For at least one night, the season didn’t seem lost. Far from it. The Arizona Diamondbacks scored a run in the first inning, threatened to score far more, and resourceful fans throughout the ballpark were pondering how to best use their rally rags to clean up kitchen spills and dry their cars this weekend.
It’s amazing what five extra base hits can do for a team, isn’t it?
Maybe the vets have something in the tank after all. Plate discipline and homers. Incredible defense. And that’s just Cody Ross, who looks to be embarking on a brand new money-making opportunity known as the “contract month.” Maybe it was the first sight of Buster Posey around these parts in several days. Maybe it was the sense of desperation brought by a six-game deficit. Maybe it was the Orange Friday crowd that’s normally a little feistier (drunker, too) than every other day of the week, propelled to a higher state of euphoria by the rally rags that way too many people call out as being a “gimmick” or for “bandwagon fans.”
Sorry, but rally rags are damn cool. They look great, they give the crowd extra life, and they don’t hurt anybody. Sure, they aren’t traditional, but waving a rally rag isn’t like doing “the wave,” something that pulls attention away from the game. And if we really want to go old school, then we should all wear suits and fedoras to the game and smoke like chimneys, right?
Plus, every player I heard talk about Friday night’s game mentioned the atmosphere, the fans and the rally rags. And not one reporter prodded a player by mentioning anything about an orange towel of any kind. This team fed off the fans last year, and if they’re going to pull off the nearly impossible this season they’re going to need all the help they can get, and baby giraffe hats won’t cut it.
Bottom line: the Giants should give out small orange towels to the fans for the rest of the series. Why not? This team’s rally rag winning percentage has to be near .700. Granted, they’re only given out when the team’s good, the fans are plentiful and the games are important. But when the Giants do the right things on the field and all that orange is swirling in the stands, it seems like it’s that much easier for the other team to throw in the … sorry, couldn’t resist.
Ross had his best game of the year, but so did Carlos Beltran, who was absolutely locked in. His homer to left was deep into the bleachers, but his first hit, that opposite field triple off the right field bricks, was even more impressive. Only a select few right-handed hitters alive can hit a ball like that. And for those wondering if he can run, that triple showed that Beltran is from the Barry Bonds school of conserving energy. And if that means more homers or even 4-hit games are in the future, nobody’s complaining.
It felt like a playoff game in a number of ways, and that’s what the Giants needed. They aren’t built for easy-breezy, blowout wins against mediocre teams. They’ve been to the mountaintop, and in a baseball sense, they’re jaded. Tonight they were in the position they feel most comfortable in: no margin for error, fans going crazy, dog days a quickly fading memory. Cody Ross talks about it here:
— I’ve been in the press box quite a lot over the past few weeks, and this whole not-cheering thing is becoming habitual, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. So it was perfect timing that my wife’s friend Dani and her husband Brett offered us two of their four field club seats, sort of a double date (but not really, since I’m a jerk who needs his laptop — and coffee mixed with instant cocoa — and spent half the game in the press box). Nice to be able to cheer, although I had the urge to look back and make sure none of the media people were looking down on me, both literally and figuratively. As if they even know who I am — other than as that weird Flip Cam guy.
— Speaking of Flip Cam, I’m starting to realize why the beat guys don’t want to add video to their arsenal. (Well, other than the sluggish upload times on YouTube, which mean tonight I won’t get out of here until after midnight … but I’m not going to complain because anybody who complains about watching and documenting sports should go and find the nearest cubicle and wither away there.) When you ask a question that doesn’t come out right, or the player/manager doesn’t really like all that much, you can’t hide.
— With that said, here goes. I asked Carlos Beltran a question on how important communicating with your teammates is when you’re struggling. Only problem is I meant struggling as a team offensively. I didn’t mean to imply that Beltran sucks — which of course is how he took it. After all was said and done, I think he realized I meant no disrespect.
— And here’s me asking Ross a perfectly complimentary question about his diving catch down the left field line. Ross, to his credit, didn’t fall victim to my “gotcha journalism.”
— Matt Cain was his normal Cainer self tonight, eight innings of rock-solid pitching. It’s going to be swell when he manages the Giants in 2022.
— Ratto had the line of the night, when he opened up Bruce Bochy’s postgame press conference by asking, “Can you identify the team in the orange shirts, please?”
— Speaking of CSN, one of the most laugh-worthy moments came when a guy came up to the press box and called out, “Hi Amy!” … to Jaymee Sire. She didn’t seem impressed.
— Press box fried chicken was the bomb tonight. Of course, as Warriorsworld would say, “Nobody Cares Though.”
— Sitting in the crowd (not the press box) in the moments following Santiago Casilla’s strikeout of the 78-year-old Geoff Blum, a dad (or grandpa, it really doesn’t matter) in front of me turned around and went for the high-five. Damn right I took advantage of that opportunity. One thing about the press box, I missed high-fiving strangers. (And yes, I might get my credential revoked for some of the things I’m admitting in this post.)
— A lot of people on Twitter (okay, two or three) keep bothering me to ask Bochy about Pat Burrell’s actions in the dugout, where he almost acts like a bench coach for Bochy. Somebody else asked a question along those lines and Bochy’s answer wasn’t that interesting, just that Burrell pulls for his teammates and really cares about every at-bat even when he’s hurt — or something. I did ask Bochy a question about Burrell, only it had to do with what he did on the field tonight.
BASG: Pat Burrell had a strikeout and two walks but saw an incredible amount of pitches for those three at-bats. How does that change the way your offense goes when he’s in there and you see a lot more pitches?
Bochy: Well, we talked about that the last couple weeks how we missed him. The quality ABs that he gives you. Buster was that way last year, when you have those two guys in the lineup they grind out at-bats so well. And he doesn’t get a hit but you’re right, he finds a way to get on base and works the count so well. So that was big for us, having a guy in there doing that.
That’s the thing with Burrell, he doesn’t just provide us with easy jokes about Marina-cruising. His approach at the plate, and his ability to let other guys on the team watch more pitches from the dugout in a single at-bat than they normally would in two innings without him around, really helped tonight. That, and the rally rags. Call me a bandwagoner if you want, but the view from the press box and the seats tonight was enhanced when those things were waving around.