Mota is back because Giants need his fastball

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Mota is back because Giants need his fastball

Maybe its just me (and it typically is), but I long ago stopped thinking sports would teach lessons like right and wrong and ethical and dishonest.

Thus, Guillermo Motas return to the Giants as they prepare for the most difficult road trip of their lives (except for every other one theyve ever had) moves me not in the slightest. Hes a serial PED user, hes done his time twice, hes eligible again, and the Giants have re-retained his services.

So you go be outraged. I dont have it in me. I've already read the book, and I have the ending memorized.

I neither defend nor condemn his return to the bullpen. His history of cutting corners so loud that even Major League Baseballs testers can hear the sawing may tell you something about his character, or maybe even the Giants corporate view, but all it tells me is what we long ago should have known:

Sports is about getting by. Its about doing whatever you think you need to do at the moment, and worrying about possible consequences later. Its about looking out for No. 1, or in the alternative, trying to figure out how to screw No. 2.

What it isnt, is a guide to living. It is at its essence the most egalitarian of pursuits, making as few moral stands as it can get away with in pursuit of a championship ring, trophy, or endorsement.

Now dont get us wrong here. Any athlete or coach who prefers the ethical path is fine by us. Were not against fair play, charitable instincts, devotion, loyalty, empathy, a basic sense of right and wrong . . . we frankly prefer them all to the alternatives.

But we dont go to sports to find them. In fact, as the money to entertain us grows, the pressure to do the pragmatic thing grows with it. There will be no forgiveness for the Giants if they end up a pitcher short in Game 162, and they know it.

And you know it. We all know it. Why anyone would think otherwise is the mind-boggler.

Or have you not heard the defenses for Lance Armstrong, or before that Joe Paterno, or before that name-your-favorite-team-player-or-entity? Sports is about results at any cost, as long as that cost can be defended later. It has always been thus, and the fact that is more brazen now only means youre paying more attention to the brass.

But lets go beyond that for a moment and ask a more existential question, because we know you like those. When is an athlete to be let off the hook for prior misdeeds?

Think about that for a moment before we give you the answer.

Okay, here it is.

1. When he or she has served his punishment as mandated and agreed upon by the employer and the athletes union.
2. When he or she can help your favorite team win.
3. When he or she is your favorite sports figure from days or years gone by.

You want a different answer? Go follow entertainment. No, wait, that wont work. Try business. No? How about politics? No again? Then maybe pipe-fitting. Oh, hell, you know the deal.

You are let off the hook when someone feels like letting you off the hook, based solely on whether that someone thinks you can help them do something, or feel good about themselves. It is an entirely capricious matter. Some people get let up, and others dont not by virtue of morality, but by the vicissitudes of practicality.

In short, Guillermo Mota is back with the Giants because the Giants need his fastball. Why you would think otherwise is an exercise in the art of the daft. The Giants arent for or against PEDs theyre for winning and against losing. Like every other sports team ever.

If you are of the mind that sports should be clean here and forever, change the penalties. Players are banned for life, and every team that employs a player who gets caught gets fined a percentage of its annual gross revenues. That way, nobody has an incentive to chase down the perfect testosterone martini.

Sure, that wont be a measure of ethics or morality but of brute force. But isnt that truly and realistically the essence of sports in America, from the owners suite to the trainers room?

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

Span clinches win for Giants and Gearrin, who had walk-off dreams of his own

SAN FRANCISCO — With the winning run on second and a bat in his hands, Cory Gearrin allowed himself to dream. He was a second baseman at Mercer University years ago and he entered the night with a 1.000 batting average in the big leagues. Why couldn’t this be his night on the mound and at the plate?

Gearrin stopped on the way to the plate and told Buster Posey that he was going to walk it off. He dug in against right-hander Chad Qualls and waited for the first sinker. He swung over the top of it, but he felt it was a quality hack. And then he missed the next sinker, and then the next. 

“I felt good going into that at-bat,” Gearrin said. “It was fun getting that opportunity. I’ve never faced a sinker like that. I felt like I missed it … by a lot.”

Gearrin can take solace in two facts. First, using his own sinker, he pitched three shutout innings, more than earning his keep, and he was a well-deserved winning pitcher in a 4-3 win over the Rockies that became official one minute after midnight.

