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Murph: The ‘Matt Beaty Moment’ made for a salty Opening Day



© Brad Penner | 2023 Mar 30

Call it the ‘Matt Beaty Moment’.

Or the ‘Bryce Johnson Revolution’.

The Giants’ last-minute decision to announce, two hours before the season opened at Yankee Stadium Thursday, the trade for Royals outcast Matt Beaty was one of those powder keg incidents in recent Giants history. 

Giants fans had spent all winter licking wounds. The Aaron Judge wound. The Carlos Correa wound. Wounds everywhere: The insults from Las Vegas oddsmakers (another .500 season), the envy-inducing images from a poppin’ Petco Park Fanfest, the depressing news that new outfielder Mitch Haniger would miss Opening Day.

But at least Opening Day was here. Logan Webb, the new symbol of hope, would get the ball. They’d be in Yankee Stadium, to add to the pageantry. And from this corner of cyberspace, I’d even penned my “Tina Turner Jock Blog” — citing the pop chanteuse’s mid-1980s lyrical plea, “I don’t care who’s wrong or right/I don’t really want to fight no more” — to say, essentially: the Giants are our team, baseball is back and I just want a $9 beer and a 2 hour, 35 minute ballgame.

And then came the word that Matt Beaty, a career .249 hitter who had — of course — been a Farhan Zaidi draft pick in the Dodgers organization in 2015, was flying into New York to join the Giants’ Opening Day roster. The Giants traded for him hours before the opener. Cash considerations for the guy with the .725 career OPS. Or, in Farhan-speak, the guy with the career -0.9 WAR. Yes, that’s a “minus” before that number.

Beaty was available because he didn’t make the Kansas City Royals 26-man Opening Day roster.

Bryce Johnson, the 2017 homegrown sixth round draft pick outfielder who lit up the spring with elite speed, swiping 12 of 12 bases, and appeared ticketed for Opening Day because of the Haniger and Austin Slater injuries, would start in Triple-A, instead. Catch is, he was in New York when he got the news.

Come again?

Or, put another way: Huh?

Or, put another way: What in the name of Donovan Walton is going on around here?

No, the Beaty trade doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. No, Bryce Johnson wasn’t going to be the next Chili Davis. 

What happened during Thursday morning’s show, though, was some sort of watershed moment. Fans who had tried hard to forget last year’s faceless 66-player march to .500 were suddenly catapulted back to the world where Stuart Fairchild was in black and orange.

Or Mike Papierski.

Or Kevin Padlo. 

Or Lewis Brinson.

Or Bryce Johnson.

Or Ford Proctor.

Or Mike Ford.

Wait — was there a guy named Ford Ford?

The Matt Beaty Moment, like an unwanted house guest, arrived with awful timing, as well. 

Opening Day! Jon Miller told us on the Giants pregame show, just moments before first pitch in the Bronx, there was a blue-and-white travel bag from the Royals in the clubhouse, and how it caught the eye. Shawn Estes told us that an Opening Day change like that, after Bryce Johnson worked hard and succeeded to the point where he was with the team at the hallowed grounds, might get the “side eye” from some veterans. Susan Slusser of the Chronicle told us “for sure” that veterans were perplexed by the shape-shifting, with zero regard to chemistry or the human element. Dave Flemming admitted to us that there may be some “mental fatigue” to all the roster machinations. 

Worse, it immediately brought us back to Opening Day, 2019, Bruce Bochy’s final campaign with the Giants, when Farhan presented him with two new human beings on Opening Day and told him to start the pair. Start ‘em out there with the red, white and blue bunting, and the anthem, and all that. Shout out Connor Joe and Mike Reed. Paulie Mac and I will never forget talking to Bochy on the show that morning, and when asked about his new Giants, Bochy saying in his inimitable drawl: “I’m trying to learn something about them myself . . . “

The relentless picayune moves take a toll. That they again interfered with the Opening Day spirit was, well, a Lefty O’Doul Bridge too far for many Giants fans. 

When Farhan Zaidi took over the Giants in November, 2018, he was asked if he had a philosophy that could be summarized. He paused, then said the words that would turn out to haunt Giants fans looking for stability, for every day players, for homegrown talent:

“No move too small,” he said.

You nailed that one, boss.