Giants 2011: First Half Assessment

(originally written 7/8/11)

In my 31 years of existence, there have been exactly four occasions where breaking news or a current event has moved/excited/gripped/stunned me so strongly, that I’ve had to bolt to the nearest phone in order to make sense of it all:

 

 

  • When Steffan Manor Elementary burned down in my native Vallejo, California in 1999. This wasn’t my school, but every Vallejoan who didn’t go there knew somebody who did. My call to my friend Alex was a “moved” call.

 

  • When Barack Obama officially won California to clinch the 2008 Presidential Election and make all black Americans millionaires-in-waiting (or so we thought/hoped). My calls to virtually all my relatives were “excited” calls. (NO political comments...not here for that.)

 

  • When Jerry Seinfeld made “The Decision” regarding the fate of Seinfeld: would it continue, or would he take his talents to retirement. As this was/is amongst my favorite all-time shows, my calls to my friend Cory were “gripped” calls.

 

  • When Madison Bumgarner opened his 6/21/11 start vs. the Twins by surrendering hits to nine of ten batters (most of them hard), including the first eight (all of whom scored). In this instance I dialed practically every Giants fan in my directory, thoroughly stunned at what had just taken place.

 

 

If any good came out of that drubbing, at least fans knew it was over 10 minutes in. The evening was still young enough to spend exercising (where grunting is not a bad thing) or having dinner (where all you’re slamming down is the waiter’s tip) or even dancing (where throwing your hands in the air is not motivated by frustration.)

 

What cannot be denied: they haven’t been dull.

 

We can say a lot of things about the 2011 Giants’ season, but we can’t say it’s been a snooze. From the very first day of the season, when Brandon Belt wept over making the club and poor Brian Stow became a casualty of gang violence at Dodger Stadium, the defending champs have been on the frontburner, the popular hotbed topic for most watercoolers within 60 miles of AT&T Park.

 

 

Often alternating between negative and positive...

 

  • MadBum records exactly one out in a start vs. the mediocre Twins? Fine, but Nate Schierholtz blasts a 14th inning walkoff jack vs. the Padres.

  • Miguel Tejada pops out on a terrible first pitch in a key situation vs. the Dodgers? Fine, but Aubrey Huff hits three jacks (and four in two days) at St. Louis. 

  • Buster Posey has his leg destroyed at home plate vs. the Marlins? Fine, but Brandon Crawford smacks a grand slam in his first MLB game at Milwaukee.

 

  • Barry Zito sprains his foot fielding his position at Arizona? Fine. His sub, Ryan Vogelsong—all he does is make the All-Star team.

  • Mark DeRosa breaks his hand while…existing? Fine. How about Aaron Rowand blasting a dramatic walkoff double and landing front-and-center in several early-season rallies?

  • Brian Wilson blows two straight saves against the Cubs, leading to an epic dugout meltdown? Fine. But Schierholtz makes the catch of the year in game saving fashion saving Brian Wilson from a terrible blown-save vs. the Dodgers.

  • Andres Torres wusses away from confronting Chad Qualls when the latter screams at him during a tag-out? Fine. But Matt Cain gives the warrior moment of the year when he takes a pitch off the hand while bunting. It’s very scary, as the team had just lost two other players to injury, but not only does Shotgun go on to get the bunt down—he goes eight for the win (only his past history vs. David Wright kept him from confronting the pitcher, guaranteed.)

 

 

It hasn’t been easy watching the Giants at all in this first half of 2011. I can’t remember seeing a lefty hitter roll over on so many outside pitches as Huff has for most of this year (well, actually I can; Ken Caminiti in 2001, but I’m not here to talk about the past.)

 

Tejada has botched several routine plays in brutal fashion. Torres seems to have channeled his inner Freddie Lewis by striking out twice every game (including four times in a game last week) these days. Yet, San Francisco is 10 games over .500 and in first place! How? The best assessment I can give is this: they do lose plenty of games they shouldn’t, but they counter it by winning even more games that they shouldn’t. Does that make sense? Hopefully.