Last night I read Bill Simmons' Tolstoy-like epic on the futility of the Golden State Warriors . It was depressing. It was 5,000 words that was, to put it in terms a Giants fan can understand, Lincecum-for-Orlando-Cabrera and Aaron Rowand contracts over and over and over again. I went to the Royals' page on Baseball Reference to cheer myself up.
The 1985 Royals actually won the World Series, which didn't make me feel better about the Warriors. So I did what I usually do in situations like this: scrape some paint chips off of a Cody Ross bobblehead doll and snort them. The only side effect is that when you're hallucinating and swinging your cat around like a baseball bat, sometimes you let go. Other than that, it's harmless and calming.
But looking at the '85 Royals page again made me feel better all of a sudden. I became fascinated with the roster, the performances, and the end result. That was a World Series-winning team that had …
- One fantastic hitter
- A couple of good hitters
- A bunch of average-to-just-below-average hitters
- A couple of really awful hitters
- An amazing front of the rotation
And you already see where I'm going. The 1985 Royals were what we're hoping the 2012 Giants will be in our best-case scenario/fantasy/slash-fic. There are differences, of course. Pablo Sandoval probably isn't going to have an OPS+ of 178, and the Giants won't have two players combine for 80 stolen bases, but it's an eerily similar comp. I'll even give Brandon Crawford the edge over Onix Concepcion, who hit .204/.255/.245. That was literally worse than Orlando Cabrera after he came over to the Giants. And for 100 more at-bats, too. Yet the Royals won the World Series.
There are other teams that remind me that a pitching-first, hitting-43rd team can win the World Series. There's this one, this one, and this one, for example. But the Royals were the ones that got me thinking optimistic thoughts.
I'll still grumble about the offense for, oh, 162 games or so. Give or take. I'm not thrilled that Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are the lone upgrades to the lineup, especially since their presence almost guarantees that Brandon Belt isn't going to start. My pessimism regarding Crawford's offense is already tiresome, but it still burns with a sad little fire. It's very likely that Freddy Sanchez isn't the Freddy Sanchez of old, and even that version wasn't the Bobby Grich of old that the Giants seem to suggest.
But championship teams come in different forms. Some of them come in the form of a swan and hit on you, though that's probably Zeus, not a championship team. Some of them come in the form of an all-pitching, some-hitting juggernaut like the '85 Royals or some of the other teams in baseball history.
For one more year, at least, we can be afforded the right to think big with this pitching staff. The Giants' rotation starts with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner. There will be 22 other players, and there's a chance that various pieces of said pitchers will fall into the Ainsworth Pit, where they will find a new definition of pain and suffering as their labrums and tendons are slowly digested over a thousand years. But right now, in March, the Giants have Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner. They also have Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. That's a fifth of the roster. Sunny thoughts.
Are the Giants likely to win the World Series? Nope. Are they favored to? Heck, no. Could they have done more to improve their chances? I sure think so. But change that all around to read "Were the '85 Royals likely to win the World Series? Were they favored to? Could they have done more to improve their chances?" Championship teams don't follow any specific template; they magically coalesce in short series after making it through the long regular season, like this team.
So give me Sandoval as George Brett, Lincecum as Charlie Leibrandt, Cain as Danny Jackson, and Bumgarner as Bret Saberhagen. And if you're really feeling froggy, you can picture Gary Brown coming up and doing Willie Wilson things to your heart's content. Mike LaCoss and Pat Sheridan can play themselves in the reboot and stop by the booth to tell stories. And will I accept a blown call as the way the Giants win the whole thing? Of course. Of course I will.
The moral of the story is simple. The Golden State Warriors: Indirectly making you feel better about your favorite team for over two decades.