.
And for some reason, the memory of a Bonds-driven juggernaut combined with the news that the Giants are finally going to handle Burriss in a normal way to make me feel less burned out about Giants baseball. The light at the end of the tunnel might be coming from Tommy Lasorda’s tanning booth in hell, but at least I’m in a better frame of mind at the end of this season than I was last season.