Second, perhaps he gave the next hitter, Denard Span, a better view of an opposing pitcher’s repertoire. 

“Yeah ... he gave me a lot of information during that at-bat,” Span said as he laughed. 

Okay, so maybe Gearrin’s contributions were limited to the mound, but oh what a job he did against one of the best lineups in the National League. Span didn’t glean anything from Gearrin’s brief battle, but he didn’t need to. He spat on a changeup and then ripped a sinker into right, allowing Gorkys Hernandez to race home for a 14th-inning victory. 

Span, who is open about his distrust of birds, had spent nearly two hours standing under a circling flock of seagulls. Between pitches, he often dropped his hands onto his knees, looking more eager than anyone for the night to end. 

“Those birds were dropping stuff all around me,” he said. “I was like, you know what man, I don’t got time for this.”

The single gave the Giants back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. It validated so much good work, from the five relievers who got the ball to Gearrin, to the Brandons who turned a snazzy double play in the 11th, to Buster Posey, who twice threw out runners at second in extra innings. Gearrin shouted out the defense in his post game media session. 

“It’s not news to us that we’ve got gold glovers all over the field,” he said. 

The Giants trailed by a pair after Matt Cain hung a curveball to Mark Reynolds, but they chipped away. The Rockies were the jumpier team in extra innings, but every rally was cut down by stellar defense and quality pitches. Gearrin threw 34 of them. 

The veteran right-hander had never before recorded more than six outs in a big league game. He got nine outs Tuesday, giving Bochy one extension after another as he battled to make it through a game shorthanded. With Conor Gillaspie headed to the DL, the Giants had just three position players on the bench. That meant Ty Blach was used as a pinch-runner. Jeff Samardzija pinch-hit in the 11th. Bochy thought of using Matt Moore in the 14th when the pitcher’s spot came up. Hunter Strickland was warming up to pitch the 15th, but …

“I could have hit Moore — I probably should have,” Bochy said, smiling. “But Cory is a pretty good athlete and had a pretty good average going into that at-bat. The numbers swayed me.”

Gearrin got his first career at-bat last season and singled. He has not even taken batting practice since that day, but he was fired up when given the opportunity. He was still so fired up after the Giants chased Span into the outfield that he didn’t mind the fact that his shiny 1.000 batting average has been cut in half. 

“I got to use that line for a year,” he said. “But I’ll gladly sacrifice the 1.000 average for a walk-off win.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 14-inning win over Rockies

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This, at long last, is a winning streak. A modest one, but still. 

Denard Span hit a walk-off single to right in the bottom of the 14th inning, giving the Giants a 4-3 win that became official one minute after midnight. The Giants have back-to-back wins for the first time since May 27-28. 

The Giants led early, fell behind on a three-run dinger, and then chipped away until the game went to extras. Buster Posey twice gunned runners down at second to help keep the score tied and the bullpen held tough, with Cory Gearrin throwing three scoreless innings. 

Gearrin had a chance to win it for himself in the 14th, but he struck out with Gorkys Hernandez on second. Span promptly singled. If you’re just waking up for work, here are five things to know from a night when the seagulls outnumbered the humans … 

--- Matt Cain needs an assist on the first run of the night. With Gorkys Hernandez on first, he got a sacrifice bunt down on a two-strike curveball that was headed for the dirt. Hernandez went to second and promptly scored on Denard Span’s single to right. The curveball wasn’t so kind in the sixth. With a runner on, the Giants intentionally walked lifelong nemesis Nolan Arenado to get to Mark Reynolds. Cain hung a curve and Reynolds crushed it to left for a three-run homer. 

--- The Giants got a run back in the sixth when Brandon Crawford’s deep fly allowed Buster Posey to trot in from third. Crawford leads the majors with nine sacrifice flies. He also turned a ridiculous double play that can’t adequately be described, except to say that he should expand his trophy case. 

--- Kelby Tomlinson came off the bench to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. His single to right brought Brandon Belt in from third. Tomlinson is 9 for 27 as a pinch-hitter this season. That’ll keep you on the chartered jets. 

--- Sam Dyson, with a fastball that reached 97 and an infield defense that was just as firm, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings in extras. What a find. 

--- With the go-ahead run on first and no outs in the 13th, Nolan Arenado put down a sacrifice bunt. That's one of the five best moments of the Giants' season.