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Giants get their bats wet but fail to win

The last time the Giants played a game this waterlogged, it was the deciding game of the 2012 NLCS. But brother, this wasn’t anything like the deciding game of the 2012 NLCS.

Colorado Rockies v San Francisco Giants
Giants catcher Nick Hundley quickly figures out that the only way starter Jeff Samardzija can fool hitters is to throw two baseballs at them at the same time.
Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images

The Giants opened up the 2017 season at AT&T Park with a 3-4 record against the Diamondbacks and the Rockies. They concluded this homestand in the rain and the muck on an Easter Sunday where the only thing that was truly Risen was Jeff Samardzija’s fastball.

The play of the game was in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Brandon Crawford came up to bat with Brandon Belt at second base and the Giants trailing by a run. Crawford hit a hopping slow roller in front of the rookie pitcher Antonio Senzatela only to have hit fielded by the catcher Tony Wolters who, as he dove for it, managed to horseshoe toss it to Mark Reynolds at first base in time and without hitting Crawford who was directly in his line of sight.

What’s that? Don’t believe me. Here’s the play of the game:

And this came after the original play of the game in which DJ LeMahieu dove to his left to catch a hard hit ball off Hunter Pence’s bat, rolled around in the mud and fired a throw to first.

DJ LeMahieu is the new Nolan Arenado who is still Nolan Arenado in that way that Paul Goldschmidt is Paul Goldschmidt but only when he faces Tim Lincecum. For Nolan Arenado, every Giants pitcher is Tim Lincecum. And now, sadly, it appears that this is the same for DJ LeMahieu. That he and Arenado are also flying all over the infield to rob the Giants of hits only exacerbates this glaring issue: too many baseball players across baseball are now Giants Killers.

This is me finding a space to talk about the impressive performance by the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela. There was very little information about him around the internet, and the Giants had never faced him before, which usually means that pitcher will throw a shutout, but today’s conditions proved to be enough to dampen what is a really sharp skill set and ability to execute pitches. Bad teams with good organizational management can get good in all sorts of ways, and watching the Rockies add pitching to their impressive offense means we’re in for all sorts of headaches from this team (and probably the Diamondbacks and Padres) for years to come.

Grant Brisbee, from three days ago:

Before slamming your head in the refrigerator door a few times, repeat the following truths a few times:

Madison Bumgarner is still outstanding.

The lineup will be better with Buster Posey back, and he’s reportedly making progress.

If left field continues to be a sinkhole, options will be explored.

Jae-gyun Hwang is still a beautiful man with a beautiful plan that he can’t reveal to us just yet.

Brandon Belt’s luck will get better. It does every year.

Johnny Cueto is still on the team.

This is still a good team.

This is still a good team.

This is probably still a good team.

What’s 4-7, anyway? Those numbers have a lot of angles and straight lines, but they lack nuance. This is still a good team.

This is probably still a good team.

Bryan Murphy, from today:

Why does every Giants hitter get worse in the later innings even if it’s the third time facing the starting pitcher, and why are they being outplayed at home as though they are the visiting team?

What’s 5-9 anyway? Well, it’s better than the last odd-numbered year. In 2015, the Giants were 4-10 after their first fourteen games. In 2004, they were 6-9 after 15 games, which is both nice and perhaps the absolute ceiling for this year’s team. Of course, the 2004 squad had Barry Bonds. This one has a lineup that won’t hit 73 home runs combined after 162 games. But that was a flawed team that scraped and clawed its way to the final weekend before Cody Ransom, a comically bad strike zone, and Steve Finley came together to obliterate the Bonds era of the franchise. Oh, wait -- I was trying to use that historical example to suggest that this year’s team still has a chance to be competitive.

Well, okay, here it goes: even though the Giants weren’t built to win the division or come back late in a game or out-pitch or out-hit any of their opponents that won’t stop them from hanging around and somehow managing to be there at the end. That’s something to stay focused on for sure -- it’s just... it’s just that for the most part (your Bumgarner and Cueto starts, Posey and Crawford plays excepted) they’re not going to be any fun to watch. They have yet to look better than any team they’ve played this year is all.

They’re already 0-5 in one-run games this season and you have to figure that there are so many damned games in a season that they won’t go winless in one-runners the entire season, but you can take a look at what the team is and who’s playing and figure that, percentage-wise, that record by season’s end still isn’t going to be that great.

Did the rainy conditions have a strong effect on Jeff Samardzija’s ability to pitch today? Probably. He was down one run after three pitches and three runs after fifteen pitches against a team that has, historically, not hit well on the road, a team that has, historically, not done well against Samardzija, and under weather that has, historically, not favored offense. And yet, Jeff found a way.

Jeff Samardzija is not going to be better than what the Giants got out of him in 2016 and if you throw out his salary, that makes him an absolutely useful part of the rotation. He’ll have the big inning, but his stuff plays to the point that he’s able to pull out of the nosedive more often than not. That has value, even if the trade-off is that you’ll be playing from behind a lot and your defense will get tired running around chasing balls or trying to scale walls. I don’t think there’s any point in expecting or wanting Samardzija to be any better than he was today.

But I will step outside of the baseball analysis to say that I think the business of baseball can stand to be better than it was today. The Athletics canceled their game this morning, when the weather report said rain was certain. The corporate response to “why did you play this game under these conditions” is a tidy-sounding “because people made plans to be here on Easter Sunday and we felt obligated to make sure they had the experience they had planned.” (I’m not quoting anyone specific here, but if you dialed up a PR company and asked for their advice, they’d probably spit out something like this.)

Do these conditions look like what people had planned for when they bought tickets to today’s game?

Giants all wet
Giants all wet 2
Giants all wet 3

Bad weather increases the odds of traffic accidents, people getting sick, and programs, memorabilia, and other stuff you don’t want to get wet getting soggy and wet. And you’re cold for 3+ hours. And you’re around people coughing and covered in wet dirt and muck and who knows what else as you pack into public transit and shove through the turnstiles. And you’re gonna need to drink some hot drinks just to try to feel okay, but hot drinks might give you cancer. And when it’s all said and done, you’re out hundreds of dollars and you realize that your favorite team in your favorite sport that you were so excited about just a week ago might not be worth the trouble for the next five and a half months.

But by all means, Major League Baseball team, make this stone cold business decision about “the fans”.

Why do corporations always need to win? They are literally immortal. And eternal. They are neither happy nor sad, depressed or sick, they are simply money. Baseball games get rescheduled all the time. Did the Giants look at it and say, “It’s Easter — we can’t reschedule this game if we can help it, because we’re not going to make as much money as a doubleheader or else some other day?” That might be a part of it, but not make as much money as we would some other day is literally a problem only a corporation can have. Never people. People operate under “I will make money today or I won’t, and on the days that I don’t, I can’t make up for on some other day.” And people only have one life and a finite amount of time to exist, and very rarely do people buy vasts plots of land to expand its assets to create new revenue streams.

A Major League Baseball franchise wins every day of its existence. We gladly pay for it. But sometimes it’s okay to step back and look at the absurdity of it all. Of course, it helps when the product on the field is mostly unwatchable. The leisurely pace of a soggy dumb game affords we spectators the opportunity to sit back, reflect, and ask, “WHY ARE WE WATCHING THIS?”