Take the following words with the proper context: It’s hard for me to get truly mad about a Giants game at this point. There is nothing to be gained by stressing out over wins and losses, so I’m in total anthropologist mode. I just want to see how these people behave, how their society works, what motivates them. So when Matt Kemp’s home run sailed over the right-field fence, I wasn’t cursing. It’s too late for that kind of anger.
Yeah, well, okay smart guy, but it’s true. And that’s important because I would like to point out just how obnoxious it is to watch the Giants play on the road and lose to three stupid homers, and I would like to do it without coming across as a total whiner. A partial whiner, sure. I’ll go as high as three-quarters. But it is one of the most frustrating ways for the Giants to lose a game.
The homers in question:
- A line drive that probably wouldn’t have gone out of Yankee Stadium, hit by Matt Adams, who might finish with more home runs by the All-Star break than any Giants player has hit in a season since 2015. (Est. distance in AT&T: 280 feet and run down by Hunter Pence.)
- A line drive down the left-field line that just bounced off the wall. (Est. distance in AT&T: 320 feet and caught in front of a cartoon automobile that’s grinning and plotting your death.)
- An opposite-field home run that almost sounded like a broken bat, but upon review probably wasn’t. (Est. distance in AT&T: 190 feet and caught by a backpedalling Kelby Tomlinson.)
For 81 games every year, we think we know baseball. The 415-foot moonshot to right-center? It’s an out if they’re shading you that way. The line drive creamed down the right-field line? The marine air sucked the life force out of it and dropped its leathery husk calmly in the mitt of a waiting outfielder.
This is how baseball is played to me. That doesn’t mean it’s the right way; it’s just what I’m used to. And I was always glad the Giants didn’t play in the same league as the Yankees, because that right field would ruin my psyche. Coors Field exists. That’s enough.
We don’t know if SunTrust Park is really a hitter’s ballpark yet. But on this night, the Braves got three home runs that wouldn’t have been homers at AT&T. And it makes me say nasty things. Like, “aw, c’mon” and “jeez, really?”
On the other hand, here’s what all of those homers had in common: They were hit at least a little hard. Want to join in the dinger fun? Maybe hit the ball a little harder. They aren’t moving the fences back when the Giants are hitting. The Braves were just making better contact, and they were rewarded for it.
Really, it’s something of a symbiotic relationship the Giants and Braves have going right now. The Braves win, which helps the Giants get the first-overall pick in next year’s draft, which helps keep it out of the hands of the Phillies, their division rivals. Everyone wins!
Except the Giants.
The last time the Giants won two games in a row was in May, when the Braves were at AT&T Park. My only hope is that they lost one of those games on three annoying 415-foot outs to Triples Alley. It’s only fair.
Jeff Samardzija can block a trade to 10 different teams. It’s fun to guess at those teams. Is he tired of small markets? Does he prefer small markets? Is he scared of subway rats or palmetto bugs? Is he aware that the Marlins are a little weird?
The Rockies. Okay, but we have to guess at the other nine.
I don’t know what kind of trade value Samardzija has right now, owed nearly $60 million for the next three years, so maybe this is a moot point. But what would it take for him to reject a trade to one of those nine teams? They would be contenders, ostensibly, so what would make him think, “Nope. Gotta stick with this team?”
I ask because he was excellent again, and his team lost again. This has to be unbearably deflating. Maybe this is just the perspective of someone who didn’t suffer through his start in Coors, but Samardzija has pitched like a maniac over the last two months. He should be the talk of baseball, the mountain beast who found his command.
Instead, when he pitches, the Giants lose. Sometimes it’s his fault. Most of the time, a real offense would provide a buffer zone that prevented one mistake from ruining everything.
Yet I wonder if Samardzija is the absolute wrong pitcher for this era. This is a time for uppercut swings, not for caring about contact. And that’s reflected in his numbers. If 15 guys hack, hack, hack and look overmatched, that’s great, except if two of those neo-Kingmans make contact, he loses. Because no one on the Giants can do that reliably, he loses a lot.
If he can’t thrive at AT&T, I’m not sure which organization is right for him. The strikeouts and walks will continue to be pretty, but the rogue home run will take him down more often than is comfortable.
But, again, a reliable offense would help with that. And he really is getting creamed by the BABIPdook, I promise. If I were on the Twins, sure, I’d gamble. It makes more sense than the Ervin Santana contract, and look at that dude go.
And if the Twins are on that no-trade list, and Bobby Evans approaches him to ask if it can be waived, Samardzija shouldn’t say anything. He should just laugh and order a Lyft that takes him all the way to Minnesota right there. Because if he can get away from this team, brother, chase your dreams.
For the second time in a week, Hunter Pence ruined a closer’s save chance with a homer, and the Giants lost anyway. It’s hard for me to get truly mad about a Giants game at this point. There is nothing to be gained by stressing out over wins and losses, so I’m in total anthropologist mode. I just want to see how these people behave, how their society works, what motivates them.
I’m not even mad. Actually, I’m laughing.