A confluence of several things brought us to the point where baseball games and comedy mesh to the extent they seem to now. First, a team has to win. Laughing at a losing team is inevitable, and sometimes healthy. But after some derision and mockery of a bad team, the next step is apathy, which means no more laughs and no more fun.
Today winning teams possess armies of fans with both the technological skill and wherewithal to make moments that were completely meaningless (in context of the score of the game) last forever.
But this is about more than just .GIFs.
The 2010 San Francisco Giants were known for torture. This might be colored a bit by Friday night’s game, with all the umpiring weirdness, hit batsmen and balls hitting bases, but the 2012 Giants seem much more relaxed than the 2010 team.
Maybe it starts at the top of the order. In 2010 you’d find Andres Torres, a fan favorite and by all accounts one of the nicest professional athletes ever. Torres is also a guy who’s wound tighter than the inside of a golf ball. The Giants replaced Torres with Angel Pagan, a talented, flashy and slick individual who always seems pretty carefree … except when an umpire calls him out on strikes.
The 2010 squad had Freddy Sanchez hitting second. Watching a Sanchez at-bat that lasted longer than three pitches was enough to make one of your eyelids twitch for a week. Now the Giants had Marco Scutaro, a guy who seems like he would be able to make contact off Sandy Koufax in his prime from Little League distance. Sanchez and Scutaro are similar players in some senses, but their respective demeanors are anything but.
Aubrey Huff was arguably the MVP of that 2010 team, and he’d visibly HEAVE sighs of relief after collecting base hits that year in pressure situations, shaking his head almost as if to say, “I’m too old for this s—.” Huff’s still on the team, but he contributes much more in terms of .GIFs like slapping Ryan Theriot’s ass and hurting his wrist in the process or running the bases like the field was covered with two inches of ice and he was carrying a 90-pound backpack than playing these days.
This is far from a perfect comparison for many reasons — some of the players were on both teams, and guys like Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria never seemed nervous. Also, the obvious answer as to why the current Giants seem so happy-go-lucky lately is the 7.5-game lead over the Dodgers and the rapidly shrinking Magic Number (which now sits at 11, as the Dodgers won on Friday night). With that said, isn’t this team seem to be absurdly blessed when it comes to the comedy department? 2010 had Brian Wilson honing his act and the Burrell-Huff-Thong threesome, but what’s going on here with Ryan Theriot’s eyes? Just what kind of mischief did he get into? I NEED TO KNOW.
When the Giants looked sloppy and RISP-phobic back in April and May, one of the going ideas was they had no one with the clubhouse presence (LEADERSHIP, Y’ALL) to steer this team through Kemp- and Ethier-infested waters. But Hunter Pence said this during his postgame interview with Jon Miller and Mike Krukow about what it’s like to play for San Francisco.
“The chemistry here and just kind of the feel of the club is amazing. It starts with Bochy and the way he leads. It’s a relaxed focus and it kind of makes you comfortable to play and a lot of fun to play. And that’s what we do, we have fun, we believe in each other. It feels like a real team, a team all pulling for each other, all pulling the same direction. It’s really refreshing to play under a manager like Bochy that keeps it that way.”
Doesn’t exactly sound like a rudderless ship. Then again, Pence could be trying to endear himself to his new employer (or maybe he’s especially grateful because Bochy allows him to ride his scooter around the clubhouse). Regardless, all this serious chemistry-speak is missing the point, which is…
It makes me happy that wherever Pagan and Madison Bumgarner are as they sit in the front row (veteran move, by the way) of this roller coaster, they’re wearing the same clothes they always do. If you invited Pagan to your wedding, he might attend … but only if he can wear a synthetic muscle-t. Bumgarner wears all Carhartt everything, always. In a related note, Bumgarner would fit in extremely well in my hometown of Eureka.
Hey, we need another .GIF here! Ooh, that one fit in nicely for a couple of reasons.
While we’re on the subject of Pence, the outfielders jumping up and bouncing off each other at the end of every win is another example of how strangely charming this team is. They run slowly to a point where they’re on the point of converging, stop, then jump gingerly into one another.
It is the opposite of cool. It is Steve Young dancing in the end zone.
That’s why the new OF tradition is funny — it’s not trying too hard, like some elaborate handshake. Or in your face, like “antlers” or other similar gestures.
We’ve gone all this way without describing the Giants’ 6-2 win over the D-Backs — Hunter Pence’s grand slam, Pablo Sandoval’s best game in almost two weeks (even with the throwing error), Matt Cain getting out of jams so dangerous that people would write poetry if Ryan Vogelsong did the same, Jeremy Affelt coming through when needed and Clay Hensley (who I’m pretty sure is the only guy who didn’t pitch on Friday night) creating yet another .GIF in the bullpen. No, it’s not as dirty as it sounds. Totally safe for work (TSFW).
With all that happened during Friday night’s win, it may not be fair … but this was the game where Santiago Casilla got his hit. As a result, nothing else matters. The hit itself wasn’t all that funny, actually. Base hit the other way, going with the pitch. Jairo even got an RBI out of it. What was hilarious was everything before and after.
- Casilla’s at-bat from the on deck circle last year in Miami which ended in a walk.
- Casilla taking Juan Uribe-esque hacks on his way to a strikeout in Milwaukee back in May.
- On the first pitch of Friday night’s Casilla at-bat, he faked a bunt attempt and quickly pulled the bat and his back leg back.
- After hitting the ball through the hole, Casilla tried to run like Torres as he lumbered toward first base — then almost tore his groin in half trying to get back to bag.
- And Hector Sanchez had this reaction.
Perhaps when you have two awkward guys like Pence and Brandon Belt, you can’t help but cause frequent laughter among your audience. You know what else is funny? I wrote all that about the Giants and didn’t mention Buster Posey once.