The Yankees and Red Sox do this a lot, these nine-inning four-hour games, and the nation soaks it up like vintage Montrachet.
Thats a wine that neither the hoi nor the polloi can afford.
So the Giants and As have decided this weekend to pout together two turn-back-the-clock-until-it-breaks games, and they have actually been captivating in their own mutant ways.
Of course, before that happens, they have to go through their agonizing GET-ON-WITH-IT stages, but when Ryan Theriot chased down Jemile Weeks blooper into right field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth on the games 385th pitch Saturday, those who stayed either in the ballpark or in front of their sets and laptops got a level of their moneys worth that they really had no right to expect.
The Giants have won both games, 5-4 and 9-8, in a grand total of eight hours and 772 pitches used by 23 of the 32 available pitchers, and while there were periods in both games that resembled the tortures of the damned, the end product was two games the attendees will remember for a good long time.
As opposed to games that are just, well, long.
There is a subtle difference here. The Yankees and Red Sox, for example, have perfected the purposeful dawdle, and it isnt just the extended commercial breaks between half-innings that do it. Terry Francona, Joe Torre and then Joe Girardi both loved slowing a game down to the pace of daguerreotypes, and not all of them deserved the extra time.
The Giants and As, though tend to rank among the teams with the shortest elapsed game times (mostly because they hit like the Amish), so the Friday and Saturday extravaganzas were unusual, both in execution and excess.
Friday started slowly because Tim Lincecum tried to see how close he could come to total meltdown, and because the Giants took advantage of a ninth-inning Oakland bullpen collapse. Saturday was just agonizing from the start, then seemed to crater completely when the As bullpen deconstructed again in the sixth and seventh, allowing the Giants to turn a 4-2 deficit into a 9-4 lead.
But then came the 50-minute, 76-pitch ninth, when the As sent 10 to the plate against three Giant pitchers, scoring four and coming within a foot of Weeks being the improbable hero in a game Oakland seemed hopelessly out of at the time.
The lesson? Its isnt the time of game that hurts baseball, its the type of game in the time of the game that does it. Both Friday and Saturday were worth the investments because stories came and went, moments piled atop moments, and baseball erupted in more ways than the average person can count.
And maybe dinner plans were crushed, and maybe parties were skipped or attended late, but fun was had for those who were open-minded enough to let it come to them. Even Theriots game-ending catch, in which he threaded the needle between Gregor Blanco and Nate Schierholtz while paying complete attention to the ball, was a moment to savor.
Even for As fans, this was worth it, because they got to see that their team is a harder out than it seems. Yeah, the results might blow, but the methodology is still sound at least as sound as a low payroll and a thin offense can offer.
Of course, that and about three bottles of that Montrachet will make that vein in Bob Melvins head stop throbbing, but since all but one of you out there aren't Bob Melvin, that isnt your concern. Fun baseball has been performed here, from the sublime (Brandon Belt) to the ridiculous (Brandon Moss) to the just plain Brandon (pretty much everyone else on both teams, including winning pitcher Brandon Bumgarner and the reliever who collected the save, Brandon Hensley.
Hey, back off. Were punchy here. Eight hours of this may be fun, but it wears on the cerebral cortex.