Urban: Giants fans need Vogelsong's story to last

August 31, 2011, 5:58 am
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Aug. 30, 2011


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Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants lost, the Diamondbacks won. Nothing new here, folks. Keep it moving.
But wait. There was a little something new Tuesday. Not entirely new, mind you. In fact, that it wasn't entirely new is what makes it worth noting.Were it brand-spanking new, it wouldn't be a big deal. It's not brand-spanking new, though. It's something that many people have been very quietly expecting for quite some time, even though those same people have been hoping against hope that it wouldn't.Well, it's happening, damn it, and for those of who enjoy professional sports as much for the human elements of triumph, perseverance and pride as for the ferocity of competition among the best athletes on the world, it pretty much sucks.
RECAP: Giants continue downward spiral, fall to Cubs 5-2The Ryan Vogelsong joyride is starting to hit some speed bumps, and it's about the worst thing that could happen for any Giants fans who have accepted what increasingly appears to be the team's mid-fall fate (Read: 10 a.m. tee time on Oct. 4). The terrific and touching Vogelsong story, no matter what happened to the Giants, was something San Francisco could call its own. Something the city's baseball-crazed denizens could cling to, take pride in, feel a part of. It still can be that, but if the trend that seemed to continue Tuesday continues much longer, the story will simply mirror the general theme of the Giants' season: Hot start, high hopes, slow fade to black.
In fact, there's enough time left in the season that the story could turn downright sour.Speed bumps, unless you know exactly when they're coming and can slow down to the point that the jarring is negligible, are never comfortable. Hit a series of them without warning and they're even worse. Vogelsong's joyride, from obscure journeyman to extraordinary All-Star, has been slowed of late to where it's almost to the point of painful.URBAN: Overseas to All-Star, Vogelsong unabashedVogelsong, whose rise ranks among the better feel-good stories in recent big-league memory, went 9-1 with a 2.17 ERA over his first 20 games with the Giants, including 18 starts after taking over as an injury replacement. With Tuesday's loss, in which he gave up three earned runs over five innings before being removed for a pinch hitter, dropped him to 1-4 with a 4.22 ERA over his past five starts.You've probably grown to love Vogelsong, in part because of his remarkable backstory, which has been spotlighted in Showtime's "The Franchise." You might have fallen in love with Vogelsong's wife, Nicole, for any number of reasons. It's hard not to root for this couple, which seems as genuine, trusting and committed as a couple can get. They've been through the wars together, so to speak, and they've finally, this year, started to reap the rewards.Yet all along, as the season's worn on, there have been whispers.No way this lasts. He's coming back to earth as some point. Nobody does this. It's too good to be true.Sad that we think that way, but we do. That's a fact. And it's also a fact that Vogelsong doesn't have ungodly stuff. He had very good stuff, but he has to be able to put it exactly where he wants it, when he wants it there, to beat people. And he's been able to do that for a very long time.Lately, though, he hasn't been able to do it with the same consistency with which he did it on the way to earning his improbable All-Star spot. On Aug. 8, he gave up five earned runs, and while he hasn't allowed more than three in any of his subsequent four outings, he'd set the bar so high for himself with a string of zeros, ones and twos that this recent run seems like that quietly anticipated fall.That was the real bummer of Tuesday. Yeah, the Giants dropped another game in the standings and now sit six games back of Arizona in the National League West, but a lot of folks have already written the end of that story, and it's not pretty.RELATED: MLB standings
That leaves the Vogelsong story's final chapters as the most compelling drama yet to unfold, and if you do love that human element of sport, you have to be hoping it doesn't flat-out unravel.