One of the unexpected traditions over the last few years is that we're supposed to giggle about the unlikely recipients of World Series rings.
"Is Dan Uggla going to get a ring?"
"Is Eric Hacker going to get a ring?"
"Is Waldis Joaquin going to get a ring?"
Yes! All three of them. And many more. If we were living in a different permutation of the universe, Chris Heston would have been one of those unlikely recipients. Probably because he most definitely is an unlikely recipient. But he could have been one of the remember-that-guy recipients. When was the last time you thought of Waldis Joaquin? Quick, think about any of the pitches he threw in his 19 career games with the Giants. He faced both Pedro Feliz and Melky Cabrera while he was with the Giants, now tell me an anecdote.
You can't. Yet, technically, Joaquin has one more ring than Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal. That's the kind of the point of this exercise. Look at how unlikely (this name) is next to (that name). That's what Heston was supposed to be.
Instead, Heston sat at the top step and waited for his name to be called during the ring ceremony. He came out first, you see. Because he had business to attend to. So he took his World Series ring and put it in a safe place and said, "Lo, but there is business to attend to." Then he went out and took care of business, all business-like.
In a season in which the Giants starters have been exceptional at making opposing hitters feel comfortable, Chris Heston delights in making hitters uncomfortable. Do you doubt the power of command? Let me show you a VHS tape of Yusmeiro Petit's greatest hits. Let me show you how Ryan Vogelsong made the All-Star team one year, and deserved to make it the next. Movement where you want it is far better than velocity wherever it ends up.
We've been through this, in a way. Heston is an unlikely key contributor, and those have come around before. Oh, sure, Andres Torres is hitting well right now, but maybe Aaron Rowand finds himself and reclaims his spot. Oh, sure, Gregor Blanco is hitting well right now, but they'll need to replace Melky Cabrera with a real player. Oh, sure, Ryan Vogelsong was literally buried in a coffin made of stardust, and he opened an astral portal to the Land of Secrets and Esoterica, but there's no way he's going to keep a rotation spot once Barry Zito comes back.
The rational ended up looking stupid in those endeavors. The rational had some triumphs, from Uggla to Guillen, but it's never perfect. Sometimes, the unlikely player does unlikely things and becomes someone you're used to.
Heston showed up as a 24-year-old in Double-A, and he annihilated the Eastern League. He fizzled the next season in Triple-A, which made all of our biases come out. He was the kind of dookie-throwing flimflam artist who would be exposed in the high minors, and his first taste of Triple-A went as expected. He was prospect pyrite, and the Giants needed to stay away unless there was an emergency. If then. Triple-A is always the toughest test.
You just watched that guy, though. How is he different from the Bronson Arroyos of the world, the late-developing magicians who annoy the crap out of you with their superior intellect, rubber arm, and general baseball smarts? How is he different from Odrisamer Despaigne? How is he significantly different than Jake Peavy or Tim Hudson? He might not be. Chris Heston might be an irl wizard.
All I know is that I spent the first five starts of Vogelsong's career saying, "Well, to be fair, he's probably not this good," and it still bugs me. Turns out, he was that good, for a couple of years, too. All that time spent being cynical could have have been time spent on him.
Chris Heston probably isn't this good. He probably isn't going to be a rotation stalwart for years and years and years.
But what if he is? What good is a game like that if you can't dream a little? He looked good, alright. Pitches darting hither and thither. Early swings and bats left on shoulders. I'm a fan, so far. I look forward to his starts more than anyone's except Madison Bumgarner.
Brandon Belt was a hit away from and .069 batting average, and he screwed that up by getting a hit.
Brandon Crawford hit a homer into Bonds territory, and he looked good doing it.
They'll both be fine. But in this ugly 4-9 start, it was nice to see some key cogs get the mill running again. I don't even know if mills have cogs. If they don't, can you sub in the right metaphor? Thanks.
The Giants played in some shiny-ass uniforms on Friday night. You might think this woke them up, or that this was meaningful in some way. It really wasn't. It was meaningful in 2011, when Miguel Tejada, rest his baseball soul, hit a walk-off glorified fly ball. It wasn't in 2013, when the Cardinals drubbed the Giants, in one of the famous Matt-Cain-is-broken games. A ceremonial reminder of the World Series victory probably isn't enough to provide meaning in any capacity.
But you know what's neat? The Giants winning a game in those gold uniforms. They might be 4-10, and the most stirring six-game winning streak in the world might get them just to .500, but they won a game in those gold uniforms.
As a break in the action, I'll take that.