A few days ago I was astride a granite boulder that rested in the scree along the edge of a Sierra lake. I was craning my neck to examine a small plant through a hand lens--it was a wild orchid, the tiny white flowers spiraling up a short stem that clung to a crack in the rock. The afternoon sun had crisped my forearms umber, and the wind whipped my hat enough so that I needed my chin strap. Down the mountain was a stream strewn with Tiger Lillies in the shady spots, and I soaked my hot, tired flesh in a surging pool eddying out from a small waterfall. The butterflies abounded along meadow verges, iridescent Melissa Blues and stately Lorquin's Admirals, and warblers chased each other among the lodgepoles. A few days before that I was dumping my companions and the beer cooler from the canoe and into the Russian River with an unfortunate maneuver. Fortunately, all was recovered, the summer levels being quite low, and we wrestled our craft back to action and finished the float. There were Fourth of July fireworks from an Oakland Hills vista, a famous play in a small theater in the big City, a Sonoma wine-tasting excursion, a seafood dinner along the Carquinez Strait, and many wonderful long days and late nights with family and friends. In short, it was a hell of a holiday.
And speaking of hell, how the hell did this happen? This 2013 Giants team? Poor performances, sure. Key injuries, of course. But collapse? This is not one of the scenarios I envisioned. At the very worst, I thought this a .500 club. I did not believe this team was capable of playing this poorly. Every baseball team puts up stretches of .350 ball. Sometimes it even lasts a whole season--just ask the Astros. But this sustained run of bad baseball is a shocker. On May 12th, the Giants had just taken three of four from the Braves and were 23-15, in first place in the West by two games. They've gone 19-35 since, including a stretch where they lost 16 of 19. They are now in fourth place, 6-1/2 back, fighting it out with the Padres for the booby prize.
The 2009 Giants won their 42nd game on July 1st (Game 77). The 2010 Giants won their 42nd game on July 5th (Game 82). The 2011 Giants won their 42nd game on June 24th (Game 76). The 2012 Giants won their 42nd game on June 26th (Game 75). The 2013 Giants piled it on in San Diego last night, finally racking up win 42 on July 12th, their 92nd game. That's the kind of math I don't like. In terms of seasonal innings, Games 73-90 constituted their fifth 18-game cluster, and cluster it was. They went 3-15, an unimaginable stretch of bad luck and worse ball-playing. That's 11-7, 10-8, 8-10, 8-10, and the unfathomable 3-15 for the five innings. On a bright note, two wins in Games 91 and 92 gets the sixth frame started off with a nice 2-0 record. If you break it down by month, April was 15-12, May 14-13, June a swooning 10-17, and July a wretched 3-8. If any team could use an All-Star Break, it's San Francisco.
I'm back home, my friends. I'm plugged in again. I'll admit that I took a vacation from the Giants as well--when I go AWOL I go all the way. I did not know about Homer Bailey beating Tim Lincecum and his mates with a no-hitter. I did not know about Zack Wheeler besting Matt Cain and the boys, Matty throwing his shortest start ever, on the heels of getting clobbered by the Dodgers. What's up with Cain? I'm dumbfounded. We watched Tim be just about the lousiest starter in the NL last year, now we get the pleasure of doing it all over again, this time with no. 18. I swear I have not insulted the gods! In fact, I make my regular offerings, just like always. Perhaps more drastic measures are needed. Thanks for holding down the fort in my absence.