Tuesday, July 15, 2014

It rhymes with July

(Another baseball post. Best move along. It's only fair: I ignored your World Cup. Who won? Never mind.)

Now what?

What now?

Do I spend the next three days in grief — or relief — over the loss of baseball?

And don't say "All-Star®™ Game." We've been over that before. It's three more days without baseball. Period.

The horrid, tailspinning San Francisco Giants finished the first half of the season — really closer to two-thirds — in one microcosmic, orgasmic, spasmic show of promise Sunday.

They did something unprecedented in Major League Baseball — their starting catcher (Buster Posey) and starting pitcher (Madison Bumgarner; no sniggering over the name) hit grand slams. The broadcasters, tired of narrating long days of loss, let it all go over the air, screaming as the home runs screamed into the bleachers.

Similarly, the crowd went wild.

But the Giants also threatened to give up the huge 8-1 lead until the relief pitchers, performing against type the last month and a half, shut down the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-4 (the worst team in the division by far), ushering in the All-Star©® break.

What team will emerge on the other side of the break, after this dark time when baseball resumes Friday?

Will the Giants put it back together again? Will the starters all pitch strong through six or seven innings? Will batters whack those crucial two-out singles and doubles, robbing opponents of oxygen? Will fielders keep it all contained with brilliant plays, and relief pitchers conspire to keep foes off the bases?

You know, like the Giants did in the opening months, lovely April and May?

Or will it be this horrible June Swoon which has become a July Swoon? Will Marco Scutaro, out for much of last season and this with a bad back, return to win in the clutch, like long ago, or will his back take him out again? Will this inexplicable (though probably plain as day) collapse continue, August and September swoons of dismaying descent?

This time last year, the Giants were similarly hamstrung, so to speak, centerfielder Angel Pagan out with a hamstring injury. It was so weird for the Giants on Saturday to distribute bobble-head dolls of Pagan sliding in home for an inside-the-park game-winning home run — the same play that put him out for months.

Pagan is out again this year, bad back this time, which is usually much worse, and information about him has gone dark. No timetable for a return.

Statistics show the Giants play better and win more with Pagan. But his fragile body gives scores of tormented fans on talk radio reason to suggest the Giants move on without him.

If only the Giants had someone to trade, someone in the farm system to take his place and his lead.

Team President Larry Baer told radio interviewers last week the cavalry isn't coming. A savior is not on the way.

This is the really weird, tense, interesting, exasperating time of baseball. The Giants, still only a game out of first place behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, despite the free-fall, are one of those teams that will consider big moves to win it all this year. They will indeed search for the savior they said won't arrive.

That means sacrificing part of the team's future for something expensive and immediate from the teams that have already lost hope for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the deep-pockets Dodgers will do the same and haul in the big finds to win the division and move on. Expect a David-vs.-Goliath showdown, exceedingly relatively speaking.

It means gambling that the payoff works this season and doesn't hurt the team too much in the next few years.

For — a trophy? More money? More butts in the seats? Our deathless devotion? I guess so.

They got mine. The race resumes Friday. What's gonna show up?

Three more days I wait.

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