Launch angle, smaunch angle.
Let’s talk about the truly quantifiable thing defining this 2021 Giants season:
Or, as my Grateful Dead-soaked on-air partner calls it: Particles.
Or vibes. Or karma.
Or any other ethereal world you can use to describe the extra quality that pushing the Giants past the concept of “successful season” and into the rare air of “historic and unforgettable season.”
Yes, yes, of course, Farhan Zaidi’s righty-lefty roster, and Donnie Ecker’s studied hitting game plans and Gabe Kapler’s open-door New Age communication are all reasons why the Giants are winning.
But have you seen the otherworldly forces at work here?
This comes to mind because on Tuesday night, Brandon Belt smashed two home runs to reach a career high of 19. In his postgame interview on NBC Sports Bay Area with Greg Papa and Rich Aurilia, he revealed that his grandmother, Margaret Peterson, with whom he was close, had died that morning. He wanted to dedicate the game — and the rest of the season — to her.
Kapler admitted after the game that when Belt launched home run number one that day, an apple-denting blast on the Mets’ home field, he felt “something higher” at work. Belt admitted that he did, too.
It got me thinking that we’ve felt that way a few times this year.
One of the best stories of the year is LaMonte Wade, Jr., who was acquired in a trade with the Twins for reliever Shaun Anderson. Who knew that Wade would turn out to be one of the most important bats on the roster — or that when his parents made their first visit to San Francisco to visit him, his Mom would be touring the stadium and *standing on the right field wall arcade when Wade crushed a SPLASH HIT over her head*??
Mike Tauchman isn’t even on the big league roster anymore, but when Zaidi traded for him, Yankees fans expressed dismay that Tauchman was no longer in pinstripes. More than one Yankee fan said that Tauchman had a way of being at the most important place at the most important time. This would be true on May 28, when the Giants were still winless against the Dodgers and watching Albert Pujols’ would-be game-winning home run tumbling over the left field wall at Dodger Stadium in the bottom of the 9th *only to see Tauchman leap and steal it from over the wall and into his glove for a game-saving out*.
We can go on.
Donovan Solano, surely not happy to have his playing time reduced a year after winning the Silver Slugger Award, was called on in Oakland to pinch-hit against nasty left hander AJ Puk and the Giants down, 1-0. It looked grim — until seldom-used Solano swung at the first pitch he saw and launched a game-winning two-run home run off the bench to win the Bay Bridge Series.
Wade, again, *doing the same thing a day earlier* off nasty A’s closer Lou Trivino — with the Giants down to their last out, launching the pinch-hit home run that rocked the Oakland Coliseum and 36,000 fans.
There have been other moments that have stamped this season as eerily special. The sustained ovation for beloved ex-Giant Madison Bumgarner was an organic display of affection for a legend fans hadn’t seen in person for two years. Bumgarner, famously laconic, had to come out and take a curtain call, he was so awash in adulation. It was pure.
Even the appearance at a game of former 49ers QB Alex Smith, of all things, caused goosebumps. The signal caller who Jim Harbaugh famously called “tougher than a two dollar steak” came all the way back from a life-threatening football injury to make it back on the field — and a year later found himself on the big screen at Oracle Park, forced to acknowledge a standing ovation by the continued cheers and cheers of Giants fans showing the love. Positive energy galore.
The comeback at Arizona, down 4-0 in the 9th. The wizardry of Brandon Crawford, seemingly in his last run as a Giant, so dominant and special he earned a two-year contract to stay in San Francisco when he was all but gone. And of course the ongoing presence of Buster Posey, who still has not said what he wants to do after this season — but proving that taking 2020 off to be with his newly adopted born-premature twins was the perfect tonic for his career, as he puts up near-career high numbers.
Vegas still says the Dodgers will win the West. So do most national prognosticators.
Suit yourself, outsiders. We’re seeing something different here.