In the ninth inning, when Sam Dyson allowed a sequence of homer-single-single-fielder’s choice-intentional walk-fielder’s choice-walk to lose the game, several people on Twitter remarked that this was so 2017 Giants. That this was the quintessential 2017 Giants loss. The only reason I didn’t join them is because I was too slow. I was thinking the same thing. Ha ha, what a bunch of maroons.
Except what is the Giants’ typical loss in 2017? Is it the game when Matt Moore can’t make it through four innings and they never have a shot? Yes. Is it the game when Madison Bumgarner pitches extremely well, but he gets 1.38 runs of support, with the .38 existing only because of an official scorer’s sloppy penmanship? Yep. Is it the game where the Giants score six runs, only to allow eight? Oh, sure. Is it the game where they enter the ninth inning up 3-1, only to lose when the closer walks in the winning run? Absolutely.
They’re all the 2017 Giants. They’re all metaphor games. This year’s Giants team is one indistinguishable puddle of loss, and any description beyond that is missing the point. They’re like a god in old myths about losing, always showing up in different forms to suit whatever the point of the tale is. They’re shape-shifters, and it doesn’t matter which form they take. The point is that they lose, and the moral of the story is that losing is a total drag.
The Giants still have a chance at 100 losses, and to get there, they’ll have to lose three straight games at home against the Padres. In a normal season, I wouldn’t sweat it because the Giants haven’t lost three straight home games against the Padres since [reads notes] uh September of last year. It should be hard for a bad team like the Padres to be even a bad team in their home ballpark three straight times.
You know it can happen, though. You know that it probably should happen, that this year’s team deserves that fate. It’s like the opposite bookend of how the 2010 season ended. The Giants needed one win against the Padres to win their division. They got it, and everything good that followed could be traced to that one series, really. Without Jonathan Sanchez’s triple, do the Giants win the World Series? Without that World Series, are they still making the exact moves that led to the 2012 World Series?
Fast forward eight seasons, and the Giants are shutting the coffin lid on that era. A failure to win a single game against the Padres at AT&T Park would be a little on the nose, but I’m a sucker for symmetry. It fits.
If we’re looking at bookends, there’s also the obvious one with Matt Cain. He used to be one of the only things Giants fans could look forward to. Then he was part of something bigger, a cog in a surprising championship machine. Then he was broken for the last championship, then he was just broken, and now he’s almost gone. I’m not going to sing all of “Sunrise, Sunset,” but I can definitely hum a few bars. In his last start, Cain will be trying to help his team avoid 100 losses. It’s through his (and dozens of others’) grace that it wasn’t a pile of 100-loss seasons the whole time, but imagine telling someone back in 2005 that Cain would be finishing his career by trying to avoid 100 losses. In which direction would the shock and surprise be directed?
Wow! Thirteen years! They developed a homegrown pitcher who was around for 13 freaking years! He must have been pretty good.
The 100-loss part would be brushed over, a logical point in the direction the line graph was pointing. Instead, we had some good times, right? Right?
It doesn’t matter that it was Sam Dyson who blew the save, or that this guy hit into the double play, or this guy was 0-for-4. This whole season was an extended, limitless loss, and the particulars don’t really matter. The only mystery left in the season is if they can lose 100 games (probably) and if they get the first-overall pick (the Phillies are losing right now, and the Tigers can’t possibly lose again, right?)
All I can keep saying to myself is that the last time the Giants were this bad, they ended up with Will Clark. When the Giants pick high, they’ve done well in the last couple decades. They kind of nail the bobblehead picks, which is what I’ve decided to call the players you care about 30 years later. Clark, Williams, Lincecum, Posey, Bumgarner ... when they pick in the top 10, they do pretty well. It might be that this loss is the one that helps them keep that string going.
Because if you think about it as just another dumb loss, that doesn’t help anything. And this most certainly was just another dumb loss. It was the perfect example of the 2017 Giants because they lost, dumbly. There have been 97 perfect examples of the 2017 Giants so far. There might be three more coming. You’ve been warned.