In the fifth inning of Wednesday's game, Gregor Blanco roped a triple that spilt the outfield in right-center. Nolan Arenado tried to deke Blanco at third base and pretend the ball got away, but Blanco didn't notice. He was busy yelling into the Giants' dugout, the fire of the extra-base hit swirling around him.
"Teammates," he probably yelled. "You are skilled. I exhort you."
How could he not motivate his teammates with that passion? The crowd, thrilled with the team's first extra-base hit since Blanco's third-inning double two games earlier, tried to impart the same level of excitement and encouragement. Go, local sports team! Go, fight, win, score runs!
The Giants were not interested in excitement and encouragement. The Giants just kind of stared at Blanco. All of them. Some of them were chewing, don't ask what. They had a vacant expression, like they were waiting for something that wasn't coming. Not tonight, at least. The Giants are playing bad baseball right now, but that's of secondary importance. It's probably more important that they're playing boring baseball. Just vacant, dead-eyed baseball. The kind of baseball that baseball-haters picture when they close their eyes.
That Matt Duffy home run was pretty cool, though. It's okay if you want to watch that again. More Matt Duffy facts to come!
Since moving to San Francisco in 1958, there's been only one season in which the Giants started this sluggishly. In 1961, the Giants scored two or fewer runs in seven of their first 10 games. This year's team has done it six times. You can look at this one of two ways:
- This means the Giants this year have been more feckless in their first 10 games than the 1985 Giants, who lost 100 games. Or the 2009 Giants, who scored six runs all season. Or the 2005 Giants who replaced Barry Bonds in left with Pedro Feliz. Or the 1968 Giants, who played in an era when the mounds looked like grain silos and the baseball was made out of wet newspaper. Any of them. This team has strung together more feckless nights than any of them.
- The Giants shook off this bad start and won the pennant in the next even year. More importantly, they had Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou. They were fine. They led the league in runs that year.
It's early, so early. The Giants are injured, so injured. It's too early to freak out. It's never too early to get annoyed. And that segues nicely into something I want to get off my chest.
I've watched over 30 hours of Giants baseball this year. The vast majority of it has been bad baseball. That leads to snark and snips and all of the tricks I picked up when the Giants were lousy. People complain to me on Twitter, on Facebook, through email. "After the seasons the Giants just gave you, how dare you be unhappy with how they're playing."
I've watched over 30 hours of Giants baseball this year. The vast majority of it has been bad baseball. When I'm not actively watching a game, yeah, maybe I do think of Michael Morse tying the game, or giggle that Travis Ishikawa won the literal pennant for the Giants. Those soul-embers burn forever, and I'm not going to take them for granted.
But we're talking long games, with a promise of so many more. Eighteen of those hours came in the last six days. That's a Godfather-length movie every night, except instead of The Godfather, it's an unattractive, nude person on a stool, reading a list of all the stupid things you said in high school. It's interminable. You want to leave, but you feel ... obligated to hear it all? While it's going on, you're not thinking about how perfect of a movie The Godfather actually is.
While the games are going on, damn straight I'm annoyed. Isolated plays and decisions make me angry. Runners left in scoring position give me a rash. Perspective isn't something I want to find in the middle of a six-game losing streak or after a tough loss. You root however the hell you want to root, but it's not like this is a freaky way for a sports fan to react. It's how fans in any sport react when they have to watch unfortunate outcomes. When I invest time in the Giants and they bumble around like cloven-hoofed maroons, it bugs me.
Overall, in the big picture, rooting for the Giants has been an incredible net positive for me, especially over the last 15 years. That isn't going to change.
When they play like nincompoops, forgive me if I complain about how they play like nincompoops. I know it's 10 games. I know they were magic just a few months ago. But did you see that dumb game? That was a dumb game.
Please stop emailing me.
Aw, I didn't mean it. I'll get lonely. Still, I hope I've asserted my right to complain, even though I really don't have a right to complain.
Here's something that didn't happen:
Brian Sabean: He used to be so good.
Bobby Evans: *So* good.
Sabean: Like, whoa.
Evans: Won awards!
Sabean: Let's sign him for $32 million.
Here's another thing that didn't happen:
Larry Baer: /drops box of Lincecum wigs on desk
Baer: If we can't sell these wigs, we have to go in debt. We go in debt, we have to build another Coke bottle, but twice the size and in the water. The Coke people want it to spin. You hear me, you morons? Sell. These. Wigs.
No, the Giants see something. Smart people who have earned our trust still see something in Tim Lincecum. Internal metrics, scouting reports, personal Righetti testimonials, whatever. They saw enough to offer him millions. They still see enough to keep him in the rotation, never putting his spot up for an open competition at any point, even when the competition includes a pitcher whom they trusted more to start a World Series game a few months ago.
I just wish they would give me a peek at their notes. I promise, I won't tell. I just want to see it. I want to go "Ohhhhhh" and feel like a jackass. I want to feel optimistic in the same way they do. Pay cash money for the privilege, I would.
As is, there was no lincecummier inning than the first inning. Leadoff walk, single, 0-2 homer. Some balls did what they were supposed to. Others most certainly did not. This is the fourth season we've seen it. The only difference is that this year, Lincecum isn't starting at 91 and dipping to 88. He's starting at 88. It's so danged ominous, and it makes me quite sad. My guess is that at some point, possibly after he no-hits the Padres later this year, the Giants will have an obvious decision to make that's been obvious for a while.
If you're doubting the part up there where the Giants have smart people up there, shame on you. Here's some evidence: Matt Duffy. The Giants' utility infielder hit his first major league home run on Wednesday, and that gave him one more home run than he had in his college career.
That's not a typo. In his freshman year, he hit .244 with a .245 on-base percentage. That is also not a typo. His career-best OPS in college was .625. Still not a typo.
Yet someone told the Giants to draft him in the 18th round. Not the 40th or 50th round. He wasn't a non-drafted free agent, or someone who loped in from the independent leagues. The Giants valued his potential over hundreds and hundreds other amateur players, so thy took him.
Then smart people polished whatever that potential was into on-field production.
Then smart people called him up and kept polishing. He hit a long, long dinger, and it probably won't be his last. I'm a fan. The Giants saw something, and they were right.
I'm almost fired up for the next Lincecum start. Hey, look at this other time they were right when we couldn't see what they were thinking, everyone! Check that other time out! The next Lincecum start is going to be fun.
(That one is a typo.)
A special dream I have: Yusmeiro Petit, chasing his own record for consecutive batters retired at the same time he's chasing Boom-Boom Beck's record for most consecutive appearances in a loss . The Giants are 0-4 when Petit comes into a game. It's already over, regardless of how well he pitches.
If you can think of a better way to use him, why, I'M ALLLLLLLLL EARS.
At some point, Hunter Pence will be in the lineup, Brandon Belt and Buster Posey will be hot at the same time, and we'll just laugh and laugh at this start to the season. I'll see you on the other side.