Monday night’s game ended, and the broadcast booths at Dodger Stadium emptied at roughly the same time. Vin Scully looked at Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow and said, “Don’t look at me.”
And they didn’t. They couldn't. The Giants don’t get to make eye contact with anyone these days.
(By the way, this is entirely fiction, so calm the hell down).
Monday’s nightly tape loop from Hell, a 2-1 ninth-inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, was Groundhog Day on crank, the only holiday the Giants know these days. It was made slightly weirder by Madison Bumgarner’s standard Yasiel Puig-related tantrum, a personal indulgence Bumgarner really has no business continuing, but it ended the way Giant fans knew it would.
With a paint can hurled into a campfire.
How the Giants do this night after night is a genuine amazement; they are the first team in eight years to blow 30 saves, and have blown 13 of them since the All-Star Break. And never mind the stability of their bullpen over the past seven years. That is not the point – this kind of concentrated failure would be extraordinary for any team, let alone one that lived off the bounty of its relievers for so long.
That makes Bruce Bochy’s reason for removing Bumgarner after the Puig at-bat all the more confounding. He said, “We talked,” which explains nothing and opens all manner of speculations – maybe Bochy said, “You gotta stop doing this stuff,” and maybe Bumgarner said, “You gotta stop pissing me off,” and then it becomes a dean of students thing.
And Bumgarner offered nothing more compelling, stonewalling and rope-a-doping his way through a series of reluctant inquiries about why he came out of the game, why he lost his braincap over Puig again, and why he ended up saying, “I think we’re getting carried away over the questions,” which is code for “You’re not getting anything out of me, flatfoot.”
But that’s one guess, and has no more validity than any other explanation. The truth is, the Giants have no closer whatsoever, and Bochy seems oddly reluctant to shorten his pen to zero pitchers.
All this hilarity suggests that the Giants are emotionally done, a non-playoff team just waiting for someone to plunge a toasting fork into them to enhance the gravy. This was surely the most idiotic of the 30 blown saves, at the most telling time of the year, and the Giants did not get their reputations in this decade by turning stupid, or fearful, or bizarre.
But that’s what they are now, a rapidly deflating balloon whose pre-All Star Break achievements may as well have been in 1951 for all the good they are doing now. Indeed, for all but the most fervent of Giant fans, this is the team least qualified or deserving of a postseason place.
Can it get better? Yes, but only because neither the Mets nor Cardinals are particularly trustworthy either. But catching the Dodgers is a pipe dream, and finding a reliable arm in the bullpen is a pipe dream full of the kind of stuff you can’t even buy in Amsterdam without a Hazmat suit.
So they left Dodger Stadium, losers again, in a particularly ignominious fashion, and with a new battle cry for all occasions the rest of the calendar year.
“Don’t look at me.”
For the Giants, it is part warning, but more than that, it is a caution born of care. They are just worried about the well-being of your corneas.