The mark of a playoff contender in a year Austin Slater referred to as “#2020” is talent and execution, sure. But also it’s about to include an increased lack of physical exposure to others.
The Giants are among the teams entering a quarantined bubble ahead of the postseason, part of an agreement between MLB and the Players Association for postseason contenders designed to ensure the tournament will be finished. The 27-27 Giants are tied for both the seventh and eighth spots in the National League with the Reds and Brewers, but both NL Central clubs own tiebreakers over them. (Intradivisional record is the relevant tiebreaker, and playing the Dodgers and Padres has not helped the Giants’ chances.)
Still, they’re in the middle of the chase and in the process of entering a bubble. All tier one and tier two members — players, staff, trainers, “everyone that helps the show run,” Slater said — will be checking in at a Bay Area hotel from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Gabe Kapler said.
The 28-man roster will be included as well as select players from the alternate site, each club having to submit its list of 40 bubble-eligible players to MLB on Sunday. The Giants have not announced their holdovers from Sacramento, whose last alternate-site workout was Tuesday.
The Giants will be living life as if they’re on the road while at home. Drew Smyly said he recently moved out of his place in Lafayette and is now in the hotel and didn’t anticipate the moves changing a whole lot; much of the club has lived in hotels, even at home, for this season because of the short sprint of a year and how late it started.
“When we’re on the road, it’s basically the same scenario: You can’t really leave,” Smyly said over Zoom after Tuesday’s win. “You’re just hotel to the stadium and back. There’s no real leisure time or free time.”
Slater, the club’s MLBPA representative, added, “I don’t think it’s going to be a huge issue for us.”
It’s just another sign of the times, but also a sign the Giants are in playoff contention in a year they were not supposed to be. They have six games left, two against the Rockies then four against the Padres, all at Oracle Park, before they would go home disappointed or travel to Los Angeles, Atlanta or Chicago.
A three-game series, all at the Dodgers’, Braves’ or Cubs’ home, would await and begin Sept. 30. If they somehow survived that, the Giants would travel to Arlington or Houston and develop a bubble there.
“It’s exciting,” Smyly said about moving into the hotel. “We’re all there as a team, we’re here for one goal. I think everybody can feel what all this is for. It’s coming down to the last week of the season, and we’re right there. We’re all anticipating an exciting finish to the season.”