And now, a word on your Giants.
The Jock Blog has been, and should be, a “Warriors Only” zone of blog-age while the champs bob and weave and stagger and surge their way through another springtime of playoff basketball.
But I need a breather, and a change of scenery for a day. Just to clear the head.
Enter the youthful vibe of one Casey Shawn Schmitt — 24 years old, born and bred in San Diego, hat worn at a jaunty angle, family and friends exuding love and good cheer — now entering your San Francisco Giants clubhouse as a symbol of something . . . hopeful?
Lord knows the Giants need hope. They’re 16-20. They’re generating precious little buzz. Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling are surrendering taters. So far, Mitch Haniger and Michael Conforto have yet to light the senior circuit ablaze.
So bring on Schmitt.
With all due respect to the big league dreams of position players who have made their MLB debut in the Gabe Kapler/Farhan Zaidi Era — guys like Chadwick Tromp, Luis Basabe, Jaylin Davis, Joe McCarthy, Jason Vosler, Ford Proctor, Bryce Johnson, Brett Wisely, Mike Papierski, Jason Krizan, even David Villar and Joey Bart — none has served as a symbol more than Schmitt.
And yes, I’m saying this after two games and eight at-bats. Nobody ever accused me of understatement.
Put simply, the Farhan Era has felt directionless.
If he did land a player that excited you — Kevin Gausman, Carlos Rodon — that player was gone the next year. If he did pursue a player that excited you — Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper — that player signed elsewhere. If an opportunity arose at the trade deadline — move Joc Pederson or Rodon or Madison Bumgarner for a prospect to tantalize — he stood pat.
The 107-win 2021 season will always be Farhan’s trump card, but the main engines of that team — Buster Posey, Gausman, Brandon Belt, and an MVP-level Brandon Crawford — are no more.
Right now, the only thing Giants fans have is the hope that the next generation will fill Oracle Park again one day, the way Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval and Brian Wilson and Madison Bumgarner and Sergio Romo did. Each homegrown. Each a legend.
The next wave of Giants success will not be purchased via free agency, or stitched together over 66 (!) players on a season’s roster. The next wave will come from within. It has to. It’s the only way.
That’s why Casey Schmitt matters.
He’s the first solider in the army of hope.
Yes, Villar and Bart, count, too, but already they are mired in the grind of the big leagues, and already stained with struggle. Certainly, they can course-correct, and the Giants will need them to.
But Schmitt arrived all jangly and energetic, unblemished, City Connect uniform looking shiny and new, socks pulled high, smiles and physical charisma coming easy to the lad. He is a 2nd round draft pick. Forty-ninth overall in 2020. He had a dynamite spring in big league camp. Brandon Crawford compared his defense to Nolan Arenado. Crawford is not a man of excess. Take his words seriously.
And then, the home run.
Schmitt’s 420-foot blast in his first game in The Show lit up his 40 family and friends, from grandmas to 19-month-old nephews, and lit up a fan base, too. He ripped a single later. He scalded a double the next day. He fielded a soft chopper and wielded his cannon on a chest-high laser to LaMonte Wade, Jr. at first base.
In short, he looked like a ballplayer that will stick. Forget data. This was an eye test, and a gut check. In your gut, you felt hope.
My 11 year old kid came home from school today and asked: “Is Casey Schmitt playing tonight?”
I don’t have tonight’s lineup in Arizona. All I know is, I hope he’s playing. Because hope is the operative word.
You may now resume your Warrior-Laker breakdown, sports fans. Thank you for this break in the action.