Giants will hit their stride
Before I begin, and if you’ve heard or read this before, sorry, but, I need to clarify the fact that I’ve stated so many times before – I’ve been an original San Francisco Giants fan since 1958, when I was 8-years-old and they arrived from New York with my to-be favorite player (best all-around player of all-time) Willie Mays. So, yes, I’m passionate about the San Francisco Giants and thoroughly enjoying last year’s dream-come-true season.
Returning to the present, I need to again go back to the past, just a few months, though, to spring training.
I wrote about what I was reading in newspapers and magazines, watching on TV, and listening to on the radio how so many fans were worried about this injury, or that occurance, or anything else negative about their San Francisco Giants heading into the season opener as the World Series champions.
I expressed my euphoric feeling that since the Giants won San Francisco’s first World Series championship on Nov. 1, 2010, I had the most pleasant feeling of serenety, which, with much personal relief, has taken the place of the immense anxiety of entering another season wondering and worrying if the Giants were ever going to win a World Series.
So, the Giants won the World Series and I’ll always be ecstatic and not have to fret any more because I finally have true contentment in my sports-loving life, thanks to the Giants winning the World Series and finishing my San Francisco-born, hometown-fan world-title trifecta. In basketball the San Francisco/Oakland/Golden State Warriors won the 1975 NBA championship, and the San Francisco 49ers won the Super Bowl crown – five times.
I also said that the Giants still have that near-perfect combination of a dedicated, trust-worthy ownership; a beautiful and still state-of-the-art ballpark on the Bay supported by an enthusiastic and all-out supporting fan-base; and, most important, a knowledgeable and right-decision-making general manager and field manager, dedicated coaches and talented, impact-players.
I contently added that for me it was such a peaceful spring training, without worries about the aches, pains, injuries and mindsets of San Francisco’s baseball champions, because it was only spring training, and a long season was ahead with the positive prospects for another wild, fun-filled ride.
Fast-forwarding to now, the first-half ride through the 2011 season has been full of obstacles, including team-shattering injuries to key players, such as the devastating season-ending one to catcher sensation Buster Posey and possible one to Freddie Sanchez.
Then there’s all the fretting going on about the struggling offense providing miniscule run-support – made more frustrating with the inability to plate runners in scoring position and less than two outs – and all the non-stop media attention to all San Francisco’s woes is stressing out so many Giants fans.
But, making another leap back into the past, I say, “Why the worry?”
It’s still the first-half of the season and, despite the lack of offense, it all comes down to pitching and defense and, since the Giants have plenty of the first and an ample-amount of the second, when the offense kicks in, there’s a good chance to win a second World Series title.
Yes, I did say when the offense kicks in, because it will.
So far, the low-scoring Giants have played mostly one-run games, but, guided by their excellent coaching, and anchored by their deep and determined pitching staff supportive defense, they’ve been winning enough to still be in first-place in the National League west – even after being swept by the Oakland A’s in payback for an earlier sweep of their own.
For the other teams in their division – Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles and San Diego – they’re going to wish they took advantage of San Francisco’s struggles and pushed it down the standings before the all-star break, because in the second-half of the season, the resilient and talented Giants will become a complete team of pitching, defense and breakout offense.
Then, after the Giants win their second-straight World Series, Posey will return to join his battling teammates and they’ll win a third world title.
But, I won’t let my optimistic self get too far ahead of myself.
I’ll just go back to being my calm, confident, Giants-supporting self and not fret about the future and enjoy this wonderful, frustrating, fun, stressful, dramatic, elating, but always-torturous season as World Series champs, which will always be so satisfying to say.
Another quick look at a baseball journey from spring training to now that has quieted some negative talk about being able to meet expectations to produce both offensively and defensively at the Major League level centers on Sonoma’s Brett Wallace, who is the starting first-baseman for the National League’s Houston Astros.
After a slow start, Wallace has steadily improved both in the field and with the bat and has raised, and kept his batting average, above .300 and has been in the National League’s top-10 hitters list for weeks, slipping to 11th after Sunday’s game but still batting a healthy .308.
Of course, there’s a long way to go in the season, but Wallace - a former high-school (Justin-Siena in Napa) and college (Arizona State University) All-American, and a first-round draft choice of the St. Louis Cardinals – seems to have proven that he belongs right where he is, starting and producing for a Major League team.