Three up. Forty-one to play.
You never would have dreamed it. I didn’t.
Now, can they hang on?
Gabe Kapler’s Giants, pegged for 75.5 wins by the sharps in Vegas, soared past that paltry assessment and have the best record in baseball. They’ve hit more home runs than any team in the National League. Their +143 run differential is third best in baseball. Their team WHIP as a pitching staff is tied for best in baseball. Their BB/9 (walks per nine) is best in baseball.
Traditional stats. Advanced metrics. Eye test. And particles — the Bumgarner ovation, the Alex Smith reception, Kuip returning to the yard.
All in favor say “aye”.
Almost once a month, I’ve posted a Jock Blog dipping my toe into the Giants pool, trying to gauge just what in God’s name is going on with the most historically surprising team in Giants history. A Google search of those headlines read like a road map to the Land of Belief:
April 15: “The Giants look . . . legit?”
May 28: “Why I’m Not Ready to Concede to the Dodgers . . . yet”
June 30: “Giants skepticism may be reasonable, but here’s why I’m rejecting it”
July 15: “I’ll admit it: I’m nervous about the Giants”
July 22: “The Giants Are Showing Us Who They Are”
And now, our August 20 offering: “Three Up. Forty One to Play. Can The Giants Hang On?”
It all reads like the rantings of a half-believing, half-baffled Giants fan. Thank you very much.
(Although you’ve all got to shower some love on the May 28 entry. That Jock Blog posted on the very morning of the night Mike Tauchman went up and over the Dodger Stadium wall to break Albert Pujols’ heart — and by extension, all of Dodger-dom, which is a beautiful thing. The Jock Blog is taking four percent credit for that moment.)
I write to you the day after the Giants blew a winnable game against the reeling Mets, and lost a game of the NL West lead. This miracle season is so fragile in some of our minds, it felt like an NFL Sunday loss; something to mourn and discuss for days on end.
But the heck with that.
The Giants have answered every challenge through 121 games. Why stop now?
To address some of the realistic concerns, however:
— As sexy as Kris Bryant is — and the man is dead sexy — the trade deadline coming and going without adding a closer candidate or another starting arm is a worthwhile talking point. While Logan Webb is also dead sexy, seeing Johnny Cueto and Anthony DeSclafani tussle with the Injured List is an unsettling thing. Perhaps more unsettling is seeing Jake McGee scuffle with two blown saves in the last 10 days. He’s still 26-for-30, and that cannot be discounted. Still . . . stay tuned on that front. Playing September with some pitching questions is worthy of some antacid.
— Playing .645 ball is sort of bonkers. It’s a 104-win pace. No Giants team has ever won 104 games. Not Mays. Not Bonds. Not Mathewson. Kind of nutty to think that Wilmer Flores could win 104, but Mel Ott never did. Thing is, even allowing for a slight regression back to reality — say, .600 ball and 97 wins . . . that might not be enough to hold off the Dodgers, who are playing .620 ball with one hand tied behind their back, given their injuries.
See, that’s the thing. The Dodgers. They’re 12-3 in August. They acquired a couple of guys named Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. They’re winning even when the starting pitching, racked by injury, is resulting in bullpen games.
As Ed Asner says in one of my favorite new drops on the show: “I don’t like it.”
Then again, the Jock Blog has been discussing these concerns since springtime. And here we are, late summer, Giants still atop the heap.
Three up. Forty-one to play. Can the Giants hang on?
We’ve all come too far to stop believin’. As Sam told Higgins’ kid in “Ted Lasso”, about the beauty of Santa: “His true power is not his speed, but his endurance.” Sounds like something Gabe Kapler might say. Onward.