It’s like an old wives’ tale or something sailors would whisper when a pelican sneezed. It was a superstition that I heard over and over again from my mom growing up, and it was too convenient to be true. Yet it feels like it’s true every time.
If you score too many runs in one game, you’ll get shut out in the next game.
There are regional variations, of course. It doesn’t have to be a shutout. It can be standard fecklessness. The general fear remains the same, though. Keep piling on in one game; wish you had some of those runs in the freezer to thaw out for the next game. It’s a silly superstition. Unless it’s completely true every time.
It doesn’t matter if it’s superstition or if the Giants are doing this because they hate you — yes, you — specifically, all we know is that the pattern will not change. This brings us to something I’ve been working on for a while. I call it the Greater Theory of 2016 Giants Baseball, and it’s a principle that goes like this:
When wondering what the Giants will do next, assume it will be the most maddening outcome possible.
You can see the balance in their season. They can’t just go 83-75 over 158 games. They can’t just win two, lose two, win two, lose two, win two, lose two, win three, lose two over and over again for the entire season. The Greater Theory of 2016 Giants Baseball would suggest that’s not nearly maddening enough. No, they have to build the best record in baseball for three-and-a-half months, really get your confidence going, and then they have to have the worst record in the National League in the second half. Worse than the Braves, Padres, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Reds, and Brewers. Worse than all of them.
Now that’s maddening. Oh, and they can’t just lose them by getting blown out every game. That’s a great way to lose interest and assume there’s no hope. No, hope is the habeñero pepper of every spicy maddening sauce. So the games have to be close, generally.
No ninth-inning lead is to be trusted. The Giants’ bullpen would have to blow just about every lead they see to fit with The Greater Theory of 2016 Giants Baseball. But that’s not quite maddening enough. Unless, I know, make it so that the Giants are incapable of coming back in the ninth inning! Let’s go to the on-screen graphic:
Losses when leading after eight innings: Nine
Wins when trailing after eight innings: Zero
If the other team gets a leadoff double when the Giants are trying to convert a save situation, play stops as the runner is allowed to roll around the rest of the bases like a log and score at will. When the Giants get a leadoff double, pfft, it doesn’t matter. The other team can give up leadoff walks in the ninth, hit guys, throw pitches down the middle, whatever works, the Earth’s just on loan to us, man.
And the tying run will always, always, always be a double away from scoring.
This is a special team, and just like the kid in elementary school who would eat a moth if you promised to be his friend, we’ll be glad for the anecdotes one day, even if we’ll never shake the physical revulsion.
The Giants had their leadoff hitter on in the first, second, third, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. Do you know the average number of runs that scores when a team gets a leadoff hitter on first? That would be .859, which doesn’t sound like much, but the average number of runs almost doubles from the bases-empty/no-out situation the team was just in. To have six leadoff hitters in a game without any of them scoring? That's just found art.
One of those leadoff hitters was Conor Gillaspie, and he was thrown out trying to steal. With the pitcher up. In a 3-1 count.
The SB attempts? Bochy: Span was "a base stealer getting thrown out." Gillaspie was "a miscommunication." Wasn't supposed to run.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) September 29, 2016
Yes, according to this Greater Theory of 2016 Giants Baseball chart that I’m holding, that is maddening. Good work. The next time Conor Gillaspie thinks he was just told to steal with the pitcher up in a 3-1 count, he needs to stop time, cup his hands to his mouth, and yell, "NO, SKIP. I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THAT. THAT IDEA SUCKS" and when the manager responds with a confused pantomime of "Huh?", they’ll both know that everyone will have a good laugh when they’re back in the dugout.
The Giants did have a hit in scoring position, but it didn’t score a run. It was Brandon Belt’s infield single in the ninth, which brought the winning run to the plate. Because that’s what the Greater Theory of 2016 Giants Baseball suggested. It had to be someone with power, too. Buster Posey did not hit the walk-off home run the Giants have been desperate for since April.
My favorite part of the game: Tyler Chatwood walked the leadoff hitters in the seventh and eighth innings.
Total pitches thrown (including leadoff walk)
7th inning: nine pitches
8th inning: seven pitches
To go from leadoff walk to out of the inning in nine pitches is a helluva magic trick. Bunnies are coming out of top hats, pockets, the purse of an audience member in the first row, just bravo. To go from a leadoff walk to out of the inning in seven pitches is just sublime. The lowest possible is six, and I think if the Giants practice really hard, they can do it several times. Tomorrow, even.
As is, the Giants are in postseason position for the 142nd consecutive day. They’re Bill Murray’s nihilistic phase in Groundhog Day, and they can’t do a thing to get out of postseason position. They wake up in postseason position every day, but no matter what they try, they’re right back in the same spot the next day!
Let’s see if there are any fun facts left ... ok, this one’s kind of a pip. The Giants would have to win out in September to finish with a .500 record for the month, which means they’ll finish with a winning record in just two months out of this entire season: May and June.
In three of those four losing months, they’ve outscored their opponents.
If that reads like the rant of someone who’s been writing about baseball for the last 13 hours or so even though he doesn’t even like the sport, well, I don’t know how that happened. You must be projecting.
The Giants are in postseason position for the 142nd consecutive day. They could have made things easier on themselves with a win, but these are the 2016 Giants. When wondering what they’ll do next, assume it will be the most maddening outcome possible.