The San Francisco Giants are already indebted to Evan Longoria, and he’s hitting .053.
But such is the nature of a fan base’s need to be entertained if not invigorated daily. The Giants, who finally gave up the ghost of announcing daily sellouts right after the All-Star Break last year, now have to fight to amuse their audience for the first time in the post-World Series Era, and if losing doesn’t keep the folks on the edges of their seats with an idea toward leaving, losing and hot hitting surely will.
Thus, Tuesday’s home opener, a 6-4 loss to the relatively faceless Seattle Mariners coming after the worst four-game series split one could imagine, was giving off a very difficult odor – that of a season abandoned by the faithful in April.
And it may still end up that way, given the Giants are 2-3 and have scored the fewest runs in the major leagues.
But Longoria, whose 0-for-17 start was at least symptomatic of the team’s grisly offensive start (he and Andrew McCutchen are a combined 3-for-39 in the Short Attention Span Theatre League), leaned into a 91-mph sinker by Seattle’s baby-faced starter Marco Gonzalez and clubbed into the shallow end of the left field stands, a sense of relief among the customers was noticeable if not actually palpable.
And while the homer affects remarkably little, the Giants’ year-long struggle with maintaining its relationship with its collection of live wallets needs all the jump-start it can get, and a 6-4 loss with a late-inning rallyette beats a 60-1 loss in which the only San Francisco run was produced yet again by the team’s designated Giancarlo Stanton, Joe Panik.
The Giants are using 2018 to delay the inevitable rebuild that the farm system is not yet ready to undertake, which is why Longoria and McCutchen were acquired. Thus much is expected of the two of them while not much is expected of the team as a whole. They are required to entertain the patrons.
And Longoria did, in his second-ever home game in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 people.
And more will be needed, to be sure, if the fans are going to keep from reprising their absentee roles first shown in the post-Bonds era, when the low-end of the fan base was not 38,000 but 32,000. And yes, this sort of thing matters very dearly to the front office.
Thus, Longoria’s homer provided a badly needed service for a team that has chosen by its roster and ballpark construction not to follow the rest of baseball and eschew the Three True Outcomes in search of a fourth.
Namely, Stalling As Fast As They Can Until The Prospects Arrive.