I think we’ve been good sports about the Giants this season.
In a year of magical thinking, the team has rolled out a series of rosy scenarios, and we’ve mostly signed on and hoped for the best.
Hunter Pence, we were told, went to the minors, completely retooled his swing and would be all but unrecognizable when he returned. (Sadly, he looks the same — only less so.)
Buster Posey is just tired and needs a day off. (Yet it seems pretty clear, especially when he is running the bases, that his hip/leg is bothering him. He’s gutting it out, and hitting .300 because ... well, he’s Buster Posey.)
But mostly we played a game called: If only the Giants can be at .500 when:
— Madison Bumgarner comes back.
— The guys start to hit with runners on base.
— The whole pitching staff gets healthy.
— We reach the All-Star break.
Well, we have some good news on that front. From the very first week of the season, this team has given every indication of being a .500 team. They’ve looked no better than break-even all year and are going to have to put on a serious burst to convince us otherwise.
And that’s not going to feed the bulldog. The team can talk about being only a few games out of first, but that’s testimony to a lackluster NL West. In other divisions, the Giants would need a stepladder to glimpse the leaders.
Therefore, now is the time. As of today the Giants have 11 home games — and three more at the Oakland Coliseum — before the break. MadBum is back, others are returning, and they’re in the friendly confines.
This is the moment.
And closer Hunter Strickland has a catastrophic meltdown. How does that happen?
You know the story. It unfolded like a slow-motion fall down a flight of stairs.
Monday night, Strickland came in for a save in the ninth inning with a two-run lead. He walked the leadoff hitter and then coughed up a run-scoring double. Clearly furious, he walked a batter on five pitches, four of which were not close.
When light-hitting Lewis Brinson lined a game-tying single, Strickland not only gave him a death stare, but after blowing the save, he jawed at a bewildered Brinson as he walked off the field.
After the game, Strickland gave a polite, if terse, interview. Then later, to the surprise of everyone, he announced he’d punched a wall, broken a bone in his pitching hand and would be out six to eight weeks.
Let’s pause for a moment so you can vent: Selfish. Idiotic. Maddening.
Strickland says he gets it.
“I understand everyone’s perception of me,” he told reporters Wednesday. “This is what I have given them.”
Earlier, I asked Bruce Bochy if Strickland doesn’t need to control his anger. While admitting “There is something to that,” Bochy’s stance is, “We all have different ways of letting it go.” He mentioned a pitcher he managed in San Diego, Kevin Brown, who was famous for “remodeling” clubhouse bathrooms after a bad outing.
“Barry Bonds,” said Bochy, “said he played better when he was angry.”
And let’s stipulate that there are probably those who are better when they have a rager going. As for Bonds, I couldn’t say. He always seemed angry.