Here is a link to my Thursday column about the Giants defeating the Pirates. The full text runs below:


Science entertains doubt about water going down the drain. South of the equator, it is said, water flows down a drain counterclockwise. North of the equator clockwise. It is hard to prove either of these propositions.

One thing is not hard. If the Giants had lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Wednesday’s matinée, the home team would have gone down the drain counterclockwise or clockwise. Who cares? You could have heard a loud glug glug followed by a sucking sound.

But the Giants won 7-5 – abetted by really stupid base running by the Pirates. Pittsburgh’s base running doesn’t concern you. The Giants won and, because of that, they did not go 0-for the home stand, and they did not fall off the map or slide down the drain.

They won behind a rare hitting barrage. The enfeebled Giants got 12 knocks, the players’ word for hits. Funny thing about those knocks, though. Every one was a single. Which means the Giants did not get an extra-base hit. Not surprising. The Giants do not hit with power. Usually they don’t hit at all. They sting you to death, worry you, annoy you.

And two of their seven runs were unearned. The Pirates almost donated the game to the Giants.

Please don’t be sore at me for reporting the facts.

After the game, manager Bruce Bochy came to the interview room looking done in – hair wet with sweat, face as white as Ranch Dressing. “This was a huge game,” he said. “We all can eat solid food for a while now.”

Don’t try pepperoni pizza, Bruce. Stick to yogurt.

Then he discussed the Giants’ offensive “attack.”

“We put the ball in play today,” he said. “A lot of those balls weren’t hit hard. We had a ground attack, some grounders that were beaten out. Then we went to the blooper, and it worked out today.”

The ground attack followed by the blooper assault. The Giants bloopered the Pirates into submission. It’s like killing someone with a marshmallow.

All that leads to the big question. Are the Giants good enough?

Let’s be clear about terms. We are not asking if they are good enough to be pretty good. When they stormed out of the gate in April and looked like the best team in baseball, no one wondered if they were pretty good. Just about everyone assumed they were elite, a World Series contender.

Now, it’s questionable they even can win their division. With their current roster, it seems doubtful they can finish ahead of the Dodgers. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s sensibilities or tick you off.

On Wednesday, their sixth batter was rookie Joe Panik. He is hitting .214. Their seventh batter was Gregort Blanco. He is hitting .245. Their eighth batter was rookie Andrew Susac. He is hitting .125. Susac is replacing injured Hector Sanchez. He is hitting .196.

A team cannot win a championship or even a division with numbers like those. Assume the Giants starting pitching is good enough. It’s quite a wild assumption — Tim Lincecum didn’t last even four innings. And Lord knows what’s happening with two-win Matt Cain and his right elbow. But OK, pretend the Giants’ starting pitcher is top-tier. What about the rest of the roster?

You may cheer yourself up by saying certain players will return soon. Like Angel Pagan. Poor tired Bochy said Pagan may start a rehab assignment today. Pagan is crucial to the Giants. He is the leadoff hitter and he makes everything go. If he returns, the Giants have a significant threat at the top of the batting order and Hunter Pence can bat later, where he will drive in runs.

It’s just that Pagan has a bulging disk in his back and has endured two epidurals. How durable is he? If the Giants think they can count on him, they are living on blind faith.

Brandon Belt will return soon. Will he make the Giants a championship outfit? Maybe he will. But he’s batting .242 and he is a supporting player. He is not the star. You could make a case the Giants do not have a star. They are all supporting players, a bunch of sidekicks.

General manager Brian Sabean needs to make a move. He needs to get another starting pitcher or a power hitter before the trade deadline — 1 p.m. today. I am writing this at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in a deserted press box. I don’t know what Sabean will do.

I remember when, as a young man on the make, he traded Matt Williams for Jeff Kent. He doesn’t make moves like that anymore. He gets Dan Uggla and Travis Ishikawa. And while Jake Peavy is a good pitcher, he is a replacement for Cain, and that means Sabean is treading water while the Dodgers are rising.

They came to AT&T Park and took over, lined up their pitching staff to dominate the Giants – Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryo. Some people criticized the Dodgers for doing that. Please. The Dodgers said, “Try and beat us,” and the Giants could not beat them.

The Dodgers don’t have to make excuses. The Giants do.

Before Wednesday’s game I asked Bochy if he feels discouraged.

“No,” he said, “this is a good group and we’re close to getting a couple of guys, Belt and Pagan. Right now, this is our group. For this to go on this long at home, believe me, they (the players) are upset about it as we all are. It shouldn’t happen. We are working on a drill — getting hit by a pitch. We’re trying everything.” He smiled a half-smile at his little joke.

Who is running the get-hit-by-a-pitch drill?

“Sabes,” he said.

Better Sabes should run the make-a-monster-trade drill.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn atlowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.


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  1. mendozaline

    Lots of criticism about the Williams-Kent trade.
    Sabean said then “”I didn’t get to this point by being an idiot. ..”


    I think the $1M from Cleveland was used to sign JT Snow and not Darryl Hamilton.

    July 30th, 2014 10:53 pm

  2. Johnc

    Maybe sign original Met Ron Hunt who made an art form of getting hit by pitches (243). When he retired he had the ML record only to be outdone by Don Baylor (267) who in turn was surpassed by Craig Biggio with a career 285 HBP.

    July 30th, 2014 11:08 pm

  3. mike

    For the Giants to make a trade, they have to have players who are wanted by other clubs. From the stats you offer in this column, it looks pretty bleak. I presume Pence, Posey and a couple of the pitchers are off limits, so who do they have that can be swapped for some talent on the mound or some punch at the plate?

    July 31st, 2014 8:55 am

  4. CohnZohn

    mike, I’d trade Romo if I were doing the trading.

    July 31st, 2014 8:58 am

  5. Mark M

    It’s a shame the Giants won the game, you wouldn’t have had to change the piece so much last minute.

    Shall we send out funeral invitations now? It’s almost August.

    July 31st, 2014 10:22 am

  6. Dr. Feelgood

    At risk of nerdishness- actually, Northern Hemisphere: water rotates counter-clockwise, opposite for Southern Hemisphere.
    Like water, baseball is fluid, but unlike water, it is cruelly streaky. Things can change. They always do.

    July 31st, 2014 1:55 pm

  7. CohnZohn

    Dr. Feelgood, I read up on water flow down drains in North and South Hemispheres. What you write is theoretically correct, not necessarily true in the real world.

    July 31st, 2014 5:02 pm

  8. mendozaline

    I think that I get it now.

    I have to do a better job of discerning which type of truth you are writing about. I mean this sincerely.

    “… I studied the history of the English novel at Stanford and wrote a dissertation on Joseph Conrad. Modern English novelists like Conrad (born in Poland) and Henry James and Ford Madox Ford and James Joyce (Irish) and Virginia Woolf and, in America William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald all grappled with the slippery notion of truth. And all dramatized how difficult it is to know the real truth about a situation, about a person, about life. Stuff like that. Truth almost always involves, for example, how an individual sees something or analyzes something doing the best he/she can from a particular position at a particular moment. That is what I do four times a week in my column. I attempt to suggest the truth the way I see it.”

    What you write about the water flow in the hemispheres is further explained here:


    July 31st, 2014 6:45 pm

  9. Dr. Feelgood

    CohnZone- your information is new to me and very interesting.
    Checking the internet yields many conflicting conflicting statements challenging the common beliefs.
    I love it when my beliefs become assumptions and then are blown up. How refreshing!
    However, I’m sticking to “things can change”. Pray to god that THAT doesn’t get debunked.

    July 31st, 2014 9:35 pm

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