Nevius: Breaks may be finally going Mac Williamson's way
The game doesn’t care.
The players care. The fans care. The coaches and officials care.
But the game, the framework for it all, is as flinty and unsympathetic as an IRS audit. The outcome will play out as it will, regardless of how fervently we wish and strive for a different ending.
There’s luck involved in any game, of course. There are tons of stories of miracle bounces and quirky game-winners. But there’s no mechanism to balance out the bad breaks with some good ones. There is no contingency for those who clearly deserve a break.
In a fair and just world, the game would bend a little toward Mac Williamson, the Giants outfielder. There would be talk of his incredibly bad fortune last year. He was on a tear at the time. He hit three home runs in five games.
And then, six days after he was called up to the Giants from the minors, he was chasing a foul ball down the third baseline when he was tripped by the bullpen pitching mound. He crashed headfirst into the wall.
The collision looked terrible, but at the time it seemed like he was all right. Williamson shook it off and stayed in the game. In his next at bat he hit a home run.
He wasn’t feeling right, but he kept it to himself.
“I just hit the home run,” Williamson said before the season started. “I was like, well shoot, I can’t do or say anything now.”
And then he told stories of the scary toll the ensuing injury took. The unrelenting concussion that had him sleeping in a dark room 14 hours a day. Of sudden, strange, emotional outbursts that were so random that even he wondered why he was so upset.
His girlfriend, Kaitlyn Watts, wrote a blog post titled, “Dealing with Mac’s concussion.”
“I was just like … is this going to be the new Mac?” Watts wrote. “Is this the way he’s going to be forever?”
He quit playing and just hoped to heal. He was aware his career could be over.
And then, finally, he found a concussion specialist. And he started to feel better. He gained back the weight he lost and came to spring training with the idea that, with a good preseason, he could win a starting job and be the Giants left fielder.
And in the fair and just world of our imagination, the game would take all that into consideration. Maybe just a few good breaks - a curving line drive down the line hits chalk instead of going foul, a long high fly ball hits the foul pole for a home run instead of missing it and turning into nothing more that a loud strike.
None of that happened. He hit .237, struck out 18 times and got 14 hits. That’s says it all about the game. If you get off to a bad start, the game doesn’t say, “Well, Mac’s been having a tough time of it. Let’s cut him some slack.”
Nope. The game just keeps burying you.
And at the end of spring training, not many who had been watching the Giants were surprised when Williamson didn’t make the team. He was put on waivers, to give every team in baseball a chance to claim him, and no one did. He came back to the Giants, and with what had to be a heavy heart, signed a minor league contract.
I don’t think it is a stretch to say a lot of fans were disappointed. One bad break and this guy - who seems as pleasant and engaging as anyone in the clubhouse - loses his career? It didn’t seem fair.
And that’s when we had to remind ourselves again - the game doesn’t care. Fair has nothing to do with it.
The good thing is, because the game is indifferent, it confirms the importance of good things when they happen. There is no finger on the scale. Things don’t happen for a mystical reason. They happen because they were made to happen.
Williamson got off to a slow start in Sacramento. And then he caught fire. Last week he hit three home runs in one game. One of them cleared the left field fence, a second left field fence and the Ace Hardware sign beyond that.
It was estimated to have traveled 511 feet.
“We’re pretty sure it left the stadium,” said Daniel Emmons, manager of communications.
And when he crossed home plate, Williamson didn’t yell or whoop. But he did clench his fist, just for a moment, and looked up in the stands.
And at that moment every amateur Giants general manager in the fan base was yelling, “Why don’t you bring Williamson up? Nobody else is hitting.”
And the Giants did. We don’t know what will happen, of course. He may go on a hitting streak. He may slump. And as we say, the game isn’t going to give him any breaks because he’s a good guy who had a tough experience.
It may not work out.
And when, in his first game back in the big leagues, Williamson jacked a three-run homer to lead the Giants to a win, the game nodded impassively. The game didn’t care.
But we did.
And how do you think Mac felt?
Contact C.W. Nevius at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: ?@cwnevius