San Francisco Giants

Giants baseball: how soon we forget last year’s lessons

Yes, the Giants just added another footnote to Astros manager Brad Mills’ resume. That’s right, they scored only one run in six innings off Henry Sosa, the supposedly mediocre prospect they discarded in the Jeff Keppinger trade. Things look bad. The offense looks worse. The weather matches our feelings.

As a guy who writes a blog that, based on its name, should focus on all Bay Area teams, I supposedly have this responsibility to cover everything equally (and if you’re counting, that’s two “supposedly’s” in this post already … we’re off to a rocking start). But you guys know the deal. I’ve been rooting for the Giants for 25 years, and like thousands (millions?) I got caught up in the tsunami of energy that enveloped the Giants and their fans (better known as “us”) in 2010, because how couldn’t I? The Giants’ story was amazing, and their games were even better.

But we’re forgetting something: we were a part of what happened last year, just like the players were.

Remember when the Giants would voluntarily call out the fans for being incredible? I can easily recall Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Buster Posey, Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross and several others voluntarily mentioning how much the crowd helped. And you’d have to be pretty cynical to think that every single Giant in front of a microphone last October/November gave credit to the fans to curry favor. Their contracts are guaranteed. They get paid regardless. The cheering, the chants, the irrational belief in these so-called “misfits” — it all helped.

Remember when the Giants had two-run deficits and the crowd didn’t care? The cheering would start, it would subsequently build, and the team would actually follow?

Did I just imagine last season? Weren’t east coast fans in amazement at the environment at Mays Field? Didn’t guys like Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark marvel at what was going on here?

What happened?

All of us — beat writers, bloggers (myself included) and fans have become addicted to snark. Yes, the Giants haven’t exactly given us a lot to cheer for offensively. Huff sucks this year, and a lot of the other veterans would love to have Huff’s production. But one of the things I thought we learned last season was that the key to making a difference as fans — and with all these sellouts, we might as well do something besides consume things — is to push the action with our voices and energy.

There’s nothing wrong with making jokes about the Giants’ futility, their veteran love and whatever else. But did the fans’ formerly aggressive nature get crushed at the same time as Buster Posey’s ankle? Maybe the beginning of this season, with all those fluky walkoff wins, made it seem like defending the World Series title — or at least the NL West — would be easy.

The Giants are claiming questionable sellouts these days, and tonight many of the people who actually showed up left early. Hey, if we want to be Atlanta, fine. But after last season, the parade, a love-filled offseason and the crazy crowds that started this year, I doubt that’s how any of us want this to go down.

The intellectual side of all of us wants to rip what’s going on, because with a pitching staff like this it seems like there should be easy answers. But with the injuries that have hit this team, the Giants need help. It isn’t coming from the waiver wire, or the farm system. These guys won last year, and they didn’t win because they’re so much better at baseball than everyone else. They won because they had great pitching and got hot, but that hot streak was caused in part by a marriage of lovable players and the fans who loved them crushing teams with energy that doesn’t show up on Fangraphs.

Now, the fans both at the park and online are sitting back and waiting to be entertained. Remember, it’s a lot more entertaining when we’re a part of it.

Okay, rant over. Don’t leave early tomorrow, no matter what.

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