Maybe it’s because he was exhausted and unfiltered after he drove from Northern Michigan to Phoenix with only his yellow lab, some audio books and fast food to keep him company.
Or maybe it’s because he’s a good weekly guest on our show who doles out his baseball thoughts for all to hear.
But yes, I stopped in my metaphorical tracks when Shawn Estes told us Thursday morning his feeling about the second half of the 2021 Giants season:
“I’m nervous,” Estes said.
There. He said it. For all of us to hear, and process.
Was Estes our id, speaking our innermost thoughts as Giants fans processing this otherworldly 57-32 (FIFTY SEVEN AND THIRTY TWO!!) season that has very little explanation or connection to reality?
The first half of the season, all fun and games and City Connect orange, is over.
Now the real stuff begins.
I won’t lie: Estes spoke to my Inner Jock Blog.
As the high of the All-Star Game faded, and we congratulated Brandon Crawford and Kevin Gausman and wished Buster Posey could have been there; as the intoxication of ending the first half in a sweep of the Nationals in a festive atmosphere at China Basin receded in memory; as the chest-puffing pride of hearing all the national analysts over the break gush over the job Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler have done in San Francisco dissipated into the ether — sobriety began to kick in.
Can the Giants sustain this? Can the Giants hold off the Dodgers, who seem to be 26 Max Muncys ready to terrorize y’alls neighborhoods? Shouldn’t a regression to the mean kick in for a team that Las Vegas pegged for 76 wins?
And would a schedule that opens in St. Louis — the home of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, for the love of night sweats — then heads to Dodger Stadium for four games be some cold slap to the face?
It’s all very daunting.
Hence, Estes’ nerves.
I’m glad he said it. It’s important to live in the real world, as I was just saying to my good friend Dave Kaval over a lunch at Howard Terminal. It’s important to understand that playing .640 ball for 89 games is an outrageous gift of good fortune and good baseball, and that choppy waters inevitably lie ahead.
IMPORTANT CAVEAT: This is not a surrender Jock Blog. This is not a white flag to the Max Muncy Boyz. Faithful readers know that I have doubled down on contending this year in a “Why not now? Why not us?” theme of pride that would make Ted Lasso proud.
But I am girding myself for some turbulence — and not just because this is being written on mine and Paulie’s and Copes’s flight to Denver, a place so known for its choppy descents in the Rocky Mountains that Estes quipped we’d be taking “KnuckleBall Airlines”.
The schedule *is* tougher. The home run pace *may be* due to slow down. The starting pitching *does* need some help.
If there’s anything we’ve learned, though, it’s that the guy from MIT with a phD from Berkeley in social engineering can find guys. I anticipate the Giants being in this thing in September. It’s just that there may be a circuitous path to get there, perhaps as soon as this upcoming road swing.
It’s OK to be nervous. Steve Kerr calls it “appropriate fear”. It’s part of the fun.