I have a quote that I keep in the notes section of my iPhone. It’s been there for five and a half years, ever since the Los Angeles Dodgers lost the 2013 National League Championship Series.
It was written by Grant Brisbee, who took a break from laughing at the Dodgers failures to paint some perspective on the San Francisco Giants teams that had won it all in two recent years. It foreshadowed the Giants winning it all again the next year too, though of course Grant didn’t know this. Or maybe he did. Who knows.
Anyway, here’s the quote:
“It takes more than skill. It takes more than money. It takes a weird, unrepeatable confluence of nonsense.”
I revisit this quote a lot, in part because it’s so damn good, and in part because I enjoy laughing at the Dodgers results, process be damned.
Confluence of nonsense is, of course, a double-edged sword. I can think of no better way to describe the 2010, 2012, and 2014 World Series titles. Some would find this the antithesis of comforting - it’s a reminder that luck is a huge component in this sport, and that the Giants didn’t deserve to hoist trophies those years, as though deserving has anything to do with it.
The other side of the sword is, of course, that a confluence of nonsense can pull your pants down in public as often as it drops rings on your fingers.
Which brings us to the 2019 Giants.
By now you’re all too familiar with the first inning foibles of the Giants. The excessive total of first inning runs they’ve allowed is rivaled only by the putrid number they’ve scored, and each is repeated daily on websites and broadcasts.
The Giants are on pace to be the worst first inning team in MLB history. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I presume it’s not particularly close.
And where does it all start? At the very beginning (a very good place to start).
Every first inning begins with a first batter.
Let me show you how that first batter has done in the Giants 51 games.
2019 Giants first batter of the game
Warning: The following content is not suitable for the workplace. Please do not scroll further if you do not wish to see graphic content.
8-46, 3 BB, 2 HBP, 9 K
Put on your reading glasses. Reload the browser. Down your scotch.
8-46, 3 BB, 2HBP, 9K
The first batter of the game for the Giants is slashing .174/.255/.174.
Now it’s easy to say the Giants do poorly on the first at-bat because they’re bad. That’s certainly part of it. But that .429 OPS is confluence of nonsense bad.
Of the 173 MLB players with a qualified number of at bats this year, no one is within 100 points of that OPS.
It’s just a glorious, ugly, befuddling combination of ineptitude and misfortune. A confluence of nonsense, but this time of the unfortunate variety.