This is my Thursday column on the Giants. WARNING: This is a baseball column. 49ers fans — feel free to skip this.
SAN FRANCISCO – Scott Kazmir and Tim Hudson were free agents last offseason. Giants’ general manager Brian Sabean signed Hudson, the 38-year-old right hander, instead of Kazmir, the 30-year-old lefty.
The A’s dismissed the Giants 6-1 Thursday afternoon. Kazmir held the Giants to just three hits and no runs in seven innings. He beat Hudson, who gave up six earned runs in five-and-a-third.
Kazmir is an All-Star. Hudson is falling apart. In his past five starts, Hudson is 0-4 with a 6.07 ERA. He turns 39 on Monday. Sabean signed him through next season. Bummer.
The Giants don’t seem bummed about anything, though. They seem remarkably relaxed and confident for a team that has lost 20 of its past 28.
Walking around the Giants’ clubhouse Thursday morning, you’d think they were hot, the best team in baseball. They sang along to pop hits of the ’90s – “You Make Me Wanna” by Usher, “Peaches ’N’ Cream” by 112. The Giants love to sing and they love ’90s pop music. Last Thursday before the Cardinals beat them 7-2, the Giants sang along in the clubhouse to “As Long As You Love Me” by the Backstreet Boys and “Sometimes” by Britney Spears. It was very cute.
Bruce Bochy doesn’t sing, but he is even more relaxed than his players. Bochy sat in his office Thursday morning answering questions from the local media, leaning all the way back in his office chair, running his fingers through his hair, crossing his legs and resting a knee on his table. I expected a waiter to walk in and serve him a margarita.
Compare Bochy to Bob Melvin, the manager of the A’s, a team that has won 18 of its past 28. Melvin has reason to be informal, to relax and recline. But he’s no slouch. His posture is one of the first things you notice about him. He sits on the edge of his seat and leans slightly forward, back straight as a board. Thursday morning he held his pregame interview in the visitor’s dugout and nervously tapped his heels and toes on the bench while sitting above it, hands folded in his lap, looking like a third-grader angling for an A in citizenship.
Melvin’s attitude carries over to his players. The A’s moved around the clubhouse quickly and quietly Thursday morning, attending to business. No music. No singing. Pitching Coach Curt Young sat and discussed the game plan with Kazmir and catcher John Jaso for twenty minutes at a table in the middle of the clubhouse. It looked like a graduate seminar in advanced aerodynamics.
The A’s carry themselves like they still don’t believe they’re that good.
The Giants carry themselves like they know they’re the best. No, it’s more than that. They carry themselves like they’re a dynasty.
It’s not just the singing. It’s the way they act on the field. During this four-game series against the A’s, the Giants repeatedly argued close calls, shouted at umpires, showed them up. Whined. Madison Bumgarner slammed his fists on his thighs after home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez called one of Bumgarner’s pitches a ball in Game 1. And Hunter Pence screamed at home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson after striking out looking in Game 4.
Every time the Giants complained, it felt like they were really saying, “We’re the Giants; we deserve the close calls.” The Giants act like they should get special treatment.
But the Giants do not deserve special treatment from umpires, from anyone. The Giants are not a dynasty. They were good in 2010 and 2012, got hot in the playoffs and won two World Series in three years. Very impressive.
But the Giants were not good in 2011 or 2013. They missed the playoffs those years. And if they keep playing like they’ve played the past month, they will miss the playoffs this year, too.
After the game, I asked Buster Posey if singing in the clubhouse is appropriate during this time of losing. He shrugged and smiled. “I guess you can judge that.”
If you insist, Buster.
The Giants shouldn’t stick their fingers in their ears and sing Britney Spears and try to drown out the brutal facts. They need to turn off the music and look in the mirror.
Britney Spears sing-alongs aren’t cute when you lose most of the time.
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.