I had big plans for the All-Star voting. Even though Matt Carpenter is having a pretty good year, I wanted to push for Marco Scutaro instead because he's old and lovable, whereas Carpenter is young and matty in that irritating Cardinals way. I wanted to push for Buster Posey over Yadier Molina because I believe in a just universe. I wanted to push for Pablo Sandoval over David Wright because trolling Mets fans is one of this country's greatest pastimes. I wanted to keep posting All-Star exhortations, begging you all to stop what you're doing and vote.
Then … yeah. It was hard to get excited about anything Giants-related, especially in an All-Star-voting kind of way. Is that fickle? In the worst way. Fair-weather? Probably is, sure. But the cloud hanging over the Giants makes it way too hard to be rah-rah right now. The voting for the All-Star Game is over. Buster Posey probably isn't going to start. No one on the Giants is. Gonna sit and stare off into space for a while.
Well, maybe Bruce Bochy will start Matt Cain. And take seven Giants. Still, you get the point. The rivers run meh with Giants malaise right now.
A sweep of the Dodgers would make for happier times, then. It kind of has to be a sweep. Just winning the series would make for a "okay, keep it going, jackasses" kind of attitude that would delay the happier times. Until 2018, at this rate. A series loss would continue the malaise and self-pity. A Dodgers sweep would make for a Monday filled with "What can the Giants get for Hunter Pence?" posts.
So I propose the Giants sweep the Dodgers this weekend. Gimme a sec, and I'll make an online petition …
This entire season is in a holding pattern right now. It's the freakiest thing. The Giants are clearly in a free fall, but there is still a chance for a hot week to change everything. It's a free fall, but with hilarious Looney Tunes physics. There's even a chance that the Giants can finish the weekend a game-and-a-half out of first place. Heck, they can be in first by themselves as early as Tuesday.
Yet I'm refreshing the WarriorsWorld forums for Dwight Howard news right now. I'm watching and re-watching Kyle Crick videos and paying more attention to the minor leagues, a beats-thinking-about-the-real-Giants tradition that I slowed down on after 2010. I'm doing everything except think of a Giants/Dodgers series, in which both teams are still in a taut NL West race. This is almost certainly the toughest time I've ever had thinking of something to write before a Giants/Dodgers series, and it's actually a pretty important series. All I can think is, "Dammit, Giants. Dammit, baseball," but that doesn't make for compelling copy.
So let's get creative and list a few things that would make the Giants compelling again. Er, compelling and good. Because they've been pretty compelling in that Requiem for a Dream kind of way. But I mean compelling and not unlike the teams of recent vintage:
1. Matt Cain keeps being awesome
His June: 3.10 ERA, 39 strikeouts and six walks in 40.2 innings, with just three homers allowed. And that includes his second whack-a-mole game against the Cardinals.
2. Madison Bumgarner keeps being awesome
He's pitched seven innings in each of his last four games, which brings the Giants' total number of seven-inning starts this season to, let's see, about four. But like Cain, he was really good in June.
3. Tim Lincecum keeps being mostly okay (mostly) (for the most part)
It's still hard to get used to the new Lincecum, but he's been okay (mostly) (for the most part) (kind of) since the start of June. He's throwing more strikes and allowing fewer homers. He even has three quality starts out of his last six tries. It's sad to talk about him like he's Todd Wellemeyer or something, but still. It's better news on him than any we've had in the past year, playoffs excluded.
4. Barry Zito keeps ... doing whatever it is he does
Good start bad start awful start good start meh start meh start meh start bad start good start meh start meh start bad start bad start awful start great start meh start good start meh start meh start meh start bad start bad start meh start good start awful start meh start meh start
5. Chad Gaudin continues his surprising ways
He's been a nice surprise, alright. I'd still like to see Vogelsong back, but no complaints about Gaudin.
6. THE BULLPEN STARTS PITCHING BETTER
GOOD GOD BULLPEN STOP BEING SO AWFUL. YOU ARE AWFUL. STOP DOING THAT. THE AWFUL. STOP DOING THE AWFUL THINGS YOU HAVE BEEN DOING.
7. HIT THE BALL YOU HORRIBLE BASEBALL PLAYERS
HIT THE DAMNED BALL. YOU ARE HORRIBLE BASEBALL PLAYERS. not you buster. YOU ARE ALL HORRIBLE, AND YOU SHOULD STOP BEING HORRIBLE. i'm sorry about this buster. HIT THE BASEBALL. HIT THE BASEBALL. WHEN SOMEONE THROWS A BASEBALL, HIT IT WELL. IF YOU STOP BEING HORRIBLE, YOU HAVE A CHANCE. plug your ears buster
Call it the seven-step plan to renewed interest. And, say, those first five are already happening. They were happening throughout the June meltdown, and it's not crazy to expect them to continue.
The sixth one seems unlikely to us right now, but Santiago Casilla is close, and bullpens are weird and mercurial.
The seventh one seems impossible, but the Giants spent the first two months of the season being a good offensive team. Not just acceptable or workable. Good. This latest gutterslump came out of nowhere, and it's been bad enough to beat us all down and drop the Giants well under .500 for the first time in years. But I'm pretty sure that Pablo Sandoval isn't a replacement-level player now, or that Brandon Crawford isn't going to keep doing the Bocock Shuffle, or that Scutaro's slump is one of those things, and nothing related to mallet fingers.
Maybe the Giants can still hit. Enough to be frustrating instead of mood-poison, at least.
There's a Giants/Dodgers series coming up. I don't even really care about the Dodgers part. That's how thorough the Giants' malaise has affected me. Don't care about the rivalry right now; I just want something to cheer for. Start there, and worry about the Dodgers later. Specifically, worry about the Yasiel Puig Hall of Fame ceremony held atop the pile of vanquished-enemy corpses later.
Right now, I'd just like to remember why baseball is supposed to be fun to watch.