Here is a link to my Tuesday column about the Giants home opener. The full text runs below:
In the game part of the opening-day program at AT&T Park, the San Francisco Giants couldn’t hit. In the hitting part of baseball, the Giants couldn’t hit. Any way you slice it, the Giants couldn’t hit and can’t hit. Will they ever hit?
These are the world-champ, last-place Giants who can’t hit. They lost their home opener to Colorado 2-0. You know the reason why. Don’t get me wrong, it’s thrilling to hoist the championship flag before your fans, and it’s an honor to celebrate Lon Simmons, and it’s — well I don’t know the words — to see Madison Bumgarner ride a horse in center field as part of the festivities.
The Giants did a marvelous job with all the pregame stuff. It was the actual game part they didn’t do well.
The Giants couldn’t hit in the previous series in San Diego. You figured that would change at home. If you figured that, you figured wrong. The Giants loaded the bases the first two innings. The Giants had runners on base constantly. All those Giants looked like a mob entering a Broadway musical. Nobody could drive them home.
The Rockies starter Eddie Butler flirted with trouble. He’s a flirter. He never really found the strike zone, was wild high, wild low. A wild guy. He was just begging to get stomped. Didn’t matter. The Giants couldn’t stomp him or hit him.
When the Rockies scored one run in the fourth, you knew the Giants were in deep trouble. When the Rockies scored a second run in the seventh, you knew two runs was a mountain the Giants couldn’t climb.
Afterward, Bruce Bochy talked about his non-hitting team. He never copped the Hunter Pence excuse. “There’s no point in talking about it,” Bochy said. “He’s not here. This is the lineup.”
Heaven help him with that lineup.
Is he concerned about the hitting, such as it is?
“It’s so early in the season,” he said. “You’re going to go through these streaks. Might be pitching. Might be hitting. Defense. Stay behind them. Keep working. That’s all you can do. It’s not something you can force. You hope these guys relax. You’ve heard me say this so many times. Usually, one guy will get things going, get the line moving, and things change.”
Bochy paused, searched for a different thought. “You know, it takes a little break, too. I can go back a couple of games. (Casey) McGehee hit a ball hard down the first base line and they ended up making a great double play. (Today, Joe) Panik smokes that ball. That ball gets by (Justin Morneau), we’re back in it. You do need a break occasionally.”
Bochy takes the long view. No one is better at taking the long view. And he’s almost certainly correct — in the long run. Right now, the Giants can’t hit.
Apparently, they can pitch. Starter Chris Heston sure can pitch. He’s a rookie and he knows his craft. Doesn’t throw hard. Throws smart. Gave up one earned run. The Giants pressed him into service because Matt Cain got hurt. He is the Cain substitute. He may be better than Cain.
He spoke at his locker after the game. Rookies are innocent and approachable. Not yet jaded. “Having Buster back there is huge,” he said of catcher Buster Posey. “Just trusting what he puts down and knowing if I can make my pitch, it probably will turn out for the best.”
Posey talked to Heston before the game — just before Heston warmed up. Told him, “Take deep breaths out there. Try to slow the game down.”
What’s it like to have Posey as a mentor?
“He’s one of the best players in the league hands down,” Heston said. “Any time you have an opportunity to throw to him or even just talk to him, it’s pretty special. A lot of people would do a lot to have that opportunity and, luckily, I get to do it every day. It’s definitely an honor.”
I need to get serious now. My colleague Phil Barber is writing about the pregame ceremonies. Please read him on the front page. He’s a describer deluxe. I want to write about the postgame scene. Something you don’t get to see.
Opening day, I made my first trip this year to AT&T Park. I walked into the postgame clubhouse from the hallway, walked through the big metal doors as usual. What did I see? A second set of doors. This was new.
Bear with me here.
The new doors have frosted glass panels. You walk through the doors into the clubhouse. You feel you’re walking into a bar. One of those mahogany bars with people more sophisticated and richer than you are. You want to order a buttery chardonnay. Or a margarita, light on the salt. You want to talk in a whisper.
Or maybe you feel you’re walking into one of those exclusive clubs at the airport. The Admirals Club. Not that I’ve ever been in the Admirals Club.
Better yet, you feel you’re walking into that bar in “The Godfather,” you as Luca Brasi walking past that frosted window with the fish on it. Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.
You enter the clubhouse and you are engulfed in mood lighting, caressed by mood lighting. You don’t swim with the fishes. You swim in mood lighting. It’s so dim in there — perpetual dusk — you need to see the eye doctor. You strain to see players at their lockers — not that Giants players break their butts to show up at their lockers. You imagine they’re eating Shrimp Louie in a private dining room with yet more mood lighting and waiter service. “Hi, my name is Dale and I’ll be your server.”
So, here’s my point. The Giants clubhouse is not a jazz club or a fancy massage therapy palace with whale music. It’s home for, you know, jocks who play ball for a living. Who sweat a lot. And get dirty. This new clubhouse is affecting the poor guys’ vision, making them go blind. They can’t see pitches because they live in the dark and can’t adjust to the light. A mediocre practitioner like Butler makes them look desperate.
Give your players a break, Brian Sabean. Fit them out with miner’s helmets. Better yet, turn on the lights.
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.