If I were to distill everything I write about baseball into one sentence, it would probably be "Knock knock, fart, Gremlins reference." If I were to distill it into a sentence I'd want my mom to read, though, it would be something like "Baseball isn't so much a story about the things that happen, but rather the order in which they happen."
Say, that's pretty good. Gonna put that on some Zazzle mugs and become a merchandising mogul. Be right back.
What I'd mean, though, is that Juan Uribe hitting a home run in a 7-0 game wouldn't be a story. It wouldn't be something you'd remember. Likewise, if Tim Lincecum got knocked out of Game 5 in the second inning, I think I would have been snarky when Edgar Renteria hit a home run. Oh, great, good time to be productive, jackass. Something like that.
Instead, it all came together at just the right time, in the right sequence, in just the right way. In 2011, it most certainly didn't. The Giants fell apart right at the trading deadline -- not a week or two before. Right after they gave up their top pitching prospect, the entire offense combined for 2.5 runs per game. Their shiny old acquisition got hurt right away. It was a mess.
So you might think the title of this post is sarcastic. It really isn't. Because imagine if Beltran had started his Giants career as he had ended it. He hit .378/.434/.700 in September -- he and Pablo carried the offense, and the team had its best run differential in any month.
Imagine him doing that with the Giants from the second he showed up. Pounding the ball all over the yard, keeping the Giants right behind the Diamondbacks. They could have entered September neck and neck with Arizona, setting up a fantastical finish.
Then imagine his August was his September. He hit .260/.288/.377. He walked thrice and struck out 17 times in 77 at-bats, hitting into six double plays. He got hurt.
That would be the narrative of the Giants' collapse. Ol' achy-breaky Carlos Beltran. Ol' Mr. Professor Not Clutch, not clutching the way he should have. If Salomon Torres and Felix Rodriguez had a baby it would have been a big deal in the medical world, sure, but I'll bet that baby would have worn a Carlos Beltran jersey when it went to not-clutch meetings at Not Clutch University.
It's not like that. Instead, Beltran showed the Giants what kind of hitter he could be. The Giants could use that kind of hitter, and they'll explore the possibility of re-signing him. The talk-radio set didn't turn on him. When the Giants were humming in October, Beltran was a big part of it. The blame for the collapse was spread evenly between injuries and the entire offense. Also, we were able to five-stage our grief far earlier and accept that the team wasn't going to repeat.
So thank you, Carlos Beltran. It's not like you had control over which months you were hot and cold, but because you did what you did, we don't have to listen or read a bunch of complete nonsense.