From the same Jock Blog that gave you April Giants rage over the ‘Mat Beaty Moment’ and the late-June Giants irrational exuberance of ‘Playoff Fever!’, I give you a mid-September meditation on …
When I last penned hopes for the post-season, the Giants were 45-36 and the JB was going on and on about the club being on the coveted “90 Win Pace”, a mark not reached since 2012.
Currently at 74-70 before this Tuesday night game against Cleveland, the Giants are on an 83-win pace, which is far less romantic.
And let’s be honest: if it wasn’t for this little miraculous flurry of late, they’d be on the dreaded 81-win pace after returning home last week at 70-70. With the final 12 games against Arizona, the Dodgers and the Padres, they still might get to that wholly uninspiring number.
Hence … playoff ambivalence.
Here is the part where I steal a great line from The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, who noted recently that the Giants hanging around the edge of the NL wild card race seems to be producing in the fans “as much annoyance as hope.”
Great line. And true.
Why is that? Why is a team with somewhat legitimate October aspirations producing grumbles of discontent and — perhaps far more illustrative — the 17th-best attendance (and lowest in the NL West) in Major League Baseball?
Probably questions far too deep for the Jock Blog, which is meant to be your quick scroll-read as you wait for your Uber.
But a quick grocery list of items that produce ambivalent annoyance would include:
— No star every day players.
— Those “openers”
— Batting averages thriving in the .240s (in fact, the current team BA of .240 would be among the lowest in SF Giants history)
— A strikeout total on pace to be an SF Giants record
— Something about Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler that has yet to win over the fan base
— And once more, with emphasis … no star every day players.
Perhaps those first and last items have something to do with the Farhan/Gabe item.
Let’s be fair and point out the positives: the team has made a dramatic move towards developing youth, and the idea of Patrick Bailey catching Kyle Harrison with Luis Matos in the outfield — and maybe Marco Luciano at shortstop? — is sounding pretty nice in the mid-2020s. Throw in the added hope that Casey Schmitt, Keaton Winn, Heliot Ramos, Ryan Walker, Tristan Beck, Blake Sabol and the boys tag along and you have something that says 2023 was not a total wash.
And of course, it’s not a total wash if they make October. Right?
Somehow, I don’t feel an “Amen!” coming from all y’all.
You’re all still hung up on that grocery list I provided up there, with particular emphasis on Farhan and Gabe. It’s year five, after all, for Zaidi and he has yet to pull off the master stroke trade we all expected. He seemed to miscalculate the last two trade deadlines. Teams like the Braves and Dodgers and even the Phillies have left him in the dust, and he has done nothing with the Giants’ significant financial resources. And Gabe . . . well, the Instagram thirst traps do well with some who admire the man’s physique (read the comments) — but not so much with the seamheads among us. His game day management has its ups and downs, but in his defense — he can only work with the righty-lefty roster Farhan has bequeathed.
All that said, the crew is one back in the loss column and showing some pluck. Are you not entertained?
Wait. I think I know the answer.