You know your team is struggling when you are no longer worried about winning or losing the game-just avoiding the no-hitter. Live by the sword-die by the sword. After Tim Lincecum no-hit the Padres for the second time, I couldn’t help but wonder if Homer Bailey would do the same to the San Francisco Giants in that series clincher on Sunday. It would have been an appropriate close to a horrendous stretch for the Orange and Black.
If you are still following the team and watching the games, then you are a better fan than many. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the followers of a struggling team will jettison their enthusiasm, and start to point fingers. Or worse, start to proclaim disaster, and suggest that we trade somebody for somebody else, and that will fix the whole mess.
Because things are kind of a mess. As of Sunday, the Giants are in a tie for first, one thousandth of a percentage point ahead of the Dodgers. They have lost fifteen of nineteen games and the only hope on the horizon is the fact that June will be over before they play their next game on July 1st.
With that being said, I feel it is critical to add that we are only half way through the season, and that both the Giants and the Dodgers have incurred a series of injuries. The Dodgers began the year with starting pitching woes, and the Giants picked up their troubles along the way.
April 26, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon (9) hits a triple in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants jumped out the gate and built up a nine-and-a-half game lead, and now that is gone. Oh well. Think of it as sporting, to allow the Dodgers back in the race, and go from there,
Think of it as sporting, to allow the Dodgers back in the race, and go from there…
confident that the Giants can regroup once a couple of their key guys get back in the lineup. After all, the troops coming up from Fresno cannot be expected to step into a pennant race and do anything more than hold the rudder steady. In this case, the ship was already on its way down.
It all comes down to why you watch baseball in general, and the Giants, in particular. If it is to see them win, and that is the sole reason, then you’re disenchanted. They were going so well; we were going to win the pennant by twenty games. Now they suck. Forget this. The A’s are twenty games above .500.
But if you watch the Giants because you love the game, maybe from having played it, or had a dad who coached, or had a little sister you played catch with, or have a son or daughter, with whom you toss the ball back and forth, then you are more forgiving. Your reasons for turning on the radio, or sitting in front of the television are more complex, and have greater ramifications than just a win or a loss.
After all, if it is only winning that you are interested in, what happens the rest of the time, when your team loses? You whine about it or you go follow the A’s. Good-bye. Don’t let the door hit you in the backside on the way out.
For me it takes only one of several components present, to make the game a success. First, in the event the Giants are losing, is to have the tying run come to the plate in the 8th or 9th inning, thus giving us a chance. Second, a spectacular defensive play, even in a loss, goes a long way to satisfying my success meter.
Third, naturally, a base hit under clutch conditions or a big fly is always a success, especially if it comes from an unlikely source, such as a Juan Perez home run, or a Tim Lincecum basehit.
So now we have seen the greatest of successes (31-11) and the worst of failures (4-15), and the season is only halfway through. As my colleague Eric noted in his recap after yesterday’s game, if you had been told before the season started, that on July First, we would be tied for first place in the National League West, would you have been satisfied? Speaking for myself, I would have been [and am] pleased. I would rather be nine-and-a-half games ahead, but I would also like to have a home on the Gold Coast.
Besides, I went on record before the season started, as saying it didn’t matter whether the Giants got in as division leaders or wild carders. Just make it into the playoffs and good things happen.
There is still a lot of baseball to be enjoyed.