Trial Separation

Let us be clear about one thing: I am not one of those front runner type dweebs who likes his team when they are winning and goes out and buys their cap to wear around and then, when hard times hit, loses the cap. I did not grow up being a fan of the Giants. In fact, I disliked the Giants, except for Willie Mays, basically because they were in New York and Leo Durocher seemed like a bad person. When I moved to San Francisco in 1973, it became easy to like the Giants because there was the radio and the incomparable, funny Lon Simmons and the young Al Michaels and Joe Angel doing the broadcasts. The team was pretty good, too, with Bobby Bonds, Willie McCovey, the two very good outfielders Gary Mathews and Garry Maddox, and a smattering of good pitching with the aging Dominican dandy Juan Marichal, Ron Bryant, Jim Barr and, in the bullpen, Elias Sosa, Don McMahon, and Billie Jean’s brother Randy Moffitt. They finished third in a good Western Division , 11 games behind the Cincinnati Reds with the Dodgers in between. They played in Richard Nixon’s favorite ballpark, Candlestick. It was more suited to kite flying than baseball, but the average attendance was 10,299 so you could pack a lunch, including beer, take general admission, and then slowly work your way to the seat you really liked. Unlike Warriors games in Oakland, it was good advice to smoke your joint in the parking lot, not in your seat.

 

A lot of people were rather pissed off at the Giants after, early in the previous season, they had traded Willie Mays to the New York Mets for some bad sourdough and a bar of Fels Naptha soap. Not me, though. As a newcomer to the scene, I was happy to become acquainted with my new team. The next several years were mostly losing seasons except for ’78 when, with young Jack Clark and Vida Blue, Bob knepper and the enigmatic Mike Ivie, they contended for most of the season and won 89 games. I stayed true, though, and remained that way  as the mostly losing seasons of the eighties rolled by  and new ownership rescued the team from moving to Florida and then the brilliant signing of Bobby’s son and Dusty Baker made them credible. The tantalizing 1993 season when they were so very good was our reward for sticking with them after the disappointment of getting shredded by Oakland in the ’89 World series .However, the Braves won 104 games to their 103, but no complaining here except about Atlanta getting Fred McGriff  for the stretch run. Then, of course, the roller coaster ride continued even after they got the new ballpark in a much better location. The 2002 Giants made it to the World Series but again lost to another California team, the Tustin Angels. Then came the remarkable three World Championship seasons in five years after they had shed the embarrassment of last few Barry Bonds seasons and seemed to have really settled in with good management that put together rosters of quality athletes with good character and winning attitudes. Now, in 2017, it doesn’t feel that way, and not because they are 43-69.

 

What bugs me is that, after a couple of years of living in the past by constantly referring to 2010, 2012, and 2014 as though we were still playing against the same defeated teams with the same hungry players that had not aged or become comfortable with fat contracts, Giants management, including the esteemed Bruce Bochy, lost its mojo and soul. The last straw for me was cutting a good player and fine human being, Connor Gillaspie and, in the same week, bringing back tired, older than his years, former fan favorite Pablo Sandoval. Even if Sandoval is truly remorseful for his ugly words toward the team after he left for Boston, he is no longer the highly skilled and energetic presence on the field that he was years ago. And even if he regains those skills, they have cut a player the same age who did not bring drama to the clubhouse, who hit well when he received consistent playing time, and , while no Brooks Robinson either, played better defensively than Sandoval. Also, another solid citizen, George Kontos, was let go to the Pirates on waivers while Hunter Strickland, an over rated heaver whose immature bonehead plunking of Bryce Harper led to the concussion injury to Michael Morse, another good clubhouse presence who was trying to be a peace maker, remains on the roster to scowl his way to more and more gopher balls. They say they are going with youth, but none of the young players that have been jerked back and forth from the field to the bench and from the roster to the minors have really been given a chance to show what they can do for more than a couple of days at a time.

 

So they will have to get along without my rooting for them for a while. They won’t miss me. Ever since the new park came along I haven’t been able to afford tickets, and I live too far away now anyway. I was there with them on the car radio and on television at home all this time, enduring all of the repetitive, obnoxious advertising for the love of Kruk and Kuip and what I thought was an enlightened management. I haven’t filed for divorce. This is a trial separation. I am pissed, but this is not football, so I might be back someday.

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