The San Francisco Giants have been playing better baseball of late. Can they avoid a last-place finish in the NL West?
What lies ahead for the 2019 San Francisco Giants?
In the 2004 Bernie Mac-led Sports movie Mr. 3000, Mac’s character Stan Ross comes out of retirement at age 47 in an effort to collect his 3000th hit.
In the process, he joins a lowly Milwaukee Brewers team in fifth place that is nowhere near playoff contention and more dysfunctional than a reality show. As the film goes on, Ross learns to put his ego aside for the good of the team, inspiring them to a respectable finish.
Essentially, it’s the 2019 San Francisco Giants if Barry Bonds came back to hit a few more dingers and suddenly became a better teammate in three months that he was during his entire 22-year career.
Back in reality, the San Francisco Giants carried a could-be-worse record of 41-48 into the All-Star break, leaving them in last in the NL West, but still a notch above baseball’s true cellar dwellers like the Miami Marlins, Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles.
That record is respectable given their roster, and although they are nowhere near catching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the division lead, they sit just 5.5 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the second wild-card spot.
While that’s closer to a postseason spot than most expected them to be at the start of the season, no one is asking for a dramatic, out-of-nowhere playoff run. Not even me.
What do I want? Not last place.
What I love most about the move Mr. 3000 is the stakes. Unlike other sports movies like Major League or Mighty Ducks, the Brewers didn’t suddenly become championship contenders after starting from zero. Instead, they “win” third place, and it almost feels like they won the pennant when they finally get out of last place for good.
Small victories can mean a lot to the fan base during a rebuild, and having those oh-so-sweet bragging rights over whichever team that might manage to leapfrog would make it all worthwhile.
The Colorado Rockies are under-performing and the San Diego Padres have been trending downward after a hot start, leaving the Giants just three and 3.5 games behind those teams, respectively.
The Giants play the Rockies 10 more times in their final 81 games and the Padres could be sellers once again leading up to the deadline with Kirby Yates and Hunter Renfroe among the players that could be moved. Catching up to those two teams is not out of the question.
However, that point is double-edged, as the Giants are also likely to be shedding some of their best players ahead of the deadline.
The Giants won’t have a mythical Barry Bonds-esque player like Stan Ross joining their roster anytime soon. What they do have is a chance to break free from the cellar, and to give a long season purpose.
At the very least, it’s a bit more motivation to watch San Francisco Giants games if they’re fighting for something down the stretch. Even if it’s just fourth place.