If you're a Giants fan, you should know two things. First, the rest of the world hates you and everything you enjoy, and whining like this is part of the reason why. It's a good feeling. Second, there is no such thing as an even-year pattern and an odd-year curse. The last few years have formed an easily recognizable pattern, and our brains zero in on those. But it's more like every year is an odd year for most teams, and the recent, strange postseason success of the Giants makes us forget that.
Hunter Pence is officially on the DL. He was put there to make room for Norichika Aoki, who can't stay off the DL because baseballs keep getting thrown at him. This is a total odd year, y'all. Look at the odd year!
So let's rank the odd-year Giants teams in terms of disappointment. Here goes, in order of "slightly crushing disappointment" to "soul-rattling disappointment."
It stunk, and was the only one of the odd years where the team just completely melted and fell out of contention, but there was a sense of you can't possibly be mad that's still with us today. The Giants had just come off a whirlwind year of magic, with Buster Posey winning the MVP and the Giants coming back from two insurmountable, ridiculous postseason holes.
Take your Jeff Francoeur whining elsewhere, in other words.
Still, it was such a dejecting, lousy season. Tim Lincecum didn't vault back from his postseason success to reclaim his career. Matt Cain was bad for the first time in his career. Ryan Vogelsong was a hazmat scene. Barry Zito had a 5.74 ERA and started ***25 gaaaaaaames*** for some reason.
Again, this is just a garden variety bad season for other teams. It was over quickly, and there wasn't a lot hope before things went completely kerflooey. Hope is a bad thing, maybe the worst of things.
In which you weren't sure that Buster Posey would ever catch again. That alone should make it the worst of the odd years, but I'll get to that.
Oh, there was so much screwery in the 2011 season. Just list names, and it'll do the job. Miguel Tejada. Orlando Cabrera. Jeff Keppinger. Carlos Beltran. It was a team that was desperate to recapture the glory from the previous season, and was incapable of coming that close. Annoying fans still boo Beltran, even though he was excellent when he was healthy, mostly because he represents the strangled gasp of hope.
Aubrey Huff and Jonathan Sanchez in the beginning of the end. Freddy Sanchez disappearing forever. It was the worst 86-win experience I hope to have as a baseball fan. Oh, and that Posey thing, where everything you loved about baseball was ripped from you and used as a weapon. That still makes me shake my head to keep my limbs from twitching.
2011 had three things, though: Ryan Vogelsong, a generally excellent pitching staff, and the memories of the previous season to keep us warm at night. That last one is important. It separates it from ...
Poppycock, you cry. Flimshaw! I'll argue this one, though, even though there was a Cy Young and a no-hitter mixed into the Giants' return to relevance. This is the oddest of odd years for a simple reason: The Giants were never, ever going to win the World Series. They were going to waste Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. They had two top pitching prospects, and they traded one of them for a slap-hitting second baseman. The other one lost the zip on his fastball and couldn't strike anyone out, so it's not like you could rely on him for anything.
This was the year that terrified me more than any of the others. It was when the Giants were going to let the window close on them with Bengie Molina hitting cleanup.
Pablo Sandoval was an unexpected gift, working his way up from Class-A and tearing up the league, but he was the only above-average hitter in the lineup. The outfield combined for 36 homers in 2,081 plate appearances. There were actual Frandsen/Burriss debates.
This is the full picture from up there:
The worst part, though, was this: Buster Posey was called up on September 1. He didn't get a single pinch-hitting appearance for 10 days. He didn't start a game until September 25, when the Giants were already out of the race. After the season, the Giants re-signed Bengie Molina.
It was the worst bungling, the most inexplicable managing of resources, the ... look, the Giants won the first-round lottery, getting two young pitchers who were excellent at the same time. It's not like there was going to be another one of those. In, say, the very next season. Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean were going to screw it up! They were going to waste everything!
And then, ha ha, well, looks like both of them are probably going into the Hall of Fame or something, and, boy, is my face red. It's too bad the archives for this site are broken because I SAID THEY'RE BROKEN you can't look back and see how angry I was.
That was the oddest of odd years, though. There was no past to comfort us. There was no future that was certain. There was no confidence in the people running the place.
If this year keeps on its current pace -- with the Giants just falling short -- it would probably slot nicely into the #4 spot. The emergence of Crawford, the surprise of Panik and Duffy ... it's all been very pleasant. And the pitching problems the Giants have mostly had were a) predictable and b) something the team desperately tried to fix before the season started and at the deadline.
It's just been an injury-filled year, which stinks. But it's possible that the odd years are mellowing out and converging with the normal years to make everything less extreme.
/hears rustling in the bushes
oh god what's that
/hears skittering of claws across kitchen linoleum
oh no the odd year is here run
/power goes off
why did i tempt fate like that why i'm so sorry but you have to run now save yourself