The first time I entered the Giants’ clubhouse was Tim Lincecum’s last start. And what a glorious Wednesday night it was. Rap music was playing. People were actually talking with one another, players and reporters alike — the players that stuck around, anyway. The Giants were going through a rough stretch way back on Aug. 24, but Lincecum was there to make everyone feel better. Brighter days were ahead.
Maybe not. Who knows, the Giants could catch fire tomorrow and ride a hot September into the postseason, where everyone always figured they’d end up until things started turning for the worse exactly a month before Monday’s loss to the Cubs — July 29, the day of that 13 inning loss in Cincinnati. But even after that frustrating loss, the clubhouse couldn’t have been any quieter than the one I witnessed on Monday night. Andrew Baggarly posted his notes a little while ago, saying, “The clubhouse has been very empty after losses this season.”
Baggarly did a fantastic job describing the scene in the clubhouse — you could cut the awkwardness with a spork. It started shortly after Randy Wells struck out Pablo Sandoval to notch his first career complete game shutout. Everyone filed into the press conference room, then we all realized that nobody sat in the middle of the front row of seats facing the podium. After a minute, we were told Bruce Bochy would be available in his office (a somewhat rare occurrence, from what I gathered), so we headed down the concourse to Bochy’s office.
Once we were actually allowed entrance to Bochy’s office — the door was closed when the ten or so of us first entered the clubhouse — I was wondering if everything would be strewn around or if Miguel Tejada would be on his way out literally holding a set of walking papers (no such luck). It would’ve been surprising if Bochy wasn’t at his wit’s end after falling behind the D-Backs by 5 games and looking so horrible at the game of baseball in the process. But the evidence on Bochy’s face that he’d reached his breaking point was startling, at least to me. Back when I was a kid, I knew I my dad was upset if he raised his voice or dropped a curse word or two. If I did something stupid and he was smiling, uh oh. ABORT MISSION.
Bochy was smiling while he talked tonight. Though he was courteous and professional, the potential for volatility was there. Not toward us, but his frustration was palpable.
Bochy suggested we should find our answers in the clubhouse. No such luck, but here’s what I noticed on Monday…
— I got to the park early, but I was unclear on clubhouse access before games — to be specific, I didn’t realize there’s a window of time every day before batting practice when the media can walk into the clubhouse. As a result, I was sitting in the press box while Miguel Tejada spoke with reporters about his pathetic display after Ron Wotus asked him to bunt on Sunday. It would have been nice to see exactly what Tejada’s expression was when he spouted winning lines like, “I don’t want to do that job, but I did it, right? My body language or whatever, that doesn’t matter.” I promise to make sure I’m in the right places at the right times during the next Giants mini-drama.
— Tejada came out during the middle of BP with a sour look on his face, but while on the field he chatted with Guillermo Mota, took quite a few grounders at short and some swings in the cage. According to Wotus, “You deal with stuff like that every day.” Good to hear.
— Bochy’s office is on the narrow side, but it goes back quite a ways. On the long walk to his desk (okay, only 20 feet or so, but it seemed longer) I saw a wine cooler (storage cabinet, not beverage) on the left, filled to the brim with several bottles. Besides that the office is pretty much what you’d expect after watching “The Franchise.” Some Giants-centric pictures on the wall, a desk, some leather chairs surrounding the desk, a pet hamster named “Gamer.”
— Like Bochy’s unhappy smile, you can tell by Lincecum’s face how he’s feeling. His tell? How far his lower lip sticks out. Evidence below.
— Lincecum did leave wearing a blue Warriors cap turned backward.
— Carlos Beltran looks like he’s having about as much fun in his time with the Giants as I would if you forced me to watch TLC shows about families with way too many kids for two months. At least he answered a few questions on Monday night, although in actuality he only deserves credit for standing there and saying words because the answers he gave didn’t provide much insight.
— Oh, and his hand/wrist/whatever is still giving him pain.
— Mike Krukow’s talked a lot lately on KNBR about the “fight” not leaving the Giants’ clubhouse in a metaphorical sense, but even after wins a lot of guys are out of there pretty quickly. But one thing lingered on Monday night as the vast majority of the players made themselves scarce: the faint scent of cigar smoke.
— After Beltran finished talking, the reporters headed back upstairs to the press box. We walked down the hall leading from the clubhouse to the concourse area, past Bochy’s office. As I looked to my right there was Brian Sabean, sitting in one of those leather chairs facing Bochy’s desk. Sabean was talking to Bochy about something (Who to DFA? Who to call up? Which bottle of wine they should lead off with?), with a huge cigar in his hand.