Alas, Spring Training has come to a close. Elderly retirees are stowing away their lawn chairs and regretting their decision to not wear sunscreen. As they treat their tender skin with aloe vera, we turn our attention to something of far greater importance: San Francisco Giants baseball (that counts).
The day is nigh; Opening Day that is. I had this piece written a week ago talking about the need for the Giants to get off to a good start. I also talked about how the Giants play the Dodgers 10 times in the first month of the season.
So, I decided I’d start over. It seems that the baseball gods are deciding to spit in the Giants’ eye for the second consecutive year. One can’t blame them, in fact, we should have seen it coming.
When news broke that Jeff Samardzija had a bum shoulder, I went, ’Oh, well that’s not good.’ Just a day later when it was discovered that Madison Bumgarner had a fracture in his throwing hand by way of the Royals, it was almost too easy to feel bad for ourselves. To think, ’Here we go again.’
However, upon much pondering and reflection, this is simply a case of the baseball gods evening the score with the Giants. I’ve long been a firm believer that a fair amount of the Giants’ success this decade has been powered by Faustian deals that Bruce Bochy has made with the baseball gods.
We’ve observed and celebrated the riches of these deals (three championships), but it’s beginning to become clear what the price was for these titles. Surely, they promised Cody Ross becoming a legend, Ian Kinsler’s home run back-spinning off the top of the wall, Edgar Renteria’s heroics, all culminating in a title, in exchange for something quite sinister.
‘What do you mean by sinister?’ Bochy surely asked.
‘Mwahahaha! Please Bruce, shake my hand, I’m guaranteeing you a World Series ring!’
Bochy reluctantly shakes the baseball God’s hand, ’I’ve got a bad feeling about this.’
His bad feelings were realized next season when the Chosen One, Buster Posey, was steam rolled at the plate. His leg was ruined, and Giants fans wondered if they would taste victory ever again.
Yet, the baseball gods are always fair in their judgement. For every franchise player getting bull rushed at the plate or falling off a dirt bike, they appease us with a Ryan Vogelsong. For every earthquake in game three, Russ Ortiz getting pulled, newly acquired player getting suspended for PED use, they repay us kindly in the form of Tim Lincecums, Marco Scutaros, Travis Ishikawas, Bumgarners, Matt Cains; the list could go on forever.
What I’m trying to say is that so much has went right for the Giants this decade that it’s only reasonable to expect some things will go wrong. Things obviously went very wrong last year, and this year begins ominously, with the stench of doom in the air.
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The baseball gods give you a little wink every now and then, and the Royals being the team to break the hand that ate them alive and spat them out in Games 1,5, and 7 of the 2014 World Series is so Shakespearean that it hurts.
It may seem unfair, it may be frustrating, but it’s worth remembering that the baseball gods are always wise in their judgment. So when the Giants play the Dodgers tomorrow and nine more times in the next month with a depleted rotation, remember that it’s happening for a reason. Maybe not a shiny gold reason that you put on your finger, but a reason nonetheless.
There is still cause for hope, though. At the writing of this article Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria are still healthy. Kruk and Kuip are still calling games. Bruce Bochy is still the manager. Buster Posey is still Buster Posey.
Things will even out (wink, wink) as they always seem to do. Maybe not this year, maybe not for decades, but eventually. And hey, despite the early mishaps, two southpaws are still facing off in Los Angeles tomorrow afternoon. Sure, one of them isn’t the guy we expected, but remember that the guy replacing him (Ty Blach) once went toe-to-toe with Kershaw, threw 8 shutout innings, and picked up a couple of hits to boot. So before you write it off as a lost season, remember there’s still hope. For now at least.