SAN FRANCISCO — Before the Giants’ home opener at AT&T Park, Giants manager Bruce Bochy recalled his first opening day as a manager. That was in San Diego in 1995 and his Padres lost 10-2.
“We got boat-raced by Houston,” Bochy said, using that peculiar baseball term to describe a lopsided defeat in which you are behind from the start and never catch up.
At 39 years old and then the youngest manager in the National Leagues, he then made a rookie mistake — turning on sports radio on the drive home. The new manager was getting roasted.
“It was a rude awakening of how tough the job can be,” he said.
Bochy didn’t know it, but he was about to get another reminder in Tuesday’s game with Seattle. The festive bunting, celebrity sightings and callbacks to players from days gone by (including, weirdly, former reliever Brian Wilson, who did not leave under the best of terms) were fun.
But the first ball put in play was bobbled by Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford for an infield hit.
Starter Ty Blach subsequently lost home plate, and after a series of unfortunate events, the home side was down 4-0 before many ticket-holders had reached their seats with their garlic fries.
For a team that lost 98 games last year, it is not the start they had in mind. The sellout crowd could only groan.
The optimistic view is that the lads rallied late. Evan Longoria got off the 0-for-16 schneid with an impressive two-run home run to left, Gregor Blanco hit a chalk-kicking double, the team closed to 6-4 and some sense of spunk was shown.
Nevertheless, the team is 2-3, which is not the sort of revival anyone in orange and black had in mind.
Team president Larry Baer was kidding (kinda) when he delivered his annual pep talk to the ushers.
“Now, nobody has made any plans for October,” he said before the first pitch. “No vacations planned, right?”
You get the reference. They will be working in the fall, he was saying, because the team will be in the playoffs.
It is the curse of previous success. It isn’t enough to show promise. We’ve been to the mountaintop. Three times. And the Crawfords, Buster Poseys and Madison Bumgarners are still on the roster.
Therefore, with the core intact, much is expected. At one point the scoreboard flashed a stat that this was the eighth consecutive opening-day roster appearance for Posey. (To which the Oakland A’s, across the bay, replied, “Are you even allowed to do that?”)
There’s always talk about the opening-day crowd being composed of poseurs and one-time fans.
But the Giants’ faithful, with a huge base of season ticket holders, doesn’t fit that mold.
Even national anthem crooners have Giants cred. Local musical icon Chris Isaak, out of the Sunset District, performed the anthem with bandmate Kenney Dale Johnson, but it wasn’t their first rodeo.
“I was here last year for the 17-inning night game,” he said. “Stayed until the end. I was saying, ‘For people who aren’t musicians, this is pretty late.’”
It isn’t late now, of course. Afterwards, if we heard it once we heard it seven times — it’s still early in the season.