Top of the 9th: A Fitting End

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…

Photo courtesy of Yours Truly.

3 thoughts on “Top of the 9th: A Fitting End”

  1. Heya Cove. Rough end to a pretty rough season. *sigh* Hope married life (and everything else) is treating you well. I’ve waited for you post something, just so I could ask you… How ’bout your pick- Benintendi? Golly. I haven’t forgotten.

    Any chance we can just have JBJ from Boston? I mean, logjam and all. I’d be happy for us to help ’em out. lol. This winter, my randomest-of-all hope is that we trade w/ CIN for Michael Lorenzen. I think it’s possible he’s got elite closer potential. And more. Any thoughts? Cheers. Dream big…

    1. Hey Carmot, thanks for checking in! It was a damn rough season, wasn’t it? Things are going well around here. Hope the same for you. Benintendi looks like he belongs… thanks for remembering. I love the Giants & would never give anything back, but I do feel a little envious looking at Boston’s young core of position players.
      I don’t know a ton about Lorenzen, besides him being a two-way guy at CSUF (right?). It’s just so hard to project closers, I really don’t know. I don’t see one in the organization presently, but I do think Law makes a pretty nice 8th inning setup man.
      By the way, was it Moore you had been calling for last year, or one of the other Tampa SP? Thanks again for hanging around.

  2. Hey Cove, indeed a rough season. But there were some brilliant things mixed in, too. Traded for NOT RENTALS is at the top of my list. And thank you for remembering, yes, I had hoped on trading for Moore. Geez, I severely OVERvalued him. I figured once he recovered his health there was no way we’d land him. I expected we needed to assume all the risk and the blown salary during his rehab. And for Duffy + others? An Achille’s injury is no small thing- especially for an IF who earns his paycheck on speed + range, not dingers. They traded Moore like he was a mid/low #4, I value him as a low #2/high #3 with potential to be a low ace. And his cost-controlled options!!! You just don’t get guys like him. Plus, we’ve already improved him w/ Bum’s cutter and more frequent use of his changeup.

    BOS has a ton of OF. Let’s get JBJ! And Brock Holt while we’re dreaming. But George Springer would be my #1 target. lol. I just don’t see our bullpen being strong enough, with just a closer added. I agree, Law is reasonable for the 8th right now. I don’t know how soon we’d produce a closer. Moronta, Black, Rodolfo, maybe a few other internal candidates. Maybe a power arm like Jordan Johnson converts to relieving? I thought Jake Smith was in the running- now he’s in SD. Gardeck was released, don’t know if he re-signs after his TJS rehab. *sigh*

    Michael Lorenzen is THE guy I hope for now. If you’re interested, I just wrote him up. (Forgive me, I’m really not here to “promote” my blog. Always, I appreciate your well-informed conversation). And then get one more like Kelvin Herrera, Alex Colome, David Robertson, or maybe Greg Holland? Thoughts?

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