Baseball is a game of passions and joys, but over the last three weeks it has been a game of despair for the San Francisco Giants and their fans. In one of the most miserable stretches in recent memory the Giants have dropped and amazing 16 of 19 and 14 of 16 to fall into last place in the National League West.
For the loyal, grinding “can’t miss a game” fan this negative ebb is not a surprise. Its simply part of this wonderful game that we all love. For all of the Giants success over the last couple of years in winning two of the last three World Series Championships; real fans know the other shoe can drop at any time.
IT HAS DROPPED
The wear-and-tear of two deep post-season runs appears to be affecting what was a strength of this team. Giants pitching has faltered significantly. Tim Lincecum has lost 5 miles per hour on his fastball and is an average right-hander. Matt Cain is not locating his pitches and has also lost velocity. Madison Bumgarner is still young and good and should be considered the anchor.
The Giants offense right now is virtually non-existent. Buster Posey is hitting but that’s about it. Hunter Pence is inconsistent and Pablo Sandoval is eating himself out of the game and out of a big contract. While Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are nice players, they are not corner-stone offensive players. This unpredictability is hurting the Giants and causing General Manager Brian Sabean to reassess. The Giants minor league system is not flush with prospects. It was recently rated 28th out of 30 by Baseball America meaning the Giants have some work to do. Most of their best prospects are at the Low-A level.
This titanic shift in Giants fortunes is also causing a voracious fan base to conduct their own reality checks. Living in Northern California it has been nothing but “Giants this” and “Giants that” for the last three years. But now we are seeing the difference between the casual “johnny-come-lately” fan and the true fan that lived and died with this team through the years.
I really like talking and conversing with these “lifers” as I like to call them. These Giants fans know the game and can converse at more than a pedestrian level about their team. I love when a Giant fan can break down the 1991 rotation and how Trevor Wilson owned the Dodgers in two late season match-ups. If a Giant fan hasn’t heard of Mike Ivie or Johnnie Lee LeMaster, then I don’t want to hear from you. The fact is, I have heard more from these “band-wagoneers” over the last three years than the true and real Giants fan. It happens with all winning teams, but this “band-wagonism” is annoying none-the-less and it happened so fast and with such frequency during the Giants title runs, that it simply pre-disposes me to be annoyed with all Giants fans.
So, with the Giants recent slide I am hearing two different reactions. The “lifer” says it has been a great run but its time to jettison some players, re-build the minor league system and re-group. This TOTALLY makes sense. I love talking about these types of moves with “lifers.” Then you have the recent converts….Guh !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They don’t understand the ebb and flow of baseball. They don’t get that it is not easy to win a World Series. They don’t get that championship teams are built from ground-up and just don’t happen. They are honestly completely confused and disgusted by what is happening with their 2013 San Francisco Giants. Pragmatic they are not. They will argue until they are red in the face that the Giants are “one hitter away” and that the Giants simply need to start playing better……Duh !
Are the Giants out of it ? No. But, are they in a transitional period where they have to critically analyze their organization and start preparing for the future ? Yes. The difference is knowledgeable fans get this and understand the organizational overhaul that is needed. Recent converts will bragadociously tell you that they are the World Series Champions and that this team needs to just start playing better and that your team “sucks.”
Ah, the joys of rivalry, bad-blood and baseball. It’s a beautiful thing. You just have to pick and choose who you choose to wage this verbal warfare with.