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MLB Playoffs 2016: for and against the Giants

The Giants went into freefall after the All-Star Break, but fate and an even year meant they still made the playoffs. Our writers make the case for rooting for the biennial champs, and for rooting against them.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes your favorite team doesn’t make the playoffs, and if you’re in that unenviable position this year, we at Beyond the Box Score want to help you decide who you’re going to root for (or against) this postseason. We’ll be publishing ten articles, one for each playoff team, with writers laying out the case in favor of and opposed to each team. In this, we tackle the darlings of the even year: the San Francisco Giants.

Root for the Giants

Travis Sarandos

When I was 25, I found my favorite sports bar. It was called Replay, and it was 1.5 blocks from my apartment on the Upper East Side of Milwaukee. Other than on Packer Sundays, it generally didn’t do very well: the food was mediocre; the TVs were old, small, and discolored; it’s most popular drink was the $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon tallboy; and on weeknights, its cavernous size made it look even more empty than it truly was. I loved it, and patronized it several times a week to watch baseball, hockey and basketball games; I was often the only person there who wasn’t being paid. It was my "home bar," a thing that totally exists and is normal in Wisconsin, so just go with it. Imagine Cheers, except it’s just me, a loud idiot, replacing all of the characters.

A year and a half ago, Replay closed its doors for good on the final day of the Packers regular season. It was replaced by a Rosati’s, a popular chain restaurant/bar based in Chicago. The food is better (by several orders of magnitude), the place is always buzzing, and the TVs are much nicer and more plentiful. It looks like the place went through a visit from Bar Rescue, and it didn’t even have to endure this man performatively screaming at morons. It’s a much nicer place to watch games now. I hate it.

The point, of course, is that change is dangerous and terrible. There are certain things in life that one relies on. The sun rising in the East every morning; Mike Trout being the best baseball player alive but not the AL MVP; paying taxes (unless you’re Donald Trump). You may not always love these universal constants, but they’ve always been there and always will be there, and that’s comforting. So it is with the Even Year Giants, who have won the World Series every other season since 2010. World Series won by the Giants form the rhythm of our lives, and to root against them is to root for the hard, frightening unknown.

In addition to the existential appeal of the status quo, the Giants do have some very likable personalities to cheer for. Hunter Pence, the only barista at the university library’s coffee shop who isn’t enrolled in classes, is chief among them. Pence plays baseball like an ageless astral being who has been stuffed into a Grant Brisbee Halloween costume and watched one video of a baseball game played by 12-year-olds. That his mechanics work at the major league level is explained only by the realization that he is not truly of this earth. I mean my God, it worked, but what is this:

MLB.com

Beyond Pence, the Giants also feature baby-faced superstar Buster Posey, and the eminently likable ace Madison Bum- you know what? I’m sorry. I couldn’t do it. There is, however, Giants neophyte Johnny Cueto, whose Instagram page is nearly as much of a strange but satisfying delight to look upon as his funky delivery.

Te vamos a extrañar

A photo posted by Johnny Cueto (@johnnycueto47) on

Look, there are plenty of reasons to root against San Francisco, and a very wrong man who I’m sure is very nice is about to lay them out for you. I can’t force you to stop reading now and ignore his slander of America’s Team, so I’ll leave you with the best argument I know how to make. In the final week of October during each of the Giants’ last three World Series championship runs, pop sensation Taylor Swift has released an album so full of bangers that the British Isles were nearly stricken by another potato famine trying to provide enough mash to go with them. I would root for the malevolent demon hordes of Abaddon from the fiery pits of hell if it meant Tay would drop another platinum album. I hope you will too. Go Giants.

***

Root against the Giants

Thomas Bennett

Bless Travis Sarandos's soul. He was the unlucky someone on our staff who had to argue in favor of the Giants. Perhaps he enjoys a good challenge; perhaps he likes torturing himself.

Me, I prefer a nice, easy lay-up, and you can find no easier task than to convince the world that they should root against the San Francisco Giants in the 2016 postseason.

Sports fans can be jealous creatures, and I am not above appealing to this base emotion to make, really, the only point I need in my argument. Travis is a fan of a franchise (the Brewers) that has never won a World Series. I myself am a fan of a franchise (the Mariners) that has never even been to a World Series. There are many such fans out there that have never experienced the joy of their team capturing a World Series title, or for whom it's been so long that the memories have lost their luster. Here, in an orange and black nutshell, is the lynch-pin of any anti-Giants argument:

The San Francisco Giants have won three World Series titles in the past six years.

There is an undeniable air of expectation amongst Giants fans these days, which is understandable given their recent history success. That doesn't make it enjoyable, though. I recall visiting with some family (who happen to be Giants fans) in Northern California around August of 2014. We started talking baseball and noted that the Giants were, at present, five games back in the division. Five games back in the division would be cause for celebration around my neck of the woods, but this particular family member ruefully shook her head and muttered "They're terrible."

They would, of course, win the World Series two months later.

Maybe long-time Giants fans that stumble across this portion of the article would protest the broad brush that I'm painting them with. Well, I hate to break it to you guys, but any version of the long-suffering Giants fan that existed during the 1954–2010 drought has vanished.

I've long been accustomed to rooting for the underdog, but maybe our intrepid reader is more the front-runner type. In that case, I'd like to point out that it's not just the sheer volume of success in a such small amount of time that is off-putting, it's the manner in which these titles have come about. If you think the Giants have captured these three titles by simply being more talented than everyone else, think again.

For every Buster Posey, there's an Aubrey Huff. Every Madison Bumgarner, a Ryan Vogelsong. Every Travis Ishikawa, a Mike Morse... wait... er, my point is: every World Series run by this team seems to involve some seriously clutch performances from guys who almost immediately are out of the league or are just barely hanging on. If that's not annoying, I don't know what is. There are better underdogs and better front-running juggernauts than the Giants. They shouldn't make anyone happy.

In conclusion, unless you're really empathizing with all of those long suffering eighteen-month-olds in the Bay Area, cast your karma in with the rest of us and use whatever power you have at your disposal to help us end #EvenYearMagic forever.