One of these days, we'll get a proper taxonomy of the loss, the different varieties of defeat. Let's see, you have The Heartbreaker, in which your normally reliable closer coughs up a sure win in the ninth. There's the All Things Considered, in which the team makes a comeback so valiant, you almost don't feel bad. There's The Dull Saw, where the team gets down early and never threatens, and at no point do you really care.
You might think this was a Dull Saw. It was not. This was the Boss Taking Credit For Something You Did, something that's instantly recognizable as hateful and awful. You don't have time to be surprised or offended; you move straight to boiling anger. When Madison Bumgarner allowed four runs during the National Anthem, the response wasn't, "Oh, no, not again." It was a mumbled, growling "dammit."
When the Giants went down on 13 pitches in the first inning, the dammit was louder, more bilious and spittle-flecked.
When Bumgarner gave up a solo homer in the top of the second, the dammit was exasperated, pleading, possibly repeated several times unconsciously.
When the Giants finally got a hit in the fifth inning, there wasn't even time to clap sarcastically. Michael Morse grounded into a double play within five seconds. The dammit rattled the windows. A murder of crows shot out of the eucalyptus tree next door, never to return.
When Gregor Blanco was CAUGHT STEALING, DOWN BY FIVE RUNS, WHY, THERE WERE ALL SORTS OF DAMMITS. I'm going to open my window and yell at him right now. There were two possibilities:
- Blanco took off on his own
- It was a botched hit-and-run
In the first scenario, the player should be fined and his eyebrows should be shaved. In the second one, the manager should be pelted with fruit in the post-game interview, as he stammers while trying to explain the risk/reward of a hit-and-run down by five. The dammits flow, either way. The dammits flow.
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "Stop wasting our time, you awful baseball team." This is as angry as I've been at a team in a long time. Stop wasting our time, dammit. It's not like you can blame a single player, either. Bumgarner, sure, but he's been excellent, generally, and at least this debacle didn't come with the short bullpen last week. No, everyone is wrong, everyone is awful. No one looked good in this game except for the bullpen. It was a flat, feckless, moribund team that pouted through the game. They looked like they couldn't get the day off because they couldn't find coverage, and they were going to passive-aggressively get their revenge on everyone.
At no point did it look like they had anything resembling an approach against Vance Worley. I'm typing hard enough right now to break my space bar because I'm still so irritated. It's just a baseball game, dammit. It's just a baseball game. It's just a baseball game. The only problem with using "it's just a baseball game" as a calming mantra is that I think I hate baseball games.
There's a tendency to assume young pitchers will get better and better, forever improving as they progress from OT VII to OT VIII in a nice, linear fashion. Except that's not what happens. They get hurt, they lose stuff, they wear down, and it's not like they keep adding velocity to prevent it all from happening. They don't get better because they work hard; they get worse because they work hard. Yet young pitchers do improve, all the time. It's the oddest tug of war.
So if you're looking for the next stage in Bumgarner's development -- he's a year older than Chris Stratton, for perspective -- it's probably going to come with muscle memory and avoiding the flat, miserable delivery problems he can run into from inning to inning. Next year, Bumgarner might be a Cy Young contender, and when you're asked what the difference is, you won't have an immediate answer. But maybe it'll be because he's avoiding that inning every game. Hopefully, his mechanics and consistency will improve with age, even if every pitcher's house is eventually repossessed by time.
Let's hope for that, then. Next year. When he's a Cy Young candidate. I can wait.
Boy, that game stunk.
Here's the only good thing the Giants did tonight: hit Andrew Susac in the ass with a baseball.
Good work, boys. Good work.
Confirmed: Blanco's eyebrows need to go. Unbelievable.