I am officially throwing in the towel. I know. Four games back with 10 games to go. It's possible, but it's also possible Paris Hilton will join the Carmelite Sisters or Al Pacino will retake his Tony Montana role and do a "Scarface" sequel.
So what am I saying?
You can never say never, but right now it's like 90 percent never.
Thus, I want to give the Giants some props for this season, but not without some reserve. Sure, 2009 was good, but it could have been great. Like most Giants fans, I am a believer that two things characterized this Giants team this season:
1.) A lot of players Giants fans expected to be big contributors tanked (e.g. Bengie Molina, Emmanuel Burriss and Aaron Rowand).
2.) The players who were capable of making up for these "tanking" players weren't utilized quickly enough.
I blame 70 percent of that on on-field management (e.g. Bruce "I won't bat Bengie Molina out of the four-hole ever" Bochy) and 30 percent on the front office (e.g. Brian "I shouldn't, but probably will have a job next year" Sabean). Bochy should have recognized what guys were having stellar seasons and let it ride with them in the lineup on a consistent basis (e.g. Juan Uribe, Nate Schierholtz etc.), and Sabean should have been releasing guys (e.g. Merkin Valdez) who were having no impact, while at the same time, calling up young arms with big upside (e.g. Dan Runzler).
Yet, hindsight is 20/20, and the bottom line? Giants had a great season, but it just wasn't enough. I think for a lot of Giants fans, this season surpassed our expectations. We certainly didn't expect this team to be in contention for a Wild Card berth this year. For the most part, I think a lot of Giants fans were simply hoping for a .500 record. Well, after tonight's win, we got over .500, so all in all, it was a great season for the Giants as well as San Francisco fans.
That being said, this season has certainly raised the bar for next season, which means a lot of crucial moves will need to be made. Simply plus .500 ball won't be enough next year. The Giants will need to make the playoffs because to put it bluntly, that is what people will expect from them. People will expect Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain to be another solid 1-2 punch next year. People will expect Madison Bumgarner to make the leap to the rotation. People will expect an even bigger breakout year from Pablo Sandoval.
Those things added up should equal a playoff berth. Granted, you never know. As we seen from the Detroit Tigers ala 2007 and Florida Marlins ala 2004, things don't always work out like they should. However, judging from expectations alone, this Giants team is a playoff team next season, no doubt about it.
Granted, next year is just that: a year away. Sure, there are 10 games left, but if anything, we are seeing a last hurrah for some veterans with something to prove (e.g. Bob Howry and Eli Whiteside) while getting extended looks at some of the Giants' best prospects (e.g. Runzler, Waldis Joaquin and finally...Frandsen and Bowker). The positive way to look at this is that this is what we expected to see this year when the rosters expanded in September, only it happened about three weeks later than expected. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Well, it depends. It shows that we had a decent team for most of the year, but it also gave less big league experience to some of our top prospects who will be looking to make the 40-man and 25-man active rosters next season.
In the end, this Giants season will be a season known for some disappointment. However, it will also be known as either a turning point or a flash in the pan. We've seen the Mariners in 2007 show some life, only to tank the following season. Is that going to happen to the Giants?
Let's hope not. 2009 brought Giant fans, a fanbase struggling since 2005, more hope than we could have ever thought imaginable.
All I can say is that on behalf of Giants fans, I pray that owner Bill Neukom doesn't screw this up.
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