After putting my daughter to bed last night, I sat on the couch and watched the/ game. I had a glass of Bulleit Bourbon on one side and a gigantic cat on the other. I sipped the bourbon. I watched some baseball. I skritched the cat.
The Giants not making the playoffs is a bad thing, but there are some benefits. In an alternate reality, the Giants did squeak into the playoffs. I had a chance to interview Alternate Reality Grant for just a bit:
Me: So, how are things?
Alternate Reality Me: Oh, just fine.
Me: Just fine?
Me: You aren't unbelievably nervous or stressed out?
ARM: Nope. I'm cool.
Me: So I'll assume that the huge wet spot on the front of your jeans isn't urine, and that you're not incontinent.
ARM: Nah. That's not urine.
ARM: I think it's bile. I think I'm urinating bile. It stings. I'm cold. Is it game time? I'm cold. I just want to wrap myself in red-white-and-blue bunting and go to sleep. Will you stay with me? Oh, god, another wave is coming. I need to ride the wave. Here's a spoon. Make sure I don't swallow my tongue. Here comes the wave. Ride the wave. I'm cold.
Really, I'm a lot of fun when the Giants make the playoffs. But there's something to, you know, being able to relax.
This period of relaxation allows me to calmly discuss who would be the 2009 playoff goat in that alternate reality. Who would have given us the Candy Maldonado sliding non-catch? Who would have given us the Shawn Estes baserunning magic? Who would have given us the Jose Cruz, Jr. clank of Gold Glove irony? There are a few different directions you could go:
Eugenio Velez misjudging a fly ball in the ninth inning. Fred Lewis muffing a fly ball, then stepping on his sunglasses as he tries to pick the ball up. Ryan Garko popping up to shallow left in ten straight appearances with the bases loaded. Bobby Howry allowing walkoff home runs even when the Giants play at home. These kinds of scenarios would be entirely predictable, even if some of the scenarios represent an overblown portion of a player's overall contribution.
This is more like the Jose Cruz, Jr. thing. Someone does something well all season, and then stinks up a single play to ruin all of the good that preceded it. Tim Lincecum walking seven in three innings. Pablo Sandoval hitting into a double play every time he comes up with runners on base. An error by Travis Ishikawa after he comes into the game as a defensive replacement.
The Barry Zito
Somehow, the stars align to get Zito the start of the fifth game of the Divisional Series. He pitches like the Zito of old. Not old-old, like when he won the Cy Young, but new-old, like when he started with the Giants. Certainly not new-new, which is more like old-new, and we're all fine with that Zito. I forget where this is going, but no matter how well Zito pitches for the Giants in a given year, if he gets knocked around in a crucial playoff start, all we'd hear that offseason is "$126 million! $126 million!"
The ultimate humiliation
Scrapping through the Divisional Series and the NLCS to get to the World Series...only to get manhandledly swept by the Yankees. That isn't a real word yet, but it would have entered the lexicon after a four-game romp that would have made 1989 look like a collection of nail-biters. There isn't a current adverb that could really get across a 34-2 series run differential. Manhandedly would have done nicely, though.
The ultimate pain
Losing to the Dodgers in the NLCS. On a walk-off home run by Andre Ethier. With Russell Martin on base. Who got there after a blown call at first with two outs in the ninth in Game Seven with the Giants up by one. I mean, use your imagination, folks. This could have been an all-time, give-up-baseball-for-needlepoint kind of season.
So this is an Open Sour Grapes Post. How would the Giants have broken your heart in the 2009 playoffs? Because they wouldn't have won the World Series. Definitely not. There wasn't a chance. And I bet those grapes I can't reach are totally sour. Like, yuck. My cheeks are puckering just thinking about them.