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Giants 2011: Spring Training

(originally written 2/19/11)

Tell me I am not the only Giants fan who, upon being reminded that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training February 14th, thought to him/herself: “THIS is the year we finally break that 50-some odd year World Series drought.”

When in actuality, the Giants will be seeking to break a 50-some odd week title drought in October 2011.

In a lot of ways, for me, it still hasn’t quite sunk in. When ESPN or whichever outlet runs down the list of longest active championship droughts in baseball, I still fully expect to hear “Giants” after the obligatory Cubs and Indians. But they no longer carry the third-longest streak without capturing a World Series. They won it in 2010. They’re the defending champions. They rule the neighborhood. Passage runs through the corner of Third and King in downtown San Francisco and the Giants will not grant easy entry.

And at last, they’re back in action.
In spite of what you’re seeing and hearing, they are preparing to play 2011 baseball.

Don’t get me wrong when I say what I’m about to say next. It is great to have such a band of misfits and castoffs on the roster, delighting us with their personalities and interviews as much as they do throwing a ball or swinging a bat. To a man, most if not all of the 2011 Giants are great guys as well as damn good players. And I am fully aware the general interest in any team/athlete who is on top rises about ten-fold—this is why folks in Vallejo, CA flipped out when Manny Pacquiao put on a concert a few months back and understayed his welcome.

That said…just because Aubrey Huff now has a championship ring doesn’t mean his retirement of the “rally thong” deserves its own news report. And it doesn’t mean a whole story must be done on Tim Lincecum’s ponytail and/or mustache. It definitely shouldn’t warrant a crawl reading “Sergio Romo to trim beard during season”. And don’t get me started on the upcoming Showtime series, which about four people will watch if the Giants are lower than third place come mid-season, when the untitled series is set to air.

Nobody cared about the Giants’ off-field lives or eccentrics before they won, and no one will care about them should the team go 78-84 this season. The same crew who just can’t get enough B-Weezy when he’s on top of the world (“Oh, that Wilson. He’s such a character! Fear The Beard!”) will turn on him likethat should he blow three saves in a row (“Wilson is focusing too much on his hair and not enough on baseball”).

I don’t blame the players for milking the ride for all its’ worth. Who knows if they’ll ever even go to the World Series again, let alone win it? Surely, when Willie Mays helped clinch the ’54 trophy in his fourth big-league season, he never thought it would be his only winning World Series (losing in 1962 with SF and 1973 as a Met.)

All I’m saying is—can we prioritize a little? Lincecum’s fastball is more vital to the club than his hairdo, and too much of any good thing is just that. If we aren’t careful, the whole team could end up with Barry Bonds heads.

Jeff Kent is in camp as a “special instructor”. Not quite on the level of Ted Williams’ return to Boston in 1999, but remember just how bad of terms Kent left the team on, and that he finished his career with four years in Dodger blue. But this is a new era: the Giants are champs, hard feelings are gone, and all that matters now are the six Hall-of-Fame seasons Kent spent in orange and black. 

The infamous recording of Greg Anderson sharing Bonds’ steroid use with a third party will be admissible in federal court—his trial starts 3/21—but six of 11 felony charges brought against him were dropped. YAWN; I’m already as sick of this as you are.

First official spring game is Friday, 2/25 against the D’backs. In all the team will play 35 times, which includes three split-squad affairs. Their first telecast will be 3/7 on CSN against the slightly-retooled Texas Rangers. Cliff Lee and Vlad Guerrero, who helped the Giants more than the Rangers in the World Series, are no longer with the team.

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