I don't know, man. I'm not sure about this new paradigm. I've joked and needled about the Giants becoming Red Sox West -- a previously cursed, suddenly omnipresent fan base that is both legion and obnoxious -- but I didn't expect it to actually happen.
SHORTSTOP — 1, Rafael Furcal, Cardinals, 3,972,921. 2, Brandon Crawford, Giants, 3,666,897. 3, Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 2,776,412. 4, Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, 2,465,314. 5, Starlin Castro, Cubs, 2,185,278. 6, Jose Reyes, Marlins, 1,856,997. 7, Alex Gonzalez, Brewers, 1,383,622. 8, Jed Lowrie, Astros, 1,237,156
I can't stop staring at that. It's a down year for shortstops in the National League, I get that. And you can't expect the masses to know that Jed Lowrie exists at this point, much less what kind of year he's having. But Brandon Crawford almost made the All-Star team. He almost started the All-Star Game. Brandon Crawford. He is fourth in the league in OBP, which … wait, wrong column. That was errors. Never mind. Brandon Crawford was almost an All-Star.
Can't look away. The Giants are one of those teams now. Brandon Crawford almost started the All-Star Game. There's so much cognitive dissonance that needs to happen for me to type that out, even. I like Brandon Crawford. His glove, at least. And he really cut back on the strikeouts in June compared to May. That's … something.
But he isn't an All-Star. He shouldn't even be in the conversation. When you try to say the words "Brandon Crawford, All-Star" in the same sentence, a butterfly should fly out of your mouth and distract you from completing the phrase because a wizard cast a spell on you to prevent you from saying that phrase because nobody should ever say that phrase.
And it's not just Crawford.
SECOND BASE — 1, Dan Uggla, Braves, 3,831,375. 2, Brandon Phillips, Reds, 3,164,460. 3, Jose Altuve, Astros, 2,397,322. 4, Freddy Sanchez, Giants, 2,289,147.
Freddy Sanchez can't open a car door without an elaborate system of pulleys and winches helping him grip the door handle. He still finished fourth.
OUTFIELD — 1, Melky Cabrera, Giants, 7,521,784 … 13, Jason Heyward, Braves, 1,936,179. 14, Aubrey Huff, Giants, 1,913,528. 15, Corey Hart, Brewers, 1,847,985. 16, Jay Bruce, Reds, 1,673,939.
Aubrey Huff is having one of the most miserable seasons imaginable, and I'm not just talking about OPS or production. Injuries, personal stuff, and production … it's all a toxic package that's led to one of the most miserable seasons imaginable. Huff still finished over Jay Bruce, still got over 500,000 votes more than Giancarlo Stanton.
It's not the Pablo Sandoval selection that gets me. Sandoval is a well-known, popular player, both in his home market and around the league. He's also been good for a while. Those kinds of players make All-Star teams. Derek Jeter makes every All-Star team, even if he's hitting .260/.300/.300. Direct democracy can be annoying, but in 20 years, it will have totally made sense that Jeter or Sandoval started the All-Star Game. Once you reach a certain fame/talent threshold, the arguments for or against starting an All-Star Game shouldn't be that fierce. Historically, teams picked using first-half success alone would be far, far worse than teams made from established stars.
So I'm not going to apologize for the Sandoval spot on behalf of Giants fans. It almost makes more sense to me than Melky Cabrera, even though I've watched Melky demolish the NL this year. I'm still not quite used to the idea that he's consistently awesome now. Sandoval is something of a star, and it's the All-Guys-Like-Sandoval Game.
Sandoval beat Wright in the voting. I'm fine with that. It fits into my personal definition of what an All-Star is. One part good, one part recognizable, two parts not a three-month fluke. Wright was the better choice, and I actually voted for Wright, but I don't mind a player like Sandoval making it.
Sandoval beat Wright by over a million-and-a-half votes. Take away 1.25 million of those. He still wins. But now Crawford is in fourth place, which is now in the realm of acceptable big-market ballot-stuffing traditions. Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff drop off the leader board. Buster Posey still wins. It's the extra million-plus that's the difference. It's like changing an "F" to an "A+" on your report card when you should have just made it a simple "B." Settle down, Giants fans. We need about a million less of these vote doohickeys, and we're still golden.
But after decades of relative obscurity with anything and everything (unless it had to do with Barry Bonds, when coverage was less than flattering), it's good to be the bully. It's good to be the obnoxious fan base. I've been on both sides. I've been a Niners fan when they were steamrolling the NFL, and I've been a Warriors fan. Every year is 2008 for Warriors fans. Every player is Todd Linden, except for the ones who are Fred Lewis.
It's better to be the universally loathed early-'90s Niners fan. The Giants just need four more titles to complete the illusion. I can wait. But until then, they're still going to be the kind of team that draws well on the road, with fans that cheer extra-obnoxiously loud in other ballparks and stuff the ballot box. The days of sympathy and pity from other teams is gone. Fans of 29 different teams kind of hate the Giants right now.
Feels good, man. Feels good.