The Giants are probably hosed.
I know that even an ace pitcher like Madison Bumgarner might be worth two wins over two months in his best season, which means the season didn’t have to end with his injury. I know that losing a workhorse like Jeff Samardzija might be worth just a win over a month. If the Giants are five wins down from where they started, that’s not great. But maybe they were going to win 95 games this season, and this just knocked them down to 90. Did you ever think about that?
The Giants are probably hosed.
And not in that “29 teams don’t win the World Series!” kind of way, either. They had little margin for error, and then Whit Merrifield had to hit a stupid line drive in a meaningless game. Now we’re here, a world where the hope was sucked out of us before the first pitch of the season.
My suggestion is this: Find all of that hope that was sucked out of you. Scrape it off the walls. Scoop it from under the couch. And cram it right down your hope hole. Get it all in there, even if there’s dog fur and old Cheerios on it. Fight the gag reflex.
Now you have a little hope in there. This is good. Keep it for as long as you can. You can always barf it up later, but savor it for now. Keep the hope inside until it’s impossible to do so.
Some of you might barf this hope up after Clayton Kershaw retires the Giants on two pitches to start the first inning of Opening Day. This is fine. I’m not here to tell you how to manage your hope after the season starts. I’m just reminding you that it’s silly not to keep it down as long as you possibly can. Once the season starts, you’ll have evidence that the Giants are hosed. Right now, you can invent your own season in your mind. And that season can be as beautiful as I want it to be.
I’ll keep the hope down for longer, even if they lose on Thursday and Friday. I’ll focus on Chris Stratton’s sudden development, and I’ll quietly search for ways to compare him to Corey Kluber, even if that comparison makes no sense. I’ll assume that everyone in the lineup will hit as well as they did in 2013 until there’s contrary evidence that’s more trustworthy than boring projections. I’ll secretly assume that Mac Williamson and his new swing are the new Chris Taylor or Justin Turner.
Also, every year, we get used to some random player being excellent. Jose Martinez is good now! Kevin Kiermaier is the best defensive center fielder of the last decade! Everyone, check out Chase Anderson, who is apparently fantastic? This is going to happen to Chris Stratton and Steven Duggar. It hasn’t not happened yet, so you can’t prove this won’t be the case. I am absolutely willing to believe in this.
I am absolutely willing to believe in this for at least a week. Maybe a month. Maybe two months! Maybe all year. But I’m not willing to give up on it right now. It’s Opening Day, and I want to hold onto this cheeky optimism for as long as I can. Even if I scraped it off the floor, where it’s been festering since the Bumgarner injury.
I would like to bring up a couple of Opening Days from the past. Here was the lineup for the 2010 Giants:
- Aaron Rowand - CF
- Edgar Renteria - SS
- Pablo Sandoval - 3B
- Aubrey Huff - 1B
- Mark DeRosa - LF
- Bengie Molina - C
- John Bowker - RF
- Juan Uribe - 3B
- Tim Lincecum - P
Look at that outfield! They would combine for negative WAR for the rest of their career. The best prospect was buried. The shortstop was a million years old and fielded like it. The All-Star hitting third was about to have a horrible season by his standards. The cleanup hitter had a .694 OPS the year before.
Also, they were the Giants, and they were never going to win. They were the Mariners, but with extra decades of futility tacked on.
They ... won? They won it all! I’m not saying the 2018 Giants will even finish .500, but look at that lineup. Remember the lack of hope after Bruce Bochy absolutely REFUSED to start Buster Posey down the stretch in 2009.
And you’re worried about a starting pitcher missing two months. Or two starting pitchers missing several months. Tsk tsk. That’s nothing compared to Mark DeRosa hitting fifth and starting in left field.
Then look at how the Giants started the 2012 season. They got swept by the Diamondbacks. Their second baseman was Ryan Theriot, unless it was Emmanuel Burriss, and Freddy Sanchez was never coming back. Tim Lincecum had a terrible start and, guess what, he was actually terrible and wouldn’t get better.
And you’re worried about Mark Melancon being hurt and, uh, Sam Dyson closing games. As you should be. But, still, things have looked worse for the ol’ French vanilla, and they came out clean on the other side.
Does this mean the Giants are destined for greatness in 2018? No. Last season started with so much hope (Madison Bumgarner’s two home runs) and then ended in shame (a blown save and a horrible loss). It was a perfect microcosm of the next six months, and it was awful. That might happen again.
But I’m going to savor these last few moments before baseball squeezes the hope out of me like a boa constrictor. This is our right as dumb baseball fans.
It’s Opening Day, after all.
more like hopening day, really