If you chose to spend your Friday evening watching the San Francisco Giants, you probably regretted it almost instantly. The offense was feckless in the top of the first, and it only took one batter in the bottom of the first for the Arizona Diamondbacks to surpass their run total from Thursday night’s 7-0 loss in the series opener.
But, if you stuck with it past those initial moments of regret, you probably came to realize that you were spending your Friday in a wonderful way. Brandon Belt and Mike Yastrzemski hit home runs and you thought, “Gee! This sure is a great way to spend a Friday night!”
Kevin Pillar added a bomb, while Jeff Samardzija pitched well enough, and you turned to your cat and said, “This is waaaaaay better than going out with my friends.” Yaz hit another home run and you remarked “I bought this six pack for $10! That’s the same price as one of the beers my loser friends are buying tonight! Congratulations dorks, you played yourself.”
And then the bottom of the eighth inning rolled around and you, helpless reader, watched a collapse to end all collapses, as the Diamondbacks homered not once, not twice, but thrice, to tie up the game. You instinctively grabbed your iPhone. “Still pretty early,” you thought. You opened up the group chat. “Y’all still out?” you composed.
But you didn’t hit the send button. “Let’s see what happens in the ninth,” you told your cat, which is hopefully named Snuckles or Skeeter, or at the very least, Buster.
The top of the ninth was feckless yet again, but you couldn’t not watch the bottom of the ninth, right?
Yet when Jandel Gustave took care of business and sent the game to extras, you knew that text was never going to get sent. You knew you had to see the end.
Lo and behold, Kevin Pillar rewarded your faithfulness, only for Will Smith to spit on it. Then Yaz rewarded it once again, and somehow, someway, Smith and Trevor Gott hung on, leading the Giants to a win.
It was 10:45 at night, and your phone sat there, composed message dying the slow breath of unspoken thoughts. And you were happy.
The Giants are fun. It feels really weird to say that. I’m an eternal
Giants optimist, as you likely know if you read my articles or frequent the comment section. I usually see this team with a hopeful view.
But hope is forward-looking. And no matter how much time I spend eagerly painting an exciting picture of a future that will likely never transpire, it can’t delete the warm heap of [redacted] that’s piling up in the rear view mirror.
The Giants were fun in the first half of 2015, and then all hell broke loose. The second half of the season was an utterly miserable experience, somehow made even worse by the fact that they remained in the playoff picture. It felt guilty - everything was bad, yet you didn’t feel like you could embrace that, because they were still a playoff team.
And the postseason rolled around, and the loss was as debilitating as losses get, because you knew not only how close they were, but that the desirable outcome was never really a feasible possibility. It was like being one number off on the lottery - you were so close, yet you know that you actually weren’t, at all.
And then 2017 came, wrapped in stank, dusted in crap. And 2018 came, hidden beneath a pile of sewage.
And 2019 came, and arrived on your door, dressed in wilted flowers and moldy pâté.
And then things clicked. Farhan Zaidi mashed the right roster churn buttons. Bruce Bochy hit the right lineup knobs. The organizational developments bloomed in real time, on live television, like a baseball-mashup episode of The Real World. The wins came, and the team seemed to try harder, be a little more invested. And the wins kept coming. And the hits kept coming.
And it was fun. It is fun.
No part of 2018 was fun, even when the team messed around and tried to be .500. No part of 2017 was fun. No part of post-All-Star break 2016 was fun, even when the Giants backwards electric-slid into the playoffs and nearly beat Joe Maddon.
But 2019 is fun. It’s genuinely fun. The team has been good for nearly two months, based on both record and run differential. They’re exciting. They do things like blow leads, and then regain them, and then blow them again, and then regain them again. They do things like have relievers hit line drive two-run singles in their first career at-bats, and have guys who weigh 120 pounds soaking wet hit three home runs in a game.
I sadly don’t have a cat, and I only had two beers on Friday, not a whole six pack. And my friends never did invite me to do anything fun in the evening that I had to turn down.
But I’m glad as hell I spent the night watch Giants baseball. And I missed that feeling.