Because I know there’s nothing that I would rather be doing on a Saturday night, let’s talk about booing. Let’s talk about what causes a generally mild-mannered crowd, like the 40,000 people watching a Giants game on the weekend, to boo. To express disgust. If we’re going to be fair, Giants fans shouldn’t get to boo anything until 2024. Not a decision to bring in a particular pitcher, not a decision to remove a particular pitcher. Nothing. Giants fans have been that spoiled.
But it’s a natural, codified reaction to displeasure, to paying $100 for a ticket and regretting your decision, to spending three hours watching a game — and an hour getting there and an hour getting home, and that’s being generous — and knowing you’ll have nothing but cat litter in your mouth the whole way home. It would be a very funny tradition if, during every unpopular move or appearance, fans sat down and wrote a very, very stern letter of disapproval. Just imagine the camera panning over the crowd, heads down and quill pens bobbing! But that’s not what happens. What happens is natural.
When Santiago Casilla came in to relieve Sergio Romo with a runner on base — vs. a right-handed hitter, no less — the crowd booed. Let’s run those boos through the Translat-o-Tron 4000:
It’s not displeasure at the existence of a specific baseball player, not usually. Run it through one more time, adjusting the settings a little bit.
CROWD: [I don’t disagree with this player’s right to exist, but I disagree with him being put in this particular spot by the manager and/or front office]!
It would be great if everyone could pretend a little to bolster the guy’s spirits, sure. You can do it, Santiago! We believe in you, and we’re send our good vibes onto the field! Except that’s just not rational to expect 40,000 people to think like that. If three percent of the crowd wants to boo, that’s still over a thousand people booing. You’ll hear that. Everyone will hear that.
More than three percent of the crowd was booing. But work with me, here.
No one wanted a repeat of the September ninth-inning misery we’ve all been subjected to. Those boos were part disbelief, part disgust, part incalculable fear. They had far less to do with Casilla the person than they did Casilla the idea.
Casilla gave up a walk because he has no command right now, and he gave up a single that would have been a double play with more fortuitous defensive positioning. He needed two outs to save the game, and he got exactly zero. It was his ninth blown save of the year, which seems hard to do until you watch it.
That brought Bruce Bochy out to the mound.
CROWD: [You idiot. You absolute idiot. What did you think was going to happen?]
The crowd booed Bruce Bochy. Everyone there reinforced my Grand Theory of General Booing, which is that fans are usually booing the dugout and the front office more than the player. When Casilla came out, there were boos, sure, but they weren’t as throaty or desperate. The real boos had all been used up.
CROWD: [Look, we’re not happy with you, butt hands, but I have no idea why you were in that position to begin with]
The friend of the devil’s argument is a friend of mine, so I’ll crawl into Bruce Bochy’s head for a bit and see if we can figure out what he was thinking. Okay, so I’m in, and ... oh my god, is that an infinity pool? A gym? Two tennis courts and a par-3 hole? This is awesome. I could get u
Sorry, focus, let’s focus. Bochy probably thinks he’s going to need Santiago Casilla at some point, and that’s not irrational. So if you want Derek Law as closer, that’s fine, but someone’s gonna pitch the eighth inning in this game. And the person who pitches the eighth isn’t going to pitch the seventh. At some point, it’ll be Casilla’s inning. Could be the seventh. Could be the eighth. I know you are crossing his name off all your Pee-Chees right now, but Casilla could be the fourth-best right-hander in the pen.
Fifth-best? Okay, it’s a sliding scale here. But the odds are at least decent that if the Giants make an extended postseason run, he’ll get in at least one high-leverage situation, if not a couple. And you don’t want him thinking he’s a forgotten man made of garbage pitching and interstellar trash. You want his confidence up. As far as you can prop it up, at least.
Why this game, though? Why a one-run game with a runner already on base? With a right-handed hitter’s nightmare on the mound already?
