Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Triple ka-thud!*

Don't let it get to me … don't let it get to me … don't let it get to me …

The Giants are bad.

Can't pitch! Even the ace of the staff, Matt Cain, makes me hyperventilate, wondering when the next third-inning shelling will rain down on him, and the batters will hit around. Starters walking batters, then immediately giving up runs on timely hits.

And don't get me started about Tim Lincecum and why he's not in the bullpen, where he did so well during the postseason last year.

Can't hit! If they looked over at the opponents' dugouts, they'd see players who can hit. Maybe they want to take notes.

Marco Scutaro, so consistent I'd be suspicious if I wasn't a Giants fan, is striking out. Looking! He never does that!

Too many times in which, with runners in scoring position, Giants needing runs, the opposing pitcher showing barely perceptible signs he's tired, and the next Giants hitter swings at the first pitch! for a week inning-ending grounder. Ohfergawdsakes!

Can't field! Can't field! Magicians of defense, almost all of 'em. Now they can't find their asses with both hands. Balls gettin' by 'em. Balls fallin' between 'em! Outfielders overthrowing the cutoff in vain attempts to make the big out, and giving up runs instead. Giving up runs with sloppy play.

Now players are hurt. Angel Pagan is out of the outfield with a hamstring pull. Pablo Sandoval is out — again! — with a foot injury. In each of the last two seasons, he sat out when surgeons had to remove the hamate bone from one hand and then the other. We didn't even know what a hamate bone was, but I'm sure doctors will now find one in his foot and remove it and thus the Panda from the lineup. Then the other shoe will fall the season after next.

The last of the Giants are just now getting over the flu. 

How did this happen? You bring back all but four of the players from last year, when you won the World Series, you should come out like champions. Instead, others are championing your defeat.

The St. Louis Cardinals, with the best record in baseball, were the latest to pound the Giants, as if taking revenge on San Francisco's wild come-from-behind National League championship last season. Cain nearly pitched a perfect game in his win — if we ignore the third inning (my preference), in which the Cardinals got seven runs on nine hits. The Giants took the last game in the series, showing the old spark, but looked utterly without hap in the first two.

Today San Francisco hosts the Toronto Blue Jays, who last month made the Giants look like cricket players trying to learn this strange American game. Maybe today the Giants will turn things around, maybe they won't.

That's baseball.

It's true: Good teams "scuffle" (baseball euphemism for suck) and lose games in great batches, then start winning again. Cellar dwellers pull out win streaks from who knows where, and make good teams scuffle.

And that's entertainment, and owners hope fans see it that way and continue to buy tickets and buy Fords®© and Mitsubishi™® air conditioning systems and Solar Co.®© sun panels to keep the lights on at AT&T park.

It's entertaining to watch speedy Gregor Blanco, filling in for the injured Pagan in the leadoff spot, swing at the very first pitch of the game for an out, instead of making the pitcher show what he's got, instead of bluffing a bunt and making the pitcher nervous he'll get on and steal second and then third. Really, it is! Entertaining! The result is that I storm out of the room in disgust (and listen to the game on the radio in my office instead), and that's entertaining to my family.

Small comfort comes knowing thousands of other fans share my frustration. Some share it harder than others. Calls flying into the radio talk shows call for the Giants buying the best pitcher available for a huge contract comprising just two starts, or until pitcher Ryan Vogelsong's broken hand heals. Others want wholesale lineup changes, with prospects from the Triple-A club. Some, as usual, want General Manager Brian Sabean fired. Someone always wants Sabean fired, no matter the record.

My own loony idea, which I won't proffer on a radio show, is to have the Giants forfeit a game. Go fishing, hang out at the beach, take a mental break that doesn't involve letting a fly ball skip under your glove. Of course, I'm not thinking it through, all the money the Giants would lose in ticket sales, broadcast shares, unprecedented fines from Major League Baseball, not to mention the irreparable damage to the team's reputation, dubbed quitters from that day on.

But they need to stop the world and get off somehow, order a do-over.

The worst part about the Giants losing are the Giants radio commercials, which of course celebrate the Giants winning so you will buy tickets to the game.

Featuring breathless play-by-play, they invoke the gum-swallowing miracle of Giants baseball.

"Posey (crack!) left-centerfield, hits it high!" Duane Kuiper will shout. "Hits it DEEP! It's OUTTA HERE! And we are GOING HOME!"

"Crawford coming around third, he'll score," announcer Dave Flemming builds steam. "And Pagan COMING AROUND THIRD, and FLANNERY'S GONNA SEND HIM! Here comes the relay! Pagan slides! HE'S SAFE! IT'S AN INSIDE-THE-PARK HOME RUN AND THE GIANTS WIN IT 6-5! MY GOODNESS!"

That hurts. These wonderful outcomes happened only a couple of weeks ago, but it feels longer. Like it never happened. Like it's myth.

KNBR, the Giants' flagship station, needs a special set of commercials to bring fans down easily. Something like, "The Giants need some runners here …" or "Plenty of baseball left …" Less pomp, more circumstance.

Times like these also make Mike Krukow a nuisance. He's the Giants' color commentator, a former Giants pitcher adored by listeners because he gives you a player's insights and tells wonderful stories all with a players patois.

When the Giants sour, though, it's a lot of ptooey.

Krukowisms begin to stale. For an opponent's strikeout: "Grab some pine, meat!" For just about any woman wearing Giants' paraphernalia in the stands: Gamer babe. For a Giant getting a third hit of game: "Have a night, (insert name here)!"

"Thank you very nice!" Krukow will say when a player gets a lucky bounce. "Atta babe," for anything good. Lately he overuses the phrase "count leverage," when a batter has a 2-1 or 3-1 count and can expect the next to be a good pitch to hit.

Those don't torment me so much as when he presents the teams' defense (always to the backdrop of what sounds like a '70s porn movie, for some reason) at the start of the game, and he just HAS to say that the catcher is "in the SKWaaaHHHT, putting down the signs." He doesn't say, "And catching is Buster Posey," or "Buster Posey is behind the plate." No, he's always "in the SKWaaaaHHHT." I hate that, and even more when the Giants are losing.

Also, he promotes Coors Light®©, which he always describes as "the world's most refrrrrrrrr(rolling his r's here)rrrrreshing … beeyear." Aaauuuugh! Nails on the aural chalkboard.

No better tonic than a Giants win — or two, or three — to help me tolerate the Krukowisms.

I know I said I didn't care if the Giants didn't win the World Series again, because they'd won two in the last three years. But I didn't realize how hard it would be watch them play like mortals.

I'll get over it. Next win.

Atta babe.

*Yet another Krukowism, for any botched play.

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