On Sunday, Brandon Crawford debuted his one-man show, titled This Is Every Giants At-Bat Against Clayton Kershaw, which will run for a couple months at the Curran. If you’re into the moving images, they look like this:
At first, I thought that Crawford was expecting a curveball before realizing that he was going to get murdered. On closer inspection, it appears that he caught his foot in the dirt and was lucky to get his head out of the way in time. On a much closer inspection, it appears as if this was the defining at-bat of the 2017 Giants. It was the 2017 Giants.
Here, have some pictures if you’re not sure.
Stage 1: Hope
Ah, hope. Do you remember what it felt like to watch Madison Bumgarner hit two home runs on Opening Day? It felt like hope. Everything was going to work out this year. Everything was going to work out, and the Giants were going to beat the odds.
In the picture above, Brandon Crawford has hope. He’s in a bit of a pickle, as any left-handed hitter is against Clayton Kershaw, but he has a plan. He’s going to punch a ball against the shift and use skulduggery to get on base. He might not have been able to match Kershaw’s talent, but he could certainly match his wits.
The Giants weren’t as talented as the Dodgers before the season started. But they weren’t in 2014, either. That championship was, essentially, a bunt against the shift of the baseball gods. Crawford had the right idea, and it was just wild enough to work.
Stage 2: Uh oh
When was this initial stumble in the 2017 season? Was it when Mark Melancon blew his first save? Was it the four-game losing streak in the season’s first week?
It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that once the stumble happened, it was fatal. There was no getting up to finish what the team set out to do. Things were just going to get worse.
Stage 3: Things get worse
If you look just to the right of Crawford’s shoulder and to the left of the catcher’s mitt, you’ll see the ball. It was just about the worst possible pitch in this situation, a fastball off the inside edge. If it’s a slider away, Crawford might have just tripped, and it would have been a little silly.
As is, he was worried about his face. As he should have been.
Stage 4: The fall from grace
It was inevitable that Crawford would meet the earth. It was preordained from the moment his spike caught on the dirt.
Stage 5: More falling
In which ...
Stage 6: More falling
... Crawford simply can’t stop his forward momentum and continues to fall and fall and fall. What had started with optimism had ended with a continuous tumble in front of the whole world.
Stage 7: I cannot believe that you are still falling
He started at the plate. He ended in the grass, on his knees. That’s hard to do. It wasn’t just a failed bunt. It wasn’t just a slip. It was a horrible bunt that almost got him killed, and it was a complete failure of his skeleton.
Only 2017 Giants fans know what it’s like to have hope that ends with a seemingly endless and public disintegration.
Stage 8: Get up, dust yourself off, and get right back in there.
I would like to use this stage as a way to offer hope. The fastball did not hit Crawford in the face. He was embarrassed, sure, as any of us would have been, but the worst had passed, and all he lost was a little face. The shame would linger around for a bit, but it didn’t consume him.
This is how I would like to introduce the 2018 Giants, then. They’ll still face unfortunate odds, just like Crawford did against Kershaw. And it might not all work out, just like the end of this at-bat, in which Crawford flied out to left. But they probably aren’t going to tumble embarrassingly into the dirt and grass, face first, as everyone watching laughs and laughs.
The 2018 Giants will get up, pick up their bat, sigh, and try again. They might fail. They might succeed. They won’t fail quite like that, anymore, though. They won’t fail so badly that we’ll feel sorry for them. And that’s something to look forward to.
That’s the story of how Brandon Crawford falling down made me think of the 2017 and 2018. There was hope. There was failure. There was hope again. If you can find a better way to explain the 2017 season and what to expect next year, I’d like to read it.