Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Some Fans Are Wiser Than Others

The story of the downfall of the 2009 San Francisco Giants will always start with the team's horrible offense, how they couldn't score enough runs or get enough guys on base, and how Brian Sabean's two trades to upgrade that offense were miserable failures. So obviously the (not-so-small) task in the offseason is to repair this broken lineup and find a way to plate runs. Even a marginal upgrade to turn this lineup into average-ish could mean the playoffs if the pitching continues to come through.

So, what's the best way to go about this? Is it to acquire a player who can hit for power, or a player who can draw walks? Is it to play Buster Posey and give Bengie Molina the heave-ho? Is it to just let Freddy Lewis play, dammit? Is it to dump Edgar Renteria already?

Well, Bruce Bochy's solution is to start bunting more. I'm not kidding. In this article, Bochy states that the Giants, a team uniquely skilled at making bushels full of outs in the first place, should give up more outs, and somehow this will help them improve. Color me mystified.

When I read the first two paragraphs or so of that article, I thought it was going to be the stupidest thing I've ever read, but honestly, it actually makes Bochy out to be much more illuminated than he's perceived. He actually admits that he doesn't like bunting (heart flutters), acknowledging that the simple act of giving up outs (especially early in the ballgame) is self-destructive. So he's not really advocating more bunting, per se, but just improved bunting. Fair enough, but this just seems like he's kicking out a brushfire as an inferno rages behind him.

So fine, the article isn't so horrible. No, the real hilarity comes in the comments section. I know picking on grammatically-challenged Internet denizens is low-hanging fruit, but just humor me, because it illustrates a larger point. The reaction to Gwen Knapp's article was pretty sour, with many fans showing open hatred of poor Bochy. The level of debate was about on par with your typical KNBR ramblings, ranging from the plain goofy to the batshit insane. Here are some of my personal favorite comments, complete with added snark.

>It seems like half the people who post on the internet forums are drunk or stoned.<

Well, he's got me on the drunk part, but even rip-roaring wasted I'm more coherent than most of the drivel being spewed in these reader comments. I also love the irony of a person criticizing those who post on Internet forums when he himself is a guy posting on an Internet forum.

>Lay off Bochy! He's the first manager in many years to have our G-nats playing in October!<

I can't tell if this guy is screwing with us or not, but in the event that he isn't, I'll give you three guesses as to what's wrong with this statement.

>I like the idea of bunting in the first 3 innings to frustrate the pitcher and throw off his rhythm and making him field every bunt. That could really mess up his timing and put all the pressure on him to make the play.<

This poster was actually pretty articulate, but I'm sorry, this premise is hokum. I'm more attracted to the idea of swinging away and lining doubles off the wall and bashing home runs into McCovey Cove, knocking the pitcher out of the box before he knows what's what, but that's just me.

>Bochy doesn't understand how to generate some offense when you can't hit.<

Sorry, but if you can't hit you aren't going to generate offense, period. I guess the idea here is that with a bad offense the only way to push across runs is to manufacture them and force the defense's hand and blah blah blah. The Giants ranked dead last in team OBP in the NL, and when you can't get guys on base, there ain't gonna be anybody to bunt over.

>Everyone calling for Buster Posey to play every day next year are the same people that would turn their Porsche over to a teenager who drove well at Malibu Grand Prix.<

Let's gloss over the asinine analogy and focus on the gaping flaw with this particular (and frustratingly popular) opinion. The Giants gave Posey a $6 million signing bonus because they knew he had franchise-changing potential. He's destroyed the minor leagues and is a major league hitter right now. I have no doubt...none...that he's a better hitter and defender now than Bengie Molina has been at just about any point in his career. How long does it take for Posey to suddenly learn all the tricks and intracacies of game-calling? A year on the bench, sitting behind Molina? If that's the case then the Giants are just costing themselves wins.

These comments illustrate not only the large disconnect many fans have from reality, but also the large chasm in perception between the average Giants fan and those who ardently follow the team through the blog world. We "Internet people" sit here with our spreadsheets and our Baseball Reference on hand and look down upon the unenlightened masses who still think RBIs matter. Those masses vastly outnumber us, however, and its those same fans who put pressure on Sabean and co. to make dumb moves like re-sign Molina because they can't figure out that pitchers do have the ability to shake off catchers once in a while.

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