Friday, March 29, 2013

Boch, Sabes, and Gordo

"The glory days of the franchise are now."
--Larry Baer

Can't argue with that. In a thoroughly expected move, the Giants extended both GM Brian Sabean and Manager Bruce Bochy through 2016. They earned it, that's for sure. The Giants are on top of the baseball world. After Game Six, the quick exit from the 2003 playoffs, and the horrifying collapse at the end of the following season, I reached my nadir as a fan. Sabes was my target and I blamed him for everything. When the Giants picked up Boch, I thought he was just another re-tread, and my angst spiraled into despair. It's nice to be proved wrong. As the product on the field was falling apart, the organization was being revitalized from the inside with talent both in the minors and the front office, and the result was two championships and a legitimate shot at more. The Giants not only have everything now--young stars, a beautiful park, smart people in charge, good fans, fancy rings--they also have a bright, "gotta wear shades" future. If I need something to worry about I think it might be that other teams will try to lure away all those bright minds (like Dick Tidrow, Bobby Evans, John Barr, et al.) who make up the Baseball Operations department. Fortunately the Giants seem committed to keeping their people together and rewarding them appropriately for their hard work. As a fan, you can't ask for much more. On the field and off, the Giants are the best. I've wanted to say that my whole life, and now it is true.

Speaking of true, Pablo Sandoval is a fat guy. This we know. Every year,  it seems, we have that weighty issue to address. Our happy-go-lucky Gordo is a hell of a ballplayer even if he does look more like a bowling pin than a third baseman. One of my favorite things about baseball is that athletes of all sizes and shapes can play it. Basketball is all about height, and football is all about bulk. Soccer players (with a few exceptions like the sublime Lionel Messi) are all 6' and 185 lbs. and look like they are cut from the same mold. I suppose I should have said 1.83 m and 84 kg, but you get my drift. There is just not a lot of variation in body type in that sport. Baseball is unique, you can be built like Prince Fielder or Tim Lincecum and still find success on the field. It's one of the reasons our national pastime appeals to me so much, and I'd hate to see the Jenny Craig-ing of America ruin that. Clearly, the Panda has work to do. He has to battle the bulge if he wants to stay on top of the game. Fans (and management) have the right to expect their athlete-entertainers to be at their best when they put on the uniform. But uniqueness and individuality are important, too. The best team wins in baseball, but a team is a collection of singular types, and the sport remains lively and interesting because Marco Scutaro inhabits the same universe as Hunter Pence. I remember watching Dave Winfield and Ozzie Smith back in the day when they were both Padres. It would have taken three Ozzies to fill out the big rightfielder's uniform! That's one thing--the Freddie Patek-Frank Howard continuum--I hope never changes.

The title defense starts Monday in Los Angeles. GO GIANTS!



Zo said...

Or, a soccer player in Britain would be 6 feet and 13 stones.

Ron said...

Although I must quibble with your comments on the homogeneity of soccer players*, this is an excellent & eloquent post. We are now a high-class organization, funneling both home-grown & acquired talent into a well-managed blender that is producing superior results. For the most part, we also seem to be an exemplary organization off-the-field. Barring injuries, we have the ability to begin every single season with a lot of optimism. Winning-it-all is a tricky proposition requiring the alignment of various stars, but being competitive & challenging for the post-season on an annual basis, while already having a couple of titles under out belts, is about as great a place for any Team's fans to be.

* You have described the prototypical jinking Midfielder & most outside Fullbacks. Many Strikers, nearly all Central Defenders, & all Goalies are much taller & often larger than that. Midfielders come in many shapes & sizes. However, your are correct in that the plumpness of a Sandoval or a Fielder is not to be found. Cricket, on the other hand, features a few of those porker types, along with a lot of other sizes.