When it comes to the major sports, baseball is, without a doubt, one of the least exciting games to watch.
As a lifelong baseball fan, I object to this because I know how complicated baseball actually is, but when considering it from an outside perspective, I can see how other sports are more gratifying.
In football, you've got 100-yard fumble returns for touchdowns, back-breaking hits from safeties and linebackers, and some of the most athletic and exciting plays you'll ever see while battling wind, rain, and snow, all under the ever-present countdown of the clock.
NBA and NCAA basketball also have the excitement of the clock, and you'll get such happenings as 50-point games, buzzer-beaters, and the awe-inspiring slice of fantastical reality that is the posterizing slam dunk.
Hockey is another example of nonstop action. For 20 minutes at a time, you'll get your money's worth of teeth-shattering 100 MPH slap shots, bone-jarring checks into the boards, and some of the loudest and most exciting sports venues in the planet. On hockey skates.
In basketball and hockey, the announcers constantly sound like they're talking a mile a minute (which they are) because there is always something going on. In football, there's a little time for storytelling, but still not that much.
And then we have baseball.
The only sport where the game can actually last nine hours. Or one where an at-bat continues for 15 pitches. Or that has players that are considered starters but only come in to pitch once every five days. Or that rewards the best offensive producers for getting out 70 percent of the time.
Imagine if the best quarterback or top scorer had a completion percentage or shooting percentage of 35 percent. Baseball is a game that inevitably consists of more failures than successes.
And that makes it boring.
At any one point, there is only one person with the ball, throwing it to the one person who wants to hit the ball, which is then fielded by one fielder who may or may not throw it to one first baseman for the out. This is then repeated at least 27 times a game for each team.
Again, I love baseball, but I can see how it's hard to get into as an outsider. In all of the other sports (basketball, football, hockey), there is frequently instant gratification. If you don't understand baseball, the prospect of maybe one home run a game, or maybe four runs a game, is a little bleak.
Home runs are the most exciting thing in baseball, in terms of everyday occurrences, and I grew up smack dab in the middle of the Steroid Era. My childhood was littered with the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa home run race, the Barry Bonds chase for 71, and then the Bonds chase for 756, not to mention the countless 50-plus-HR seasons from players around the league (Greg Vaughn, anyone?).
Pitching is the opposite of that. In fact, the entire goal of pitching is to prevent home runs. So, by the transitive property, a pitcher's sole job is to prevent the most exciting thing in baseball from ever happening. Ever.
Here's where the Giants come in.
The San Francisco Giants sucked me in through a joint combination of great announcing, the fact that my grandparents listened to them every day, and a constant barrage of baseballs flying out of the park off the bats of Will Clark, Matt Williams, Jeff Kent, and, of course, Barry Bonds, the home run king.
Yet after Barry Bonds, this team has evolved into one of few home runs and of great pitching. Going back to our findings, that means that the Giants have gone from being the most exciting team in baseball to the team that is the best at repressing the excitement.
There just aren't any real home run threats on the Giants right now. Pablo Sandoval, maybe, but he hasn't hit one in over 120 ABs. Bengie Molina only has two HRs this year. The home run leaders are Aaron Rowand and Juan Uribe, with five homers each in 44 games.
Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are consistently battling on the ERA leader board. Jonathan Sanchez actually allowed ZERO HITS in a game last year. This is considered one of the best pitching staffs in the game, and their ability to keep runners off the basepaths is paramount to their success.
Again, if you didn't get hooked on the Giants as a child like me, you probably don't appreciate this at all. This explains why I can't get my friends to understand why I believe in this team.
As a former pitcher in high school, I can appreciate the intricacies of being a pitcher, of finding your stuff, and striking out batters, and painting the corners.
But as an outsider, even the most rare of occurrences, a perfect game, is, quite simply, boring. No one even pays attention to it until the game is two-thirds over.
And it can end in an instant, whether due to the sloppy play of an infielder, an unfortunately placed rock in front of home plate, or a simple lapse of concentration from a pitcher on roughly four percent of his pitches for the night.
New fans to baseball are drawn in by the instant gratification of a home run, or the excitement of a rally, or the 97 MPH fastball to end the game. The Giants can only provide one of those three things.
For this reason I (almost) sympathize with my fellow sports fans. Baseball is boring (not to me), and the San Francisco Giants are the epitome of that boredom (I don't think so).
Personally, I appreciate the intricacies of a ball game. I revel in the fact that something incredibly unique happens every day on 16 fields across the country.
You can only dunk a basketball so many ways, and there are only so many times you can watch a spin-move penalty shot in hockey, and you can only score a touchdown going in one direction.
But in baseball, a rally can happen at any time, started by anyone, and finished off by a hit that rattles around off a bench in the bullpen. Anyone can be the hero.
The possibility of that incomparable experience, of that unique time out at the ballpark every time you go to a game—that makes baseball my favorite sport.
My faith in the Giants is powered by the fact that I don't get bored watching the pitching staff shut down opposing offenses day in and day out.
I understand that this sentiment is not shared by everyone, but for those of you who get it, this post is for you.