Big O Tires

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.

I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.

Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?

But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.

Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.

According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.

In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.

“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.

But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.

And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.

Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.

The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.

That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.

Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.

The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.

So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?

Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.

But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.

See how many wins you get then.

Most talked-about draft in perhaps ever delivered one extraordinary thing

Most talked-about draft in perhaps ever delivered one extraordinary thing

The NBA Draft was a resounding success for the chattering classes – that is, until it actually happened, at which point all the potential scenarios were reduced to reality, and as we are coming to learn, nobody much likes reality any more.

After all, what’s more fun – arguing about where Jimmy Butler was going to be traded, or the trade that sent him to Minnesota itself? Let me help you with that – it was the first one.

Before the act, anything is possible, and therefore anything can be suggested. Once the act is completed, though?

Scoreboard. End of discussion. Fun dies. Go home.

Try this is you don't think so:

Fact: Lonzo Ball wants to be a Laker. Hilarious supposition that drives conversation (and drinks) across the nation: What if he doesn’t get to be a Laker and his father pulls his own head off like a champagne cork? Result that ends all discussion: Lonzo Ball is a Laker.

And then it ratchets itself again. Hilarious re-supposition that re-energizes the argumentals: How good will Lonzo Ball be? Result that ends all discussion: How good he actually is. Tie-breaker: His dad pulling his own head off like a champagne cork.

This is how daily fantasy became popular – the creation of a different reality or realities that have nothing to do with the actual games played by the actual people. This is also how esports became a thing – creatures of the imagination fighting other creatures of the imagination over fictional glories.

Hell, it’s why the best day of the college basketball season is the day the 68-team NCAA tournament bracket is filled. The games ruin it by being the definitive word on the bracket.

It is, in short, the triumph of the process over the actual deed – interactive make-believe gone mad.

So it was Thursday night. The most talked-about draft in perhaps ever which delivered one extraordinary thing – the Butler trade to Minnesota rather than Boston or Cleveland. Everything else about the evening was noise signifying chalk. All the players everyone thought would go high went high, the ones in the middle were pretty much mid-level draftees, and the bottom twenty were . . . well, what bottom 20 picks usually are: G-Leaguers.

There weren’t any goofy foreigners, no stretches, no spite-filled Kristaps Porzingis trade by a fulminating Phil Jackson. Nobody did anything aggressively stupid or jaw-droppingly brilliant, which without all the pre-draft yelling and screaming would have made this a fairly bland evening.

The lesson, then, is this: In the new world of show-me-something-shiny-right-now, the shiny part of the NBA draft was the run-up. And we love the run-up, almost more than we love the games.

Or maybe we’re just better as a nation at the run-up. The NFL Draft is its own industry, right down to the large-men-running-in-their-underwear degrade-o-thon known as the combine. The NHL this year doubled down with an expansion draft the day before its amateur draft. The pregame show does a better number than the rest of the day, and since the new media truth is that the pregame show is all day, every day, we have hooked ourselves on conversations about what might be and flit about like a hummingbird on Ritalin to the next what-might-be thing.

This preference for the individually tailored virtual universe over the one we all actually live in is not something to be lamented or wept over. It just is, and it will remain that way until the games just wither and die and all there is talking about something that actually will never happen instead of a million things that might.

In that moment, the robots will win. Or more precisely, they’ll get to the round of sixteen, and we can all argue about whether they would be better off meeting the Cylons or the shape-shifters in the regional final.

Carr, Raiders both win with soon-to-be mega-deal done at right time

Carr, Raiders both win with soon-to-be mega-deal done at right time

If Derek Carr gets his $25 million deal from the Oakland Raiders and becomes the richest quarterback in National Football League history, the Raiders will have gotten a bargain.
 
Unless he gets hurt.
 
Or unless he turns lousy.
 
Or unless the NFL’s defensive coordinators decipher a way to strip him of his powers and render him McCown-tastic.
 
Or unless football happens in a hundred other ways, because of all the sports ever devised by wealthy man to amuse sedentary man, football taught cruelty to the landmine discus.
 
But the same can be said for any football player at any salary. Carr, on the other hand, is a qualified practitioner at a sport that has very few of them – maybe 10 if you’re looking at football, 119 if you’re trying to tot up all the quarterbacks who got contracts so Colin Kaepernick couldn’t.
 
That means he is a rare commodity, and the Raiders did the right thing by tying him up. The alternative, you see, is Kirk Cousins and the Washington Supreme Court-Mandated Native-American Heads.
 
Cousins was not signed when the Washingtons could have gotten him at a high but still reasonable rate, and now he is one year away from being franchised a third time at the hilarious figure of $34.47 million per year.
 
The lesson is clear. Nothing pays like procrastination, and by waiting to give Cousins what they knew they’d have to give him eventually for choosing him over Robert Griffin III, the Battling Snyders will pay through both nostrils, ears, eye sockets and mouth to keep him.
 
By signing Carr now, the Raiders have as much cost certainty as they can have at the position, and all they have to do now is (a) keep him stocked with supporting players and (b) keep him safe from opposing ones.
 
This isn’t easy, of course; most quarterbacks eventually end up in a fiery crash in Turn Two, and their ability to escape the mangled wreckage is the only thing keeping them from becoming part of the mangled wreckage.
 
So yeah, luck. Lots of luck.
 
On the other hand, the Raiders could have guaranteed that they would have had to overpay by a factor of 1.5 or maybe more by not signing him now, or they could have saved millions more by losing him entirely, which would have been just the gift for the discerning Las Vegas ticket holder who wanted an excuse not to buy tickets.
 
Essentially, Carr played the system brilliantly, and good for him since under most circumstances the system plays the players. Football players have a short enough career, and a shorter than average quality of life, so the rule of thumb should always be getting everything available and as much guaranteed as possible.
 
In fact, were I Derek Carr, I’d ask for ALL the money to be guaranteed just to set a standard for those who come behind me.
 
But if he’s happy – and let’s wait to see how much of this deal is actually guaranteed and how much is placed on a rug that will be pulled out from beneath him – and the Raiders are happy – and why wouldn’t they be? – then there’s nobody to complain, now, is there?
 
Now the Raiders of old would have screwed this up, and somehow Carr would have done so as well. But this team hasn’t done anything regally boneheaded since . . . well, trying to go to Los Angeles . . . or maybe hiring Dennis Allen . . . or . . . 
 
Oh, never mind. The point is, Carr was done at the right time, at the right number, for the right reasons, and both sides should be delighted.
 
And in nine or twelve or seventeen days when Matthew Stafford gets a deal that makes him a dollar more than Derek Carr . . . well, we’ll let the amateur accountants who think NFL contracts define players sort out that level of idiocy.