On May 1, 2012, the Giants were 12-11, four and a half games back of the first place Dodgers and in fourth place, with a run differential of +3.
Today, May 1, 2013, the Giants are 15-12, just one game back of the first place Rockies and tied with the Diamondbacks, and a game and a half up on the fourth place Dodgers, with a run differential of +4.
From another angle, through 27 games in 2012, the Giants were 13-14, five games back of the first place Dodgers with Arizona and Colorado just half a game behind, a +2 run differential, and just one win removed from fourth place, a negative run differential, and a four game losing streak after being swept at home by the Marlins. The Marlins. I was at the last game of that series and it was pretty miserable, let me tell you.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Giants are somehow guaranteed to have the season go their way because they’re a bit better off than they were at this time last year. As we should all be painfully aware by now, baseball is strange, unpredictable, sometimes cruel, and basically always capricious. Everything could click into place, mechanical issues and nagging injuries could resolve themselves, and the Giants could go on to win 100+ games, or the bottom could fall out and they could end up missing the playoffs, there’s no way to know right now. But that’s exactly the point, there’s basically no way to know right now. This time last year Angel Pagan looked like he might never hit again and that he was an awful fit for the lead-off spot without any obvious replacement, most of us were still quietly praying that none of Buster Posey’s limbs fell off, and Pablo Sandoval was about to miss yet another month-plus with his second hamate fracture in as many years. And yet, the t-shirt currently sitting next to me in a pile of laundry waiting to be folded tells me that the Giants went on to win the division comfortably and then win the World Series.
Am I expecting the Giants to win the World Series again? Not expecting, no. Repeating is incredibly hard and there are so many things that have to go right that it would be the height of arrogance and probably delusion to be certain. But saying that I’m as close to certain as is reasonable that they’ll have a good season? That I’m comfortable doing. Be frustrated when they play like they’re literally wearing clown shoes and trying to catch the ball with one of those plastic squirty flowers, wonder what mechanical glitch is causing Matt Cain to periodically go all dingerpalooza on us after pitching well for a few innings, but the panicking, hair tearing out, shrieking, wailing, lighting yourself on fire and walking into traffic level I’ve seen from some quarters lately just makes me sad. Not for the team, because I really do believe the team is going to be fine. Matt Cain will figure himself out, Buster Posey is being Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford is inexplicably also being Buster Posey, Pablo’s looking svelter to the general public with each murdered baseball and diving stop, and Madison Bumgarner is slidering and cuttering and sluttering the competition into small pieces on the regular. Hell, for that matter, Tim Lincecum is looking more like someone you don’t cringe at the thought of taking the ball and Hunter Pence seems to be swinging it better with his moulting cycle finished and his new carapace in place. But it makes me sad that people aren’t able to enjoy any of the good or interesting things because they’re so busy rending their garments.
There are good things afoot, but only if you don’t panic.