This is a long-overdue check-in with the San Francisco Giants.
Has anyone but me noticed that the Dodgers have lost five straight? That is just such a shame, you know, because that means that the San Francisco Giants just might actually have a chance this season. Fans frequently have a hard time remembering that the baseball season is 162 games long, and that teams that get off to quick starts, must sustain their intensity for an entire season. Otherwise, the hot air that they spew early on, provides a great deal of motivation for the teams in the rear-view mirror.
Right now, one-third of the way through the season, the Giants are four games above .500, matching a season high, and they have yet to see Timmy emerge from his funk. If we can have made the adjustment to Wilson and Sandoval’s absence, and still been able to make progress, imagine where we will be, when Pablo comes back and Timmy gets on track. I have said it before and I will say it again. Don’t you worry about Timmy.
Examine just a few of the emerging components of the Giants 2012 team. Start with my personal favorite, Gregor Blanco, the single most intriguing new Giant this spring. He has seized control of the leadoff position, and is showing the league how it’s done. This spot in the lineup is critical and it appears the Giants have scored big-time. Gregor provides a spark reminiscent of Andres Torres, and creates havoc for the opposing pitcher, when he gets on base.
Secondly, we have Joaquin Arias, the player taxed with replacing the Panda. The Giants tried several candidates for this slot, before Arias settled into place. That’s the kind of depth a team must have, in order to be able to sustain its drive when key injuries occur. Last year we were unable to plug that prominent gap at the catching spot, and we lost out in August and September. This year, maybe not.
So why is Blanco more intriguing than Melky? Because Melky is producing the way Sabean figured he would, albeit at a much higher level. Blanco is still an unknown commodity, injuries and timing having played a key role in his career so far. Now he has melded with an aggressive blend of teammates, to show the baseball world how it is done.
Melky Cabrera set an SF Giants team record for the number of base hits in May, besting Willie Mays’s 1958 May effort, and Blanco was on the base paths in front of him, setting the pace. Melky has more hits than any player in the National League, and is heading his team's charge. Together with Angel Pagan, the Giants have furnished their team with a trio of fleet-footed outfielders, who are learning to patrol the unconventional realm of AT&T Park. Listening to Angel at the plate last night, dropping that pop fly in, just in front of the onrushing Cubs right fielder, made me chortle.
Right fielders coming into our yard have to make a decision, every time a player steps to home plate. Guard against a ball getting past and to the wall in Triples Alley, or guard the line? One guy can’t do both, unless he has been there and done it before. Nate Schierholtz has demonstrated how it is done, but is still struggling to establish himself as a force to be contended with every day. Meanwhile, opponents get to have the joy of on-the-job-training in right field, with 40,000 fans screaming at them.
Finally, take a gander at Santiago Casilla, and tell me that we have not plugged one of the most gaping holes in our team’s effort to climb back into contention last season. He has stepped up with authority, slamming the door in the ninth effectively, with a lot less drama than Brian Wilson. Drama is OK if it gets the job done, but efficiency is more desirable. Helps keep the “t” word out of the broadcast booth. I do not associate torture with baseball. Tension yes, because a good game always includes tension, but not torture.
The only torture I have experienced this season, has been listening to discussion about how the Dodgers were running away with the title. I have great respect for Matt Kemp, but he is now experiencing technical difficulties. It is a part of the game, and affects a team’s performance. Personally, I look forward to the continuation of the season series, because the Giants are a team on the rise, not one trying to maintain its edge on a slippery slope.
Torture? Bring it on. Just make sure there is plenty of popcorn, peanuts and cold lemonade. I like to be fat and sassy while I watch our players administer the rack to a team that tortures me just by being on the same field. I heard the Dodgers bleed blue. I’d like to see that. Let’s create a new version of the Black Sea, and make it a Blue Sea. At the end of the season, they can rechristen it the Dead Sea, because that will be more descriptive. Go Giants!