Has it really been six months since my last post? Man. For the few folks out there who actually dedicated their time to following this site, I really am sorry. I could have at least put out some dead-end signs to warn you. Just one of those seasons, I suppose.
And boy, was it one of those years. The slow start, the torrid June, the murky waters for the Shark, the injuries, the inept second-half offense, Cueto & Bumgarner, the trade deadline, losing Duffy, losing the division, losing leads… And that bullpen. Damn that bullpen. This season wasn’t without its great moments (like absolutely owning the Dodgers in the early going, and again on the final weekend), but it sure was a trying one, wasn’t it?
About two weeks into September, I reached my breaking point. I had such high hopes for this team, especially with the revamped rotation (which was still one of the best in baseball, as Game Score will prove – more on that in a future post), but we were two weeks from October ball, and this just wasn’t a playoff team. Not to me, anyway.
And somehow, they still found a way. It doesn’t matter how many championships you see, there’s still nothing like the postseason. Just ask Conor Gillaspie.
After missing my chance for three years, I decided I wouldn’t let another opportunity slip by. Within minutes of the final out at Citi Field, my wife and I had tickets for Game 3 at The Yard. I can’t remember being more giddy, nervous, excited, everything all at once for a baseball game. Watching the best postseason pitcher of my time (maybe anytime!). How could you not be jacked up for that?
Then Jake Arrieta did the most improbable thing he could have possibly done. Even more improbable than getting a 7 spot hung on him and exiting in the first inning, in my humble opinion. I think that’s when it really hit me that we were up against something fierce, something bigger than even the gritty October Giants could handle. Then, when it seemed like all was lost, Conor G. did it again. You talk about improbable… sticking it to Chapman like that was unbelievable stuff, regardless of the inning or inherited baserunner situation.
But Romo couldn’t hold the lead, and those of us with work the next morning and a three-hour drive home just couldn’t justify staying there all night. It would have been awesome to stay, but ultimately I was just grateful for the chance to see October baseball in person. What a feeling.
Those damn Giants though. Three-time champs, and yet they’re perennial underdogs. You thought they had a chance to take down those mighty Cubs, didn’t you? I did. By the 8th inning of game 4, I had fully bought in. Cueto and Lester for all the marbles at Wrigley? Give me the underdogs, and the dude with the flowing dreads. It was all right there. A story waiting to rewrite itself, just as it had done so many times for this club.
You know, I shot a quick message to a good Giants Twitter buddy just before the final series against LA. Just a little conversation starter. “Are the Giants a playoff team,” I asked him. He gave me his take, and like a gentleman asked for mine in return.
“I’m going to say it comes down to the final game, with the bullpen having to protect a late lead to survive. How appropriate would that be?!”
That was September 28th, and I just knew it was coming at some point… I just didn’t know when.
When that first runner reached base on Law in the 9th of Game 4 (I don’t remember who it was… Bryant? I don’t really care to look it up), I wasn’t really sweating. Yes, Law had thrown the night before, but he’d shown some major guts – and stuff – too. Rookie or not, I believed the dude could lock down a THREE-RUN LEAD.
It was in that next moment, when Bochy lifted the kid, that my entire outlook changed. If I had learned anything this season, it was that the Giants were not a closer-by-committee team. For whatever reason, the match-up approach just didn’t work (to be fair, no approach really worked after Casilla fell apart). Maybe you felt the same, maybe not, but I truly believed the Giants chances were shot from the second Law left the game. Nothing after that point surprised me.
The rest, as they say, is history. A lot of great Giants left the mound somberly for likely the final time in their SFG career, and another wept in the locker room that night over not getting a chance at redemption. Just a filthy, rotten, terrible situation. Worst-case scenario at its finest. And yet, you just knew it was coming at some point. The clock had finally struck midnight for the 2016 Giants.
A fitting end to a topsy-turvy season. Until next year.
Thanks for reading…