After watching the Giants anemic offense this weekend, I was both baffled and disheartened. Just how does a team with such high expectations look so bad? Is this just a bump in the road, or a sign of things to come? It is suddenly apparent that the Giants recipe for success is missing a key ingredient. They just don’t seem to have that Thing.
Just how does a team with such high expectations look so bad? Is this just a bump in the road, or a sign of things to come?
It is suddenly apparent that the Giants recipe for success is missing a key ingredient. They just don’t seem to have that Thing.
When I was a boy growing up in Southern California, I would listen to Dodger games at night with my pillow between me and my GE radio.
It was the late 1970’s and the Dodgers had great teams led by Steve Garvey, Dusty Baker and Ron (The Giant Killer) Cey.
It always seemed to come down to the last at bat for the Dodgers.
The game would be tied 2 – 2 in the bottom of the ninth. Manny Mota would be called upon to pinch hit, and he always seemed to get on base.
Tommy Lasorda, then the Dodger manager, would take Mota out for a pinch runner; and the runner would always seem to end up in scoring position.
So now the Dodgers have a runner on second base with two outs in the ninth inning and it was Vin Scully’s time to start quoting Shakespeare.
He would recite Julius Caesar, "Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once." He would follow it up with, “So it all comes down to this . . . and here’s the pitch.”
Sure enough, it would be Garvey, Baker or Cey, who would drive in the run and the Dodgers would win every time.
Not really every time. It didn’t always happen that way; but it happened often enough to make you believe that it could happen every time.
The Dodgers had that Thing . It would take them to back to back World Series’ in 1977 – ’78. They would lose both times to a New York Yankees team led by Reggie Jackson, the King of that Thing.
The Dodgers had better than average pitching and clutch hitting; the essential elements of that Thing .
The role of the pitching staff was to keep the game close enough to give the offense a chance to win it. If the Dodgers were down by a run late in the game, they knew they had a really good shot at winning the game every time.
Even a 10- year-old boy who was supposed to be asleep knew it.
I am older now and baseball is a very different game today than it was in the late ’70’s. One thing remains the same though; good teams have that Thing .
The Rockies have that Thing engraved in them so deeply that they believe they just need to play close to .500 until the All-Star break. The Rockies expect that Thing to arrive sometime in late July.
The 2010 Giants don’t have that Thing .
I don’t know if any mid season additions will change that. Even if they brought in a true power hitter to bat third, that by it self wouldn’t be enough.
It wouldn’t be enough because that Thing is as much intangible as it is tangible. It is attitude as an action.
Much like the salesman who walks into a board room with a Power Point presentation; he must believe he can sell the product in order for the product to come to life. He has to brush off rejection and keep plugging away.
When the Oakland A’s scored in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game and took a 1 – 0 lead, the game seemed out of reach. There was no fight in the Giants. No resiliency. No faith. No hope.
No Thing .
It can’t go on forever. The Giants will win games. They have arguably the best starting pitching staff in baseball – even with Todd Wellemeyer. They just can’t afford to fall behind too often, maybe never. It doesn’t look promising.
But all hope is not lost. I have a suggestion. Perhaps the Giants of 2010 could invoke the spirit of another Giants team for help.
The Dodgers weren’t the only team in the late ‘70’s to have that Thing . The 1978 Giants had it, too.
Those Giants had excellent pitching: Vida Blue, Bob Knepper, John Montefusco, and Ed Halicki. Vida would come out of the dugout and encourage the crowd to get excited and start believing in that Thing .
It seemed like they came from behind every day. Mike Ivie and Willie McCovey were clutch all year. Ivie came out of nowhere.
The 1978 Giants would run out of gas in September. Still, many consider that team to be the most exciting in San Francisco Giants history.
Maybe some of the magic from that team will fall on the present day Giants.
It’s possible that the 2010 Giants don’t need a makeover, after all. It’s conceivable that an attitude adjustment is the missing piece. The talent they have right now might be enough to win if they start believing they can win.
You can’t rule it out.
Then it will be Jon Miller’s turn to quote Shakespeare, say, in April 2011, on Opening Day when he introduces the 2011 Giants team with a line from Henry IV: “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”.
Yeah, it’s a bit much. But one thing I know for sure. You won’t get a ring if you ain’t got that thing .