The Giants had the best record in baseball before the All-Star break. By all appearances, it truly was an 'even year', as San Francisco looked primed to barrel their way to a fourth World Series win in seven years. The top of the rotation looked like a sturdy backbone on which to build the franchise, with Buster Posey guiding it through to the promised land. San Francisco could both hit and pitch, and as long as you didn’t glance at the bullpen for too long, you wouldn’t turn to stone.
The division; the world, even, was theirs to lose.
Barring an absurd surge forward and a massive collapse by the Dodgers, they’ve done just that.
The Giants have the worst record in baseball since the All-Star break at an unfathomable 17-32, and they look more like the popular mental image of the Braves than a World Series contender. They won on Tuesday night, managing to do so while doing this:
The Giants just tried to suicide squeeze with Buster Posey at third base. I have seen all that this life has to offer.— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) September 7, 2016
The Rockies, who have fallen out of contention and are spoilers at this stage, won on Wednesday. And they did it in incredibly amusing fashion. Santiago Casilla was well on his way to imploding, Josh Osich hit Charlie Blackmon with a pitch, and then 41-year old Proven Closer Joe Nathan was called upon to protect what was now a one-run lead.
You can guess how well that went.
Literally as I'm about to finish my "Who cursed the Giants?" column they're one Santiago Casilla outing away from winning two in a row.— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) September 8, 2016
Since the All-Star break, the Giants have stumbled to such levels of incompetence that one has to wonder if some sort of curse has been fixed on them. Somewhere, somehow, the Giants incurred the wrath of the Whatever from high atop the Thing. Maybe the Whatever is Dinger, the Rockies’ psychotic pantsless mascot. But the Giants have been losing to everyone, not just Colorado, so that seems to vindicate Dinger.
Let’s say for a second that the true talent level of the Giants hasn’t changed since our arbitrary endpoint of the All-Star break. Yes, Posey has been dealing with some back issues, but Hunter Pence has returned from the disabled list, as has Joe Panik, and All-Star Eduardo Nunez was brought in to play third base (he’s since stopped hitting). The Giants are inherently good...at least the way they're constructed. This isn’t much of a contestable point. I’m sure some of you will try to do just that in the comments. Have at it.
That leaves you, dear reader. You did this to the Giants.
This may be shocking news to some of you. For those of you who root for the Dodgers, this is a moment of validation. Yes, twirl your mustache and laugh as maniacally as you please. Take your victory lap.
"But Nick, I’m a Giants fan!"
Sit down, please.
There is hope.
There is goodness that remains in this cold, cruel world, and in the world outside the Bay Area as well. Pence’s perpetually shocked eyes still exist, as do Adrian Beltre and Jose Fernandez. They could be a great team, reader, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way, and the breaking of the curse.
This was to be their year! It is a year that ends in an even number, and all the sabermetrics in the world will run their algorithms until the computer servers burst into a thick smoke of rancorous disbelief, and still the Giants would find a way to laugh their way to the Commissioner’s Trophy. They may yet still do so, as they remain a half game up in the running for the second Wild Card over a Mets team that’s seemingly injected octane and the Energizer Bunny into their veins.
Yet you had to go and put a curse on them, reader. Oh, I could throw a bunch of numbers at you and show you all the ways that the Giants have been bad, but there’s no real need for that, seeing as it would only serve as filler. You know that they’ve been bad, I know that they’ve been bad, and Bruce Bochy knows they’ve been bad. When you go 17-32 over a period of time, there’s more than one thing that goes wrong. Most things go wrong. This is not a band-aid problem. It’s a problem in which the patient is rapidly losing blood and the attending surgeon just raided the liquor cabinet for that tequila he bought the other day.
The Giants really are a good team deep down inside, but you cursed them to this struggle. Maybe it’s fate. They always seem to overcome something ridiculous on their way to the World Series. Perhaps this is this year’s ridiculousness. Perhaps this year’s ridiculousness is sticking with Casilla in the closer’s role, who has all the deftness of Matt Lauer moderating a political forum in his pitching ability at this stage in his career. Perhaps it’s building a bullpen in which Casilla is a reasonable choice to finish games.
There’s a good chance that San Francisco won’t be in a playoff spot before the week is out, but they’ll have chances to climb back before the month is out. Just know that all of this is your fault, reader. You didn’t think that voodoo doll was real, but damn if it isn’t. You now have this look on your face because you realize what you’ve done.
When you're plotting world domination but the sugar kicks in. pic.twitter.com/APbCEeYJbH— Cut4 (@Cut4) September 8, 2016
It’s okay. The Giants will fix themselves. They always do. There’s too much talent here for it all to go to naught.
FanGraphs states that the Giants have a 65.5 percent chance of grabbing a Wild Card and then, it's MadBum time, but we’ll see if you allow that to happen, you monster.
Nicolas Stellini is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score. He also writes for Baseball Prospectus and BP Bronx. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.