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History tells us Giants’ rough start should be taken seriously



Every morning the past week or so, whenever Paulie Mac and I start to look at this 2017 Giants roster and complain of acid reflux, the Cache Creek Text Line inevitably buzzes with an admonishment:

Sample Text No. 1: It’s early, you Chicken Littles!

Sample Text No. 2: It’s April, dummies!

Sample Text No. 3: They’ve played for 3 weeks, Einsteins. Give it some time.

I love the Cache Creek Text Line.

Here’s the thing: It’s not that early. And early matters. A lot.

The Giants head into Colorado Friday touting a sinkhole in left field, missing persons in center field and a 6-10 record, tied for last in the NL West with the mighty San Diego Padres. Only the Phillies are off to a worse start, percentage-wise.

16 games is essentially 10 percent of a Major League Baseball season. It’s not infinitesimal.

And history shows that the first 10 percent of the season matters. A lot.

To find a World Series champion who played a sub-.500 April, you have to go all the way back to the 2003 Florida Marlins, who were actually 14-14 in April of 2003. But because they played and lost one game in March, Jeff Torborg’s Marlins left April at 14-15.

(Side note: They would call up Alameda’s own Dontrelle Willis on May 9 and he’d win 14 games that season. So, you know, call-ups can help. Hint. Hint.)

(Double side note: Torborg would be fired after a 16-22 start, replaced by Trader Jack McKeon; and here is where we advise the comparisons to the 2017 Giants stop. Bruce Bochy For Life, y’all.)

Funny enough, the only other World Series champ in the 21st century to leave April with a sub-.500 record was the, gulp, 2002 Angels, who opened 11-13. I know, I know. Tough memory.

Anyway, history shows that April matters. Wins are compiled en route to the magic, hoped-for level of 90 or more. Division leads are built. Identities are formed. The three Giants World Series teams went 13-9 (2010); 12-10 (2012) and 17-11 (2014). Each of those teams took various twists and turns from there, but the point is, the foundation was laid heading into May.

Last year, the Cubs went 17-5 in April. Year before that, the Royals went 15-7. Even the most baffling World Series champ of the 2000s, the 83-win St. Louis Cardinals of 2006, went 17-8 in April.

Don’t think that a 6-10 start is something to slough off with a casual, “IT’S EARLY, NUMBNUTS!” text. The Giants clubhouse, even with the ballast of leaders like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain and Brandon Crawford, is quite likely looking around its nooks and crannies, searching for pop and hits with runners in scoring position and something, anything, other than the current left field/center field situation.

Ten games are left in April, starting with the always-treacherous trip to Denver, where Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija will try to keep Nolan Arenado in the area code. Then four against Sergio Romo’s L.A. Dodgers, a series Mike Krukow hopes will be the jolt this Giants club needs. Then, April closes with three against Manuel Margot’s Padres, who have already taken a series from the Gigantes this year.

Bottom line: April matters. History is watching. This roster can’t continue for too long in its current. static state. Otherwise, this 2017 season just might continue to be a tough little watch.