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Long ago, Giants’ third base coach Rocky Bridges used to say that everyone in America “is convinced they can build a campfire, run a hotel and manage a baseball team.”

What he meant, of course, was that none of us knew how to do any of those things. (Although my campfires, constructed of a twig teepee inside a log cabin built of sticks, have earned plaudits.)

This is also the time of year when we are reminded it is not easy to put together a team. Currently, the 49ers are apprising the unsigned and the undrafted. (And I’d love to hear what happened with highly regarded, undrafted wide receiver K.D. Cannon. Cut after a three-day minicamp? Way to make a bad impression in a hurry.)

Meanwhile, hyperventilating Giants’ fans are ready to back up the bus. Get rid of the aging vets, trade core players for young prospects and go crazy in the free agent market.

As for the Warriors, they’re everyone’s darling, but what about next year when Steph Curry is a free agent?

Clearly there’s more to team-building than numbers. Otherwise robots would do the work and Russell Westbrook would be the perfect NBA star. You can put players in place, but who knows how they will mesh?

Now that everyone is rushing to a microphone to lavish praise on the Warriors — if they don’t sweep every series it’s a disappointment — let’s scroll back to the start of the season. That was when Kevin Durant was a tall, quiet mystery who was spawning dire predictions.

It was said Durant would upset the delicate team balance. Suppose he starts taking the money shot at the end of games instead of Curry? Curry might resent that and use free agency to go to a team where he would be The Man again.

Also, Durant won the NBA scoring title four times. Won’t he jack up bad shots to pad his points? Or take off plays on defense?

None of that has happened. Durant has been superb. He’s scoring without forcing. He’s a willing passer. He’s blocking shots, rebounding and moving the ball.

He’s even made a point to get out in public — riding BART and showing up at both a Giants and an A’s game.

Before he left the team for back surgery I said to coach Steve Kerr that Durant had been a revelation.

“No he hasn’t,” Kerr said.

“Really? How did you know he was going to do all those things?”

“Because I watched him do it for eight years at Oklahoma City.”

Which is terrific. But the funny thing is you can be firmly convinced you are right, only to discover that you are dead wrong.

Remember the Giants in spring training? The only question was how far they’d go in the playoffs.

The worst record in baseball? Ridiculous. We were predicting something more like 90 wins.

The team had a solid stable of five starting pitchers, bolstered by a trade for a 27-year-old former All-Star, Matt Moore. Acquiring Twins All-Star Eduardo Nuñez plugged the hole at third base. And the team, finally, had a closer after spending $62 million for Mark Melancon.


WHAT: 83rd Annual National Football League Player Selection Meeting.

WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas.

WHEN: Thursday through Saturday.

SCHEDULE: Round 1 starts at 5 p.m. PDT. Round 2 and Round 3 on Friday beginn at 4 p.m. PDT. Rounds 4-7 on Saturday begin at 9 a.m. PDT.

TIMING: 10 minutes per selection in Round 1, 7 minutes per selection in Round 2, 5 minutes per selection in Rounds 3-6 including compensatory picks, 4 minutes per selection in Round 7 including compensatory picks.

TV: NFL Network, ESPN and ESPN2, Fox and ABC.

We were imagining a season-long battle for first place and then, with luck, another World Series.

The subsequent belly- flop has been breathtaking. At this point we’d usually be picking out the weak links and calling for their heads.

But this group is taking on water from every direction. The starters are shaky, the bullpen is a fire hazard, the injured list is longer than the starting lineup and — by the way — they’re not hitting. Duane Kuiper said it the other day. At the three parks arguably most conducive to offense — Phoenix, Denver and Cincinnati — the Giants went 1-9.

But more than that are the passed balls, bonehead plays and — let’s just say it — moments of lack of effort. Not a good look.

Who knows why a team jells or fails? It’s chemistry. It’s psychology. It’s luck. Maybe magic.

And since they are trying everything, may I suggest the Giants stage an exorcism from the Curse of Matt Duffy? The Duffman was traded last August and the whole city sagged just a little. Even Duffy admitted he was disappointed. Granted, he was no star, but he was approachable, witty and a favorite of beat writers.

Duffy also endeared himself to a wider audience when he began posting photos of Skeeter, his couch cushion of a cat. Skeeter, whose weight is listed as “30 lbs+,” even has his own Instagram account.

Of course I am just joking about a curse.


I would say, including last year’s postseason, the team has gone 40-57 since Duffy was traded. (Before this weekend’s games.)

Duffy had his own hard luck and is still out with an Achilles tendon injury. Which only goes to show how strangely things work out.

While the Giants were concentrating on pitchers and hitters, maybe they should have been concerned about something else.

The revenge of Skeeter.

You can reach C.W. Nevius at cw.nevius@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter @cwnevius.

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