The headline is either provocative or obvious, depending on your mood. But it wasn't always like this. It wasn't like this a few months ago.
The year was 2014, a wild, rainless year, when the Internet was horribly slow in America compared to the rest of the world. Even in that prehistoric time, there was still baseball. It was June, and Sergio Romo was out as the Giants' closer. A lot of the coverage focused on his prickly demeanor following rough games. He seemed sullen and combative, and that's if he spoke at all.
Around this time, Pablo Sandoval was a merry soul, bounding this way and that. He had recovered from a horrible early season slump, and panda-hat sales were brisk.
On July 1 of last year, imagine being asked this question:
Which pending free agent is going to out of his way to burn his bridges after leaving the Giants?
I wouldn't have answered Romo because I knew the guy. I would have answered Romo because he seemed unhappy with the pressure, the second-guessing. His success wasn't coming as naturally as it used to for him. Even if he's been a fan favorite almost since he relieved Billy Sadler (who relieved Alex Hinshaw!) in his first game, it seemed like a change of scenery was possible, if not likely.
That's what makes these quotes so delightful. From Alex Pavlovic:
"I just didn’t want to go anywhere, guys. I really didn’t," Romo said after making his spring debut. "During that dead time, it’s hard to wait. It’s like, we can get this done in five minutes, for real. Call me up."
This is notably different from the quotes that Sandoval gave recently about his time in San Francisco.
/video of Sandoval pretending one hand was turning an invisible crank, with the middle finger slowly rising on the other hand
Yes. More or less. Even though the right thing to do would be ignore him -- and appreciate the times we had, sniff -- the whole thing bothered me. The only thing the Giants did well was maintain a happy clubhouse atmosphere. Well, and win postseason series. And sell tickets. And sell merchandise. Okay, they do a lot of things well.
But we were supposed to take the clubhouse atmosphere for granted. Yes, they signed their own guys instead of acquired new ones, to the point that it was comically boring. There was supposed to be a method to that stability, though. There were supposed to be rewards that came with it, both on the field and in the stands. Yet here was a fan favorite, openly saying, "Eh. It wasn't all that, and I'm glad to be gone." Were we being misled?
Nope. Sandoval's just a weirdo. Romo had a chance to go anywhere, but made a point to come back. Then he said all the right things just like that guy, that guy, and that guy before them. The Giants losing Sandoval didn't have to be a crack in the facade. It could just be a dude being weird. It could just be the first Giants hero to leave and be bitter about it.
The second. The second Giants hero to leave and be bitter about it. And that's fine. Those weirdos will come and go, and it will be bittersweet. The state of the typical Giants player, though, is still "Can you believe we're here? What an awesome place to play." Considering that some of us grew up in this era ...
The default of how the San Francisco Giants are perceived -- by their opponents, fans, and own players -- is still impressive and comforting. Sandoval gave me pause, I'll admit it. But then Romo came through and ... picked up the save. There are more of him than there are the other guy. Phew.