Bochy said Molina has hit Romo well, they felt Casilla was best matchup for him of remaining relievers. Bochy: "It didn't play out."— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) September 18, 2016
That is a good explanation if it is May, and we have no indication that anything is seriously wrong with Santiago Casilla. It is an absolutely horrific explanation here. Do I want to know how many at-bats Molina has had against Romo in his career? Do I?
I wouldn’t use 12 at-bats to wipe my butt in a post-apocalyptic outhouse. Because I’d use paper. At-bats aren’t even things, why would you use ... anyway, the point is that you have a sample size of 12 at-bats that says Yadier Molina is the greatest hitter in baseball history (6-for-12) if he gets to face only Sergio Romo.
I’m not convinced by that sample size. However, we have a sample size of Santiago Casilla vs. anybody that stretches back for months. It’s a vast acreage of evidence suggesting that he has troubles getting "hitters" out in the ninth inning. It extends beyond the horizon, and the lonely hero of our story just puts his or her head down and walks, walks, walks, because there’s nothing left to do.
To be more than fair, if Crawford is set up the middle before the pitch, that’s a game-ending double play. This is because baseball is a horrid sport invented by goat demons, and will be the last thing you see before you close your eyes and realize that everything was a lie. Unless whatever game you’re watching works out just the way you wanted it to. Then it was invented by angels.
On the other hand, Casilla walked the batter that Bochy didn’t trust Romo to get out. Probably because the runner on first stole second, because of course he did. Casilla isn’t very good at holding on runners.
Shout out to Denard Span for catching the sacrifice fly that scored the go-ahead run and then using his mind to throw the ball home. You think it was a weak throw? You try using telekinesis to throw a baseball. Not so tough now, are you? It was a great throw. For someone literally using his mind to throw it home. Because if it was a throw from an actual major league outfielder? Ha ha, that would sure be embarrassing.
Cut to the bottom of the ninth, and the Giants have their fastest runner on first, representing the tying run. He doesn’t steal. The Giants get a single that would have scored him, but get this, the run actually doesn’t score. Because it never does in the ninth inning. Let’s go to the sidelines, where the McCovey Chronicles sideline reporter Skance has an update for us. Skance?
Giants losses when leading after eight innings
Giants wins when trailing after eight innings
Thanks for that. Eight losses when leading after eight innings. That ties a San Francisco record.
Zero wins when trailing after eight. That’s a San Francisco record. They’re all alone, unless they do something in the next two weeks.
This is the worst ninth-inning team in the history of San Francisco baseball. Not even looking up what the Seals did. This is it. And instead of being tied with the Dodgers before the big series, they’re tumbling down the stairs like idiots.
Anyway, the crowd booed Bochy because he deserved it, and they booed Casilla because he was a proxy for Bochy. It’s admirable to show faith in one of your embattled players, but you have to understand that the reward just isn’t worth the risk. The confidence points that you would accrue in a successful save like this just aren’t worth the shattered-confidence demerits that you get if something goes wrong. Like if, say, the struggling pitcher walks a batter on a 3-2 pitch, and then gives up a slow chopper just out of the reach of a Gold Glove shortstop.
That dream of having your fourth- or fifth-best right-hander ready to go mentally? Shattered. There’s no way he can’t be.
It wasn’t worth it. Nothing was worth it. Watching that game wasn’t worth it. It’s hard to give up on the team, considering how outstanding they looked in the first two games of the series. Considering that they’re still in postseason position. But it’s not hard to wonder just what this team’s ceiling is. There are 14 games left, and the Giants don’t have a closer. The manager keeps trying to make fetch happen, but it’s not going to happen.
For the first time in this wild ride, the Giants are the second wild card. They would go on the road to face the Mets, who hold the tiebreaker, if the standings hold. And that’s if they can hold off the Cardinals, which they don’t have.
The Giants were once eight games up in the NL West, you know.
They aren’t anymore.
So once more, with feeling. Booooooooooooooooooooooooo. Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Play better, Giants.